Utah Savage = courage. A mind that races 50 miles per hour, a refusal to conform, and a womb like hunger for more, more, more, whatever that more means in any given moment. Peggy isn’t quintessential anything. Forego compartmentalizing this dame to fit into a category that works best for you, as far as definitions go. You’ll miss the subtext of her identity – the opportunity to dwell inside her head, a sacred, frenetic space, by way of each post on Utah Savage.
What endears me to Peggy and her work the most is that she bleeds gallons of subtext. A gifted, soulful writer infused with the kind of honesty most of us dance around, or skip over. Ready or not, she’s going to spill it. I regard this is a tremendous gift. Read her once, and you’ll be hooked for life.
It is with great pleasure, I present a dame I adore, Utah Savage!
What’s my name? I have so many names I hardly know where to begin. For instance, my mother was married twice and her first husband was my biological father, so I had one last name as a small child, but when my mother remarried I was adopted and had another last name. I go with the second name because it’s the name on my birth certificate. That name’s Pendleton. My mother gave me her first name–Margaret. But neither of us was actually called Margaret. She went by Maggy, and since that name was taken I was called Peggy. My middle name is Evan. I always planned to change my name to Evan Kinghorn Savage, using my middle name, and two other family names. But somehow I never got around to doing it legally. I was also going to get a tattoo on my ass and learn to ride a Harley Fat Boy by the time I was fifty. This reinvention of myself as Evan Kinghorn Savage, wild old woman, has yet to take place but every moment comes with amazing possibility.
Then there are all the married names I’ve had. For a brief while my last name was Franks, then McCormick, and my last married name was Blackmon.
I was a bit of a professional student. I attended three universities (the first as an early admissions student, skipping my senior year of high school) but I never had the goal of credentials. I had the goal of learning. I liked the process, the great grades and praise, but didn’t particularly care about the degrees. There were too many academics in the family to think this was a good profession for me. I even married an academic.
I was through marrying by the time I was thirty. I used the “three strikes and you’re out” method for making this decision. I left the third husband (an alcoholic writer condemned to correct and encourage other writers, but not to write) and tossed this off as I was heading out the door, “Whoever wants a divorce first has to pay for it.,” That meant when he got ready to remarry (as I knew he would) he’d be happy to pay for the divorce since his remarriage would come with a wife to cook for him. I took nothing with me when I left, and asked for only one thing. I wanted my maiden name back. So I started using my maiden name without carefully reading the divorce decree. My driver’s license has one name, but my social security card still has me as… well, someone else. Are you confused yet? I know I am.
My blog pseudonym was a snap decision made at the insistence of young friends visiting from New York who decided I must blog. I didn’t know what blogging meant, but they set up the account for me and only asked a couple of questions. The first question was “What should we call your blog?” And out of my mouth flew the words, “Utah Savage.” I think of it as a description more than a name, though there is that maternal family last name. But actually it’s alienation from the place I live, as much as it is a family name. Do we see a pattern emerging here? Alienation from the place I find myself has twice determined the name I use. And I do believe that everything is political, so politics is in even the most personal choices we make.
Why did my young friends decide I must blog? I think it was that I have been writing for thirty years with nothing to show for it but mountains of paper: several versions of a novel, several essays or rants, whichever you prefer, and the odd poem here and there. I used my computer as a word processor. I was ignorant of the internet and hampered by my own disinclination to use the new technology. The only time my computer had been used as anything other than a typewriter was when my ex lover was paying me a visit. He used my computer to surf porn sites. This particular use of my computer turned me off to the internet even more. It also infected my last computer with a number of worms and viruses as if all that porn had given it a fatal STD. Who’d have ever guessed I’d end up with seven blogs?
What does being a woman mean to me? This is not a simple question to answer. It is politics that have determined my early experience of being a woman. It is the generation I was born into and the place I came from that sent me on my particular trajectory as a female to grow up in a 1950’s and early ’60’s man’s world. Patriarchy was the norm when I was born, at the end of WWII, no matter where you lived. And my mother’s family came out of the “Indian reservation” in Oklahoma to settle in West Texas. They were fleeing the “shame” of their Native American ancestry. My mother married a man who wanted to travel when he got home from the war. He was older, handsome, and would get her out of Texas. The fact that he came into the marriage with three sons was something I don’t believe she’d thought out. As it turned out she hated being a mother. This hatred was cemented when she had me, her one and only baby. So when I grew up, motherhood was a thing to be avoided.
I have a lifetime of stories of conflict and flight that are fairly universal stories of women. I had that one pregnancy and that one abortion, the three marriages. I’m always in therapy so the obsessive examination of the path that led me here is part of makes me who I am, and not least of the things that led me here is my bipolar disorder. Old and crazy–that’s how I see myself now. But I’m very successful for a bipolar woman with a family life that would have driven anyone mad. Suicide is a leading cause of death for most of us. We do not, for the most part, live into our forties. I’ve beat the odds, so it’s all bonus time from here on out. I’m making the most of it. And telling all my secrets.
I reinvent myself (at least in my mind and for a moment) almost every day.
If you think I’m wrong about everything being political, let’s talk Barbie dolls.