Picture of Viggo Mortensen from the "red carpet" of the SAG awards, January 27, 2008. He was nominated in the category "Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role" for his roll in the movie Eastern Promises. Not usually my type of movie, but it might be worth renting (or buying) just for the scenes of Mr. Mortensen wearing, ahem... very little, indeed. Check out the trailer at the movie site, girls. His body is way more beautiful than that hideous picture above would lead you to believe.
Interesting, yet somewhat troubling, article, "He's Not as Smart as He Thinks" about "perceived intelligence" in men and women. I don't say he's wrong, because I don't have a great deal of trust in my own abilities. But I don't think men are smarter than me. I will usually feel that another woman is smarter than I am. As some of you may have noticed from my other blog posts, I'm more likely to question men's intelligence than I am women's. The smartest, strongest, most capable of enduring, people I have ever known have all been women. My mother, my grand-mother, my 3rd grade teacher, my best friend in junior high school's Mom Katherine. My third grade teacher, Miss Welch, never married. The rest of them were all married to men who didn't respect them, abused them, cheated on them, were alcoholics, who treated them like "lesser' entities. And they all found the strength inside themselves to pick themselves up, take their children and move on to a better life. I don't think any of the men they left behind were very smart at all. Looking back on what I just wrote, is it any wonder that my first husband was very similar to theirs. Thank Goodness I learned from their mistakes and was also able to move on. Come to think of it, my first husband thought he was smarter than me, too, just like all of theirs did. Are all men just prone to violence? Prone to treating the women in their lives like door mats (or punching bags)? Or are some women (like the women in my family) just drawn to men who are? Well, I guess that's a question for another day.
Thanks to Mr. Mike's blog about one of his Christmas gifts, I've been thinking about when I grew up and what my life story is and how the way I grew up and how my early experiences influence the way I live my life now, the way I think about things now. How the mistakes I made as a young adult still affect me. And as I think about my life and how the way I feel about myself is the result of the way I was raised and the way I was treated as a child, I have to think about my mother's life and how her early experiences affected her and the way she felt about us (my sister and me) and the way she raised us. And from that, extrapolate the reasons behind the way she raised us and the way her feelings about me continue to impact my life.
My mother was the second born child of Harvey Adele West and Mattie Cora Bell West, born on November 19, 1944. It might have been the 18th, Granny didn't remember and records weren't as assiduously kept back then. Especially for "poor white trash" migrant farm workers. It says the 19th on her birth certificate, but my great-grandmother, who mid-wifed, always said it was the 18th. No matter... My grandmother was the second born child in her family, too. She had one sister and 3 brothers. My grandfather was the oldest born of his family. He had two sisters, two half-brothers and one step-brother. My grandmother was the daughter of relatively prosperous merchants and farmers. My grandfather was the son of an uneducated, alcoholic, abusive woodsman and sometime itinerant preacher. They spent much of their time out in the woods in camps cutting timber for the railroads. They met because my grandmother's older brother met him in a drinking establishment and brought him home to eat. He saw my grandmother in the kitchen making biscuits and swore that was the woman he was going to marry. They did eventually, and because he wasn't educated and couldn't read and write, he had no prospect of getting ahead so they followed the crops and worked as migrant farm workers. They had 8 children, 5 boys and 3 girls. A miracle that, considering the conditions in which they lived and the lack of health care. She had 8 children, all born alive and healthy and who all lived to adulthood. She herself lived until just 4 months before her 69th birthday.
My mother grew up poor. Not poor like people in America are poor nowadays. They were dirt poor. Living in tents or in an old car or truck, sometimes. Her family traveled the country from Michigan to Maine to Pennsylvania and down south to Arkansas and Mississippi and Missouri on down to Florida. Picking whatever crop was ready for picking; blueberries, cherries, apples, cotton, oranges... I never could figure out how Mama could stand to have anything to do with growing and harvesting, how she could stand to work in that greenhouse and get all dirty and sweaty. I surely didn't like it. But she did. She loved the greenhouse and she loved to garden. I still don't like it. If I want fresh veggies, I'll go to the farmer's market. Besides her mother and father and siblings, they traveled with extended family, a mentally disabled uncle, a spinster aunt, and after her grandfather died, her grandmother, too. She wasn't always able to go to school, she was too valuable as a worker. She could pick cotton as quick as an adult and pull as heavy a sack. She could pick faster, carry more and work longer than most adults. So... she went to school only on occasion.
When she finally graduated (on time and with her age mates, because her teachers helped her) she wanted to go live in Orlando (they were living in a house in Apopka, FL by then) and go to work at AT&T, which had just opened a big facility down there. Her mother told her that that would be immoral for a girl her age to move into the city and live on her own. "Good" girls stayed at home until they married. By which my grandmother meant that Mama should stay at home and continue working crappy, low paying jobs and turning her paycheck over to her parents. And she did. And she always regretted it. She finally ended up marrying my biological father, Keith Pritchard, just to get out of the situation. Wrong move. He was very abusive. He beat her frequently; tied her up and raped her on occasion; chased her out of the house and shot at her as she ran when he'd had too much to drink and wanted to feel macho.
That is the home my sister and I were born in to. When she was pregnant with my sister, he beat her severely when she was just a couple weeks from her due date. I think he was trying to kill one or both of them. He carried on with another woman right in front of her while she was pregnant with me. Dropped her off at her mother's house when she was near her due date with me and didn't bother to come back until several weeks after I was born. Soon after I was born they moved to Tennessee. He was from there and had family there. We lived in a house that had no inside running water, no toilet, only an outhouse. The only reason we had water in the kitchen is because my mother ran a pipe from the well pump (a real pump that you had to... well... pump, to get water out of) into the kitchen window so that it drained into the basin. We took baths in a galvanized tub. The same one she washed clothes in, by hand. We had one electric light because the old couple who lived nearby let Mama run an extension cord from their light pole to our house. We had one light, in the kitchen. I don't recall Keith being there much. I think that's when he became a truck driver. I'm not sure. I know that when he was there it was scary. When he started including my sister and me in his beatings Mama decided it was time to go. I remember being carried by my mother through a snowy field, running around bushes and hay stacks and climbing through fences and the sound of gun-shots behind us. She ran all the way to Uncle Johnny and Aunt Kristine's house. They loaned her the money for train tickets to Florida. We had to sit up in those hard seats in the poor folks car. Mom didn't have any food to give us all the way from Huntingdon, TN to Orlando, FL. She had some powdered milk and she would try to get us to drink it, but it's nasty stuff. I don't like it to this day. An old man and an old lady gave us each a piece of fruit. A banana and an apple. That was all we had to eat all that long way. I have gone hungry since then, too. I hate being hungry. Whenever anyone asks me what my idea of being rich is, or what I would do if I won the lottery or whatever, my real, secret, thought is: I would only eat foods that I like and that taste good. I would never, ever, ever eat any blessed thing that I didn't want to eat, ever again.
I think that I will let that be the end of Chapter One in my life story. It's getting late and I'm sleepy. I will maybe try to remember some more of my early life tomorrow. It's hard. There are things there that hurt to remember. As well as things that feel good to remember. You just never know which is going to come to the fore.