My mouse is a bit sticky, and seems to keep picking up large portions of my folders and dropping them in other quadrants. This is thanks to an unfortunate run-in with a cleaning wipe — you wouldn’t think they’d be as dangerous to a laptop as they are.
All that’s to say, my post may have a particularly unusual syntax today.
I took the bus during my hiatus from the Internet, due to a breakdown with the car, and it was quite an experience. Makes me consider feminism in a whole new light.
I’m one of those people who says, “I’m not a feminist, but…” and has never taken a women’s studies class but owns at least one Judith Butler book. In other words, I am the sort of feminist that some feminists love to hate. I acknowledge that — all of the privileges, none of the responsibilities.
ANYWAY. My point is that I got on the bus. Within a block, I’d been visited by a middle aged man who tried to kiss my hand, and I can’t believe this, but I felt bad for scolding him for trying to do so. Even though I didn’t know him. I’d never seen him. He didn’t ask. It was a blatant invasion of personal space and creeped me the heck out.
So this is where the feminist responsibility should have come in: I could have scolded him more sternly, could have let it go afterwards instead of feeling guilty that I might hurt his feelings or offend him. I could have called him on it. Instead, I played the blame game: what did I do to make myself deserve it?
I understand that this is exactly the mentality that gets girls (and women) blamed for their own rapes. They shouldn’t have worn that skirt, those shoes, walked that street, walked at night. What did they do to make themselves deserve it? And yet, while I would never blame a woman for being raped, I somehow turned that same mentality on myself and blamed myself for being hassled on the bus.
Augh. How frustrating, how offensive, how demeaning to myself. That is the “not a feminist” part of me that acted. I wish the part of me that is the exception to the “not a feminist” would act more often.
A few months ago I wrote on this blog that I was afraid of the moment — of that moment of intense anticipation, where I could choose to jump into the future or hold back, and wasn’t sure which was the right course of action. That moment caused me to stop writing for several months, and now I am faced with another moment.
This moment is different. Psychiatrists call it a “poverty of speech,” that earlier moment. Artists call it writer’s block. It was both, and neither, and I was left with nothing to say. This moment, I have so much to say that I am not sure where to start, so I hope that bodes well for this moment being a better moment than the last.
To put this in more down-to-earth terms: I am thinking about moving! I am thinking about changing jobs and countries and trying out something entirely new in my life! I am both excited and fearful to think about what this might hold for me, but I push on.
I have always believed that there is a moment, somewhere in my future, where I will know what to do and accomplish and and I will be flawless and unafraid. I believe that in this moment, somewhere in the middle of it, I will be great and accomplish great things. And I have let my belief in this moment rule out the possibility of action in the here-and-now.
That belief is gone.
That moment won’t come.
The only moment I have in which to act is the present one, and I am afraid that the present moment doesn’t bring with it great feelings of competence and eloquence and all the things I hoped for.
Well, I’m changing up the theme here. It’s been green for long enough, so until I start customizing some things (and adding a blogroll!), it’s going to be red and white. No, I’m not looking for Christmas. Though it is cold today!
I’ve been thinking a lot about why I do what I do lately. I mean that in the broadest possible sense: why I eat, walk, have conversations, work. I do not mean it in a depressed or hopeless way. In fact, exactly the opposite: the last few weeks have been such an opportunity to celebrate my own hope that the world can be better.
Because, you see, that is why I do what I do. Whether it is getting out of bed in the morning, taking a walk, going to work — I do these things precisely because of my hope and faith that they will affect what comes next. I believe that, like dominoes, each thing I do will affect something further down the line. I believe that my actions can push us further on the road to equality and justice.
At the same time, what I do has been very much changed over the last few weeks. I am not a direct action person. I am not a particularly angry person, not a particularly passive person, just a person. I am inclined to plan for the future and hope for the best, but what I am ultimately is a facilitator. I lie to help others bring their ideas to fruition. My ideas? They are of the strategic sort. They are about how to help other people best succeed.
This has been a rather painful realization for me, because I feel that facilitators don’t leave legacies. While I am neither particularly angry nor passive, I am not a peaceful enough person to be thrilled with this. I want a legacy! And I want it to be fully mine, not just helping others shape their ideas into successes!
But, as someone said to me recently, it is what it is.
My next step is coming to peace with it.
Family is amazing. That is all.
It has been another while since I have posted, almost a month, a long while in which I’ve noticed something interesting about myself. I write — I push myself — when I am unhappy. Right now I feel terribly complacent, which is perhaps why I haven’t pushed myself so much lately but also why I lack that drive and desire and why I’m not in pursuit of a world shift right now.
Whew. That was a long sentence. It was also a long thought: something that’s come slowly to me. I’m not too happy about it!
But anyway, today is Monday and on Mondays I usually write something about mental illness and this Monday shall be no different, I am determined!
I am determined because I have really been struggling the last few weeks with how to tell my story. I know I need to do it, not just for myself — therapy — but also for others — so that they understand where I am coming from and why I am passionate about the things I believe in.
I can tell you a story about being a girl from the country in the city, about life choices and disappointments and learning to live with those disappointments. But other than the fact that show chickens and a coffee farm feature heavily in my story, it is not so different after all from anybody else’s story.
The story that’s different, that’s wholly mine, is the story of what happened after my words fell apart. I do what I do, and I put this writing online almost every Monday, because I believe that no person should have to go through the isolation and pain and trauma of trying to find one’s way through a system that doesn’t recognize him or her as a person. This belief that more of us should get to be people, not just partially but in every aspect of our life, is what gets me out of bed in the morning. I get up to turn that belief into reality, both through the work I do and through the act of doing it.
And yet I am struggling to come to terms with how people have violated my belief in my own humanity. I don’t want to face it full on. And a response! To respond is even harder — how to answer when somebody denies you your personhood? You respond, a priori, as a non-person.
For several years now I have been given de facto full person status. Nobody knows I’m crazy. Nobody asks any questions. Suddenly, we are all asking — people who know me; people who don’t; me, who wonders how well I know myself. Do I count? Should I be counted?
I wonder what the census bureau has to say about all thus.
When I started this blog, I thought I’d write about madness on Monday and work on Wednesday, because, well, it’s alliterative and it might help me. No more! These things are increasingly merged together. Today is no different. I was at a community meeting today and it really struck me how much disability affects our professional lives (or lack thereof!).
I know how privileged I am. I have a job, an education, all the trappings. I am so well hidden that I got quizzed today on whether I was “really” disabled. “Yes,” I assured the woman. “I am.” Inside I was shaking because it was the first time I’ve said those words and I said them to a room of strangers.
It could have been a teaching moment: “the disabled” aren’t all the same, just as any other category of people has a continuum, so do we. Disability can be invisible, I could have said. I could have pulled apart the stereotypes. But I didn’t. I held my tongue, so shocked by her question and by my response that I had nothing more to say. I could have said, the minimum wasn’t enough for me either — I want to be more than average, more than the stereotypes, more than the statistics. I didn’t say that either. I held my tongue.
This post is short, and a bit circuitous. I am tired and it has been a hard day. I am still sitting back in that moment where I said yes and turning it over in my mouth. It tastes unusual, I think.