let's get the seven lines. (bookshop) wrote,
let's get the seven lines.

On being the wrench you want to see in the world.

I think it's been a watershed kind of week. Earlier this week I made what was, for me, a really important locked post about some issues that I've been struggling with my whole life. Just being able to articulate and actually give voice to some of the feelings and fears and insecurities I'd had for so long, and the things I'd been dealing with ever since I moved out here, was kind of amazing. I have been really overwhelmed with processing all of that, and it's going to take me a while, but just being able to say it seems to have already made some kind of giant difference in my view of myself and how i fit into the world. Knock on wood, of course. But I can't go any longer without thanking everyone who responded to it. Thank you all so much. I needed the space to talk, and I needed to hear from you all, more than I can say.

The other amazing and crucial thing that happened to me (though i feel like there have been several this week) is the quote I linked in my Gaga post, from Heather Cassil's Out interview:
    Cassils: Gone are the days when if you're against the war you go and protest on the street. Protesting doesn't stop wars anymore. Going to your gay pride rally is nice -- it makes you feel good, but unfortunately we don't live in that era anymore. The only way you can create social change is to insert yourself into the machine.

    Interviewer: Right. And cast yourself as a monkey wrench.
That one quote has coalesced so many things in my head, I can't even really begin to encompass it all. But I'm going to try, because I feel like it's one of the most important things I've ever read. This is what I said about it in an email to a friend earlier this week:
    That idea, that by existing as ourselves and refusing to be put into traditional boxes, while still participating in normative culture, just seems *so* radical and earthshaking to me right now; and part of me is like, maybe it only works for people who are beautiful/normative *enough* to begin with--aka if Gaga didn't have a freaking gorgeous, traditionally female body, she wouldn't be able to pull off using it as a form upon which to hang non-normative costumes, if that makes sense?  But there is a level of inherent and very important value in that.  And even more valuable is the inherent value of just existing and talking about existing in these non-hetero-cis-whatevered spaces.
What's so powerful to me about this metaphor, I think, is that right now is the moment I am realizing just how much more radical I feel like I need to become, in order to be at peace with the things i have been experiencing and learning and living in the last year and a half. Moving away from Bloomington 2 years ago completely destroyed all my comfort levels, my nice bubble of liberal white privilege; and then last year a number of things happened, both personally and within fandom contexts, that shook me up and impacted me profoundly. The nature of my conversations changed, the nature of what I wanted for myself changed, the nature of my relationships changed. As I tried to analyse and understand, really truly understand my own failings, my own levels of privilege and entitlement and selfishness and unawareness--as I tried to break those things down, I started to realize just how profoundly regressive the world I inhabit is, on every level. I used to think that gay rights, specifically gay marriage, was the primary civil rights cause of my lifetime. And now I look back at that and just think, wow, clues, I did not have them anywhere.

I also used to try (and constantly fail) to live by the whole "be the change" motto. I thought that was my way in, to a better way of living and a higher sense of purpose. But the thing about being the change is that it implies change, and for someone with as much guilt and sense of failure as I carry, that's been one more albatross round my neck. I couldn't be the change until I changed, until I was better/smarter/more educated/committed/focused/prepared/sensitive/prettier/thinner/sweeter/meaner/tougher/etc etc ad infinitum. That famous quote about how "our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. our deepest fear is that we have power beyond our wildest imagining" always really struck a chord with me, because it always held up to me this idea that I could be so much more than I was now, if only I would let go of my fear and key into that other side of me, where this perfect person lived and existed and had access to all that power.

And this is what I've realized, what I think I have finally, finally realized. I used to think i would one day finally just wake up, open my eyes, find that inner passion/motivation/desire that allows you to just change your life completely. I used to think I would finally throw down and commit to being disciplined and vibrant and optimistic, and everything would just happen for me. I used to think that I'd just one day be ready.

What I have realized in the last year and a half is that there is no wake up call; there is just this series of niggling little humilations and soul-killing incidents, gradations that gradually wear you down, pull you further away from your passion and your core desires, and make you redefine what you can live with.

Until the day you realize that you've reached the literal end of what you can live with--that you have to change for your own survival.

Somewhere between April 11, 2008, and calling my mom sobbing and begging her to tell me that I could say no to this job and I could move to New York instead and pursue the one thing I have always wanted to do, which is be on Broadway, and it would be okay; somewhere between her saying, "child, you're too old," somewhere between saying goodbye to Bloomington and settling in here, where my coworkers call me judgmental and deliberately use the word "retarded" because they know it upsets me, where they try and aim paper wads at my cleavage when I wear low-top shirts, and don't stop when I ask them to; where the local organic food store went out of business, where I have to ask my boss not to use the word "gay" as an insult, where the governor thinks you shouldn't be protected against discrimination on the basis of your sexual orientation, where people openly stare at me because I have the audacity to walk around being fat, I have reached the end of what I can live with.

I'm done being the change. I want to be the fucking monkey wrench.

I want to let people know I exist. I want to let people know that I'm done being stared at, mocked, told I need to lighten up, find a sense of humor, "stop being so angry all the time."

You think this is angry? This is not anger. Anger is the thing that is going to make me stop giving a fuck what anyone else thinks. Anger is the thing that is going to make me dance whenever I cross a street, in broad daylight. Anger is the thing that is going to make me sing opera in the stairwell. Anger is the thing that is going to make me audition for the Sound of Music, and when they ask me what part I'm trying out for, I'll say, "Maria." Anger is the thing that made me take my physics workbook back to the counter tonight at Barnes & Noble and demand a refund because it's written by some asshole who thinks it's okay to put sexist jokes in the text, because women don't read books about Physics anyway. Anger is the thing that made me buy the book in the first place. I'm going to learn physics, because women like science. I'm going to dance everywhere, badly and outrageously, because fat people dance. I'm going to compose musicals, because when you can only think of 2 female musical theatre composers ever, it's not like I can make things worse. I'm going to leave post-it notes in the male-author-dominated displays at the bookstores going "Where are the women?" I'm going to talk about things that make me uncomfortable, things that make you uncomfortable, because I need that and I hope you do too. I'm going to draw attention to myself whenever possible, because I don't need to change, I need the world to know that I EXIST. I'm going to crossdress, I'm going to drink milkshakes and eat salads whenever I want, I'm going to write original fiction and fanfic at the same time and under the same name, I'm going to never be embarrassed by myself ever again, I'm going to - I don't know. Tattoo my head. Everything. Anything.

I'm so angry. I'm going to do everything. I'm going to be a monkey wrench, forever.

(Icon usage for emphasis. Agnes MacPhail is my new kate beaton-inspired hero. "IS THIS NORMAL?" BOOM. ILU ALL, LITTLE WRENCHES. )
Tags: 2010, je veux ton monkey wrench, me
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