BEYOND MERE SURVIVAL


doodles of a hard conversation
July 28, 2009, 6:18 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , ,

 

DSC02590DSC02588DSC02589DSC02586DSC02587DSC02585DSC02583DSC02584DSC02582



the leap
June 13, 2009, 12:11 am
Filed under: rants and such | Tags: , , , , , ,

it has been a pause of silence on my part because i have been stuck on moving, stuck by really trying to grasp that i am deciding to uproot myself yet again, and this time not for an emergency, or immediate survival like the first time. i am happy in Bloomington, the happiest i have ever been probably, but i am still leaving. i know i would stop being happy pretty soon if i did not leave because i am restless and my head wonders. 

today my friends threw a going away party, and i am presently paralyzed by their presence in my life. i feel like a kid, still trying to figure out how people relate to each other and how to make it all work. i was watching my nine year old daughters playing with people and routinely making the rounds, sitting on different people’s laps, or hanging on their necks, as if it was the most natural thing in the world. i could have never giving them that sense of trust, safety and dignity by myself. i could have never opened their world to so many different ideas, beliefs and ways of interacting. Oona and Florence are comfortable around adults and trusting, but without being naive or lacking assertiveness. i am full of gratitude for all the people that have been in their life for a long long time and made them into who they are now.

it’s a strange time of heightened intensity. this year more people have died that i know than ever, people from my past, my childhood and teenage years. at the same time more people than ever seem to be pregnant, not close to me necessarily, but acquaintances and folks around town. i don’t understand it. it makes my head hurt.

we make up easy explanations like citing some higher power or the circle of life, but it makes no sense to me still.

a person really close to a dear friend just died, and how he died seems like the most improbable way to go. i keep playing the story over and over in my head, and it just seems impossible. if i wholly believe death is real i can give myself a panic attack in less than 5 seconds, and i cannot seem to accept it, or to know what to do with that knowledge.

it scares me to give up the close relationships i feel with my amazing friends, and for what? a chance at making more art? living the cosmopolitan life? i hope this move isn’t another burned bridge, the last sentence of a chapter, but that i can find some continuation between all the pieces of my life that at times feel so scattered.



the move – part two: a place to call home
April 7, 2009, 10:22 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , ,

I spent the weekend in san Francisco, really trying to figure out if it could be a place to call home. I walked around for hours, spending time in different neighborhoods, trying to get clues about who the people inside each house could be, if they would be persons that I’d have any affinity with, what their beliefs and histories are, their aspirations. I had a somewhat inflated idea of San Francisco as a place where racial and class segregation were less pronounced than in other U.S. cities, but I was met by a different scene. Many of the neighborhoods where charter schools and “better” public schools are, are mostly white, obviously affluent, and a complete bubble. The middle class and working class neighborhoods are asian and latino. And that is that. Then there is the mission, which is just getting violently gentrified and feels tense and awkward. Obviously it’s impossible for me to get a sense of the city in a few days, but still it is disorienting. I want to be able to be around people that have a variety of histories, a variety of views on the world and cultural references. Otherwise how can anything change? If we are all scared of each other, understanding the world by stereotypes, and in the worst cases, being able to dehumanize people that don’t talk, look like, or act exactly like us. Fuck that. So I am pretty frustrated and also trying to answer the more fundamental question of what is a place to call home? Where do I feel like I can belong? Sometimes I wonder if the only place that feels like home is italy, but it doesn’t. it is familiar, and i can recognize myself in the shapes of faces, and skin tones, but it’s still very alienating to be in a constant ideological battle with a homophobic, racist, macho society. And it bums me out to believe that each of us is inexorably bound to where we were born, never able to create out own sense of home elsewhere. But it is very difficult to just chose where to move, hoping it will feel right, investing myself in it, leaving 7 yr old friendships behind, without any certainty in the outcome. I don’t want to drift forever. I am waiting for some enlightenment, a sign.



the move- part one: schools
March 20, 2009, 3:46 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , ,

after many years of living in bloomington, sort of accidentally, i am likely moving in a way that feels more intentional, albeit random in its own merit.  a strong candidate for the move is san francisco, because i have been accepted at a school there.

however it’s not so much my school i am concerned with, as much as with oona and florence’s. after all it is where they spend 6 hours a day, 5 days a week, and a vital part of them feeling comfortable and happy with moving.

i have been researching schools and trying to get a sense of the elementary public schools in the city, with moderate success. i used the great schools website, which rates schools based on academic performance (often based on standardized testing), but also has a space for parent/student comments and rating. harvey milk civil rights elementary school

i was heartened to see that there seem to be many many schools that are “good”, at least on a superficial level, including the harvey milk civil rights elementary school, which is a welcomed change for the relentless homophobic/ gender policing messages they seem to be getting at school now, that have prompted oona to dress more girly because she does not want to be made fun of, or kicked out of the girls bathroom.

what was a bigger and unexpected revelation is another piece of information provided by the great schools database: ethnic and economic background of the students at each school. what appears is a color coded map of the city, that follows the shifting of neighbourhoods and wealth. white students are always a minority in any of the public schools i found, even though they make up 80% of students in private schools in the city. many schools had a strong majority of asian students, or hispanic students, but never african american students. it kind of blew my mind that is would be so stark, that within a city so small and dense there would be such a clear deliniation. it prompted me to reflect on my own sense of  otherness tied to ethnicity and identity.

growing up in a monocultural environment my sense of race was distant and mediated through pop culture, even though i was very aware that being italian was second class, something you tried to escape, or hide, or deprecate. i grew up with a clear sense that being not from italy was better, that being british or american was many steps higher,  a position to look up to, or to strive for.

now living in the U.S. i am pushed into ubiquotous whitewashing and still trying to figure out where the hell it is that i fit, and where oona and florence fit also ( though of course it will be up to them to figure that out). in bloomington they are part of a majority when it comes to the color of their skin, and a minority when it comes to their beliefs about tolerance, or religion, or cultural references. they are already stuck in the middle, having  a family living on the other side of the ocean. they have already moved across distances of culture and language, and i want the next move to be as easy for them as possible.

so i am struggling to read how the intensley racialized landscape of a city will affect their lives, the kids they spend their days with, that will be their friends. is it unfair to send them to a school where 78% of children speak cantonese at home? is it fucked up of me to even consider race as a factor in their schooling? i don’t want to make this any harder on them. i don’t want them to feel like outsiders because they are new in town, and because they speak a different language at home, and because the kids they are in class with have a completely different set of cultural, linguistic and ethnic references.  i want to believe that none of that matters, that people can easily transcend those diffrences and connect at a more deep rooted human level, but i have been the outsider too much to know that it is not so simple.