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Pure As the Driven Slush (Personal Journal)


August 4th, Two Thousand Six:
(Some of this was written over a week and a half ago. Ack! That given, is there anyone out there who would be up for a barter to help me get the wordpress versions which were installed for me, but not completed or set up, and which I don't know how to use, going? It'd mainly involve just shifting the formats I have now to wordpress, giving me some sort of tutorial on how to use it, ad helping me figure how to have the archived posts go to the subscription area. I'd be happy to exchange a photo sitting, some prints, or a lengthy subscription to the site.)

I think, at this point, it's sage to aim for journal entries once a week. I'm juggling more than ever, with a full-time relationship, with adding a new project to the roster, with living in a space at least three times the size I'm used to (which is glorious, but managing it? Not so easy), with being in a new place, and still being so damn behind on everything.

That said, the highlights of the last couple weeks:

My dog makes her film debut.
Poor Mark. He's been working in film in Seattle for seven years, without his picture in the paper, and Sofia ends up with a shot her first time a bat. She's a scene stealer, that puppy, always has been. He was warned.

Mark and co. participated in the 48-hour film project here the weekend before last. Originally, the plan was that our house might be used as a location, so I made a bunch of plans to get outta here so I wouldn't be underfoot. Film sets, too, are really not my cup of tea: the vibe is just not my vibe -- people all over the place, everyone all stressed out, having fun in their way, but it's tense as hell. The thing I'm picking up on, though, is that given how big a group project films are, if you are in any way involved with someone making one, or hell, within a two-mile radius of the set, you're going to find yourself roped in.

As it turned out, once they started maniacally writing the script, a PI reporter sitting there with them, it wasn't our house that ended up with the big part. It was my pug. As an evil, talking serial killer. With a male scottish accent. (And no, we don't have a version online yet: patience.) My dog was written into nearly every scene.

So, change of plans, especially after seeing the puppy-concerned, girlfriend-worried, stressed-out, overextended panic in Mr. Price's blinky little eyes when, on one hour of sleep for him, and a handful more for me, we woke up at six the next morning.

(Which prompted the incredibly snotty comment from me, "This is not art. I don't know what it is y'all do with this moviemaking, but it is NOT art. Art does NOT start at six AM. It might run through past six AM, or you might have an idea about art at six AM, roll out of bed bed, pee, have a smoke, and roll back into it to sleep until some reasonable hour when you might wrack your brain to remember what that fantastic, creative idea you had while you were half asleep was. But art does not start at six AM. Just so you know.")

Most of the next day then, involved my dog in drag at the docks, my dog driving a jeep (or rather, laying on the steering wheel while I, crammed under the front seat, held her up by her ass and we both baked in the sun), my dog having a drink at the bar, my dog -- holding to the pacifist ideals of our household -- refusing to actively participate in her fight scene, for which a stuffed stunt double stood in instead -- my dog, dragging a body into a hole in the ground, my dog, recording her very strange ewok-like yabble into a boom, my dog, via voiceover (Sofia knows better) calling someone "sugar tits." I had no plans to do work for the film, but I gotta say, after I accepted my fate, it was a pretty darn good time.

It was a long workday for a wee pug, but she held up extraordinarily well for her scenes. Suffice it to say, all of the cameras and water dishes and attention en masse was not a bummer for her. Me? By 4:00 I was seriously done. My friend Fishdreamer saved the day by meeting me at the bar for Sofi's last big scene and whisking us both away to much tequila (well, not for Sofia, she passed out at home). By the time we got back to the house, ready to move on to bottles of wine, the cast and crew were here to have dinner then to do more work.

I got to have this awesome experience I almost NEVER have. In time, while we sat on a blanket on the lawn, people started coming out to film the last scenes in the ditch next to my garden and I COULD NOT HAVE CARED LESS. Look, I'm both massively sympathetic and a workaholic. Usually, I see people working, I feel like I absolutely have to help, and work too. usually, I see people in need, I hop to to help them out. usually, if someone else is invested in something, I get invested too. But that night, between being tired and tipsy and film-tension-avoidy, I could have CARED LESS. A couple guys suggested they might need someone to help with something, I suggested that I was sure someone inside the house signed unto the project would be glad to oblige. Fish and I watched people work with a casual, oh-so-mildly anthropological eye: "Observe the people frantically working, all stressed out. Aren't they interesting? More wine?"

It was actually very liberating for me: I'm so rarely apathetic about anything. I kinda get now why there are folks who enjoy being that way all the time.

In any event. Sofi's film screened with the others people had done at the Harvard Exit a couple days later. Seeing my dog's face 20 times its usual size was both insanely giggle-inducing and deeply disturbing. The audience seemed to have a similar reaction. All in all, a fine debut for the little diva, who was rewarded for her efforts in biscuits, doggie donuts and a new toy, as well as (one assumes) the feeling of satisfaction from a job well done, and a gazillion people paying attention to you.

Sexual Nonsequiturs
A few nights back, when we were expecting the director of the film, a friend of Mark's, to come by and grab the gear left here, and he was late, our evening spun in a libidinous direction. Mark called said friend, and left a message for him NOT to come over, clearly implying that we would be having sex, and coming over would be a Very Bad Idea.

I realized that I've seen and experienced kind of a funny dynamic with calls like that. If you're female, you can usually call your other female friends and say something like that. If they haven't gotten laid in a while, you want to go light on the implication, but regardless, you can do it, and it's not weird. If you're male, same goes for your male friends. If you've opposite-gendered friends who are queer, it's also usually okay, though there is something not quite as comfortable (sometimes) as either being lesbian and having a guy tell you he's getting laid. But if you've opposite sex friends, it seems like there's often (not always, but often) a not-so-comfortable dynamic in a woman telling a male-friend to get lost because she's going to have sex (and sometimes all the more so if your partner is female), and something even less comfortable in a male friend telling a female friend to vamoose for that reason.

Huh.

In related notes, the other night, I was thinking, while in flagrante (yeah, it takes a while for my analytical brain to get gone), about whether it was better to be the person who comes first or the person to come second. You go first, you don't risk your other person being too spent and dizzy to do you a good turn, but then you're the one's got to get your shit together, despite being all weak in the knees and spinny in the head. Plus, when you go second, you get the bonus of getting all turned on while you watch the other person get all worked up and all worked over.

I was heading towards some really potent analysis in this regard, but then I came and then he came, and then we both headed into the extra innings, and once second and third orgasms got brought into the mix it threw my whole theory right out the window.

I also sorta lost interest, lending credence to my theory that the only sound time to construct theory about sex is when nobody's coming at all.

House-schmouse
No, the house STILL isn't finished. I mean, duh, it's big, we rent, and we're not rolling in it, so of course it isn't finished-finished. But I still don't have either of my office/studios done, boxes are still unpacked (and the most valuable of all of them still missing), a couple spots of wall still need paint, and I'm regretting that I ditched my filing cabinet in Minneapolis.

One of the things in, I have NEVER lived in a place this big with only one other person. Hell, our shared flat in college with four of us in it wasn't this big. Sparing once in jr. high, I've always lived in apartments, and usually very small ones. Even trying to get this thing where rooms have assigned purposes is a brainteaser. I have these two offices which go mostly unused, party because they're not done, but partly because there's plenty of room for my laptop on the front porch or dining room table. I have closets where things COULD be hung, but I still can't really conceptualize the notion of "more than one closet," so I just plain forget they're there, or take for granted that they must already be stuffed to the gills, so there's little sense in opening them. I once had an apartment that was so small I SLEPT in the closet.

There are many days I literally forget there is a second floor. I am a total babe in the woods when it comes to using and managing a space this size. Sometimes, in trying to conceptualize how to do it, my inclination is to just put up a tent in the backyard and live there, because everything else just seems way too complicated and hurts my head. You'd think I had been some sort of prisoner of war, rather than just someone who grew up poor in the city.

This is an awesome thing, for sure, but it takes some getting used to. At least I know I'm not alone in this: my cat has a whole big house, too, but she's picked one square foot to live in.

General PSA for Radicals-To-Be (and those who'd keep company with same), Apropos of Nothing
Radicals and activists -- of any breed or conceivable hue -- are NOT generally perceived as charming or pleasant, because we often are neither of those things. We often get out of the habit of observing certain social niceties or playing the usual politics because we are too busy trying to enact the social changes which some of those niceties and politics are a band-aid for. We are often sandpaper rather than silk; we often agitate rather than acquiesce. We often simply do not have time for your bullshit, however sympathetic we may be to WHY your bullshit may exist and manifest in the ways that it does. People often respect us, even love us, far more than they like us. Quite often, we do not say what you want to hear. Just as often we do not say what WE want to hear. That's the nature of the gig: we tend to be a different breed.

(I have a special kind of snark lying in wait for the really annoying people at Walgreens and how they chose to handle a prescription for both condoms and my diaphragm, but I'll save it for later.)

Dad, Etc.

I got my Dad tickets to come up here to visit for two weeks this month, starting next Tuesday afternoon. It's been a decade since we had that sort of time together, so I'm more than thrilled.

The idea is to give him long enough up here to see if he likes it: if he does, given he's finally on disability now, we can look towards finding him housing up here and getting him closer than me so I can both sleep at night and be able to have my father nearby.

The other randoms?

• The AGA is sure a challenge (boy howdy do we need more volunteers: hint), but it's seriously blossoming in some really interesting ways. It feels a bit like watching feminist community form in a fishbowl, and it's not all pretty to watch, especially considering some of the extra challenges young feminist women have today, but some of these girls are just seriously amazing.

• Also blossoming are hundreds of tomatoes in my garden. Someone told me they didn't do so well up here, which I have since been informed was gross misinformation. The evidence of this lies in the remake of Attack of the Killer Tomatoes in my yard. I put in six starts and then two more plants from seed when I was first told that, figuring that at least a couple of them would do okay.

Half of them are taller than I am: they all did okay, and we have some serious canning in our near future.

• Scarleteen is what it is during the summer: way too busy, way too full of crisis. Ladies and germs with teenage children, or mentor and allies of same? For the love of Pete, give them something to DO. Give them summer opportunities. Help the get a job. Send them on a cool trip. Give them ANYTHING but two and some months to be bored off their asses and have nothing else to do, and no other rites of passage, but haplessly having really lackluster sex. Think what you will about teens have sex period, but I think we can all agree that having sex just because there is nothing better to do is really bogus, especially considering the risks.

• I still have a really big crush on Mr. Price. I confess, I keep wondering if someone we got locked into some sort of time warp, because I'm really not used to this thing where the mushy-ooshy-gooshy keeps on coming almost a year and a half on, despite the occasional domestic Waterloo, both of our oft-overworked selves, and endless throng of houseguests, a really messy bedroom of my own making, the burdens of opposite-sex partnership (so amazing how many people take them for granted), and the general annoyances of daily life all bound up together. Even in discussing Very Big Issues, I still find myself sitting there all starry-eyed.

No sense in being anything but frank: I find myself with someone romantically who, when I envision him being around 20 years on, for the first time for real, some part of me doesn't want to hurl and go running for the hills. I feel like kind of a dope, because I warned him in earnest about all these things that were likely to happen as time went on, and as we moved in together, based on my previous experiences (I'd resent him, I wouldn't want to have sex anymore, I'd feel deadly suffocated, blah blah blah), and it's seeming pretty clear those things were about those relationships, not about me in general. Phew!

Anyway, yeah: it's all seriously good, even if how good it is, and how sustained that's been, is kinda freaking me out.

But the REALLY big news is...

Drumroll, please!
I have a new publisher. Nearly, what -- six years? Five? Five or six years from proposals to terrified publishing houses to version one to the most useless "edits" of all time to version two to The Great Small Publisher Debacle of 2005 to more terrified publishers to now.

To shelves, my dears, around my birthday of next year. Just as it was intended, with everything that needs to be in it, and nothing that doesn't.

An AMAZING firecracker of an editor at Marlowe & Company/Avalon Publishing read online about the book, tracked me down, read it like the sweetest kind of speed demon, gabbed with me about its trials and tribulations, expressed shock and dismay at all the right things The Big-Little YA Sexuality Guide That Could have been through together. She took up my flag and waved it to The Big Guys, advocated for me like an editor is supposed to, and netted me an excellent contract with a very comfortable advance. We're right on the same page with everything that needs to stay in, and additions suggested by the last publisher which can go out. We're right on the same page with how to market and present it. She's started on editing it without any delay at all, and is having FUN doing it. In short, even from the onset, this has been a night and day experience per the difference between this publisher and the last, which has been seriously refreshing, and very much needed. (Which is really kind of sad, because I'd so, so like to support small, indie publishing, but that last experience really soured that for me. And the more folks I know/read with books coming from teeny publishers, the more foggy my rose-coloured glasses get. Books need to be EDITED, people. It's not a gift to tell any author of any book they don't need an editor, and if a publisher/editor tells you that, it's not a compliment: it's laziness, apathy or incompetence cloaked in a big, fat lie.)

Of course, this means the next yearish is going to be a world of crazy, due to the resurgence of the book-work coming on top of everything else I'm already struggling to get done, but it's the good kind of crazy, so you don't hear me complaining.

ALL that said, Mr. Price, Sofia and myself are off to a fine weekend of group camping out on Bainbridge with the lovely Miz Ariel and her posse. Expect photos soon.

 


July 7th, Two Thousand Six:
I heart my hearth.

It was chilly this morning, so I had every excuse to go ahead and build a fire, something which had become a morning ritual before it got very warm over the last week or two. I'm still sitting in front of it, the embers warming my skin, the scent of woodsmoke infusing the house and wafting out into the garden,

I'm a firestarter, always have been. Literally, symbolically. When I camp with others, gawd save anyone who tries to be responsible for the fire in my stead. I want to build it, I want to tend it, I want to see it through. Astrologically, sparing a mere two planets in air (and not a one in water), I'm all earth and fire. Personally, professionally, politically, I'm a lamplighter, I'm the one with the matches when no one's got a light; I try not to burn bridges overmuch, but I'll gladly do it if need be. I make hearths, I keep them warm and ready.

In the apartment we lived in the longest in my childhood, there was a painted, vacant fireplace. As was the case in a lot of buildings in Chicago built post-Mrs. O'Leary's Big Cow Whoopsie-Daisy, it wasn't a working fireplace. We'd glued mirrors inside it, and I'd sit in there often with a pile of books, imagining the warm fire that wasn't.

The last time I had a working fireplace somewhere I lived, it ended up being primarily used for my survival. Through a combination of both terrible choices and terrible jerk, in '97, I had $600 a month to live on from a 60-hour-a-week internship, and my fellow "housemate" screwed me utterly, which involved leaving me busted flat in a place with rent I couldn't pay alone (but where there was no way to work a roomie I wasn't sleeping with), as well as without a goodly amount of my personal property and a phone bill in my name of several hundred dollars. The heat got shut off (no fun in a Chicago winter), and in short order, so did the gas and the electricity. I could afford to eat the barest basics every other day. By virtue of technically being employed, and being childless, I was not eligible for any welfare, either. In time, I moved my futon in front of the fire, cooked spare stews over the flames made from whatever I could find to burn in the dumpsters that day.

Just having that fire -- not just to keep me warm, not just as a means to cook and have light at night, but as elemental, emotional sustenance -- helped get me through a really rotten, scary time. I felt so isolated at the time, especially given that I had to keep the state I was in a secret from nearly everyone, every day; I felt betrayed, lost, abandoned, cold inside and out. I also felt incredibly angry. The nights I could have a fire, it was a wonderful balm for all of that: it warmed the frigid air, it gave me company and comfort, and it's hot, red flames licking and consuming this piece of discarded furniture or that spoke to my anger and reminded me that it can motivate, rise up, fight back.

* * *
Sunday, Mark went off on an overnight day trip with a few friends, so for the first time, I had the house to myself all day and all night. I ended up dedicating most of my day and evening to building the hearth here. I stained a couple wooden curio boxes and frames black, brought out all the small objects of import I'd kept set aside for the area for weeks, arranged and rearranged them carefully, taking all the time I wanted. When we first moved here, without even thinking about it, this is where I began to meditate every morning. I had originally planned to set my meditation space up in the downstairs studio, since it'll be very spare in there, but clearly, this is where it's supposed to happen.

It's not done yet: shrines take time, after all. But it remains my favorite space in the whole place: better than the lovely old bathtub Mr. price and I have marvelous, long conversations in, better than my fun, (now) stripey-pale-yellow upstairs studio, better than the checkerboard floors I love so much, better even than the bed (which actually sucks and is killing my damn back, but that hasn't stopped us from having an awful lot of fun in it, nonetheless). I'm also not done finishing the house, in general. Both my workspaces are still not actually functional, something I have GOT to get a handle on, because I haven't been able to do any self-portrait work in an age, and I've got some nifty stuff spinning round in my head.

This weekend, a 48-hour film project is happening in our space resulting in a full house of cast and crew, so I don't imagine I'll be in luck per getting the studios or any photo work done until some time next week, though there may be some times when it's not only doable but prudent to lock myself in the upstairs studio and get things better arranged up there. Sadly, two boxes seem to have vanished during the move which contain some of the things most important to me (it seemed so smart at the time to put them all in two boxes, alas), so I'm hoping for time to get EVERYTHING left in a box in the house cleared out soon so I know whether to abandon all hope or not.

But for right now, I need the energy of my hearth: both its angry motivation and its tender warmth. Per usual, I have a lot on my plate, and per usual, I'm still behind. It's been a long adjustment to get used to something so seemingly simple as the fact that my workdays usually have a definite end now, rather than the luxury I had when living alone of stretching them over whatever hours, or even a length of several days with tiny passouts in between. It's an adjustment to learn to communicate some of the toughest things I do/see/bring up in a day to someone who both loves and cares for me and who comes from a very different place than I do. It's an adjustment to be sure there's room in my life now for both my passionate anger and my passionate tenderness, but the fire's got lessons on all of this and more in her hot red tongue, and I've a few minutes more in my day left just to listen.

(Addendum: it now appears that Sofia will have the starring role in the film, gawd help us all. Especially me, who made plans to NOT be here to be out of everyone's way, as requested, but am now feeling pretty darn conflicted about my poor dog being dragged to a million locations and having to perform on command without her mama. Ugh.

Oh, and for those who felt sad they weren't here two Sundays ago to see the ass-smacky dance, I have a few stills. Who's sorry now, I ask you?)

 

June 27th, Two Thousand Six:
Greetings from the Planet Post-Launch!

I'm -- slowly, so slowly -- coming back to the earth I know. I only realized in the middle of last week that it had been a good seven years since I launched a community-oriented, big-ass site. I'd forgotten how much damn work it is, and how crazymaking it can be. In this case, all the more so when you're using a system to run it you don't know shite about from the onset. Had it not been for my fantastic pal Garrett, not only would it probably never have gotten done, I'd have pulled out all my hair trying to figure it out myself in the process.

So, the big news is, the All Girl Army is live as of late Friday afternoon! I still have a few things to tweak here and there, but we've got the majority of it finished and seriously hoppin'. These young women and girls.... bloody HELL, are they amazing. I knew that going through their applications, but they're so far exceeded my expectations ALREADY, it's unreal. There wasn't a single day last week, as they started to post, that I didn't weep at least two or three times with The Big Happy. Since it's all I have been talking about in writing the supporting material for it, now getting press releases done, and the lot, I won't go on ad nauseum here, which would be my inclination since it's all I CAN seem to talk about of late. You can check it out for yourself. Part creative writing project, part intentional women's community, part live-broadcast women's studies class, I'm so, so pleased with how it all came together, how much the young women love it, and how quickly it's already growing.

Two seconds after I finally launched on Friday afternoon, Mr. Price dropped a flower in my lap, filled the picnic basket with goodies and bubbles and we nabbed the dog and headed over to Golden Gardens, which was a fantastic way to spend the first really summery afternoon and to celebrate the launch (and don't think I don't know I'm a lucky ducky). We were supposed to also go out to catch a gig that night, but by 9:00, I was comatose for a full 12 hours.

Saturday was a whole day dedicated to us jointly taking care of the house. The old pushmower that came with the house was seriously useless, so it got to the point where last week, my opening to discuss it with the landlord began with "Greetings from the rainforest!" Friday night when I let Sofia out back, it was a slasher flick scene: at some point, she went deep enough into the high grass of the yard that I couldn't find her, and, with a heavy heart, assumed she had been snatched by some wild Yukyuk.

A very generous soul at Mark's day job came by early Saturday morning with a weed whacker and a power mower and we all went to work. Since the two of them ended up doing most of it, I paid my dues by spending two hours weeding the garden, which, as of right now contains: six huge heirloom tomato plants, several batches of spinach, edamame, strawberries, rosemary, lemon verbena, cilantro, garlic chives, much basil, thyme, two varieties of oregano, three kinds of mint, pineapple sage, white sage, pennyroyal, three peppers, a baby eggplant, a pumpkin plant, poppies, aussie lavender, pansies, some other edible flowers and a bunch of other stuff. Good soil here, lots of worms. (I even had to break up a fight between a worm and a centipede the other day. It wasn't pretty. I played favorites and the worm won.) It's looking like I can get my Dad up here for a visit in August, and I look forward to using all of this stuff to cook together with him: it's my Dad I have to thank for my formidable skills in the kitchen and love of all things food and cooking, and he hasn't had any way to cook for a decade.

We finished Saturday with some walking and a Paperboys gig at the Tractor, which is blissfully but a few blocks from Chez Ballard. This is an awesome 'hood, kids.

Sunday afternoon we had a few friends over for an anti-Pride of sorts, which, given the glorious heat and a lot of mojitos (the mint needed to be used), resulted in the guests ending up face down on blankets in the yard, and Mr. Price being loaded enough to do a strange little self-ass-smacky dance for our amusement (or maybe THAT'S why they were face down).

(I just checked: there are some photos of aspects of this dance. I shoulda taken video. Nonetheless, will toss up some of the evidence I do have soon.)

There was some mightyfine sex nestled in there, too. Much pleasantness.

The rest of this week, thus far, has been spent trying to play catch-up, work-wise, house-wise, relationship-wise, socially. I needneedneed to do some photo work. I have Scarleteen to catch up with, some new articles to pen. I have bloody well GOT to find a gym nearby I can box at, because not being able to is making me nutty. I have to solidify a date for a meeting in July about getting both Scarleteen and the AGA nonprofit status (finally!). I have got to, for the love of gawd, get my studios in working order, and suck it up and buy some decent lights, much as I wish I didn't have to. I need to call the electric company in Minneapolis AGAIN, since the jerk who bought the building out from under us apparently refuses to verify with them that I have not been living there for months now, and so I keep getting billed for his electric use. Joy.


I need to sit down and make a big list of everything I have to tackle in the next month, and be sure I do it on a day where right afterwards, I can spend an hour lazing around in the sun to prevent me from having an aneurysm.

And, of course, I have got to get this little bit of ramble up, so that y'all stop asking me if I'm still alive.

Alive, living, breathing, and frazzled as usual.

P.S. Sofia sends her best, and is also muy pleased that site development madness has come to a close.
 

May 19th, Two Thousand Six: I'm off to MN on Saturday, for a visit just under a week. When I moved out here, it was cheaper to buy a round-trip ticket than a one-way, so I just got a return ticket for Briana's due date. As it turns out, she had The Baby Liam on Tuesday, but all the same, I'll get to see him and take way too many photographs of him.

I miss my friends a lot. That'd be why I'm going back for this visit (though I also need to close accounts there, see my acupuncturist, get my hair trimmed and the lot, but that's a sidebar). It'll be awesome to see them.

But in some respects, I wish I wasn't going back just now. It feels mighty soon, especially since I'm getting my bearings here and starting to feel adjusted: I hate to leave that prematurely. It's becoming patently clear that I really like it here. A lot. More than I even expected to. For whatever number of reasons -- the fine old house we're living in, my partnership with Mr. Price, the climate and location, the people here, who knows -- I'm not sure I've ever lived anywhere where it is so easy for me to relax, to the point that I have to do the opposite of what I used to per working. Usually, I have to kick myself in the ass to take time off: now, I'm having to do same to get cracking and keep working. Crazy.

To boot, we're in our adjustment period. Much of it is us being crazy-happy, dancing around the house and snuggling at night, and still shocked this whole cohabitation thing isn't harder than it is. But some of it isn't so easy. Mark's dealt with a lot of panic and anxiety over the last week, and last night, a film ended up being a terrible trauma trigger for me (when we wanted a nice date-night, grrr). I'm not easily triggered, but it does take some getting used to per living with someone who has triggers, who has lived through a good deal of trauma, especially when you haven't. Of course, there's also just the typical logistic stuff: feeling out how to make our schedules mesh, our creative lives and styles mesh, and so forth. In one respect, that might make right now a very good time for a little few-day breather, but in another, I feel like I'm shuttling off in the middle of a project in an important phase.

The film was Tarnation, for the record. And it was a brilliant, amazing, painful, powerful film, created out of footage the protagonist shot of his life from when he was 11 onward. However, not only did his adolescence mirror mine and those of people I loved and lost WAY too closely -- and right in the same time period, so the combo of appearances, feel, music from the time, ugh, too much -- his lone bright spot was his mentally incapacitated/disturbed mother. I was hanging on by a thread before the torturous five-minute scene of her, utterly gone and singing songs with a pumpkin. That was the point at which I had to holler out to just turn it off, RIGHT NOW PLEASE. I have rarely seen any portrayals of that whole scenario, including a parent who you love but who in many respects is just plain GONE, and one which was entirely real was just more than I could handle. While there were plenty of differences, I'm thinking this may be the film to hand to anyone I want to understand some of the hardest parts of my life, even though I couldn't even make it to the end.)

I've a lot of half-written journal entries which I can hopefully finish during the downtime I have there. I keep vascillating between tough political/activist/feminist/artistic issues and mostly goopy personal stuff. They make odd bedfellows, and for whatever reason, putting either end of the spectrum into cohesive formats feels strained and scattered, in part because I just have too many irons in the fire right now, especially since I'm still not fully settled in here, with a stable ground. (But on an excited note about the too many irons, we finished the final acceptance list of the girls and young women for blogging for the All Girl Army. We have everything from a young woman in the military to the leader of an al-girl band, from a momma-to-be to a ten-year-old firecracker. We have an evangelical, we have an incredible native rights activist, a reproductive rights activist, we have an anti-porn activist, we have a woman who works as a nude model, we have geeks, we have artists, we have scholars... it's seriously exciting, and all of us involved with the project are chomping at the bit to see the community these incredible young women create.)

That given, I prefer to leave you with some images (starring spiderlings!). They may not speak a thousand words, but that's probably a desired respite from the thousands I churn out in text. (There is also a big, gorgeous pile of new, Mucha-inspired photos of Hyacinth in the subscribers area.)





 

May 5th, Two Thousand Six:
I don't usually do this stuff, but I liked this one: it's especially timely for me.

Brownfemipower has proclaimed this .

Last night, while cooking my ages-old vegetarian chili recipe, I slipped some Phil Ochs on the turntable.
blog for radical fun
Mark's taste and my taste in music often dovetail beautifully, but where we sometimes split is with all my old folk and protest music, so I assumed that at some point, he might tire of it and ask for something different the next play round. But instead, he asked who it was, in awe, and when I told him some things about Ochs, got completely fascinated. It ended up being a really cool conversation where I got to talk about one of my childhood heroes, and where we talked about how things go for radicals, for activists.

We ended up in a discussion about people like Ochs where I was voicing -- and also talking about myself -- that in my mind, one of the toughest things about being an activist, about being very politically aware with an eye towards change is that so much of the time, you feel so damn hopeless and low, but to effect change, you have to do what you can to be as hopeful as you can outwardly, to try and stir people TO act. Being a big mopey-pants pissy pessimist tends be very ineffective when it comes to inspiring action in others.

Over the last couple of years, it's become pretty obvious to me how important it is to be aware that any sort of activist needs to become aware of how much stress they carry, and to create venues, environments, community and the like to offset and support that.

So, where are my simple joys? What do I do to follow my bliss?

- I cultivate and enjoy my community. Leaving Minneapolis has been hard for, really, ONLY this reason. I ended up creating an amazing community there of women (and a few men) I loved ferociously. Certainly, sometimes this meant people knowing my place was a place they could come when they needed to cry their eyes out, but a lot of the time, we just had a damn good time. That community certainly isn't anything I expect to replace, but I can make more of it here, or wherever I go, and that's already beginning. Today, for instance, Ariel is coming by so we can do some shots for the dust jacket of her upcoming book, but when we're done there, we've got hooping, gabbing, wine-sippin' and then a fine vegan dinner out on the agenda.

Sunday, I'll get to see my friend Caroline, and Monday night is the first wine night here, which already is including women who rock my socks here in WA. That'll include my friend and mentor Cheryl (who blogged about her fun here, and whose land it IS that much more fun to enjoy with her because the RR had to pay for it for being such assholes), who is one of the most incredible women I've ever met, who I love to pieces, and who is amazingly supportive of me, even when she takes crap from others for being so. I connect other people: there's something so cool about getting any two people connected who would not have otherwise, especially when they seem to be very different.

- I get muddy. I get up early and plant things, I get out on my bike, I lay in the grass, I get dirty with my dog, I go camping, whatever. Anything and everything to feel the sun on my face, the air in my lungs, and the earth on my skin.

- I experience my body. I go box (though sadly, still have yet to find anywhere close here to do so). I take a long walk. I do a quick sprint. I jump on my bike and get lost on purpose. I roughhouse. I get stinky as hell, I take a long bath. I do some yoga. I stretch. I breathe. I mess up my hair with my hands. I spin a cartwheel outside. I have sex and as many orgasms as I can manage before I'm nothing but a pile of giggles and loopy-headedness: with myself, with my lover, usually both on a good day. When you do the kind of things I do with my life, it can be very easy for even a sensate person to get wrapped up in your head and end up with your body/mind balance totally out of whack.

- I visualize the world I want to be living in: I imagine that all of the things I work for have come to fruition, and enjoy a long daydream in my personal Utopia. I read emails from the young people I mentor; read things they've written that aren't crisis-based, where I can see the strength in them, the joy, how they've grown, delighted to have played any part at all in that.

Sometimes, I take it to the street: I go for a walk, and with each person that passes me by, I imagine a life in which every single one of them is healthy, happy and whole. In doing this, if a stranger looks low, I make a point of verbalizing something wonderful I was thinking, even if it was small: that their child seems like an awesome person, that they have a beautiful smile, that coffee is the elixir of life, and isn't this cup tasty; that it's a beautiful day.

- I create on a whim. Not because of a deadline, not because I have a show coming up I need work for, not because I'm overdue on new work. Rather, because the wall really seems to want to be gold today. Because I love so-and-so and it's fun to make them a gift. Because that flower or that small object or this freckle hearkens to be documented. Because it's fun to just mug and goof the hell off.

- I give Sofi a bath. It's very difficult not to smile when looking at a wet pug, or being showered yourself with the wet-dog-shakedy-shakes.

- I get dressed the way a five-year-old does, with no care to what it all looks like together, concerned only that I want that pink with that green today, dammit, that mismatched stripes make me feel jolly, that these old pants may look like shit but they sure feel like velvet.

- I make a fire. I warm my face and hands in it. I roast marshmallows until they're charred and falling off the poker with their melty gooeyness.

- I sing. Sometimes very, very loudly. All that vocal training those years back, where one learned to project to fill an opera house? It's good not to waste that.

- I dance. Usually like a total idiot, but who the hell cares (last night, Sofia and I Charleston-ed to the Draft Dodger Rag). My sweetheart also likes to dance like a silly moo (this generally results in making me look like a much more graceful dancer than I am), which has resulted in several nights we've spent here being nothing but us dancing around to Peggy Lee in the dining room.

- I cook, sometimes to gross excess, sometimes with things which are a giant splurge. I cook for myself as often as I do for anyone else, but it can be extra-fun when there are others to spoil with amazing food and listen to everyone collectively foodgasm. I remember the times when I didn't have any food to eat, any money to buy food with, and it makes it all the better.

- I indulge myself in days or evenings when I do little or nothing but some combination of all of the above; I remind myself that not only can the world wait sometimes, but that all of the things I work for are no good if any of us, including myself, can't stop and enjoy the beautiful lives we are making. Twenty years ago I was sure (as many adolescents are, especially those who are struggling to survive) I wouldn't even be alive this long, let alone with such a beautiful life. Two Sundays ago, Mr. Price and myself started out the day with a fine breakfast, the scent of fresh veg filling this amazing old house, took a walk through our neighborhood to the local farmer's market, had more than our share of orgasms, talked in bed, called a couple friends to talk to them, and culminated the day with a lush dinner in the fresh air on the porch we cooked together, and the luxury of being able to go to sleep relatively early in each other's arms. Only a total idiot takes these things for granted.
 


May 3rd, Two Thousand Six:
Before I launch into a long, touchy diatribe, I want to share ten tidbits which are an awful lot sunnier than the rest of where I'm about to go today.

1. I've finally been able to start cutting down on how much I smoke, 25 years after I started. I didn't want to say anything publicly about even trying for fear of jinxing it, but now that I've cut my smoking in half most days, I feel like I'm getting to the point where I could deal with the positive pressure of people knowing I'm trying to ditch the things for the most part. My goal is to get down to three a day, tops. Who knows, maybe I'll be done with them utterly at some point, but since, obscenely, cigarettes have been one of the most constant stable parts of my life for the whole of it, the idea of life totally without the damn fags is just too scary. Plus, I still -- unfortunately -- really enjoy them.

2. My spinach seed I planted out back is all fertile and sprouty!

3. Speaking of fertile and sprouty, you know, I'm not even sure that I AM al that fertile anymore, but every damn month, I have a good week of total pregnancy freakout. I'm sure some of the work I do doesn't help with that, but I find that despite being smart as shit about fertility phases and about the birth control methods I employ, I just get so paranoid because I spent enough time OUT of opposite-sex sex to get spoiled with NOT having that concern. Am I the only person this has happened to?

4. I WILL finish getting this downstairs office/studio in working order before I go to sleep tonight if it effing kills me.

5. I am very lucky in that in my work as a photographer, the incurable romantic in me gets fed. It's such a treat to be able to photograph people crazy in love, people who love each other to bits, who just shine with the stuff. The other night, while we had dinner at a table next to two women who were clearly very good friends, it occurred to me that I need to add best friends to my list of models wanted for projects: I would love to do a giant series of women-friends who love each other as ferociously as the subjects I get who are lovers and partners.

6. And speaking of shining with the stuff? I can't shake this really hardcore crush I seem to have on this bald guy that lives over here. Sleepy, bleary-eyed morning sex really isn't helping.

7. I still don't believe all these people who talk about this place being rainy all the damn time. I didn't last year and now I really don't.

8. Our first women's wine night is next Monday! Any readers who want in, drop me an email (Fish? Lilie? I'd love to meet you both, for instance), I'll give you the deets. For obvious reasons, I don't want to post where I'll be every week to relax online.

9. It's just a couple weeks now until Briana has baby Liam, which is seriously exciting as I've never really been this much a part of a pregnancy from literally day one to end, and I am so hoping the timing is good for when I'm going back to MN. Babies are so shitty about schedules.

10. Know what? I LOVE it here. I still miss my MN friends like nobody's business, but I have to say, I am seriously loving Seattle far more than I did the Twin Cities.

Tidbits covered? Check. Flak-jacket on? Check.

* * *

I cannot stand it when there are elephants in the room. Especially with this many boxes in it already.

Here's a conundrum I've been batting about in my own head, and in conversations with friends for years that I'm going to put on the table.

How do you address how you feel heterocentric, or porncentric, cosmetic surgery, such as liposuction, breast implants, butt "contouring," lip collagen and the like is harmful to women both as a class as well as individually (per both health reasons AND esteem issues) with women you know who have had these surgeries without being hurtful or patronizing?

Let me explain, and forgive me stepping on any toes, for I'm a bit of a klutz and I usually wear big shitkickers.

I am NOT going to buy that anything like the above is NOT in some way, usually primarily or solely, about how women want to be seen and valued by men. A woman can say or tell me that her esteem is effected by not having a certain type of breast, and I don't disbelieve her, but that does say to me that her esteem is likely tied up in a pretty pornified or male-directed viewpoint (especially given the type of breast is usually larger, rounder, higher), and I think it's reasonable to say, then, that fake boobs aren't a fix, they're a band-aid at best, and at worst, they compound the problem, for that woman individually and for women as a class.

-- Before I say anything else, know that I am fully aware that, given studies and personal anecdotes, the majority of men could earnestly care less if a woman has big breasts or perfectly round breasts, or gravity-defying breasts. The trouble is that the media very much does NOT present that realist, and where one puts one's dollars and one's eyes tends to speak for itself. So, when men purchase porn full of plastic boobies, sit in the airport reading mags with plastic boobies all over it -- and this goes for women reading Cosmo, too, for that matter -- when men verbalize or present plasticized women as any sort of ideal, even for fantasy -- and more on that in a moment -- or enable sexual youth-worship it speaks for itself.

And yes: women should be smarter when it comes to knowing the difference between reality and fantasy. But, by definition, fantasy is extrapolated from fantasy, so it is asking a bit much to ask women to entirely separate the two, since they cannot BE entirely separated. And yes: I'm also aware there are hetero women in the world who drool over male celebs with bodies the average guy couldn't possibly have the time or the resources to acquire. (I've also noticed that over the last few years, young bisexual and lesbian women seem to be developing less realistic ideals of women as well, a trend I find exceptionally upsetting.) However, comparing these isn't all that doable when you have profound class differences between the sexes. By virtue of women literally having less value in the world, this is a more loaded issue for women, and one with greater impact on women. --


Sparing very few exceptions, I'm also not going to buy that anything but an incredibly miniscule minority of women with amazing self-esteem and self-image are getting implants and the lot. There are absolutely women for whom breast implants are literally a sound business investment (and not just porn actresses and pinups). In case it isn't obvious, I'm also not talking about women who have had injuries or mastectomies right now (that's a whole different topic, and one I feel in no way qualified to speak on, having not lost a breast or breasts to illness). Obviously, for those for whom it's a business investment, that also opens a whole new cans of worms, per enabling a culture which fiscally rewards women for harming themselves -- and again, women as a class -- to fit a certain image.

It should perhaps go without saying to anyone who knows what a compulsive, fast reader and researcher I am that I do make a point when I talk about things like this to have done my homework. Do a lot of these studies done on women who have had these procedures show that they feel greater control over their bodies, for themselves, when they do this? Of course they show that, and of course they feel that way: it's a gimme that this is about control. But it's about control only insomuch as controlling and manipulating the body and doing so expressly to meet a hegemonic ideal of feminine beauty and image.

Before I worked with an awful lot of young adults, I already was not a supporter of elective cosmetic surgeries. But listening to the teens and young adults over the years has multiplied that nonsupport tenfold. I really don't think people realize the profound effect this stuff has had and does have on young men and women, and how overwhelmingly negative it is for them. I can't imagine that anyone who reads what I do in a day, every day, from the horse's mouths, could come to any other conclusion but that this stuff has a profoundly negative impact on young adult body image and young adult sexuality, and effect that will and does linger, and which is very difficult to counter. When I read about mothers with implants buying their teenaged daughters implants I literally want to throw up and call DCFS when I can pull my head out of the toilet.

There are women in some arenas of my life who have done this stuff. Women who are good, caring, wonderful people. Women who mean to harm no one in doing that they do, without any doubt. Smart women. Kind women. Women who, in other areas, are very progressive women. I care for these women, and I do NOT want to do them any sort of harm, I do not want to make them feel bad (let's go ahead and be bold and just say: worse) about themselves. I do not want to patronize or disrespect them by talking about their esteem issues third-person as if they were little girls.

But I am bothered that this simply has to ever remain undiscussed, that it can't be discussed, and if it is even mentioned, it can ONLY be in the context of physical health, rather than emotional health and feminism and women's status overall. I am troubled that there is, even in progressive circles, an unspoken obligation to say that this is merely body mod, just like getting a tattoo. Look: If I got a tattoo with an arrow pointing to my vulva that said, "Insert Penis In Throbbing Love Cavern Here," which cost thousands of dollars, which put my health at serious risk, we could maybe draw a comparison. Otherwise? Come on, get real. My friend tattooing the name of his first child on his arm and somebody's fake tits are not comparable.

I am distressed that I watch the same women who will talk up and down about how this is NOT about garnering male approval and attention be spoken to about their bodies as if they were an object, be spoken to as if they were only tits or ass and say NOTHING to the speakers -- save perhaps, "Thanks!" -- about NOT speaking to them/treating them that way. The hypocrisy of the thing just pisses me off on so many counts.

It makes me mad because that required acquiescence puts a barrier between myself and other women per connecting with these women: it disconnects women from each other, it divides us further. It makes me mad because I see, every day, very clearly, the clear messages it sends out to young women and men. It makes me mad because it DOES enable a cycle of giving women more and more ways to feel lousy about themselves, for those with the surgeries and those without. It is not, in any way, a positive for women: it's just not.

So, what do we all need to do to be able to have that conversation, with everyone, INCLUDING with women who have these surgeries or want to (the latter of which I think are actually of specific value in talking with, because they do not feel the need to defend surgeries they have not had yet)? How do we say, to women we have respect for, who we care for, that we feel -- and it's reasonable for us to feel -- that what they're doing to their bodies is not only ultimately detrimental to them (and in saying that, how are we still ultimately being feminist), but to women as a class? How do I tell women who I like, who I know to be genuine, that no, I cannot in god conscience publicize the work they do in my venues for women, where I state I am working under a feminist ethic, because their lipo and implants and that whole industry, in my mind and that of most of my female readership, are NOT friendly to women, and endanger women? How do I have these conversations without making ANY women feel shitty about themselves, or without putting them immediately on the defensive per feeling the need to convince me that their esteem is PERFECT, they just wanted giant breasts for every reason BUT to meet a cultural physical ideal which perfectly matches what those breasts look like?

I'm in earnest in asking these questions: I think these are really important conversations for women to start having amongst themselves, and to be able to have without any faction falling immediately into defensiveness. I think this area of discussion, if the discussion can really be had, could tell all of us an awful lot about body image and self-esteem, about the impact the current sexual ideal has on everyone, about consumerism, about personal identity, about how much separation ANY woman's body image can have from prevalent male sexual ideals, about how much separation there may NOT be between "average" women and whores right now, the works. I want to have these conversations, and I want to be able to have them in such a way that we can all hear each other and feel safe to say things some of us usually do not feel safe to say.

I'm not just talking about the women with the implants, either. I'm talking about those of us without, too. Let me put my money where my mouth is and open up the door myself. I'm going to be candid here, so buyer beware. I'm not being candid to be an asshole, but because I'm hoping it perhaps helps to open a door.

* * *

Most of the time, I could give a shit about my general appeal to men. To be frank, I've found that my sexual appeal to men, that my appearance as it identifies my gender, has harmed me more often than it's benefited me: it does not make my life easier, not by a serious long shot.

Yes, I'm bisexual, but especially given the field I work in, my sex appeal does come into play often enough, though over the last few years, some restructuring I've done in what I do and how I do it has thankfully made that far less of an issue. But if I cared more, if I catered to that more, you know what? I'd have more money, absolutely.

Sometimes, I jump to resent women who have elective cosmetic surgeries. More often, I'm smart enough to get past that and continue, instead, to resent the whole institution than individual women. In many ways, it's a sneaky, smart manipulation for the industry of cosmetic surgery to redirect my anger and resentment to the women under their knives who fill their pocketbooks.

But a woman who has thousands of recreational dollars to spend and spends it on breasts? It steams me up. It pisses me off because I can't help but think that she'd feel better about herself long-term, and do better by other women, if she used that few grand to help a young woman go to college or get the trade training she wants and needs. If she donated that money to a rape counseling center, or an eating disorders unit or a girl's sports program. I get all pissy because I know that a lot of those women (I really hate the phrase "those women" but I don't know how else to say what I'm trying to) will spend just as much cash if not more later on the things she emotionally needed in the first place, then will need additionally, and often enough, more money still to deal with health issues from the surgeries or repeat surgeries: in so many ways, cosmetic surgery makes ALL women poorer than she/we already was/were. It makes me angry when women sell other women on getting boobs that put their health and financial well-being at a big risk: to me, selling other women on implants would be equivalent to me selling other women on smoking.

I get angry when I have to invest my time undoing the damage the cosmetic surgery industry and these women have done on young women. The fact that I have to have even one conversation, let alone many, with young women to talk them out of spending their money and focusing their energy on boobs, or to have to convince them they're beautiful, when they have more important things to think about makes me really fucking mad. The fact that some of the same folks who've sliced and diced their bodies for beauty will write diatribes about why a teenage girl shouldn't self-mutilate her arms makes steam come out of me ears, because if that slice n'dice was for cosmetic purposes, if it wasn't "ugly," they'd probably support it. The fact that some of these women contribute to the young women I know having a countdown to turning 18 so they can get BREASTS instead of so they can graduate or start their adult lives? Argh.

It all just makes me plain sad. I truly love women, more and more the older I become, with all of my heart. I love the human body, it fascinates and awes me, in every year and every life stage. Breasts being all about sex and appearance and gender identity, and being about status, burns my hide because that's just not what breasts are FOR. Sure, not all of us use these puppies for nursing infants -- I probably never will -- but kids, that is what these are FOR. I feel like ridding us -- namely women, but this issue isn't exclusive to women, even though it's far more prevalent -- of the beauty of age and the beauty of our bodies as functional, active entities rather than objects or billboards is highway robbery. I'll give you, I can be hypersensitive sometimes (and the fact that I've also experienced accidental mutilation and disability as a result may be part of this), but there have been times that I have literally wept over the sight of women with scars all over their breasts from implants. Selfishly, it just makes me sad.

On another selfish note, a few weeks ago, Mark needed some immediate dental care (a root canal, poor dear), and we went to the wrong floor in his dentists building, and found ourselves standing in front of a clinic that did NOTHING but reconstructive surgery for hands. I stood there for a few minutes like a kid in front of a candy store: if I could afford to have my right hand rebuilt, I would not be in pain half the year (hopefully the recent climate change will help). I could fingerpick my dulcimers as fast as I used to be able to, and without pain. I could probably even be able to finally play guitar like i always wanted to but never could because of the state of my hand. I could play piano for as long as I wanted, rather than until my hand locked up. A time could come when I would never find myself awash in frustrated tears because I couldn't do something as simple as writing a nice, handwritten note to someone I love, or open a flip-cap on something. When my second reconstruction was done as a kid, the surgeon made clear that at some point in my life, what was done would start to degrade -- and slowly, it has -- and that eventually I'd either need to have a new hand done or have the two primary fingers effected amputated, the latter of which is likely all I'll ever be able to afford, if I can even swing that. Suffice it to say, that will significantly change the quality of my life for the worse, as will being unable to afford to do anything at all to my hand as it is. I find I become angry with people for having and spending so much cash to fix something that isn't broken when I can't ever even dream of being able to afford fixing something that very much is.

I become angry when someone is willing to invest THAT money and effort in paying for a band-aid to make themselves feel better for a while, at the cost of others, but not willing to invest the same amount of both is working to repair the systems and the culture that make everyone feel bad about this crap in the first place.

I also feel like it's a total effing waste of my time and anyone else's for love of our bodies as they are to have become a PROTEST. (And I gotta say, when I see people saying that's what they're doing, I want to pooh-pooh in their faces, because it just sounds so effin' dumb; it so turns women into enemies. I know there was a while where I did just that a few times, and I cringe in hindsight.) Making a political statement just by looking how we look just seems so asinine to me: we've got more important things to worry about, more important things to say. Hell, I don't even like the fact that I get extra street cred for my nude/women's photography because it doesn't include that: I want my work to be judged on its merits. There's something exceptionally surreal about getting points because your portraits of people look like...portraits of people.

Before I shut the door on some of my personal feelings on this, I may as well consider if the parade of plastic boobies makes me feel lousy about my own breasts. I don't really think that it does, but I feel like that should be qualified. It should first be qualified with a "yet." I'm 36, not 56, I've never nursed or had kids, and I'm in good shape and reasonably healthy. I imagine that 20 years from now, especially with the exponentially growing rates of augmentations, especially if I am still partnered with a man, I may not feel as well-adjusted as I do right now. My breasts as they are now are not my breasts as they will be in 20 years. I also don't have tubular breasts. I wear a 34D bra, and the size, height and shape of my breasts do not stray wildly from the ideal implants and the like set up, save that they do not defy gravity. I also survived and healed from many years during my development of being told I was fat and ugly every day, and given that, it's a bit tougher to make me feel lousy about myself per my body than it might be for others who didn't have to build up the same kind of armour I did to get by.

* * *

At Scarleteen, with some regularity, we get young teen women who want to be pregnant because they want unconditional love. Now, obviously, to anyone who knows anything about parenting and children, that's pretty whack. Kids don't give their parents unconditional love: a three-year-old will tell you they hate you right to your face, and while they may not understand the implications of hate or all of what it is, they DO mean it in their way. It's PARENTS who have to dole out the unconditional love, not their kids. But I can't help but always wonder where these young women's sisters are: literal and figurative.

When we can't talk about these things as women, I can't help but wonder if we aren't doling out enough unconditional love to our sisters, or, if we are, why we all can't feel it and what we've got to do TO all be able to feel it.

Can we have this conversation, especially if we can make clear that our love for each other isn't conditional, especially on a condition as vapid as who has what kind of breasts? If so, where and when? If not, why not? What do we have to lose? I know I'm not the only one sick of this damned elephant hanging 'round.

Some additional endnotes: if you read any studies on cosmetic surgery, you may have noticed that a LOT of them, when asking female patients about reasons for facial surgery, find that one of the number one reasons women give is to "look less tired." How disturbing is THAT? Where the hell is the doctor then saying, well, ARE you tired? What's your lifestyle like? Do you actually get enough time TO de-stress, play rest and sleep? What are you eating? Who's your support system? Of COURSE loads of women feel like they look tired, since given that statistically, women are STILL doing the lion's share of household and other work WHILE working full-time, usually at a lesser wage, they ARE damn tired! We've got cuts in women's healthcare left and right, slashes to women's rights, and the FDA (STILL yet to okay Plan B for OTC use, despite every bit of medical evidence that shows, clearly, it is incredibly safe) rushed the hell in to put silicone implants on the market DESPITE evidence showing them NOT to be known to be safe. The FDA will support things to make women LOOK less tired, but gawd forbid we support and fight for things to actually MAKE women less tired. Just sayin.'

Quotes like this -- "When asked the primary reason their patients offered for wanting a breast augmentation, it was discovered that not much had changed from 15 years ago. Respondents said 91 percent of today's patients and 90 percent of patients from the mid-eighties both said it was to improve the way they feel about themselves. Respondents said that patients overwhelmingly cite themselves as the primary motivator in their decision to have augmentation (94 percent). Only four percent of respondents said patients cited friends and two percent said they cited husbands or boyfriends..." -- we see now and then. The folly in anything like that, however, is that it never, ever recognizes how very much women's feelings about themselves are tied up into how culture as a whole sees them, how men as a whole see them, and how they see themselves BASED on cultural values and ideals. If the cultural ideal now was for women to have bellies that were completely out of proportion with their bodies, and that ideal was everywhere they looked in popular media, in the porn their husbands and boyfriends watched and bought, echoed in comments their male coworkers made about women, you can bet your arse that there would be belly implants, and women would report they were getting them to "feel better about themselves." That sort of statement only negates how esteem is effected by pervasive, constant outside influences to anyone who just isn't thinking.

I say, when talking about these issues, hetero women not out of bias or assumption, but because it IS so overwhelmingly het women or women concerned with their sexual appeal to men we're talking about here. Lesbians are just NOT standing in line in droves to get breast implants and labiaplasties. Is this because lesbians don't need to feel better about "themselves?" Is there some OTHER thing that separates lesbian women from straight women save concern with their sexual/romantic appeal to men? Think about it.

In case anyone is unfamiliar, let's talk a wee bit about the history of breast augmentation and some little tidbits. This was something which primarily began with prostitutes in Japan after WWII to get better business from American GIs, and followed suit with American sex workers. There were a few augmentation surgeries elsewhere as early as just before the turn of the century, but that was the advent of silicone and augmentation as any sort of common practice. Many of these japanese women ended up needing mastectomies because the silicone being in injected into their breasts was INDUSTRIAL silicone. They did not inject themselves with knowingly toxic substances to feel better about themselves. They did this ONLY to sexually satiate men and increase their clientele. This was a practice which began EXPRESSLY in response to the sexual desires of American men. Right now, all but about 3% of breast augmentation surgeries are performed for white women (which likely also has some relationship to the income levels of white women as opposed to women of color, though that is clearly not all that's going on here), and yes, overwhelmingly for heterosexual women. Numerous studies on breast augmentation by all means show concerns which we MAY be able to separate from concerns with the male gaze (like having been teased for having small breasts, for instance), but not many.

One more thing: I am well aware I toe a difficult line here. I have had radical feminist women tell me that some of what *I* do makes me an unsuitable role model for young women, by virtue of having been nude in photographs or having taken nudes of other women, no matter how real they are, no matter that my intent is in creating art portraiture and not porn; no matter that I try and examine everything I do with my work when I do it it, per if, it is feminist, if it ultimately, in my mind, empowers women, and if, should some young woman who looks up to me at Scarleteen, it is something I feel would not result in me sending her a poor message about herself and other women. It's a tricky line to walk, and I do NOT think all those concerns are out of line, even though I feel pretty confident saying that most of the time, what I do/have done HAS been empowering for women and does NOT enable sexism, objectification, poor body image or exploitation. The work I do is not now nor has ever been intended for men first, nor has it ever been done with the express purpose of creating profit, or being masturbatory fodder. (Caveat: there have been more than one series done which have been gifts for lovers, and while I still hold the same standards for that work that I hold for all other work, sometimes that particular work HAS been given knowing it would be masturbatory fodder, though it's not generally something I announce to anyone but that person when I publish the work.)

Point is, I don't automatically exempt myself from every aspect of these issues, mostly because I do not think that just NOT having cosmetic surgery myself, or avoiding photo subjects with it; I do not think that having the intent of creating fine art, of not seeing presentations of the nude female body as equaling sex, or even simply loving the hell out of women as a whole, is an automatic out from work enabling objectification or devaluing women.

Talk to me, eh?

 


April 29th, Two Thousand Six:
If it were entirely up to me right now -- which, unfortunately, it kind of is -- I'd do absolutely nothing but enjoy this house.

As a longtime self-employed lass (sparing a few breaks, I'm at almost 15 years of self-employment and freelancing now), I have often gotten compliments and statements of amazement on my exceptional self-discipline, drive and motivation.

Of late, I cannot help but wonder if a whole, big honkin' lot of that didn't come from the fact that there were very few environments I had I could just totally ease on into and be perfectly content.

Sparing a few years in juniour high and the start of high school, I've always lived in apartments. In Minneapolis, twice, I lived in a four-flat. Never, in my adult life, have I had a HOUSE. Near as rarely have I had a home.

This renting a house business is something else, man. The having a home thing? Zowie.

As I write this now, I'm out in the backyard in the warm sun harvesting some new freckles, my dog lying beside me, music streaming out of my office window, coffee in hand. This morning, having gone to bed nice and early after an early evening roll in the proverbial hay, a mightyfine barbecued not-chicken dinner, taking in some of L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time (been meaning to reread these) before sacking out, I woke up with an urge to go work more in the yard.

The pacific northwest version of grass?

damn grass.

What is this shit? The long, elegant stuff that grows above this is grass. This is not grass. This is the world's greenest, nappiest afro lurking beneath a chemically-relaxed world.

Anyway, if this shit thinks IT is the most stubborn bitch in the yard with the most deep-seeded issues, it has GOT to be kidding itself. Not hardly. I have busted my back every day for almost a week getting this shit all ripped out, and it is GOING to get done, because a) grass is a waste of good soil, b) I want my damn herbs and vegetables, c) I haven't been able to box since I left Minneapolis and my arms and back require hardcore work, and c) people and inanimate objects who will not let the fuck go no matter how nicely I ask just piss me right off.

I wonder if perhaps, I just need to do this stuff to bond with the house, with Seattle: if this is me, doing what needs be done to center and ground and merge with my environment. If a few months are, in fact, the right amount of time needed to pack up house and then set up house. Of course, I also wonder if I'm not a binge-slacker the same way I'm a binge-worker, and one who can find symbolism in anything at all, including not doing what I should be. I have some concern that I worked my ass off so much the last few years that I am unconsciously trying to take the appropriate amount of vacation time based on the work hours I put in. If that's the case, I need a year-long vacation, which just isn't possible. The fact that it sounds lovely, however, and that I would presently have almost zero internal conflicts doing so is a bit on the scary side.

(Mind you, I say this still having put in at least 20 hours a week and usually more at Scarleteen throughout this process, a good ten hours a week with all the planning and whatnot for All Girl Army, and save a couple weeks in there, haven't stopped taking photos, save that I have only been interested in taking portraits of flora of late.)

I'm behind on absolutely everything and anything you can imagine. And I'm paralyzed with not caring very much.

beautiful bearded lady

 


April 18/19th, Two Thousand Six:
I just turned 36.

Which means that 20 years ago, I was 16.

That's just effing crazy.

As birthdays go in a place where you have 324 bruises from walking like the giant klutz you are into every box, paint tray, corner, wall and other unfamiliar, chaotic nook and cranny, this one has started out truly well.

I woke up to many hugs and kisses, and then a mightyfine bout of the morning sex. Thereafter, I had a beautiful steaming cuppa joe with a Mighty O cinnamon-sugar donut. In this process, I found a birthday card left on my desk from Mr. Price with a photo in it that anyone else might just find odd, but a pervy, newly-36 birthday girl on the premises found quite delightful.

I checked the old email, basically told a Scarleteen user defending the "right " of Catholic pharmacists to decide what prescriptions or not to dispense based on their purported religious beliefs (which uncannily, just happen to also be prescriptions for women and their disobedient reproductive systems) to shove it --

Just so I can get it out of my system, obvious as it should be: the U.S. constitutional right of religious freedom is FOR a group or person ELECTIVELY practicing their own religion FOR themselves. It does NOT include the right to force anyone ELSE to practice that religion or subscribe to its tenets, nope, not even just because the idiot half the country elected TWICE and his cronies say it does.

And I may as well just say it once and for all: Catholics and other folks in related institutions who want to use their religion (and so nearly always selectively, so it causes others to suffer or be limited, but gawd forbid they'd put similar restrictions on themselves) as an excuse to own women's bodies even more than they already do, to decide that MY uterus is in THEIR God's service can kiss my fallopian tubes. I could give a rat's ass about protecting their "religious freedoms," given those folks who do aim to do such have waged war on my sex, my gender, my body and the greater freedoms we're all supposed to be fucking entitled to, no matter who holds those of us with breasts responsible for their desire to sin.

About things like this, I cannot be Zen or particularly tolerant or pacifistic. I'm not about to go put their balls in a vice, but we will all not be singing Kumbaya together anytime soon.


...umm, anyway. To hell with that garbage.

I just found a beautiful bouquet of flowers on my doorstep from you-know-who.

And there's dinner later. And something to do with that photo left in my card after dinner.



Yesterday, the house gave me a big present. Yesterday, I actually finally had the chance for the first time in literally weeks, to just take some photos I felt inspired to take. Today, I have a batch of chores on my plate, but they're manageable, and getting us a few small steps closer to someday having a house that's in working order so WE can both be in working order. I've been stressed lately about moving, about being unable to work because of the size of the project that is moving and setting up house, about money, the works. Mark's been stressed about all of the above. We're adjusting fine, but it is taking some doing and a lot of little check-in's between the two of us to make sure everything's okay. Thankfully, we seem to live together totally harmoniously thus far, our individual living habits jell well and so forth, plus, it remains really effing cool that we're finally in the same city. Most days waking up finds us both still going, "Wow!" that we're actually both here, in a joint home.

But, there's always those worries. Mark is going to need to grab a second job a couple nights a week to manage film expenses and the lot, and of course, we worry about not having any time together after I moved all the way the hell out here. After we get everything settled with the house, I expect to have a good two months of 80 hour workweeks myself. I think some of the reason we worry about this stuff is that we got so accustomed to our time together being so limited, always having a ticking clock on it, that it seems like it still does, when, in fact, it doesn't at all. I put forth an edict that this weekend will be unlike all of those we have had recently, with us scrambling to run errands, get the things we need, paint, unpack and the like: this weekend will have no required activities whatsoever save the requirement that there be no required activities.

Which is why it also would behoove me to go upstairs, put some fresh sheets on the bed, and do what Iittle I can with the space we have that isn't covered in cardboard to give us a nice place to shag...erm, sleep. Okay: both.

Last year, you may recall (see March 29th entry), I took a bit of an odd chance and got myself the best 35th birthday present I could think of.

This year?

Still the best present yet.

* * *
Well. THAT was one helluva late-night birthday romp. Someone earned a merit badge or two, and this early bird slept until almost 11 this morning. I even woke up with a nosebleed, which says a thing or two about how I might have been breathing the evening before.

* * *
My late-sleeping has put quite the limit on my day and what I can get done in it, as I've a date with the lovely Miz Ariel early this evening.

Paperwork or unpacking? Neither of these things are my very favorite activities, but the unpacking creates a much more tangible result, and until at least one or two rooms besides the kitchen and bathroom are fully useable, I cannot really get shit done for work, and I am so behind on things, it isn't even funny. I have GOT to get the design for All Girl Army up and running by next week, and do a pile of administrative stuff per that project. I have got to figure out how the heck the software for it even works. I have got to transfer this journal to Wordpress, I have got to look into how the hell we're going to do same with SL, which is in the most embarrassing state of needing an update at this point. I need to update my portfolio site and change all the client info to apply to Seattle (it's also time for me to start charging a little more, so anyone up here who has their eye on portrait work would be sage to schedule it before I do that). I need to get a post office box up here, and figure things out between my banks. Ugh.

Unpacking it is then: it seems well-suited, anyway, starting my 36th year by unloading my baggage. No matter how much shit I cull, I tell you, there's always still too much of it.
 

April 13th, Two Thousand Six:
Really, I'm still alive.

And I have enough fodder for entries from the last few weeks to last a solid year at this point.

However, this whole process of moving is taking a LOT longer than I anticipated, and taking a lot more time to do it in. My stuff finally just arrived from the movers on Saturday. We had cable connectivity battles all of last week. After spending nearly my whole first week here painting endlessly, and still not being finished with that, we're now drowning in a sea of boxes. I'm still without a desk to even set my main system up on. I'm going to have to file an extension for my taxes because while I labeled the boxes with all the tax-related items in them, I didn't consider that actually FINDING those boxes might prove a challenge. Whoops.

A friend here in Seattle had said to me that she hadn't called to say hi yet because she figured we'd be busy christening every room. Which we WOULD have been doing, if every room didn't smell like paint or wasn't coated in plaster dust or, now, wasn't full of boxes. We're guessing at this point that, if we're lucky, we'll maybe be able to do that in May. Le sigh. As it is, this is the first chance I've had to even try and eek out a brief journal entry since we got here. I expect it'll be a few weeks still before I can even come close to getting back into something which resembles my normal routines and workday.

To tide you over in brief, the move, in Dickensian form, was and has been the best of times and the worst of times. Leaving Minneapolis was much harder than I anticipated, and the last women's wine night ended with me having a weeping, howling meltdown for several hours while poor Mark tried everything in his power to provide me some comfort. Northwest airlines should be expecting a nastygram from me soon, because given the way their "Priority Pet" program went for us per Sofi's air travel, either they misunderstand the word priority, or I simply made the assumption that there was an implied "high" in front of that term that just was not there. Plus, mere days after we got here, my sweetheart got whacked with serious tooth and jaw pain which resulted in his needing his very first root canal. Not a day after that, I got whacked with some of the worst menstrual cramps of my life, which resulted in my giving up and taking one of his Vicodin: this very nearly turned me into some sort of latter-day fairy tale princess who could not stop sleeping for a full day to save her life.

On the other hand, despite complete disarray, paint fumes, being entirely unable to do any creative work at all, the joys of assembling IKEA furniture, having no idea which box anything is in and just hoping and praying I will NEVER have to do a move of such epic proportions again, Mr. Price and myself are finding that even amidst the stressiest parts of all this, even before we actually get that honeymoon period we've been so looking forward to for months, cohabitation seems to very much agree with us. (Thank effing gawd!) It still feels a bit surreal: both of us have moments where we keep waiting for time to be up and one of us to shuttle off on a plane, but we're getting used to it, and quite gladly. Earnestly, it's a bit of a stroke of luck that I still can't do much work yet, because my motivation to do work isn't especially high at the moment. Mostly, I'd just like to bask in the glow of this for as long as is humanly possible. But alas.

So that I don't forget, here's a little IOU for topics and tales accumulated over the last few weeks I haven't been able to write about:

~ Wine, Women and So(lo)ng: the last wine night, leaving my Minneapolis community of women I love so much and how fucking hard that was and has been on the lot of us, and how I just really miss my fucking friends, already.
~ (Low) Priority Pet: The letter to Northwest I wish I could send, if I didn't have a vested interest in some sort of refund.
~ The Tale of One Red Boot. OR, My Boyfriend's Very Strange Ideas About Clothes and How Many Feet He Seems to Think I Have.
~ Dauntless the slug-horn to my lips I set, and blew (a battle swiftly waging in my new garden)
~ The Escape Artist: Sofia's new, so-not-wonderful Houdini routines in the new pad.
~ The Whole Benefit-Thang. Right, so we put on this big benefit before I left Minneapolis for Scarleteen, and, like, stuff happened. Plus, we even made a little cash.
~ If I have sex on the third Monday after the full moon, with one leg pointed towards Antarctica, will I keep from getting pregnant? Otherwise known as, why the FUCK will teenagers all too often look to try everything under the sun EXCEPT a damn condom, and how many times can I avoid saying, "Just use the fucking condom, for crissakes!"
~ Where the heck can I find nondairy pizza for delivery in Seattle (and other clueless searches for obscure items)?
~ The Big O, OR, The Mighty-O Vegan Donuts Dance.
~ Fucking Movers: A Litany of Woes About Broken Items, Including My Damn Bike.
~ How To Louse Up Connecting a Portable Dishwasher and Hose Down Your Ceiling In One Easy Step!
~ Will 36 Be the Birthday Where I Actually DO Feel Older? Stay tuned.

...and many, many more thrilling tales of adventure.

A couple Seattle-ite shout-outs before I hit the road in the vain hope of getting at least one of my office/studios set up today.

~ Anyone in or around Ballard or Fremont who wants some garden space to share? I have a big, BIG yard here. It is currently mostly covered in grass, a good half of which I intend to break my damn back to remove and convert, and it'd both be really neat to not only not have to do that myself (Mr. Price has a nearly pathological fear of all things grassy and muddy), but also to share my space, since there's seriously plenty of it, and I know not everyone who wants to garden has such bounty.
~ Seattle readers: sometime in the next few weeks, I want to arrange a little meetup. Leave me a note in the comments if you're in?
 
March 22nd, Two Thousand Six: Less than 48 hours from now, Mark will be here and...

... we will rarely have to be apart, unless we want to be, ever, ever again.

Less than 48 hours from now, when my sweetheart comes here and we fall into bed amidst the boxes, we can do so knowing that when we wear each other out and fall asleep, we'll wake up in the morning together the next day. And the next day. And the next day, and the next day, and the day after that, and--

Less than 48 hours from now, I've been informed my partner intends to be my "bitch" per this move. (I'm much too exhausted to object to either the offer or the lingo at the moment.) Less than 48 hours from now, I fully expect that shiny headed cutie o'mine to step in here, and after the post-sex bliss has worn off, see all the work that still has to be done in no time at all and choke on his bourbon. Less than 48 hours from now, I will be doing my level best to distract the hell out of him for at least a few hours so that neither one of us has to think about this goddamn move for at least a bloody afternoon.

Less than 48 hours from now, just a few short days after the sneakerversary of our first year together (how the hell did THAT happen?), we'll enter a whole new phase of our relationship where we'll finally get the opportunity to become totally fucking sick of each other. Where we may actually WANT to have some time apart. Where if we have a disagreement or a row, we'll be able to end it with hugs and kisses. Where we may just end up using that emergency store of cream pies I feel it's pertinent for us to keep in the fridge in case one or both of us is a total prat and needs a pie in the face.

Believe it or not, we're actually looking forward to these things.

It's getting pretty surreal over here. I am drowning in a sea of not-enough-boxes, I am forever running out of tape, I am going nuts trying to take care of all the logistics of a move of this size: cancel the utilities, open the utilities, call the dentist and everyone else who'll need to forward my bills, say goodbye to the local neighborhood people I will probably never see again, arrange the movers, get more boxes, arrange the walkthrough, deal with the flight arrangements, fit in social time for all my friends, create endless bags of rubbish, give away loads of stuff, do a ton of laundry, open the bank account, close the bank account, figure out what needs be left here and packed to take with me, since the movers will take up to eight days to get to Seattle. While I'm doing all that, I'm having to do and redo performer schedules for this thing -- and have I mentioned I've never organized three solid hours of entertainment amidst 15 or so performers before? -- get press out in the hope of packing the place to the gills on Monday, get all the silent auction schtuff organized, the works. Oy!

(I also am still reeling that my tiny, spoiled, poor little pug has to fly in cargo. And am hoping that the sedatives our vet gave me for my cat -- who can fly in the cabin, but who has a tendency to howl, nonstop, the entire time she is in a carrier -- will work with one dose. Primarily because I could really bloody use the other one myself.)

I may or may not be able to get one more journal entry up before we leave Wednesday evening, after the whirlwind of packing and finishing up here, Scarleteen benefit, dinners with friends to say goodbye, manic errand-running, and -- thank christ -- a handful of really fine orgasms.

After all that, y'all likely won't hear from me again until around the 10th or so, since I won't have the computer I use to do updates on with me until the movers arrive in WA. As well, I still have a few more rooms to paint, a garden to start, taxes to do, and a whole new city to start settling into upon arriving. Oh: and rooms to christen. Seriously, that shit's important: nobody wants to live in a house that hasn't been properly sweated upon. I'm fairly certain there's some sort of gypsy curse for people who don't have very involved orgasm rituals for new homes.

I was hoping to have time to get a new self-portrait shoot done and up before I left, but that just didn't happen. Instead, subscribers have a gallery of many previews of 3 upcoming new sets of other subjects: I did find some time to do some quick processing on a big batch of some of my favorites from recent sittings (a few work-safe samples at Flickr here). Mark and I expect to take some photos before we leave, but those won't be up for a good while if we do. I have a commercial gig tomorrow I crammed in because this move has cost me a mint, and I couldn't say no to a good set of clients (who flattered the holy hell out of me) and cash, but I don't imagine you'd find headshots of a DJ collective all that fascinating.

I hope everyone in or around the Twin Cities comes by Monday night: I've gotten a few emails since I mentioned I was moving from locals who have apparently seen me around, but never walked up and said hi, and that's just silly. I'm a friendly gal, and I'd love to have some journal readers there, so do come by if you're close.

And with that, back to the boxes with me. And less than 48 hours until...well, I take the start of a pretty big, unpredictable leap, and everything changes pretty substantially.

Wacky.
 

March 15th, Two Thousand Six:
I'm seriously boring right now. I apologize in advance for the yawn-inducing powers of this entry.

Mostly, I'm crazy from the endless moving mishegoss, including dealing with a spell of move-related panic of both Mark and myself. Typical, and it was, of course, very likely to happen, but it made for a truly tough week last week. I was able to fit in a photo shoot of two lovely subjects, and I have another slotted for tomorrow, and high hopes of getting a shoot in myself on Friday, but I can make no promises per updates. Self-shoots here are tricky right now, as I have a very pregnant roomie at the moment. She's lovely, and I've no trouble whatsoever with putting her up for a little while, but it does make self-portraiture a bit tricky to do since there are few spaces left here that are not full of boxes. If you want some visual fodder, there is a hodgepodge up here.

Also, I'm reaching the tail end of the window where I can both do all my work and pack. We're coming along on the All Girl Army project quite nicely, but I'm about to have to hit pause for a couple weeks. Work for the benefit is also hitting fever pitch, which reminds me...
* * *
Come party for Scarleteen in Minneapolis on March 27th!
From 6PM to 10PM, Monday, March 27th, at the Bryant-Lake Bowl (810 West Lake St., in Uptown), local talent including The Isms, Future Lisa, The Sinners, Mirah Ammal, the Gentleman King and Dykes Do Drag, Totally Northern Tribal and others will be performing to raise money to support Scarleteen.com. Donation is a $20 minimum at the door to see all acts, enjoy tasty goodies provided by the BLB, and participate in silent auctions from local and national companies and individual artists. Come and enjoy a great night for a great cause! Doors open at 5:30.
* * *
We still could REALLY use more silent auction items, by the by, as well as one or two more general volunteers to help do things like strike sets quickly, work the door, elicit donations, et cetera. We can still also use some more distribution that this is happening so as to pack the house. Full info on the event and why we're having the event lives here. If you're interested in participating, drop me a line or lave a comment.

Of course, you locals or almost-locals can help by just showing up and enjoying the benefit. And for you nothing-close-to-locals, you could always participate by donating on that day. Scarleteen's traffic has gotten even higher than ever -- a week ago, we had a day where we did 65K in users -- so there's still a serious need for what we do, and over the last year or two, donations have, flatly, been dismal. To the degree that I've been tempted to lie and say that I direly need breast implants -- and how much does this make me want to vomit and scream? -- or spent too much on Prada shoes and need rescuing from my own credit card debt, because, grotesquely, those scenarios seem to do far better when it comes to raising funds than educating teens, counseling rape victims or preventing unwanted pregnancy and the spread of disease does. (Yeah, it all pisses me off just a little.) In any event, help if you can, or just plain come on by. This benefit is also serving as my going-away bash, as Mr. Price, Sofia, Flora and myself will be hightailing it on my last plane trip to WA and our new place not even 48 hours later.

One more PSA/request for help: we're just settling on the applications that we already have for the All Girl Army, and have about half as many young women as we need to get the project started. If y'all can pass the call around, I'd be really grateful. Especially of importance to us as a collective are more girls and young women than we currently have (or don't yet) who are:
- international, especially from third-world countries. My queendom for us to have one or two girls blogging from Africa, Pakistan or India, for instance.
- at least one young lesbian woman.
- teen mamas. Not having at least one seems like it skews how well we're representing young adult women.
- young women in poverty. Given where we think this project will go, and how we expect it to be received, while we couldn't do so instantly, we could likely arrange to get rudimentary equipment available to these young women if they needed it to participate.
- young women who ID as feminist, but aren't progressive in the ways one expects. Catholic feminists, for instance, or a girl on the cheerleading squad, or a young married woman who IDs as feminist.
- a young female athlete.

So, if you have any young women in your life, especially in these arenas, and you think they'd like to participate in a project like this, please do pass the information on. Also, if anyone knows awesome projects or organizations for young women and girls I might not know about, I'd appreciate it if you'd point me to them. As we build the site, I'd very much like us to be able to have many other networks and projects to connect young women to. Thanks!

I have to say, I have loved reading these applications. Reading 10-year-olds' incredibly succinct, and genuine definitions of feminism has just been a total joy. Reading young women talk about how they want to learn to advocate for each other, how they want to make community together, is seriously uplifting. Seeing how much some of these women have already done in this regard at the ages of 20, 18, even 14, is so inspiring and makes me feel so hopeful. I'm selfishly extra-excited about this project because I think that it'll be a really nice addition to the activist work I already do, and in many respects, be less stressful and more....well, happy, than other work I do.

I'm so ready to be done with this move and settle into the new place. We have things arranged there so that I have both a business office and studio and a creative office and studio, which should be the perfect setup for me. The downstairs office is going to look pretty office-y: I'll have a very crisp headshot area set up down there for the more commercial photo work, as well as a desk for processing, for bill-paying, the files will live down there, etc. Upstairs, in the room with the awesome crazy floor, a window looking out unto what will be my garden, will be much more free-flowing. I'll have a nice, big table for artwork, one of the laptops up there for more creative writing, and when Jane brings her daughters over in a couple weeks to help with things, I'm tempted to give the youngest two a huge palette of paint and tell them to do whatever the heck they'd like with one of the walls: girl-energy is good stuff to have around for me. My mind, my spirit needs new space: I tend to do badly in limbo, and so much here in Minneapolis, in this building with constant construction, just feels so absolutely finished. I need new energy, I need fresh space. And for the love of gawd, this distance is driving Mark and myself fucking insane, so this move just cannot happen soon enough at this point.

There are so many things I need to write about which I've had on the list for a while, and I'm tired of not having time to. For instance, people still access the very old body image piece in droves, but I direly need to write a sort of update for it, as in the past years, I've had a myriad of additional thoughts, as well as some adjustments to what I said back then. Finding my father again, too, has been a great thing, but a mixed bag. At this stage in his life, he has a lot of tough things he wants to resolve, some of which have to do with the more painful parts of my childhood and adolescence. The other night, we ended up in a discussion where he was trying to fill in some gaps for me -- I had enough trauma that in some cases, years of time are just gone for me -- and it's something I can only do in very, very small doses. His agoraphobia is so bad that getting him up here to visit before I leave is seeming like it won't happen: that's okay, but still a bummer. Finding him, having him back in my life in any regard, sort of necessitates a whole reworking of my relationships with the whole of my family as well, and that's a rather tricky business.

And on that note, my inability to have any time to write about all the things I want to, off I go to go try and tackle everything else first.
 

March 10th, Two Thousand Six

Hi Everyone,
The request has been circulating for some time about my writing a Guest Entry - if only to prove that I actually exist, that Heather didn't just make all this up, didn't just pick up a bald underwear model off the streets to pose for pictures in exchange for bourbon pints wrapped in brown paper sacks as an anti-publicity stunt to drive the stalkers away.

I must admit to some procrastination on this score, and even some small degree of paralysis. There's a certain pause given to whenever there's TOO much to write about.

I mean, which course to take? Do I write about the inspirations and pitfalls of being in love with an activist, which is something that I've relatively no experience in processing (though I've always voted well for a white guy, thank you very much)?

Do I take the lighter route and joke about the eclectic assortment of creative clashes over the fun, little things in our relationship? Her smile and various verbal quirks? Her pug dances? Her barefoot-in-the-mud Hippie Lovin' ways?

We may have found a workable solution. Heather has written about the various "plane-woo" we have sent each other over the long months of our long-distance courtship. With this stage in our relationship coming to a close, we find it appropriate to post my parting shot, written for her very-last trip to Seattle which doesn't end with us both going to bed in our very own place.

So, your honorable Guest-Poster is now proud to present: "HEATHER! The Movie". This 22-page script pretty much personifies our relationship, and can explain it far better than any personal diatribe on my part. There are many in-jokes, but if you've been keeping up for most of the year you'll probably get them.

Technological Stupidity Note: Please ignore the blank title page. I still haven't figured out how to actually affix the title pages to the bulk of the script in Final Draft.

Otherwise, enjoy! Even Robyn (ROBYN!) would approve.

 ~ Mister Price
 
March 2nd, Two Thousand Six: I don't have much time to write, as I'm hopping on a plane again in a few hours and am racing to try and get way to much done before I head out, but before I left, I wanted to mention that something incredibly important had happened.

I talked to my father on the phone yesterday for nearly five hours.

My homeless father -- for readers unaware -- who I haven't been able to find, again, for over a year and a half until yesterday. My father, who I did find again because Mr. Price was willing to take up the role of nag against my intense willfulness for a good cause and bug me for weeks on end to send a letter for my father to the welfare/community center in his general area which has, in the past fifteen years or so, been where he found aid often.

I didn't want to send it, because I didn't want to hear back from the center organizers if they knew he was dead, had suffered even more than he had already, or hear that he had fallen off their radar entirely, which sparing filing a missing persons report in Chicago -- and you can imagine how much attention MP reports for the homeless get -- would have likely left me no way to ever find him again. I don't imagine there is a time I will ever be "ready" to hear even harder news about my father than I have in the past, but I didn't feel able to weather it. I carry so many burdens as it is, that anything more, especially in regard to my father, just seemed impossible to bear. However, continually not knowing where he was, if he was okay, if he had any shelter at all, and just being able to find some way to talk to him, the man who has been my very best friend for my whole life, was seriously killing me.

I got a letter back from them. With the contact information of an SRO where my father was actually at.

And I called.

And there was his voice, as grateful as mine. There was my Dad. There was my Dad who had just gotten my letter, with stamps enclosed for him, poised to pen a letter to me.

Five hours is a short conversation for the two of us, in truth, but I'll take it. I had a thousand things on my plate to do yesterday, but obviously, I dropped absolutely everything to be able to talk to my father for as long as I possibly could. We talked basic catch-up, we talked relationships, we talked film, we talked politics, we talked about family dynamics, we talked -- as we always have -- in giant run-on sentences about absolutely everything. We set up a couple failsafes before we got off the phone to have in case the situation changed and I could not reach him at the floor phone there: at this point, we've both worked politically underground, lord knows we have the skills to set up complex but efficient emergency communication channels for ourselves.

But it gets better: as it turned out, my father finally got disability, which he has been trying to get for an age, and should have been able to have all this time. He can afford food; he can afford rudimentary shelter. He can afford to see a movie or buy a book. He can wash his clothes. Better still, my father, since I last saw him, was finally able to get bonafide identification.

Which means he can TRAVEL.

Which means I can buy him an airplane ticket and fly him up here to see me before I go, have him here for the Scarleteen benefit, have him here to meet Mark. Which means we can all three of us, and dog, and cat, sit in my sea of boxes here with a bottle of wine and talk all night.

Which means that we can look very seriously about also getting him a visit to Seattle, with an eye on relocating him there. Which means what we have both been through with this will likely never, ever happen again.

My father is alright. He's alive, he's relatively okay. He has, however, been through more than one even more horrible experience in the last year than I expected. My father had to spend time, for instance, in a state institution where he was one of 30 patients in one room, with one staff member, with unheated floors and rats everywhere, full of hardcore junkies and the violently insane, not knowing if he would ever get out. Unable to even have a book to read, unable to have any way to try and contact me, all because his situation and his depression made him want to end his life. That anyone I love had to go through that is infuriating to me, is maddening, breaks my heart so deeply and so thoroughly, I don't even know how to process it yet.

But I feel really confident saying that my father will never, ever be at risk of this again, or at risk of going hungry and without shelter, if I can help it, and finally I CAN help it.

This in large part because my partner invested himself in part of my life that had little or nothing to do with him, which was all about me, all about a man he's never even met, who may, to some degree, inconvenience his own life a bit at some point. In large part because my partner truly invested himself in my personal happiness, and helped give me a hope that I was losing very rapidly.

When I say that Mark changes my life, I'm generally talking about a handful of different things, but this is as fine an example as any. I am not sure there is a better gift than this.

Last night, I got to go to sleep knowing, for the first time in a long time, that all of the people closest to me, whom I love most dearly -- all, not some -- are safe. Certainly not perfect, certainly not all comfortable, but safe. It took me a long time to get to sleep, I was so keyed up by the day it resulted in all-night insomnia, but when I did start to feel my eyes become heavy, I got to fall asleep -- and sleep very soundly -- with that knowledge. This is no small thing. This is watershed.

In just a couple weeks, I will likely be able to hug the stuffing out of my father and have him near to me. I will be able to look at his face and know, with absolute certainty, that he is going to be okay.

Mr. Price usually gets VERY well kissed when he picks me up at the airport, suffice it to say. But today? Boy is not going to know what the hell hit him. Today, I've just got few words to adequately express the love in my heart, or for this new lightness in it that I just didn't think I'd get to have. This afternoon, my sweetheart had best do himself a favor and stand strong, because there's a really happy woman who loves him; who'll be barreling off the escalator with hugs and kisses en masse, who'll make Tigger look goddamn tranquil.
 

February 27th, Two Thousand Six
: (a much-needed, but unfortunately volatile, rant so that I can go on with my day.)

The burden is nearly always on women -- first or exclusively -- to be inclusive of everyone.

Most women have been reared, bred, conditioned and positioned to take care of everyone who isn't ourselves, first. To speak for every group and individual but our own and ourselves, first. To make sure that everyone else is taken care of, before we try and find five minutes and a few small bursts of energy for our own self-care or that of other women.

One of the biggest reasons I wanted to start something like the young feminists project I am developing is to give young women, specifically, a space which was exclusively their own; a space where they not only had permission to think of themselves first, of other women first, but which was specifically there for just that reason, because there is a severe lack of such spaces. I don't want to do that so that it starts and ends there: in my ideal world we can ALL find a way to both take care of ourselves AND care for others.

To have a room of their own, yes; but there's more than one room in a nice, big house, and the whole rest of that house can be shared.

Young women, in my experience, are particularly vulnerable with this. I can't count on every fiber of my being how many young women I have seen in my life and work who will literally endanger their lives, their health, their whole well-being to care for everyone first but themselves. I cannot begin to tell you how many young women I have had to convince that it is OKAY for them to make life choices based on their wants and needs. It is painful to think of how many young women I have counseled in abusive relationships over the years who will be punched in the face daily, called whores by the person whose bed they share, have who their friends are or how they dress controlled by someone else and not leave, or even have designs on leaving, because their abuser needs them and has told them they cannot live without them. It is ungodly depressing to think of how many young women I have read or counseled over the years who have expressed the sentiment that they would rather give blow jobs on demand to a male partner who does not challenge them in any way so long as they do so, than they would cultivate or continue platonic friendships with other women who DO challenge them.

It is beyond the pale how very many young women I have spoken with over the years not only do not know how to care for themselves and other women, but who cannot, for the life of them, see the point in doing so.

This isn't at all impersonal for me. The older I become, the more I realize that this conditioning has been and remains a very serious problem for me personally. I have, in more than one instance in my life, done same. I have to remind myself constantly, every day, to leave room to take care of myself, and to put myself first at least sometimes. Often, I fail at it, even given that I am a tremendously independent and autonomous person and have been so -- have had to be so -- at an earlier age than many. Often I fail, even given how many young women in a day I try and help to do what I often can't. Often, I drive the people around me crazy because there are plenty of times I only even realize I have voided myself of care when I become terribly ill or emotionally disabled.

That isn't to say all the things I try and do in activist work or for others is out of obligation or rote programming. I think plenty of it is not. But I think that some of it is, and if even ANY of it is, that's too much.

And that behaviour, that default setting isn't empathy, that isn't charity, that isn't philanthropy. That isn't being a caring, wonderful person, especially when it is not done out of a very clear, available choice, made AFTER one's own needs are taken care of, but out of an unquestioned obligation. It's far more complex than that; both more dangerous and counter-productive and less generous than it seems. It is those things when it is out of obligation because I am culturally rewarded for being so selfless, especially as a woman. For all my protest against gender norms and sexism, no matter that I'm not serving men with a given work, when I do so, I am behaving EXACTLY as I am supposed to as a woman under patriarchy in that regard, and when I do that, I risk both undoing what good I have done and being able to see what good needs be done at all past the blinders on my face.

Despite the seriously mixed-bag of good stuff and tragedy in my upbringing, I did get a lot of positive messages, was given a lot of awareness. But, you know, no one made me aware of that one, and lordisa, do I wish someone had. This is one of many, many reasons why I feel so strongly about mentoring young women right now.

* * *

Over the past week, myself and one of the other women on the committee for the project have gotten a couple unhappy emails about the project -- in which the bloggers are limited to a group of 29 women sexed female at birth, and the discussion boards will primarily be for same, with just a few forums for mixed-gender, including transgender -- in terms of the lack of trans-inclusion. In two of those emails, bio-women who identify as feminist nixed participation in the project on those grounds.

(And for the record, I cannot know what terms are and are not offensive to all people, and big surprise: there aren't any that aren't offensive to someone. Mostly, I look to my trans friends to find out what the latest are, and mostly, my trans friends are down with the terms I've used. But often when I talk about these issues, non-transfolk have some objection, and all I can say there is that there is just only so much I can do, and care to do, to make everyone happy.)

I have trans friends. One woman on the project committee has a very longtime, transitioned MTF partner (who totally understands why I'd start this project with a WBW policy, no less, and even volunteered to help). I've included transmen and transwomen in other projects of mine before, and don't know why I wouldn't in the future. I've published a ton of first-person trans pieces at Scarlet Letters. I have made great efforts to be inclusive with transpeople: the chapter of my book on gender, for instance, which includes a lot of information on transgender and genderqueer, had to, by my own criteria, get the total thumbs up from five transpeople in my life before I was comfortable submitting it to my editor at the time. I have signed on to more than one protest for trans inclusion in spaces where I DO feel the exclusion of transpeople is neither fair nor sound. Those of my trans friends and acquaintances who I have talked to about this project -- which I feel not only is for a group where transissues are NOT in any way vital or especially pertinent, and also where transissues could, and I feel would, detract from best addressing the issues which are -- have zero objection whatsoever.

Instead, the handful of objections I have heard on this matter have come from women who are NOT trans. And you know, that really bugs the crap outta me.

It bugs me because in some respect, I find it really patronizing to in any way seek to represent a group who are perfectly capable of speaking for themselves. It bugs me because the age group this project is about is one which largely is just beginning to understand gender in general, what it means to be a woman in our culture in general, and I think it's sound to start with the 101. Half the time young women anymore are so inundated in the mass media that the idea that there even ARE women-born-women who don't have giant, plastic tits or want them, who don't present femme or want to, who don't fit media ideals by choice, and not because they're merely unfortunate, is over their heads. Ground zero with young women and feminism is often in the sub-basement: transgender is often waaaaaaaay up in the penthouse. Some of our bloggers will be more aware than that, but it's safe to say a majority of their readers will not be. (And the way we have set this project up, once it's all ready to go, the women under 23 on the board will have a majority vote: so should they decide for themselves that they'd prefer trans-inclusion, it'll be their call anyway, not mine.)

It bugs me because I suspect many people who would object to WBW-only environments, or stay out of those because of a lack of trans-inclusivity, would not as vehemently oppose trans-only spaces. I have known that to be true more than once. It bugs me because it's just one more thing that seems to crop up lately to stand in the way of women working for and with other women, of creating visibility for ALL women. It bugs me because I cannot help but wonder how much of this objection stems from women conditioned to represent everyone but themselves first.

I know myself well enough to know -- and at this point, I expect others to as well -- that I'm not an asshole in this regard. Nor am I in any way unfamiliar with the plight of transpeople, and the fact that is a marginalized, oppressed group of people. I'm there, I get it, I always have gotten it. (Shit: I get the bullshit of binary gender better than even most people know or probably think about: a huge part of why I love boxing so much is that when I'm there, with zero expectation to present as female, with my tits bound down as much as I can flatten them, slinging sweat and punches and yelling my ass off, I often feel more free to be myself than I do anywhere else.)

Thing is, SO ARE WOMEN marginalized, and in far greater numbers; there are a LOT of women in the world, women who were sexed female at birth and assigned the status of women, who continue to identify as female, and even more importantly, who are treated as female, whether they fucking well like it or not. I want to address (and I want others to want to address) THOSE women because, like anyone else does, they too need a room of their own. They need address and they are not getting it. THEY need inclusion which they do not have. THEY need visibility which they do not have. Many badly need at least one place where they are OBLIGED to think of themselves and other women like themselves first, and many will never, ever have that.

That isn't to say they should stay there and make that their only room. Obviously, choosing to do so is totally fine in my book. But when they do not -- and very few will stay in that room exclusively -- that allows them to then come to projects and communities which are mixed better equipped to integrate, better enabled to balance EVERYONE'S concerns, including their own, better energized TO care for others when they are also caring for themselves.

And let me tell you something: if you think most young women are already able to do that, you're kidding yourself. From what I can tell, sadly, young women, are often less able to do that than we were, even than some of our mothers were.
* * *
I'm concerned that some of this worry about trans exclusion comes from the idea that feminism has gotten us -- and young women specifically -- further at this point than it actually has: from the assumption that women have rights and agency we truly do not yet. (Heck, try and even organize a woman's community like I'm doing right now, and is that ever plain.) From the idea that it's okay to let our issues sit on the shelf while everyone else is cared for first, because there will always be time to come back to what we need.

I don't think we have that time. I know we don't have that agency or those rights.

Allow me a moment to state the obvious.

While in New York, Becca was reading the news when the South Dakota bill to ban abortion came through the wires.

This is a HUGE issue (and one those of us unable to get out of bed for days after the election knew full well would come to pass). Reproductive rights and the ownership of our own bodies are a HUGE issue. Every single woman with a uterus in South Dakota will be effected, many deeply and painfully, by what happens with this bill. Many already were before this bill even passed, as SD only had one abortion clinic to begin with. Minor women are especially effected because of all the policies that have been passing regarding parental consent and making crossing state lines for abortion illegal.

No transwoman will be directly effected by this bill or others like it. No man will be directly effected by this bill or others like it. Not a one.

(And yes: I know that women who have babies don't always care for them, and there are and can be men and transpeople who parent the abandoned children of some of these women. I also know there are men and transwomen who are parents of daughters, who have sisters, who have female partners and friends. But I am not talking just about parenting here, about finances, about child-rearing, about caring for women in general. I am talking about the whole process, in your body, from start to finish. I am talking about who gets pregnant.)


I don't say this to be a jerk and say "Nah, nah, you don't have a uterus." Please. Take mine. Living under this administration, living in this world, I'm a lot safer without it. (And the yeast infection -- and I NEVER get these damn things -- I got sacked with this week thanks to a lack of water in the building for days, again, too much time in airplanes, too much stress and too many days where I couldn't eat in the ridiculously limited way I have to to stay well? You can have that, too.)

I say this because there isn't a transwoman or man who will ever need or have an abortion. There isn't a transwoman or man who will have to be pregnant with or give birth to a child she or he doesn't want, in many cases due to intercourse she or he didn't want, plenty via marriages they didn't want. There isn't a transwoman or man who will have to rear a child who, even if she or he loves that child to pieces, will remind her or him every single day of a rape. There isn't a transwoman or man who, merely by virtue of what her or his genitals looked like at birth, and what sits between her or his hips, has absolutely no choice as to whether or not she or he is and remains pregnant. Not one.

This is no small issue. To borrow a wonderful page from Robin Morgan, this is one third of a million women of the world right now, at this very moment, in labor, many of which do not want to be in labor right now and had little to no choice in the matter, many of whom are in no health to be in labor, many of whom did not want the sex that got them pregnant in the first place, who were not entitled to make a choice about their own body which can result in them being obligated to care for another human being, who they cannot choose, for the rest of their lives. This could be ANY ONE of the young women I'm looking to create a community for.

I don't think that transwomen or men have no right to be concerned about reproductive choice, nor that *some* of the issues something like this brings up ARE relevant to them. I don't think transwomen need to be or even should be excluded from every conversation about this. But issues like this are not relevant to them in the same way they are to women with a female reproductive system, and they are very rarely directly relevant. Issues like this are, expressly, about women-born-women, are THEIR issues. And I very much want young women for whom an issue like this IS very directly relevant, who this IS about, to be able to talk about it amongst themselves in an international sphere at least SOMEWHERE without having to stop and explain things, defend themselves or worry about including everyone who isn't them. I don't want for that to be the case everywhere: I just want them to be able to have SOMEWHERE.

I don't need for them to have the whole house (as if they could): but they need a goddamn room.

* * *
I confess, I've been in a bit of a mood since the New York trip, which I will get around to chatting about in greater detail eventually. A lot of it actually isn't depressing, some of it is downright funny. But eight hours of being interrogated by the feds -- however kind and nice those feds are (and the two DoJ lawyers were lovely to me, for the record, I liked them both very much) -- especially about sexuality, especially in defense of your life's work, especially knowing it is all on the line, really does a number on a person.

I become more and more disappointed with people, and more easily, these days. I came back pissier than ever about people's general lack of conviction, general lack of awareness, general lack of care for things greater than themselves or not about themselves.

I came back realizing that I am earnestly scared that making my living, and spending even most of my free time, primarily as an activist, just may well slowly drive me insane. I came back with the ghosts of people before me riding alongside, other activists, often women, whose combination of great empathy and increased awareness broke their spirit in two; made the world uninhabitable for them. I came back more scared than ever that the most beautiful, wonderful parts of my personal life may be in serious danger of being usurped or seriously sullied by the work I do. I came back and had two solid nights of meltdown in the couple hours I got to myself, and developed a serious concern that the few people who have tried and do try to care for me may be left uncared for at times they have need because I am too damn busy trying to care for everyone else, or too worn out to even see they have need in the first place, simply because they do not yell for care as loudly as anyone else. I came back wishing that for just one full day, I could wash all the cares of the world out of my consciousness so I could just fully and selfishly enjoy being in love for that one day.

I came back feeling sick to shit of people of the mind that folks like me are somehow obliged to take up arms for everyone, to work to protect everyone, when so few people not only could give a shit about us, they aren't even willing to step up and stand up for themselves. There's a special sting to that given my gender, my class, my background, my life history. I came back tired of being so damned important sometimes: wishing I wasn't the only person in that whole COPA case who was an individual person, not a group, not liking having that so plainly illustrated. I came back feeling tired of the feeling that I so often only get to play saint or demon, and that so often, I am not judged based on what I do for the parts of the world I do serve, but for if those parts and groups I serve also serve or include whomever is doing the judging.

With all of this baggage hoisted on my back, I watched two DoJ lawyers and a few other folks in the deposition room clearly doing the math in their mind when we talked about my financial status, and clearly wondering why the fuck I bother. The truth is, sometimes, I do wonder that, too.

I asked Mark once a little while back if, for maybe just a year of my life, it would be okay if I did exactly NONE of what I do right now. If I cultivated a garden, did artwork I never showed a soul, laid in the sunshine, made dinners, baked bread, played piano, maybe took a job selling tomatoes on the street. Really, I'd love that. But honestly, I doubt I could ever allow myself that, even though I think it's something everyone should be entitled to who isn't me.

Of course, he said it was fine by him, gods bless'im. Bear in mind that life as an activist isn't easy, but neither is life WITH an activist, and he's a smart cookie. He knows damn well that once our life together is daily and in-person in our house, it's only going to get harder. There will be days when I will need to vent, and Mark will have to hear about issues and situations he was not previously aware of, which make him hurt, which make him angry, which seriously screw up his existing worldview, and which he isn't as practiced as I am in processing. We've already dealt with that a great deal already.

There are days where at the end of a day, I'm either crying myself to sleep, or staring at a blank wall, completely unable to interact with anyone. This is not because I am insane or a drama queen: this is because this shit is fucking hard, especially when your own damn self is marginalized, is oppressed, is under-represented, hungry and tired. This is hard because often, I earnestly DO try to take care of everyone who wants my care and I just plain can't, and getting any kind of shit at all -- even when it isn't meant as such -- for not being able to do what NO ONE can do, and for caring for more people than most people manage at all, can really mess me up, and make caring for even those I can a million times more difficult.

(And in part, that's because of where I started with all of this: many women, as a rule, and by cultural design, are bred to feel like absolute crap when we cannot serve everyone. And let me tell you: knowing that's the root of a lot of my guilt with things like this makes me sick to death of myself.)

There are days as there have been for nearly every day in the last two weeks where I can only hope no one asks me how I am, because even that small concern and question causes me to sniffle and mutter again and again, "I am just so tired."

The other night, during one of the aforementioned meltdowns, Mark made an offhand comment that one perhaps just couldn't change the world. My response to that was this: that may well be so, but I have got to believe that I can.

I think a big part of why some of all of the things I'm talking about today, things I have grappled with lately, get under my skin so much, shake me up so much, is that they often have the effect of disrupting that belief. When I see more obstacles than pathways, when I'm so tired and worn that every little ripple feels like a giant impasse, when I feel like things which should be simple are made unnecessarily complicated, I have moments where I am suddenly paralyzed by the notion that we cannot forge positive change, and that what I do is in vain. When I have so much to do and so few hours in the day that I realize, for instance, I have GOT to put some activist work on the shelf so that I can have a place to live next month, and get there in the first place, I resist because I worry that few other people really have that faith, or that anyone else will step up to help.

(Some of that, for the record, is total and complete egotism: the idea that only you can do this stuff, not anyone else. But this sort of work is so very isolating sometimes, and one does feel like that a good deal. I think that's an activist thing few people think a lot about. From the outside, there are likely times when we look like complete lunatics doing what we do -- and I'm lucky that a lot of what I do can take place in my armchair, no less. Really, a lot of us keep pressing right on, out of breath, hoping we won't run out of steam too early, because we have faith in the notion that we will not always be doing the work we are doing alone. That others will help us, that fewer will need help and eventually, we WILL then have time to care for ourselves better. I think a lot of the seriously wounded activists one sees are less wounded by the fact that the changes they worked for didn't happen than they are that they could have if more people had faith in their aims; had helped work for those goals as hard as they worked. Endlessly nagging and begging other people to help out is often way more tiring than just doing the work yourself.)

I have moments then where I selfishly wonder if I have not wasted years, and will not waste more still, trying to aim for things which just aren't possible. I have moments where I look at people who have sacrificed far more than I ever have because they believed, as I do, that we can forge change that still hasn't happened and my belly is carved out hollow with sadness.

There's no way for this to sound anything but corny, but I do have to believe that I can change the world, and more than that, I have got to believe that everyone else not only can too, but will want to, even if it means giving up privilege. I have to hope that there is some way to get past all of our own issues and barriers, our own conditioning, our own private concerns, the bloody fucking wreck that is our culture and all the other obstacles out there to do so AND still take care of ourselves, be cared and care for those dear to us at the same time. All of that, not because some of us feel we have to, or have no other choice, but because we want to and are allowed to do so, for ourselves and everyone else, not at the expense of ourselves, but for the mutual benefit of everyone.

(Only somewhat unrelated -- especially given the two Parable books -- god bloody dammit, Octavia Butler died over the weekend. And from a fall, no less.)

 

 

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