Tag Archives: the personal is political

I’m sorry, ocean

this is now where my phone lives

So yesterday I dropped my phone into the wharf out by the Giants ballpark.  Bye-bye phone. I was out there having lunch, outside in the intense heat. Everything upset me yesterday: the heat, the fact that I had to be at my job at all, the fact that I couldn’t get caught up on my writing ourselves whole work, and I was cranky and crabby and premenstrual-y and weepy. I had a short conversation with F!, during which I was curt and irritated and then after, I stood up, had my phone in my hand, was near the edge of the water, and I dropped the phone and thought, or no, I had thought before it dropped, it would be just like today for me to drop my phone in the water — and then that’s exactly what happened. Actually, it’s like when I dropped my phone in the sewer grate — I saw the grate, I thought, it would be awful to drop my phone down there and then I did just that.

I watched the phone go, I said, No, no, no but quiet, like I could get it to bounce back to me, but I didn’t want to alert the other people sitting at benches around me, and then it fell into the water and was gone. There were bubbles as the air escaped from between the case and the phone.

I’m sorry, ocean. This is the second cellphone I’ve fed you. I don’t know how many chemicals and awful metals are in that thing that are now going to decompose in you and poison your children. I’m sorry.

Even before that, though, I spent most of yesterday sad and upset. I know it was period hormones, but this time usually just releases what’s already inside. I’m tired of  having a secret everywhere I go. I’m tired of always being pulled in multiple directions, always multitasking, never being able to just focus on my work.
And then last night I watched 2 or 3 grey’s anatomys, until I cried and cried. I cried for how overfull my life is now and I cried for before, for being a kid who had to do the things I did, for being someone no one cared to check in on. I had a flash of my mom’s best friend, and thought, I could call her and ask her what happened. Why didn’t anyone check in on us, why didn’t she worry about her best friend’s kids? I could ask her what were mom and dad like before, before my stepfather took everything over. I thought, I could go there. I could ask her. And then that made me so sad: it’s so many years later.

When F! came out and found me by the back door, sobbing, it was because I don’t have any connection with the place I come from — it’s so faded and tenuous. I had to leave there to survive, and pulling up your roots like that is another form of suicide, another death. It had nothing to do with gayness then, but it has something to do with gayness now, the not really being able to go back. The how awful my father is with my queerness, how awful so many of the people there are. How I say I’m from Nebraska but I hardly feel it most of the time — my tethering is in New England. And how much I miss the place I’m from, how much I miss having a sense of connection and history, a sense of being attached to somewhere: and that’s as much about the people as about the place. The people become the place. In New England, there are people I love and who love me, who help tie me to the ground, the mountains and smells — and, too, New England is the place that was about escape for me, and so being there is always inflected with triumph and loss.

Being home is only about how much isn’t there: how all the friendships I had in high school were halfway, if that, were only half hearted, because the rest of my heart was tied up at the house. How do I want to say this: being home is all about being in the place where people let me go, let my sister go, let us fall. Over and over: our parents did, all their friends did, every adult did. That’s what adults do, they let children fall and if the children don’t die, then the children learn good survival skills and they go out into the world. (I’ll be clear here that I understand that this isn’t true for all children nor all adults, and yet, it’s really really fucking common, isn’t it?)

I have no children in my life right now, no kids I’m close to, and I think that I’m terrified. I think that I’m certain that I would let them down.

I’m never especially sad about losing a phone — the quiet is always useful. Not having that phone will be a break from always  being online, always being on email. The cost, the expense, is a drag, but that’s just not the end of the world. I’m glad for the space to cry, to push out one more piece of the sorrow.

(Thank you for being there, today, yesterday, and tomorrow.)

I could take one small step that helped me feel more sane

protein for everyone: beans, lentils and peas in small paper bags...It’s nearly 7. My alarm went off, first, at 5:24. Fresh! said, “I think you should go in there and tell them, ‘Good morning, world.  I slept in.'”

So, yeah.  What he said.  Good morning — and happy Monday!

I don’t remember my dreams last night. I do remember that at one point this weekend I was dreaming about my sister and her boyfriend and we were in a library (the library of a university that I have visited a bunch of times during dreams), and then later I was off on my own in the library, heading for the HQs, while my sister and her boyfriend found us a table. There, just before the HQs, was a certain movie star, looking for something, or having found it, and talking with me about why he was in that section of the library. It was a little odd that this movie star was in my dreams, until I was telling Fresh! about the dream later, and I said his name (Michael Cera), and I heard the pun there — I thought about Lacan, about the subconscious as a language, about the metaphors and puns and slips of Real in through our every day speech.  Maybe the whole dream was about me and my sister (Sarah).


I’m thinking today, as I hustle from warm bed to shower to bus, with this short interlude at the blog, about rice and beans.

Back before I became vegetarian for a few years (when I was in my early 30s), I didn’t eat beans, except maybe in altered forms: tofu, red bean paste, hummus. But beans that looked like beans, not all that much. But I realized that if I was going to be even a remotely successful vegetarian, I’d pretty much have to eat beans.  (And eggplant, which I wasn’t all that fond of either.)

I’d maybe recently discovered (and fallen in love with) Ethiopian cuisine, with the lentil wots — and, ok, I ate rice and beans when I went out for Mexican food, either as refritos or as whole frijoles in my tacos or burritos.

My decision to become vegetarian arose out of pure hopelessness — we humans were (are) killing the planet, we were (are) decimating other species  and thought nothing of it. I was working at the time for a battered women’s organization in southern Maine, and deepened my education in patriarchal violence –and also learned about women’s power and control with and over other women, and unlearned the myth that women’s space is necessarily safer space for women. Women using power and control challenged the traditional strictly-sexism-based model of domestic violence; the anti-DV movement as a whole didn’t want to have to deal with that issue: too messy.  I started working with LGBT survivors, and I was quickly determining that there was no safe place, anywhere, at all: no place safe from human violence.

Sitting in the Big Box Bookstore at the Maine Mall where I made my writing-home for much of the time I lived in Maine, I flipped through cookbooks, and came across The World in Your Kitchen, from New Internationalist Press, which not only had amazing, diverse vegetarian recipes from all over the world (so different from the complementary protein loaves I’d though maybe I’d have to resign myself to if I actually wanted to commit to vegetarianism), but also included a good deal of politics in the introductory sections, and included a description of the amounts of soy grown all  over the world and shipped off to feed cattle — vast amounts of protein grown, often by starving folks, and then shipped away (and consider the energy required to accomplish that) and fed to animals instead of humans.

This flipped a switch in me: OK. Maybe I couldn’t save my mother. Maybe I couldn’t change all these men who somehow found time in their work schedules (or, maybe, got grants from father’s rights organizations) to spend entire months stalking their girlfriends or wives without once actually technically violating their restraining orders. Maybe I wasn’t going to change the core group of the women I worked with at this agency who were determined not to own up to their own misuse of power and control over other women, particularly women of color. But I could decide what I put into my body. I could decide where my money went. I could take one small step that helped me feel more sane.

And I learned a lot about beans and rice, about legumes (beans, peas) and grains and how those form the basis for most of our indigenous human cuisines. Dhals and wots and tofu n rice, groundnuts n samp, chickpeas n couscous, peanut butter n bread: whole proteins to get you working and well through the day.

Right now, I’m perfecting the preparation of brown-rice-n-peas, Jamaican style (at the request of my spouse, who came up West Indian): brown rice n kidney beans n coconut milk n some onion n hot pepper n thyme.  That’s it. So good. And we’ve just received a crock-pot from my mom as a housewarming gift — vegetarian feijoada, here we come

What’s your favorite combo of legume n grain?