Monday, September 13, 2010

Life in Ten

Assignment: Write furiously, for ten minutes only, about your life.

When I was born, I had been two weeks late—I was induced because I’m a jackass and I am on time for nothing. My mother was nineteen, on the edge of twenty, and my father was 30-something. 34? I don’t remember. I was loved when I was born, there’s a real advantage in that. My mother tells me that when I was being walked down the hall to get my weight or whatever it is they do with newborns, my father giggled the whole way down. Like all things, that was impermanent. He was a product of a shitty home life, which he was so generous as to bestow upon me in my early development. His father, in his sophomore year (I believe…) of high school, was sent overseas to fight in World War II. He was in some secret ops that was behind the storming of Normandy, and it is clear from the way he speaks about and in the things he doesn’t say that he was deeply affected—his entire class went, and maybe three returned. That does things to people. It did things to his children—my grandfather was not a good guy for the longest time. Abusive, mean, an alcoholic—this is my legacy. My father’s legacy. When she was five, my mother’s mom died of breast cancer at the tender age of 32 (I think…); growing up without that figure has affected my mother deeply, especially since my grandfather failed at a great many things. I was brought into a world that in so many ways was broken—though I suppose my birth was a band-aid of sorts; I have brought much joy into the world, probably the same amount of sorrow I’ve carried into it as well. So, yay balance? A childhood marked in insecurities, anxiety and pain—father’s suicide at the age of five, trips to rape crisis centers, holes in the wall before that, screaming, crying, attempted murder. All-around fuckupedness. Lot of repression. I carry this. I carry this every day; I’m not normal. I try. I try so hard. A long way I’ve come—at fifteen I tried to die, it got so bad. Everything was bad and no one was helping, no one was listening. It was a desperate time. I’m less desperate now, but it seems I surround myself with the unwell—I think I am trying to fix them. I am trying to fix all that I can’t or won’t fix in myself. It really kills me sometimes. But there is joy, too. Much happiness. Much learning. Allegheny saved me, I think. In a lot of ways. Time, too. Time heals most things, in my experience. Is heal the right word? Manageable. Time makes things manageable. If the personal is political, much of my personal is painful—the painful is political. Pain and politics. I think that’s what keeps me going when I want to give up again; I cling to anger and I cling to hate, and this is what keeps me fighting. Always fighting. A ceasefire would be dangerous to my health. It’s fortunate that I’m so stubborn sometimes; I realize that my experience is the result of so many intersecting forms of oppression, and if I give up, IT wins. Whatever IT is—I think it might be everything and it might be nothing. IT just IS. And here I am, I am not going anywhere. My life is a battlefield. I. Will. Fight. IT.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Fuck the Buddha, My Pain is Political (!)

That is offensive to an entire religion but I don't even care. How am I expected to take seriously a man of privilege who one day up and leaves his family, especially when, in the style of the Bible, he names his child Fetter because he weighs the Buddha down as an earthly burden? What in the flying FUCK?

Collectively, I have had only four class periods of Buddhism and Mindfulness, but I find myself resenting its teachings and fighting its philosophies every step of the way. Through the use of useless metaphors like onions and arrow removals, I am learning that we are nothing. Zip, nada. We're constantly changing and impermanent, la dee da I like to abandon my family because as a male I'm privileged enough to do so la dee da. I spent the entirety of middle school and high school thinking I was nothing, sir, and I am never going back to that, thankyouverylittle.

Another useless metaphor is used to explain that we have no identity. Oh but wait, our identity is fluid, like a river or other moving body of water! Cause we are impermanent, hurr derr. Naturally, however, we have our own personalities (?).

Ack. My emphatic disagreement on this front stems from the feminist philosophy on identity politics--that is, our personal identity, experiences and beliefs inform how we engage (or don't engage) socially and politically. And you know, I think it is all well and good to be personally enlightened or whatnot--you big slut, good for you!--but how in the HELL is personal enlightment going to help the socically, politically and economically disenfranchised? Compassion stems from personal well-being and inner peace, but if you're not working on an instituional level to bring about social change, that compassion is doing jack shit for the whole of humanity. AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

I am all over the place here because I am tired, in pain, and extremely frustrated. And wouldn't you know, all my pain is stemming from my social location as female, lower middle class and young? Yet my pain (or suffering, as Buddhists call it) is entirely political--it gives me fire, the will to fight. Inner peace, I fear, would lead to complacency, and that is something that the rest of the world cannot afford. I may well die of stress-related diseases if whatever-the-fuck's-wrong-with-me doesn't kill me first, but goddamnit, I will go down fighting.