.

.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

TIB 6

Its time for a very special This I Believe post-- submit your TIBs inspired by/based on your experience with door-to-door folklore by class on Friday!

12 comments:

  1. I wished, not for the first time, that I’d taken this class at five instead of twenty-two. At five I had all the skills necessary—I was not self-conscious about art, and I was very good with people. I was That Child, friendly and vivacious enough to be adored by all age groups from infants to adults.

    Down in family lore is the time, left unatended at the Christmas party of some work acquaintance of my parents, I brought my mom to show her my new friend, her thinking I meant another five-year-old, and meeting a woman thirty-five years my senior who would be our family dentist for the forseeable future. I was not scared of anything then, and I did what needed to be done.

    Everyone looked harsh and uninviting. The few out and about seemed purposeful—like it would be rude to interrupt them, and years of acculturation have given me a bigger anxiety about being rude than about being murdered. The businesses were shutting down and the only lights were in the windows of dwellings—should we knock? Go literally door-to-door? And say what? Ask for stories? It felt bague and nebulous and all-around wrong. What if they said no?

    As a Girl Scout, I was the premier badass at selling cookies. Every year I picked out the incentive I wanted to achieve, and I sold cookies—to friends, to family, to teachers at school, to neighbors, to strangers, to people my parents knew, to people in restaurants—until I got it. I sold more cookies than the other girls in my troop combined. I went door-to-door and I liked it. Big smile, order form. I always added to my cache of stuffed animals.

    Now talking to strangers seems impossible. To knock on a door and intrude on someone’s home? TO walk into a bustling barber shop without intent to buy a haircut?

    The rain picked up. Speculation on the willingness of others to talk to us vanished as Tyler and I agreed upon our disappointment (relief?) and resolved to try again another day.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "As a Girl Scout, I was the premier badass at selling cookies."

      You win my favorite line of the year award.

      Delete
  2. You are still "That Child," Mindy, except that now you are a woman who is brave and smart and vivacious. Be bold and approach strangers next time. People like to talk about what matters to them. Plus, what do you have to lose (this is what I am telling myself as Kurt and I are about to head out, again, to an Ethiopian restaurant miles away, hoping to persuade the owner to sit down with us for an oral-history interview).

    ReplyDelete
  3. take the interstate south for an hour and a half. then head east on what used to be known as the daniel boone parkway (they call it hal rogers’ now). it’ll probably take you another hour or so. eventually you’ll take an exit, drive down tim couch’s pass, and follow old highway 80 farther into the hills.

    down a one-lane holler you’ll find where i grew up. it’s out in the middle of nowhere, but, damn, is it beautiful. the trees, the mountains, the creek. maybe you’ll see another young one, barefoot and loud, exploring the valleys we call home. they’ll probably ride a bus for at least an hour to get to school on weekdays. small schools, small towns. people who know the meaning of the word ‘rural.’

    rural is losing electricity every time it snows. every time, even when it’s only a few inches. better hope you’ve got food enough for a few days and a generator.
    rural is driving for nearly half an hour to go to ‘wally world.’ after all that time on curvy roads it might be a bit of a challenge to drive your buggy straight through the aisles.
    rural is a town of less than a thousand, where you can walk into any building and be greeted with a smile and a ‘how ya been?’
    rural is getting by on not much. no work, no money, no anything. but you make ends meet.
    rural, for me, was and is home. i know i’m never going to forget that.

    rural, in this state, is appalachia. central appalachia. the worst of the worst of the worst.
    but we cannot forget that, for some people, that place is home.
    i know i’m not the only one to have left that place for somewhere ‘better.’ i know my reasons and experiences of leaving are different from those of others. and i want to know about my fellow appalachians.
    do they still think of the place they left behind as home? what do they think of here, of lexington?

    i believe there are stories i want to hear. i believe there are stories that want to be shared.
    i believe that it’s about damn time that some appalachian voices were heard.
    and i intend to listen..

    ..as soon as i can find them.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I don’t know how to talk to strangers. Not at all, unless we are introduced. I’m alright after an introduction. After the suggestive “You should meet so and so”. It automatically comforts me. Telling me not to be afraid, to give the person some confidence. It’s comforting using someone else’s judgment so you don’t have to completely formulate an impression, facing the risk of being wrong. I think this stems from my childhood. I was so curious and I got into everything as a kid. I believed that everyone was good except the bad guys in Disney movies. I would say hello to everyone and run up to interesting looking people when I was at the grocery store on the regular basis. My mother would always run to grab me by the hand and tell me “Now don’t you talk to strangers Kristina Brooke they could hurt you.” However, I realized today that it isn’t that scary. I made a few small steps in getting back my curious gung ho jump in qualities that I possessed as a child.
    Alyssa and I began our journey down Fourth Street to get to North Limestone and we walked past the art building. We waved hello to an old man sitting on his porch near campus. He had a lovely porch swing and I wondered what it was like for him to live right beside college students. Was noise an issue? Probably but, today he seemed happy and pleasant while enjoying the sixty degree weather.
    Further down on our journey we walked past an apartment building, the rain was beginning to trickle at this point, and we shouted hello to some of its residents. They were sitting outside smoking and watching the dark clouds roll overhead. They were talking between the floor boards of their small porch. I’m betting all the residents in the apartment are rather close.
    Finally, we arrived at our planned destination. We decided to try and talk to the owner of the new salon on North Limestone. We were curious as to why she chose to open her business where she did and what her impression of the neighborhood was. We were also curious if she would let us speak with some of her clients. Although Candace and the rest of the girls at the salon were working on closing for the day, we were able to make an appointment with Candace next Thursday afternoon to get some of our questions answered.

    ReplyDelete
  5. From one starting point to the next, each new avenue for that awkward interaction between strangers does not become any less daunting. Or awkward. “Hi, we’re part of this class called Community Engagements Through the Arts, and we’re doing this project on folklore in the Limestone neighborhood. We were just wondering if you could help us out...” I should write that on my hand next time. A solid script to follow so I look as if I know what I’m talking about. And I DO. It’s just that the words that come out of my mouth sometimes, well, they don’t always convey confidence. They paint me as more of a child that depends on the stranger, or my partner in crime, Stevie, to take the reigns and know what to do. She’s quite skilled at coming up with potential sources and people to talk to on her own. But since I have a conscience, I can’t just leave all that work up to her. I would personally hate to have to do this task all by my lonesome.

    So I’ll just learn to be more relaxed about this whole situation. The guy at Stella’s was really nice and listened to our spiel despite the flurry of activity during the lunch rush. And though he couldn’t really help us out with this particular project, it was a good experience and it felt good to have done SOMETHING in the way of finding a story. Plus, it was a nice day for a stroll and a lot of the houses are really worth looking at.

    Though it may not seem like it, I believe in stepping outside of your shyness and embracing the idea of meeting someone new, going some place different, and doing things you don’t normally do.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I’ve always considered myself more of a planner than a doer. I used to, watch my sister and brother as they played videogames – Age of Empires and Zelda mostly – and while they were erecting temples and fighting off demon hoards and navigating all manner of perils, I’d sit just out of the line of fire and offer up ideas. Shift that square twice to the right and bring that other one down and to the left to solve the puzzle, maybe if you use the wand the door will open, don’t try to upgrade now, see how the Phoenicians have started loading all their people onto ships, could be the start of a massive invasion. The answer to the inevitable “Well, why don’t YOU play?” was always a shrug. It wasn’t that I didn’t WANT to, they were just better, you know? Everybody has fun when you’re winning.

    I’ve gotten a little better at taking my own advice since the days of Windows 95 and Zelda Windwaker. Still a planner at heart, it was strategy, not a story that was collected during an hour and a half of sanding/gluing/singing today in our dungeonous workroom. Aimee and I are quite the multitaskers.

    It was decided that descending on Kid’s Café unannounced with baked goods and recorders in tow was a decidedly bad idea – offering cookies to stranger kids was too sketch, the newspapery recording device I plan to commandeer was too intimidating. So there are calls, introductions, and explanations to be made and bridges to be built before snack/storytime.

    Questions, too, were discussed, ways to ask about playing in the neighborhood (an experience I never had growing up, but Aimee remembers barefoot summer days in the suburbs with not little amount of fondness – you can see it in her eyes), groups of friends, schools, dreams for the future, and family traditions discussed.

    While I’m aware of the difficulties we might run into trying to get extended answers from a group of children, I’m too interested in what it’s like to grow up in a place dubbed “the bad part of town” to abandon these stories altogether.

    Lots of work to do, but it’s manageable.
    Not too scared yet.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I believe in a little girl who didn’t play much with the other kids on the playground in elementary school. Towards the end of elementary years, she became friends with one of the basketball players, and roaming the halls of the middle school, she felt like she was one of the cool kids. When high school came, she moved away from her friends to go to a better school. She dreaded lunch time everyday, people questioning if she’d like to come sit with them instead of eating by herself was embarrassing. And that moment walking into the lunchroom and spanning for any familiar faces was just awkward. Junior year, things sped up a bit, and senior year, she started to really figure out her life. Things were coming together, college was coming up, and life was good.
    College, after getting over the initial shock, began to reform her. She felt like a sponge, soaking up all of the knowledge being thrown at her. Every class was interesting and she couldn’t wait to go back each day. People were friendly, and although she remained quiet, she slowly began to socialize. Second term came, and a class required her to put herself out in the open. She had to talk to random people, and a project was required in which she had to meet new people and learn their stories. Each new person she met, it became a little easier, and finally she found herself sitting down by people she didn’t know and starting up new conversations. A lot of interesting people lived in that area. She felt invincible. I believe meeting new people can change a life, very quickly.

    ReplyDelete
  8. It was an unseasonably warm February evening when we began our walk. Along the way, we talked about everything and nothing. We didn’t, however, feel obligated to keep a conversation going. Occasionally, we lapsed into a comfortable silence, smiling and waving at people as we walked by them. We were halfway there when it began.

    The first raindrop fell, landing on my cheek. And then another one, and another one. It became a fine drizzle and I opened up the umbrella offering to hold it between us. Kristina shook her head told me she was fine. A few blocks later, we were sharing the umbrella as the raindrops became fatter and fell down faster.

    I squinted through the rain and pointed to a well-lit storefront. “Is that it?” It certainly looked like it, but I couldn’t quite make out the Fleet Street Hair Shoppe sign.

    She thought so and we both dashed across the street, eager to find shelter from the rain. I stomped in a puddle before I hopped up on the curb and peered through the glass. It was then I saw Whitney, one of the hair dressers at the salon. Her reddish-blonde hair was pulled back into a braid and shined prettily under the bright fluorescent lights in the salon. But then I realized she was holding her purse and turning to her workstation for something.

    “It looks like they’re about to close.” The disappointment in my voice made it come out almost like a whine. I had known there was a chance that the salon might not even be open but my optimistic side expected them to still be open.

    Undeterred, Kristina knocked, launching into an explanation when Whitney opened the door. Whitney nodded and told us to come in, opening the door wider so we could slip inside. Plopping down in a chair in front of a Mac, she searched the calendar for a free time slot. But it seemed that every time Kristina was available, I wasn’t and vice versa. Eventually, we agreed on next Thursday, exactly a week from that day. Whitney was worried that the time wouldn’t be soon enough since the interview was for a school project but we assured her it was fine.

    We didn’t have a chance to talk about why Candance opened a hair salon, Whitney’s professional bowling alter ego, “Magda,” or Jessica’s artwork that was featured at Lexington Visual Collective for the gallery hop. Or how they use ammonia-free products and are recycling fiends. But next week we’ll have more to tell you.

    I believe in the Fleet Street Hair Shoppe team.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I believe in community, and the different things that word entails. Webster’s defines community as, “A group of people, any size, whose members reside in a specific locality, share government, and often have a common cultural and historical heritage.” I believe in the community of my university, my city, and my state. I believe that Eastern Kentucky, central Appalachia, is part of this community; its part of Kentucky.
    I believe in migration. History has taught us time and time again that, when in desperate situations, immigrants will migrate places that they believe will offer them opportunity and some type of hope. I believe in the families that have migrated from central Appalachia to Lexington. I want to know if they’ve found what they are looking for.
    I believe in the words of Jim Ziliak, “WE MUST OVERCOME SENSE OF HOPLESSNESS FOR EASTERN KENTUCKY – EIBELIEVE IT IS HUGE MISTAKE. THEY ARE AMERICANS. THEY ARE KENTUCKIANS.” I believe that grassroots efforts made by the larger community can change the fate of central Appalachia. I believe that in order to do this, their stories must be heard.

    I believe in giving a voice to our neighbors from Eastern Kentucky, and maybe, just maybe, allowing them to help us help them.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I believe in making plans
    Lots and lots and lots of plans
    Enough plans to span the Continental United States
    And maybe a bit of Alaska too
    I believe in the friends who will make some of these plans with you
    You sit and make art and talk
    About your plans
    To interview kids about their small
    Yet fundamentally important existence.
    And later you call your sister
    To talk. Just talk. That’s all.
    I believe in that too: the talking
    About nothing in particular, but it’s really nice to hear her voice
    A six-hour car ride away- up north in the snow
    And as her voice whistles through the phone
    You can imagine the frost, coating her window
    And think of how warm it must be
    In that small room filled with intimidating medical textbooks
    And then you make plans with her too.
    You’ll see each other in two weeks
    Exchange hugs and some clothes, but won’t be able to talk
    Talk like you used to
    Sitting on her bed in the quiet house
    Feeling the years stretch vast between you
    You snap back to reality
    tell her about your newly made plans
    More talking- with kids this time, remember?
    Yeah of course, she responds
    And remember that time?
    The one time when we were little
    And mom said…
    Yeah and then we…
    Oh my God SO strange- I can’t believe I forgot about that
    Well I can’t wait to see you soon
    We need to make these plans happen
    Love you…
    I believe in talking about your life
    And the lives of those around you
    Celebrating everyone’s small
    Yet fundamentally important existence

    ReplyDelete
  11. I believe in sleeping in 90 minute intervals. Naps are for whimps. You know what I don’t believe in? Those nights where you have to stay up to get things submitted on time. Those suck. Also, I don’t believe in the snooze button. Ohhhhh, the snooze button. We go way back. It wasn’t until college that I finally began harnessing its powers fully. That’s when I overslept for the first time. I was convinced that the world had ended.

    So, I’ve thought of many different ways to keep myself from continuously using that blasted button. I think I’m going to glue a thumb-tack to the top of it. Either way, I’m not going to miss class that way again. After all, weaning myself from the snooze button is the best thing I do. We spend 36 percent of our lives sleeping. What a waste. I’d rather be playing soccer, telling ghost stories, and eating crappy drive-thru food.

    When it’s all said and done, I want to have more to reflect on than just a bunch of sleeping. My late grandfather was born with an extremely rare heart condition. He wasn’t supposed to live past twenty. Along came 30, he had already met the love of his life, Marie. Then 40. 50. 60. 70. 80. They clung onto each other for dear life. After 50 years of being together, he was content. He never used a snooze button. He was always late to bed, early to rise. He had enough pep in his step to get him through the day, and then some.

    He turned his issue into his greatest motivator. When I think about him, I have to get out of bed and face the day. After all, he never used a snooze button. Why should I?

    As I was walking down the street for the door-to-door project, the clouds got darker and darker. Mindy and I were speed walking. We passed this adorable old couple, and I couldn’t help but think of my grandfather and his motivation. We HAD to meet somebody. And we finally did. That person’s name is rain. Although it put a major damper (pun intended) on our attempts to meet people, I am determined to keep working on this project. My grandfather keeps me going. We will finish this project. I might even be able to share a story or two about my grandfather.

    ReplyDelete