Thursday, September 2, 2010

A Paradox

I was talking with my dad tonight about Baltic personalities. I was telling him how much I like minor music, and he said that it's in the genes, part of the Baltic personality. Baltic being, of course, the region involving Germany, Sweden, Poland, Finland, Norway, etc. It's all Baltic. Anyway, his theory is that people from this area tend to have a pretty dark view of life. Maybe it's because of the lack of sun. Maybe it's because of the long winters. They both would contribute to pretty tough lives and that affects the way they view the world.

It makes sense to me. I mean, have you ever read any Viking/Norse folklore? I'm certainly no expert, but I did check out a collection of them once. It was a hefty book. It was in the middle of the school year and I'm a schitzo reader anyway, so I never finished it, but I read enough to know that it's pretty dark stuff. I mean, their version of the flood story is most of humanity drowning in a god's blood.

Anyway, I definitely see how that plays into my life. I do feel like a have a dark streak in me sometimes. Maybe that's what makes me like minor music. And certain macabre humor. Maybe that's where my grim practicality comes from and my need for consistent solitude. Could be.

At the same time, I'm definitely not all dark. I have a sunny side to my personality, probably inherited from my mother. I feel like I'm an odd mixture of the two, light and dark, and I can never fully abandon either one. Besides being a cynic, I'm also an optimist. I'm certain that suffering will come in life, but I try not to let it bother me much when it does. Last summer when I was working as a camp counselor, I was told by one of my campers that she was surprised such dark humor was coming out of such a happy person. She said that I had a "hidden bite." I had just made a joke about telling children that Santa had been hit by a Mac truck, so I suppose I can see her point.

I recently wrote a poem about myself (although I do take some artistic liberties, so don't be quick to pin everything on me). It's still a bit rough, but since it goes so well with this theme, I think I'll have to include the unpolished version. I call it

A Paradox

I organize by color clothes that do not fit.
I love all kinds of music except this annotated list.
I love my meat so much that I eat it once a week.
My passion is for fashion shows I watch with un-heeled feet.

So studious I procrastinate,
So clean I live in piles.
I'm so happily sarcastic
That my cynicism smiles.

I love a crowded party followed by a silent room.
I'm very slow to anger but far-off hurts still make me fume.
I'm glad to have no break-ups but miss the new-love thrill.
I walk alone with gladness though my hand feels empty still.

I'm so hurt that I can only smile
And so weary that I'll go the extra mile.
So close, I never hug too long.
So sad, there's nothing ever wrong.

So happy that my laughter's on loan
And so strong that I only cry when I'm alone.


  1. P.S. Any suggestions about the second to last line? It's driving me crazy!

  2. I kind of like it, actually. I think the "So fun" is the bothersome part.

    And ... you're a complex person. Embrace that! You're not a bottled formula.

    But ... the Baltic people aren't the only ones who live in miserable wintry conditions. Do you know, do Russians exhibit a similar undercurrent of dark thinking?

    And yes, I've devoted quite a bit of time--a whole semester and summer, actually--to Viking/Norse mythology. "Myths and Epics of Northwestern Europe" with Dr. Himes. AWESOME stuff.

  3. The "so fun" specifically or just the "fun?" As in, are all the "So" lines bothersome?
    What bothers me the most is that the rhythm is off in that line!

    And yes, I think you're right about the Russian personalities too. It all goes with the dark, icy territory!

  4. Well, we WERE always cautioned against using "so" and "very" as qualifiers by Prof. Kirk ... I don't see it as a huge issue. I think it's the combination of an indefinite qualifier with a word like "fun"--"fun" is kind of simple, and trite, when the feeling you're after is complex and núàncéd. ;-)

  5. That's an interesting connection I've never thought of before, but it makes sense. The darker perspective of people from the Baltic/Russian regions. I think I have a bit of that, or at least may seem to from someone else's observations. Because I'm at least a fairly contemplative person. And I do enjoy minor music as well. That, I guess I could attribute to my Norse/Swede ancestry. I like the poem. Except I also don't know how to understand the 2nd to last line. I particularly relate to the "crowded party" line.

  6. Hmmm...very good, laura. Fun yet so very deep and true! I think perhaps the sunniest disposition has a darker could we not, when life has a broken side? I must say though - your sunny side far outweighs whatever dark side you keep hidden so well. : ) I don't think liking solitude makes you dark or melancholy(or I hope not, because I most certainly can relate!)And Alan, I don't think being contemplative makes you appear "Baltic" - I think it just makes you seem thoughtful and reflective...that's very different!

  7. p.s. I'm with kendra - I rather like the last two lines...but, I was trying to think of a way to keep the rhythm & this is the best I could think of...

    So happy that my laughter moans
    So happy that my laughter's flown

    *I think it's the word 'on' that sets off the rhythm a bit


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