Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Hit it til it breaks!!!!

Every year at our family farm down in the epicenter of the Deep South, we have a huge multi-day New Year's party. We've been doing it for years, originally just a gathering of my siblings with our similarly aged cousins and an excuse for us to run around like fools shooting bottle-rockets at one another and burn/blow things up. More fun than you might imagine if you have never tried it, but this post isn't specifically about the joys of redneck amusements and the fine art of entertaining yourself in life-endangering ways in rural regions, but rather what has come out of this annual gathering and how it can guide us in the year to come.

This gathering has been perhaps the single most stable recurring event in my life to date, and I think it is treated similarly by many of those who attend (which now numbers far beyond the bounds of blood kinship). There are several people who I only ever see at this party, but I see them there every year. There is something comforting in having a little bit of regularity in a chaotic world and we have some solid traditions that have become a part of the ritual.

The Burning Caldron of Death is probably the oldest and the most important and car chase is a favorite when we can get the old cars running and my mom's marinated sandwiches are the most beloved edible tradition. But the one that sets the tone for the year is the motto.

The motto is decided by a fairly undemocratic process of taking silly and misunderstood statements that come across as unintentionally profound and after little discussion, declaring one of the statements the motto for the year, our guiding light to help get everyone back safely to the next New Year's.

I can't remember them all, should have been writing them down all these years but I can remember a few.

See with your feet. (can't remember the origin)

There may be no point in sitting either. (statement made by my drunk brother to our youngest brother who had just implored him to sit down because 'there is no point in standing'.)

Last year's motto was two fold:

Don't hurt beautiful things/Don't be hurt by beautiful things. (don't remember the origin clearly enough to recount, but I managed to fail on both counts, although I did make it safely through to a new year and reflected on the motto continuously the whole long way.)

Anyway, enough of years past, this year keeping the homemade, woodburning hottub running required chopping a lot of damn firewood and most of it was being chopped out of this huge hickory that had fallen. The cross-sections of the tree were near three feet in diameter, and the wood split easily once you made that first break, but getting that first split took a hell of a lot of hitting. In coaching my brother to get the first crack in a particularly stubborn piece, our friend Mike cheered him on with "Just hit it til it breaks!" Looking forward to an uncertain year and coming off of one in which we had all been frustrated out of our minds and begun to question our generally positive view of folks in general, my brother and I almost instantly looked at one another and knew this had the potential for being our new motto. And as it became clear that no one was going to utter anything close to as appropriate, the official motto it became. No more kinder gentler crap. This is a tough year and it calls for tough action. No more playing nice and expecting others to. This year, if something gets in your way, hit it til it breaks. Faced with inane stupidity? Apathy? Misinformation? HIT IT TIL IT BREAKS!!!!

I don't know the identity of the Rude Pundit, so he may have been at my New Year's shindig (although I doubt it), but he seems to be on the same page, as does Digby:

The Rude Pundit: "this story should be hammered on until something cracks."

Hullabaloo (Read Digby's post and tell me he isn't ready to hit it til it breaks, too)

No more chickenshit politeness while assholes and hypocrites direct the public dialogue through bullying and lies.

I have personally adopted my whole family (ok, anyone whose email I could find on the forward lists that various family members included me on) and am forwarding them obsessively from progressing sources. Yes, they can delete some of the stuff and they can ignore it all, but most of these folks that don't really read the newspaper or digest it very well seem to read most anything you put in their in box (which, judging from the sampling I have seen of what they are sending around, may be part of why this country is in such a funk currently) and actually most folks are responding pretty positively so far, even if they are disagreeing with lots of it. So all of you Awareniks out there (both of you), I am calling on all liberals to adopt the whitesheep idiots in their redstate bloodlines and start bombarding them with progressive lefty infuriating stuff. I am going to start a sister blog archiving everything (and what I get back!), so if folks want to just forward the same things they can. Remember, we are the current underdogs and them on top is dangerous. Don't be afraid of ruffling feathers or pissing off relatives; that is the point. Hit it til it breaks!


Anonymous said...

funny--you just made deenis cooper happy. he'd love to help you hit it until it breaks. it's actually odd--my mother sent me some valentine's day sugar cookies a couple of days ago. they're shaped like hearts. i was fascinated tonight by how thin they were (you know me, a couple of glasses of wine and the wall is fascinating--and when i say the wall, i mean a hilary duff movie--well hell, i don't have to be tipsy to enjoy that--well, whatever--you know what i mean). but i was intrigued by how easily they snapped and crumbled. i took a pen and tapped one of the hearts several times. for some reason, it didn't break. obsessively, i hit it harder and faster until it shattered. i hit it until it broke. now, i know my metaphor is confused and problematic, but there are a bunch of things i've left broken and subsequently regretted. anyways, the things of which i'm writing certainly aren't political behemoths or indulgent ignorance--but you know me, i have that certain problem with projection which you so aptly discerned long ago.

somehow, i never knew last year's motto. perhaps you can prove me wrong--my mind has been clouded and absurdly selective for a while now--you know, screening what to acknowledge and all. yes, you know. but i don't remember it ever being disclosed to me. maybe i just wasn't paying attention. if so, i apologize.

i'm sure you didn't watch gilmore girls tonight. luke and lorelai broke up--for reasons, in the end, not all that unfamiliar. suki tried to comfort lor by saying something about seeing a katie couric story about a couple who broke up, married others, were widowed, and then reunited forty years later. lorelai was not satisfied--unsurprisingly. it's funny the things we end up regretting once it's over. the show kind of played off that tonight.

d. earl griffin said...

Why you always write anonymously is beyond me, but thanks for the comment anyway.

As to last year's motto, you were there at its inception and my memories are hazy, but I think you were there when the actual statement was made (note: the original statement was neither of the halves of the motto; someone said something which resembled neither, I misheard it as one incarnation ('don't hurt...') and then repeated that back and asked what they were talking about. Rodney thought I said the other ('don't be hurt by...')). If I remember correctly, you heard the original statement clearly and thought we were looney for our misunderstandings and there was something of a Freudian slip in our misreadings. I do remember on more than one occasion talking about the motto with you later in the year and you having no recollection of it.

As for regrets after things are over, I have none. I have never known of anything that has ever been over. The past was beautiful and I did my best to take and give as much as I could and cause as little pain as possible along the way, and now look to the future with hope and promise.

It is the things that I can't live with that I plan to hit until they break, not the things I love. I hope I have learned to stop hitting some things before there is nothing but shards left.

Anonymous said...

as for posting anonymously, i think it's cute. i blew my cover long ago, and i don't see any reason to break with tradition. you know it's me and that's what matters. besides, it's not like sparkles would ever say the things i do here. maybe mikey would though...hmmm.

i also like the idea that maybe one
day, you'll receive a cryptic, anonymous comment with capitalizations and words i never use like "bibulous"(although because that is perhaps a word that describes me pretty well, i may as well work it into my daily lexicon) or "indurate", and you'll be thrown into a tizzy because you want know if it was me who wrote it. and i, half a world away, will giggle.

my mind may be playing tricks on me, but i think i do remember the mishearing episode now. was a hot tub involved? or was it earlier in the night? regardless, thanks for your honesty in the email. i think i may understand things a little bit better now.

as for right now, i'm off to find a deep cavern in which to retire until my mother believes i've disappeared and leaves the tri-state area. xoxoxo

d. earl griffin said...

I think it was in or around the hottub (which sounds so snotty and way more trust-fund glamorous than it is). Anonymous is fine; I guess it is already habit. But one day I may achieve fame and be inundated with anonymous commentators.

Interesting and perhaps indicative of I know not what (or nothing at all) that both sample words you threaten to use in the geographically challenging future can be used to describe soil. But you are certainly bibulous and I perhaps can sometimes be indurate.

Of mothers and caverns, there are none deep enough to hide you. Momma unicorns can always find their foals. Enjoy her while she is here.

Anonymous said...

unicorns? . . . where did that come from? it's not like i have access to a blog about unicorns or anything. where did that totally random comment come from - - because it was certainly way out of left field.

anyways ...in terms of mothers and holes--you try having dinner with a mother that comes to your neck of the woods in a fur coat (yes, little thumpers died for that) and tries to talk to you about the dirty mexicans stealing honest white people's jobs, and let's see how big a hole you can fabricate. i bet mine is bigger than yours.

p.s. - as bibulous as i may be, you're indurateness is a lot harder. get it? ha ha ha. no, i can't even try to capitalize on your joke. it really was just too good.