Off-line notes from Michfest
Today is that big feelings day of the month. I’m on day 25 of my cycle. I have approximately 31-ish day cycles. For PMDD they say that the last 5-10 days of your cycle are the worst. Today is hard.
I’m not sure why today is so hard. I dropped the kids off at childcare around 1:30 pm and haven’t been able to stop crying for the last hour. Not sure entirely what I’m sad about. I tried to go hide in the woods to cry until I was done. Then the ants started biting me. Fine. I’ll go back to my tent and type on my computer away from you little assholes. You can have your fucking woods.
So let me say that anything and everything I say about Michfest right this minute is shaped by the fact that I’m already crying and I’m not sure why. I’m a bad mother. I’m a bad person. I should kill myself. I don’t know why.
I think if I had come here 15 years ago when I first heard of it I would have had a very different adult life. I’m not sure what would have happened, but I think it would have been different. I think there would have been a much higher chance that I would not have ended up marrying a man.
I’m not saying that I’m sorry I’m married to Noah. I’m not. I like him very much and I don’t plan to leave him–not even for political lebianism. But I think if I had come here 15 years ago instead of listening to my friends who said “It isn’t trans-inclusive and going means you hate trans people” I would have had a different life path.
For the record, there is a big camp of people here rallying for trans-inclusion. Yes, there are some TERFs. (Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists) There are *so many kinds of womyn here*.
I actually had a great conversation this morning with a 72 year old retired school teacher. We talked about the profession and how it has shifted over the past 50 years. She thinks it is smart to keep my kids away from Common Core. Her words: “I haven’t seen such state sanctioned mass abuse of children in all my life.”
To that I say: you obviously don’t live in areas where there are mostly children of color. (She doesn’t. I asked.)
But Common Core even hurts the white kids! Oh man. I feel like that is where it has to get in the conversation before people really see how fucked the topic is. No really, most of public education has been state sanctioned mass abuse of children of color for years. Look at the rates of suspensions and detentions based on race. Look at how teachers discipline *preschool* children of color. We’ve always had state sanctioned mass abuse.
I see a lot of white women here. There is a noticeable section of non-white women, but of course it is nearly 90% white. I have a hard time with how many of the white women “go native” and pick sacred regalia as “cool ethnic” clothes. I know just enough about other cultures to know that if something is meant to be worn by high status people of a certain group to signal their years of training…. it isn’t for me.
I read a neat thing comparing “new age” stuff with Native American spirituality. It certainly had nothing nice to say about folks who want to be called shamans outside of one Native tradition. That’s complicated for me because I had a relationship for a very long time with a white man who really wanted to be a shaman.
I’m having so many feelings.
I’m having tons of conversations with people about trans inclusion and exclusive spaces and race. One person said a couple of gems and I asked for permission to quote her words (she preferred without her name which is totally cool) she said that Michfest is not a utopia–it’s an agreement. It isn’t safe space, it is safe enough space.
Those two sentences have been sitting hard in my belly.
(For one thing… utopias aren’t good things. Go read the book. It’s Not Good Stuff.)
I like the idea of safe enough space. I appreciate that the womyn here have been sharing their experiences through years of coming.
I’m having a hard time with my feelings today. Oh man. I’m cranky that all of the interesting workshops happened first thing this morning and my kids wouldn’t get their shit together so I could go. So I get a day of just kind of sitting here. Woo.
I have to work a night shift in the child care tonight. That makes me want to lose my shit all over people. I am not a good night person. This is going to be horrible. I have to be there till midnight. I didn’t register for shifts early enough and everyone who uses daycare has to work in the daycare. The fact that I normally go to sleep one hour into the only available shift really doesn’t matter. Suck it, bitch.
I’m really feeling nasty towards me today. As I was walking a long a couple of womyn asked me if I was ok. (I’m not that subtle when I’m bawling and I can’t stop.) I just tried to get away from them as fast as possible. Which feels mean too.
The whole time I just kept saying to myself that being a crazy bitch isn’t anyone else’s problem. I am no one’s problem. Just mine. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid. Crazy. Bitch.
Several womyn who were walking past me took the time to tell me that it isn’t ok for me to say shit in front of my children. Thanks for your feedback.
Meanwhile this other vibrant, wonderful woman is screaming mother fucker from the stage. Hallelujah.
There is a decided old dyke vibe. My kids regularly jerk on my arm and whisper to me, “I thought there were only womyn here and I see a man.”
No honey. You see a womyn. Womyn come in an amazing variety of shapes and sizes. They dress in a lot of ways. Womyn aren’t just one kind of creature. All these people you see? They’re womyn.
And yes, there are transwomyn on The Land. Apparently for 15 years now. Rock. Fuckin’ On.
I hear that this community has had major growing pains over the past 40 years. Apparently in the early years black womyn were regularly harassed for possibly being men. The organizers grew to understand that WOC deserved a separate safe area. Then the BDSM folks caused a big uproar. They have their own space now. I uhhh accidentally walked through it on the first day when I had the kids. Whoops. Luckily we were there during the day and folks hadn’t really gotten going yet.
There are over 300 kids here this year. I hear that before there were so many children it was an all chick all the time orgy. I’m sad I missed that.
I can’t help but think, as I listen to all the beautiful old lesbians share their tales, that the problem isn’t trans-inclusion. The problem is: how much can a particular human being adapt/evolve?
I get the impression that Lisa Vogel, the woman who runs this event (Disclaimer: haven’t met her) is just tired. She can’t up and reinvent herself anew anymore. She’s getting older and she’s tired. Maybe it is time for someone else to start something else.
I’m sad that this event is just ending. The first few days we were here were pretty magical for me. I don’t usually feel like I belong places. I had a little of that for a few days.
No really, they want *all* womyn here who were born with a cunt. They don’t care if you are hetero, queer, or lesbian. They don’t care if you are femme or butch. They have safe space for all kinds of marginalized demographics (recovery, Deaf, disabled women) but… not a separate safe space for trans-folk. There are quite a few transmen joyfully welcomed because they’ve been coming since before transition.
I honestly have squiggly feelings about that. Transwomyn aren’t fully welcomed but people who have eschewed being a woman to become a man are allowed? WTF?
That’s a kind of biological essentialism that I just can’t cope with. My pussy is not the defining part of my life.
But you know what? There are a very high number of very butch womyn there. I bet they hesitate to put a cap on that end of the spectrum of acceptability. If you were born with a pussy you count.
We spent last night introducing a nice Australian family to s’mores. That was awesome.
I’m not still weeping. I don’t know why I was weeping beyond the usual: I suck and I don’t deserve to steal oxygen from worthy people. Whatever.
Today is warm. We had a brief sprinkling of rain. It is very grey and I bet it will rain more later.
Last night taking a shower was cool. They have outdoor showers. Six heads on a frame that looks like a swing set. Lots of nekkid womyn just hanging out doing what they need to do for their bodies.
I am so glad my kids are getting to see this diversity. Several older womyn have asked me if the nudity is troublesome for my kids. Nope. We think it is great.
One nekkid womyn saw us bundled up and she said, “Oh no! Am I wearing too few clothes?” I said, “You’re perfect.” Eldest child said, “Oh no! It’s totally legal for you to be naked at the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival. Rock on!”
The womyn laughed. Turns out she lives much more rurally than this in somewhere colder than this and she spends most of her life naked. I said, “We are from a mediterranean climate. This feels brutal.”
Last night when we were showering we found the Santa Cruz crowd (of course) and it was funny that I was the least cold person. I’ve rarely had that experience.
I find it fascinating that very few womyn wear makeup but the ones who do wear FULL FACE. It’s a costume not about looking natural. I love that most of the womyn wear brightly colored saggy, baggy, not stylish clothes. That is so awesome. My people!