Friday, July 10, 2015

The Start of the Mx Honey Badger Long-Distance Tour

I. A Fierce Farewell to Garbage

Me in my new thrift store T-shirt (last week, before I cut my hair) >

The T-shirt reads "Honey Badger Don't Care"--a phrase, you probably know, from a whacky redub of a National Geographic video. 

I don't care about the meme of it, I just like honey badgers for the reason I suppose a lot of people do: 
they are small and fierce, and those of us who sometimes feel small would like some of their fierceness. 

I first met honey badgers as the only good thing in the terrible movie The Gods Must Be Crazy II:  a badger falls in love with a guy's boot and follows it around and won't give up.
Then a South African woman on Camino told me her son was nicknamed honey badger, because he would never give up.

Sometimes giving up takes some bravery too:

Today, I screwed up my courage and let the publisher know I can't write the Garbage book after all. 
I'm embarrassed because I've held onto it for a couple (three) months;  I'm hoping that's not a big deal for them because it's in line for 2017, so there's plenty of time to give it to another author in their stable.

I told the managing editor the truth:
"I know other authors like P. & A. can handle this sort of material, and I hope they can take it on, but it just makes me hate life. 

Garbage shows up the worst of us humans:
our rapacious greed and deadly short-sightedness that create the kind of desperate poverty that forces other humans to spend their lives in e-waste hell, dipping with their bare hands our discarded cell phones in acid."
I don't know how other people can stand to live with subjects like this for the time it takes to write a book. 
Am I unusually "sensitive"?

I've never been suicidal, but I started to think about how my mother left open on her bedside table the New Yorker's photo essay on war,  when she killed herself. 
It pays to be careful how much you flood your system with horror.

I don't know how people can stand to read the news every day either. I do want to know the basics, and those you can't really avoid anyway. But I just start to feel paralyzing despair if I look too closely for too long.

I'm more effective with little, close-up acts of goodness, like helping people at the thrift store.

II. Mx and Match

 Here's a fun bit of news that popped up when I was using the Webster's online dictionary:
they list the gender-neutral honorific "Mx" under Words at Play/Words We're Watching.

I'm all for playing around with norms, and I like Mx a lot, 
but I'm an old-school 1970's-style feminist:
we championed the ideal of changing society, changing our views of how biology defines us.

We used to have a slogan, "biology is not destiny".
Actually, I used to and still do think that's incredibly naive, but the idea was, society should change, not our bodies, and I still lean toward that.

Now people change their biology with surgery and chemicals.
I'm all for self-determination and the alleviation of suffering, so it's great that's possible, but this cause (as I've seen it so far) is just not near and dear to my heart.

Like, good for Mx Jenner for being brave and true to herself, but I can't get behind her Vanity Fair photo shoot that spreads a message that being female = lingerie wearing.

And, omg, the money... You could pay for hundreds, probably thousands, of wells for clean water with the money Mx Jenner spent. 

It's times like this that I feel Catholic. Not in terms of Catholic sexual politics, which pretty much [but not entirely] stink, but in the Catholic view of resources:
Love is infinite.
Food, clean water, housing, and health care, however, are limited, and we should focus on learning to share them. 

Well, it's early days yet; we'll see how this gender stuff all comes out in the wash. 
I'm really hoping it turns out to create greater liberation and authenticity for everyone and doesn't instead end up further solidifying gender roles and materialistic determination.

III. So, What Now?

So, now I'm not writing the Garbage book, I need to get serious about getting a job. I still have occasional short-term publishing projects---proofreading, indexing, and the like--but not enough to live on.

(I didn't get an interview for the County job I'd applied for last month. I suspect I somehow knocked myself out of the running by screwing up the computer-analyzed online application. 
Someone told me, for instance, that in some cases, if they ask for "3–5 years" experience and you write "10 years" that can disqualify you. I must look into this whole thing more...)

Money is going to matter a little more than before because Marz just told me she's moving out, she hopes in August, so I'll be paying all the rent. It's still reasonable ($475 = cheap for this city), but it's been great to have only paid half that for the past four years: 
so much freedom from financial stress!

I'm really feeling tossed up in the air and can't quite get my emotional bearings.

On the one hand, I feel liberated:
from the garbage book, which was seriously depressing me;

and from living with someone who didn't want to be living with me (ditto).

On the other hand, I feel lost and sad:
I'd thought Activities would be my work for the last 20 years of my working life, and that didn't pan out, and going back to writing schoolbooks wasn't ever my long-term goal anyway...
In fact, I don't have a long-term goal.

And while it'll be better if Marz and I don't live together, since she's unhappy here, it grieves me that it's turned out this way. Things had been hard off and on, but I had been happy living with Marz.

People who have kids tell me this is normal, but of course it's not normal to me. (Also, normal doesn't mean painless.)

This may sound bizarre (it does a bit, to me), but I've rarely been in the position of being left--unless I count my mother's death, which was a pretty dramatic departure, though I know it wasn't about me.

Otherwise, though, have I played it safe (maybe to avoid just such rejection)? Or have I just been lucky? 

I don't know, but this is situation calls for a skill I've not yet developed. 

I'm pretty plucky, though: I can figure it out.
I'm no honey badger, but unless I'm mired in garbage, I'm more of a dandelion than an orchid. 

IV.  Queen says, Get On Your Bike and Ride!

What I'm doing now is... getting back to biking.
Six months of biking to work got me into decent biking shape--a couple months off, and the parts have gone soft and the pounds have gone up.

I have this crazy attraction to the idea of biking across the United States next year, when I turn fifty-five. I really, really doubt I would actually do this. I did some long-distance biking in my twenties, and it's really, really surprisingly lonely

So, it's not that I think I'll actually get on my bike and ride across America, but the idea is so fun to think about.
And to research. 

Here's a cheering article from Adventure Cycling--it could apply to many undertakings in life:
"10 Things You Might Think You Need for a Long Distance Tour, but Don't"

Here's an encouraging one:

10. Physical Fitness 

Our first day on tour we did 13 miles. 13. You don’t need to be in great physical shape to do a tour. You can do 10 miles a day. You can be 80+ years old. You can be a paraplegic. Over the duration of our trip we heard about all of these situations, and the underlying theme throughout is that mental toughness trumps physical fitness.

Today I'm going to bike the chain of lakes---only about 10 miles, all bike path. 
You can call me Mx Honey Badger. 

Off I go!


The Crow said...

"Off I go."

The perfect motto for one's life. Go, Fresca, go!

Zhoen said...

I get tired of life when I think about the overwhelming number of catastrophic issues of the world, and want to end it all everywhere. I have to limit myself to local news, and the odd headline, just to keep the shape of things in the periphery. Not lack of caring, but too much, to too little effect.

Sorry about the distance from your dear Marz. A much younger friend of mine also took against me, and I handled it badly, not that it probably made any difference in the end. She'd outgrown me, at least in her view, and I really don't know how much it had to do with me. Hard to just drop the issue, and walk on.

Michael Leddy said...

I’m sorry the household situation ended up not working. Pedal well.

And thank you for the honey badger — 74 million+ visits on YouTube, but I’d never heard of it.

Fresca said...

Thanks for commenting, dear blog friends.