I have not confessed it till now, but here goes: I am a card-carrying member of the Dazed and Confused generation. Yep, that one that happened between the Tune in, Turn on and Drop Out generation and the Me, Me, Me generation. All three of these pre-date the current Gen-o-Narcissism who seem to have been born thinking life occurs only when documented via a URL, gadget carrying Pavlovians-with-a-purpose, PWPs for short. They did make a movie about mine, not an award winning documentary by any means, but a decent representation. We are the ones who came of age in the late 1970s, that cultural pause between street pounding protests over body bags and the decades of blind material ambition, the late 1980s and roaring 1990s. As a generation sans purpose, we languished in the backwash-filled tide pools of the generations we were tossed between. Some of my peers, no doubt occasionally of chemically altered mind, went the way of the residual radicals, taking up worthy causes whose movements had matured while others fell Humpty Dumpty style to the other side of the fence, jumping on the gilded bus in pursuit of wealth, status and the easy money that began to flow as market bubbles grew and grew. Being born with the adventure gene, I went both ways at once.
I have spent vast years of my five decades oscillating between wanting to do blotter, wanting to raise hell and wanting a new payment book and the 24 shiny cylinders that go with it, preferably parked at night in a zip code avidly prospected by individuals whose offices contain lots of dark wood; between wanting to cast the first stone of the Revolution and wanting to grab a few in the clubhouse after a set. I have dated Wall Street bankers and leftist ex-pats. At the far end of one of life's pendulum swings, I married a graduate of Antioch College who actually majored in community organizing. He bought ink by the barrel and kicked some serious backside with it. One of my fondest memories is watching the security agents pupils dilate as my former husbands FBI file filled her screen in the International Departures line at an airport filled with loose chickens from the local village. I have sent Dear John letters to heirs of industrial fortunes. I have placed 'puts' and 'calls' with great success, survived on raw root vegetables and driven home after hitting a one-hit, once, thankful I lived on a peninsula and could get home by repeating the mantra: "keep the shore to the left, keep the shore to the left..."
I have owned three homes at one time, all magazine ready. I have slept in my truck, with my dog and my cat, thankful for a roof. I have shoveled horse manure for a living and collected interest and dividend checks for a living. I have hosted 150 people in formal attire for a sit down reception in my own living room. I have launched rescue efforts that beat the Red Cross and FEMA to the scene of the disaster. I have restored mansions, raised barns and built a dug-out. My nude figure is published internationally and it is not porn, it is art and no, I did not accept payment. I have slopped pigs and traded pork bellies, with a license. I have owned horses with more frequent flyer miles that the average American. I have travelled coast to coast, selling off gold jewelry for diesel, one pawn shop at a time.
Now, into the fifth decade of the Dazed and Confused path, living the life of the generation nobody ever asked anything of nor expected anything from, I have learned a few things. I dress for the weather and the job, not the smart phone camera. My job is to go to bed tired and wake up before the sun rises and my dogs bladder hits the full mark. I have learned that 3 homes are a prison and that 288 square feet is a palace. I can whip up a gourmet meal on a hot plate and make a killer Martini in a mason jar. I can hold my own with intellects in black tie, activists, bond traders or the tractor repairmen after-hours in a polar vortex with four-foot drifts against the barn doors. Experience has given me a short list of things I need to survive somewhat gracefully most anywhere: a marine toilet, a bucket hot water heater, a blush compact, black mascara, a 36 inch crowbar, a bar of Kirks Castile, a blow up mattress and a worn copy of The Soul of the Apostolate.
I have no hunger for monetary wealth, nor titles nor social circles, nor material reflections that might define who I am to the world. Too much damn work. I know who I am. I love nothing more than to spend an evening alone with me, my books and I. I have come to love my calluses and my ability to call a market; I own a fine collection of Ferragamos; Gucci hangs well on me and I don't hesitate to wear it. My Goodwill-sourced Sorrells smell like horse manure 24/7 and my barn coat stands rather than hangs at days end. I have learned to trust my own ideas. I have learned that if it starts, stops and turns both ways, it is road ready. I have learned that a passport is not a ticket to the world; that masculine european accents do not equate to intelligence nor sexual prowess and that exotic is rarely erotic. I have learned that what doesn't kill you, fills your pen. I have learned to open my mouth and hit the streets when justice calls. I have learned to walk away after the first sentence, in obedience to my own moral compass. I have learned that if I plant it, there's a good chance it will grow. I have learned that exhaustion from giving is far better than exhaustion from taking. I have learned that if you don't use it, you do lose it. I have learned that the advice of a good writer that you don't know in real life often trumps that of a good friend that you do.
Through all this I have come to one conclusion: what was once referred to as Dazed and Confused becomes, over time, Carved and Present. The generational pressures within which I have lived have led me through an arduous, challenging and ultimately joyful exploration of life that I would not trade for love, nor money, nor 5 acres of ripe'n ready Maui Wowee in a legal market. I have learned that Dazed and Confused is the best petri dish I could have possibly landed in. I have learned to explore, to let go, to dive in, to live small and keep my hard-earned Carved and Present card safely tucked into my miracle bra at all times.