Posts Tagged ‘riot grrl’

Great post on communities, disintegration, Burning Man(TM)

Just quickly because I have a ton of work to do – and can’t do this justice – but a note anyway.

Burning Man isn’t directly my community but I’m peripheral to a lot of people who are part of it and so I feel its effects. If you at all care about Burning Man or that whole sort of thing… Go and read this post on community formation and disintegration by Chris Messina. You don’t have to care about Burning Man at all to understand the stuff he’s talking about, though — the ways that social ties, groups, friendships, collectives, and movements form and when it’s best to move on from them or destroy them… because they aren’t living the vision of their creators anymore. This concept is central to arguments like M. John Harrison’s about rpgs and some of the controversies around fanfic — who owns the grand imaginary – when collectives and communities start creating stuff – at a time with very odd ideas about the ownership of ideas.

Think of how “girlpower” is now a saucy thing printed in pink sparkles on slutwear for 6 year olds… From a part of the riot grrl movement… partly co-opted but maybe still on some deep level permeating things. (Not how we would have wanted it to, and the riot grrl movement’s deliberate undoing of itself was not entirely successful in blocking commoditization – nor will any Burning Man attempt be successful in that way no matter how the legal battle turns out, though it could be mitigated. Too late for that!)

The strange thing is that it’s not strange at all to fight about language, community, ideas – it’s central to revolutions & nations – authenticity, authorship and authority. Thus the battle crystallizes in a fight over the ownership of a set of words (the trademark of Burning Man). And in every revolution & movement that spreads, this happens. From bands that break up – to huge-scale politics. Words become hugely important.

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queen of the oddballs

Oh yeah – I almost forgot to say – I read Hillary Carlip’s “Queen of the Oddballs” and liked it. In fact I recommend it … extremely amusing… memoir of 70s, 80s, a bit of 90s and a riot grrl awakening. Crucial lesbian history! 8-) Good for fangirls to read.

I used to have a bunch of copies of “Girlpower” which I bought at some half-price books type of place for very cheap. Now I only have one. That book should be the first of many like it. At this point, it should just be an enormous group blog.

Note to self to send Carlip my poem about Lisa and Wendy and Apollonia.

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riot grrl ringtone

Is it so much to ask out of life?  Why can’t I find a ringtone with Kathleen Hanna screeching “We’re Bikini Kill… and we want REVOLUTION GRRL STYLE NOW!!!!!”

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people I met at SXSWi

Here’s a list based on all the cards I found in my wallet and notebook. I think there’s more in a pile of stuff in the suitcase!  With a few informal notes of what I remember of meeting that person.  I have a very horrible memory, it’s embarrassing.  (That’s why I blog everything. Otherwise it’s in one brain and out the other.)

David Nuñez – met him at disaster-relief geek lunch, friend of Prentiss, works for blogburst, funny as hell

David Swedlow – interesting person full of ideas, talked to him after his panel

Elizabeth Perry – I already blogged about how nifty she is and I can’t believe I kept spelling her name wrong. Yay for name cards!   sparky, education, idea person, literary, conversation. Wish I could teleport her to woolfcamp.  sketchblogger.

Scott Campbell – toronto international film festival dude that I sat next to at breakfast at the counter at Las Manitas, and we struck up a conversation. I blasted him with blog evangelism and he talked up his amazing film festival.

someone from – i can’t remember but it must have been either Shannon, Michaela, or Andrea?

Betsy Devine – often spoke up in panel audiences, very witty!  I like the tagline on her card, "Making Trouble Today for a Better Tomorrow".  OMG I want to steal that for my own motto!  She needs to be at woolfcamp so bad!

Lanae Ball – super fun actual human being as opposed to, well, conferencebot, from chapel hill NC, we talked about hiking, music shows, geology, road trips, conference burnout, and  of course ads and blogs.  yay lanae thanks for hauling my ass to the sleater kinney show, I never would have gone on my own initiative and i had a BLAST. I’m sorry I kept bitching about how it wasn’t truly like old school riot grrl, but I was having old-person flashbacks.  would fit right in at woolfcamp if there is any real "fitting in" to be had…

Silona Bonewald from League of Technical Voters.

Patrick from Roy’s Taxi, (austin area code) 667-5159, the super nice, mellow cab driver who kept picking me up and driving me around!!!  Thanks dude!!!

barb dybwad – fun punky person, we didnt’ get to talk enough but tantalizingly on the edges of a conversation about being generalists and fighting that current of "you must focus and narrow to be marketable identity" topic based thing.  which I get, and might try, but really I love to have everything together… and the marketing thing cna turn so quickly into orc-talk. damn the cartoon on her card is funny, two little creatures saying, "was it good for you?"  "Read my blog."   Oh so true. I still want to way over-blog my fun encounter in Seattle…

Ruby Sinreich from netcentric campaigns . we were hanging out at the Media Temple party, which other than the Blogher party was the best one I went to.  and bitching tipsily about a person who was so rude to me I’m not even giving her the link.  I’ll blog that one in a separate entry.  loved ruby, full of wild energy!!! funny!
Nancy Scola – don’t have her web page, just email on card – from brooklyn
Lisa Stone  well duh. but it’s nice to have her card

Elke Sisco – she’s my homie!!!

Brian Oberkirch – had intense conversation about GCI and translation and literariness and the intersection so few people see between cultural studies/literary theory/ web 2.0 and computing in general, how it’s all going to come together.   then i heard him talk about katrina stuff at the disaster relief geek lunch.  wow i think we have a fair amount of stuff in common… fun…
Teresa Van Deusen – yay Teresa, I don’t need to blog her to remember her of all people after the 3-hour car ride!    voter virgin, i’ll stalk her later, her name card says "inspire / play" tvandeusen — hotmail
the next batch of cards will have to wait!


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libraries, turritellae, punk!

I sneaked out of the conference this morning, ate at Las Manitas again, talked to a kid and dad who were on spring break vacation from El Paso and told them about where to find fossils, figuring I wouldn’t get a chance. He was a smiley little kid next to me at the breakfast counter, checking out my hair. 

Then off to the library on the #20 bus!  I found a ton of good stuff… it was like wallowing in exactly what I had been hoping to find. I need to spend a couple of weeks on the fourth floor, taking notes and typing things up.   I wanted to go to the geek lunch on disaster relief but first, went down the hill to meet Dennis at the Geo Library. It was so good to see him!  Within 20 minutes he had recommended several new books to me, explained about his horrible battle with cancer, we talked about everyone we knew in common, the library renovation, the Old Days, geniuses, mommyblogging, venezuelan politics (he had some interesting things to say about PDVSA) and more books, the past, present, and future of libraries and technology and university administrations… Well, you see why I loved working there when I was a student. It was better than my classes to hang out with Dennis.  (Everyone who has worked for him knows this.) 

To the geek lunch!  OMG I can’t blog all of this day, it was way too intense!  I listened to Bill, Evelyn, and John L. talk about the tsunami, hurricane, blogging, aftermath, databases. I kind of shot off my mouth about the fights over the peoplefinding data and who owned it.  But then tried to make a point about how what’s needed is social software and actually… that maps api with it would be very slick… you need a City Directory plus social software.  Because almost always, finding people wasn’t direct, but was a couple of degrees of separation away.  Geneological research works that way too.  But even more so in a huge disaster where no one is thinking too clearly about what the logical thing to do would be or who they should or could call.  I see the problems with privacy this creates, but am not sure that’s a reason not to do it. *someone’s* going to do it anyway. 

I wished Grace Davis had been there!

It was funny when I said that every family has a dirty secret they want to hide and David Nuñez said "In my family, it’s me."

Outside the restaurant this woman approached me and seemed like she was going to ask me for money. And she was. i was thinking about the astrodome andn people I  met there and feeling sad. Anyway, I listened to Phyllis, who turned out to be very interesting and who had gastritis very horribly, and seizures, and was on the same not-very-helpy ulcer meds I was on last fall, plus dilantin. She was just so shocked to have me go OMG I had that and it was the most painful thing… and not to be able to eat. She was in that same place, only able to sip tepid water, which still hurt, and had lost 40 pounds in just a few months, and nibbling crackers and bread… but unlike me was homeless and has a wad of other medical problems. She lives at the salvation army and got work there and tries to help take care of kids that come through. She’s lived there for 2 years. And wants to try to find a disability-benefits lawyer. I told her how I had one in the 90s and how it worked – they do it all for free for you, and then when you get a payment they take 20-25% of it. But then you’ll get years of back payments all at once and can afford a deposit on an apartment. We had a conversation about not having to justify one’s xtianness or non-alcohol-drinking status in order to deserve help.  Well anyway I helped her buy her prescriptions. She had just gotten out of the hospital for the seizures and was wandering around.  You see what I  mean about my day being intense in random ways.

I wanted to go back to the conference but the library kept calling to me! I had 4 more pages of call numbers to go through.  So back to the bus and the strange, endlessly long building which has posters of what look like quaker parakeets all over it. I’m not sure why that’s their logo.   I spent a bunch of time in the Rare Books room, and read the rest of María Monvel’s 1930 anthology. It was even weirder and funnier than I remembered, with really catty snarky biographies for all the other poets and for Monvel herself, a two page quote of Gabriela Mistral kissing her ass. I can’t imagine. I don’t see Monvel’s thing, except that she makes a really good anthology. Her poetry was kind of "eh"…   I wish I could remember who, at the last translator conference, asked me about women ultraísmo poets  because there were several in there and one of them was super kick ass and had the word COMUNISTA in all her poems in capital letters.  Annoyingly it was the only book of all the ones i got in the rare book room that said "no photocopying". It was completely falling apart.

by library closing time at 6pm i was panting for breath (mentally). i could  not take the day anymore and felt like collapsing. Also, i forgot to bring a water bottle. And had been standing up at the xerox machine for quite some time.   By great good luck I got the bus right away!!! And my knees were still okay!  Back in downtown, as I was walking back to the convention center to check my email, I had a wistful feeling like, "Oh hell, and now will be the  moment when I don’t find anyone fun and end up going to dinner by myself, which would be okay, but, waaah."  And then ran into Prentiss anad went to dinner with him! And I got him to take me to the creek with the fossils in it and even though it was dark, it was a full moon and I found a huge wad of fossil snails that I think are called turritella somethingensis.  We ate at Kerby Lane which was just the same except with fancier food. I got the queso with guacamole in the middle, which was different than it used to be… in some ways better, but i preferred it served in a shallow dish so you could see the guacamole and proportion the guac to queso ratio perfectly instead of blindly fishing around.  We talked about a million things. Prentiss was very relaxing to be around even though he is full of ideas. We had all sorts of cool panel ideas and post-sxswi analysis and meta meta meta blahdeblah. My main thought was that this year we had the blogher invasion for women and next year should be the world invasion. Global Voices and the BlogHer world blogroll people should get invited, so we get some more non USians.

I was on the fence.. go back ot my hotel and blog? or go to the Media Temple party?  last night’s eff party left me partied out and a bit jaded.  We drove up and it looked tempting so I got out… and the party turned out to be awesome!  Drinks were free and they were not chintzy drinks like many of the other parties, with lame drink tickets that got you only beer or something gross-tasting. No… it was just free with no fuss and the drinks were good. I hung out with Lanae and ruby and… imprudently shot my mouth off about C. who was weirdly rude to me but I got it that she’s just that way.  It was like I was all "hi, are you interesting?" and she instantly began to treat me as if I were licking ass to beg for a job interview with her.  arrogant! rude! We got very catty and laughed uproariously, which made me feel better about the whole thing.    Lanae somehow instantly comfortable to hang out with which was good since I was tired of people trying to figure out what my deal was or if I was trying to game them in some way or if I was useful or important or a professional contact (I will tell you now… No… I’m extremely ornamental and full of baroque ideas, but useless for most practical purposes.) Then Lanae was going to see sleater-kinney… Again I was exhausted but how could I resist and I figured, my last night in Austin, go hear some really good music!!!  I’m so glad I did. We drove around not quite remembering where it was. And then it was super huge and was all film people. Luckily Lanae was on the list and no one questioned my glomming along with her.  The portapotties were clean. Miracle!  Sleater Kinney started right as we finished peeing and we weaselled up front!  It was fucking great.  I will blog  more about their greatness, I’m sure. I got very excited and nostalgic about old riot grrl shows and stuff and old punk shows i used to go to in houston and austin. Lanae was excited.. but she apparently sees them every chance she gets!  She’s all cool and stuff, she has no idea I haven’t been to see any music in the last several years except for that one tower of power show.

Anyway, WTF with the film people because they don’t know how to do anything even approximating mosh and not dancing to great music is just disrespectful!  it’s all about the happy breakdown of usual social barriers! I wanted to slam into everyone until I was covered in bruises! Even just some gentle jostling?  Bouncing around dorkily on my own was fine though… I was happy except for the knees, which I ignored, because good punk rock is  more important than knees.

The show seemed to be over. A lot of people left.  A somewhat pathetic knot of die-hards clapped and yelled until the band came back.

Then it was like magic: danah and barb were there moshing around with me!  As if I’d believed hard enough in fairies and so the sky opened up for the queer-ass disney fairy to drop down some cute as fuck punk girls ! hot damn!  They didn’t play just one or two more songs – it was a whole second set.   I was freaking out with joy at the driving velvet-undergroundiness of crazy harmonic noise!  The drummer is a frenzied genius! And all of them are cute as fuck.  What’s her name’s skirt had ruffles which, when she did a serious ass-kicking leap in the air with her guitar, the ruffles would flap around on her butt in the cutest way. And the other one, i have no words to describe her wiry rockstar butchy hotness!


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Little Epiphany, New Jersey

Doesn’t that sound like it should be the name of a town? I was just there, so pleasantly in the throes of Literariness Past and Present.

I found the english version of the essay I just nearly finished translating myself. It was still worth it to do it myself and I swear to god I looked as best I could for it in English… close but no cigar… and then completely at random opened a book that I pulled off the shelf and it fell open in my hand to the very essay. Well, damn! It’s a little more hard-hitting and obviously sarcastic in English. I realized it was super-sarcastic in Spanish so maybe my sarcasm-detector isn’t so good… even so, it’s more obnoxious in English, even the title.

Then I realized suddenly that …are you ready for my Little Epiphany? Grouping writers by country or time period is as arbitrary as grouping them by gender. Barely anyone seems to think it strange to have an anthology of U.S. writers, or Argentinian writers, or writers of the 20th century. Yet, I’m sure you all know the insane frothing-at-the-mouth objections to having an anthology of women. And it’s not just because people get their panties in a twist about being ghettoized, or because someone else accusing them of reverse sexism or whatever — it’s because just like grouping by country is nationalism, i.e. creates a national identity, grouping by gender creates a political identity. I mean, I knew this, it’s totally identity politics 101, but it didn’t come together for me until today. I have always had an attraction to look for and create this kind of thing, but I just realized it right to my core like a rock-solid political belief. As I think more and more about “importance” and how it’s created and what gives people faith in themselves. Riot grrl was on the right track, but somehow lost it…

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Fix Me

What ever happened to Erika of “Fix Me” zine? She was from Arlington… I have a whole bunch of her other zines.. and we wrote letters… I would have to go through my archives… I can’t remember her last name, if I ever knew it.

I have about 10 or 20 copies of that zine still, because I loved it so much I took the staples out and re-xeroxed it and mailed it to everyone who ordered MY zine!

Also… Anna Rampage of “Mousie”? I miss her! Riot Grrls! Find me!

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the happy curious ear

I heard people buzzing about Pandora at Barcamp, and thought.. “Yeah, yeah, music, internet radio, whatever. How good could it possibly be.” But… I just tried it and it’s fantastic! It’s lovely! It’s so good I’d pay for it without hesitation.

The idea is: you enter the name of an artist or a song. And based on the Music Genome Project, Pandora lines up a streaming radio station for you, according to their analysis of the qualities of that song. The web interface is nifty, fast, intuitive. I can click on the picture of the album and it pops up a menu so I can veto, endorse, ask why it’s playing. Right now, on my attempt to build a ska station to my taste, based on The Specials, I’ve got “Ring a Bell” by “Trojan Rarities Box Set”, with the justification being “mild rhythmic syncopation, major key tonality, mixed acoustic and electric instrumentation, prominent organ…” I’m learning something about what my various musical tastes have in common with each other – something I’ve never thought about before. I’m in the process of training Pandora not to play me slow dub/reggae, but only bouncy ska and early fast reggae like bob marley’s early albums that kind of sound like polka.

I would wish for an interface that builds a station based on my checking off boxes like “ska influences” and “busy horn section” instead of trying to think of the band or song. (Ooo. Band I’ve never heard of just came on… Trickside. Not bad! ) Also, I wonder if they factor in gender? Can I look for the ska with female vocals? I don’t think I’m the only one who wants that.

I’m happy to see from their FAQ that they’re working on expanding the Latin section. I hope they don’t leave out classic V3nezuelan and llan3ra music. Cumbia! yeah! Oh, my god, I can’t wait. Right now the Latin selection kind of sucks. And the algorithm for it isn’t good as I can’t get it to quit playing me slow love ballads when I want strong horn sections and lively syncopation. “Juancito Trucupay” (not equals) Caetano Veloso, DUH. But I’m sure they’re working it; I totally have faith. Based on the fantastic riot grrl, ska, punk, and funk stations I just made for myself… Wow!

I wonder if I should offer to give them some great Latin music suggestions… do they want that stuff? Surely there is a whole team of people working on it. But I do know all about V3nezuelan stuff that’s relatively obscure though not only popular there, but now mandated by law… As crazy-ass Hugo Ch4vez has made it the law that 50% of the music on the radio must be produced in V3nezuela and 50% of THAT has to be traditional music like j0ropo… That’s so creepy, right? But as I actually love that kind of music i have mixed feelings and am secretly pleased.

So.. here’s an example of the fiddling necessary and the good results possible. I tried “isley brothers” but got only modern, i don’t even know what to call it, maybe soul, very slow and boring love songs. Searching on “It’s our thing” and choosing “isley brothers” from the menu that came up got me the correct results and now I’m happily listening to “Funky Street” by Arthur Conley. (And ahhh! here we go with the Correct Badgerian Aural Happiness… “Descarga de Hoy” by Cubanismo. That’s a little more like it. Oooh. Joe Tex. I keep hearing new stuff and wanting to add it here!)

*** Update: I did a little translating today, but frankly… Pandora totally ruined my productivity for the day!

It’s easy to mess up your station by accidentally adding something that’s all wrong. You can’t undo and that’s a problem. My carefully built “riot grrl” station went all ahoo when Pandora thought that Huggy Bear was “Let me be your teddy bear” by Elvis. Aaaaagh! Then, when I added The Bangles, thinking it would tweak it from punk to bubblegum just a tiny bit, instead I got a crapload of Green Day, which is nice but not what I want in my Riot Grrl. Hey! You got your happy emo boy in my bitch music! Smash the patriarchy, you know?

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about non-whiteness: a long ramble

Whereever we go upon meeting new people there is a moment where they will awkwardly inquire about Rook’s or Moomin’s race. It is a funny thing. Rook gets asked sometimes if he is eskimo or native american (especially when his hair is long). But I think more often – If I’m there on the scene, people will avoid asking him to his face, and will ask me instead. They’re embarrassed to ask, and never know how to phrase it right.

One of the first times I was struck by that awkward conversation was in 1993 or so when I was hanging out with a teenage riot grrl and fellow zine-maker, Spirit, in San Jose. We’d be standing around talking with people and she would get the question. I recall one earnest diesel dyke type of white girl, definitely very working class and young, with the mullet and the country music aesthetic going on and all, very formally and politely laying it out like, “May I ask, if it isn’t too personal, what is your nationality?” And it was super polite and sweet and she was actually in the midst of hitting on Spirit. I nearly started to laugh, to roll my eyes and snicker, because to me it sounded like the most ignorant thing ever and was phrased weirdly.. “nationality…”??!! But Spirit did the thing that I later saw her do many times: a wall of patience fwoomped down over her face and she said nicely, “Black and white. My mom’s white and my dad’s black.” She knew what was meant and she didn’t take it bad; it annoyed her, but she was diplomatic. She gave more detail than seemed necessary and she gave it for a reason. I didn’t laugh – and I thought about it for a long time.

So now I get that question – way more often than you’d think!

On the playground for example, where I often encounter strangers. Before we can have almost any other conversation, we have to have that one. We send out feelers, we remark on the weather, the children’s ages, how nicely or not they are playing, and then race. (THEN the “which school” conversation or where you live.)

The thing is, the question feels different coming from different people. Based on their way of asking but also based on my perception of their race…

It can feel like an attempted bonding… asian or hapa/hawaiian/filipino often peg him accurately as 1/4 or 1/2 mix. And then they want to know which country and when I tell, they smile knowingly (and I also am asked directly or I volunteer, for similar reasons as Spirit’s, that it’s the grandfather not the grandmother who is k0rean, because otherwise people make strong assumptions about the relationship’s connection to the K0rean War. I.e. they assume white GI + korean woman w/ that power dynamic; it’s so uncomfortable… If you don’t know what I’m talking about, well, don’t think it’s all in my head! Because they are surprised at the reverse-of-usual gender mix.)

If they are latino then they often are kinda uncertain and they think he could be half latino or maybe if they squint hard at me, I could be mixed myself and so they’re super unnerved to ask. I say I’m white right away but (if I am talking spanish or it’s clear I was eavesdropping) that my dad was born in VZ. Everyone knows that means american in oil business so they comfortably have MY number. And they usually don’t express curiosity or surprise about which grandparent is the K0r3an one (the way any vaguely asian person will.) So then they sort of compliment me on how he has nice hair and they say their own class background by saying what their job was, or what their parents did, or else maybe if they’re from a big city they’ll identify it (though no one ever says, “i’m from the country from a tiny town…”) then if feeling especially diplomatic will say when they came here. I don’t always know how to interpret this info… I mean, I know that half the population of El S4lvador lived in the U.S. in the 80s (this is true! half!) but I’ve sadly forgotten exactly when and why, though it was all the CIA’s fucking fault as usual.

The what, one african-american person I ever run into in this neck of the woods…We had a very short version, one of the “he’s mixed, right?” “right” “he’s so gorgeous!” And that was that.

Then, the white people, who if liberalish, are visibly and embarrassingly pleased that they are near a non-white person! Hahahaha. Sorry. We do that sometimes, don’t we? At its worst and most obvious, this can feel to me like the person is thinking something along the lines of, “Fabulous! little Brandon could have a non-white friend who is suitably non-scary and, they live in the flat part of town near the train tracks, so we pity them gently, but it might not be culturally uncomfortable…”

Oh and there is also an extra dimension of people asking the question partly motivated by wanting to know (because I don’t “match” Moomin, and am often out with him without Rook) if he is adopted, or (because again Rook isn’t there, and I look funny) if I’m a lesbian and then how did I get the baby?

And there could be a whole funny list of the ways people ask The Question! “What IS he?” is perhaps the funniest, and the one that is the most tempting to answer sarcastically. (But I don’t.)

I was telling this to my friend the Ska-Rat who lives in L.A. and his daughter is mixed and he is white. And he was the house-husband for a long time & got all the crap you can imagine. I think he gets it much more intensely because while people get the idea that Moomin is not quite white, he is also obviously not any kind of black. But Ska-Rat’s daughter is, and so the race questions are extra intense and loaded. aNd when I asked him if he ever got “The Question” and what his feelings were about it, he exploded! And ranted! And said quite a lot about racist assholes! They ask it as follows, “Where does she get her curly hair from?” And eye him and his wife suspiciously and ask which side of the family the “curly hair” is on.

He says: “I can’t even begin… Sometimes people can ask the very same questions
innocently… But when they are being lame-o racist idiots.. It seems to
come across loud and clear. What do these people want? Only 1/2 black and 1/2 white people adopting the same shade of kid?”

People make it clear to him that they don’t approve. Their reasons for not approving vary depending on their race and politics. Even close family worry if they do her hair “too african-american” or dress her “too mexican”. And then african american people say that she’s “really white” and won’t have to face any racism… Her dad was really clear on:

A) People will treat her like she looks non-white, whether MEDITERAINIAN, MEXICAN, AFRICAN AMERICAN, PERSIAN, HAWAIIAN, OR Whatever the fuck they interpret her race as

B) She will need to deal with it.

Now, here in the Bay Area, with a huge asian and asian-white population, it is not a huge issue for Moomin to face actual scary racism the way that Ska-Rat’s daughter is going to get. “As long as he is here or, you know, in some big city, he won’t even notice” says Rook. Rook never talks about it. His sister used to talk about it to me all the time, though, and how she was super traumatized by being in places that were unfriendly and racist. (Rook would think differently if he had gone to my high school where being asian meant you were constantly messed with.)

One way it might affect him is that he can pass for latino and might be interpreted that way in our neighborhood, which can be good and bad.

My friend Nada answers the question for her kid Rafi, that they assumed that he woudl come out kinda dark and that mediterrranean, jews, latino, and blacks all would assume he was “one of the tribe” and that in fact in N.Orleans everyone black assumed to her face that rafi’s daddy was black and they’d be all sweet and approving. B/c there it’s okay to be black-n-white. (In L.A. I think it isn’t, so much.) Then Nada said what I KNEW she would say. “Why not answer that he is HUMAN race.” Thank you, Ms. Hippie Queen.

Well — I have no conclusion to this ramble. I think about it sometimes. It’s just different — I think sometimes that no one asks Jo or Squid about their kids’ genetics back 2 generations, and that it’s odd! I don’t interpret it, usually, as racist or evil (I think because I don’t get the intensity the Ska-Rat gets, as I said, over blackness). It does mean that I constantly have to engage in a conversation about race, which I’m not really used to, and hadn’t had to do very often before. Miscengenation = conversation! Which is all to the good.

At some point (later in friendship, not right off the bat on the playground) white people who are more or less passing for middle class have that conversation, right back to their grandparents’s occupations and great-greats emigrating and why. and there is a similar conversation between jewish people about where and who and who died and who you have left, etc. At least in my generation and older. Am I right?

So Spirit’s patient answers I thought were admirable… she was willing to talk and to be a “bridge” for a little while… she was tired of it, but it was necessary. (Or was it -)

Hope I haven’t been super offensive to anyone. I think that is part of the patience and tolerance that I look for, to realize that we don’t know how to talk about this stuff “right” or how to ask the questions without being weird or rude sometimes. And we might realize that needing to ask the question is wrong on some level but we still ask it. It’s not *all* wrong because it starts conversations happening and people thinking. I think.

Oh one more thing. People have similar questions and conversations about all sorts of things (I got it when I was in a wheelchair, for example.) And it can come off sometimes with “class background” conversations as people being competitive over who had it worst. Who’s more authentically whatever it is being talked about. But at its best, the conversation is about acknowledging people’s hidden complexities.

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I’m still blahed out. My head is hurting in an ominous lowering way. The playgroup was cheering and the company of the Bad-Ass Moms and the wine and cheese too.

Ill-temperedly I lectured Merlin for quite a while and then made them all shake hands. I added my standard “And I’m sorry I had to lecture you.” Well. I hate to think these kids will remember me as the frowning bitch who always makes them get out of the forbidden gardens and tells them they should know better. Too late! I probably flip unpredictably from “fun giggling mischief mom” to “mean nasty lecturing mom”.

I removed two small file cabinets from the house today. Not much was thrown away. I don’t have it in me to go through all the old riot grrl mail files. It’s in a box again to be discovered later.

Please let me not get the headache thing again. Is it meningitis? Is it migraines? The doctor said it would not be a migraine because it lasted way too long.

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