Saturday, April 2, 2011

B is for Barbarian


Various people (myself included) have often referred to me as Barbarian. I like it. It's a great amalgamation of my first and middle (Ann) names. There was a time when I used it as part of my email address. Once, when I called myself that, someone asked me why I would refer to myself in such pejorative terms.

As defined by
barbarian: -noun; a person in a savage, primitive state; uncivilized person

I can understand why some would think I was being unkind to myself or self-deprecating. But I don't feel that's the case. I really do like the moniker.

My own mother would agree on certain principles. Hard as she tried, and much to her chagrin, she never could turn my sister and I into proper little ladies. I will never be at home and comfortable in a dress and heels. Ever. Jeans, sweats, and t-shirts are my standard garb. Anything else on me, although I do clean up well when I have to, just makes me feel pretentious.

But let's forget about appearances for a minute or three.

The Greeks originated the term barbarian. It was meant to refer to anyone who wasn't Greek, outsiders, social outcasts.

I've felt like an outsider all my life. I've never adhered to any definition of "normal." Proudly. I've never understood societal boundaries. I was well named. Barbara means "stranger."

I'm in touch with the savage, primitive state. I think that is part of any creative soul, part of anyone who has the ability to look at the clouds and see elephants cavorting with goldfish. Most definitely there is a sense of savageness in making art. There is a need to go to a darker instinct in order to translate the soul gunk into something tangible. At least there is for me.

I joke with people that I'm a direct descendant of Attila the Hun. Given my Hungarian heritage, that may or may not be true. I say it anyway, adding that I tend to storm the castle now and apologise later... if at all.

Uncivilized? Yes. While it isn't obvious to everyone upon meeting me, I tend to go against the grain of standard civility:
-I'm blunt in my opinions and I don't hold back when I need to express them. I'm pragmatic and unfluffy. I tend to not like what everyone else likes.
-I've never been a fan of Elvis Presley. I think his music is insincere. Right around the same time that Elvis was being lauded, there was a humble black man playing guitar and hopping across the stage and singing his heart out. His musical influence upon rockers for the past 60 years is tremendous. That man was Chuck Berry - he should have been crowned The King.
-While I'm very well read, I really think very little of Shakespeare. Sure, he came up with some great lines, and sure, you have to read his work with a nod toward the age in which it was written, but even so, it's all a bit overblown and fanciful.
-I'm not girly-girl. I don't do manicures or pedicures or hairstyles or make-up or endless clothes shopping. I'm the one picking my teeth while others talk of fashion.
-I'd rather sit by the river eating a cold take-out hamburger than sit in a restaurant amid 50 other patrons and have waitstaff stop by every five minutes to interrupt my contemplation or conversation just to ask if everything is okay and do I need anything else.
-Unlike most of my peers, I have absolutely no adoration or nostalgic yearning for the 80's - I don't like 80's music, 80's TV shows, 80's attitudes, and 80's hair and clothing styles make me want to regurgitate everything I've eaten since 1967.

Also, I'm an atheist. Never mind that I do have a solid code of ethics, non-atheists tend to see a declaration of atheism as spewed sewage from the mindset of someone who is savage and uncivilized.

You see? I am a Barbarian. And that's just fine with me. Keep your clean white togas and ordered society. I'll be over here in my sweats, painting and getting hopped up on caffeine.


  1. ...and this reminds me again why we are friends, although i sometimes do like a bit of 80's music, but i know you can overlook that. Hugs to you, and a great post!

  2. Ok, now I'd like to go visit WA to sit by a river, eat a cold burger and discuss the non-merits of Elvis pelvis and the psycho 80's with you. Dressed in sweats, of course. But with a pedicure - colorful toes makes me happy for some reason, even when they are painted black.

  3. You go, Barbarian woman! Let's hear it for unconventional =) Happy B Day! and I like the very un-barbarian-like music!

  4. my bad - music was from other site, but cued to play when I opened yours. that's better!

  5. Jessica, a "bit" of 80's music will do. After all, there are maybe 10 songs from that decade that I can handle. I still love you.

    Marie... come on over! We'd have a blast together. I have nothing against other's painted toes.

    Tara, thank you... and thanks for stopping by. I'm curious now what music you were listening to!

  6. Good post! I too have felt like an outsider most of my life but I'm starting to feel comfortable being different...I think. I never thought of myself as a barbarian, but I think my grandmother thought I was. She hated it that I would chug whatever I was drinking down in a few seconds. She would try to shame me by telling me that my male cousins didn't drink like that. I couldn't have cared less what my male cousins did...and she didn't know the kinds of things they did behind her back which would have turned her hair grey-er.
    Anyway, happy A-Z blogging!

  7. Thanks, Sherri! And welcome!!

    I'm finally to the point where I'm comfortable with it too. Plus, I've accumulated a handful of other 'outsiders' and it's quite a merry band, we.

  8. I've been called a savage more than once myself.
    great post

    stopping by for the A to Z

  9. Barbarians are more interesting to write about anyway.

  10. You proudly wear that moniker. That's great!

  11. Hey, what's wrong with Talking Heads and U2? And I have to admit a soft spot for the B-52's, Pretenders, and - yes - even the Go-Go's. But I know what you mean. I can't handle any songs from the 70's.
    I salute my favorite Barbarianne!


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