On editing SCALE 1
September 13, 2007
July 8, 2007.
Arrived this afternoon, a Sunday, to my new residential digs: a sweet, slightly dilapidated two-bedroom apartment in an aging brick complex in a slightly funky but very livable part of Columbus Ohio, two miles from the University, or so I’ve been told.
I’ve not been alone in this way, as a grown up woman, as an artist, as a single person, since 1997, when my ex and I spent our summer apart—she in London, me in NY—deciding if we should be a couple; if we should have a baby. Our first child was born 7 months later, another following 16 months after that. As I said, I’ve been in a couple, or a Mom—in a group, servicing others—ever since. I do my art on the side. In the crevices. I know myself and my thoughts through other’s needs and schedules. No complaints. This makes life more complex, and really, takes one off the hook.
But here I am, eating alone: so hard to choose what to eat if one’s tastes and not one’s seven year old’s organize the meal… SO much time, too: to read, write, run, swim, write this first blog, concentrate on the work.
And that this is: a blog on the completion of “SCALE: Ending the BUSH AGENDA in the Media Age,” a documentary I‘ve been working on for two years, and intend to complete during my month here, by hell or high water.
And while the preamble about my children may seem off base from the political documentary I’m hoping to finish, it is in fact, a huge part of the story (of the making of the doc, and of the doc itself), because it at once highlights the real conditions of my attempts at self- and political expression, the daily and mundane constraints on real women like me, as it also marks one of the profound links and breaking points (one of many) between myself and my sister Antonia: and these are what the documentary is about. Antonia has no children (although she wants them and is amazing with them) and hence she can be a full-time activist, making too-little money, working and living too-hard, putting herself on the line. I am more bourgois, even as our political leanings are pretty close: found on America’s far-far left. Because I have a kid to raise, a mortgage to pay, my actions in the world and in my art are limited; my desires are organized for me. I am much more like regular Americans, I think, in my self-satisfied relations to home, stuff, kids and family, then Antonia could ever be. Of course, this lady-leftist sometimes-lesbian, decidedly feminist, probably socialist professor and artist that I am established me as pretty little like most Americans, but I’m closer to the heart beat than my sister.
Which explains some of my pain and uncertainty at this late and final stage of my documentary. My reticence. My certainty that the old ways have failed us as the new world order quiets and contains us, with all its yummy and easy to acquire stuff, the pay off for the bad things that produce it and the bad people who get rich from it. So that we find ourself in a bargain of their construction and our acquiescence: protest don’t seem to end things, real people don’t seem to make significant change, the forces we fight are bigger and meaner then ever. And still I march.
But Antonia. Well. She has the room and the time and the heart to believe. And given that her attention is in the right place—not stuck on all those creature comforts, TVs and SUVs—her biggest indulgence is endless lattes and too much beer. She thinks people can still do it: stop wars, speak to and be heard by global corporations, change things to become like we want and know them to be. She’s living a romantic off-beat life; and maybe she’s right.
My documentary is about this battle between us (among other things). And over the next month I will try to see if I can express the ways we both know this war is wrong, but are less sure about what to do with that knowledge. All the while, saying what I feel without alienating her, or exposing too much about her, and with the sensitivity that close relations demand.
My greatest fear and concern is that she will not like, or even worse, sign off on the documentary. I have a month to make it speak my story about activism in the media age, without betraying her trust, and being true to what she also believes and experiences.