Saturday, August 16, 2014

Pacing The Cage

I was reading an interview last night in which Jack Turner says: The more digital your life is, the more you have conformed. It’s safe to stay home and watch reruns of Star Trek and fiddle with Facebook and track digital gossip, but it’s also shallow and lifeless.
I'm more likely to watch reruns of Doc Martin than Star Trek. I'm not interested in gossip. I do have Facebook on the screen most of the day although I'm not always looking at it. A few details are different but he's talking about me.
Up until then I was enjoying the read. He's an interesting man who has lived in an interesting manner. But there's chauvinism in so much of what he says. Some of us can't live in a place where we need snow shoes to get home. And even when I was able to walk I wouldn't have been engaged by the life style he holds dear. I like nature. I value nature. And I've always wanted there to be a coffee shop and a book store fairly close by.
I need to get out more. I know that. I'm lonely and I need to find a way to connect with more people. It was true in SF and it's more true now. Every Saturday morning I try to push myself to drive my scooter over to the Farmer's Market and I fail. I fail because I'm afraid when I'm driving my scooter. I fail because the only thing worse than being alone is being with people and feeling alone. In the time it takes me to eat breakfast I talk myself out of going.
Having said all that I resist the idea that a life organized around screens is shallow and lifeless. It can be but it doesn't have to be. When I first started blogging I was thrilled to find so many interesting people. People doing great art. People having great conversations. People writing and posting about their daily lives. I would get lost clicking through other people's blog rolls. I've met a few of the people I found on blogs and it has usually felt like meeting an old friend.
It was hard this week not to be glued to media. I spent a lot of time mumbling to myself. When I saw the picture from Howard my first reaction was to take a picture with my hands up and use it on my profile. I try not to do things like that. I didn't take a hoodie shot during the Trevon days. I haven't poured ice water on my head. I don't wear pink. I don't disapprove of any of those things. I don't really think most people who do them feel like they've done anything substantive. It feels good to do something when it feels like there's noting you can do. Of course there is a need for action but I find criticism of  these things jaundiced and unnecessary. My choice to not do it was because I felt such urgency and it didn't feel real enough. There were solidarity event all over the place and I felt like all I could do was drag my walker down to the patio for my building and hold a Hands Up Don't Shoot poster. Maybe I should have. Maybe I would have met some people and had some interesting conversations.
I wonder if the people who had used social media to launch revolutions feel like what they're doing is shallow and lifeless.
Do I sound like I'm arguing from both sides of a fence? I am. I often do.
I'm just annoyed.
I'm frustrated.
I feel way too many things.
I know having a news talk show on a screen next to me while I scroll through the Internet in front of me and checking my phone and ... oh. OK. I need to get out more. But it's not about conformity. It doesn't feel lifeless. Or Shallow.
I have been pacing the cage.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014


I was born in Ferguson, Missouri. When I was three months old my mom left my dad and moved in with her parents in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I have no memories of Ferguson. No identification with it. It's typing on my birth certificate.
The news from Ferguson is painful. It's not just Ferguson, of course. It's New York and California and Chicago and Florida.
I want to believe that I have some kind of innate character. I want to believe that even if I had grown up in Ferguson that I would have the same revulsion and anger I feel now when I hear the news of another young black man murdered by the people who have sworn to protect and serve. But there's no way to know. My father was racist. What if I had been Daddy's girl?
I didn't meet my father until I was eleven or twelve. I spent less than a year with him.  A month here. A week there. Even at 61 I can feel my throat tighten with hurt and longing. Not always. But often. When I see fathers with babies I am sort of mystified. What does that feel like?
Therapy? Been there. Done that. And I have this part of my narrative in a compartment. But it is part of how I experience the world. There's a gap in the programming. An absence.
My dad was extremely charming. He was the youngest child, the only boy. His father died when he was young. He had the same gap in programming. And he was raised by a mother and two sisters who thought he was the sun and the moon. He believed women  were there for him. If I had been raised by him would my desire to please him have shaped me into a different person? How different? In what ways?
Racism, in my world, was absence. There were no people of color in my neighborhood, in my church, in my school. I remember feeling very curious about them. I remember feeling like they were interesting because of their difference. I remember feeling like I just wasn't in on something. Something very cool. And that is a kind of racism. It may seem benign. It may seem like a function of the culture and the times. If I'd grown up in Ferguson I would have a different experience. But would I be different?
It's in the nature of privilege to assume that you know the truth. But there really is no way to know. What ever sadness I have about my father's absence in my life is matched by a sense that I was much better off with out him.
There is nothing about Ferguson that  feels like home. But, in fact, it is where I am from.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Wide and Kind.

Just as I reached the sidewalk the other day a young boy and his mother passed by. He smiled directly at me. He smiled a sweet wide open smile. It struck me because I've been thinking about that Louie riff  specifically the moment when, after having been boldly confronted with his inability to see her as a possible romantic relationship, he takes the woman's hand and then looks around to make sure no one sees them. The moment contains such a small sweet thing, the reach for a hand and such dull but real thing, the look around.
Once I read George Clooney talking about the paparazzi and what a drag it could be. He said something about being next to a fat girl at the airport and  they get a picture and say it's his girl friend and it's just such a drag. I thought about his aunt Rosemary, who I think he probably loved. She was very fat. I wondered if he wanted her to have love and kindness and respect. Probably. I guess if it's your older auntie you don't imagine them as a full person. But what if a man was ashamed to be seen with her? How would George feel about that?
In the Louie rant (let's remember he wrote it) she talks about being a flirt. She talks about how the really good looking guys flirt right back but the guys who aren't secure in themselves don't want to seem interested. I feel that way sometimes. I can be a crazy flirt. It feels easier to flirt with younger, handsome men. Men who are my age won't meet my eye but younger men can be very playful.
These are generalizations. Of course.
And after the rant and the reach for the hand the woman is never seen again. She was just there so Louie could confess. Everybody talked about it for a day or two. And?
When I swim there is an older (which is to say my age) couple who walk the pool for a half an hour. The first time I met them I didn't like her because she seemed kind of naggy. But as I've been around them more I've become quite fond of them both. She is a bit naggy. But they are also sweet and playful and flirty with each other. They take pleasure in just looking at one another.
It isn't always about flirting or romance. I've been meeting a lot of new people. When I first got here I was wide open. I loved everyone I met. I met a lot of nice people. And I saw that look. The look of dismissal. Like I could not possibly be interesting. I wrote about this not long ago.
Young people are often shy or reserved. A smile from a young boy ... really.... a young man, something that should have no real big meaning, something that should be matter of fact, was quite lovely.