September 1 2002 9:41 AM
I usually like This American Life but yesterday's was GREAT. They talked about testosterone. It was so great. The problem was that I usually have this stuff on in the background while I'm writing. I was hanging on every word of this show. I stopped writing all together.
Yesterday was a course in how to avoid writing. It was truly amazing to me, even as I lived through it, how many things I just HAD to do rather than write. I finally settled in the afternoon and got some done. Was it any good? Uh...
But the testosterone thing was great. It's not a girls=good boys=bad thing. We all have testosterone. They interviewed a man who had his testosterone suppressed for an unspecified medical reason. I swear the state of consciousness he described was like the way they describe satori. And they interviewed a female to male transsexual who talked about the effect testosterone injections had on his relationship to women. It was so interesting. You can listen to it on line. Now.
I keep getting counters and I could never figure out how people knew how people got to their sites via Google searches. I got a new one last week and now I know. It's kinda fun. I don't have that much traffic but someone came here from searching on men are complicated. I love that!
And I should thank Willa since I get the most hits from her link list.
I forgot to remind you about Rabbit Rabbit. But you should really subscribe to the reminder. It's so fun. Heather is on vacation so Judith did it this month. Don't worry. Just say tibbar tibbar tonight.
I don't think I wrote about the family who went to the Portland protest and were pepper sprayed. I've been talking about a lot. I heard the father interviewed on Democracy Now. It's shocking to me how many people want to scold the parents for taking their children to the protest and not say a word about the police. Taking a child to a protest is the choice on an individual parent and I wouldn't second guess that choice. I also think that parents ought to be able to take their kids to a demonstration with out fear of the people whose job it is to protect them.
Today. On Book TV. The mighty mighty Howard Zinn. I am psyched.
September 2 2002 8:53 AM
Dru blogged a conversation about a Joe Boxer ad. I reacted to the ad the first time I saw it. The guy is cute and the music is up beat and there is a giggly quality to the whole thing. At the same time it seemed a little too step-n-fetchit for me. But then I'd wonder why I felt that way. Are Black men suppose to be stoic and reserved? Dru has collected some quotes from a number of African American men talking about how the commercial made them feel. And then some people tell them to lighten up. Lighten up? It gives me chills. I'm truncating and paraphrasing. Read it. It's compelling.
In the testosterone thing I was talking about yesterday there was this thing said about testosterone getting men in trouble. That they'd say things that would get them into trouble. It reminded me of the recent babe controversy. What's that about? Getting into trouble?
I hope that when I talk to people about things that are sexist, racist, homophobic, fatist, what ever...I hope that don't front off like some mama with a whippin stick. I mean how are we going to get clear if we don't talk to each other? Nobody is in trouble. We're just talkin here. Right?
I ended the day as I had begun it. Listening to Howard. Lovely.
Gotta work on writing now. It's due tomorrow. Wish me luck.
September 3 2002 9:36 AM
Ralph Nader was on CNN. And then. Barbara Ehrenreich was on MSNBC. Amazing. Of course the Crossfire boys were chaotic and reductive but Nader held his own. Fortunately, or unfortunately, depending on how you think about it, a friend called me and I didn't get to listen to the part of the show where they talked about the fast food stuff. Because if I had watched it (and not just read the transcript) I'd have to rant about how much I don't like fast food and I am fat and many fat people who I know do not eat fast food. And many do. I'd have to go on and on about how these guys talk about fat people as if we are the most disgusting, repulsive creatures in the known universe. They do this in a public forum. And there is little public out cry about the limited understanding, stigmatizing, mean spirited nature of their conversation. I'd have to get all worked up and rant. But I didn't see that part.
I did get the writing done. I like some of it. The reading is great. This book is giving me the spins. I keep calling Suzanne and making her listen to it so I can talk about it.
I was reading Justin this morning. Which I don't do that often. I have claimed him as my blogfather (and Willa as my blog mother. I remain childless. Sniff.) but sometimes I feel old when I read him. I dunno. But he had a link to one of my favorite poems. It's that kinda thing that makes me go back.
I should say that the poem is one of my favorites because, back in the day, a man with whom I was much enamoured, used to recite it. And, despite the problematic and possibly misogynistic bits of the poem, and despite the problematic and definitely misogynistic bits of the man who recited it, it makes me smile to remember it all.
I mean, I feel estranged from people sometimes. People in general, and people with whom I have real time relationships, and people who I read on the web. I go through all these internal changes and they never know. Heh.
It doesn't take much to set me off and it doesn't take much to bring me back. Just a link to a poem.
September 4 2002 10:36 AM
didn't love school that much last year. I loved parts
of it. I loved the classes and the reading. I loved people. But I had some trouble
with the workshopping. I still
feel a little defensive. But I actually think it might
be OK. For one thing, the writing I'm doing is the kind
of writing my classmates like to read. And working on
But feeling better about school is about more than all that. The reading is what's turning it around for me. I love the way this guy writes. I wish I could write like that. I love the structure, the rhythm of the writing, the way in which he draws no conclusion but rather poses possibility. I have issues with the some of the possibilities he poses. But I love it.
I'd like to write something like that. Right now, I'm not sure what to write about. I can keep working on THE BOOK, or I could take a break. I've even thought about writing about blogging. But I'm not sure what to write about that would really set me off.
This is probably not at all clear. It's still not clear in me. I still feel a bit ... (sorry. I love the dots.) ...out of place in school. Er, sumthin. But it's better.
Speaking of school. I try to remind everyone to listen to Pattie and Carl's show on Thursday's. On CFUV. At noon. My time. Sometimes I forget. But today I have a vested interested. I'm gonna be on the show! Pattie interviewed me. Talking about school. And she interviewed Suzanne too. Tada! Now if I can get Kell to put me in a movie ...
The issues of war and peace cannot be melted down into a naive psychology of 'peace through better understanding among peoples'. It is not the aggression of people in general but their mass indifference that is the point of their true political and psychological relevance to the thrust toward war. It is neither the 'psychology of peoples' nor raw 'human nature' that is relevant; it is the moral insensibility of people who are selected, molded, and honoured in the mass society.
You deplore the demonstrations taking place In Birmingham. But your statement, I am sorry to say, fails to express a similar concern for the conditions that brought about the demonstrations. I am sure that none of you would want to rest content with the superficial kind of social analysis that deals merely with effects and does not grapple with underlying causes. It is unfortunate that demonstrations are taking place in Birmingham, but it is even more unfortunate that the city's white power structure left the Negro community with no alternative.
September 5 2002 8:53 AM
I got e-mail from Nancy Pelosi. She's happy that I wrote to her to tell her that I do not support a war in Iraq. She believes we need to proceed with great caution. No congress woman. We do not need to proceed at all.
I'm so frustrated.
Every once in a while I try to participate in a conversation on the web most often occurring in the cluster of bloggers I stumbled upon a year ago or so. I am generally ignored. It used to bug me. It probably still does. I decided it was a slight to the people who do read me to keep shouting and waving at the kids in the school yard who were ignoring me. But just like the Joe Boxer conversation got me thinking and feeling and responding there has been this protracted conversation about sexism. Protracted because, I suspect, it began with all this.
There are times when I just don't want to talk to men about sexism. It makes me tired.
Yeah. Keep your glossy mags. Ignore what woman are telling you about the way it feels to have other women's bodies, airbrushed, Photoshopped bodies, set the standard for beauty and desirability. Don't worry about the young women who stop eating all together because their boyfriends make a comment about someone being fat. Don't imagine the damage to their health that not eating, or eating and puking will do to their bodies. Some of which will be irreparable.
I've slipped into my own agenda here a bit but hey...what the fuck? I live in a box. I live in the fat girl box. I have my own version of the grunch. It's one where the guys stick their head out the window and yell things about my body and it feels much the same way.
And I am TOO sexy for my box.
I was all wound up and serious and now I'm laughing so hard. Ahhhhhhhhhh. That felt good.
I moved the link to the Daily Summit here.
September 5 2002 11:56 AM
I read a woman on the web talking about women's bodies in the gym. I'm not going to go into her space and say this but I'm pissed. And this is my space. She sees the fat ones (you know the ones that look like me) and she wonders how they got that way.
Well. They got that way because they have a some stuff in their DNA that codes for a tenancy toward fatness. Then, of course, they are women and have a biological need for weight to build up in certain areas of their bodies. Something about protecting the progeny. Factor that into your plan for perpetuating the species. Then some of them began dieting early in early in life, as teenagers, or even got put on diets as small children when their parents got worried about their chubby little baby thighs. But they got tired of living with so much restriction and hyper awareness of food. They stopped paying attention. They regained the weight. They went on another diet. Fucked up their metabolism so bad their bodies aren't sure what to do any more. Some of them had kids and spent so much time and energy taking care of their children's bodies and their husbands bodies that they neglected their own bodies. They were too exhausted to go to the gym. They grabbed quick easy food on the way to taking their kids to a soccer match. Some of them just like chocolate cake and aren't interested in exercise. Some of them still love their bodies. Some of them have the temerity to imagine that their body is none of your business. Some of them ate plenty of veggies and fruit and fish before they ate the cake. And when you saw them at the gym, that was one of the three times a week they go, because they know they'll feel better if they do. For some of them your congratulations is unwelcome. You imagine that they are working to make themselves smaller because that would be the moral thing to do. That's not why they're there. They don't give a fuck what you think about the size of their ass. Some of the ones you don't see at the gym don't go because they know what you're thinking when you look at them and they don't feel safe in the line of your gaze. There is not just one kind of ... them.
But don't worry. Being fat isn't contagious. you can relax in the superiority of your efforts to never let yourself...get THAT way.
Second post of the day. I never do this. But I'm pissed off. It's almost noon. Is your radio on?
September 6 2002 8:43 AM
I've been talking about the book we're reading for class and how much I love the writing and the intellect. I do. And much of the content troubles me. I'm still struggling to understand why. There are no quick easy conclusions drawn in this book. It's a lovely and complex thesis. And some of it feels off.
I feel almost worried to try and represent what he saying. I'm still not sure I'm getting it all. But something he wrote about Black women poets in the early days of the Black power revolution rang loud to me as I went through my blog roll today.
This is out of context but it is a part of his text that haunts me. I don't want to belive it. It feels bad in my body when I read it.
Over the past few weeks I've watched as two woman bloggers gave voice to something that they felt. Then I watched while male bloggers reacted, defended, diminished, picked at the syntax, made parody, cried foul. Some women bloggers rushed to defend the men. Some turned on each other. Things pulled away from the center, the context mutated, rhetoric flew.
And the women, who had taken the risk to give voice to their feelings, I keep wondering if they feel heard.
I've said many times that I am always mindful of the systems we live in. I blame the systems for making it so hard to wake up. But we do need to wake up.
Is that what happens? When a woman puts her heart out and speaks directly about her pain, is she really asking Daddy to shut her up? Shut her up with kisses? Move over her with passion and consumption? Silence her with his adoration?
I'm crying while I write this. I feel rage, grief, loss, fear. I feel this. Deal with it. Don't deal with it.
September 8 2002 8:55 AM
Friday was odd. Saturday morning I did my blog stroll and thought ...ahhhhh...what the fuck. It's the first time I haven't posted in a ...actually I think it might be the second time I haven't post since I started this project. Ironic since I went to bed on Friday very early with a pile of books and mags and read most of the night, all the while thinking how amazing people are when they write. But on Saturday morning I wasn't feeling amazing. I was feeling hopeless.
I know the September 11 stuff is wearing on me. I've been crying a lot. There is reason to cry. But what I resent is the media stir up of grief and anger in a not even veiled attempt to kick up patriotism. Or at least sales of flag paraphernalia. Someone made a joke about Hallmark making 9/11 cards. Well they're calling it Patriot day. And they are making cards.
It's embarrassing to live in such a narcissistic country. With all the horror in the world phrases like - the day the world changed - are tossed around. The world is always changing. The change does not pivot on our loss.
K2 came over to bring me Kobi food. He made some pasta sauce and brought me some already chopped veggies to add, and fresh pasta from a place he goes to in Berkeley, the name of which I forget. And some gelato and fruit. I'm going to feast on it all today. I made a pizza with tapanade, chicken, artichoke hearts and fontina. We ate some pizza and chatted.
I spaced out all day. I'm not feeling amazing today. But. Some how the effort seems to be important.
September 9 2002 9:08 AM
We're reading a bunch of journal entries for class. A journal of the plague year by Defoe, which is not a fun read. A Writer's Diary, Virginia Woolf, who I think might have been a great blogger. Wole Soyinka, writing about fasting in prison and Sue Hubbell, from A Country Year. I read napped and read and napped. I'm going to need to reread it all.
Ate Kobi food. Yum. He gave me so much that I'll be eating it today as well. Not a problem. I ate all the vegetables and the gelato and fruit. But I have pasta and sauce enough for one, or maybe two, meals.
Willa has been playing with her SIMS and linked to a bunch of fan sites. It amazes me how creative folks are. By eight I gave up on reading and downloaded some stuff for my Monks. Now they can do Kung Fu, meditate and paint on different easels. It was fun to space out and play.
The radio and television might need to stay off. But I'm too addicted. Noah Grey won't have them on. When they're on I'm either mad or crying. Even when it's Chomsky on CSPAN. I keep thinking, I didn't lose a friend or family member. Is it disingenuous to feel so emotional? And I am not going along with this national mourning thang. It's too crass.
But something did happen.
Last night I dreamed I was hanging out with Chomsky and Amy Goodman.
September 10 2002 9:08 AM
Is this beside the point or is it me?
The first time I saw the commercial it made me tense. Frankly, there aren't many commercials that don't make me tense. It seemed problematic in terms of race and representation in obvious ways. But I also thought the guy was cute and the music and his goofy ness made me laugh. I see why people like it.
But when Dru blogged about it I reacted. I reacted to the feelings of the men. It bothered them. I understood why. I didn't hear any of them ask for a boycott of the stupid underwear. They just said things about how the stupid commercial for the stupid underwear made them feel. Not simple stuff.
Oh but ya know KMART was just trying to be " sexy, irreverent and fun".
And I reacted to the people saying things to the guys like ... lighten up. WHAT THE FUCK? Lighten fucking up? So, now Slate tells them the same thing. I'm just gonna swing out and bet that none of these guys thought an ad agency went out looking for the guy who could look the most step n fetchit when he danced. And I'm not saying that Vaughn (oh goodgawd I can't believe I know his name) looks that way. I'm saying that it felt a little weird to watch, for me. And it felt bad for them.
I saw it again the other night. All I could think about was these guys.
I swear, lately I feel like no amount of writing or talking makes a difference. The sexism thing came and went. The men had the final word. It went something like..."don't you dare call us sexist." And now this is the way we talk about race in America. Aren't there a few other things to discuss?
I bet we can still have fun, make jokes, and be
sexy, irreverent and fun with out having to be reductive.
Here we go round the prickly pear
September 11 2002 10:12 AM
It's making it hard to want to write.
I guess if I was really having a break down I wouldn't even try to write. Writing is the thing I do to fend off the breakdown. To discredit the drone of alienation in my heart. So I am writing.
On Sixty Minutes this week they did a bit focusing on women and children who had lost fathers on September 11. Yesterday Oprah did a show with a women who was badly burned and is fighting to recover. Every day there are stories. My eyes are burning from daily crying.
And I keep wondering what it does to your grief process to have it become fuel for nationalism.
I am listening to KPFA while I write. They are talking about the way the media is talking about it all. No mention of the women and children in Afghanistan who lost fathers. No mention of the men and children who lost mothers. No mention of the people who worked in the towers, undocumented labour, people who are not counted and their families who are not interviewed by Mike Wallace. No mention of the things going on in the rest of the world.
The American narrative is like reading the diary of teenager. We think the things that happen to us are bigger that anything going on with any one else.
Clearly we need to talk about what happened. But I want us to talk about the things going on in the world. I want us to think and feel deeply about it all. I want us to ask our selves questions about our greed and consumption. I think we have to cry. And I think we have to wake up.
I really did lose it yesterday. I feel helpless and hopeless and ineffective. I don't feel smart enough or articulate enough or fast enough. I don't feel strong enough.
And these are the feelings that I need to notice and then push through.
I lived in New York for a while. I loved it. I worked in a restaurant in the financial center. I took a subway to the Trade Towers and walked across a bridge to go to work. The last time I was there I was hugging a boy. I loved him. He loved someone else. A friend of ours walked up and said, "Hey, you two look great together." We looked at each other and laughed.
What else could we do?
September 12 2002 9:22 AM
I remembered it all yesterday.
Midway through the day I became anxious. I couldn't focus on anything. I turned on the Sundance Channel and there was a movie that seemed to have just begun. I was having trouble focussing on it but somehow it sucked me in. It sucked me in because it was about love. Falling in love. Being surprised by love. It was pretty sweet and happy and hopeful. When it was over I needed to get ready to go to school. San Francisco was beautiful and sunny. I felt a kind of peace. Class was OK. I came out into the thick swirling fog and, again, it was beautiful.
I remembered that trip to Green Gulch. And the peace.
But I can't stop feeling like there is work to do. I don't know how to stop this. I write letters. I voted. I stand in the street with the people who are saying no. Why does it feel as if it's going to happen no matter what?
What can I do?
I want to believe in love. I want to breathe in the peace. But the clench, the tightness, will not release.
September 13 2002 9:22 AM
Suzanne brought Lucca sandwiches over for lunch. It wasn't until she was on her way that I remembered that it was her birthday. DOH. Her computer is sick again so she can't even read me smacking myself in the head.
I had all this fussy, at the desk stuff that I needed to do all day. But it was good to be distracted.
September 14 2002 8:05 AM
There are two things that hook me into this game. I really love designing the houses. There are houses that you can download but I love figuring out where to put stuff,picking wall paper, floors, making gardens. It scares me how much I like it.
And I tell myself stories while I'm playing. I've been trying to get one of my monks married. He courted one women, unsuccessfully. So, he went after another. He asked her to marry him at a party. Drew Carry was there. I guess his preoccupation with Drew pissed her off because she said no. So, he took her out for dinner and dancing and asked her again. This time she said yes.
There is one thing that I find odd. You used to be able to have same sex weddings in The Sims. Now, if the couple is same sex you only get the option to ask them to move in. Whadda ya think that's about?
September 15 2002 8:47 AM
I did a focus group yesterday. I was paid 65 bucks to talk for two hours about what I wanted in a political leader and who I might vote for in terms of state representative. Geez. If I could get that kinda work on a regular basis my world would be ... uh ... weird. It was a little bit depressing. The way they wanted us to determine who we would vote for based on some pretty limited information. Like we read a few things. Quickly. It was interesting.
Politics in this country is rife with shuck n jive. Sigh.
It seems that they were trying to determine who might win for state senator when Burton terms out. The stuff they showed us on Willie was all about how was a poor kid who worked his way up and so much about race. Nothing about issues. I found this hugely irritating and I was not alone. The stuff they showed about Carol Migden was packed with issues and accomplishments.
And there was a guy named Joe Nation. I kid you not. There was a forth, a woman. I don't remember her name. Not a good sign.
The whole thing gave me the spins. The way race, sexual preference, appearance and, really, the name of candidates played into our conversation. Actually, the folks there were interested in the issues. But the guy conducting the poll had to find out if the spin was working on us.
It was not working on me.
September 16 2002 2:49 AM
It's 2:00 in the morning. Apparently I have new neighbors. The sound of shoes going up and down the wooden steps all night woke me. I'm thinking they might have been moving in. Not sure why they had to do it now. I woke up having a bad dream. I've given up on sleep for the moment.
It seemed like an opportune time to read around the blog.
Here's the thing. I spend a lot of time reading and writing these days. I am driven by a love of the ways in which humans give voice to their life. I am trying to give voice to my own life. I'm doing this because it seems to break down the walls of isolation that I have built in a response to pain.
Coz ya know there has been some pain.
And now, since I must live with this pain, I am trying to find a way to understand it, put it in context, talk through it, write through it. I don't imagine that the pain will go away. But I don't want to let it stop me.
And sometimes it does.
I've been told I'm good with words. Sometimes I think I am. Sometimes I'm not so sure.
But I'm trying to be.
September 17 2002 11:26 AM
I had that wired and tired feeling all day yesterday. Went to therapy. Came home. Couldn't sleep till about 1:30. And that meant that I slept until after 8:00. None of this is a big deal. I have no where that I need to be until class at 6:00. I have enough time to do the work I need to do before school. But I feel like I'm late. Kooky.
My two in the morning post reads pretty spacey to me. And that's because I wasn't talking directly about what I was feeling. I'd read a post from Mike in which he talked about some of his family members objecting to him writing in a public space about family issues. I wasn't direct for a few reasons.
I've never really felt part of the blog cluster. I read while they talk to each other and link to each other and feel like a kid in the corner of a school yard who isn't in on the joke. Perhaps I am just projecting my fat kid experience onto the blogger template. The people who I know read me are friends and some very lovely new people have begun to pop up. I know that some of my friends don't have the time or the interest in following the links to track a conversation. I'm not sure how the new folks feel. The whole blogger world is a pond with lots of rippling circles over lapping. Some of us spend a portion of our day following the wispy threads of conversations all over the WWW.
Mike does read me. Leaves comments from time to time. Links to me. And I'm crazy about Mike. I love his politics, his ire, his devotion to his wife and family, his loquacious passionate outpouring of perspective, reaction and consideration. I've said it before and I'll say it again. Mike is cool.
During the blogger babe controversy, and the is it OK for a woman to opt out of the "you think I'm beautiful don't you?" part of identity controversy I got frustrated with Mike. And I didn't write about it. In part because I worried about being misunderstood, by Mike and others. People who don't read Mike regularly might not get it if I start ranting about a particular thing that he said. Much the way people reacted to a part of what Doc said, despite the fact that they had no clue about who he is, or what he writes about.
Do I think Doc is sexist? Yes. And in the two places I spoke out about it I was quick to say that I don't read Doc. There's no big reason for that. Look at my blog role. I have places I need to be. There's only so many hours in the day. Do I think Mike is sexist? Yes. I think I am sexist. I think we grew up in and live in a sexist culture. It takes work to understand that in our selves and others. It's a hermeneutics thang. And it seemed to me that when one woman said she thought something a man said was sexist she got jumped on by men and women. She was scolded for not valuing her allies. A swirl of refracted pros and cons hit the web and at the end of the day what seemed to happen, in my opinion, was that she was told not to criticize the little bit of sexism in the good guys. And when another woman asked to not be included in the loopy valuing of women's bodies we saw crazy extreme images of women's bodies embedded in the response of an generally lovely, respectful, generous man. The whole thing left me feeling incomplete, raw, and a bit afraid to speak up.
Oh yeah...they don't read me anyway. What am I worried about? Heh.
But Mike reads me. And I worried about not being able to say what I was feeling about the way he was responding to the two controversies in way that was clear. And, when all is said and done, I trust Mike. I' ve watched him take shots at people at then think about what he has said and make amends. I think he has a truth and reconciliation soul and a brave heart. I know he's reading and thinking and feeling. He gives me hope. So, at two o'clock in the morning, when I read that he was being told to shut up I reacted. But I didn't address it directly.
I spend much of my day trying to figure out how to say something well. I need to be able to tell the truth. I need to be able articulate emotional truth, which is the most difficult to articulate clearly since it is not rational. I am most drawn to people who are making the attempt to speak the truth of their lives.
And sometimes it doesn't go well. No matter how well you say something someone gets hurt, or angry and they react. Sometimes they don't want to understand. Sometimes they can't. Sometimes it gets messy.
I am thinking a lot about how directly I deal with people and my feelings. Especially when it comes to what I write about here and what I'm writing about in THE BOOK. My parents don't know about my web page. I dread the day my Mom reads THE BOOK. I tell the story of how I gave away my virginity for crying out loud. She's not gonna love that.
Almost every time I back away from expressing my feelings about something it's because I lack faith. I don't believe that the person wants to, or is able to, hear what I am saying. I do it in my therapy group. I do it in my classes. I do it with my family and my friends. I pull back into the idea that I am alone in the world.
This public writing of our lives is dangerous. We risk exposure of ourselves and the people we love. But we do it in search of something. I'm not even sure what. Truth? Clarity? Connection? Maybe we just need to vent.
There is a sufi thing: To know, to dare, to will and to be silent. I know that there are times when we need to hold a truth. Not speak out. Sometimes I'm right when I think a person can't handle what I need to say. Sometimes I need to keep a confidence. But I need to determine when that is true and when I am losing faith. I need to push through my own fear. I fall silent too often. And it is a fall.
Some of our truth telling may drag our friends and families into the open. And sometimes they may not be willing to go there. And sometimes they're going to hate us for it. And sometimes they're going to heal because of it. It's a risky business. But I want to hope that when it comes to our lives and our need to give voice and our desire to cast off shame, silence is not an option.
And sometimes...maybe I'm just talking to myself. Out loud.
There are contradictory reasons when I use "real" people in my work, and the contradictions comfort me. Any literary practice should, I think, derive from contradictory sources and motives... I name names to evoke the already-known, to make writing co-extend with the world and history, and to examine the fiction of personality, as well as the fiction of the word.... I propose self-community-story as a tonic for the loss of human scale; by naming self-community-story I participate in their disintegration, their progress from invisibility to something to be named and manipulated—to be reintegrated later in a new context, in a third term that history must provide.
September 18 2002 10:11 AM
I've had two conversations, one with an aunt and one with my Mom, about the meaning of hair. Conversations that left me drop jawed. The first happened some time ago. My aunt was saying that she didn't like the minister's wife and I asked why. The woman was over 30 and wore her hair long. Everyone knows that women over 30 shouldn't wear their hair long.
So there was meaning making about her hair and her understanding about what is appropriate. Er something.
The second conversation happened this Sunday while my Mom and I were having a rather tense conversation about the woman accusing the guys in Florida. Mom said something about the guy having a beard. The beard was proof that he was suspect.
It pissed me off and I've been stewing about it. I taped Donahue last night and watched it when I got home from school. Eunice Stone and all three of the young men, were on the show, but both sides had lawyers with them who did most of the talking. Neither side wanted to talk directly to each other. The three medical students were so gracious and kind. Ms. Stone kept talking about the one with the beard. The one with the beard said this and that.
My sense is that this woman saw the beard and her imagination ran away with her. Obviously it was about more than the beard. The same beard on white guy might not have clicked with her. Her lawyer kept saying that she is not a racist.
The sad thing is that she said she would absolutely do it again. She seems like a sincere woman. I think she had a kind of hallucination and she believes what she think she heard. And given that I think her action had a quality of courage. But I wish she would do some self examination and simply ask herself if she heard what she heard because she saw three young Muslim men, one had a beard, and her imagination ran away with her. I wish she would apologize for the negative effects on the lives of these young men. But she believes she is a patriot. And the idiot leadership of my country encourages people like her to feel proud of themselves.
White people in this country just don't get how their sense of being the norm pollutes their relationships, their politics, their spirituality. My mother thinks when people are participating in American society they should be clean shaven. She talked about her doctor who is from India, who she adores, and the doctor who did the surgery on my foot, who she remembers was one of ... them. But a nice one of ... them. Neither have beards.
It's so discouraging.
I figure that, now that I'm 49, I'll start letting my hair grow and never cut it again.
September 19 2002 9:05 AM
What I can say for sure is that it's my world. Everyday I do what I want. Some days I write about the tofu burgers, smashed potatoes and green beans I had for lunch, the laundry that I did, the dust on my dresser. Some days I wax poetic, polemic, pathetic. It's my world.
I tell some of the truth. I push the edges of what I'm willing to reveal. It's a process.
Yesterday I had a few moments of pure awareness. Or they felt pure. I wish they happened while I was standing on the beach. But, in fact, one of them happened sitting on the toilet. The sun was coming in my window filling the little room with brightness, warming the skin on my thigh. The light and the sensation brought me into some kind of temporal awareness. My internal chat stopped. I felt myself in a moment. The sensations did not have any where to go. I just was. Sitting there. Looking. Feeling.
The second time happened in class. I was feeling the tension of what I want and need and am not getting and what I know and don't know. I felt it pushing at me and I just let go. I just stopped. I sat back. I was listening. And watching. But mostly I was just there.
Shit. I wish I could just summon that up at will. Like when I'm listening to the president select massacre the English language. Or when I really really really really wish I was in the arms of someone I want. And they want me.
I guess the thing I'm most interested in is finding ways to talk about it all. To come from where I'm at in any given moment. To speak my rage and my grief and my joy.
I've been on a theme lately. It's always in the background of my thinking. How can I be whole? How can I talk about the places I feel less than whole? Does it matter? Is any body listening? Why do I care? What do I want?
OK. Maybe more than one theme. Like I said. It's my world.
And yes. I think long hair on women is read as being sexually available, or willing, or able. And beards are cool. And Tyne Daley is who I want to be when I grow up.
Pattie and Carl show today.
September 20 2002 9:00 AM
I haven't been talking about the revolution lately. I'm just too preoccupied. But I was reading a post of Kell's about an encounter in a restroom. I could feel it. The tension that hits your body when a person talks about being on a diet. I really don't care what people do with their bodies. And people have a right to discuss what they will. But there is this tension. Because, if you're fat, the assumption that you must hate your body hangs in the air, the assumption that you must be looking for a way to diet. So, when you aren't in that box the diet talk becomes a kind of hate speech.
It's like this. If you don't know me don't assume I wish I was thin. Don't assume I have a health problem. Assume that you need to know me a little bit before you can talk to me about my body.
The other day I heard a woman on the radio open a discussion about racism by saying something like, hey there's a war to deal with, how can we stop to talk about racism. She's white. No surprise there. And she's a nice liberal woman. I heard the distraction in her voice, the need to do something about the rogue behavior of our government that obliterates all other thought.
But there are other things that require thought. I've been frustrated about fat politics. There's no coalition. There is good work being done but it feels fragmented and difficult to keep track of. I think it's another place where I've given up a little bit.
Caroline says a cool thing. "The situation is so dire, we can't afford the luxury of realism" What I take from that is the importance of holding onto a hope for possibility. It looks bad. But there might be solutions that we have yet to imagine.
It was hot here yesterday. I did laundry, walked to a book store to buy a gift, delt with stuff, read stuff, ate stuff. Mused.
September 21 2002 10:05 AM
I went to bed at 9:00 last night because it felt like I was tired. I sure wasn't doing anything. But 45 minutes later it seemed clear that I wasn't going to sleep. So I got out of bed and turned on Now with Bill Moyers. I'm glad I did. Arundhati Roy was on.
Mark Woods, who is one of my favorite bloggers, has lost computer access. Euan has set up a paypal account to try and buy him a computer. So, if you feel like a random act of kindness might make your day feel better, get on over there. If you read Mark you might want to throw some change in the hat to avoid the pain of not being able to read him. And maybe if there's enough cash we buy Golby a new keyboard.
You gotta read the comments in yesterdays post to get this next bit. I've had a variety of conversations with people who say diet things to me, or around me. One occurred in a class on culture. We all had to do little presentations on the culture of our choice. I decided to talk about fat culture. The week before my presentation there was a class conversation about pop culture in which someone mentioned Jay Leno. The teacher said,"Jay Leno, he's gained weight hasn't he?" And there was this unspoken thing that went around the room. So, the following week, I opened my presentation by asking them to spend a minute thinking about what that unspoken thing was about. And then I asked them what it meant about me, since I was in the room.
A similar thing happened in my new therapy group. On the first night one person said to another, "You look great, have you lost weight? The next week I talked about how hearing that made me feel.
These unconscious, projected assumptions about losing weight, or gaining weight being better, or worse, hit my body. If I'm caught off guard I usually just suffer the event. But I try to question the assumption. I try to ask the question -- why is being thinner better?
But it's too shocking sometimes. You hear the words coming out of the persons mouth and the anger, frustration and fear kick up in your blood and your throat gets tight.
And for most of us fat grrrls there's already a habit of trying to avoid making someone feel bad. I mean some of us are still feeling like we're lucky if anyone will play with us after school, or be seen with us at the mall, or dance with us at the prom. Now we have to talk to those ... friends ... and risk making them uncomfortable by asking them to question their assumptions about weight.
I've watched people, in my class, in my therapy group, get very squirmy in my presence when they say something about fatness. They're uncomfortable. They should be. The things they say are unexamined.
Here's the thing. It's too fucking scary to challenge people when you feel shocked by their assumption that it's OK for them to judge your body. The only time you can do it is when you have some reserve. In other words when you've done the inner work to ground your own acceptance and love for your body and when you have the support of like minded people. When you're strong you can turn to the person and ask them,"Why do assume that thinness is preferred?"
Am I strong? About 1% of the time. The other 99% of the time I'm braced, tense, ready for battle. I am over sensitive.
And I'm trying to get more sensitive.
The other day I heard these folks on the radio talking about the work that they do to unseat white privilege. I remembered the night I went to the movie about racism and feminism and couldn't find a seat with no arms in which to sit.
I'm committed to having the difficult conversations about race and feminism and homophobia and antisemitism and all the boxes we put each other into.
But if you really want a community with a full range of diversity, sooner or later you're gonna have to make room for my fat ass.
September 21 2002 (second post--I'm all wound up) 10:52 PM
You're welcome Dorothea. Thank you.
Yeah. The pain.
I'd like to say that men just don't get it. They don't get the way it feels when they make light of, make fun of, make wrong the things women try to tell them about. What it's like to feel as if your body gets yanked away from you and used as a toy, or an icon. I don't think they do understand.
But they do understand pain. They have their own version of the boys are blue, girls are pink bullshit. They swallow back tears, repress tenderness, shit...I don't know what they do. I need them to tell me.
I do know that they have power. Power that they do not completely understand and that are not always careful about. And I know that all these generalizations are tired, old and not useful. But somehow they still have play in our lives.
I'm scarred, size 5X, 49, makeup less, shaped in ways that I am told (daily) are NOT OK, I got a bunch o hair, and I dress ... well...I think I dress kinda cool. I do think of myself as sexy. But I also think that what makes me sexy is not contained in any of those adjectives. I think what makes me sexy is my life. And I am sexual.
Let me say that again.
I am sexual.
I'm not your mama, best friend, confidant, pimp, or dominatrix.
There have been times in my life when I was afraid to claim that language, that identity. Sexy, what you see. Sexual, what I feel. And I still have some fear. But I have very clear, strong and defiant reasons for reclaiming it all.
I know women who just don't want to deal with it any more. And they have that right. Because it makes ya tired. It's like what Dru said in my comments the other day, regarding confronting size stuff. "Sometimes mama just wants to stare."
There is a part of me that wants to say that the young men who felt like they had a right to comment loudly on and reach for Dorothea's breasts may have just been at the barber shop. And there is a part of me that feels like the minute I say it I will hear the tongues hitting the backs of teeth, and see the eyes roll. But I gotta tell ya, that whole boys will be boys thing is lost on me.
And Dorothea was asking for help. We are all asking for help. We can not do this alone.
your revolution will not be you flexing your little sex and status to express what you feel; your revolution will not happen between these thighs will not happen between these thighs will not be you shaking and me faking between these thighs because the real revolution, when it finally comes, is gon' be real -- Sara Jones
September 22 2002 8:34 AM
Was it the moon?
Today is the first day of banned book week.
Let's all read something dangerous.
September 23 2002 9:11 AM
I sorta forgot about peanut butter. I just don't keep it around. But yesterday, after swimming, Deb & I went to the palace of beautiful food. I got some freshly ground organic peanut butter. I put it in some celery sticks for dinner. So, fifties. And I had a little salad with watercress, chicken, yellow beets and cucumber.
I've decided I want to drink wine on Sunday nights. But, I've decided that before and not done it. Last night I had a glass of Zin. I was feelin all mellow. Basking in the good vibes from Dru and Dorothea. Muscles all worked from doing laps in the pool.
Something about the peanut butter in celery sticks kept making me giggle.
I had a pack o reading to do for school. Which was good because it kept me away from the television. The little bit of 60 Minutes that I watched put a serious cramp on my little bit of peace.
We're reading some Primo Levi. Something Jean Amery said about Primo Levi makes the 60 minutes piece more acute. He said,"People who have been tortured remain tortured." Reading Levi is like listening to someone work very hard to understand what can not be understood. I can not understand the reasoning of the torturer. I read El Angel's Last Conquest, a book written from the perspective of the torturer, a few years ago. It's out of print and difficult to find. It's chilling.
This is an odd post. It is true that I had a pretty nice day yesterday. And it is all so true that I spent the evening reading about Auschwitz and worrying that in my country there are people who condone the idea of torture.
It's all shadows and light.
September 24 2002 9:42 AM
Dru. Good gawd. Dru just makes me smile. Big smile. The kind that makes your cheek muscles feel like they're workin. She picked up on the sexy thing and wrote this great response. Brightly colored poisonous bug. So cool.
I was trying to explain my darkness and depression to my therapy group last night. You wouldn't think I was a depressed person if you met me on a bus. Or, most days you wouldn't. But, depression is something I've fought all my life.
Actually I haven't fought it. I've spent hours sitting in bars, or at home, with a pack of Dunhill Blues and a glass of Makers Mark listening to Billie Holiday. I've sat deeply into my sense of futility and loss. Mushed around in it. Dared anyone to get near me. I feel petulant and misunderstood.
But I have this desire to understand things. Deeply. So I'm always pushing.
And no matter how dark I get there are things that pull me back. I remember one morning when I was really just feeling so not happy to be alive and I was reading around the blogs, clicking fast, barely paying attention. I got to Henry's Diary. There was a post about gum. It made me laugh. I went off line and went about the business of the day. But I kept thinking about Henry and the gum. And laughing.
So I can move out of the pit. With a little help from my friends. But I'm not too good at moving out of the pit with other people in the room. I tend to isolate when I'm down. Partly because I don't think anyone should have to deal with my shit. And partly because I'm so arrogant I don't think anyone can deal with my shit.
I'm not sure how it went last night. I think people who are in therapy need to believe that things can get better. It's hard when you tell then that there are times when you don't want to believe that, can't belive that, won't believe that. I think I have learned some things form hanging out in all that mess. And I really do belive that, if you aren't a little bit depressed, you aren't paying attention.
I mean there is some shit going on in the world.
But I go to therapy. Take my herbs. Go to school. Try to take care of my self. Write my little page. And read around the blog.
September 24 2002 (second post) 9:42 AM
Ohmygawd. I have perma links.
THANK YOU DOROTHEA!
If you were reading me last summer you read a lot of me whining about my failure with perma links. Dorothea, very kindly, just sent me e-mail and badda bing badda boom. They work.
All my respect and gratitude go to ya, Dorothea. Thank you so much. It's looking very mofessional around here.
September 25 2002 9:42 AM
I can't wait to find out if Rachel marries Joey.
You believe me don't you?
I shouldn't act too uppity. I do have my addictions to nonsense. But sometimes the language used to talk about stuff on TV is chilling. It's a new fall season of things to zone out on and pretend that life is good. I do want to see The West Wing. I'll be in class, so I'll have to tape it. And it is true I watch it and pretend that it's the real White House. Not that that works for very long.
San Francisco is a kooky town. For oh so many reasons. But, for two days in a row I've left my apartment in North Beach, where a thin cotton shirt was fine, and in the course of two bus rides I'm in a fog belt, shivering. I've lived here long enough to know to carry a sweater around but it still amazes me that it can be so extreme.
Yesterday I was thinking about the rhythm of blog conversations. I do most of my reading in the morning. I post then. Sometimes at noon I'll check in. And on days when I am really not focusing and working on things I need to be doing I jump around my blog roll more than a few times. Searching.
It's the call and response thing.
Did you read me?
Did you mean me when you said that?
Are you mad at me?
I catch myself in the middle of it all and marvel at my own need and narcissism.
I have a sense for when most of the people I read post. But sometimes I get to a blog and there's a raging conversation happening. And jumping in seems like trying to keep something going that needs to die. It's difficult to assess.
And then there are conversation that I've tried to start that have fallen flat.
But now. DADADADA I have perma links. And Dorothea is going to hand hold while I drink the MT Koolade. Which might mean that I post more than once a day. We'll see. I'm feeling pretty lucky to have Dorothea's help. I admire her literacy.
I love language. It turned out that my perma links needed a fragment identifier. Which, I think, could be said about my writing in general.
September 26 2002 8:58 AM
Since Pattie asked: perma links are the thing you see at the bottom of a blog entry, (although mine are at the top) usually a date(mine is September). When you want to cite a particular post you click on it and the URL changes and adds an anchor. You can use that URL to link directly to a specific post. I was successful at getting my perma link to go to my September page but I could never get it to go to the specific post. Dorothea told me about the missing tag. And if you click on her name you will go directly to how and what I mean by that.
Perma links are helpful when bloggers want to talk to each other via their blog. But I know (because they tell me) that some of the friends who read me don't always follow the links. Which is kind of a shame, but I know it takes time.
Here's a link you need to follow. Red panties for reproductive choice. I always wished I was a red diaper baby. Of course the red underwear linked to on that page that fits me is a thong. And I'm with Kell on the thong underwear. (That being another example of the use of perma links.) Kell also added to the conversation on sexy, here. Articulate and complex as always.
I'm still musing on the problems of appearance. Back in the conversations about fat grrrl who make their own porn, which I can't link to because I didn't have perma links then, (see how cool perma links can be? Thank you again Dorothea!) I wrote about understanding why the fat grrrls want to have a day on the stage of thong wearing loopy sexual representation. There is a defiant thing about going on there. But I do feel tired of the game.
I picked the current photo from my youth, in part, because of all the babe stuff. I was trying to be sardonic. Er...sumthin.
These days I want a sexy that feels like mutuality. Some kind of full bodied, heart and mind recognition. Some kind of acknowledgement that sex is about so much more than how much of your tits and ass are in view. And I am not even talking about love here. Love is whole nother thang.
Pattie and Carl show today.
And by the way, it's not that I never watch Friends, but if I am watching it's usually in lieu of going out into the streets looking for a near lethal dose of heroin. It's not that Friends numbs the pain, but the pain becomes so acute while I watch that I can no longer feel it. A dull numbness sets in. Sometimes I need that. Although I'm pretty sure it's not a good sign.
September 27 2002 9:47 AM
Here's a confession. The new expansion pack came out. The Sims have pets and vegetable gardens. My copy came on Tuesday but I had school. So, yesterday I played all day. It's pretty fun. It always amazes me how involved I can get in the little stories I'm telling myself.
But I have a paper due on Tuesday. I'm taking my writing out of the Difficult World piece, save for the last bit of the Rich at the end, and making it into a new piece. I liked it when I wrote it but it's fun to work on it. (Oh shit. That was an odd sentence.)
As a result of all this sublime and ridiculous stuff I didn't read around much yesterday. Good gawd. Miss one day on the blogs and I feel like I was gone for a month.
Dru continues to blow my mind. And the comments to her post are amazing. I, like Dru, think that we live in sexist, racist, (oh the list is long) world and we need to pay attention to the ways all that stuff works it's way into our thinking. And all those isms are shape shifters. As we tour around the planet we see how many ways humans can create to hate one another.
One of the comments on her post mentioned Dru's abuse as a possible reason for her "extreme ism beliefs."
Well I don't want to launch any missiles, the person says they care about Dru and I believe them. I do want to say that Dru's abuse history may have something to do with how she views the world. My abuse history certainly has some play in mine. But I don't think her views are extreme or her anger is pathological.
It's interesting to me that I've seen male bloggers praised for their passion when they express rage.
I do think that the comment was coming from a desire to see Dru at peace. Happy. Content. And I understand that. I have friends who I know tire of my wrath. They worry about how much I listen to the news. They tell me to take breaks.
I took one yesterday. It was nice.
Today I need to catch up. On work for school and I need to work on the biography project. I'm distracted by it all and can't find the focus to write here.
But I just want to tell Dru to rage on. keep feeling and thinking and putting it all out there.
September 28 2002 9:52 AM
I rarely go out on Friday night. When I lived in New York we called it bridge and tunnel night. But Abeer was performing in this and I wanted to see her. So, Deb and I made plans for dinner and then the show.
I’m pretty hyper about getting to places early. I can’t always be confident that I will find a place to sit. You know, chair big enough for my ass. It’s an emotional moment for me. I enter a space, look around, are there chairs with no arms? Is there room between them?
Last night we went to dinner and, for a variety of reasons, things took a long time. It was 7:30 and we needed to get to theater, which wasn’t far, but we weren’t going to be there as early as I like to be. I was very tense. We were walking toward the car when I noticed a young man in a truck. I looked at him. He said, “I would seriously consider salads.”
Of all the things that have been shouted at me from cars this was nowhere near the most hateful. But something in me snapped. I could feel the blood rising, filling my throat, my ears, my eyes. I started walking toward the truck saying, “I would seriously consider getting some education because you don’t know me.” I could feel myself reaching for him. The light changed and the truck drove off. I was filled with adrenaline and rage.
I wanted to go home right then. But we went to the theater. There were folding chairs. Not a fat girls friend. Worse, they were tied together with plastic bands. We wanted to sit in the back so we could leave right after Abeer. The folding chair at the end of the aisle in the back row was a different type and smaller than the rest. I wasn’t thinking too clearly. I perched on it. My feet pushed against the concrete floor, my thigh muscles tensed, my knees locked, all in an effort to support myself in the chair. It was painful. The first group might have been pretty cool. I can’t tell you. There was still blood pulsing in my throat, ears and eyes. I couldn't hear them. My feet, knees and thighs were burning from the effort to hold myself up on the chair.
When people talk about oppression I like to listen. I don’t think I need to bring up my issues in those moments. It’s not a competition. But every time someone said something about diversity last night I wanted to scream. Finally there was a break.
Cynthia came in. I muttered something about being uncomfortable. Cynthia is a no-nonsense, take care of business person. She found me a chair, a plastic chair but it was bigger and sturdier. I thanked her but there was no space in which I wouldn’t be blocking an aisle. Not to be deterred, Cynthia went and got a young man who cut the plastic thing holding the chairs together and we put the orange one in place. I was grateful. I was exhausted. There was a poet and then Abeer came on. Her piece was lovely and powerful. When it was over we left.
Sometimes when I write about things like this I know that there will be folks who get it. Other fat grrrls who have their own stories. And I know there will be people who don’t get it. People like that guy. If only I would eat salad.
Why didn’t I think of that?
September 29 2002 9:52 AM
Hmmmm. I wonder if I'm a war blogger now. I've assembled quite the grrrl gang ready to smack down frat boys who say shitty things to fat grrrls. And I got a marriage proposal.
Yesterday I was meeting with some fat grrls trying to talk about the Southwest thing. Which seems to be drifting into the background. If you have any thoughts, feelings or stories please send them in.
Other wise I was still in a funk. Didn't do much. Watched the anti globalization rally in DC on CSPAN. I did get a call from Tom. Which was fun and did perk me up a bit. Tried to talk him into doing a blog.
On Friday Caroline Casey was on Buchanan and Press. Imagine my surprise. Bill Press was asking what the protesters were protesting about. To him they seemed to be all over the place. Globalization. Aids. No war in Iraq.
Hmmm. What could all those things have in common. I wonder.
Democracy Now reports that the congress has been overwhelmed with anti war calls.
It could all make a person feel almost hopeful about peace. But. I'm gathering my grrrl gang ...just in case.
My dreams have been full of actors lately. I don't remember them but last night featured James Belushi and Sissy Spacec. There was something about vampires. It's hard to wake up from these dreams. It feels like leaving in the middle of a movie.
I went swimming yesterday.
Between that and waking up to my Rabbit Rabbit reminder e-mail, I'm feeling like I have more to do that I have time or inspiration to do it.