The Ugly Stuff
July 16, 2014 § 25 Comments
I’ve mentioned this before, but one of the things I really dislike about this medium is how one-dimensional it is. Or maybe not one-dimensional, but certainly lacking the complexity and nuance of what it really means to live as we do. Some of this is my fault, of course. For instance, I could post pictures of what I lovingly call the “white trash zone” directly outside the walkout door from our basement. This is where our garbage accumulates between our annual dump runs, and where we store the cast-off minutia of our rusticated existence. A half-full bucket of hydraulic fluid. Old windows. A random assortment of metal roofing pieces, too small to be of any real use and too big to discard without the nagging sense that someday we’ll wish hadn’t gotten rid of them. Of course, this never happens and the pile only grows bigger and you’d think after enough years of this, we’d put two and two together. But no one said we was the sharpest knives in the drawer.
Or I could be more honest about how difficult certain tasks are and how even now, six or seven hours before we’re due to begin, I’m already half-dreading slaughtering the pigs. “You make killing pigs sound so easy,” someone said to me recently and I felt a little guilty. Because it’s not easy. Actually, it’s pretty friggin’ hard. Messy, too. I don’t love it. I love being done with it. I love what it results in. I love knowing I can do it. But actually doing it? Actually spending the afternoon elbow deep in fat and muscle and blood and guts, sweat beading down my face? Not fun.
Or you might have noticed I haven’t posted many pictures of the inside of our house. Part of that is because we don’t spend a whole lot of time indoors. But the other part is because it’s often pretty messy. I mean, not disgusting or anything, but not something any sane person would aspire to. Piles of clothes in random places. Stacks of books where stacks of books don’t necessarily belong. Right now, a kitchen table covered with fishing tackle, as the boys prepare for a trip with Nate. Mud on the floor. And so on.
I think this is one of the dangers of this whole social media thing. We see what people let us see and generally what people let us see are the things that make them look good and perhaps, by comparison, make us look (and therefore, feel) bad. In a sense this is no different than real life, except in real life as you become closer to people all the other stuff is slowly and inevitably revealed and they either learn to embrace you for the holistic person you are or decide you’re an asshole and move on. But in this medium, we can keep hidden anything and everything we choose to hide. We let the rest of the world peer into the fractional view we offer and if they feel in some small ways (or perhaps in large ones) their own lives don’t measure up, it’s no concern of ours.
Of course, I have no idea if that happens here. Perhaps I flatter myself to even consider it a possibility; more likely, people see what’s going on ‘round these parts and thank their lucky stars they don’t live like those irredeemable hicks up in Cabot. In a way, I sort of hope they do. It makes me uncomfortable to think that anyone might aspire to our life. That’s not what this space is about, although I can see how to a certain extent, I’ve unconsciously cultivated an element of that. I post the pretty pictures. I write the pretty words. But the ugly stuff? I keep that to myself.
So, let me be clear: The house is a mess. The boys just finished squabbling over something ridiculous and although they are at peace now, I know them well enough to know another squabble is forthcoming. I do not look forward to killing the pigs and what’s more, the area immediately beyond our basement door is approaching squalor status. And did you know my office is a shithole? It’s true. The walls are unpainted and the floor is unfinished and I think I might last have swept it during that slow period in December 2012.
Like all of you, I’m guessing, we’re just doing the best we can. And the truth is, it’s not necessarily something to aspire to. It’s just a life.