Oh, Those Allens

I spent my morning at Metro Archives. They have nothing on The Thing which is kind of a bummer. We did see that Ben Allen had two wills and that the court ruled that his earlier will was the valid will. But nothing that made me go “Oh, right, I have to put this in my book.”

I did learn one cool thing. You know how Sam Houston had a scandalous Tennessee marriage? His wife, Eliza Allen is the daughter of John Allen. John Allen’s brother is Robert Allen, Ben’s grandfather.

My Mom and her New, Bigger Family

Sorry I didn’t post more yesterday. It was just an emotional rollercoaster and I wasn’t up for trying to make anything of it. I had two long tearful conversations with my mom and a long, hilarious conversation with the Butcher, all about Mom’s new, bigger family.

The thing that the Butcher and I were laughing about is that, when we were younger, my mom went up to a woman in a Dairy Queen in Springfield, Illinois and asked that woman if she was her cousin. Twenty-five years we’ve been teasing my mom about going up to random strangers and asking if they’re related to her. But seeing where the Corcorans lived and where my mom’s family lived, now it’s like, well, shoot, of all the people in the world who apparently could have been asking random strangers if they were her cousin and gotten a yes, Mom was it.

My mom was all “I should call her” and I said, “It’s okay to wait, Mom. How you’re feeling–finding out that there’s a whole part of the family who lived near you and who was kept from you–that’s how she’s feeling, too. Talk to Grandma about it, talk to your sisters. Give yourself a little time to get used to it.”

I think the thing that’s hard to deal with is that something clearly went very wrong for Marie and how much of it was her husband’s family (sounds like a lot) and how much of it was being trapped between a rock and a hard place (sounds like some) and how much of it was  her own fucked up family situation (sounds like some) is hard to say. And yet, there’s that human tendency to want to assign blame–to dole out responsibility for who did what wrong when.

And I think that my mom is a little afraid, too, that her dad or her uncles might be to blame in some way for some of this.

I hope, though, honestly, that we can just let it be a good thing, that we can meet each other figuring that we’re not betraying any dead folks by leaving undone the things they undid, but picking up the threads again later, and tying our own new knots.

Two Things

1. Gordon Belt has an interesting post about tracing his Melungeon heritage. He’s descended from Goins-es, which is a pretty good tell. If you’ve got a Goins ancestor from Appalachia, you need to learn about the Melungeons. The thing I thought was interesting here is that his ancestor was a ferryman. And you know the Hulans ran the the ferry out at the end of Bells Bend. You know I always wondered if that wasn’t a survival mechanism–live in a fairly isolated rural place, control the one easy way in or out, and protect yourself from the kinds of hassles other people who weren’t firmly white got.

2. Let me say up front that I think women should be able to breastfeed wherever they want, whenever they want, for as long as the mom and child are both comfortable with it and able to do it. This is not a comment on breast feeding in and of itself. This is, instead, a realization I had after reading Chris Wage’s post. This is like the headless fatty picture. Are there morbidly obese people? Yes. But when we’re talking about the obesity epidemic, you know, the one we illustrate with headless morbidly obese women, is that an accurate representation of who in our nation is seeing rising obesity rates and what their obesity looks like? No. It’s an image designed to disgust you (hence why you don’t get to see her face) and to, I suspect, annoy you that she’s not making herself aesthetically pleasing to you for you.

See?! See how that is a similar dynamic to the Time breastfeeding cover? Are there young, blond, fit women who are dressed like they just got back from yoga class who defiantly let their three year old stand on a chair and breastfeed out in public? Sure, I guess so. The world is big and it takes all kinds.

But when we’re talking about breastfeeding in public–and in fact, when most people are like “Oh, that baby is too big for that”–who are we actually talking about? Babies. Maybe very tiny toddlers. Mothers who don’t want to stand next to a park bench while Junior stands on it to eat, but mothers who want to sit on the park bench and hold Junior in their arms while he eats.

But, this picture is supposed to disgust you–“the kid is too old!!!!!”–and, I think, annoy you that this woman who is aesthetically pleasing is doing something with her tit other than letting it titillate you (hee). The “ew, gross” thing is easy enough to see. But the tricky thing is to see the message  of “be angry! This woman whose body is for you is not concerned about what you think and thus all women who share this trait with her are like her, defying you.” But that’s actually the more problematic message, especially since most of us don’t consciously see ourselves as wanting to be the boss of everyone. It plays on something deep–the desire to control–that we don’t often have conscious awareness of.