From July 10-24, I was on a piece of land formerly known as the Fort Ord Army base. The base was closed in 1994, and now it is the California State University at Monterey Bay. I was there for a graduate writing course called “Essay Writing: Personal Passions and Public Issues.” And it was indeed a course: I was learning like a motherfucker at least 12 hours a day. But still: there were dorms, and cafeteria food, and groups of friends, and outings, and a lack of personal transportation, and talent shows*…it kicked my ass, but it was still camp. And…I made things at camp!
1. I made an op-ed, and it got published by the Huffington Post. You can find it here. It’s called “The Work of White Educators” because I am one and this is what I think about.
2. I made a video, and I intend to make more. I LOVE WRITING PROSE! …and: the swept-away that I got in editing this video, even though it was a quick lil project (written, shot, edited in like 4 hours…3 of which were editing), reminded me how much I love combining words and pictures. Like lexidoodles but moving! So here it is:
3. I made FRIENDS. Holy shit: this was an badass group. And the friends I made made things too! They made op-eds that got published in fancy places: Easy Change Could Improve College Racial Equity; Ending the Unconstitutional Assault on the BDS Movement; One Thing, To Remember; We Are All Intelligent, Just Different Superpowers; Many People Suffer From PTSD, Not Just Veterans. These were also all written double quick! I anticipate more will be published soon. Because badassery.
They also made videos: “We’re Old; We Know Shit“; “Cycling for Artists“; “Equal Play Should Earn Equal Pay,” Let’s Talk about Boobs!“; Movement for the Movement“; Tips for Self Care in the struggle“; “Three ways to make your campus Gender Inclusive!“; We Deserve to be Heard“…and even more I can’t get good links to but will add. All are fab–the first two especially make me fall out of my chair laughing EVERY TIME.
I also made lots of other things: an essay that’s not ready for you yet but which ROXANE GAY is going to give me feedback on (!!!), sketches for like 20 more essays, and plans for collaboration with some extraordinary women on a new crossword puzzle project, which is also not ready for you yet but which I sometimes can’t sleep with excitement about. All those things are going on post-its on my new project-planning-poster (the “reussir” seal-being poster), which visual artists Anne-Claire and Natalie took off a pole and gave to me when I swooned over it at their show.
Our course’s coordinator, and the guest artists who taught us, are women who answered questions I didn’t know I had and gave me things I didn’t know I needed. Read anything they’ve written, and rejoice at the blessings they are on this planet: Roxane Gay, Melissa A. Fabello, Lidia Yuknavitch, and Kimberly Dark. I learned so much from each of them, and a lot of those learnings will take years to fully work through me, but one little nugget can benefit us all, so I leave you with it:
*”talent shows”: actually, there were incredible, professional artists in all the Summer Arts disciplines offering lectures and/or performances every night. I saw Cyrus Beene from Scandal in a two-man play! And in the cafeteria in the mornings. Ah, camp.