Fight!

I’ve been toying with the idea of getting into an old-fashioned playground fight with someone one of these days.  Not seriously, just contemplating on a purely theoretical level.  When I watch Bill O’Reilly point a finger menacingly, apropos of nothing, at Jon Stewart during what should be a civil conversation, and grown people on a crowded subway call each other “stupid”, I feel like that fantasy could easily become reality if you just find the right (wrong) people.

A prurient desire that has something to do with how strangers handle physical closeness.  Living in a crowded city like New York, there’s a weird disjunct between how people are constantly in close physical contact, yet maintain invisible barriers between themselves in others.  You see in their faces, pedestrians walking in their own private bubble while jostling with others on the street, an unintentional, non-sexual orgy of bodies.  What is this weird parallel between fighting and embracing that still signals intimacy?  I mean, just check this out:

Just one of those weird gender inversions that makes me see Fight Club differently every time it comes on TV.  I think that’s what makes finding love and intimacy in the city such a compelling theme in movies and television – how we surmount the barriers between people.  You can punch and jostle, or you can embrace.  Somehow I feel that embracing is even harder to do between strangers than pointing fingers and “getting in someone’s grill.”

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Relinquishing

The pile of books on my “not-read-yet” shelf keeps on growing:

I’m daunted and challenged and excited every time I look at it, depending on how gung-ho my mood is that day.  An author at a panel about the future of the novel talked about how a book remains in your life even after you stop reading it.  It lives in your room, a physical manifestation of thought and the mind.  Like framed pictures hung on a wall or set on a table, there are some objects people own that records and identifies.  A public and private shorthand of who you are or wish to be.

I was talking to a friend the other day about rituals – marriage, birthdays, bar mitzvahs, etc.  Why should we care?  In the past, I felt that these were just forms and traditions that were just re-confirmations of what people should already know – that you’re a year older yet no different, that you love someone and shouldn’t have to prove it through a marriage ceremony.  Yet there’s something about externalizing and publicizing that makes what was once private, secret, internal somehow eternal and permanent.  “Speaking things into existence.”

.I might be the last person in the world to finally start thinking about this deeply, but blogs tread the line between public and private.  I read about this woman today, who live-tweeted her abortion.

.I don’t know what to make of this.  Judging from her video, she seems to be genuinely motivated by the desire to help other women see abortion as she does – not a terrible thing.  I think she thinks of it as a public service announcement to other women trying to make the same difficult decision.

I’m trying to figure out what this blog is for.  I think for now, it’s a venue for sharing, in every sense of the word.  To share something private is to be generous and open, rather than closed and secretive, no?  To invite collaboration and at the very least, to not hold on with Gollum-arms to those not so precious thoughts.

Work write

My resolve is to write every day.  The imperative to write and produce creates its own self (life) sustaining process.

I see the snow bloom outside my window.  Snow and ice roses expand concentric circles of petals, like pieces of dry white cloth dropped into a bowl of water.  Snow angels and snow monsters – we barely know which is what.  This winter has been too long, dragged on and on, the gray and shades of gray.  I can’t wait for the sky to reflect the activity and life I have felt in my heart, my blood and lungs.

Sometimes wonder why people are so angry.  Bitter and hateful.  I really don’t understand.  And the fact that I find it so difficult to understand and see where they come from, what their reality is, what the world looks like from their eyes, makes me realize how much I’ve changed into something definite – my own particular and coherent view of the world.  Because it is coherent, it is comforting and orderly and to some extent predictable.  Or rather, I am predictable and consistent.  Which is what I’ve always longed for, this feeling of certainty in a world that shifts like melting paint.

I feel that I have my sea legs now.  My body and mind is comfortable with the terrain.  Perhaps because of familiarity?  But also because I’ve discovered the amazing mechanism of flexibility, and the resilience that it can afford to once-rigid legs.  I can adapt, I can learn anew, and I will never stop growing.

Melting world

It’s counterproductive to say that less government is needed as soon as times are tough.  It makes no sense.  It’s like saying, “I don’t like where this country is going, I’m going to move to Canada.” Because the fantasy that so many neo-conservative, anti-government protesters are operating under is basically a sweeping away of all the institutions that have defined this country for almost a century.  70 year old teabagger, you don’t want Medicare anymore?  Really?  Well good luck paying for that respirator then or going to the hospital for a routine checkup.

When the economy was flourishing and we actually had the greatest surplus in US history at the end of the Clinton years, no one was shouting for the downfall of big government except the crazies.  Now this recession has made everyone crazy, and people just want something to blame.  Why not the government?  The politicians?  It’s so, so easy to point fingers and blame all ills on an external force.  The truth is, there’s no other place to dump our shit.  The chickens have come home to roost, all the arrogance we’ve thrown around in the past 300 years, and this is our mess.  We must work together to salvage and make better what we have, as broken as it is, and help each other rather than turn against each other.

Furthermore, the reality is that this country is multicultural, people would continue to immigrate here, and that is a wonderful thing, that people would still choose to leave their homes to remake themselves here, and contribute to the democratic process.

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The world isn’t ending.  Not yet, anyway, and there are still so many small measures of hope.  I believe in good and in the decency of human beings.  Why not?  It’s like choosing to be a deist vs. an atheist.  There’s no way we can prove or disprove the existence of a higher power or a connectedness to the universe.  So why not choose to believe in that which is more hopeful, all things being equal (and ultimately unknowable)?

The specific illuminates the universal

I think one of the greatest misconceptions about gender studies, race and ethnicity studies is that they are only for women, people of color, and whichever minority group is ostensibly the focus of research.  If a course is titled “Chicano Studies” or “Asian-American Studies”, people immediately write them off as marginalized because, well, if I’m white and male, why should I give a crap about women’s studies?  To study women/gender/sexuality is to study men and masculinity.  To study African American history is to more fully understand whiteness and American-ness.

There’s the rub folks.  Know thyself is to know the other, and vice versa.  We’re all in this together.

Secret to success

1) Try

2) Fail

3) Fail

4) Repeat

5) Maybe succeed

6) Repeat 1-5 ad infinitum

I’m surprisingly okay with this.  It’s actually incredibly liberating to allow oneself to make as many mistakes as possible in the process of doing what one loves to do.  A kid running around playing tag falls and scrapes her knee, cries a little, but is off and running in less than 2 minutes.  To approach life with that sense of play and non-attachment is the goal.