Or maybe it’s because I often think about Granny. At her funeral Uncle Ross eloquently proclaimed that “she showed us how to live, and she showed us how to die.” I’ve certainly done my best to follow her example in the former, so perhaps I’ll be fortunate enough to follow in her footsteps with the latter as well. Ross similarly said that “sometimes you’ve got to go through Hell to get to Heaven”, and I believe that’s some Gospel Truth right there as well…with a caveat: it is just as valid, in my opinion, that if you wanna get to Heaven you got to RAISE a little Hell as well. Granny did both. And I’m blessed to have been one of the few that not only heard her tell the tales, but also became a part of her fascinating story.
She knew it was fascinating, too. Often, she would tell me “some day I’m going to write a book about my life.” I told her that I’d help her if she ever wanted to get started. I bet I’m not the only one. She would sometimes ask, “if I wrote a book, would you read it?” I always answered that I certainly would. Again, I bet I’m not the only one. It has been a decade now since she left this old world, and that book was never written. Fortunately, many of us were privy to those tales whether as listeners or as present parties when they were written onto life’s pages. Maybe it is not too late? I can definitely tell a few of her tales as I heard them, and most certainly will in the coming pages.
But, I feel rather compelled to tell a few of my own first.
A few days ago, I spent a good deal of time on the phone with one of my oldest friends and a comrade in issues of crime and justice (both in and out of the Ivory Tower). Eddy and I often take time out of our already busy schedules to attempt to solve at least a few of the world’s problems…theoretically, of course. But this particular conversation was more personal than political and we discussed where we find ourselves currently and, to quote the late great Jerry Garcia, “what a long, strange trip its been.” Ed explained to me how he’d found an old senior memory book and how under “where do you see yourself in 10 years?” he’d answered that he would probably have a PhD in Anthropology. It blew him away. He pointed out that if anyone would have asked him prior to this rediscovery of his senior memory book whether he would have ever thought he’d find himself working toward a PhD in Sociology at Kansas State University that his answer would have been unequivocal: “absolutely not.” “Thought never crossed my mind.”
I responded to Eddy’s story with how much I loved my senior memory book, but that it had been a casualty of war---the drug war. You see, my senior year I fell in love with a plant. A plant many of us adoringly refer to as Mary Jane. As such, my senior memory book had several references to this courtship. Some of those “references” might have been considered “drug paraphernalia” and/or “evidence” under the wrong circumstances. And it was just such wrong circumstances (and the total destruction of a Dodge Dakota pickup, two garbage cans and a braided steel telephone pole guide wire) that led to my senior memory book being thrown into some bushes in order to avoid potentially worse wrong circumstances. Some might call such an action “tampering with evidence,” I prefer “self-preservation.”
Suffice it to say that there is much more to that story. I tell a little of it here simply to say that I envy Eddy’s discovery and wonder what it was that I said I’d be doing by 2005. I’m pretty sure I didn’t predict anything about going for a PhD, but by the time I returned to retrieve my memory book the ink had run down the pages from the rain. So this is an attempt at creating another memory book—one that hopefully will never have to be hidden in an attempt to avoid criminal charges. (I’ll do my best to only write about those situations for which statutes of limitations have passed, and not include too much incriminating evidence).
I’m going to save this memory book in multiple places, and this is one of them. Maybe sharing it in this fashion will facilitate some feedback, the same way passing that senior memory book around a classroom often did? Maybe it will even create a compulsion for others to share some stories, or recollections/interpretations of those left here? I haven’t yet decided whether or not to adhere to the social scientist’s ethical values of anonymity and confidentiality. After all, this ain’t my dissertation and there’s a different type of “peer review” here in the “blogosphere”. Similarly, I’m awfully fond of a quote that I stumbled across recently online: “You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.”
Likewise, I’m not certain how to order this thing. It seems only appropriate to throw down some “once upon a time” in order to build up to a more current “happily ever after,” but memory is a strange thing and as such I simply can’t commit to keepin’ it chronological. Still, I like the idea of the “once upon a time” so I’ll go all the way back to the beginning the next chance I get to sit down and tell a story…