Sunday, February 12, 2006
Went out for my regular Sunday morning walk/doughnut run.
A middle aged woman followed me around town this morning. It's hard to say if she followed me--downtown Carlsbad is pretty small, but I saw her in four different places on my walk. At the stop light we had the following conversation:
woman: It's a beautiful day!
me: Yes, the weather is nice.
woman: It's so lovely and warm. Where did you get your sunglasses?
me (crossing the street): I don't know. Yes, uh, it is warm. Have a nice day.
Conversations about the weather seem especially stupid in San Diego, and yet we still have them. I went to the doughnut shop and saw her across the street. Then I saw her on the bottom floor of the little outdoor, um mall thing (I'm not sure how to describe the building) as I got my coffee, and then she sat on the bench next to me in the little park overlooking the beach. I was wearing a hat and sunglasses, and I was careful to never look up from my book. (Lester is one footed and fluffy asleep on my knee).
Marginal middle-aged women I don't know are frequently hostile to me in coffee shops, but not only coffee shops. They try to steal my seat, or they want to help me be born again, or they ask me a lot of questions about my writing, or they come into the dance studio while I am working and demand, really demand, to know whether or not they look like ballerinas, or they poke me--often while smiling and speaking to me as though I am a child and say things like: "Do I have to tell the manager that you won't give me your seat?
O hostile women, what am I to learn from you!?
Have any of you had experiences like this? I know that you all have had hostile encounters with men, but I want to know about your hostile encounters with women you don't know or barely know.
I just started reading Iovis by Anne Waldman. Last week I became nervous (again) that one of the series I'm working on is a cliched feminist Buddha universe poem and that because I've moved to California I'm going to write awful poems about dharma and liberal politics and womanhood. I don't mean I worry that I will write about these things, because I think they're interesting things to write about. I just mean I worry that I will write about them in boring ways. I find it helpful to pay attention to these kinds of paranoias while I'm writing because they remind me of what's at risk--or should be at risk--in the work. And so I'm reading Iovis. It's an epic in that Olson way (uh, speaking to a large social group in a kind of prophet/shaman like way) but it's also personal, it's concerned with gender and with bodies--what is masculinity?, what's my relationship to it? (complicated), etc.
And it mentions dharma.