Sunday, April 24
It was four months before your smell faded from the sweater. I'd wear it everywhere, all the time, always---even in the summer--- because it felt like I was carrying you with me. It felt like you would be back and I was just keeping it warm for you, like we'd pick up at sacred kisses and hand holding, picnics and poetry.
We all make our choices and yours were decided long before you had met me. I'm not bitter for them. But nights like these, when I'm tired enough and worn enough, I wonder how our lives would have been different if you had chosen to stay.
Saturday, April 16
So. Dear universe, it's totes not a big deal if I don't get this internship. Just that I'll wait tables for the whole summer---possible for the whole of my life. And yeah, I'm being fatalistic. So what? My body is exhausted, finally catching up with all the shitty things I've done to/with/in it lately. But what a beautiful idea it is to entertain, getting away from this place for three months.
Wow. What a beautiful idea.
Tuesday, April 12
I'm trying to negotiate my spaces. I'm trying to figure out what the fuck it means to have loving relationships with people while still maintaining my autonomy, my independence, my sense of self departed from others--as a woman, as a woman of color, as a woman of color writer, as a queer theorist, as an etc, etc, etc kinda person.
But maybe that's not possible. Maybe it's another one of those myths made up by bourgeois white people (i.e. white supremacist capitalist patriarch recolonizers/white liberal feminists??) who think themselves to have sprung up out of the earth without a clue, without a history to their arrival. Perhaps it's part of this American identity I use to dream of as a little girl--the dainty lunch sandwich made with Wonder Bread was sure to come packed with some kind of ideology to stand behind. Rabid individualism is the American way, no? And the American way is the way of fucking champions, right? And I've always wanted to be a champion, yeah??
Okay, there's no fucking way...
Because I am, as you have been, as we will continue to be, a progression of combined life-forces. We're sort of imprinted bodies inhabiting spaces in certain ways, and we eventually create community. Part of me believes that I exist through the relationships that I have with people/objects/places. That's not to say I'm not tangibly here. I am. At least, I'm learning to be present and all that jazz. But as real as these string of limbs may be, there's still something to be said about how relationships shape, define and direct you. I use to think that the skin you inhabit determines your experiences in the world, but I'm just now learning that the skin that inhabits you is just as important.
And that's what makes it so hard to create community/coalition space--in the women's studies department, in the interpersonal relationships I have, in/across/through/around transnational/global/intraregional discourses. You have to count the personal and the private as a real phenomenon. You have to combat racism/sexism/classism/heterosexism/ablelism/etc simultaneously, even within groups dedicated to pro-women or pro-feminist causes.
But I'm saying things people have been saying for centuries. I'm wanting things people have wanted all along. And all I hear is Jeremy (the voice inside my head) saying: "Shut the fuck up, kid. Tuck your first world problems back into the pocket of your overpriced jeans, 'cos real shit is happening real fast and I'm not going to deal with any whinny bitches today." (FYI, for those of you who don't know him, Jeremy is pretty much a jerk)
Sometimes I get so carried away with theory. Like my lungs become this hot air balloon and my insides go so light, I'm lifted. Up and up and up as one idea leads to the next. And I want to ground myself. Bring it back to the ground, they say. Bring it back to where it matters. And I want to, because I want to feel the dirt under my fingernails. I think that's why I make such pained expressions in class. I'm trying to bring myself back down. But my lungs have expanded so much by then, that it's hard to breath.
Have patience with me. I'm trying to find my center.
P.S. You'll have to forgive any of my over-generalizations/lack of development at certain points. This isn't a legit scholarly work. Obviously. I'd use waaaay more curse words if it were.
Monday, April 11
Lines. Directions. I’m standing on a plane, where vertical and horizontal axis of directionality cut off my limbs. I attempt to extent into non-normative spaces. I sense a greater pull towards certain orientations, towards certain ways of being that are acceptable in the family sphere. These ways of being clash with my own object/desire/orientations. Ahmed explains how we are conditioned through constant repetition towards certain directions for our desires where “to be ‘in line’ is to direct one’s desires toward marriage and reproduction; to direct one’s desires toward the production of the family line” (74). This is what is expected—follow the pattern of heteronormative life cycles, to become what it is you came from. That, in itself, evolved and arrived through the same type of history until it is invisible entirely. I concentrate. Suck in my breath to hold my shape and hold my color. This life I am given is a gift, a gift from my parents, an arrivant I’ve (un)happened upon that demands a return. Because the gift of life is a gift that requires some form of gratification---that: “there is a demand that we return to them by embracing them as embodiments of our own history, as the gift of life” (90).
My mother approaches me. She is stern, tired. Yet she will not yield until my limbs are wrapped in a bridal sari. You’re of that age now, she tells me. Meet with a few suitors. You’ll continue to study, but this is something you need to take seriously. My skin boils. I am out of place. She begins to shame me—thoughts of hell. Good Muslim girls marry good Muslim boys and produce strong, bouncing children. It is the Sunnah of the prophet. It is the tradition which has come to be for the past thousands of years. Marital bliss. Ceremony. These are all the things she has envisioned from her past to mark the direction of my future. Patterns. Practice. You’ll learn to love it. You’ll learn to be happy just like the rest of us. She hands me her al-Quran. It feels heavy in my hands; something that was so familiar to touch has lost its meaning, has lost its matter. For me, it is no longer a holy scripture, no longer whispered love poems from god. Dead pages of a text shrivel beneath my fingertips. She tells me to read. Read from it the way god made the prophet read from inside himself. Read from it the way my father would as I sat on his lap as a child. Read from it the way I should know how.
But I can’t.
And I don’t know how to bring myself back because I don’t want to straighten my act. I’m unwilling to negotiate my personal orientations even though they seem to queer up her spaces. Because I could be happy if not for her sorrow. I am in pain, as she is in pain, for “it is the intimacy of this pain and grief, as the ‘point’ at which bad feelings meet…such lines are also the accumulation of points of attachment” (75). She thinks me some kind of blemish to our family’s name—a name which matters as much as bodily form because it is transcendent across generational gaps. She believes that as a girl I should desire a marriage, I should desire a good husband, a strong family, a safe space of domesticity. She can’t fathom where the will to defy convention comes from. Such strange, unhealthy behavior, she tells me.
Referencing Queer Phenomenology by Sara Ahmed
Thursday, April 7
Be here, you'd say. Be in this moment. With me. Feel my hand in yours. Feel it. It's real. I'm real.
You'd give anything for me to believe that. And I know it's hard for me to admit when I'm wrong, but it's damn near impossible for me to admit that you're right. So, I won't.
I'm learning to be present because I want to love better, because I want to love someone in ways that I couldn't love you. Bestie says I should regret you. Should think you a mistake. Should shake you off and bite the dust. But I carry you with me everywhere--in my work, in my words, in the eyes of a new lover. You have allowed me to disorientate to reorientate. The things you said then are only starting to make sense now and I wonder how much more I missed, hadn't listened to, overlooked and neglected. You were the problem, but so was I.
It's because of you that I can even contemplate being present. Fuck, I should send you a fruit basket. But what a petty exchange for your broken heart, which I fumbled around with my clumsy hands. I was never careful enough, you said. Too reckless. Too careless. A girl just starting to grow out of being spoiled her whole life.
I could send you a bloody ear, but you never liked the grand gesture.