in quiet preparation for that i nearly forgot, i sit and stew with half-formed phrases in my brain, nursing the baby to sleep. tomorrow is february. i promised myself that i would try to become a real writer by writing every day, beginning in the second month of the year with poetry. i chose february because it is short, which is something like cheating, except that i also chose it because it is soon, the better to hurry along this notion of becoming a real writer. will i then print these poems out and send them in manila envelopes, like once i did, off to literary magazines? will i try then to become pedestaled by publishing? to be a really real writer? i don't know. i likely won't have the time with all the other things i squeeze into my life like a mad collector, collecting things to do, places to go, people to see. i squeeze in doing yoga with my husband and folding the diapers, sitting on the couch and drinking tea. i write it down in my planner in my to-do list. i refuse to cross things off until they are completely finished, lest i jinx myself, lest i move the universe to move against me in all my optimism. i love to cross things off. today i crossed off two things: updating the photos of my children in the growth section of my website and cleaning out the silverware drawer. insanely and pathetically, i am quite proud of the silverware drawer. it is bizarre that i take to this life so well, despite my shouting and the moments where i'd prefer to throw the nursling across the room than take both breasts out of my shirt so he can suck on one while twiddling the nipple of the other. it is bizarre that i choose such a life. wasn't i born in the seventies? shouldn't i have gathered from my intensely feminist mother (she who showed the slide show of my homebirth at her radical women united meeting) that the last thing any woman ought to be is in servitude to children and men? i have been over this and over this of late, reading the bitch in the house and discussing it online, as well as engaging, or, perhaps more aptly, cornering my husband in discussions over dinner (vegan dinners that he cooked) about just how feminist are we and what exactly does our setup imply politically? i don't know that i've come up with any good answers. it is as messy as our life, this arrangement. it is what it is and we chose it for the reasons we chose it. so i am trying to buck the system further, to follow my dream, to understand everything and spew it all in word, in twenty-eight poems crafted at the dining room table after breakfast, once my children have run from their half-empty bowls of cereal or flax and blueberry toaster waffles off to their toys, returning briefly to me in form and perhaps also in written word, carrying some thing they wish to show me or dragging me off to see the lego construction or demanding both my breasts from out my shirt yet again, and i relating it all onto paper, loving them as i do, extracting meaning from their cries, pulling metaphor from their urging. or maybe i do not. maybe i merely run off with them to the lego starship with its interstellar weaponry or pull my shirt open and lean over my paper awkwardly, ultimately unable to continue with the poem, forced to participate in the subject of my life and work, against or with my ever-changing will. it is terribly terribly difficult, i know from even blogging, to form a thought with all this life going on about me. kai ryssdal speaks like a ken doll in the radio, my husband cooks an amazing south indian kale dish in the kitchen, and sebastian shouts at me from over his beans and rice beside me. i can't even begin to hold the thought that started this all. this is my life and this is what i write.
i am having a lengthy discussion in a yahoo crunchy mama book group about relationships. it has been illuminating and useful to me to examine what it is we do in my relationship with my husband, how we operate, the ways in which we negotiate our life and our responsibilities. i don't often speak of it here. i'm not sure that i ever really have. we are dedicated to ending oppression globally. we seek with our choices and our actions to do so. we want to fight it, we want to educate and discuss and discover. in so doing, we must first always examine ourselves and our relationship. we are in a very traditional arrangement. we married one another with all the hidden-meaning accroutements of western weddings: the white dress, the bouquet, my father walking me down the aisle (though not giving me away), feeding one another cake - all that crap. i'll never know what possessed me, what compelled me to do it. actually, i suppose i do know. it was this world, it was its magazines and its television shows, its martha fucking stewart. i was compelled by being raised here, by bearing witness and by internalizing all those messages to which i was exposed from birth. my mother had a white wedding and i'll never know what compelled her to do it to be certain (unless of course i ask). it makes no sense to me that she would make that choice when so many of her peers did not. she was radicalized in so many ways, and yet they made this entirely traditional choice. she and my step-father were likely pressured by their parents and he probably wanted to, though knowing him i doubt he considered exactly why. and here we find ourselves, years after that initial decision to stay in line with our culture, yet again in total keeping with the arrangements of the patriarchy. i know what compelled these decisions and they are decidedly not in keeping with the patriarchy. i stayed home with my children firstly because i couldn't afford not to (okay, so that's not very radical at all), but secondly because i made choices to do things that had been stripped from women by the patriarchy - the ability to nourish children with my body, the ability to give birth free of chains, the ability to make decisions for my children free of the demands of patriarchy-appointed experts, to teach my children free of patriarchy-established institutions, to self-govern, to have autonomy, to be a (gasp!) self-possessed woman and to pass self-possession on to my children. so how we got here was not what it looks like, exactly. we are trying, hard as we might, to follow our dreams and to support one another in so doing. i have been helping my husband to become a professor of history since first we met eight-and-a-half years ago. in turn, he has been helping me to figure out what it is i want to do with myself, which of course always comes back to this, to writing. in that time, i did many things i didn't necessarily want to do, but would have had to do whether he was in school or not. perhaps he doesn't always acknowledge that. perhaps his ignoring this feature has to do with his indoctrination by the patriarchy, or maybe it's just a feature of being decidedly human, of being caught up in what he is doing. maybe it's both. maybe we could do better to insure that our attitudes towards one another were free from the indoctrinations we received from society since birth. maybe instead of me sitting here, typing furiously as our children destroy things around me, considering this fact of life, this matter of our attitudes towards one another being in keeping with our feminist and leftist philosophies or not, perhaps it should be he thinking these thoughts, wondering and considering and trying to figure what better approaches we might take. and i go over it and over it in my head - when i come home at night from one of my meetings when he has been caring for our children who are decidedly insane and capable of such stunning destruction as to inspire us to change our leftist thoughts on matters like the death penalty, is his grumpiness towards me justified because he is human and the children are so difficult or is it not because he has been inculcated by a lifetime of sexist bigotry and is not at this time acknowledging and confronting it as perhaps i think he should, especially when one considers his profession, how he spends his time ruminating on historical matters from that leftist pedestal, giving weight to the people that formed societies and economies on their backs against those whose biographies are instead credited for shaping that history, those societies, those economies, those "great men" who we consider in those patriarchy-appointed classrooms that i keep our children from so determinedly? is he right or is he wrong? what more could he be doing to fight the dogma with which he was raised? what more could i be doing to encourage re-thinking it all? we are generally very open with one another, certainly me more so than he given my tendency toward talking rapidly and excessively, much like my typing, though he is open and honest. i am sure all it would take is a conversation about the matter in a kind, non-confrontational manner. but then, with children who destroy and all the things that we constantly have to do and deal with - the doctors appointments (four this week alone), the meetings (four this week as well), the work, the dissertation, the boy reunion, the environmental history conference, the co-op newsletter, the blizzard, the twice-daily yoga, aleks' rash, bastian's cold, selling books on amazon, as well as the typical and ongoing cleaning, cooking, laundry, grocerying, diapering, bathing, dressing, wiping, scrubbing insanity - when do we have time for a conversation about whether or not our attitudes are a result of dogmatic upbringing in a bigoted society? it would need to be such a lengthy conversation too in order to give it the proper time and to allow jon the space to contemplate the possibilities. it could go on for months. it could likely go on forever and it would be one of those things, like yoga, where we constantly evaluate and self-correct. it would be a practice, one which we are already involved in, of course, but which requires occasional emotional revelation (the result of constant self-reflection) and dedication to perpetual exploration and archeology of meanings and ritualized compulsions. at this moment, with my living room covered behind me in all the contents of the giant drawers beside me (envelopes, diapers, a keyboard, printer paper, a box of tissues torn asunder, dvds, stationary, a blank book, varied four-year-old scrawlings), the energy required to explore feminist theory with my husband feels a bit overwhelming.
i am determined to be something other than what i am. i am determined to find the something that is me, to write, to be, in fact, a writer and to not feel helpless and emptied next to the colossalness of the phd in my midst. to not project colossalness onto the phd beside me, that which i helped to create and mold and grow with these hands and this heart in constant and unwaivering eight-and-a-half-year dedication. i am determined to determine what it is that becomes me without him, that becomes me without dependency, that becomes me with this brain and heart and eyes and these now half-crippled hands that can again type at least thanks to twice weekly visits to the hand clinic where i am stimulated electronically after being warmed with pulverized corn husks in swirling hot air and before being cooled from the aching with frozen gel packs strapped to the wrist. now my unfeeling fingers can move by memory and with the aid of sight across our ergonomic keyboard and can hit the "h" key far too often for some unknown reason though the words that would make me a writer have not exactly come yet and have not precisely been forced out in such ways to help me not fall into the unknowing and constant doubting of this self, this soul, this body that left-handedly is yet still dedicated to ceaseless housecleaning and wiping running nineteen month old noses and the chasing of the four year old from out the kitchen away from the vegan chocolate muffins. i go to occupational therapy and am confronted with the boldness of boys who utilize their mother's suburban cash flow to pursue an art career, pointlessly painting rubber tires with justifications of texture and explorations of the mundane. i wonder what made me so underestimate my self worth as to never pursue a higher education in art or writing creatively then recall how much i hated school and hate it still, but feel ultimately diminished to "just a mom" status yet again. then i witness the working poor, injured while working and ignorantly postponing filing for workman's compensation and feel flooded with intense and heartbreaking gratitude for my own privilege and sense simultaneous pressure to transcend my skill-less, money-less position in life, to never get old or broken again and never to face the bottomless pit of despair that is that sort of acute poverty. i have witnessed and learned of it and while wishing and working to transform the world, also am compelled to run far far away, to avoid the level of understanding and knowing look in my eye that comes only with firsthand experience. and so i am determined and i point myself in the direction of self-worth via me defined as i am, me the writer, me the written, typing daily and furiously, at times stuck and staring, yet determined with half-assed ideas in hand to whittle and work it until i've got it, until i've got something, whatever it might be or become. in honor of my renewed sense of dedication and thirty to forty percent regained use of the right hand, i propose that i write one poem daily in the month of february, and continue it as long as i can sustain it after. i find that poetry is a mode of writing that can change to suit one's mood, thus moving from abstraction to narration and back again day to day whilst remaining the same author with largely the same intentions and still necessitating skillfulness and mindfulness which will fit my limitations as well as my need for a challenge to keep me focused and forward-moving. i am set. here i go.
my hand bending back due to self-inflicted therapeutic electrocution
my hand bending back due to self-inflicted therapeutic electrocution