Wednesday, April 2, 2014

B is for Barbarian

Burning Through

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

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. 

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

My own mother would agree on certain principles. Hard as she tried, and much to her chagrin, she never could turn my sister and me 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 false, and fidgety, and grumpy.

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 - people who were considered to be outsiders, social outcasts. Again, it works. 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. Good job, Mom... I was well named. Barbara means "stranger."

I'm in touch with my inner savage, my primitive wild woman. I think that must be 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 and in writing. There is a need to go to a darker instinct in order to translate the soul gunk into something tangible. Well, for me there is.

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 apologize 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 and social norms: 

-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 has a ring of insincerity to it. Right around the same time that Elvis was being lauded, there was a humble black man playing guitar (Playing?! He made that thing talk!), hopping across the stage, and singing his heart out. His musical influence upon rockers for the past 60+ years is tremendous and largely untold. That man was Chuck Berry - he should have been the one that the music world crowned and hailed as The King

-While I'm very well read, I think little of the works 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 steak out of my teeth while others nibble on salad and 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. 

-I'm an atheist. Never mind that I do have a solid code of ethics and a ridiculously spiritual life, non-atheists tend to see a declaration of atheism as spewed sewage from the mindset of someone who is savage and uncivilized. Atheism is often seen as something that must be cleaned up, swept into a bin, and incinerated.

You see? I am a Barbarian. And that's just fine with me. Keep your clean white togas and well-ordered society. I'll be over here in my sweats, getting hopped up on caffeine, painting, writing, cussing in true, rowdy, barbarian form, unapologetically attacking castles, and running wild through the woods.


  1. Except for being an atheist, I fit into your description of a barbarian. It was interesting when we took a personality test as part of a team building group that I came in as only 2% of the population. I have always known I was different and as I've gotten older revel in it. I don't believe in titles and respect has to be earned. GO BARBARIANS!

  2. It's a pretty great descriptive word, even when people misuse it. Awesome post and terrific theme. Happy A to Z!

  3. I really enjoyed this and felt that I really got to know you better. Great post!

  4. I like this. It explains a lot. :)

  5. I was with you up to the 80's. You are clearly an uncivilized, commpiepinko, hippe throwback.
    Or in your native tongue: "Ugh. Ugh Ahh. Ugh burble fart ugh. Ooo-eee-ooo-ah-ah."

  6. I love your painting in this piece too! fabulous!


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.