The trouble with people who know a little about me superficially – (that I was long term homeless, that I was severely drug and alcohol addicted, that I stupidly married a man who then beat the life out of me, and I fell foul of the Hague convention on parental child abduction, and that I lived in a homeless shelter in the TL for ten months, and that I received a year and a quarter subsidy for housing in San Francisco as a result of the abuse I suffered and my long term unhoused status) is that they see the list of disasters and presume I am a total slavering idiot. They look at what happened and make assumptions about my level of education and that I have a real and serious lack of intelligence. In short, I am spoken to as if I am a guttersnipe that didn’t graduate university with a 2:1 hons degree, and never poured over a dissertation on representations of death in Anglo Saxon literature. To be frank I both love and hate the fact that is how people treat me.
I will always defend reading. Reading is what really educates and expands horizons. I have always read voraciously. That said, somewhere along the line I picked up the real and unwavering conviction that university did nothing for me. My degree only tried to teach me how to be rigid and prescribed in my thinking, and failed. I refused to toe the academic line. That life was not for me. I wanted to live life, not dissect other people’s experience of living it. That is not to say that science, mathematics, engineering, psychology, medicine – those non artistic subjects – are worthless. Far from it. There is no other way to transmit that level of knowledge and stretch current understanding of quantifiable subjects, than putting a group of intelligent and learned people together and seeing what they can discover. What I did, however, was more an exercise of saying what the professors wanted, in a way they approved of. I suppose I got a solid grounding in literary theory, but the truth of the matter is I should have done something else. Law, medicine (I had the grades), something. Anything.
I do not value traditional education, despite having the credentials. I did spectacularly well at school in my age 18 exams. That was the apex of my educational achievements, my speed-enhanced charge through those exams, giving the Man what he wanted to hear. That all said, I am no fool. I understand DARVO tactics, I dig Derrida, I can read Anglo Saxon and Middle English, and sometimes enjoy reading The Pearl with no cheat notes or translation. I understand perfectly well the law that damned me to a life on the road. I understand life around me, and have no need of being spoken down to. I know when I am being gaslighted and I do not abide by that shit. Not ever. Anyone wants to gaslight me, or defend gaslighters I am out. Done.
I am an educated follower of my passions. I read what pleases me, I play music that makes me feel good. I watch what I want, whether it be a documentary or some mind-numbing reality tv shit. I write because it pleases me, and I occasionally do it quite well. I live, because I have stared death in the face more than once and thumbed my nose at Him, and continued on my merry way. I certainly do not need speaking down to, judged, derided nor pitied. What I need is peace and a little more time to sit still and survey the desolation around me, in my own little bubble of contentment and joy. It will never be enough time, but at least I am alive enough to know both sides of the coin. At least I understand the suffering and feel the highs. I love my friends who truly feel compassion and never treat me as lesser, but also have had lives which were considerably gentler in a lot of ways, and just as brutal as mine in others. I would not have it any other way. That said, my friends are few and far between. I am doomed to sit here in an ivory tower of misunderstanding, with the hoards of peanut-throwing gallery dwellers telling the Coliseum master to throw me to the fucking lions already. Don’t worry, boys and girls, it will happen soon enough.
People with conventional lives tend to feel more comfortable pigeonholing me, because if I am not a total idiot with no functioning brain activity or intelligence, if I am not an unreasonable crazy woman, then what happened to me could happen to them, and that simply does not compute. In the end, I really don’t care very much. I simply do not put myself in situations where this happens. I remove myself when I see signs of people treating me as the sum of disasters, and not as the human being they see before them. In the end, I am more comfortable with the junkies and the drinkers, the working girls and the highway-walkers, than I ever will be in polite company. I suppose this academic went feral, and once that happens, once you see the world as it truly is, then things can’t ever be quite the same.