Sunday, March 27, 2011

"Strike, Strike..."

La Professoressa calls me early in the mornings here, not every morning but enough so I know she is still there in the flat in Tavistock Place and I am still here in New York City, standing on cold corners to connect with old friends taking time off from work or from looking for work. My hosts here are wonderful, not flinching in the face of five weeks of Joan spilling over into their smallish upper West Side apartment. I have fetched and eaten more bagels in these two weeks then I do in a year in Melbourne, but that is part of why I come to New York, to taste the lox and cream cheese, the cucumber health salad of my early years in the Bronx with my mother and brother. Not the butter fish or sable, however; they are too expensive now.

I am still feeling the effects of the gastric infection I picked up in Paris, a much more complicated place than its shiny  tourist streets would have you believe and this too keeps me tethered to what is so lovely called the conveniences. But still, I have visited with Naomi, shared her poems and tea; caught up with my old young room mate Jeanine, brave and big with thick straw colored hair falling out of its rubber band, as she tells me of her art performances in the old city of Puerto Rico where the old texts of who is human are blared from a battered car, a newly imagined interrigation of the assumptions of colonialisms; with Saskia, who long ago left her Holland to make her way in New York and has devoted years to working with the Lesbian Herstory archives; my old friend Paula who carries me off to an evening of commemoration for the victims of the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire in the old great hall of Cooper Union, an evening of Italian, Yiddish songs singing of the lives of women in the "dolar land," an evening of solidarity with women garment workers from Bangladesh and China and Mexico, the hall packed with shouts of "Strike, Strike," as the words of the original organizers of those early strikes are recreated by younger women workers and in all our heads and hearts are these times, our own, where teachers and public workers of all kinds are being demonized by the so-called fiscal conservatives. No matter what city streets I walk I cannot escape the tensions that now spill into the streets of so many cities and towns, East and West. Yesterday, La Professoressa told me of the huge protest march forming all around her in London, the students coming from our Russell Square area, forming one huge river, to meet up with the river of trade unionists coming from the east side of London, all over London tributaries of citizens marking the streets once again as public sites of discontent, the only possession many can count on--the right to walk the streets.

I do long for Cello and my red head. I do long for the comfort of her arms around me and Cello's bright eyes sparking me into the belief that I can rise to yet another occasion. This journey I am on is not an easy one.


  1. Dear Joan,
    So sorry to hear that the journey is not easy at present. We are living in challenging times.

    In an earlier posting, you told us that in future, when times were tough, you and Di would look at each other and say "Remember Brighton!" So, I want to say to you now, "Remember Brighton!" A small comfort, maybe. But a comfort just the same. And we must take our comforts where we find them.

    No doubt, amid all the chaos, the universe will provide other moments of comfort and encouragement very soon. Always remember the solace that you yourself have brought to the lives of so many.

    Hang on in there!


  2. I second that Izzy, think of you often Joan! JJxx