Thursday, March 3, 2011

Peggy Lee - Black Coffee

I've been waiting out the various issues I shared with you regarding my gratuitous reproductive system, sigh, to no avail. No period. Whatever. I sally forth. In this span of time in which I have taken, I will now cover a few things have occurred to me:

1. Committing to writing this every day is not realistic. I just wrote a whole long explanation of why, but then read it, highlighted it, and pressed delete. There it is. I can't do it. Period. There, that was scary. 

2. Maybe all those feelings I was having were just real live feelings having nothing to do with a monthly cycle. I'll take that up privately, but just so you know, the notion has tumbled upon me several times. Often inconvenient times, as feelings seem to disregard any kind of schedule. Pesky, to be sure.

3. Doing a thing that scares me is different than doing a thing I do not want to do for reasons other than fear. It is different than realizing I am scared and just being in fear. Experiencing fear is a wholly different situation than acting in spite of that experience. For instance, let's say, hypothetically speaking, that I encounter a person who I do not know, say a person making me a cup of coffee at a Folsom Street establishment as I stand next to an old friend. Let's say we watch them prepare each cup with care and expertise and the smell of fresh mint and ground cinnamon beckons us from the brew across the counter from this individual. Let's assume this hypothetical experience is in 2006 and I have just returned to my beloved San Francisco from a vibrant but difficult New York that has kicked the shit out of me. Assume I am in the place of incredible hope and relief, a pink cloud of delight with my home, each moment precisely new and perfect. My heart is wide open to life: a mishmash of whathaveyou that life serves up. And let's say, in this state of emotional apex that the stylish person my making my coffee is telling a story to the girl next to him in which a gentleman features. He refers to the gentleman, conveniently right as my friend and I are about to take our coffee from him, as a kike, and then hands off our perfect, steaming, warm cups of bliss, now topped with this word.

Now, this word, I imagine in this story, might bring several feelings to a woman with a last name such as my own: Seinberg. But feel free to insert any number of names I feel adoration for: Greenberg, Cohen, Bernstein, Shays, Kries, or unassuming ones like Smith or McMullin hiding a Jewish mother's name in the patriarchal nomenclature chain of command. The word brings up rage, to be sure, but also, shame, humiliation, bitterness and, let's imagine, fear. The fear wouldn't be about everything that is happening packed into that moment, but also a whole history that word lugs around with it. Jews weren't arriving at Ellis Island in droves simply because they really enjoyed a boat ride. Like other words you are familiar with, a culture can pack up bullwhip welts, towering piles of bald emaciated bodies in striped clothing, bodies tied to desolate fences beaten to death under huge skies, strange fruit in the trees, machetes yielding whole rooms of bones, all into 4-6 letters. And in the face of such words, sometimes a person freezes up. And enduring is not the same as doing one this every day that scares you.

It is no better or worse, 
it is simply not the same. 

And in this story, which maybe you guessed by now isn't the most hypothetical story in the history of stories, I didn't do anything that scared me. I was just scared. I am not having a judgement here about my lack of ability to say anything to the guy (and to this day I have no idea what I would say), I have just been thinking a lot about fear.

So there is being in fear.
And there is acting while one is in fear, moving toward it.
Shaky voice, teary eyes, racing heart, moving toward it anyhow...
People call it courage.

Sara Elise

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