So Tell Me ... What's The Weather Like on YOUR Planet?

29 September, 2007


We finally got the stuff cleared out of the hall so we could hang the painting that goes there. It's my favorite of everything my mother has done -- rich in blues and greens and purples and silver, which are my colours, which are her colours. Abstract and evocative, the pointed arch of the church door, the clear blue sky, light through the branches of the trees like light through the stained glass of the wheeling circular windows of the cathedral. Leaves fall.

I've closed the door to the Pink Room so the reflected sunlight doesn't change its colour palette, and I sit and watch the painting as the sun comes and goes, sometimes clear in its full intricacy, sometimes so lost in shadow that the only thing visible is the light blue through the church door.

She finished that painting the night before her own mother's funeral, so rich with depth and meaning and the echoes of generations.

It is so beautiful.

28 September, 2007

Mortification of the Flesh

Daisy and I were talking last month about ecstasy and pain and sacredness and a variety of other things. And I'm working my way through the pain and blood that is my own calling to the divine, the things that it demands; the flogger I picked up at the Fetish Flea is still sitting by my bedside table. At some point it will be more than merely a pretty object.

The power of pain has always been something that I have known, down in my bones, something that spoke its own language. There was debilitating pain -- the headsplitting agony of the migraine with its warped vision effects, the sick wet pop of my hip missocketed, the way I could only do pushups with one hand on the knuckles so it wouldn't fail under me. And then there was the other pain.

There was the pain when I was so far gone into my own head, into the demons of the darkness lurking somewhere south of sanity, that I could grab, rake down my arms with my nails, dragging myself back into the world rather than fall into the abyss of going mad. There was the pain that took that stuff from inside and pulled it out, inverted it, made it something under my control, taming the beast. There was bringing myself back into reality, the sharpness and clear sparkling realness of it. There was tracing patterns in the back of my hand with the point of a knife, because I could see that doing something, and it hurt less than anything else I put my focus on. (That time my husband took the knife away from me.) There's the sharp immediacy of pain grabbed and put through alchemical transformations, my standard first step of the little energy work trick I learned in my teens: how to block pain.

(I don't know if any of my readers know the game Egyptian Rat Screw, but the relevant point is that if two cards of the same value are played in sequence, the first player to slap them wins the stack. I once slapped in on a pair of queens and won the game. My roommate one summer at camp was very good at it, and played some kid with a cast on his arm. At midnight, she was up plaintively complaining how much her hand hurt, so I got up, and I made it stop. Then, bloody rationalist, she whined that I had stopped it, until about two, when she exclaimed, "Yes! It hurts!" and went promptly to sleep. Occultists get no respect.)

I had scars, thin brown discolorations, down the outside of my left forearm for about eight years, from high school.

When I need, absolutely need, to keep control of my temper, my nails go into my palms, leaving little crescent arcs that last long after I let go. Or sometimes somewhere into my arms. Sometimes I've left bruises.

And I have this rigid wall between pain and sex, pain and ecstasy, and I'm suspecting it's going to come down.

The rigidity of that wall may be surprising to some, with the way I bite and sometimes scratch -- I've had a reasonably nippy evening, just that kind of mood, even without any sex being involved -- but none of that parses to me as working with pain. Physicality, sensation, a feral streak that has a large thread of sexual energy to it, sure, but not pain. That spot where the shoulder flows into the neck? Biting that doesn't hurt. Biting that is something else altogether.

Taking the wall down scares me.

(And yet, He said, fear is how we measure ourselves.)

It scares me because so much of the work with pain goes so deep, so intense, and so closely tied to madness and managing madness. And I refer to "Have you ever gone mad?" a few posts down because there's a seductiveness to madness, this sense of release, of freedom, and choosing to turn my face towards the abyss, to go to where that huge, deep wellspring of power is, that tremendous, transformational power, and beyond it the hungry Void ... scares me.

I know that siren song, the seductiveness of going completely unmoored.

So for a long time, I maintained this rigid, rigid wall. This is not me. I don't understand it. I don't go there.

It scares me, and it scares me deep and hard and hitting right around Swadhisthana.

There's an edge there, a sharp one, a delicate balance between madness and reality, that sharp erotic curve of the transformational line.

I have always met the gods at the edges of things.

26 September, 2007

Update to "World Fatigue"

helen-louise, the woman whose livejournal I linked in the previous post regarding the monks and protests, has started up a blog specifically for covering the current situation in Burma, which can be found here. Please, if you have the time and spoons, have a look at the work she's doing on this. She has some (largely UK-specific) suggestions on actions people can take in her most recent post.

World Fatigue

There's a lot of stuff going on out there in the world.

Like the group of African-American lesbians who were violently attacked by a homophobe who threatened to sexually assault them, defended themselves, and are doing time for it. Like the young black woman whose death in Iraq was ruled a suicide, though the autopsy seems to rather suggest otherwise. Like the virtual march on Jena. Monks in Burma are now being attacked by riot police. Like Republican candidates blowing off POC discussions. Like creepy patriarchal polygynists getting convicted as accomplices in rape, people getting tasered in what may or may not be publicity stunts, like various posturing with Iran, like the whole Blackwater stuff, like American food imports being turned down by China, like a baby crib recall due to dangerous construction, like ...

... like all the things that are just too damn overwhelming sometimes. There's a lot of world out there, and it's hard to know where to start.

25 September, 2007

Do you see what I hear?

Since I'm spending this week in a state of stressed, a litle emotionally unstable, and feeling slightly unreal, I might as well take a little time to write about my mother some more.

This is another one of those iconic fight moments, where all the context is gone as irrelevant, but there's this one crystalline statement that just stuck in my head like shrapnel. This time, the statement was:

"Your father treats you like an adult."

I was probably fifteen at the time, ish? And being fifteen, my (unspoken, because I knew better than to say it) response was something like, "And that's why I actually like him."

From, y'know, twice that age, I think it was more a case of ... my father treats me like a person. Someone who might not have experience, knowledge, accumulated wisdom, to alays make good decisions, but did have some right to have input and opinions. But that was my first clear, if only half-articulated at the time, recognition of the pain of not existing as yourself -- there was this whole undercurrent to that fight about whether or not I was human enough to make decisions for myself.

Whether or not I was real.

Today, I'm feeling slightly unreal, a little sort of ... above and behind reality, watching myself watch things, my proprioception not quite synched up with my motions. It's a familiar old feeling, probably one of those things that author Jo Walton once commented, "The hardest thing to put down is a shield you no longer need" about, a way of dealing with a world in which asserting my reality was met with that sort of dismissal, that sort of ... you are an object, you are not someone with opinions, with independent self to assert. You are a pawn. You serve rather than exist.

Asserting reality, speaking its name, has always been so important to me; so much fighting against this constant pressure to be Other, to be normal, to be an extension of my mother or any of a number of other things, so much that I need to dig my heels in against and say, "No. I am, and I am this." Writing letters from Gehenna, where they look at the world from an angle.

ειμι ειμι ειμι

20 September, 2007

I got your reality right here

The Mayor of San Diego realises that when push comes to shove, he really can't believe in separate but equal, and thus signs a resolution in support of same-sex marriage rights that he was expecting to veto until the moment it hit his desk.

The video of him explaining this brings tears to my eyes.

The world tends towards goodness.

18 September, 2007

Have you ever gone mad?

If I talk to you about madness, will you take it as a rhetorical exaggeration, a little dance for effect, something said to shock and startle into understanding some lesser point?

Have you ever gone mad?

If I talk about madness, will you understand?

Let me talk about the edge of madness, the contours of it, not quite funnel shaped, not that even, but still the slicked-down grass, wet with sweat, tears, and blood, the way the feet of the mind slide on it, edging downwards even if one never loses balance, the slow circling around and around the abyss in the center, never quite sure whether the event horizon is still safely below, or something somewhere a few steps up, now crossed and unreachable, leaving one only able to orbit and slowly descend on the oozing turf towards the hole in the centre.

Let me talk about the last gasp, the recognition of the slow circling progress towards unbeing, the gathering of all the resources left that could be spent circling, circling, circling until the horrible mud makes it impossible to do anything other than slide. Let me talk about hoarding that up, pulling it all in for the last leap for freedom, hanging all the breathing left to have on "I will just do this, and when I have done this, it will be okay", the running lurch up the slope to catch at a tuft set in solid ground, something to hold on to, something that could be used to haul up out of the emptiness with maybe a little help, something secure.

(I told myself I'd have a glass of milk and it'd be okay, and went over to the little half-fridge on the floor, took out the milk, got my mug, pulled the twisty thing off the cap, tried to pour ...

... discovered it was frozen solid.)

Have you ever felt your mind break, a crystalline explosion, that last expenditure of all the resources of sanity spent grabbing for that tuft, that rock, that low branch, the brushing of the tips across the surface, too little, and gone. Have you ever watched the pieces of cognition spiral down and into the gap as one goes with them, surrounded by them, swirling, suddenly bloodstained with the effort it took it to break free of a head so shattered it feels like wind in the cranium, bloodstained with that and the effluvia of the descent, and then all of it, all the pieces, gone before you, around you, on top of you, a pelting of little fragments of a life?

Have you ever sat there, marvelling at the realisation that you are a being of light, a being of light, and everything around you is a shadow? That perfect clarity of sharded mindbits, where, look, some of the shadows are concerned about the shadow that is the body, talking in their shadowworld about shadowthings. Maybe one of them is concerned about suicide, but that's silly, death is a shadowthing, the body is a shadowthing, these shadowthings are irrelevant, there is this clear, blinding, agonisingly clear reality of existing as a being of light?

Have you ever spent days, weeks even, curled up in bed, watching life go by around you, wondering what happened to that beautiful clarity of perfect separation from all these things, aware that the sweat and body oils are building in a stench, are grinding so deep into the fibres of the sheets that they are turning black, and being distantly bothered by this, as if somewhere, in some other life, maybe it might once have mattered?

Have you ever, once you had managed to pull yourself together into something a little more resembling, happened to be one room over from someone whose sole concern in any of this was the shameful state of cleanliness that comes of two weeks unmoving on off-white sheets? Who wished to express how horrible that housekeeping was to a person who had witnessed the descent into the abyss, milk and all, and helped me claw back out again? To keep that overheard thing and never mention it, because if I was supposed to overhear, well, I'm not going to grant the satisfaction, and if I wasn't ...

If I talk about madness, will it be the eyerolls and the mutterings of "drama queen" from people who have never run their fingers across a grease spot on the sheets in detached indifference, knowing what that means without managing to know how to care?

Have you ever gone mad?

You Don't Hit Your Mother

Another mother anecdote, while I chew on other things and mostly make like a hermit.

I have no idea what we were fighting about, anymore; it was one of those blowups of teenagerhood, with all of the bonus angst that comes of dealing with stark madness, and all I remember was that I was madder at her right then than I was entirely comfortable with, mad to the point of going into hunter-vision where all that was left was the sense that if I let go just a little I would punch her, right in the center of her condescending, contemptuous face.

I made an attempt at getting some balance, stopping her tirade, with a "Stop it or I'll --" and stopped, because one doesn't say "Smash your goddamn nose in" to one's mother. It's shameful to even be considering it, let alone threaten it, let alone do it ...

"Or you'll what?" she said, the sneer deepening. "Run away and get married?"

She won that round of fight because I was too confused to continue. What Borderline Crazy calls the Black Box struck again, leaving me utterly wordless.

And that was not long after my husband (then husband-to-be) had given me the first ring, my husband who she constantly tells me she adores. I have never been able to reconcile that in my head, figure out how she believes so many impossible things before breakfast, how she could be so blazingly hostile to my relationship with him in that one moment.

I told my liege that story, and he said, "Fascinating. Her first response was fear that you'd get out of her control." And that was sharp, that was.

I told my father that story a few months ago -- something like twelve years later -- and he was reminded of a story he heard, of some abused kid whose father finally came at him with a baseball bat or something, and he took it away. "What'd you do then?" the kid was asked. "I took the bat and walked out." "You didn't hit him?" Response, in mildly scolding tones, "You don't hit your father." And Dad was kind of full of wondering tones at people who somewhere in there, despite the fucked-upedness of their circumstances, grew up having that line they don't cross. You don't hit your mother.

This was part of why I concealed being poly from her for a long, long time -- because if she was willing to try to turn my partnership with my husband into a weapon to use against me, this being someone who she was constantly effusive in her praise for, someone she gave all appearance of adoring, what would she do to someone whose relationship with me was somehow deviant to her arbitrarily defined principles, less legit? What would she try to do to me over it? What would she try to do to my father over it (I actively concealed things from her until the divorce was final and she couldn't try to blame him for my relationships)? And at the same time ... I stopped hiding, because I needed to know which way she would jump before I have children, so I knew how much I would have to protect my family from her, beyond the obvious living far away that I already do.

There's a little spot in my personal conception of hell for people who try to grab a hold of partnership and jab it back into someone's gut, to evicerate them for the temerity of admitting to love. Not that I subscribe to any of the classic hells, but nonetheless family is family, community is community, and trying to twist those around into something with edges to use on anyone who admits to the vulnerability of caring ...

And still ... you don't hit your mother.

14 September, 2007

Elbow Room

A while back, I got into a discussion with someone who came across to me as a rather meanspirited atheist, who wanted to know what I could possibly see in Neb.y Set, one of the gods I particularly revere. And, y'know, I'm not interested in justifying my religion to random hostile people, especially ones who treat a watered-down and simplified version of the Contendings as the be-all and end-all of understanding of Himself. (For context, the Contendings is the best generally known Egyptian myth -- Osiris, killed by Set, Heru-sa-Aset avenges His father, claims the throne.)

The thing that was far too personal and touchy to express is this: Set embodies the concept of transgression as something which is within the great system. His is the abnormal, the perverted, the strength of having to do everything as an outsider without being able to depend on the community. Egyptian cosmology is intensely communitarian, intensely collective, and there's Big Red, out there on the edges being queer, being left-handed, being a redhead, governing infertility when existence depends on fields and children, governing darkness in a solar pantheon, governing chaos in a world devoted to cosmic order.

And this is not evil.

If you look at crowning images, Heru (Horus) crowns the king on His father's throne, the king is the living incarnation of Heru's soul, all that stuff -- and Set is holding the crown from the other side. The sunboat's prime defender against annihilatory nothingness? Set, Great of Strength -- great of strength because He does His own thing. The other is part of the system, part of the reality of what is, part of the cosmic community, the part that lurks around the edges, freaks people out perhaps simply because it isn't normal, and is strong enough to hold its own against the devouring dark when all light seems somehow implausible, in the dark night of the soul where there is nobody else.

Set, who by His nature is the essence of all the feared and sometimes hated non-mainstream, is still recognised as part of the system, in fact a great defender of the system -- one who challenges it, constantly, to accept Him, to grow up enough to see the Other as real, too.

In a world where Set is, there is space for me.

I wrote, a while back, a sort of rambly essay about liberty and license. My, googling on 'Liberty and License' turns up a bunch of fascinating hits. I think I like this one best, and will quote a line from its conclusion: "Liberty can never be license since the unrestrained use of liberty quickly and surely renders inoperative the general rules upon which it is based. The ideal setting for liberty is one in which individuals have internalized an ethic of responsibility and restraint that motivates voluntary compliance with society’s general rules." I can run with that.

One of the things about being a weirdo is that one can wind up in a position where some subset of 'society's general rules' just make no damn sense. (For some relevant exampling: a bunch of the 'liberty and license' hits pulled up folks handwringing about how licentious it was that the U.S. Supreme Court was considering Lawrence vs. Texas, including slippery slope arguments about how a decision that overturned the anti-sodomy law would let the polygamists in! And then the paedophiles! Over here in the Gehenna Reach, we say, "... buh?") And then one has to figure out what to do about that, how to deal with the fact that from over here, those rules don't look like they work.

One of the weirdest experiences I've ever had as a Set-worshipper was hanging out at a pagan gathering with a new acquaintance; the conversation turned, as such things will do, to what gods we were dedicated to. And when I mentioned Big Red, the fellow broke in with, "Oh, He's not so bad." Because something about mentioning that name -- Someone associated with the transgression -- inspired a 'more transgressive than thou' reaction, something that reminds me a lot of what Maymay wrote in The Kink Culture of Fear about people feeling that their credibility depends on how hard they play -- how far beyond the boundaries they go, how much they go over the edge into "But people don't do that". And maybe in his head the only reason to deal with Neb.y was to go over the boundaries, to go out into the darkness that is His domain, so of course the way to play the one-upsmanship game was to say, well, that's not that far....

A while back I got into a discussion with someone who claimed that the only reason to be kinky was to be transgressive in some way. That the whole point of kinkness was to be other, over the boundaries, not-normal. And the conversation went around and around, sometimes seeming to argue that this was a semantics argument by which kink was defined by its lack of mainstream sexuality nature, and other times seeming to be about the assumption that to be kinky was to kink on sin, as Eileen so pithily put it. And there just wasn't space out there for being into BDSM without into being the dark mirror of the vanilla world, there to illuminate the boundaries between the Acceptable and the Beyond. Some sort of dancing monkeyism, the pervert there for the entertainment and education of the norm. Possibly in a display case of Fallen Women, skewered with hatpins in a cigar box and propped up like sick social lepidoptery.

And then there's the people who figure that discovering that rules don't work from one angle means that there are no lines. To take license to be haphazard, disruptive, offensive, and expect there to be no consequences because there are no boundaries. If the set of rules can be shown, in certain places, to be arbitrarily chosen or subject to negotiation, rather than laws of nature, then there is nothing that stops them from whatever they want. There is the world of Rules, and the world of No Rules, and if one does not follow one Rule, then one is plunged into shapeless, meaningless chaos. (Otherwise known as "The failure state of Discordianism is really annoying.") And there can be a wicked power in this, the ability to make people uncomfortable, and it has its profound appeal at times -- shake things up a little, 'freak the mundanes', however it gets put. The ability to go, "Don't try to out-weird me. I have stranger things free with my breakfast cereal." "Who do you think you are, Zaphod Beeblebrox or something?" "Count the heads" has its sort of intoxicating power, but a power that depends on other people reacting in just the right way.

That's the thing that gets me, again, the hook between the fact of being transgressive of a set of rules and depending on that set of rules for some level of justification of the difference. If one's being a foil -- kinking on sin -- then the whole point is to exist in this antithetical space to whatever set of social rules one's dancing with. Which can be a useful thing, hell, it's another Twins metaphor and I love Twins metaphors, but it's defining oneself as a negative to the positive, a sort of ghost being state. If one's kinking on disconcerting or disrupting other people's adherence to the system, then ... again ... it depends on the system, the people jumping the right way -- getting offended and responding when getting trolled, basically -- and if people don't feed the energy creature, it has nothing of its own.

Being transgressive simply to be transgressive is a constantly moving set of boundaries, shifting depending on subculture, flow of social interaction, and any of a number of other things. It's placing the locus of personal power outside of oneself and charging up off interacting with that. If the line of the acceptable shifts ... bam, the entire thing deflates. Not sustainable.

And it's never that simple, and never that easy, and I can't say I've never gone freaking the mundanes, though it's been a while. But I much prefer living out in the boundary-lands on the edges of the map because that's where my home is, where I can stretch out all my limbs and not feel like I'm about to put my foot through an ill-placed paper wall. And maybe with me prowling the edges of civilisation, in the long run civilisation will expand a little and I'll wind up in some sort of pervert suburbia.

And maybe Set and I, we'll catch the worse monsters than we are, the ones that really would destroy the mainstream if they got past us, and we'll have ourselves a kickass barbecue. Out here where there's elbow room for freaks like us.

13 September, 2007

Just a quick note while I write something else

Get Religion comments on a transsexual Methodist pastor, and the question of what pronoun he gets versus what pronoun his church would prefer he have.

Just thought I'd share.

Substantial post will appear possibly tomorrow, depending on whether or not I have the brain to finish wrestling with it.

09 September, 2007

Drawn by Dragons

So, yeah. Thursday night I broke down in tears on the way home while talking some stuff out with my husband, and then asked Little Light if she could remember any myths touching on female monsters who devoured their children. We didn't get much of anywhere, and I sort of lost the thread, and then when I actually get around to catching up on blogs, I see antiprincess has posted about fatherhood.

So let's see where I can go from here.

I am the product of a generational curse. I don't know if it is older than my grandmother, but it is at least that old: the oldest child in some way rejected, emotionally neglected or vilified, probably in part because it's the first child that changes a parent's life the most. I am my mother's oldest child; my mother, my grandmother's oldest child. Growing up in the center of maternal resentment is ... hard.

I do not exaggerate when I say my deepest, bone-deep terror is perpetuating this curse, swallowing my children (especially the first, the most vulnerable, the most likely) alive in this horror of transformation, this profound change that is becoming a parent. Talking with my husband, what I kept repeating brokenly through the tears was, "I don't want to turn into a monster. I don't want to turn into a monster."

(Which of course is why I was looking for myths -- ways of relating to this internal Beast so as to be able to not go off my own map. Monsters have our own nightmares.)

I don't believe a two-parent family is enough to get healthy children. Even with two parents with a wide range of interests and experiences, the potential range of kids is further. (My brother had no sporty parents, though my father tried quite hard to be there.) Two parents and a community -- extended family, friends, neighbors, teachers -- gets closer.

I was raised in a community of parents with kids about my brother's age, all of whom served as semi-parental figures, who traded little cards with "1/2 hour" printed on them around so that nobody was crushed under the weight of constant kids, so that they could maintain themselves as well as raising their children. I adopted the neighbors across the street as honorary grandparents and learned to play solitaire and learned about painting porcelain from them (a plate she painted a kitten onto is on my ancestor shrine; I attended her funeral years and years ago); the next-door neighbor taught me folksy crafts and introduced me to her budgie. I wound up at one point getting involved in a church community, which could also have been part of that had I been someone else.

My friends with kids have ties to an extensive supportive community, diffused over area but still present. (One friend of mine has taken over childcare for another, a stay-at-home-dad, for this week -- on the condition that he leave the house.) A different level of intimacy and support, but still enough to take some of the pressure off, to keep the whole 'two parent family' from being a seething mass of personal inadequacy because people think they ought to be able to handle all the childrearing stuff and fail or burn out or just desperately need a vacation.

And I look at the insides of my head, my family curse, and try to figure out how to get my eventual kids some reasonable chance of having adequate support in their lives -- taking into account the possibility that I might wind up less than a whole parent. (I hope I won't become a negative parent. I hope. I fear. I ... don't want to be a monster.) Because if I lose my shit in any of the ways I think plausible, my husband will not only be dealing with parenting without much assistance from me, but also dealing with taking care of me.

Antiprincess asks what fatherhood is about.

Fatherhood is about what my husband said to me over ten years ago, that my children will also be his children, because he's committed to them and their welfare. That he is willing to make that investment in theoretical human beings, without the personal bonds that may come of incubating them, in advance, without just saying 'If there's a crisis, I'll be there.' Being there before the crisis, from the beginning, being a part of their matrix of living from the beginning.

And I'm afraid of being a burden, of going mad, of withdrawing from the world, of the possibility that I like my mother before me and her mother before her will eat my children alive; fatherhood is something more secure and trustable than motherhood to me, without the burden of generations of monstering. Something I want my children to have a wealth of, because the mothering I have in me may be untrustworthy or flawed. I want my children to have fathering, along with the richness of crazy auncles that I know our friends will supply.

I know the terror of the curse is the thing most likely to make that thing manifest, the thing most likely to push me over the edge. If I can be secure in the knowledge that my children will have enough fathering to get by, then I believe I can shed the madness of the mothering I learned well enough to put my faith in the wisdom of Hetharu, the great Mother, and accept Her guidance. (Dua Hethert.)

08 September, 2007

Heads and Tails

Terror can be a slow slide, a gentle collapsing of pebblework, an unseady footstep, and then in a rush of unremambered something, that last teetering wobble on the edge of the abyss, knowing that back when the first pebble shifted there was a way out.

I couldn't tell you how, precisely, I wound up pinned to the couch, trapped down by a mass of naked boy three years older, not in the sense of a linear recounting of the day's events. All of that is lost to the fractured mass of memory: golden summer sunlight filtered through Bethesda trees and the large glass patio door, tainting all of the memories with an unreal gold that echoed in the woodwork of the trim, so bright, so unreal, painted not in the sepia of memory but with the animator's undertones of exaggeration and emphasis. Tall, erect nakedness like a pillar, gashed in memory with a vividness that returned again and again for years, lit in gold, outlined in the shrinking back into the couch, the haze of black markerwork that outlines the gold with emotion. His shed clothing without me looking, as if it might be that if I never looked, never acknowledged, he would back away, ask, see if I wanted what he wanted, ask for once, not that ever in that entire relationship there was ever an asking, just the constant slide of pebbles down the hill, a slow scree of missed opportunities to object once I had time to realise that no, I hadn't wanted that, or had wanted it but not with him, or ...

It was the heaviest weight I've ever borne, the pressure of him, the driving presence of that mass, that horrible weight that meant there was no escape, no way of coming out, the way I folded inward, crushed beneath him into a white dwarf, the last choked ember of a strangled star, blowing off all of my memory, my continuity, my sense of self in an expanding haze of supernova that he never saw, never noticed. I was folded into one thought: "I don't even have my periods yet", over and over again, as if the physical immaturity was a last talisman to preserve the frail shell of identity, a last way of holding out against the crushing mass of reality. I fought for control of the button of my jeans, pulled in tighter and tighter into myself, my arms protecting what I could and crushed beneath that horrible, horrible weight. There was the last chink, the last teetering balance of repulsion and gravity before the last collapse and becoming lost to neutronium, and somewhere the weight let me go, and I fled into the bathroom.

When I emerged, he was clothed. He walked me to the subway. I went home, feeling like an expanding nebula around a shell of a star, a seething mass of charge no longer capable of burning, not quite crushed into oblivion.

The Twins dance in eternal battle -- exactly the same, perfectly opposite.

The weight of his body pins me down, forearms resting on my collarbones or hands pinning my wrists to my chest or shoulders. I wriggle a little to test it and a nuzzling kiss turns into a bite, claiming, reminding. I snuggle into the touch, the reassurance of the warmth and weight on me, wrestling for the fun of it sometimes, or maybe this time wide open, pulled open by strength and safety and the gentle support of that touch. He tilts my chin to look at me better, studying me a moment, knowing that I cannot speak when held that way and looking for answers in my eyes. To be sure I'm okay, consenting, secure.

I asked, knowing what I was asking for. I asked, he asked, and every moment is full of awareness, reading the electric energy of the feedback, the way the weight peels open my crushed-together shells and brings things together to ignite, fusion again, burning away, radiant light in the gathered memory of burning stars. I asked, he asked, we answer each other in every moment, and the weight is so very light.

I know and I choose; knowing the crushing weight that comes with consent unasked, not knowing, not being able to speak, I choose a joyous voicelessness, and I remember that stars shine.

Heads or tails?

03 September, 2007

Back to School

The other day, when my husband and I were in the checkout line at the grocery store, I spotted in the magazine rack a headline something like:

The Best Schools

It's never too soon to start stressing about your children's education!

You know what it was about? You know what it was fucking about?



He commented on, y'know, the whole encouragement of stress thing being not exactly a good idea.

I, on the other hand, did the hopping up and down thing about this insanity. Must be sure to get into the best preschools, or little Whoosie won't make it into Harvard! For goodness sakes. (When I went to preschool, all I remember is duck duck goose in the church playground and maybe hazy recollections of play-doh and celery.)

The article goes, "Mind you, we’re not endorsing this trend. That said, it seems to us that when it comes to your kid’s education, the if-you-can’t-beat-’em-join-’em mindset is the only real option." Oh, yeah, they don't endorse the trend, of course, but it's never too early to stress about it all, and really, can you be sure you won't be horribly crippling your child's academic chances if you don't worry about it Right Now?

It's only about $10K a year on average, flipping through the listings. You can afford $10K for Your Child's Future, right?

And it's all of a piece with stuff I see elsewhere, not all of which I can chase down. I can find this 2000 article about the way homework can mess with kids' time to have family life; this article from Stanford in 2006 that indicates that homework in elementary school has no academic benefits linked from this blog post. Not to mention all the stuff people write about "No Child Left Behind"'s unintended consequences. This 2003 article suggests that this sort of education madness is not limited to the US. And the whole 'Gotta get into the right school' shows its effects in an apparently rather flawed book called The Overachievers: The Secret Lives of Driven Kids, which I note in part because damn, that was one of the schools we competed against in It's Academic, but mostly because this delusion of OMGMustBeDramaticallyAccomplished makes for madness.

I just ... bang my head on the desk. I'm not even terribly coherent about it. I mostly just get to jumping up and down about the damn stress injection into school. I remember the stress injection of school from back when I was going, back when I was being diligently taught the same horrible lessons that are now more important than ever, stuff like 'people will give you useless busywork, but if you're sharp enough you can coast around it (and you won't hit the wall until you're well past when you were supposed to pick up the skills for it)'; 'your value as a person is your accomplishment on a nice, mainstream educational track', 'doing well on the test matters more than understanding, enjoying, or valuing the knowledge' ....

Now with bonus madness! Because preschool isn't too soon for the parents to stress! And no parental stress ever communicates to the kids!

Augh. I wish this didn't infuriate me so much so I could write about it coherently. I'm just with the jumping up and down.

Happy freakin' September.