Monday, April 06, 2009

Excuses

I have been such a slacker. Truly. If I had any regular readers, I'd feel really bad about this. As it is, well, I'm really sorry to both of you.

The thing is, I am used to writing rants and tirades and personal narratives. I am used to writing what I know. Lately, what's occupying my mind is the stuff I don't know. It's much harder to write about that.

I lived for 10 years in a semi-rural area in Western Massachusetts. I learned and grew a lot in those years, but by the last year or two, I was in a rut. Then I moved to Oakland, and my world got much much bigger.

Some fun with Census data: The population of Oakland is approximately 12x greater than that of the town I formerly lived in. The geographic area is .6x bigger. Oakland has over 7,000 people per square mile, and the town I used to live in has fewer than 1,000.

Census data counts bodies. Twelve times as many bodies, 7000 bodies per square mile, is not easy for me to get used to.

The great part is, I have access to 12x as many ideas as I did in WMass. When I lived there, I'd get together to kvetch and theorize about Christian hegemony with one or sometimes two friends who also had that interest. I'd get together to kvetch and theorize and organize about classism with two or sometimes four friends who were into that. Here, I think, "I wonder who's organizing about XYZ?," and it seems before I even voice the thought, there's someone (usually someone really cute), inviting me to a discussion group or event about it.

I am getting to think new thoughts here, which is delightful and, when it comes to this blog project, slightly embarassing. It's embarassing because I am used to knowing stuff, and then trying to convince other people of what I know. I know how to write that. I'm not used to writing about what I don't know, about uncertainty.

A friend suggested to me recently that needing to know "the answer" is a part of Christian hegemony. Hegemonic (culturally, socially and politically dominant) Christian thought assumes that there is one truth, and that those who know it (or have faith) are good, and those who don't know (or doubt) are evil - or at least, less good. In that model, of course people don't tend to admit to uncertainty.

I'm not Christian, but I was raised and educated in a society dominated by hegemonic Christianity. In particular, I learned to write in educational institutions founded and structured on Christianity. I learned how to write a 5-paragraph essay with a thesis statement and 2-3 supporting points. Didn't you?

I never learned how to write from a place of uncertainty. I'm not sure how to craft an interesting and compelling essay about not knowing.

I am not sure, but I think probably it is good for me to keep writing even when I don't know. I am sure that at least one of you is going to nag me if I keep slacking. So that was my excuse, and this is my commitment: I will write about things I'm not sure about. I will write about Palestine, about queer and trans politics, and about buying my first suit. When all else fails, I may write about urban chicken farming.

If the writing is not as incisive as the older posts, my humblest apologies.I think at any rate it will be more engaging than leaving three-month gaps in between posts. Plus, maybe if I write my uncertainty, y'all will believe me when I say I am eager for feedback about the writing and the content. (Really, I am. That part I am sure about.)

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