Fear

December 14, 2010 at 7:29 pm (Uncategorized)

Every once in a while I run a google search on my name, to see what sordid things have been written about me on the internet.  Today I did just that and stumbled on a comment that gave me pause.  It was written by someone who had frequented my council blog during last year’s unsuccessful bid.  It was not sordid, but actually supportive of me, saying he loved me for my ” bit of the passionate nutcase coloring”, something the very title of this blog pokes fun at.  He broached the subject of fear in Wausau, and how a person like me would trigger such fear.  From my vantage point, it is sometimes hard for me to interpret the reactions I get, and his comment hit the nail right on the head.

I have lived in this town for fifteen years but before that, I was born in New Jersey, my father worked for the New York Stock Exchange, and from my roots in NYC, I moved to Pittsburg, Cleveland and Washington DC.  I watched as my father was betrayed by his business partner and my mother and my sisters and I went from living like princesses, to being almost out on the street.  We went from living in a penthouse suite in Shaker Heights OH, to a flea infested shit-hole. The shock of it all gave me a 105 fever where I almost died, as it was I was comatose for two weeks.  My mother for the first time in her life went out and got a full-time job so at the very least she could keep us in the top 25 private schools we had been in, and my father left for Wisconsin, because it was the only place he could get a decent job.  He came back once a month, and supported us from afar, as he lived in an even dirtier hole, where he didn’t even have a bed, he slept on the bare floor.  The stress showed, and I endured abuse from my mother that I care not to mention here.  The emotional scars of that abuse blew open in highschool for me, and I moved out here to be with my father, because I could do nothing but scream at my mother, not fully understanding what had really happened until I was an adult and had my own children.

So began another wake up call, because moving out here was on some levels as big of a shock as going from wealth to absolute poverty.  I had never lived in a small town like this one before, and I am sorry but backwards was the only term that came to mind.  It has been very hard for me to understand the mindset here, just as it has been very hard for natives to understand me.  But I stayed after highschool for a reason.  Not only am I addicted to the Northwoods and the Northern Lights, but the same people who I would term as backwards, also had open and loving hearts that you simply do not find in the big city.  I am a woman with out a country so to speak, and after moving as many times as I did when I was a child, I did not want to move anymore, and I so desperately wanted to belong somewhere. 

In my fifteen years I have watched as Wausau has gone from a run down old logging town to dare I say almost a future minded city.  But there is something wrong with Wausau, and my friend who commented about me elucidated it completely.  With all these changes, Wausau is afraid.  In that fear they have begun a desperate attempt to maintain their identity at all costs, a reactionary mindset that seeks to drive out anything different, sometimes quite literally.  Such an attitude is only going to make the divisions in this town worse, and the violence rise. 

I know old Wausau, in its peculiar provincial mindedness there is a charm.  The Catholics and the Lutherans, saturday morning polka hour, two fingers (polish brandy), sitting out in long defunct buses converted to hunting shacks with a blaze orange latrine, conservative family values and a work ethic that is admirable to say the least.  But I also know the down side of old Wausau, the racism against the Hmong when they first got here, nevermind blacks and Hispanics, that continues to this day, the ignorance that allows big corporations to come in here and do as they will because people do not have the experience outside of here to know that PR firms would make a concentration camp look like a holiday.  The mindset that says a single mother is just a dirty tramp, nevermind physical and psychological abuse, and oh yeah domestic abuse, that goes up after the Packers lose??? Really???

In my desperate pursuit for belonging, I cast aside what I was before I came here.  Never forget where you are from.   I let people who did not understand me control my view of myself.  I internalized it so much that once again I almost died.  I accepted the mantle of whore that people around here placed on me, regardless of the fact that when I carried my first son, I was engaged, had an impressive house in the suburbs, had the car, and was in college with a 3.5 GPA. 

Integrity matters more to me than societal standards of wealth, so when my son’s father tortured and killed my ferret, threw coffee tables like they were frisbees, lied to me and cheated on me, denigrated me on a constant basis to his friends, and then tried to make me take my cats to the humane society, I left him.  I think the exact thought in my mind at the time was, what kind of opinion would my son have of me, if I stayed in that, because I was too afraid to leave?

The next few years were hell for me.  I didn’t have enough money for rent, let alone to wash my clothes or buy food, so instead I starved, living off of nothing but rice and apples for a month so that my son could have formula, people who I thought were my friends called social services on me twisting my financial hardship into bad parenting when the truth of the matter was that I had more strength than most in my position would have ever had, and the social worker who visited me said exactly the same thing.  I dealt with boyfriends who deliberately exploited me as a single mother in bad financial circumstances, and did horrible things to me because they thought I wouldn’t have the strength to fight back, fettered by a small child.  Boy were they wrong. 

I filled the role of two parents, as my son’s father all but abandoned him to play dungeon and dragons with his buddies, and didn’t pay his child support at all.  His father even had the nerve to walk into the club where I worked and tip me a dollar, when I was on that stage desperately trying to earn the money to keep his  son and I afloat, cause minimum wage just doesn’t cut it.  I didn’t take the dollar.

I got on food stamps at the behest of the social worker, and endured for four years the judgemental looks of cashiers and onlookers in this town as I pulled out my Quest card for food.  I dealt with the condescension of those who do not know true hardship as I walked around in stained rags and second-hand clothes.  But adversity is a teacher as well, so now that now when I do have the money and means, I still wear second-hand clothes, or ones that I made myself and drive a rusty old Jeep because I know just how false fashion and commercialism really is.  I learned that what really matters in this life is not how you look, or what car you drive, but rather what you do with the time you have on this earth, and whether you chose to serve yourself, or something greater than yourself.

So allow me to give you further insights into my mind Wausau.  I deliberately don the persona of nutcase, because in all my years of hardship I have learned that the way to truly gauge another’s spiritual maturity and worth is to present them with what they deem as beneath them.  A person’s character can be judged by what they do with what they think is inferior.  And sorry to say it, but most people in this town fail the test.  There are few that I drop my mask of madness for, but those that do know the truth of me know that I have a love in my heart for all of my fellow human beings, friend and foe, and for all the creatures of the Earth that have caused some to label me as naive.  I am not naive, I have seen hell, worse than anything I have mentioned here, I have looked the horror in the face, and realized the integrity of my heart is all that really matters, and my heart says to love, even when they spit on you.

So enter the reactionary mindset of a town with growing pains and struggling to maintain its identity.  You cannot cast out what is already here.  Only assimilate it, and learn from it.  Wausau, you do not understand what is coming, you never have.  You have crime and unsavory types coming here because there is a deep rift that has existed here, long before any outward signs were apparent.  A rift that says because a person is poor, they deserve it.  And so those people who you disenfranchise seek alliances and friends in places perhaps they shouldn’t.  They allow safe-haven to drug dealers and thieves because what they can give them, financial help, you have denied them.  These people hate you, because as you have prospered, you have allowed them to wallow in conditions no one should have to live in. 

People take drugs because their lives are so bad they need something to escape from it.  If their lives were not so bad, maybe they wouldn’t feel the need, and if they didn’t feel the need the drugdealers would have no where in this town to ply their wares.  Instead of helping, you have slapped fines on people for not cleaning up their houses, when the reason their houses are in such bad repair is because they have no job, no ability to work and no money to fix the house or pay the fine.  You have dropped a million dollars on one square block of property, when there are homeless people out in this cold right now.  Really can you blame them for hating you?  These people are your brothers and sisters, yet you allow them to suffer. 

You know my positions Wausau, and you have more to fear from your inaction and clinging to outmoded unfair ways of thought than you do anything from me.  I am willing to come to the table, I have always been, but with rare exception I will not force myself to where I am unwelcome.  Nothing I ever say is personal, it is merely condemning the actions that further social injustice in our area.  You lament brain drain in this town and as one of my closest friends is about to leave, I cannot blame her.  You harassed and persecuted her worse than me, all because she understood, like I do that the outward trappings of wealth are an abomination.  You drive out anything that is different, and maybe the proof is in the pudding when it comes to my sanity, I stay against all odds.  Brilliant people are different.  They are unique, they do not fit into molds.  You allow the cancers of poverty, of injustice and of crime to further take root, as you have driven away the antidote, fresh thought that is foreign to you.  All that being said, whereas you have my love, you certainly do not have my pity.  In your fear, you will not step into the new, and embrace the changes which are inevitable anyway.  You cling to a false sense of identity because it is the only thing you know.  You have denied your true integrity, the one that says to help those in need, as opposed to condemn them, and in that your fears have won.

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4 Comments

  1. Kate said,

    This world has always had great numbers of what people tended to tag as “lunatics” because they were different and saw things in different ways than usual. And you know the reality of it? This world wouldn’t exist as it does today without them having been in it. To name a few names – William Shakespeare. Michelangelo. Thomas Edison, the inventor of the phone. Nikola Tesla (look him up and see all the things we wouldn’t have now without this scientific genius “lunatic”).
    I have seen some of the path that the author of this blog has walked, and for a time listened to what people said about them, heard their chagrins, and put stock in their words because I knew no better. It’s so easy to judge when the only side you know is just the one, but my faith, my beliefs, my religion, wouldn’t allow me to do that, so I remained open minded.
    Then one day some real realities started shining themselves on the things that these people were saying, the facts of which could not be disputed and dashed all these peoples claims to pieces. The author of this blog had been right all along, more right than anyone knew. And I’d been happily right in not judging them without knowing all sides of the story.
    There is really no moral here, except that what you are led to think by others, may not always be what’s reality. Don’t judge.

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