Sunday, January 4, 2009

New years, old jeers

So 2009 is over. I feel like I mark my years by age not by the calendar. I don't remember things as having happened in 2006, I remember them as having happened when I was 24. So the calendar changing over doesn't impact me that much. But suffice to say, 2008/26 was a rough year. 27 is so far more hopefully and with it, so is 2009.

My blog has been quite ruminative lately. It's been a big year, slowly letting go of girlhood and replacing it with an unfamiliar idea of womanhood I am still learning how to embrace. Yet I get more confident residing in this skin every day. Part of this slow, but necessary embrace started this summer when a lot of my walls started breaking down. I've always been one to keep my struggles secret, preferring to be stoic. For someone who professes to be such an open individual, I am really fiercely private about certain things. Anyone can know the mundane or tacky detail about my life, but in many ways I am quite guarded. My major struggle this past year was learning to let go of a persona I depended on to guard myself against the threat of intimacies and focus on developing and opening up my personality.

The difference between persona and personality is something that has always fascinated me. In fact it was a major topic of my senior thesis, Raging Against Intimacy in which I explored concepts of persona development in the club scene. I spent a good number of years dwelling in the confines of what I wrote, a persona complete with nickname, full of reference points that only referred to my interests not to me as an actual person.

While rave culture made some claims about the parties being about unity and transcendence through dancing bodies further enabled by drug usage, downtown makes no such claims. Instead, it is about annihilation and mayhem. Not that the scene is always tinged with dark undertones—it manages to be both nihilistic and na├»ve. Deep down there is the recognition amongst many participants that while punk rock may not have saved their lives, it definitely made them bearable. Friendships are formed quickly within this commonality of history, some are surface and some much deeper, but when recreation turns into required maintenance, these associations become fractured. The bonds that are formed are formed between the “out” personas of the nightlife participants. One person can refer to another as one of their closest friends and not know their last name and possibly seen them sober only on a few occasions. There is a staggering lack of intimacy within this scene whose anthems speak of loyalty and living and dying for one’s friends.

I wrote the above as part of my thesis in the spring of 2005. Three and a half years later not enough has changed. But my life isn't a dependent on that downtown rush as it once was. A few faces from the old days have faded away, left town, or passed onto their own oblivions. The rest of us awoke startled and confused in the aftermath. Realizing that while still quite young, we were becoming too old for relevance, the real world started interfering with our highs and the personas began to crumble. Jobs and the potential for success beckoned. Our art or our careers became priorities and punk rock a distant memory. We sobered up, looked around, and realized we didn't know a thing about those who we'd partied with for years. It was a sad state of affairs. Yet for some of us, the persona persisted.

Such as with myself, Beverly Battletits...former Battletorn-er, that chick who knows more about metal than most other chicks. Sobriety may have mellowed out perceptions of who I am, but a lot of the associations remained intact. Instead of relying on actually getting to know people I'd simply protest dumbly to the running commentaries as to who people thought I was. Until finally, one day, I learned not to worry. Anyone who thinks all I am is a metal record collection and a pair of expensive heels doesn't know me. And either they are or aren't worth getting to know. I shouldn't have to prove that I am a whole person, it should be obvious upon meeting me. I can't complain about people latching onto conceptions of who I am if I have done nothing but encourage them for years. And in turn if I have not showed them anything but that persona in the meantime.

This is all coming straight from my brain through my fingers onto this blog so pardon if its a little muddled. I have been in serious rant mode for a while lately and since this is my blog I'll use it as I please, and presently it has become a place for catharsis. However I hope my personal rumination also has somewhat of a world view and you can find my musing relevant or at least somewhat relatable. If not, then who knows, maybe I am alone here and the rest of you are a little more together and balanced naturally. But I for one have had to work on it, and thankfully I can proudly say I am just about there.

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