Posts Tagged ‘rural life’

What’s Happening in Obscurity?

May 30, 2016

Middle School Girls

(Deeper Into the Woods – And Out the Other Side)

In the rural area where I live, high school is often the high point of society.  School popularity and status are hard fought attainments.  They color a large part of the rest of your life if you remain.  And sports events comprise the predominant community activity.  The arc of a life is often to begin playing sports as a youngster; realize the height of your success in high school; marry, have kids and start them in sports; attend all their games and argue with the other parents about coaches and playing times in order to help your child reach the arc of their lives.  (What with Title IX, this occurs rather frequently now among both sexes.)  Then it’s grandchildren, a proud family tradition, and finally history.

Sports events are the engine which both runs community activity and provides social transportation.  The high school alumni vie very hard to having winning seasons.  Like pro clubs, they recruit promising athletes from outside their districts.  Move them in with local relatives – or sometimes an entire family will uproot themselves to help the athletic advancement of a particular promising member.  Fathers (and mothers) lose sleep over mistakes made during middle school football or basketball, or wrestling…

Suffice to say, star high school athletes take on a celebrity status – whether they will it or not.

Recently, at a family get together, a current high school star’s girlfriend was complaining about a swarm of stalking middle school girls, and particularly one who would not quit texting her boyfriend.  These middle school girls will often try to get their pictures taken with the athletes at games, (often with the help of their mothers).  They assume familiarity.  They build a web of salacious rumors.  They create drama.  They fuel one another.  This particular “psycho”, (as the star’s girlfriend referred to the 14 year old), had texted her athlete boyfriend.  The boy pleaded with her to stop texting.  “Can’t we just talk?” she texted.

The young athlete has tried blocking her calls, but through some app she is able to assume another phone number.  So that now he has seven or eight blocked numbers on his phone all labeled “stalker”.  Given the age differences, any physical proximity would be legally perilous.  So he’s shelved notions of dropping by to talk to her parents.  Going to the police is an escalation, perhaps to be avoided.  Recently the girl visited his girlfriend at her worksite, then phoned in a withering customer performance review.  His girlfriend investigated the number on the complaint, tracing it back to the young “psycho”.  After much back and forth texting, with the girlfriend asking her repeatedly to just go away – the girl texted, “Can’t we just talk?”

The scenario brings to mind Hollywood and the celebrities who are stalked by the tabloids, which are constantly vying to give their readers some association with fame and glamour.

On a darker note this tale brings to mind “The Crucible”, playwright Arthur Miller’s recreation of the terrors a group of dissembling young girls was able to visit upon the Puritan colony of Salem.

Photo taken from Google Images


What’s Happening in Obscurity?

November 17, 2014

Ohio River1WEb

Deep In the Woods

Editor’s Note:  I touched on this is a previous post: “In the Big Cities There’s Really Only One Game in Town, and It’s Out of Town”.   (

I write, eat, sleep, read, and pee…  while the Ohio river flows past, a couple of blocks away.  Parkersburg is across the bridge.  From there the hills and hollows of West Virginia stretchto the East.  The Hatfields and McCoys fought not so many hours drive through the woods to the South.  And the nearest cities of any appreciable size – for example Pittsburg, Wheeling or Columbus – are two or three hours of woodsy scenery away also.

Marietta flower2  Porch2

We are very much a part of American History here.  The template for Westward Expansion began just up river in Marietta, gateway to the Northwest Territories.   At the end of my street is a historical marker denoting the location of a major stopover on the Underground Railway for slaves being snuck across river from what was then the slave state of Virginia.  The end of the street also boasts a museum, which is open a few hours/week.  Like mine, the flipside to a lot of small towns around the Mid-Ohio Valley which post signs boasting of their history, is that there is nothing happening presently.  I mean, it’s still.

All of which suites me fine.  Gridlocked Congress?  Could a rational citizen ask for more?   Lackluster economy?  Today’s gonna be pretty much like tomorrow.  Lack of intellectual inquiry?   Leaves me time to set on the porch.  And the mail still runs.  I  can download movies.  The store is only a few blocks away.  And I can argue with whomever I please about whatever I please on the internet all I want.     Marietta flower

Currently we folk in Belpre, Ohio kind of mosey about in obscurity.  Which, as the culture heats up, has become not a bad place to be.  As a recent article in the Atlantic points out, the densely populated liberal urban areas with their higher housing costs and taxes are squeezing out the middle class.  The income gap liberals so bemoan, is widening there.  And it makes me suspect  if  perhaps they (the liberals) don’t “protest too much”.  But I’m not protesting at all.  Because in these small towns a low income person can still live in a fine neighborhood, as can someone of middle income.  We are not as segregated as the larger metropolises.   Two blocks to the northeast of me is a trailer court.  Two blocks to the south, old, stately homes along the river.  There are abandoned homes here and there, but even the abandoned homeowners mow their yards.  Go figure.

Here, in the Mid Ohio Valley, the neighborhood is quiet at night.  No burglar bars.  People sit on their porches.  They smile and wave.  And they leave the light on for you.  The worst you hear is a car driving past which rattles or rumbles a bit, driven by a smoker with her druggie husband and the tattooed kid.  (Hey!  Just joking… almost.)   The bars are few and the churches many.  The ideology which drives the big cities wafts through and pulls a few away.  The rest remain, satisfied to assemble their own meaning from experience and personal reflection.  “The poor will always be with you,” seems an established and accepted biblical truism – and like as not, they are with you right next door.  So you’re not going to forget them.  Still, they keep their lawn mowed, as I’ve said, and mind their own business.Porch1

There are certainly a raft of what my city friends would call problems: poverty, low wages, lack of jobs, obesity, poorly educated populace, few opportunities, and voting Republican… the list could go on and on.  But it’s a liberals list.   The employment here is predominantly tort and personal injury law, the government, pensioners, burgeoning medical facilities and funeral homes… all feeding off of the chemical plants up and down the river, and the old coal and gas industry with its expanded fracking activities.  But from a local conservative’s point of view, the problems are that the ‘country’s going to hell’ while they’re happy to be here.  Life is real.  It hasn’t got half of itself lopped off and run through a governmental re-education grinder (sometimes called colleges)… until it is some kind of torpid, characterless, whining mass of metaphysical complaints kept alive by press coverage and a solution of haphazard entitlements and benefits.  My neighbor’s home is slowly falling down around his ears because he’s lazy.  But he’s honest and ethical and isn’t asking me for anything, and we get along fine.  He’s pretty much how human beings are built… when they’re run right, and left to their own devices.  As am I.

Photos by Carl Nelson

What’s Happening in Obscurity

November 16, 2014

Deep In the Woods

Editor’s note:  Wordpress has really screwed the pooch, as far as I am concerned.  They’ve taken a format I could work with and changed it to suit their needs somehow… but it doesn’t suit mine.  I can’t post a coherent article with the software snafu they’ve created.  How programmers can be so high-handed has unhinged me since I’ve had my first computer… and left me screaming )(*%*^((*&!!!!!  Why do mass murders never strike out against programmers?  It seems such an obvious public service.   Sigh….  Goodbye world.

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