Living Complicated

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Living and working in rural Alabama is complicated.  There are so many rules to understand.  First, the official rules present particular comprehension challenges for most people.  Consider the eleven thousand amendments to our state constitution, the politicians who seem to be related to every person in the state (except me- well not since my grandfather, the mayor, passed away), and the lawyers and businessmen who inherited the neatest little marionette strings and find it a solemn duty to tie them to anyone willing to serve in their stead.

Then we have the unofficial rules.  WARNING: Someone attempting to understand the social mores of southern folk is likely to experience a mental stress fracture.  Consider why it is that a southern lady won’t wear white shoes after Labor Day, but will stalk her daughter’s cheerleading competitor on Facebook.   Or how is it that a discussion of any community issue or even the good ole family dispute invariably includes necessary commentary on sin, race, politics, stock car racing, and fashion?  In Alabama every heart is blessed, every meal is served with Ranch dressing, and every wedding is planned around college football.    You just never know what to say.  The only plan of action you have is to know how you will apologize to those you insult.  If you actually speak out loud, it’s only a matter of time before you insult everyone here.

See full size imageOne of my favorite things to do is to discuss national and global events with others.  You know, face to face.  Recently I was in church discussing the “crazy BP Oil spill” in the Gulf with a couple of retired men.  They thought it was ridiculous that our government did not have more measures in place to make sure those oil rigs were operating properly.  “They should of been on them rigs so they’d know what mess they’s doing.”  So I asked, “Are you guys in favor of more government regulation and involvement in private industry?”  Both of them quickly said, “Hell NO!  The government needs to get their noses out of our damn business!”  Mind you, we weren’t “at church,” we were at a piano recital.  So I overlooked their cussing.

Avril Lavigne sings a song about how complicated it gets when you act like you’re somebody else.  I find her song very fascinating.  There is a fantastic assumption in that song.  Sometime before the “acting like somebody else” got her frustrated, the person she sings about knew who he was and had been acting pretty true to himself.  But when he started trying to be cool, he started looking like a fool to her.  Interesting. 

Have you ever wondered how out of sync you are with your truest beliefs?  Defining what those are is probably the most complicated thing we do in life.  And then trying to live a life in sync with them – Piece of cake, right?    If I had my own personal constitution, I just might have amended it a few times.  (Ok, maybe more)  But surely one would only need to read/watch/listen to a few things to understand my personal views and social mores – the second Harry Potter book (because it’s the 2nd best), March Madness, picture in picture of Rachael Maddow and Bill O’Reilly shows, all classic American literature, the US Constitution, Saturday Night Live, every show on HGTV, Sports Illustrated – swimsuit edition (I have my own reasons), any song by Match Box Twenty, Boston, or the Brady Bunch children, the Bible, an episode of House, everything ever written by C.S. Lewis, Malcolm Gladwell, Gore Vidal, David McCullough, Philippa Gregory, Thomas Jefferson, Kurt Vonnegut, ……

So, I suppose Alabama is NOT the most complicated place on earth.

3 thoughts on “Living Complicated

  1. Marsha Ratzel says:

    Dear jennifer,

    Loved your post. It reminded me of how much my daughter had to learn Southern when she moved from the Midwest to Houston. My favorite line was when she visited a friend’s home in Baton Rouge where the hostess called her a Yankee woman!!! But she’s learned to love college football (something she never watched until she moved South) and actually had to plan her October wedding date around LSU home football games.!!!!


  2. Jennifer Barnett says:

    Thanks, Marsha!
    There are so many oddities about southern living that are both adorable and deplorable! But, I suppose if the Baton Rouge hostess meant “no harm” with her Yankee comment, we all just move right along, smiling and nodding as if nothing at all was really said.

    Thanks for reading. Nice to have someone looking in on your thoughts. 🙂

    Have a great summer!


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