My priorities at the moment lie in finding a job and then heading to Illinois to visit my grandmother. My mom's in Springfield now. (I didn't get a chance to see her before she left as she flew out right after I got back from Boston. I'm shocked at how much I miss her.) It seems that as has been constant this year, things are bad but not quite as dire as my great aunt originally made them out to be. My grandmother's heart is failing and she also has pneumonia. But she's home, which makes a huge difference. She's more determined to fight in her own home than she'd be in a hospital bed. I'm not deluding myself, but I think I have a bit more time than I previously thought. Time to say goodbye and time to make peace with her leaving us. And hopefully, when she does go, it'll be in her sleep.
As for the east coast, it was a good trip on many fronts. I loved hanging out in Boston with Conor, his siblings, and 35 drunk camogie girls--one of the better players, covered with bruises she earned during the tournament, was pulled aside in the hotel and handed a pamphlet on domestic violence. When she said, "I'm here from Ireland for a sporting event," the concerned woman replied, "That's no excuse." And then I got to see my friends Melissa and Irina, whom I hadn't seen since she visited me in LA 6 years ago. She's now a horror film star, having appeared in such masterpieces as the universally panned and therefore cult favorite in the making Pony Trouble. (LIB crew, we must watch this one at the next horror/craft fest.) Newton sucks, Newbury Street and the Boston Commons are beautiful, and I'm still happy I didn't go to Harvard. And of course there was Whitney, who took me to see Amanda Palmer at the Middle East, a night that later included all kinds of goofy, wine-fueled monkey business at the Cloud Club. (Yes, I have pictures, and no, you can't see them.)
My first COLAGE Family Week began the next day with a hungover ferry ride to Provincetown. Our staff was 39 people strong, 35 of whom were unpaid volunteers. There were about 220 kids in the program, grades 3-12, and I worked with COLAGE Crew, the middle-schoolers. (They only made me want to get my tubes tied once.) And my fellow staffers were awesome. I made some serious friends that week, including Hope, my newest little sista-friend, and Doug, who does a kick-ass karaoke rendition of "The Humpty Dance" and whom I got to see three times in two cities during the first 5 days after leaving Provincetown. And then there's another one, Liam, who is coming to visit in a week and a half. (I think I may get to keep him.)
Which isn't to say it wasn't a difficult week. Some of my preconceived notions about what a week on the Cape would be like were confirmed, others thoroughly thrashed. Class was a hugely tangible issue. And so was race, though that looked a lot different than I expected. Sure, the parents were mostly white and upper-middle or better class. The kids, though.... Well, the transracial adoption trends I've commented on previously are definitely alive and well within the queer community. I'd guess that about a third of the kids were kids of color living in families with white adoptive parents. And sadly, this did in fact mean some of the things I hoped it wouldn't. Lots of stupid clueless comments from parents who keep patting themselves on the back for adopting kids "that no one else wants." Lots of parents concerned about COLAGE possibly not doing Family Week anymore for a few reasons, but including its exclusiveness--"Why are you trying to please everybody?" Comments from kids that reflect views they obviously inherited from their parents--"I get teased about having gay dads. It's like I'm black!" And many, many, many children of color who are caught in a web of racism, much of it internalized, thanks to their parents living in all-white neighborhoods, sending them to all-white schools, and never talking frankly with them about the fact that their children are yellow, brown, or black--"The only time I see kids who look like me is at Family Week." Yes, that comment was rather sobering. Lots of issues, and also lots of love. It's true what they say about good intentions and the road to hell. I hope that by working with COLAGE (for I do intend to stay involved with the organization) I can help some of the kids we're supposed to be empowering and advocating for deal with these issues that affect them even as their parents remain oblivious. And of course, the staff itself could sometimes be challenging--there were a lot of intense discussions into the wee hours about power and privilege and how they played out among the staff. Let's just say that as the week went on, I got less and less sleep. But the conversations until 7 in the morning were worth it.
It was an important week in other ways. When I left my job in May, I felt like something needed to change. And a week at Anti-Oppression Camp reminded me of what kind of work actually excites and motivates me, what kinds of interactions and facilitation make sense on a basic human level. Some thing's definitely about to change, whether I go back to the video game mines or not.
My last few days on the east coast were pretty mellow, mostly since I was exhausted after P-Town but also because I heard about my grandmother's condition. But I did get some more quality time in with Melissa and Marat and Doug (and a six-day-old baby!) in New York before Whit and I headed back up to Boston.
And so now I'm here in Oakland, nervous and worried and giddy and wondering what comes next.