So, yes, I did a one-day quickie yesterday to see upsidedownblue, here on the precipice of his soon-to-be quite-the-new life. (!!!) We had a fine meal, wandered about, and then saw Alison Bechdel present material from (and on the creative process involved in writing/drawing) Fun Home. She was sincere, open, direct, funny, humble, revealing---all kindsa good stuff. And present. Humanly present, through her talk & even when we got to the front of the book signing line, when she'd already been at it for quite a while. I was so ready for her to be on auto-pilot that it really threw me off to be met with the regard of her real gaze (sans the specs) and clear openness to connection; I found myself wishing later that I'd taken better advantage of the opportunity of exchanging a few words with her.
My question to her during the Q&A, having heard that she models herself as her characters (using the digital camera) for a visual guide for the panels (including in Dykes to Watch Out For), was whether she gets a fat sub model for shots involving fat characters. Cuz, you know, Jezanna ain't shaped like Alison. Seems she does, in fact---that is, she's had a fat friend do it, or has used photographs, cuz fat does sit on the body differently in different quantities. Her response was so matter-of-fact that (with her tone, and perhaps the fact that I was in a sort of feminist atmosphere?) it only later occurred to me that there had been a chance she would react in her answer to the charged social-context aspects of fat rather than to the simple factual body ones I was asking about.
It had been quite a while since I'd been in a women's bookstore. My mother and I looked into buying the 31st St. Bookstore in B'more, before it became a co-op, before it died. We were quite serious about it---bet you didn't know that, even those of you who've known me a while. Even looked into financing alternatives involving a D.C.-based women's bank, as I remember it.
Anyway, those lesbo-feminist first wavers who get kicked about so much nowadays for not having been "sex positive" (don't get me started) made some great places in those bookstores. I mean, I too scoffed at the Olivia Records records and tarot dream journal crystal pendant incense holders, and I rolled my eyes about plenty of what seemed sanctimonious in that sub-subculture, but I also got quite an education in those stores, without benefit of formal instruction, and in a way that the public library couldn't have come near providing. Plus there's something about older dykes and the way so many of them take/took themselves seriously. There's something about taking yourself seriously. I don't know how to say what I mean about this thing at the moment, but there's something about it I'm knocking around in my head---something that I recognize when I see it, and I like, and I wish to aspire to more. And yesterday I liked just being around some of those older dyke presumption-of-taking-self-seriously wimmin (sure, I wink with that spelling---and so do many of the first wavers, fer cryin' out loud).
And I may have to get militant on some asses next time I hear foremother crones maligned en masse for the now-stock evil they supposedly perpetuated about not cheering on everyone's specific sexual practices sufficiently---or, hell, about flat-out taking theoretical feminist positions that raised questions about power dynamics, in bed and out. It pisses me off to see that knee-jerk blanketing declaration about a whole universe of gutsy women who were daring about sex themselves---pisses me off in a way not unlike the way the HRC pissed me off in its early days, distancing itself from the fringe, the drag queens, the very folk who fought back at Stonewall and laid the path in so many other ways that that night of uprising was just symbolic of. I mean, have a little appreciation for the envelope pushers who went before, you know? At least give a nod to our debt before (or while, or after) pointing out where you disagree, or how they fell short, even very short, for you/us.
But I digress.
Gonna sit down with Fun Home in a little bit & savor it. I'm so glad I was introduced to it with the author's reading it to us.
She was very funny saying, deadpan and sincere, how she spends so much of her time/life thinking about herself. How that's what interests her most---along with "self" itself. It was vaguely-transgressively truthful, and undermining of the etiquette of self-abnegation. She'd responded to her long-ish introduction by commenting that she felt thoroughly contextualized, and that also got a pretty good laugh. It must be an odd business to be moving through the world with this version of her experience out there, and talking about it with strangers all around the country.
One thing that probably shouldn't have surprised me, but sure did, was that hearing/reading about (and looking at) her relationship with her father (which I'd known is central to the book) would get me to thinking about my relationship with mine. Duh! One of those surprises (I love) that are more surprising cuz they should be no surprise. I'm sure there'll be more resonating in that dept. (Bring it on, I say, perhaps foolishly...) I'm looking forward to more about butchiness and nelliness, too.
ANYway. Quite glad I decided to do the quickie trip. It was worth being tired today & not getting the trash/recycling/compostables out this morning & having to put off attending to the (now much less goldenroddy) garden & the other TCB stuff I'll fit in later this week.
On the way back I had a long conversation with T in Jersey.
Today there was a little more dyke drama to deal with. I'm beginning to see a new angle on some of that that's making me think maybe I need to get a tune-up on my manipulation detector as well as my automobile engine.
And, as I'm still always doing to one extent or another, I've been missing Holly. What??, you say? Well, it is while carrying, yes indeed, an ever-stronger sense of my own perspective, of the crack-up, of many of the many ways I'm so much better off, and of how the Holly I knew/miss/loved no longer exists (and, yes, I understand, may never have really existed). Of all that stuff. I imagine it makes some of you groan to see me say it, but (a) I spare you most of the time and (b) it's not a horrid painful achy thing any more, at least.
In fact I think it's become mostly a very good thing. I think I have reclaimed something of my own positive, happy experience with her, and I maybe even own it now. It may be mine. You could say that the hardest part of that whole business was the gaslighty aspect of all I had known being called into question so thoroughly that I just spun & spun, while she couldn't even keep a date to arrange for getting her shit, let alone actually talk to me about what happened. I had to go through a long, difficult process of imagining how that could be, and find a way to make sense of it in order to make some sense of the world. Having managed to do so has, among other things, and with the benefit of the passage of some serious time, given me back a good hunk of what I gained from/while being with her.
There's a version of mourning what's become of her that--- well, I still can't go there for long. It's so sad that thinking about it directly sucks me down into a very low place. That's what the weak-in-the-knees is from, I reckon now, shmizla---not fear; sadness. Big sadness, not exhaustively explored, as there was other stuff to work on, and as it comes with the danger of moving me to worrying about her: a place I must not go. ("She can take care of herself," I hear you say. "People like her always take care of themselves." Well, I don't know how well they do, by any quality-of-life meter I value---but you're fundamentally right, of course, and it's not my business to root for her any more anyway.)
Okay, okay. What's for dinner?