Wednesday, February 21, 2007

I'll be reading my poetry April 25, 7:30 p.m. at Black Oak Books in Berkeley, if anyone wants to come (please do!!) The other reader is Robin Becker.

And my play, Saying Kaddish With My Sister, will have a workshop production at the Jewish Ensemble Theatre in Bloomfield, Michigan on April 30 and May 1.

Then May 9, See How We Almost Fly, the dance/theatre production based on my poems, will open at St. Gregory's Church in San Francisco. And The Sun is conditionally interested in an essay I wrote (out of a blog post here) if I revise it substantially (which I'd want to do anyway.)

In the interests of balance, I can also report that the NY Times Modern Love rejected my "Listening" essay, (with a nice note, though,) and The Chron is full-up with My Word submissions, and advises me to place a 900 word column that I thought I had sold to them-elsewhere. (MORE Magazine might take it but it's a long shot.)

Today, I need to get student papers read and commented on, and do an article about Tim Perkis, my friend who made a documentary movie. On tap for the weeks ahead: do an NEA grant application, revise the essay, and look at revising the second play. Writing Salon classes start for me next week, and all of a sudden I'm busy again.

Melissa Fay Greene, a writer whom I admire, has seven children and writes award-winning books by doing 500 words a day. Only 500 words! Of course in her case, they are great pages. I have no such discipline, and usually work hard in spurts and then idle in stretches. During the idling times I feel awful and play endless Sudoku or engage in other time-wasting compulsive activities. It would be better to just go hiking and be out in Nature, especially now, when nature in the Bay Area is so dazzling with Spring.

I foolishly allowed myself to get drawn into an email discussion about racism yesterday that ended up costing me the day and some of my peace of mind. This is the subject for a longer blog, and I'm sure I'm totally politically incorrect for saying this, but I resent the have-you-stopped-beating-your-wife-yet tactic of "unlearning white racism." I can't stand it when the only two choices are to admit you're a racist, or else to be an even worse racist. Or the implication that unless you're actively doing "anti-racism work" with other white people, i.e. proselytizing them, then you are participating in racism.

Why does this kind of talk make me so mad? The friendship I have with G is probably the healthiest, most flexible, sustainable intimate connection I've had with a man in I don't know how long. Yes, he's black and I'm white, and we both know it. It was part of the initial attraction. I love the warm color of his skin, his height, his big hands, his shaven head. Also, his laid-back voice, his laugh, his love of jazz music, and New York City, and his interest in all of the arts.

I imagine there are things about my red curly hair and pale skin and Jewish smart-ass humor that turned him on as well, when we met. But that initial physical attraction is the least of what sustains our good connection, which has weathered the waning of sexual interest, and our dating other people. Simply: we're best friends. And he would never demand a certain kind of political activity from me in order for me to prove my trustworthiness to be his companion. (Nor would I demand that he do anti-rape work, or work against domestic violence in order to prove his support for me as a woman. I did hit him up for the breast cancer swim I did, but that's different.)

He demands--that's not even the right word--he wants me to respect him and appreciate him and accept him for who he is, and I do, and he does me. And that's profound. So many "love" relationships lack respect.

Even writing about what that kind of respect and acceptance means to me brings tears to my eyes. There is something inherently disrespectful in this brand of "anti-racism work" because it assumes guilt and ignorance on the part of the white person without knowing them. In general I'm happy to admit that I'm guilty and ignorant--because I am, we all are--but not when some workshop leader, or "activist"has a 28-point program for how I should do so. At that point, you've lost me.

G hates it when people assume things about him just because he's black, and rightly so. Not only does he hate it when someone follows him around a store assuming he'll steal something, but he also hates it when someone assumes he should have a certain political belief because of his race. He's a devil's advocate who resists being the poster boy for anyone's idea of what a black man should espouse. For myself, I don't want to be an anti-racism activist--I just want to live my life, which includes loving a lot of people of color and standing up for what's fair whenever that opportunity arises. But I'll be damned if I'm going to carry a flag.

Anyway, I shouldn't have let this get to me, but it did. Probably because it came from someone at New College, and my ego thinks it involves my reputation as a teacher. To make it worse, G hadn't brought his cell phone to work with him so we couldn't talk. I tried to recover my equanimity with a good swim, and found I had really lost strength and couldn't even do a quarter of a mile! Yikes!! I'll have to work up again completely from scratch. Shit!!

Then I tried taking myself to the movies as a mood booster. There were all kinds of films I want to see: Volver, Little Children, Notes on a Scandal, Babel, The Last King of Scotland, Pan's Labyrinth. For some reason, Children of Men was the only one starting just then, so I ducked in to see it. It was pretty bad. An interesting idea, but the characters are more symbols than real people, and I just wasn't convinced. Plus, the premise--no new babies born for 18 years, the collapse of civilization-- was depressing as all hell.

Today: bright sunshine, hot coffee, and a bunch of stuff to do.

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