Hello, Failure

Of all the enemies of literature, success is the most insidious

Thursday, August 07, 2003

Failure of the Day: The New Tween

Well, Thursday has turned out to be more peaceful even that anticipated due to the five hour rush job I was given last night after completing my 8 hour workday. As a result, I only have to work 3 hours today. The smart thing to do would be to save those hours for next week's writers group meeting so I don't have to work late next Wednesday to make up for the afternoon I'll spend with the ladies. I probably won't do that though, because after indexing 127 pages at 10:30 last night, I kind of feel like loafing today.

And by loafing, you understand, I mean finding a different way to think about my problems and then looking at them that way for a few hours. What's swimming around in my head this morning is the weird space I find myself in, as typified by the two writing groups I'm in.

The once-a-month group has about 8 women in it, is largely, it seems to me, based in the Mission, and all but two of the members (Trina and I) are lesbians. And whatever—most of my pals have been queer or transgendered since I was a teenager. And despite the 2 years or so in the late 80s when I was convinced I was queer, I'm not, but I am a fierce ally. But somehow…that seemed easier to prove or more readily believable when I wasn't married. All of a sudden, I feel that having entered the dominant sexual culture, like, officially, I am looked on with, if not suspicion, then a degree less trust than before. (I am entirely willing to grant that the weirdness I sense may exist only in my head; I feel weird about being a married lady in a room full of queer women because I feel weird about being a married lady anyway. (Not weird about being married to Chris, which I adore and which I'm fairly certain is the main thing keeping me sane to the degree I am, by the way. Just about the cultural fact of being married at all.))

There's a certain subcultural longing, too. I never thought much about being in it during the 80s and 90s; I just was. But I'm less in it now for a variety of reasons (age, neighborhood, inability to dance or hike and such), and that feels weird too.

In the once-a-week group, there are three women besides myself. All are married, all have children, and at least one has grandchildren. This is far and away the better group; the writing is better and the critique is better. But these women all have money and houses and cars and all kinds of things that signify a full integration into grown-up life. Kelly's condo, where we meet each week, is gorgeous; we sit on soft brown leather couches surrounded by antiques and artifacts and good art. It seems like something to aspire to, all that niceness and comfort while not giving an inch of one's intellectual and artistic drive and integrity. But it still feels just a little too adult for me right now. And it definitely feels too expensive.

I'm somewhere between the two. I like both worlds: the one that I am in the process of leaving and miss, and the one that I may yet enter but will not be ready for for some years.

It took me a good long while to figure out how to deal with being in the middle class after 15 years in poverty. I wonder how long it will take me to figure out how to deal with being in the middle culture?


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