Rebel Yell

23 May 2002

Hey. You know what? If you're reading this journal, chances are very small that you're any kind of rebel. Very, very small. And that's okay.

I keep running into people who think it's important to somehow identify as counter-cultural. People. The bell curves have spread. Our culture has gotten used to a whole lot of things. And as much as I've said that dyeing your hair pink should always guarantee you an irate parent, it does not. And we need to face up to the reality that it does not. Long hair, short hair, no hair, pink hair? Not rebellious. Not a big deal.

If you dye your hair red and try pot, you know what? That's just about exactly equivalent to your mom or grandma (depending on which side of a generational line you're on) dyeing her hair blonde and smoking cigarettes. Just about exactly. Go ahead and do it if you want to -- just don't fool yourself.

If you read speculative lit, I'm very happy, both for you and for me (bigger market!), but it doesn't make you such a huge freak that no one in your high school will ever speak to you again. Hmm. Well, maybe it does, but guess what? We all leave high school. Really. Not a single person stays in high school their entire life if they continue to have one. So you don't get to continue to do the same things that made you "weird" in high school and expect to continue to be significantly odd.

You also don't get to expect that your parents' choices are the sole determinant of weird. "My mother would never have done what I just did!" does not say a thing about whether what you just did was odd or in any other way interesting. Things have changed since your parents were your age. Your parents have probably changed since they were your age, too. Doesn't mean that you get to be the big rebel for moving with the times.

I'm hard-pressed to come up with truly rebellious acts, frankly. I was forced to read One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest in high school English, mmmkay? In Nebraska. All of the "traditional" counterculture stuff has been around long enough that no one is shocked. And Huey Lewis and the News made "Hip To Be Square," when, back in the Eighties? So saying, "Oh, I'm rebellious by wearing a suit and tie!" is just not going to cut it, either.

So wear flowy skirts and write poetry and watch "Buffy" if you want to. Shave off all your hair, wear black, and listen to Marilyn Manson if you want to. See if I care. (You can write to me and say, "M'ris, do you care?" And I promise, I will say, "Not at all." If the poetry is any good, I might care about that part. Otherwise, no.) But don't pretend that you're a rebel because of it. You're a demographic because of it.

And it shouldn't matter. If you're doing the things you like to do, and they're not hurting anybody including yourself, it shouldn't matter whether two people like to do them or two million. Your life is not a democracy, but it's not an anti-democracy, either. Or at least it shouldn't be, in either case.

Every once in awhile I get set off on this particular rant. The last time, I thought that someone I knew personally would take it as a personal attack. Which it's not meant to be: I honestly don't think it's a bad thing to look at someone and say, "You are not a rebel." But this time it was something in a book (by someone I don't know) that got me going, so I don't feel at all nervous about saying it.

Well, Dr. Bill worked his usual magic, and my back feels much better. I'm still tired, although I did have better sleep last night, and I'm fighting off a sore throat and hand cramps. Woo hoo hoo hoo, in an Eeyore voice. Things, however, could be much worse.

I did achieve my minimal goals for yesterday, and I'm setting pretty much equally low goals for today. People who know me keep telling me to take it easy. I'm not sure I know how, but I can set the bar low. That's something, at any rate. And I finished reading The Quantum Rose (whose big ol' geekout Author's Note charmed me a million times more than the actual book) and read some more of Edge City. Do you know what I like about Joel Garreau? He doesn't assume that because something is generally disliked or because he doesn't like it, that the people who decided to do it are idiots. This is particularly rare in discussions of urban planning, it seems, so I'm unusually appreciative.

I'm also glad that he's left the Midwest alone this time. When I read The Nine Nations of North America, the section that I thought was the least well-done was the one about home, "The Breadbasket." The two "nations" where I'd spent summers -- "The Foundry" (Ohio) and "Ecotopia" (Oregon) seemed to be pretty well done, but I couldn't tell if that was just that my understanding of them was as shallow as his, or whether he had deeper understanding of them than of The Breadbasket. But you know what? I'm not entirely sure that I care. If he's shallow about stuff and my understanding of it is even shallower, well, I still come out a bit ahead. I'll be interested to see how the chapter on San Francisco goes in Edge City, though. It was written in 1991, and I look around here and cannot fathom what it was like in '91. So very many things down south here are so very, very new. It's craziness.

And do you know what I like about keeping a journal? When I ask for some recommendations of essay collections or essayists, I get answers. People write to me and give me lists of names. It's very cool. I'd still be willing to hear more, but it's very cool to get any at all.

Also I get to hear the sound of my own voice. Hee.

So. It's going to be a very banana-y day. Mark got us the tiny half-sized ones at the store (not apple bananas, the skinny tiny ones), and Timprov is thinking of going and fetching some plantains and some French bread so that we can have plantains and then French bread with sundried tomato spread (which we already have) for lunch. I think that sounds lovely. We want to have people over to watch "Better Off Dead" next month (because I haven't seen it and people keep saying, yes, see it! so I'm going to invite them), and I'd like to serve them Cuban black bean soup and plantains. But we need to make sure we can do the plantains right first.

As far as I know, "Better Off Dead" has nothing at all to do with Cuban food. It's just that the black bean soup makes a lot, so it's best to share it with people, even though you can reduce it down to enchilada filling in leftover form. Because then you still have a lot of enchilada filling.

Right then. Enough typing for now. I'm going to write some stuff longhand, in hopes of avoiding hand cramps (it's my left hand that's cramping most), and I'm going to try to relax. I should put that into the template for these entries, you know, like the space for the date or something. But I really do mean it every time.

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