Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Still blogging from my neighborhood Internet Cafe, after having consumed a cup of chai and a big fat croissant to pay for my time in front of the screen. Soon, oh soon, I'll have a good laptop again, and good in-house internet service again, and I will be productive again.

Meanwhile, I finally got around to seeing Borat, which was FANTASTIC!!! Everyone go out and see it for yourselves. See it twice. I feel like sending money to Sascha Baron Cohen, or whatever his name is, to pay for his bodyguards, which he will certainly need after making such brilliant satire.

Ellen and I were laughing so hard we were screaming and choking with tears running down our faces. My father had been really offended by this movie, which is why it took me four months to get around to seeing it, and now I want to tell everyone to go.

Part of the appeal, I freely admit, is that the filmmaker agrees with my prejudices. The scene in the church where people were laying their hands on him and praying and going off was very cathartic for me. I think laughing at "those people" helped me discharge the terror I felt at being in a church where people were speaking in tongues like that in December.

(Some members of Wing It! are performing in a church this Friday. It won't be such a hard-core church, but I decided not to go anyway. I just need a break from Christianity for the foreseeable future. I feel highly allergic, like I'm going to break out in hives if anyone starts talking about Jesus as their Lord and Savior anywhere in my vicinity. (I have a date scheduled to talk with Phil about it later this week. I don't want to be a prisoner of my own reactivity forever. I hate missing a show, but I can't trust myself not to roll my eyes and make a face.))

I bounded out of bed Sunday so excited to teach the Memoir and Testimony class. I'd had them read Alison Bechdel's "Fun Home" and Jimmy Santiago Baca's A Place to Stand, both strong books. I got to class, and half the class loved Baca's book, a poignant brutal prison memoir about redemption through poetry. The other half had a lukewarm response and critiqued aspects of Baca's style.

I was a bit disappointed that some people didn't like it, but the students who had loved the book were devastated. The book had touched them--bruised them, is a better word-- on such a personal level that they couldn't bear to hear it critiqued negatively. They took the criticism of Baca personally, as if it were a critique of their own selves. It felt soul-killing to them to try and analyze the book's impact in terms of technique.

I tried to moderate a discussion about this with limited success. I think it's a worthy topic for discussion; we go into the field of literature because books move us and shake us and make us cry and sweat and change our lives. Then we're in school dissecting these books and trying to show our superior braininess by analyzing technique. On the other hand, if we can't find a community of like-minded intellectual people t0 delve to a deeper level with in grad school, then where can we?

People were crying...finally, some students asked to take a break, we took a long break, and when they came back I had them write and then share. My plans for the day had been to talk about the self-s relationship with the self, about the narrative "I," and we did talk about that a little, but not at the level I had wanted. I had a feeling that I should have structured the discussion more tightly, but the emotions people brought to the class took me by surprise. I need to think carefully about plans for next class.

After class I met with my former student Olga, who always seems to open up a warm place inside my chest with her delightful energy. We talked about longing and having, the difference between the search, and then the "problem" of maintenance, staying alive within what you have. She gave me a great gift by mentioning that she thinks yearning and gratitude are two halves of the same coin. It takes courage to open one's heart and truly stay with either emotion.

Ever since the David Deida workshop I have been trying to let myself feel my own yearning when it comes up, rather than pushing it away. And Olga's comment was another key that allowed me to go deeper. Despite the ungrounded feeling of being laptopless and not working enough and some financial anxieties and house logistics stress, I feel my heart more present, raw, and alive than usual.

It feels good: energized. Yesterday I danced like the wind at Wing It! practice. I am less afraid of wearing myself out. I also feel a little vulnerable and shaky. Thank you, Olga!

Another date with my little sister--pizza, again, and a bookstore, and a big discussion of Valentine's Day, and what she hopes her boyfriend will give her (chocolate) and what she plans to give him. She figured out how to take pictures with my cell phone. I can't even retrieve messages off the thing yet. She tells me that for our next date she wants us to get our nails done, which sounds good to me. I'm thinking a French-tip manicure a la Carmela Soprano...

Okay, now I need to go and figure out how to make more money so I can pay for all of this.

No comments: