Scrawl

On my way to work this morning, listening to WMBR, I heard a song called “Your Mother Wants to Know”. In the waning days of my last boy’s childhood, I have been grieving many of the things that did or didn’t happen when my boys were little. I couldn’t quite understand all the lyrics to Scrawl’s song, but the big heartbreak of it made me cry.

Yesterday, during the three-hour wait for Owen’s eye specialist appointment, I read the latest Time from cover to cover, including a mom ed by Kristen van Ogrtop about her relationship with her college-going son and her perhaps vain hope that he will vote in the upcoming election. He almost never communicates with her, which sounded very familiar, but then she said that sometimes he does send her a cheerful emoticon, which is way more than I get from Seth, now a sophomore down in Florida. But every day, I get to see Seth’s legacy in the form of the graffiti lite he and pals used to do using post office labels. Stuck up on the stop sign at the end of a nearby street is his attempt to wake people up: WHO IS LEONARD PELTIER? Damn, does that always make me smile!

I took my daybook with us to the doctor’s office yesterday, knowing how long the wait would be, and somewhere between home and there, I lost it. It’s a mystery, because it’s a whole big notebook and you would think Owen and I would have noticed if it dropped out, but it is gone. Blipped into another dimension, the way our sweet kitty Frankie used to do – there one moment, and the next, gone, baby, gone. Frankie always managed to find her way back to our dimension so she could curl up on Seth’s bed and keep him company through the night, but my day book seems to be enjoying its sejour and I have a feeling I’m never going to see it again.

In the daybook, I scribble notes about what’s going on with my queer organizing, observations, thoughts, plans. I’ve got people’s contact information, to do lists, long rants, “State of the Organizer” sections where I check in about the other parts of my life informing my activism work. It’s a record, a chronicle, a history. I’ve even been asked to archive my daybooks with The History Project, the LGBT history organization in Boston. Now there’s going to be a three month gap.

Tex comforted me, saying that the act of writing things down has value in and of itself. Like journaling, I guess, even if you never see it again, you can feel better and have a clearer head afterwards. But I feel a responsibility to the queer community to leave a record of our queer organizing in the suburbs, not only because our history so easily gets lost, but also because I am so incredibly grateful to the queers before me who made an effort to write things down so they wouldn’t disappear, speaking to me in their own unique bent voices. We need each other so badly, past, present and future.

“Mom, I’ve lost my phone and my ipod so many times,” said Owen soothingly as he accompanied me back to the doctor’s building so we could check the parking garage where perhaps my daybook had fallen out. “I know just how you feel.” I remember those times, how sad he was, how he had to weather the shock of being forcibly parted from all his personal, meaningful minutiae.

I feel I’ve let my people down by being so careless; my Buddhist readings urge me not to be attached, to resist following the stories told by my ego; I keep looking for my daybook in the places I last saw it, knowing it’s not going to be there, just like ol’ George Carlin becoming more and more ridiculous as he looks for his lost keys.

Yesterday, I lost my daybook. Yesterday, I spent over three hours with Owen, outside of time, the way doctor’s waiting rooms always are, just chillin’. We got so bored we started reciting a favorite poem from the boys’ childhood: “Kansas City Octopus”, and Owen was so sweet to me later that thinking about it makes me tear up. Tex, spooning me in bed last night, whispered, “All is not lost! There are so many reasons to live, honey! Don’t give up!” And in the form of a post office label, Seth reminded me that he has a good and justice-minded heart.

I’ll get another daybook. I’ll keep writing the story of family.

Who’s That Lesbian?

Like many long-term couples, Tex and I have little code words, inside jokes and years-long continued conversational topics to keep us engaged and amused. Here in the suburban wasteland, whenever we see a likely candidate walking around, we quickly spell out “W”, “T” and “L” in ASL, then sing this little song, “Who’s that lesbian? Hey, who’s that lesbian?”

Yes, we are complete goobers.

Last week was the fourth year Tex and I attended Women’s Week in Provincetown, a dyke-a-palooza that’s been going strong for over 30 years. One of the highlights for me of this full and thought-provoking eight days was Cris Williamson’s song-writing workshop. Having come out late, I did not experience the full impact of her 1975 “The Changer and the Changed”, the ur-album of lesbian music, and really, knew very little about her. During the course of the three-hour workshop, where 16 of us wrote a Women’s Week theme song together, it became apparent that Cris is actually a lesbian guru-goddess-grandmother-top, whose dedication to her own art and her own people is unwavering and fierce.

If I thought anything about Cris before meeting her, it was only to snobbishly dismiss her music as cheezy and outdated. Seeing her in Ptown as she played a show every single day, signed albums and connected with her fans at Womencrafts every single day, did fundraising for her latest album every single day (as I believe she has done for many of her previous 30 or so albums), was incredibly inspiring. Who’s that lesbian? A shimmering jewel in our crown, that’s who.

In previous years, I have used Women’s Week as a writer’s retreat. This year, Tex and I decided to just go and be, hang out together and apart, give ourselves over to the energy and plunge ourselves into the great sea of women. I still took care of some writerly business, however, and did two readings and a signing. I also went to a writer’s workshop at the Provincetown library with 90-year old poet Hilde Oleson, as well as the workshop with Cris.

As a writer, I am constantly distracted by my commitment to activism. As an activist, my writing can suffer by being too precious or political. In addition, rather than sit my ass down and write, I find it a hell of a lot easier to roll up my sleeves and get to work scheduling meetings, responding to emails and following up on the thousand and one other urgent organizing tasks.

In Provincetown this past week, I worshipped at Cris’s feet, basked in Hilde’s wise and humorous presence, continued political conversations with Women’s Week friends, shop owners and other Ptown year-rounders, brainstormed with Tex about how to lovingly and effectively address racism against American Indians in the mostly-white dyke population. I began to feel something I don’t often feel: fully and truly myself. Integrated. Standing in my power as femme, writer, activist, mother, daughter, wife, observer, critic. Goober. It was incredible.

Re-entry into our life in the “liberal” suburbs was rough. But every time we go to Provincetown, we come back more committed to that integration, something queer people have been historically denied. And last night, our grassroots organization, Mystic LGBTQ+ Youth Support Network (Queer Mystic), celebrated over a year of programming and opening queer space for queer youth. Local folks, queer and straight, youth and adults, sat in a circle and talked about our lives, our wishes for our town and the progress that has been made. Today, I am sitting my ass down and writing this post, the first in many a moon.

Who’s that lesbian? Hey, who’s that lesbian? Stay tuned.

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Me, Alli and Eve’s verse for the Women’s Week theme song, “This Place”:

Do you see?

How the light inside you beckons fearlessly?

Do you see?

How it flares within you so relentlessly?

Do you see?

 

 

 

 

Published in: on October 19, 2016 at 10:29 AM  Comments (6)  
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