Americaphiles

The Story Of My Fucking Life

Two

Posted by ilbebe on December 15, 2008

2. In the spring of 2007 I read the literary biography of Michael Collins and was introduced to both the genre and the man. The name of the tome was The Big Fellow, by Frank O’Connor. I came to discover that Frank O’Connor’s birth name was Michael O’Donovan and that he, like Michael Collins, hailed from County Cork, the ancestral home of my father’s mother.

I came to start thinking about the fact that so-called birthrights, such as names, family ties, and birthdays, hold tremendous power, more than any tangible inheritance or wealth. I thought of the few famous people who had the same name as me. Sam Phillips, who founded Sun Records in the year my father was born. Emo Phillips, the absurdist comedian. Landon Donovan, the soccer player. Alfred Landon, governor of Kansas, defeated in the biggest electoral landslide in US history by FDR in 1936. Michael Landon, of Bonanza, Little House on the Prarie, and Highway to Heaven, amongst many other roles. I did the math and found that I was born ninety days after the assassination of John Lennon, an amount of time significant in the life-cycle rebirth beliefs of the Spokane people, the people of my father’s father’s mother. I was moved to tears by both of Jonathan Safran Foer’s first two novels and became aware that his family’s ancestral home was in Ukraine, the same as my mother’s family. I began to have delusions of grandeur and started appreciating reggae because I felt myself a kindred Lion of Zion, born with an anointment to suffer many trials in the eyes of my maternal parent’s old gods only to prove my worth as a prophet and a liberator.

I arrived in San Diego, the place of my father’s and my own birth, and the final resting place of my father’s father, who was killed in the so-called Korean War two months before my father was born. I saw the world in flames and felt sick often, smoking cigarettes to quell the awful feeling that I was supposed to kill and destroy in order to further the cause of harmony for myself and all peoples. It just didn’t make sense, but I would lose track of how many times a point I’d arrived at had become counterintuitive to itself.

I wrestled with this perceived burden for about fourteen months, and in the fifteenth month, I realized that no one sacrifices lambs anymore, no man be an island, and no one need die before their time ever again. But a change must be made, and thus comes the charge:

Do not relent

Do not tire

Stay hungry

Stay poor

Stay full

Stay satisfied

Stay awake

Rest

Stay humble

Stay proud

Stay positive

Doubt lightly

Believe in miracles

Don’t count on them

Stay gracious

To thine own self be true-

And thus every soul who saves themselves first saves the world entire…

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