Thursday, November 13, 2008

Amherst -- functioning, flaming femme identity, nonlinear before and afterwards, the way music works, and a comfortable ride

One of the good things about touring is when suddenly the details come together, I mean I guess I could also say one of the bad things about touring is when you're sitting in Montréal wondering where you're going to stay in Boston, your next stop, and how the hell you're going to get to Amherst and back to Boston, but then it all comes together and I have this great place to stay and Irene comes to get me to drive to Amherst and I still don't know how I'm getting back to Boston, I need to get back tonight because I need one day when I'm not traveling and not doing an event so I can rest and go to a feldenkrais appointment, but if nothing else then I will rush out of the Amherst event and Irene will drive me to Springfield where I can catch a bus back to Boston. So everything's okay, kind of, except my legs hurting in the car, hurting from the bus, but that's to be expected and I keep thinking feldenkrais is tomorrow, feldenkrais is tomorrow.

It's fun talking with Irene and about San Francisco which she misses, when she wears bright colors people say oh you're still dressing like you're in the Bay Area but really most people don't wear bright colors in the Bay Area either, although I guess there are more flamboyant creatures that's one of the joys. Then about femme identity and various work-related dramas and familial pains and we're trying to figure out the directions from some Google maps or whatever, I find that Google maps never quite works I mean it's always confusing but eventually we arrive, three minutes before 7 p.m. when the reading is scheduled to start and that's perfect.

Food for Thought, where I'm reading, is bigger than I remembered and people seem excited right away, especially the glamorous queers in the front row, and sure enough the audience is with me right away and they stay with me, laughing and gasping and laughing and quiet, back and forth and all at once and I ask for a ride a few times but not arrives yet and I like the question from Miranda about whether I wrote the book as a nonlinear novel or made it nonlinear afterwards and a question about whether it's fiction or nonfiction -- fiction, of course, and then afterwards one of the people in the front row is trying to convince me to go back to Hampshire College and hang out and smoke pot and catch the bus in the morning, which is kind of funny because hanging out and chatting some more instead of rushing off to Springfield would be much more fun but the rest is not exactly on my palate, and it's one of the first times when I find it difficult to convince someone that actually I need to get back, need to get back because my body will fall apart I won't be able to function I'm only barely functioning now sometimes it's hard to make these things clear in the face of excitement about my ideas and me too, yes me and my ideas and the world that holds me.

An older dyke from the audience comes up to thank me for my work, all of it she says, and that kind of generational acknowledgment means a lot to me. Then a fun conversation with Matt Dineen who put me on the radio, and Caty about the way music works in my novel, a photo shoot with the queers from the front row and chatting with others about sex work here among the trees and wait now I do have a ride yes a ride back to Boston with Tracey and Bex and I like our fun and slightly slapstick banter through the different towns in Western Mass and into the highway gift shop and back to Boston or Somerville which isn't quite Boston but it's where I'm staying it's a sweet and comfortable ride.

3 comments:

cripchick said...

one weekend at hampshire for a repro justice conference was enough for me to start IDing as queer. love it.

Caty said...

Ha ha, one of my first events as an activist in Western Mass was speaking on sex work at a hampshire repro rights conference. Shortly after my lovely fling w/ Melissa Gira began...oh, the good Ole Days of being 21 rather than 27--b/c I've *aged* so much, right, and definitely *matured*?
Hey, Mattilda, sorry to interrupt your conversation w/that Matt kid so many times @ the reading. I was just in a yucky mood, seeing all the Usual Suspects w/their subtle whoraphobia willing to forget it for one night while talking to a minor indie-activist-queer-celebrity. When I get disgruntled, and I rarely, rarely do these days, I get really socially uncouth, so sorry if I was. & I was so looking forward to keeping you captive audience in Irene's car on the way to Springfield, but I'm glad you got a more convenient, restful ride instead.
I just read Pulling Taffy and love love loved it. Maybe b/c I'm still sort of a druggie activist ho right now (though no more daily habit, and reducing on methadone, but occasional rec. use and I smoke *way* too many cigarettes), not a vegan (though I was vegan for quite a while) holistic health activist ho, though I do a lot of hypocritical work @ an org that provides access to holistic health for low-income people.
wwww.freedom-center.org, I'm of the working members, and check this out, this is the campaign I'm living& breathing& even probably fucking right now (as I can't resist getting on the soapbox w/clients sometimes)--
http://www.freedom-center.org/poverty-is-not-a-crime-local-campaign
and read the gazette thing on it on the main fc page.
Totally biased media coverage, of course--
The letter to the editor I wrote was edited into inspidity, esp. on drugs and mental illness, but the other issues at least come across...sorta. The coverage on the issue that's linked is biased and distorted (like the Gazette says there were only 20 people at our protest when the Collegian correctly states there were at least 50, and no one mentions that the restrictions as they stand *would* de facto outlaw panhandling cuz they'd restrict it anywhere there's foot traffic) but at least our quotes are good. Any advice from an experienced and accomplished organizer like yourself?

Oh, and another press mistake--it's not just the FC's project--we're a loosely affiliated group of street people, community organizars, business owners, city citizens, and student activists supported by orgs like FC, Arise for Social Justice, the Northampton chapter of Food not Bombs, and a few student orgs as well.

mattilda bernstein sycamore said...

Caty, well we certainly must chat more at some point!

Exciting projects, for sure -- I'm not so talkative at the moment because I'm way behind on anything and everything computer-related, but I promise more engagement soon, thanks for saying hi!

Love --
mattilda