Thursday, November 20, 2008

looking head on at that ugly thing

Just went and saw a documentary about the death penalty in Texas. I knew it would be full on, and I wasn't sure if I was completely up for it. It was about a Presbyterian minister who became the deathhouse chaplain. He witnessed 96 state murders - more than witnessed, actually, because he spent the entire day with the person who was going to die. I guess he was an active participant, although unique because he was on neither the side of the convict nor the side of the state...walking that fine line in between. I guess he role was to be a ray of God-light within the stark, grotesque, scene of murder.

I think I've repressed a lot of the trauma that went with doing the death penalty work in New Orleans. I think that it all got a bit lost within the excitement of being in a new place, and the feelings of loneliness, incompetence and rejection that I felt while being there. And then, after my 3 months were up, I shot off to Mexico and then returned to do other extremely intense work. But amid all that swirling sediment there was a rock that was the death penalty - something so ugly that I could never bear to look at. It is easy to avoid looking at it - to focus on the legal arguments, to get caught up in other work, to chat to the inmates on the phone or in person but never actually look the awful reality of state murder in its face and allow that feel of violent illness to wash over and do its work. Even as I write to Clifford, these few years on, I never really believe that he's going to die. He'll be ok. The lawyers will do a good job and get him off. Clifford is in his cell for 23 hours a day, but I want to believe that maybe it's not so bad. I guess my coping mechanism is to create a reality that's not nearly as bad as the truth.

Des and I had a good debrief afterwards, and I was thinking about how there's a part of us all that is attracted to the death penalty, and a part of us that is repulsed. The desire for revenge seems core to human nature, and exists buried within even the most articulate anti-death penalty campaigner. At the same time, the prison wardens throw up during executions - even the spirits of those most accustomed to the inhumane treatment of the state are sickened by this socially-acceptable kind of murder. I guess it's the light and dark in all of us.

I have a bit of money right now, and I've been wondering where to put it. I think I might donate some money to Reprieve. I don't think that I'll go back - it's really not what I'm gifted at. But maybe if I can donate some money, it will go a little way to preventing the state from killing someone else.

Monday, November 17, 2008

internet weather

Today I checked the weather outside by looking on the internet. What a bizzare world.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

hair plan has potentially backfired

According to most of the men I encountered today, my new haircut now makes me MORE attractive. In the words of Steve, I am now a "vision of beauty", and he refused to look at me during our entire conversation.

Thus, it may seem that my hair plan has backfired, in that it now attracts the dreaded "male gaze" far more than my previous hairstyle ever did. However, this shall not deter my determination not to be motivated by the desire for male admiration. It may have just made it a little harder for myself.

I will keep any readers posted on the way my new hair makes me feel, which is the most important issue here. I have not yet ruled out the possibility of a buzz cut. Christop suggested shaving the words "fuck off" into the back.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Cutting my hair off

I'm about to cut all my hair off. My friend Andrea will do it for me. As a woman, I feel constantly observed; continually aware of the male gaze. Tonight, I cut my hair off, as a symbolic way of reclaiming the "actor" in me - not actor in the theatrical sense (although who knows what will come of this!), but in the sense of not being passive, but active. I refuse to be motivated by who is looking at me. I refuse to be driven by the desire to be 'captivating' or 'beautiful' or 'intriguing'. For those things are only from the perspective of the viewer. I want to live from MY perspective, not someone else's. I feel like I keep my hair long for someone else. Tonight I'm cutting it off.