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Les Semaines

99.10.24

what I'm thinking and doing § what I'm listening to § what I'm reading
what I'm writing § retrospective: The Phonosnout

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About a Girl

Recently I've gotten way behind on the web journals I read, and this weekend tried to catch up a little. Reading Karen's journal Thought Experiment, I came across the second part of her October 1st entry where she talks about what it's like not to be considered fully human, to be a girl. It's a small incident that she remembers--a stranger asking her husband if he can have one of her cigarettes--but telling, and the kind of odd thing that happens all the time to remind you that you're a girl. It's a really odd thing that it can possibly matter after nearly thirty years of feminist revolution, but whenever I think of that I think of the weight of centuries when women couldn't vote, couldn't own property, could participate in the professions, and were believed not to have souls like men did. All the years of recorded history is a pretty heavy weight for us to get past in thirty years.

Sometimes it's nice be be reminded about being a girl--someone offering extra care for you, opening a door, giving up a seat, offering to carry something. Small kindnesses that can sometimes feel just kind and other times feel like you're being treated as weak or being suffocated.

So many of my younger friends say that it's an equal field now, that they've never felt discriminated against in any way because they're female. I don't believe they're lying but suspect that just because they haven't felt it doesn't mean it hasn't happened. We're all so conditioned to think that it's the normal way of being.

And sometimes I think well, hey, the sexes aren't exactly the same. Males and females tend to be significantly different physically and current research suggests that the psychological differences are all environmentally based. So where does that leave us now? Do we go by different rules? The same rules? What about where the rules disadvantage one of us? What about where they treat us so equally no one can win?

And why do people fear legislated equality? I find it hard to imagine that anyone could vote again equal rights for women, but the U.S. couldn't pass the Equal Rights Amendment, and that scares me. Things are better but opportunities are not equal. Voters in Washington State decided last November that Equal Opportunity programs meant special rights, not understanding the disadvantages that women and minorities especially still struggle under.

And how have I personally suffered? Well, only in small, humble ways. Being considered hysterical because my work is emotional. Being told the reason there are so few female writers in the canon for me to view as my writerly examples is because there weren't any worthy. Knowing that the chances that the new dean I'm on the search committee for is very, very unlikely to be female simply because there are so few women with the experience to be a dean.

Knowing that as a woman when someone says womankind it means half the human race and when someone says mankind it's supposed to mean all of us. The default is male, abstractly human, but to be a woman is to be singularly, obviously, in a completely non-abstract concrete way the other, the aberrant, the girl, sheltered within the world of encompassing maleness.

And what would I be if I was a man? Well, as Cindy Lee Berryhill says, I'd be sexy with a belly like Jack Nicholson's. But most of my writing is about what it's like to be a girl. It's all about a girl. One, particular girl in a big world.

last week's thinking and doing § next week's thinking and doing

Listening

Got Emily Bezar's new disc four walls bending last night--a friend had picked it up at her release concert last weekend in San Francisco. The friend told me to read the liner notes carefully, and wow, Emily gave me a personal thanks! That's the first time any musical artist has done that. What a pleasant surprise. I've been acknowledged in several books of poems, but this is a first for music. And it's a great disc, too, though I need a little more time to get to know it better. Also got Amy X Neuburg & Men's new disc--a hoot!

This week have listened a lot of kaitlyn ni donovan's songs for 'three days', Sheila Chandra while finalizing her entry in The Ectophiles' Guide to Good Music. and Bellatrix's new disc, g.

last week's listening § next week's listening

Reading

I borrowed an intriguing Lesbian novel from our houseguest, John, Irish writer Emma Donoghue's Hood. It follows a woman who has been told that her lover has died in a car crash for a week after the phone call from the hospital, tracing her emotions as she reacts to this disaster and how she deals with telling friends and family that the woman she lived with was more than a roommate. A novel that felt very real from start to finish--I believed the main character despite her personal flaws and blindspots. Recommended.

Nina Kiriki Hoffman's A Red Heart of Memories was an intensely magical book--so much magic introduced into the day-to-day world that I was left wondering why the characters couldn't do everything, up to creating world peace, but this was one place where the ability to do anything didn't undercut the magic because the characters were so strong and their own sense of caution and consequences limited the wildness of the magic. I found this fascinating, and the magic itself quite delightful. The characters seemed just a touch scant after Emma Donoghue's novel, though rich enough to exceed most characterization in genre novels, and certainly each character seemed to change and grow--and that was the force of the novel.

last week's reading § next week's reading

Writing

Again, not a great week for writing as we had a houseguest which meant that my study was pretty much off limits. But I did attend two readings: John read in Bellingham with Kate Braid on Tuesday night. It was held at the Whatcom Museum--a lovely venue. They both read from their books about Emily Carr, the Canadian painter. Delightful.

And on Wednesday Jim read at the University Bookstore with Bart Baxter, who won this year's Floating Bridge chapbook contest--that's the press that Jim's chapbook was with. Jim reads better every time I hear him.

And every reading makes me think hard about my writing. Driving up to Bellingham I had a small revelation about the novel-in-progress. That was nice, and I hope to follow through on it very very soon.

last week's writing § next week's writing

Retrospective: The Phonosnout

About the Phonosnout

April 1976

381. Well, it's a brighter day

It's a new day, Snday (son day) and it's a brighter, sunny day (Thank you, Lord). Will it stay this way? (I hope so, it's so beautiful). Please stay sonshine! Maybe today will be my magic morning. The one i've been waiting for, hoping and praying for. The day that begins some more changes. Needed changes. My hopes lead my imagination, flying. Blue sky has come my way, but i still see clouds.

382. Waiting for Paul

Sitting outside in the sun, waiting for Paul to come and pick me up (on his motorbike). I love motorcycles, 'specially on a nice day liketoday. It's a perfect day for them. He should be here soon, i think, but i've lost track of the time. It's too nice to think of deadlines and such.

383. Had a nice day

Nice day, evening now. It was a bit of a magic norning, a magic day. A learning day. I don't feel depressed any more like i did last night. Things are beginning to click (Hooray!) and i'm getting able to see the sun through the clouds. Another piece of life began today. A period to grow in.

384. Say, Phono

Say, Phono, did you know? Had you heard? News, news, good news! (Phono stretches sleepily, mumbles "what?") Well, Phono, i[m not too sure, i guess it's just a general happying feeling (for the first time in a while). Life is good! (generally speaking of course). Even getting to details, it's not too bad. I'd still feel a lot better if someone would give me a script.

385. Gulliver's Travels

[Quote from Elton John's song from Empty Sky about a dog named Gulliver deleted.] Gulliver the gullible, sometimes Gulliver the wise. Perhaps Gulliver the gross. I am beginning to dislike Gulliver's personality (which is very changeable as Swift himself changes). Tory and Whig fights. [More quotes from Elton John's Gulliver deleted.]

386. On beginning to get depressed again

It's Monday, which means there's a long travail before i get to Friday and freedom again.1 That, combined with the fact i'm attending a funeral tomorrow,2 makes the future appear pretty black.

387. Nervousness

Yes, i'm nervous, i've never been to a funeral before. I don't think i can handle a situation where i can't laugh. Oh pain. How childish and very like me. Always concerned for myself.

388. Babble

Wow, it's getting near so little time and so much to do time. But (i'm beginning to realize) there's so many more important things in life than getting essays in on time and things like that. I'm beginning to realize i don't let myself live, i've ruled myself by deadlines. I'm wasting any time i might have free by essay and school worries. I wish there was a way to get off this treadmill, but it's impossible unless i'm ready to change my life.

389. Difference

The difference between yesterday and tomoroow is the mark today has made on me. I thought you'd like to know, however, whoever, you are (y'are?). I wonder if i'll ever find that i'm looking for?

390. Dreaming

I'm lost again, but this time in dreams, not in clouds or shadows. Dreaming of the future, i anticipate changes that will never come. Does it even help to let dreams come true? I wonder. It's sad to know that time will never stop for me sadder than if it would.


NOTES

1. Well, this is something that never changes.

2. I don't remember at all whose funeral this was.

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