mood, music & friends

today has been an excruciatingly long day. I had class at 9:30 and just finished working about 20 minutes ago. besides about 3 hours taken out of there for eating, running, and walking to and from school i’ve been working the entire time. i’ve been preparing for 401 tomorrow which i’m actually feeling pretty confident about, working on the manual, and doing preliminary preparations with john & elijah for the submission for the semantic web conference. i’ll be focusing on momma communities in LJ. i hope it turns out well because i’m really excited about it. if all goes well it has the potential to turn into several projects, a few of them publishable.

the title of this post was deliberately selected to match the title of the Sunbelt presentation that we gave in February, because music, new music selected by my friends, really kept me going today. we picked up a bunch of new music to listen to on the trip to Ohio this past weekend. among other things we got the Trojan Dub box set 1, the new Sleater-Kinney, which I love, the new White Stripes, which is also wonderful, and some others. But the most interesting thing is a cd that creighton picked up was I am a bird now by Antony and the Johnsons. It took me 2 tracks to really warm up to it. The melodies are relatively simple, the vocals are a bit more complex and all around i find it both haunting and beautiful.

In light of just spending some quality time with dear friends one track in particular has had me thinking. track 5, “you are my sister” talks about friendships that end up resembling something closer to a familial relationship. the relationship that i have with many of my friends feels like this. many of us have known each other for quite some time. we’ve lived together, gone on trips together, gotten in arguments with each other, pissed each other off, worked together, moved away from each other, and still if i can’t see them for an extended period of time, as soon as we get together, it’s like we’ve never been apart. we’ve often referred to each other as extended family, and i think it’s becoming less of a joke to me and far more real.

i wonder to what extent this is a common experience. marginalized communities have modeled this chosen family idea -immigrant communities, slaves, gay and lesbian communities. groups whose family is not present, can not be present or simply doesn’t exist in a conventional way, or those who have been excluded from their biological families. Douglas Coupland and Wes Anderson very often model this phenomenon in their own work – the neighbor kid, the ex-husband, a group of co-workers, all seem to bond together and choose to put up with each other, depend on one another and in general choose to maintain this close bond.

it’s the choosing that’s fascinating to me. advocates of traditional marriage often decry living together (among other things, like you know, gay marriage) prior to marriage. One reason they often cite is the fact that either party can leave at any time. in reality, i don’t think it’s ever that simple. to compare it to chosen family, i suppose i could choose to stop communicating with my friends, or they with me, but i don’t see it happening.

i guess what i’m getting at is that although i have plenty of “real”, biological family, very often my efforts to spend time with my chosen family meet or exceed that of me visiting my “real” family and big life events seem to really focus on that chosen family.

ultimately, i wonder if this is “normal”? is this a more recent phenomena or has it always been this way? and if it is a growing phenomena, will society adapt to this? what if one of my friends became critically ill or worse? i mean you can’t take family leave to care for “just” a friend, but why not? the impact on me, on my life would be just as great if not greater than it would be for a biological family member.

  1. I’d like to see the lyrics and/or hear that song. I’ve been thinking/working on the concept of “family” in a broader sense for a while now. I have a pretty small family, and I don’t know or connect with most of them. My youngest brother is one of my very best friends, and I think sometimes we forget that we’re actually related. He’s my friend first, and my brother second. The rest of my “family” is mostly a group of very close friends, including a set of “parents” who I call to talk to when I need an adult perspective, who send me “daughter” cards for my birthday, and who are the adults I look up to.
    I believe “family” is whatever you make it. I have chosen and created mine, and it has a great deal of value to me. I don’t expect society to ever really get behind it, but then, I guess I don’t really expect society to get behind a lot of what (possibly) more intelligent individuals think/feel about the world around them. :D

  2. jackie said:

    mommas on LJ? that sounds really interesting– I have a lot of momma friends on LJ, let me know if you need some introductions or such.

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