January 16, 2009
HOW doth the little busy bee
Improve each shining hour,
And gather honey all the day
From every opening flower!
— Isaac Watts, “Against Idleness and Mischief”
Busy little bee. That’s me. The month of December and January have flown by without my head poking out of the window. Every ERA resource web site has become a new flower as I fly on down the road of the Equal Rights Amendment. No time to stop and chat. No time to spend with friends. Just buzz me to the next URL, where I can drink up the sweet nectar.
My goddish, this is huge, this ERA grove. Flying from flower to flower I search for my queen, for her scent, for her guidance, for her direction. Each rose petal tells of her past, and with each gathering the grove gets bigger and bigger. I continue to call out to the other bees that swarm around the thousands of carnations, daffodils, and babie’s breath. I can hear their buzzing but we are too busy to connect. Busy, busy, busy.
But busy doing what?
Bee organization, that’s what!
But it is winter. Bees are barely active in the winter, I say.
But the hive is in danger, you scream.
Have you seen the queen? I ask.
No. I have been too busy to even care.
It is at this moment that I realize this swarm has no queen. No one else notices because the petals are so colorful and flashy. And it is at this moment that I realize I am addicted and programed. Petals… every.
Beyond the grove, my city is burning. Eight blocks from my hive, businesses have been destroyed. The buzzing I hear each night comes from the helicopters that hover above my warehouse home in West Oakland, CA. People outside of my window cry, he was wronged, I’ve been evicted, where’s my money, can I have? Their sounds startle me and force me to hear outside of my own brain.
Listen… can you hear it?… The sounds of the city. A car with thumping music, people talking, someone’s roasting coffee, the sun is actually out and it feels like a spring day, my trees have no leaves, the weeds have turned to green unlike their summer brown, should I exercise today since I haven’t since November, maybe I will call my mother or my sister or my daughter or my granddaughter.
Expressing takes a certain amount of time. Feeling and connecting to what is really important requires one to leave the busyness behind and engage fully with the physical. I pull myself away from the beauty of the petal and fly high into the ether. From this space above the grove looks like a gigantic mosaic quilt.
It is here, in the floating stillness that I can hear her, the queen. It is here that I am directed and guided. She asks me to concentrate and she asks me to discriminate against busyness for busyness sake. She points out the long windy brown ERA path and talks about how women use that path to connect to each other. She says that all power lies within each connection and that real power is hidden away.
I float back to my petal and sit looking at it. I know what has meaning. My daughter. My granddaughter. I write these words down on a pink postit and stick it on my petal, high, right side of the monster 24” screen. Stuck there as a reminder that busyness without meaning is a waste of my time. I make a conscious effort to stop and be still. Even if it is just for a moment.
December 23, 2008
I have been reading a great book lately called The World Split Open, How The Modern Women’s Movement Changed America, by Ruth Rosen. This is a must read for any one who is interested in our present 3rd Feminist Wave. Rosen precisely lays out what worked and what didn’t work in the past, showing me that we don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Each page not only energizes and feeds me, but actually pulls me back to show me the larger picture. And this larger picture includes so many women and so many women’s groups. We have covered tremendous ground in the past. But there are acres and acres of untouched fields lying before us that are in desperate need of tilling.
Rosen writes about the beginnings of NOW and the problems they faced as a new group. Their experiences sound vaguely familiar to what is going on between our present women’s groups. I have come to the conclusion that we are repeating women’s history, yet we don’t know it. There is nothing new under the sun here. I have decided to include some text from Rosen’s book so that we can see the similarities, especially those of NOW and the New Agenda, the women’s liberation movement and PUMAs. I present this idea so that we can maneuver and manifest through it.
NOW certainly experienced squabbles and factions among its members. Tensions between local chapters and national headquarters sometimes erupted into public fights. But tensions were inevitable. How could one organization represent the political and social needs of all women? p.81
A certain wilder spirit of protest began to enter NOW, thanks in part to younger women who by 1967 were creating loosely affiliated small groups collectively known as the women’s liberation movement. Through NOW and the women’s liberation groups often joined forces for specific protests, efforts to form coalitions between the two branches of the movement frequently failed. The demons that haunted the daughters of the fifties never fully disappeared. Meredith Tax, an early activist, realized how much the female generation gap influenced the culture of the young women’s liberation movement:
My friends and I thought of NOW as an organization for people our mother’s age. We were movement girls, not career women; NOW’s demands and organizational style weren’t radical enough for us. We wanted to build a just society, not get a bigger slice of the pie. Besides, we were generational sectarians; we didn’t trust anybody over thirty.
Influenced by the anti-hierarchical spirt of the New Left groups, as well as by the theatrical thrust of the counterculture, the younger women’s liberation movement was not particularly concerned with proving the respectability; on the contrary, they wanted to shake things up as much as possible. p.84
Meanwhile, NOW officials became increasingly worried that the movement would appear too undisciplined or unrespectable. p.85.
Collisions between the women’s liberation movement and NOW were frequent and probably inevitable. p.86
The truth is, both branches of the movement were essential. NOW activists promoted leadership and the organizing skills that made them effective lobbyists, organizers, and strategists. They also provided the modern women’s movement with the staying power it needed to withstand backlash after backlash. p.87
Young feminists contributed something equally important — a radical critique of patriarchal culture, visions of alternative lifestyles, and the unmasking of the hidden injuries women had suffered. Although they generally chose to work outside established institutions, they created a network of alternative, grassroots, self-help, nonprofit services — rape, crisis centers and battered women’s shelters, for example — that eventually became established institutions themselves. Sometimes the injuries these younger women unmasked changed laws; sometimes NOW’s legislative efforts altered the nation’s consciousness. In many ways, the differences were really about the targets and the style in which the struggle was waged. At times, ideological or generational differences bitterly divided feminists, but neither branch of the movement, by itself, could have brought about the staggering changes that swept through American culture during the remaining decades of the twentieth century. p. 88
So if the 2nd wave movements were separated by age, what separates us now? I am part of the radical movement yet I am 51. I have spent most of my life as a single mother, with never enough money to cover expenses. After starting my own business three years ago I have begun to turn things around and actually have a small amount of savings in a bank. But I don’t have a IRA for what they are worth now.
I hear others speak bad about The New Agenda. I don’t want to speak bad about them. Deep down inside I need them. I need all of them. They will hobnob with people that I can only dream about. They will understand policies and laws that will tie my head up in knots. They will act calmly and with wisdom while I am screaming on the side of the road with a “fuck you” sign. They will attract flies while I try to swat them with a fly swatter. I will get my hands dirty, digging, removing weeds and they will plant seeds. And later, someday in the future, women everywhere, will sit down together and finally enjoy a wonderful meal of our own.
December 20, 2008
Joan of Arc and Papo in the New Orleans Snow!
ty to New Orleans Puma ; )
December 18, 2008
This is a very sad event. The George Hartwig’s of America really have no clue. They have been so educated with abuse that they can actually say things like this without a hesitance of shame.
George, after taking a shot gun to Louisa, his sister-in-law’s face, was in court today telling the judge that he wanted to see his terminally ill wife, Denise, before she dies. The judge denied his request and George’s reply was,
“That sucks. I didn’t even point a gun at her.”
For the past 19 sober years I have lived free from domestic abuse. Years before this I lived with many Georges and was in similar Louisa and Denise nightmares. There are so many of them that I feel very lucky to be alive today. During those days I knew the number one way that I could die prematurely would be from domestic abuse, from my partner, from someone who said each night to me, I love you. I knew this in my head, yet I could not bring myself to take the action to stop it, to leave and not return. I was a very tough woman in those days. Nothing kept me down. Not you, not your fist, not the bruises, not the black eyes, not the two broken vertebrae I suffered from your jumping on me, not the gun you held to my head in that dark closet you threw me into. Nothing.
As a child, I had not only watched my mother get physically beat by Keith, my step-father, but I participated in it. Me, a tiny little 9 year old, holding on to the skin on the back of this big naked bald headed man who was punching my mother in the mouth, in the head, in her belly. And when the cops were called (by neighbors) to our middle class suburban home in Orangevale, CA, they would take him a way. But only for a few hours where he would return and it would start all over again. My saving grace was the day I got pregnant, left school and was married, at 15.
Six years later, I left my husband for Tim, a man who could and would participate in the dance of domestic violence. He would often drag me out of the house at all hours in the night and onto the street so that he could talk to me. He didn’t care that I was completely naked. He knew that nobody on my block would do anything. Finally one night, my next door neighbor, who was a pastor at a local church, did call the cops. They came and took Tim away. An hour later he showed up by my bedroom window whispering that he was going to kill me. That pastor wrote nasty letters and put them on my car windshield, calling me a whore and a slut.
I quickly planned to moved 8 states away from him but not before he gave me a terrible bloody beating the night before leaving. My best girlfriend found me that morning. Cut lip, two blacked eyes, arms and legs bruised. I was an absolute mess. My girlfriend flew out of my house and drove directly to his house. She found his mom and brought her back to look at me, to prove what her son had done. We sat in the car and I remember her looking at my face and my arms. I remember to this day her smell, sort of like a compost odor of dirt and decaying roots. My senses were heightened to that of an animal. She was crying, rocking, shaking, wringing her hands while I was trying to figure out how I could leave this town, Perry, Iowa, within the hour.
I have years of these stories. Sad. To spend a good portion of your only life trying to survive. How many of us were murdered by loved ones? I know many, unfortunately.
December 14, 2008
December 12, 2008
A new world is crawling from the ashes of the old… – Sleepytime Gorilla Museum
As the doom and gloom days go by I seem to have a part of my brain thinking about the near future and how we will maneuver to live. If it is true about what Huxley says then we really need to have as many freedom groups as we can (decentralized power). We will need to organize locally block by block. We are in that world that Huxley foresaw and that David Icke is shouting about to the world. I think about foreseeing the New World and I see a cross between Brazil, Soylent Green, and Blade Runner. If I could mix these three movies together I think I would have the New World. If you are a young person and have not seen these movies I would suggest spending a weekend with friends watching them. Hell, I would even offer my home theater to you as the place to see them!
The state came into our place (Oakland, CA) in January 2008 and shut down business for 3 months for not having a garment license. Eight state workers barged into our work/live warehouse in a getsapo-est fashion. They interrogated me, my husband and our employees. It was at that moment that I realized that we were living in the New World.
We went to state classes and to court. We got newly educated in some new/old/crazy state laws. And we got fined close to 27k dollars. We are told we need to start up a class action suit because of the illegal tactics and laws that were used.
I know someone who is now with the “triple e” as they call it. Schwarzenegger’s state controlled getstapo as I call it. They are out doing busts every day trying to dig up revenue from those who do not know about old licenses on the books. No warning, no time to comply, fined and closed. Hope you don’t have any independent contractors, because the state wants to get rid of the independent contractor for good and they will once we all are working for the state of Obama.
December 10, 2008
My Card Collection
December 10, 2008
What more can I say? We thought, at least in 1970s, that we would beat sexism. We really did think that. But we stopped organizing. I still remember when I bought my first Playgirl magazine. The next morning I woke up to every male nude tapped to my bedroom walls. My husband at the time thought I might rather look at the images displayed on the wall rather than in the magazine where they were hidden for my intimate viewing. Brings a jolly rumble from below now a days. Reading The Women’s Room and coming into my own. Yes, I thought the world was completely opened to me, just like young women today. Little did I realize that there would be much much effort to prove I could work in jobs where they would only hire men, be turned down from apartment rentals because I was a single mother, constantly hear the phrases, you’re a girl, there’s a woman on the stage, she doesn’t count, who cares what she thinks and on and on.
Every once in a while I see our world through men’s eyes. And I see how they actually see us. Second class citizens, only here by the grace of Adam’s rib. Here to please. My husband, god bless his soul, and who I love very much, just says I’m sorry.
Big ACTION today and for the rest of the week:
December 5, 2008
So it is about time that I started my own blog. I have created so many of them for others, have commented on various sites, so I guess it is time to get out my own megaphone as little as that may be.
I am a mystic visionary. And last night while attending a lecture of another visionary, I realized it is time to finally walk on my own. Most of my life I have flocked to others to verify my beliefs. Last night was my last flock. Time to stand alone. Finally. I have been trying for 51 years to be able to stand still and not wobbly fall over. The time has come, a facts a facts, it belongs to me, lets get it back.
So there. Hopefully I will write up a storm here. Maybe this will encourage me to get on with the book that is inside of me. I did have my own blog at one time but couldn’t seem to bring myself to write in on it very much. Too public. Joanna the maid feels mighty fine to me. Like possibly I can relax and be myself here. Say what I want and who cares to the wind.
I do promise that this will be a weird ride. My life has been like that. Sometimes so fantastic that I don’t even have words for it. I also want to put out there that I have permission to do anything. Trance out, argue with myself, tell the truth as violent as it is sometimes, post what I want even if it is not in vogue, add videos that have nothing to do with the content, and just be plain insane when called for.
Cheers joanna the maid!