The sweetness follows

31 12 2012

Merry happy peaceful.

040

Still here, still on the way.

May where you are be as maddening and exhilarating as you desire.

May your desires confound and delight you and carry you away and bring you to where you need to be.

May we all be where and how and who we need to be.

With kisses.





Baby, baby, please let me hold him

6 12 2012

I’m too broke to be decadent—but if I had the money. . . ?

Well, I’m probably too boring to be decadent: couldn’t be trendy if I tried.

I’ll leave the Douthat-slaps (similar to a dope-slap, but administered with sacred sorrow) to Katha Pollitt (among the many, many, others), and be glad that others have waded through his muck so that I don’t have to.

Do allow me, however, this one obvious point: The reason some of us don’t have children is that some of us don’t want children. At all.

Not: don’t-want-children-because-want-something-else-more, but: don’t want.

The usual disclaimers: I like kids. I’m glad other people want to have kids, and I think our environmental problems have more to do with too much consumption than with too many people (although consumption and people are not, of course, unrelated).

So, yeah: Babies!

Just not for me.

That I can choose not to have babies for the mere reason that I don’t want them is, for any number of fertility-mongerers the real decadence. That is, it’s not that I want to live the Euro-trash life, but that I can choose, and because I can choose, I can choose wrongly.

In other words, it’s a mere hop, skip, & jump from choice to civilizational collapse.

There’s nothing particularly new about this equation—this is a standard reactionary-conservatism trope—but just because it’s old doesn’t make it any more correct or less irritating. I’ll skip the rant on why it’s irritating (it’s late and I’m erasing 10 words for every 5 I write, so, y’know), and, oh hell, I’m just going to bring this back around to me.

I chose not to have kids, but to focus on the choice is to miss the real point, which is that I never wanted kids. The choice depends on the desire, and it was never my desire to have children. I didn’t choose not to have children I wanted; in some sense, I didn’t choose at all, but merely recognized that I lacked what it took to be a good mother—namely, the desire to be a mother at all.

Taking away my choice on that matter would not have changed the desire, nor would incentives have made a difference. Sure, some women forced into motherhood may come to love it, and more social support might make a difference in the number of children one might have, but that still leaves some of us to say Nope, no thanks.

I take motherhood—parenthood—very seriously, and believe that if you’re going to have kids, you oughtta do it right.

Tough to see how you can do it right if you don’t want to do it at all.





Where is the tenderness

28 11 2011

I felt such longing.

What to do with such a feeling, especially since it had been so long since I longed for anything? And why the longing, especially in response to the last, short scene of an uneven television show?

Perhaps it was the tenderness of the moment, made all the more poignant by the unexpectedness of it all.

I don’t expect tenderness, don’t expect longing.

No, I have been frozen in fear of my financial burdens, overcome with debts I cannot and am not paying, triaging my money for rent, first, and everything else, second. My two temporary jobs ease me somewhat, but I can’t remember the last time I felt anything other than anxiety.

So this longing, this unexpected desire for, I don’t know, unexpected tenderness, was all the sweeter for revealing that there is still something more to me, something more to this life.





Everything everything everything

28 09 2011

Over the hill. Pulled the plug but not yet circling the drain. Old broad. Over half a life gone.

No, I’m not old, nor do I feel old, but I ain’t young, either.

When I was young, I wanted everything. I wanted California and mountains and oceans and Hollywood and a cabin in the woods and nature and cities and people and space and I wanted to sing and dance and act and write and draw and paint and ride dirt bikes and horses and swim and sled and oh if only I could fly, wouldn’t it be lovely to fly?

Now, I am a ma’am with a Ph.D. and I don’t know what I want, don’t even know how to think about what I want. I was so open, then, to everything; how could I not want it?

And now? Ha: you know the answer.

But I still wonder.

“Dancing” from One! Hundred! Demons! By Lynda Barry

“Dancing” from One! Hundred! Demons! By Lynda Barry p. 2

Do you know Lynda J. Barry?

I started reading Ernie Pook’s Comeek in The Isthmus, the Madison alt-weekly, when I was in college. Marlys and Maybonne and Freddie and everyone in that weird little world made me laugh and wonder and sometimes, sometimes, they pierced me clean through.

I found Marlys Magazine again online, then it got stripped way bare, and now it’s back, in full splendor.

Lynda J. Barry draws what she wants, writes what she wants, lives how she wants.

I don’t know if she knows what she wants, but it doesn’t seem to matter.





We can dance if we want to

10 05 2011

If I can’t dance, I don’t want to be a part of your revolution.

We want bread and roses, too!

Fuck ‘em if they can’t take a joke.

Okay, so that last slogan may not have been associated with radical or revolutionary politics, but it should have. And while Free your mind and your ass will follow! could be read as a somber observation of the necessity of intellectual development in one’s liberation, set it to a beat with a thumpin’ bass and you get the right spirit.

Anyway, this is prompted by a New Yorker blog post by Sasha Frere-Jones on music and culture critic Ellen Willis. I’d heard of her—read encomiums to her upon her death—but hadn’t been much moved to read more about or by her.

I should read more of her.

Frere-Jones offers this excerpt of some emails by Willis’s friend Karen Durbin:

Ellen was that wondrous creature, an intellectual who deeply valued sensuality, which is why she wrote with such insight about rock and roll but also with such love. She respected the sensual; in a fundamentally puritanical culture, she honored it. She saw how it could be a path to transcendence and liberation, especially for women, who, when we came out into the world in the early to midsixties, were relentlessly sexualized and just as relentlessly shamed. Rock and roll broke that chain: it was the place where we could be sexual and ecstatic about it. Our lives were saved by that fine, fine music, and that’s a fact. [emph. added]

I’ve been lamenting the left’s  failures to offer any alternatives to our current deracinated culture—capitalism is flattening us into consumptive nothingness—without doing much beyond, well, lamenting.

But here’s a clue for us: remember the pleasure of liberation, remember that pleasure can itself liberate.

Here’s Richard Goldstein on Willis (also quoted by Frere-Jones):

Ellen was, more than anything, a liberationist. She taught me that gay liberation was an “epiphenomenon” of feminism, and that’s something I still believe. Finally, she believed that for any leftist agenda to succeed it has to be based on pleasure, on realizing desire. This is a lesson the left has largely forgotten; indeed, the right has appropriated it, though they use social sadism the way we used orgiastic ecstasy. Ellen would surely agree that we won’t see a revival of revolutionary sentiment until we learn to make it fun. In that respect, Ellen, Emma Goldman, and Abbie Hoffman are part of a lost tradition—radicals of desire. [emph. added]

I’m much better and winnowing down than opening up, much better with distance and critique and despair blah blah, and, for the most part, I’m okay with the distance and the critique and the despair and the blah blah.

But it’s not enough, not for me personally and certainly not for any truly radical politics. If we are to have a human politics, then we have to begin with us, as humans—in our mess and despair and failures and blah blah and in our pleasure and amusement and joy and ecstasy.

Okay, so I”m a little uncomfortable with the ecstasy, but I can certainly get behind humor and dancing and ever more laughter. And while I’m also uncomfortable with my own desires, I have to admit that I have not been improved by my suppression of them.

So let’s bring it back, the mess and the desire and everything else—not as a problem, but as a given.

~~~~~~

Books by Willis:







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