Zombies and motorcycle gangs
My reactions to life tend to surprise people sometimes. Perhaps that means I’m a bit different. Shocking, yeah?
I’m reading Honolulu by Alan Brennert. The story begins in Korea in the late 1800s/early 1900s, and it’s told from a female perspective. But the segregation and general sexist themes of the culture and time don’t make headlines in my mind. I’ve dealt with these controversial subjects in college and don’t always pay attention to them in fiction, beyond what they’re intended to portray. Instead, I looked at what that life had that ours doesn’t.
A sense of community and pride, for one.
The women, although separated from the males in their own families, were close to the other women in the village. They all shared the same responsibilities. Everyday, they’d meet at the creek to wash clothes– tediously, with a board and a bat– but they also used the time to socialize. The main character even pointed out that she enjoyed the repetitive motions and sounds of beating the clothes against the board. That makes total sense to me. But do modern Americans find enjoyment in any of our chores?
I do laundry several times a week. I do dishes daily. I clean the floors, clean up after the dogs, make food… all without really considering what I’m doing. I feel this vague sense of accomplishment once I’m finished, but that lasts only a moment before I’m on to the next thing. Why not enjoy the act of doing it? I’d be happy for a longer period of time.
Our lives are so convenient. I’m not saying that we should forgo our automatic washing machines and wash our clothes in the creek, but we’re pretty quick to complain about “laundry day” as though it actually takes us an entire day to launder our family’s clothes. And so what if it did? We’d be outdoors, doing a mild form of exercise, with less time for sedentary things like watching TV.
Now we complain that we’re too busy for time outside, and then we complain that we don’t get outdoors enough. But what are we so busy doing? Seems like adapting a simpler lifestyle would not only make us rearrange our priorities, but also make us appreciate what we have.
We don’t come together as communities anymore. I’m lucky if I run into one single person I know at the grocery store. We don’t make time to socialize. We work long hours to acquire things we don’t need, then complain about not having the time to enjoy them. Material, unimportant things.
So sometimes, when I read books or watch movies about how things used to be, I don’t focus on all the bad. I recognize the bad, and how we’ve evolved, but I see also what we’ve lost. Because I think we should get it back.
But then, I’m a little different.
Speaking of differences, I went to the dentist yesterday. This is always an adventure. The people who worked at my former dentist’s office all knew me, so conversation was familiar and easy. This new place, though, is just amusing. First, it’s a dental spa. Not an office. A spa. They ask you if you’d like a hand massage while you get your teeth cleaned. It totally freaks me out. Then they give you a rose when you leave. Also creepy.
Last time I was there, the hygienist asked me about life and, of course, I spoke idly of my son. It turns into this:
Hygienist: “Aw that’s so sweet that you have a baby.”
Me: “Yes, thanks. But that’s why I can’t have any local. I’m nursing.”
Hygienist: “Aw how old is your baby?”
Me: “Um about 18 months.”
I felt zero obligation to defend myself or explain the merits of extended breastfeeding to this girl. She didn’t speak to me the rest of the visit, though.
Yesterday, it was a different hygienist, but still fun.
Hygienist: “Do you watch The Bachelorette?”
Hygienist: “It’s my favorite show. It’s down to two. I can’t wait to find out who it will be on Monday.”
Me: Silence, although it’s only Wednesday, so I’m wondering what this girl does with her life if she’s so stuck on this one TV show days in advance.
Hygienist: “Do you watch any TV shows?”
Me: “Yeah. The Walking Dead and Sons of Anarchy.”
Hygienist: “Oh. I’ve never heard of them. What are they about?”
Me: “Zombies and motorcycle gangs.”
Yep. I let the uncomfortable silence hang on there for the next 10 minutes or so. Just for fun.
Posted on 2013 Mar 7, in Books, Ramblings, Writing and tagged Alan Brennert, chores, community, Culture, Dental hygienist, history, Honolulu, Sons of Anarchy, television. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.