Merricat Blackwood (SPOILERS) / by Anna Rae

I read entire fiction sections in school libraries, went to the public library on Saturdays mornings and waited for it to open on, and wanted to 'go to bed' at 6 pm so that I could sneak into my closet and read all night.  It was, indeed, escapism as my childhood had many events and individuals that my young brain found unpleasant, to say the least, and to maintain stamina and optimism I looked outside my realm for examples of kindness and pleasure.  I certainly had some glimpses in the real world of these things but they were few and far between and I guess I needed more examples.  I don't feel like I need to livejournal this blog up by turning it into my personal  social networking therapist because, for the most part, I'm well healed from the traumas and/or working peacefully through it.  However, to give you an idea the escapism was from:  sexual, verbal, physical abuse, and abandonment.  Almost every adult that had me in their care chose someone or something over me and that's the hardest emotional hurdle to overcome.  In fact, one time the ultimatum was, literally, given to my father "me or them" and we left within four hours.  Which leads me to this:  books.  When we settled into young adulthood in Highland, Indiana the school system wouldn't allow me to enroll without custody papers and since we left without court orders we had to wait for the cases to finalize which can take FOREVER. So, because of the effective systems in place I missed nearly all of sixth grade. "It's not a big deal," the school said, "sixth grade is mostly review anyway."  I remember watching children come and go to the bus stop and hypothesizing their home lives. 'She's probably like Anastasia Krupnik and has a wart on her thumb and an annoying younger sister."  I ran out of books to read so I asked my mom what her most favorite book was as a kid and she told me it was "We Have Always Lived in the Castle" by Shirley Jackson and I promptly went to the library to score a copy. It's not a long book and it's not terribly challenging as far as content or language but then and now I can see why it was her favorite and maintain why it is my favorite still. Back to my last post about being an outsider and wanting to fit in, Merricat Blackwood is the epitome of outcast as she was responsible for one, possibly three, murders in her own home.  No, I had no desire to kill the terrible adult figures in my life but I quickly gained respect for this character as she struggled through trips to the village and attacks from her neighbors. She remained scarily calm and her own escapism is well documented.  It reminds me so much of Joseph Cornell's shadowboxes. They are both a poetic still frame theater for a reclusive hero.  And that's the punchline if this isn't a joke but a point being made, she ends up being the hero. 

 

 

We Have Always Lived in the Castle

We Have Always Lived in the Castle