Sunday, July 04, 2010

Communal possibilities

Stop turning everything up to high -- it always burns, and it’s hard on my body to constantly scrape charred remnants of food from the bottom of all the pots. I stopped worrying so much about getting sunburnt on the fire escape, I mean I still worry but not so much. Except today, today it really does look like my arms are getting a bit red, right? My grandmother leave a message: I’m calling to see if you’re feeling better, you sounded really exhausted the other day.

Should I call her back, to tell her I’m worse? I was excited about today, today when I don’t have any specific plans except to make a few phone calls, a relaxing day, until all that interrupted sleep and now I’m feeling blasted away again. I used to think that Antonia Juhasz, journalist and activist exposing big oil, was the same person as Alexandra Juhasz, writer and AIDS activist who was also one of the producers of The Owls. Gina couldn’t believe my last sentence of the review, where I said it did leave me with a sense that intergenerational, cross-identity conversations about gender and politics might allow for communal possibilities.

Why can’t you believe it? Because you said community. No, I said communal possibilities. That’s close enough -- Mattilda, I can’t believe it!

Maybe I need to be clearer -- I don’t believe in community as this thing that people join, that shiny happy sweatshop-produced rainbow flag normalcy nowhere-zone. I don’t believe there is such a thing as a gay community, or a queer community. I do believe in the communal possibilities of shared intimacy, trust, accountability, negotiation, analysis, explosion, and transformation. I do believe in community-building, but I try to avoid using the word community to describe something vague because it’s become so polluted, so often just camouflage for more violence.

Oh, no -- that same pot is burning, again! I mean I smelled it, but I thought it was just the remnants from yesterday. Why is all the water evaporating? Am I cooking the vegetables longer than usual? It’s the steamer pot -- I guess I’ll need to get a new one. I want to go back on the fire escape, but my legs do look a little red -- maybe it’s time to turn on the news.

During one of my sections of interrupted sleep, I was thinking about a new organizing project, something to join -- I was going through the options, the options in my head. Now I can’t even imagine sitting through a meeting, how much it would hurt my body. I’m leaving San Francisco because I want to feel hopeful again, hopeful about the possibilities for community-building, for activist troublemaking, for relationships that don’t just lead to dead ends. I’m talking to Jory about my recent interviews, I listen to myself and think: how can I sound so clear, so on -- I wish I felt that way all the time. Jory says something about the 30s, and how it’s different from being in your 20s -- things aren’t so clear. But that doesn’t make me uncomfortable at all -- what I mean is that I wish I had that much energy all the time.

I listen to myself in these interviews and think: I need a new organizing project, a new way to use this analysis. But then I feel so tired, how can I even search? My grandmother wants to know if some of this is depression -- of course some of this is depression! But I’m depressed because I’m so exhausted, and sure that leads to feeling exhausted because I’m depressed, and really I have no idea whether I’ll feel more energy in a different place, especially when I don’t even know where I’m going. I know that something lifts when I leave San Francisco and all my faded dreams, but how much, and for how long? Will I just trade one loneliness for another?

2 comments:

Sloan Lesbowitz said...

Hi Mattilda,

(it's rocko, trying out a new name)

LOVED your review of The Owls. I felt similarly and I am so curious about the audience at Frameline. At the New Fest, they billed the film as "Women's Night" and charged extra! The audience was similar to the one you described. I have very mixed feelings about the "women's night" BS. I totally hated the idea until I got there and felt how exciting it was to be in a theater full of dykes... i could see how they were trying to make it special, and it was special, but did it have to be special at $20?
xoxo

mattilda bernstein sycamore said...

Darling, I love new names!

And, I'm so glad you LOVED my review of The Owls -- and yes, one must always charge extra for women's night -- why not $200?

Although, for Frameline they did no such thing (the overt gender targeting), but still ended up with a very similar audience, as you mention -- only $10, though...

But no Marc Jacobs bag!!!

Always great to hear from you!

Love love love --
mattilda