Saturday, April 03, 2010

She was answering the wrong question, of course--the question I actually asked. She talked about doing lots of things (not just school), not letting yourself be owned by a world that's poisonous to you. She teaches for only a month straight; adored as she is some places, she still has no stomach for the establishment.

I did not expect that every question would be like mine, but they were--almost all of them. How do I deal with it when people commodify my sexuality? How do I teach my son not to be a part of this ugliness? How have you done it? How do we hang on to our truth and ourselves in such a messy world? This is what we were really asking. We have read your work. There's no hiding how clearly you see, so share with us--help us--save us. Help us untangle all these things; help us know we're not alone.

And she feels invaded by it, I think, by all our asking and our wanting--but also, loved.

She signed my feminist theory--Day!! in sweet sisterhood --love, bell hooks.

I am glad.

Friday, April 02, 2010

I'm sure it was too stuffy--the thing that I actually said. It was nervous, the first question of the class. "So you were in this complicated relationship, and you were this young, religious, rural black girl going to Stanford, and you expressed difficulty fitting in with the academic establishment--difficulty writing about things you had no interest in. . . and you talk about how this was a time of finding your voice. . . did you ever resolve that, feel like you found a place in academia? What advice would you have for a student now who was having struggles finding a place in the academic world?"

What I meant was different. What I meant was: You understand, I know you understand, it was in this book and I couldn't stop reading. . . You know what it's like; he was important to you, and for the first time you were with someone who loved what you loved, loved the work you knew you were for. He was the man who you could write with, who you could try to be free with, this rare and precious thing. He was strong and kind, and the gateway who ultimately restrained you. It was complicated. You understand.

You understand because you stayed after he left you bleeding. You understand because you stood in the kitchen and listened to him fuck with your reality, claiming one thing when he'd said the opposite right before. You understand because, for all the help he gave, he also held you back; in the twelve years you were together you didn't publish, but after, after there was a flood.

After, was there freedom and loneliness and peace? Is it worth it, being alone, but making something? And must that be the choice, only to have one?

And how do you make that change? How do you stand up to the establishment--this establishment that hated you--enough to work for it, how did you come to respect yourself after investing so deeply in someone who would not respect you?

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Today was different; feels of possibility. I woke up to an alarm after five hours sleep to finish writing about Irigaray, finished that in plenty of time and got ahead on my reading. After class, I spent four hours grocery shopping for my sister.

It was interesting. I was doing things for myself from an early age, but I've never shopped for a family of eight. The amount of planning involved--especially with a diet high in produce--is spectacular. Also, the repeated push-starting of the car (not my car, which would have completely stressed me out) and a mild blizzard contributed to the sense of adventure. :)

And now I'm home, in pain (a high 4) but thrilled. There are vegetables in my fridge, a backup jar of nutella in my pantry, and--perhaps most importantly--a dozen packets of seeds across my desk. I have been counting them, reading and re-reading, arranging them. I've narrowed it to four I definitely want to grow and six others in the running. They are my sister's seeds, shared because that's what we do, and because out of the packets that I choose, I'll only need a few. It's important not to get involved with too many different varieties. This is, after all, the girl who killed lavender and rosemary in Utah making her first beginner garden.

Before now I never appreciated how much fantasy goes into planning a garden, but I'm making up for lost time, savoring every choice in vivid detail. The nutty, crisp warm of biting into a parsnip? Or the high contrast of casper and sweet pumpkins sprawling across my yard, disconcertingly orange and white against the lush green of their vines? What do okra plants even look like? And what kind of tomatoes do I want for making my first eggplant parmesan completely from scratch?

I also have, from this afternoon, 20$ of un-designated cash in my coat pocket. I would hate to associate poverty with virtue, but I think that it (poverty) can, for some people in some circumstances, be good. I'm one of those people in one of those times; some alchemy of my current circumstances allows me to unpack the magic in a twenty-dollar bill like never before. I was recently out of gas, funds, and fresh food all at the same time, but still had my basic needs completely covered. Knowing what I can do without makes it easier to understand what the things I have are worth--and turns a small amount of cash into much more freedom than I thought it could be.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

I'm sure it's more complicated than this, but--Let's pretend there are two parts to Day. There's hyper-critical (in the good way of critical), academic, intellectual me, who is smart, often a jerk (though often on accident), and to some people intimidating. Then there's the soft nougatie center: melodramatic, playful, silly, self-important, exceptionally empathetic, passionate, sad, and in many ways childlike--in short, unapologetically emotional as all hell.

Introspective thought of the Day: Both personas make people uncomfortable. The thing that sometimes makes people comfortable is to put on diplomatic-face, which is EXHAUSTING--and feels more like a hard earned skill than an authentic presentation of myself. Except, I do authentically want to make people comfortable. Sometimes. In some ways. I think.

No sir, I am Not prickly. I don't know why you people say those things about me. Humph.

An exception: Day in a crisis--who is simply badass. Maybe I'm just more comfortable around people who are uncomfortable?

Lately, childlike emotional Day seems to have been putting in more appearances. Oh crying in public. . . you knew I wouldn't abandon you.

surely there's got to be some sort of middle ground?

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

This feminism class was definitely a good idea.

Today, Irigary. I'm not sure what she's saying, and I'm not sure I will agree with it at all when I do understand. But: she tries to make an accounting of how things are and what there is to do about it, taking into consideration both 1) the obvious differences between the sexes and 2)the role language plays in psychology and the construction of power. So far, it's refreshing and intriguing. . . and, let's face it, slightly creepy. (As one girl in my class put it, "anyone else here feel a little bit molested after reading this?") I'm hoping to get together a study group and really cover it in depth this summer.

Also about feminism class: awesome people. The only thing that tempts me to return to school this fall is the possibility of getting enough people together for an advanced feminism class, which surely would have the same effect and then some. :)

Monday, March 29, 2010

So blogging, right?

Blogging (at least personal blogging) is the ultimate in fundamentally self-indulgent mediums. You just. . . talk about yourself, and maybe people will read. And when I abandoned any aspirations to interesting content--and started posting constantly--I assumed most everyone would stop reading. The great thing about being self-indulgent on a blog is that no one who doesn't want to has to spare the time. It's deeply voluntary; I tell people who give me guilty looks ("I just haven't had the time!") not to worry about it. Every day is an awful lot to expect people to donate towards my preening/writing practice.

However: This is not how things went down. Someone is still reading. In fact, I'd say it has to be at least a dozen someones, based on the hit counter. It was a pleasing but disconcerting discovery, mostly disconcerting because I have no idea who these people would be. Today I found out that one of the someones is my friend S.

Here's why this is particularly awesome news:

--S is awesome. Right now, she is doing* this really cool thing. Additionally, she is kind, a good listener, really smart, and I have never known her to have an unsubstantiated opinion.

--I've been wanting to get to know her better for a fairly longish time. Yay for technology furthering social connection!

--After reading a month's worth of emotional exhibitionism, S is still interested.

This last is a weirdly big deal, and it's made me think a lot about the social/emotional mechanics of blogging. These are things that take up a high percentage of my thoughts; ultimately, I need friends who are OK, even comfortable, with that. They aren't things I'd tell people, usually. . . almost ever. . . so it's hard to meet that requirement, without something like this. Hmn.

And this is the part where I go to sleep. More on this later, maybe.

*ah, and by doing, I mean founding the organization. I told you she was awesome.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

drive and happiness

The problem might be: I associate my drive to change the world for the better with the poor condition of my own life. Not in all ways, of course--I would be fine with having a blockbuster academic career filled out with various sorts of social activism--as long as I wasn't happy.

I value my drive to change the world for the better. There's something terrible about the norm of acceptance; accept the genocides, the lies, the general unpardonable suffering of other human beings. Accept because they aren't here, and potential solutions are complicated. It's true that there's no social pressure to say these things are alright, but to be normal is to do nothing, or to do only what is comfortable--and, to condemn the norm is called unreasonable.

It doesn't seem like it would be possible to be happy without cutting yourself off from the incredible amount of pain that goes on in the world. It seems like you'd have to stop seeing all those people, who constantly hurt, as people. I'm afraid of being the norm; I feel that when I put resources into things that make me happy, they could be going to something better. I feel that when I'm happy I'm complacent. I feel that when I'm happy I'll start being part of the problem instead of part of the solution.