Saturday, December 07, 2002

FUCK FUCK FUCK! My blogrolling code is out of date. My blog roll is collapsed. I don’t have the time to rebuild it in my blogger blog today. I feel so cut off!
My Mom & Ken are both Aries. They push and push. I think that’s part of why Ken is home. His physical therapist wasn’t sure he was going to let him go home but he really improved in the last few days. He pushes himself. So being pushy has its advantages. And Mom is always wanting to get going. And they both have strong notions about right and wrong.
I, on the other hand, am always wanting to philosophize, consider and muse. I feel sort of bowled over by them most of the time.
I had trouble sleeping last night. I tossed around. The first thing I heard this morning was my Mom saying, “Why did you pull the blanket out?”
“Huh? Wah?”
“The blanket isn’t tucked in. Were you cold?”
The blanket was no longer tucked in at the end of the bed.
It’s an odd little story, I know.
I reminded Mom to pay a bill yesterday but I reminded her a block too late and she said. “Why didn’t you remind me earlier?” It meant that she needed drive around the block. Not a big deal.
When I was younger this was the kind of thing that made me feel picked on. But I watch her now and I see that it’s just the way she vents.
Still. I begin to feel braced for attack.
I made butternut squash soup, fennel & apple salad and green onion biscuits for dinner last night. Tonight I’m making beet risotto and mixed green and cucumber salad.
They only have one phone line so I’m still not getting much Internet time.
I still think Ken may have come home too early. He got to the end of the hall today and couldn’t move his right leg. I got the wheel chair and we got him over to his rocker.

Friday, December 06, 2002

We went up to the physical rehab place to get Ken and bring him home. I’m not sure he should be home. He still seems pretty weak.
I’m not sure how to write about all this.
Right now he and Mom are taking naps and I’m trying to read around the blogs. I’m missing out on great a great discussion or two. But I’m going to be making butternut squash soup for dinner and I only have a few minutes of computer time. I owe e-mails. Soon. Meanwhile the shout outs are making my day, so thank you!
My Mom & I shared a room for the first thirteen years of my life. When I was about eight she bought a bedroom set. There were two single beds that could be made into bunk beds, a tall dresser, a short dresser with a mirror, and a desk. When I was a teenager it was the furniture in my room and when I left home it became the guest room furniture. I’m sleeping on the same bed I slept on when I was a kid. My dolls are in a chair in the corner. But it doesn’t look like my room. There’s no poster of Jon Lennon, or books, or records. There’s stuff that holds memory for me but it isn’t really mine.
Mom is high strung, in general, and worse in times of stress. Little things are setting her off. She gets fussy and I get quiet and moody. I’m still pretty tired from the trip.
So. Must make dinner now.

Thursday, December 05, 2002

Here’s the saga.
I got into Atlanta at 2:00AM my time. And followed the signs to my connecting flight. I had a few hours to wait and I saw a Starbucks. As much I hate them I was so dazed and unsure of what was where that I just succumbed to the need for coffee. I got a carrot muffin, a bottle of water and a medium coffee, found a place to sit where there was a screen showing CNN and tried to shake off four hours of plane misery. (More on that later.) Then it was time to get on the second plane to get to Ashville. We had to walk down these stairs to the tarmac because it was a smaller plane. There weren’t that many of us. Then they told us to get off the plane because the weather was too bad to fly to Ashville. They rebooked me on a plane that was leaving in four hours. I found a corner and tried to sleep, mostly I read. At a certain point I went up to the gate to ask if I could get my seat assignment and was told that I wouldn’t be leaving till 6:00 PM. By then I was dingy from lack of sleep. I called Mom and she told me that it didn’t seem to her that I would get a flight, the weather was just too bad. So she told me to go to a hotel. I was so fucking tired. I went down stairs and found a wall of ads for hotels and phones to pick up and use to book reservations. I called a Best Western and they said they’d send a van. But they didn’t ask for a name or anything. I stood outside in the cold waiting. The guy in the Holiday Inn Van asked who I was waiting for and I told him. He said, “Well just come sit in here and stay warm.” He was nice. I decided to go the Holiday Inn. I ordered a burger from room service, ate it and went to sleep for a while. Watched a movie. Slept. Talked to my Mom on the phone. I got a plane today. I’m here. I’m a little bit …uh…whacked.
I'm way behind on all things blog. I promise I'll catch up soon.

Tuesday, December 03, 2002

All the frenetic posting I did yesterday was a great way to purge stress. But at some point (Maybe now.) I’ll stop posting and probably won’t post again until …well…I dunno. Maybe Wednesday night. I repacked and put back two books. (Heavy sigh.) I went to the bank and got some cash. Bought some gum for the plane. I keep going through a mental checklist, over and over.
Mom says there may be ice in NC so, she may not drive up to the airport until it melts off a bit. So then after flying all night and changing planes I’ll be hanging out in an airport in Ashville for who knows how long. Maybe. If it’s too bad she’s going to get someone else to drive.
It seemed like there was something else I was going to say. But … I don’t remember what it was.
Oh yeah.
Kell mentions handling work in a chaotic kitchen. Yes. I did. I was thinking about that this morning when I read Paul’s cool interview with Anita Roddick. I understand that she tried to bring some insight into the world of fat bodies. She tried. She says she “cherishes speed and physical spontaneity.” Yeah, me too. When you are cooking in a restaurant that serves 1500 meals a day you learn how move quick and spontaneously. And you have to be able to shift gears, and sustain that kind of movement for hours. And I was bout the size she was when she wore her fat suit the whole time I worked in restaurants.
But she’s right about one thing. She says, “When big women reclaim their language, only then can they reclaim their place in history.” Yes. And the word is fat. Fat women.
I didn’t expect I’d be able to sleep last night. I almost never do the before I travel. I woke up every two hours and struggled to get back to sleep. I always hope that it means I’ll be worn out and tired enough to sleep on the plane. But I usually can’t sleep on the plane. Which usually means I’ll spend my first day feeling a little bit like I’m coming off acid. Only I was eighteen when I did acid and I can only speculate how much worse it would feel now.

The sexism/girlism conversation continues. But it has expanded. And contracted. I spent a certain amount of time reading the comments at Shelly’s last night. I read them over and over. There was something happening that I couldn’t totally track. But it made me think about an event in the little hippy college where I got my BA.

A young man wrote a response paper to a piece by Richard Rodriguez. Part of the assignment was to try and write in a way that was not familiar. So the young man wrote a racist response to the Rodriquez. It was a spectacularly stupid thing to do. His teacher was a Cuban woman. There were women of color in his class. Things got really out of hand and there was a school wide meeting to discuss racism. You’d have to know how weird the little school is to understand how that could happen. School wide means that about fifty of us squeezed into a meeting room. The young man was desperate to convince the young women that he was not a racist. They were beyond accepting that.

In his urgency to convince them he kept moving across the room toward them. And finally I said, “You know, whether or not you understand why, these women have fear in their bodies because of what you have written. You need to sit down and wait for them to feel safe.” This was a very thin, medium height fellow. He was not a threat, physically. And what he was written was so dumb it was hard to take seriously. But the women had taken him seriously. And they needed to have their feelings be the more important truth. He just needed to say he was sorry. And wait.

I know that it’s hard for men who don’t see them selves as sexist to understand what women mean when they call out something that a man says that feels sexist. In their minds they’re trying so hard to understand and they aren’t getting credit for being the good guys that they are. It’s like liberal white folks who don’t get it when people of color don’t trust them. Liberal white folks can be so offended by any inference that they may be racist. It makes them feel bad.

Yeah. Sometimes stuff feels bad.

And Mike. I really do think Mike is cool. And it may be that sometimes his tone, his way of being tongue in cheek, or purposefully self-deprecating, kinda backfires. I’m uncomfortable with the idea that I am naturally loving. It may seem odd. I certainly hope I am loving. But either we all are or none of us are. And I actually think Mike would be the first to agree with me. We are all naturally loving. Mike’s distinction of me as loving and Dorothea and Shelly as not being loving to themselves is one in which he allies himself with them. He says he sees himself in them. And I believe he does. But, in a way, he is, obdurately, seeing them in the way he wants to see them. Which is, I think, part of the problem they are having with him. The closer he moves toward them the more worried I become, in the same way I was worried in that room back at school.

I think Mike is saying something very real. Those things that bother us most about another person are often the thing we have the hardest time seeing in ourselves. And when it comes to things like all the isms our hearts and minds sometimes work against each other. Or maybe it’s that they tumble around each other. One minute we lead with our heart and the next with our mind. And the debate shifts from the macro to the micro and becomes …loopy.

But. No matter what was said, or is said, at the end of the day, some women (count me as one) felt hurt by what seemed like casual and offhanded acknowledgement of a way of seeing women in the world.

Jonathon wrote a post. As I read it I felt like months of tension dropped from my heart. And, at the risk of sounding self-serving, he did a very cool thing. He let a woman have the last word.

At this moment, in the conversation I feel truly moved by the courage and willingness and care that people have shown in all these posts and comments. And there is a tension. It’s the tension of knowing that we are all still in the conversation. And it is a difficult one. And our hearts are on the line.

And it is not over.

Monday, December 02, 2002

I packed. And the whole time I’m looking at stuff and thinking, Mom will like this. Mom might not like that. I’m 49 years old and suddenly, in some very strange way, my Mom is dressing me.

And then there’s the problem of the books. I was hoping to put them in my suitcase so that I don’t have to haul them around in my laptop case. But my suitcase isn’t that big. So is it a Sophie’s choice moment? Which of the six books that I was going to take do I leave?
I love my country
as it dies
in war and pain
before my eyes
I walk the streets
where disrespect has been
the sin of politics
the politics of sin
the heartless ness that darkens my soul
on Christmas

Red and Silver on the leaves
fallen white snow
runs through the trees
Madonnas weep
for wars of hell
They blow out the candles
and haunt Noel
on Christmas

Black Panther brothers
bound in jail
Chicago Seven
and the justice scale
homeless Indian
of Manhattan Isle
all God's sons have gone to trail
and all God's love is out of style
on Christmas

Now the time
has come to fight
laws in the book of love burn bright
for thee America

Christmas in my soul
Christmas in my soul
Christmas in my soul
-- Laura Nyro
So I’m doing laundry.
And I’m taking the recycling down. And I grab the almost empty bottle of cranberry juice, almost except for a little bit in the bottom. And I think to myself. Self, you should rinse that bottle out before you throw it in the recycling. But I don’t. For no good reason. And, of course, it tips over on the way down the three flights of stairs to the recycling bin and I leave a trail of juice. A really long trial. Which I try to wipe up with some of the newspaper recycling.
I’m using laundry detergent fumes because who ever does the shopping around here managed to get two bottles of dish detergent but not a back up bottle of laundry detergent. I wish she’d get it together.
But the nice thing about all these stupid little irritations is that it’s keeping my mind off the airplane and the month in NC and all the things that are really worrying me.

You know what I hate? I hate the tired old trope of political correctness. To me it’s just another way of saying shut up.
Here’s a view into my funny little world.
In the morning I grab my breakfast, take it to my desk and start reading blogs and writing my page. All the while I’m listening to the radio. When Democracy Now is over I put on MSNBC, or CNN or Channel 26. But I’m taking a shower, straightening up the apartment, so I’m not sitting there watching it all. I, sort of, tune in and out. And, when I get back to the desk to work on whatever writing I’m doing for school, I’m still only half paying attention. And I put KPFA back on at noon. Or turn it all off. And if I’m taking care of myself I put on music.
OK. So, earlier today I was feeling all this anxiety about the trip and I was going through e-mail and I was still feeling a bit … uh …worked up behind the whole girlism thing. So, I decided to meditate. I thought I might be able to calm myself down a bit and get some grounding. So. I put my hands in my lap, in a sort of Bhudda way. And I close my eyes, and I take some deep breaths. And it takes me a few minutes to notice that MSNBC is on, and they’re talking about the war. At which point I just started laughing.
MSNBC is not good for meditation.
Oh well.
Laughing worked.
For a minute.
And now the TV and the radio are off.
So here’s a weird thing. The permalinks for my posts, Look like this ::: and seem to be at the bottom of each post, in front of the posted by Tish. But. They link to the post below. I don’t understand.
Happy Birthday Monk!
Well. Now I have a dilemma.

When Halley posted her post on girlism on Blogsisters I reacted. But I wasn’t sure how to respond to it with out sounding angry and hurt. So. I just backed away from the computer. Then Shelly posted. And I was relieved. But. I have felt like it kinda sucked that I waited for someone else to say something.

You know. I tend not to read people who I know are going to piss me off. There is enough in the world to be pissed off about. And I think people have a right to their views.

I don’t read Halley. But I do read Jeneane. And this morning she linked to a post by Halley. I read it. I reacted. I just told myself to shake it off. And I kept going down the blog roll. And then I went to Blogsisters. And Jeneane is pointing to it again.

Now I have a dilemma.

I have all this emotion in my body. I have all this feeling. And I figure that what ever I write may sound …uh …aggressive. And I don’t really want to go off on another women.

I strongly feel that all women have a right to their views. Back before I had perma links I had a few days of debate on my blog about fat women who pose on the Internet or in magazines in thongs and in the style of girlie magazines. And to anyone who doubts that there are men who want to look at that – think again. Of course, in order to make that point I’ll need to link to fat porno sites and I don’t wanna. But I defend the right of women who want to wear thongs and play with their appearance. It is a way of playing dress up. Or down.

But it isn’t interesting to me.

And now I have all this emotion.

So. Despite the fact that I don’t read Halley, and I’m pretty sure she doesn’t read me, I am going to respond to her post.

I don’t know what feminism Halley is talking about. I will argue with the idea that “the feminist version of female sexuality” was “strident and unattractive.” My feminism is about a lot of things. And as I have said, my feminism includes men. My feminism is about opening up the possibility that there is more than one experience of being woman and more than one experience of being a man. And my feminism is about the issues of women and men who are caught up in a system of thought that squeezes the breathe out of diversity.

My feminism is very much about owning my sexuality. And I do like sex. And I do like sex with men. I don’t want to have sex on MY terms. I want to have sex on OUR terms. In fact, the word terms is for lawyers to use when writing contracts. I’m not interested in a negotiation of power. I don’t want to teach men. I want to have relationships of mutuality. I want relationships in which all (or most) of who I am can be expressed and I want my partner to be able to express himself as well. I expect that we will have moments when we aren’t able to contain one another. Things will go wrong. We will talk. Or something. We will try to push past our limitations and engage one another.

Maybe I’m dreaming.

Beyond feminism? What does that mean?

Does Halley really think feminists don’t masturbate?

See. I’m having all these feelings. And I’m trying to find a way to engage this conversation and allow that Halley and I are just coming from very different places. I doubt I’d get much argument that feminism is important when it comes to equal pay, representation in the halls of public policy, access to learning and so on and so on. And I hope I wouldn’t get too much argument about how much work there is to be done in those areas.

I always wonder about women and men who don’t want to say they are feminist. I always suspect it’s because they don’t want to be seen as people who don’t like heterosexual sex. And they have a very narrow view of how heterosexual sex is expressed. And there’s a real homophobia in this. Because we know that there is work to do when it comes to parity for women in all the things I described. And none of that has to do with what we do in our intimate lives.

And the word girl is used to describe a young girl.

I still feel like a young girl sometimes. And sometimes, when I am attracted to a man, I feel girlish. And, surely, a man who I might be involved with might feel like a boy sometimes. But we also have to feel like a woman and a man. We have to understand ourselves in the context of the culture in which we live, we have to find ways to grow together, sometimes it will be serious and sometimes it will be playful.

This is a dilemma for me. I don’t want to feel like I am opposed to Halley. I don’t know her. But I don’t want to leave it to Shelly to be the one who says something.

Sunday, December 01, 2002

Last week a man in my therapy group gave an example of a problem that men and women have communicating. He’d read it in some book. A women and a man are driving home and the woman says, “Would you like to have a beer?” And the man says, “No”. And he drives on.
And on.
And on.
There is, of course, a gross generalization in this. One of those Venus/Mars things. Not particularly useful.
And yet.
When I heard it I thought about psychological theories about how man are socialized to experience their world with a sense of centrality.
Am I hungry?
And women are socialized with a sense of their relationship to others.
Are you hungry? (Coz I am.)
I think this stuff is overly simplified.
And yet.

Suzanne was talking to me about something that she read for school in which the person wrote about men “standing in normalcy”. So, when they hear things from women they come from the sense of being “the norm.”

There are ways in which this is just so much mumbo jumbo but there are ways in which I experience it as a truth. When I’m trying to talk to men about some things I feel as if I’m begging. Or as if I’m working really, really hard. Because it means everything to me that they get it. And what does it mean to them?

Well, I wanna believe that it means a lot. Especially when it’s a man I like. None of us are free until all of us are free. But the problem with being …the norm …is that you have to summon up the will to look at things that you don’t necessarily need to look at.

It all gets really subtle.

And then it gets personal.

It all comes out of the realm of theory and pop psychology and people are trying so hard to explain their individual experiences.

I know a few transgender people. They kinda take the whole girl/boy thing and grind it into pulp. Many of them work office jobs, sell cappuccino at the corner cafĂ©, pretty average stuff. Some times I wonder what it would be like to have the genitalia of one gender and the feeling that you are another. I don’t have that issue.

But I can’t wear high heels.

Who are we?

There are a million billion trillion answers to that question.

It all seems too fraught sometimes. We come to care about each other. We want to connect. And all we have is a stream of words. We talk too fast. We read too slow. How is going to work out?

I’m just going to keep trying.
I don’t know why I feel like I can post more often in Blogger. Maybe it’s just that the software I use can be a pain in the ass. I dunno. I also don’t know how posting will be for me once I am on NC. My ritual is to read and write in the morning while I’m eating breakfast. And I’m usually listening to KPFA. But my time with the folks will be more geared to what they want to do and when they want to do it.

Which, by the way, is why I’m posting. Just to be clear. I am not in North Carolina yet. I’m flying out of SF at 10:00PM on Tuesday night. But I thought I’d just do the whole month of December here. And … there will be five days In January.

I just got back from swimming and lunch. At lunch I was talking about the feeling of the unknown that this trip has for me. My stepfather is still in the post surgery rehab center and is not totally cogent yet. I guess when older folks have surgeries they can have trouble coming back, mentally. It might have been nice if the docs had told my Mom this. He had surgery to get a bone spur that was pressing on his spinal column removed. That might not be the way to say that but he’s still working on walking. And then there’s the mental fog stuff. My Mom is anxious to get him home, She sounds tired.

My Mom & Ken have a pretty great system of dividing tasks. He has always made the bed, and on the weekends when she’s doing laundry he takes the sheets off the bed. Last night she was talking about having to all that by herself, plus she’s driving the 45 minute trip to the rehab place twice a day. When she picks me up on Wednesday morning we’ll go there to visit him. And we may bring him home on Friday. But, right now there’s no way to know. His recovery is troubled.

As I write this I am realizing that I haven’t really detailed it all on my page. I’m feeling a little weird about talking about their life. But, for the next month, my life will be about their lives. This is a conversation I want to have with my Mom. I’m writing a book about my life. But that means that I am writing a book about her life. There may be issues.

So. This is not your basic going home for Christmas trip. And there are layers of complexity in these relationships. I’m just not sure what I’ll write about. But I know that writing about any of it will help me process it.

I was trying to tell Deb about the blog conversation. It does get pretty weird trying to explain blogging to people who don’t do it. There’s a lot of she said and then he said and then she said and then I said. And as I was telling her about it all I realized how easy it is to jump to an assumption about someone from one line of what they say. Reading a person every day gives you a sense of them. So, even when they say things that seem …oh lets just say sexist…for an example…you read it with your sense of them. Which may not always be a good thing.

And then there’s the problem of feeling.

It’s pretty amazing that there are such hearts in the world.

See. This is how it’s going to be. I’ll just ramble and babble. And now I’ll be doing it a few times a day. Heh.
OK. So now I’m using Blogger. Uh huh. I wonder if it’ll make a difference in how I write. Right now I feel a bit like this. Smarter computer folk than I might have figured out how to post to their own domain from far away but I kinda wanted to get the feel for Blogger. I’m thinking I’ll go back to my site for my blog roll, but if that gets too frustrating I’ll put a blog roll in here. When I get home I’m going to look into a different web host and work on MT again.

Dorothea and Shelly both responded to Mike’s questions as well. There is a way in which the thread is wearing thin because in order to continue we need to refer to Halley’s post. And since I don’t read her, I’m not comfortable doing that. I felt comfortable doing it for a while, but at this point the conversation has taken a different shape. It isn’t a conversation that we can stop. Clearly many people have strong feelings about this stuff. But it has to shift in terms of reference. And that might be easier said than done right now.

It is interesting how feelings for people develop as a result of reading their blog. To some extent that’s about how much of a person’s life is on the page. But not always. Mark Woods remains a mystery and yet I think of him with great admiration and fondness. Do I think I know the people I read? Somewhat. But I am aware that my knowledge is limited. I also try to hold my friends in my heart in an open way. So, when I see someone, after not seeing then for a while, I try to have an attitude of who are you now? It’s easier said than done. And I certainly have attitudes about the people I read. I love them. Maybe it would be more precise to say I love what they do. But I don’t care about precision right now. I love them. And, like with all people who you love, I’ve had my feelings hurt, felt left out, stuff like that. And I’ve thrilled at the sight of my name in hyperlink. I’m a wacky chick. What can I say?

So, will we be able to continue to have a cross blog conversation about sexism and not take bites out of each other? I dunno. But I think some of us will try. And some of it will be good. And some of it will be stupid. This morning when I was reading Dorothea’s post I was struck by her solid, open and at the same time reserved way of articulating her thoughts and feelings about all this. And then I read Shelly And I was again struck by how feisty, direct and exacting she sounded. I mean it’s amazing how much is conveyed in these little boxes full of words. I like them both. I like Mike. I like Ray, who kinda tapped me on the shoulder yesterday when I was in a pout. (Thanks again.) Some days it’s a love fest. Some days a squall.

And while I was reading it ALL I was thinking about some great writing Kell did about the problems of being a het. Another thread to weave into the fray.

Today is World Aids Day. Lots of stuff to link and think.