Miles de cosas en la cabeza. Leo, escribo, proceso, duelo. Un corral con caballos desatados. Should I rein them? July is my window of opportunity. I feel like a character in Stranger Things: Quick! Do something before the opening closes. Soon it’ll be August and course prep and admin and planning for the year will take all of my time. July is when we recover from the previous year, re-train the brain to think about big ideas. It’s like going back to the gym. But because you have limited time, there is no time to transition. You have to do it now, all at once. Rest and come up with critical questions. I feel like I am in the time of dreaming, envisioning, weighing options. There is so much I want to do with this limited freedom… with my window of opportunity. I also want to leave room for a part of me to decide what would bring me joy. Not to do what is needed or what makes sense or what would be strategic but follow my heart, let intuition guide me. Go back to the shore, to the spot I was in when I entered the water before the stream sent me off course. Before, I wrote against the tenure clock. Now, I write against the creatures banging on the door: the new year, the voices that are never still. That is the exercise too: to create silence, tranquility, to make room for myself. And to create systems that will help me do that even when we are high at sea.
Reading: there has been a pull, a gravitational one, to engage with books. Yesterday, for example, I got a book about family history, about how to create a genealogy. It’s meant for people in the US but it’s very good. It’s probably my proximity to death what makes me want to grab my surviving aunt before she leaves, ask her the last minute questions we were left with after Madreselva’s passing. It’s part of my mourning work, because one of the most painful and recurrent parts of the grieving process is the questions, the things, the details we suddenly find craving to learn about but that we are not able to pose to the departed anymore. I want to know stuff from way back, that not even Madreselva would have been able to answer. I want to know about Genoa, about boarding the vapor and leaving toward a new life. How did the ones in Piamonte reach the port? How did the ones in Benetto do it? Who did they leave behind? How did they travel from Buenos Aires to Santa Fe?
I also got a book about clichés. Terms and expressions. Each entry explains their meaning and uses, and a bit of their history. I look out “Window of opportunity”: short time to accomplish something. Used profusely around the time of the armed race between “the Western and Communist powers.” The entry mentions that this phrase was used to refer to a chance for attacking.
Make progress. Set the foundation for the next project. An article, a book proposal, a grant proposal, a website. ¿Cómo sigue la historia? I need to show myself I can do this. At the post-tenure level, it is proving that you are not a fraud, not an impostor who, by chance and with the help of a savvy advisor was able to pull off a dissertation and then a book. Seize the opportunity. Now it about being reborn as an intellectual, not a schoolgirl that does her homework. Now it’s about what I care about. On my own terms… But it is also, perhaps mostly, about what I need. What part of my identity will I call upon: lesbian, immigrant, aging woman, orphan, ex-lover, friend, performance theorist, artist, activist, survivor?
Un libro para aprender a dibujar.
A book about Butch-Femme to know my history, embrace my queerness, forms of culture and pleasure and rebellion.
A book about abandonment, the end of a world.
A book about organizing and mobilization and creating the relationships that will lead to and sustain social transformation. A lesson on leadership.
A book about tarot and intuitive, symbolic imagery.
A book about group processes.
A book about Italian cooking.
And one about nutrition.
A book about embracing my life, desire and frustration.
A book about wiring the mind to not fall in the trap of negative loops and internal disputes.
A book about the black radical tradition and education.
A book about friendship. Just drawings.
A book about love, communication.
Jumping between all these. None is fiction. I thought of starting El nervio óptico. I need a world.
Un libro sobre la corte suprema. And a book about anti-abortion activism.
I think that the difficulty with focusing and determining what I want to dive into comes from the fact that I want this next project to be personal, to be “of the times”, in tune with current concerns and conversations but also with what I am traversing right now. Funny how we get so upset when students write about them, navel-gaze and the like. And here we are. I guess I am wondering if it’s possible to integrate, to do the work con teclas negras y blancas. Maybe that is why I became interested, and even passionate, about learning how to play the accordion, even if it’s a toy accordion. Tocar canciones de adultos en un instrumento de niños. Tocar con las teclas de la infancia. Simplificar. Revisar. It’s a regressive time. But also a time for treasuring memories and being with the ancestors. I guess I, too, have a culture, and an ethnicity. Se disfraza de psicoanálisis, de tango y melancolía, puro puerto y desplazamientos y extrañezas, y paraísos perdidos y hasta expulsiones. A different way of inhabiting time. Un desperdicio, tal como se entendería aquí. Last summer I was dreaming about staying in LA, thinking hard about options, could I simply stay, quit NU and just follow my heart, my love for the ocean and the mountains, the fucked up way in which that city makes me feel welcome, makes me feel that I belong, even.
What am I to make of this exploded library? Who reads like this? With curiosity, longing, thirst? Only writers have so many books open, dispersed throughout the house, waiting on top of one desk or another, waiting for us at the table when we sit to eat a meal. Last year I wrote many presentations, seeds of projects left unfinished. This year, I want something new, something different. I want to be different. Not to reproduce, not to expand, not to extend. Perhaps I want some things to be over, because I’ve had to come to terms with losses and farewells. And, while I want, while I am eager to start something new, my subconscious might be boycotting my capacity to start because I only have a window, a limited opportunity. This requires a humble approach. A minor gesture. And I, instead, want it all. What is a minor gesture in a collapsed world? A fractal world in which my world and the worlds that end-ed are a synecdoche of the world-world that has fallen apart. Were we ever a world? The planet that held us together is burning. We are burning it down. Who does that? Make the air we breathe vicious, the water we drink toxic, the earth we count on, the trees, flammable; tall sequoias, helpless.
A minor gesture, like zooming in on a story of a Chinese dancer and filmmaker at the start of the pandemic, telling us about her blue house project and the Chinese famine. And we don’t just watch a movie, we are immersed in the computer from where she shares her story with us, and we sit together, although our bodies cannot tell the temperature in the room or if others are bored or enjoying it. Look back: what did theater people talked about when it all started. Theaters closing, lights off. Like with the blue house, we look at these houses of dreams, of community, from the distance or with the eyes of the soul, or of memory. To write this piece I have to go back to what it is to be in the theater. And to what I felt when I went back to the movies with that mix of discomfort about having to put up with others while also being happy to not being able to stop the movie to postpone it for another day… or never. Exhausting an experience. Being in the moment. Present to the event. Do digital performances help or reinforce the monkey mind? Can we sit and not attend to danger? Can we put the world between brackets? Make it be all about the characters and the story, and sensing with our skin and pores our fellow watchers in that shared dream that is being at the theatre. Ahora abro documento.