“From the Rubble”
I spend enormous amounts of time not doing things I know would help me to better cope with the chaos of coronavirus. A short list of things I refuse to do: deep breathing exercises, reorganizing my pantry, watching Tiger King, setting a strict schedule for myself, wearing pants or reasonable clothes of any kind, doing my fair share of the dishes, taking up indoor yoga, finding recipes for making bread without yeast, taking a deep inventory of my supplies, eating at normal times, calling family members who treat the virus with nonchalance to convince them to take it seriously (get inside y’idiots!).
A short list of things I do instead:
Times like these demand that we make space for great feminist poetry: Mary Oliver’s Devotions and Dorianne Laux’s Only as the Day is Long offer deeply fulfilling words. I’m in the middle of Zadie Smith’s Grand Union (beyond wonderful—I adore her) and Arundhati Roy’s brilliant My Seditious Heart, and I just finished Sara Stridsberg’s beautifully imaginative Valerie. Next up: Michelle Tea’s Black Wave, Junot Diaz’s Drown, Sara Ahmed’s What’s the Use?, and a fresh look at my friend’s books: Ela Przybylo’s Asexual Erotics and Elizabeth Brake’s After Marriage. I also read an interview this week between James Baldwin and Audre Lorde (“Revolutionary Hope”) that felt like actual medicine for my soul.
On the heavier side: The Deuce, Homeland, Her Smell, and the wonderful Joan Didion documentary The Center Will Not Hold. On the lighter side: Better Things (one of the greatest shows ever—about nothing much at all but still quite profound. And Pamela Adlon is a goddess), Atypical, and The Baroness Von Sketch Show (if you’re not watching this Canadian feminist gem, do yourself a favor and rush to see it). I’m also watching every movie that the incomparable Carey Mulligan is in—Wildlife, Mudbound, Suffragette, Never Let Me Go, Inside Llewyn Davis, and Shame (if you need your heart broken clean in half, watch her sing New York, New York in that one). And I’m giddy about the upcoming season 2 of the TV version of What We Do in the Shadows coming out this week—it delights me beyond words.
I’m listening to John Prine, mourning him, discovering all sorts of new sides to him I didn’t know. My friends and I are debating which song is the best send-off for him, which gives me more excuses to listen to him daily. I also need Iris Dement right now (she wrote today of John Prine: “Because he cared enough to look — at me, you, all of us — until he saw what was noble and then he wrapped us up in melodies and sung us back to ourselves”), along with the women who always get us through painful times: Ani Difranco, Margo Price, Cassandra Wilson, Gillian Welch, Kathleen Edwards, Billie Holiday, Patty Griffin, and Lucinda Williams.
My eating has divided into two categories: 1) Things I can get easily at the store that others in my city don’t seem to want (salmon, fancy cheese, unusual condiments, salad “kits”, lemon bars, Marcona almonds, bunches of asparagus, Leapin’ Lemurs and Chompin’ Cheetahs kids’ cereal, mushroom and avocado breakfast burritos), and 2) Comfort foods I typically don’t make for myself but am now loving (meatloaf, pasta carbonara, melty sandwiches, homemade hummus). I also make giant pitchers of iced green tea to drink while I search for new grocery delivery windows to become available (along with increasing annoyance at how much time we all have to spend worrying about/thinking about/planning for food right now).
When I’m not distracting myself full-blast, directly working on writing, obsessively reading the news, or feeling utter despair about the world, I’m trying to maintain as much contact as possible with feminist scholars, friends, and students. In tandem with this, I’m also working to blend together existential terror with hope for new revolutionary possibilities that may arise in the post-virus period. Things I’m especially fixated on: organizing for a maximum wage, housing and kinship structures, how bad all of this is for women everywhere, the future of universities, radical revisions for how to spend time/money, the shameful neglect of the world’s population-dense slums, the impossibility/violence of borders, and relationships of care. Having just published my new book, Burn It Down!, has helped, because this is a time for manifestos, for rage, and for imagining new possibilities that emerge from the rubble.
Breanne Fahs is the editor of Burn It Down! Feminist Manifestos for the Revolution, a landmark collection spanning three centuries and four waves of feminist activism and writing. She is Professor of Women and Gender Studies at Arizona State University, and Founder and Director of the Feminist Research on Gender and Sexuality Group at Arizona State University. See more here.
Read all our Life in Lockdown author contributions here.[book-strip index="1" style="buy"]
The most comprehensive collection of feminist manifestos, chronicling our rage and dreams from the nineteenth century to today