Posts Tagged ‘family’

Invertebrate rescue and the Rights of Women

Happy birthday to me! Happy birthday to me! Happy birthday to meeeeee! Eeeeeeeeeeeepc!!!!

I got a tiny cute little computer for my birthday!

And pancakes and colorful drawings, and everyone being together, and the beach, and seeing the Kung Fu Panda movie (which I wrote up briefly this morning for Body Impolitic), and some fabulous zines, and Flora Tristan‘s The Workers’ Union. (DROOOOOL, I love Flora Tristan so much! I’ve read her Peregrinations of a Pariah and her London travel journal and some of her political writing! But not this, ever. It’s amazing.)

Rook made the pancakes and had also made cookies the night before. After the movie last night we all ran around Yerba Buena Park, went to the MLK waterfall, and it was super nice (but tiring). He and Moomin were doing fake kung fu and then I think for the rest of the evening and the next day they were playing they were superpowered kung fu animals. Rook and Zond-7 and I watched the two newest Doctor Who episodes and they were JUST GREAT and very disturbing.

Today! I almost wimped out on an Expedition. Went anyway.

Went to the beach! Everything on the drive down rt. 1 stunningly beautiful. My favorite tiny beach inside the breakwater! Kids rocketing around! They built a sand castle with me & ran around like wild things. Lucked out no traffic no fog, only a bit windy! Saw many moon jellies, harbor seals sticking up their heads from the water, grebes pelicans cormorants and terns. Rolled & walked rather a long way. (I am exhausted but aside from the pain in my leg am okay, it’s more like regular exercise exhaustion, but I don’t know how much I can do tomorrow physically).

Then when we walked to the point to sit on the wall, we saw a guy surf fishing. He pulled something out of the water with a gaff, inspected it, and threw it down onto the sand. He was far enough away that it was hard to tell what it was. But… it looked like the shape of a giant gumboot chiton and I saw a flash of orange underneath. I didn’t have my crutches (having gone from the path to the wall on Zond-7′s arm) and there was no way I could get to it. “You could find out…” “I won’t know what it is!” “You could bring it to me!” “WHAT!!! Pick it UP???!!!!” I couldn’t believe it when he really picked it up and started bringing it over. I mean, this is a thing pretty much as big as a human liver and kind of the same texture. Or, like, a liver mixed with a smallish nerf football. OMG I started bouncing around and going “YAYYYYYY!!!” Guess what, it was indeed the most humonguous gumboot chiton I have ever seen. It’s my favorite kind! I saw the magnetite-tipped teeth of its radula! and they were super disgustingly creepily awesome! Anyway this thing had to be a foot long! We held it for a while and then Zond-7 was totally a hero and clambered out onto the rocks with it and dramatically threw it into as deep and rocky a spot as he could manage. I’ve never seen one at this beach and it seemed like a sort of fabulous omen for it to be my birthday and that I got to hold my favorite invertebrate.

The beach has become a mixture of sublime and boring, like that Berlioz opera.

I thought about how intensely my perceptions and experience have changed over the course of my life. When I was a kid, I loved the cold. It felt just cold, but not bad. There was an initial shock, then I welcomed the cold and felt like I was made of knives and wind. I’d breathe in the cold, or open myself up to the 50 degree sea water, and expand like the universe, jumping around, body surfing, rolling in the snow, whizzing down a hill on my flying saucer. My lips would turn blue and I’d shiver uncontrollably, and someone would make me come out of the water or into the house or car. But now, there is no way I can enjoy the cold, or even tolerate it without intense pain. I thought of times when I’ve heard people (talking to me, or others) cajoling, persuading, bullying: “Come on! It’s not so cold! You’ll get used to it!” They could say that to me now, and it wouldn’t be true. Likewise, I thought of all the old people who I grew up around, and their constant horror at how cold I must be, and how impossible it was for them to understand that I was not suffering from cold air or water or snow, to the point of complete disrespect of my reported experience. I thought of how many experiences like this there are. Not just cold or heat, but pain, the tastes of food, emotional suffering, oppression, sanity, *reality*. People change over the course of their lives, and know, or should know, that it is possible to perceive the world and experience very differently and that cold DOES feel good, and that also, cold DOES feel bad and terrible, and there is a giant spectrum of true experience. In other words, I marvel that people don’t respect others’ subjectivity or reported experience. How can they not have learned some measure of empathy, merely from the changes they’ve been through in their own lives and the different people they were and are and will be? I said some of this to Zond-7 who replied that people are alienated from their former selves, their younger selves, and instead construct narratives in which they used to be wrong, and now are right. I felt like I was seeing in greater depth how it is that people lose or never develop a sense of that respect and empathy and how related it is (or can be ) to discontinuity of identity and self hate/disrespect. I realized that “self respect” has to include all your selves across time. Zond-7 went on to talk about the evening person (who stays up too late) dissing the morning person (your future self who you are screwing up by staying up too late) so that the morning person (future you) is really angry at past you from the evening before. (Hmm, I am still thinking about that and myself and my issues with health and driving myself too hard.) We made some remarks on how lovely it would have been in a way to have these thoughts in 1789 or something when we could have written “A Treatise on the Unities and Discontinuities of Human Consciousness and the Rational Social Mind” and been studied like geniuses hundreds of years later but instead it will be like “LiveJournal entry, ho hum, 2 comments”. Hahaha! We didn’t mean it and do believe it is a million million times better to have the net and have everyone saying this sort of thing in casual asides to ferment & propagate like letters but more discoverable.

I give you a quote from Flora Tristan, from the chapter “Why I Mention Women” in The Workers’ Union, 1843, the book where she called for an international social justice movement and union to transcend existing governments:

Workers, in 1791, your fathers proclaimed the immortal declaration of the rights of man, and it is to that solemn declaration that today you owe your being free and equal men before the law. May your fathers be honored for this great work! But, proletarians, there remains for you men of 1843 a no less great work to finish. In your turn, emancipate the last slaves still remaining in French society; proclaim the rights of woman, in the same terms your fathers proclaimed yours.
“We, French proletarians, after fifty-three years of experience, recognize that we are duly enlightened and convinced that the neglect and scorn perpetrated upon the natural rights of women are the only cause of unhappiness in the world, and we have resolved to expose her sacred and inalienable rights in a solemn declaration inscribed in our charter. We wish women to be informed of our declaration, so that they will not let themselves be oppressed and degraded any more by man’s injustice and tyranny, and so that men will respect the freedom and equality they enjoy in their wives and mothers.
1. The goal of society necessarily being the common happiness of men and women, the Workers’ Union guarantees them the enjoyment of their rights as working men and women.
2. Their rights include equal admission to the Workers’ Union palaces, whether they be children, or disabled or elderly.
3. Women being man’s equal, we understand that girls will receive as rational, solid, and extensive (though different) an education in moral and professional matters as the boys.
4. As for the disabled and the elderly, in every way, the treatment will be the same for women as for men.

A footnote by the translator, Beverly Livingston, notes that Tristan had read Mary Wollstonecraft but probably not Olympe de Gouges.

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Reflections on family relationships and acceptance

My parents were here and I have been doing a million things. I’m so tired that I’m a little bit emotionally flat.

Physically: I’ve been walking around, but I don’t feel very confident to do more than go from my car to a cafe table. So, when I am out of the house, mostly using the wheelchair.

I’m doing some writing, thinking about translation, looking over old stuff, and wondering where to take it. Probably there will be a series of translation posts over on Composite.

I read Blood in the Fruit which continued the magnificence of the Marq’ssan cycle. Though I babbled all weekend about it, nothing coherent is coming so far. Certainly not tonight… exhaustion is total. But it’s good, and you should read the entire series if you like staring hard complex truths in the face and coming out okay (yet not unscathed).

Got along sort of okay with my parents. I tried hard to not be a jerk. A lot of the time with them I was also exhausted and withdrawn. But on the last 2 days I perked up a little and talked with my them about books or politics and with my mom also about cooking, the brands of things that are best, listened to her Fashion Ideas for me which admittedly didn’t make me completely puke but which I still couldn’t deal with (i.e. that I must go to Ch1co’s or Barf-me-T4lbot’s to buy “fancy jeans” which would fit me “right” and which leg straightness style were exhaustively described). I dyed her red streak and I demonstrated how to make sugar face scrub with lemon and olive oil… I CAN HAS GIRLY SKILLZ.

Also she kept going “I was GOING to do XYZ for you… but looks like you already have done it.” Which was satisfying. We also all went to the bookstore and next-door-cafe, and the beach. Pi11ar Po1nt has an extremely accessible path! I had remembered it as more difficult. But gravel was minimal and the dirt packed & hard, very easy to wheel down. Then, a short somewhat difficult slope and the beach right there. I crutched down it. Up was harder. I found both up & down to be very scary and next time it would be better if I hung onto a person’s arm on one side, like a handrail. It was a little hard to be at the beach and not be able to run about and dig and climb on the rocks.

At one point we were at the cafe and my parents both were telling me perhaps pointedly of other people’s terrible divorces and how dumb they were and how divorce was a stupid idea and bad for everyone and meant that people were idiots, and divorce only justifiable if someone were like being BEATEN. I listened to this for a while and then reminded them gently that I HAD A FIRST MARRIAGE WHICH I LEFT IN A DIVORCE KTHXBAI. So then my mom shifted to talking about how sometimes people have disgusting affairs that ruin their lives and how dumb it is and how she for example would never and how pointless it would be and how she can’t even imagine why a person would either have an affair or leave their marriage for some silly attraction that would probably be over soon anyway. (Subtle!) I listened to that too and then said something like “Well, I completely disagree with that way of thinking, fundamentally, on many levels, and don’t think that having one relationship puts limits on other human relationships people can have, and I’ve always thought that and still do.”

Then we talked about other things real quick!

Then Zond-7 came over for dinner. Jo’s kids were also here and the Acrobat came over to tell us about his bridge made of popsicle sticks that he made at his management training seminar and brought us the bridge made of popsicle sticks that he made the week AFTER the management seminar when he got home, to bring his vision to life, and we tested the bridge with half gallon juice bottles, and the kids put on costumes and made a Clothing Shop at which we were forced to buy things. So, everything was lively and cheerful.

E. complained to me that she could not get on the internet because her parents wouldn’t give her the password! Just as I was going O rly no really srsly and exchanging warning looks with Zond-7 as we realized we could not teach this child how to hack (it is best learned from other children who have no grown up morals) Jo came back and it was revealed that actually this is not all the way true and it is just that the wifi station has a password. Well call me gullible! I gave her the first Runaways comic books anyway and then Zond-7 later told me stories of how he and some other 12 year olds social-engineered a 12 digit password at some demo by each watching for 4 of the digits as the grown-up typed them in.

Anyway about poly things and family, I do not want to be closeted but I also feel a bit more temperate in being in-your-face. I hope it will just become sort of accepted over time and that no one makes a big deal.

One thing that was a big huge deal for me and made me cry was that my parents used to be super super homophobic and they did not acknowledge my relationship with my ex-girlfriend Misha when we lived together and moved to CA together. (Actually, we made each other marriage certificates, which I think of without saying anything whenever people ask me how many times I have been married. Maybe I should make her a really cool and sentimental divorce certificate several years too late.) And then for years my mom would go “Who? ” in a totally fake, fake way whenever I talked about what Misha was up to (which was frequently lovely news to be proud of). And then we had some fairly hideous fights (me and my mom) when she would say things about “gay people” being disgusting or … when I would mention other friends being pregnant … she would say things like “that’s disgusting, how could anyone DO that to an innocent child” (i.e. be queer and raise a child.) This is over 15 years, please realize. Then in the last couple of years my mom has been much more mellow about gayness and seems to have relented. Progressing from “well I don’t see whose business of anyone’s it is as long as they keep it quiet” to asking me how Dr. B or Misha are doing. Not exactly going to PFLAG meetings, but major progress, meaning a major relief to me. Well when I mentioned Misha’s pregnancy and how there was a cool wiki with pictures my mom instantly was all excited and happy and demanded to see the wiki and leave congratulations on it and she referred to their little yoohoo as “another grandbaby”. That was the part that made me cry with relief and happiness. What happened there? Isn’t that amazing?

I don’t require that a person realize that when they are hating-queers to me it is like they are stabbing me personally since they are talking about ME. It is quite a relief when that finally eases up.

I have often wondered at my own motives and worried that it was wrong for me to establish a relationship with my parents again after twice being thrown out of the family and then the years of painful semi-inclusion and tension. And in some ways for years it has felt like a mistake-ridden compromise that might be more painful to me than it is worth. But in the long run I think it’s good (and it would also of course have been horribly painful to keep my distance and to know how much it would be paining them if I had.) Also, I felt (and still somewhat feel) that it is just a matter of time before some other Outing (like poly relationships, or blogs that are certainly easy enough to find once my anonymity was unfixably broached) would mean another confrontation, and being thrown out again. I understand it must be hard to find yourself a parent to someone like me (not because of queerness so much as because of annoying relentless uncompromising unquiet passionate uppityness, set permanently on public broadcast turned up to 11.) On my end, I think I have learned to throttle myself down a little bit when around them. (I was very interested to see Zond-7 do that same kind of muting around his family and how well it worked, and it struck me as being a very kind thing, difficult to do with sincerity, but not impossible.)

Rook had a cold the whole time and so did Zond-7 (who slept for almost 2 whole days, freaking me out somewhat.) I keep getting the feeling of almost-a-cold.

The weekend was as low key on the surface as possible, most of the time, but very intense underneath the surface.

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