Tuesday, January 17, 2006


bell hooks - all about love
Whoa. Blogger is totally freaking out in Firefox today...so today we do Safari. No exciting customizing of text, but at least I can see the box where I am entering my thoughts. I love it when tech happens.

One of the most beautiful views I have ever witnessed has been from an airplane travelling across the continent.

There is something magical to the fact that one crosses the map of the United States, very much like the atlas I pored over in 2nd grade. The piedmont region of North Carolina becomes the Appalachians, the central planes...cut through with rivers and mountains...it's incredible.

I write this because as I crossed over the United States I found myself engaged in bell hook's All About Love and unraveling suspicions in my mind about the little bits of my Self and my upbringing that I haven't had vocabulary for. She makes a strong argument for dysfunction as a part of our lives that is almost considered "normal" because it is so rampant. I appreciate her arguing that a society rooted in democracy and justice needs to include love as one of its platforms. Coming from a loving place, (not meaning the pink and red nightmare that has replaced the tinsel and trees of Christmas), societies can be great.

I remember first encountering bell hooks in a feminism class at Syracuse University, Fall 2003. Reading her blew my mind. I was in a place where my brain was not absorbing much and I felt a little flat in my academia. I felt her hard to fathom and I thinK I have had a fear of her ever since. It's similar to my fear of Noam Chomsky. As much as I admire these celebrities of academia I felt that my 21 year old brain was incapable of absorbing their knowledge and as a 33 year old I still think that I am stuck in that fearful 21 year old's brain.

Today I broke out of it.

I have been meaning to conquer this text since it was lent to me by my friend Dieyana. I am constantly wondering about the nature of love in a million different contexts and thought it was the stuff of dreamers. When I speak of love I mean the savoring of every moment and connection and opportunity. It may include familial; it may include those solitary moments that are satisfactory; it may include those hilarious moments with friends, and it may include romance. But it is a global phenomenon and I ask a lot of questions about it. I know that I ask to help define it for myself and to see how my circle views it. It's rather intangible. It's hard to get juiced about a discussion about love because I think people are inclined to think that you mean that "sappy stuff".

This is apparently bell hook's experience as well.

I finished 3/4 of the book on the plane after not progressing through it much at all over the last 4 months.

Sometimes I suppose books offer you their time, And this is my time for this book. It's awesome to be intellectually engaged and not intimidated by the academics of feminism.

Much like the term "activist" I reserve using the term "feminist" because I know it bristles some skin. I like to be the diplomat.
But sometimes I don't want to be diplomatic...I want answers. I want to know what people think about things I think about.

So I ask.

I arrived at 4:07. And then I waited for the luggage to come off the carousel. The weather was grey. I listened to the 6 messages that awaited me and spoke with Shawna, left a message for Michelle and got information about the Dictionary Day in Oakland I am participating in tomorrow morning.

The world doesn't end when one doesn't go away. That's narcissistic, but nice to know.

I also called mami and papi to let them know I arrived okay and I also left a message for my brother hoping that next time we'd perhaps have the chance to hang out. It seemed that he was studying and without a car it is hard to get between Raleigh and Durham. I know I am angry with him and I have to work that out with some forgiveness.

Then I got on the AirTran and from there I got on the BART.

The time seemed to pass so slowly from the airport to the BART train. I rewinded in my mind from last Thursday when I was on the phone with the Delta folks to change the flight I was about to miss and how helpful they were...and all that has transpired between then and now.

I am thankful I went to visit my family. I know I have some things to work out. I also hope that we've grown as parents and daughter. I got a lot off my chest...the incidents of molestation, my worries about satisfying them as a daughter, my concerns for their health, my wondering of their expectations of me...family? kids?, my inquiries about family I had never known...

And I got stories about my father's side of the family...how his grandmother had a mean face and didn't really acknowledge his brothers and sisters...how the only kind person on his father's side was his father's brother...his Uncle Felix...how his father was university educated! I got to know more about mami's philosophy...where her optimism comes from...and how powerful she is in her community by just being present and active...and asking no accolade.

Wow. Insight. Stories.

This is what I wanted...

I came to know my parents as older people. I came to realize that time with them well spent was helping my mother apply medicine to an ear infection, laying on her knee and have her rub my back as I told her my worries. I learned that my father really did appreciate sitting and eating and watching Beloved. I learned that he appreciated me sewing his buttons on his suit jacket.

Oh, is that all? Is that all it takes? Some day-to-day interaction?

I know that I love production...big things...

But I was reminded again of the little things and how they express tenderness and love.

This weekend I learned that I love my parents very much...and they love me for the very human daughter that I am.

I let go of some of the anxiety that I am a shame or a disappointment to them.

And that's amazing.

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