April 2016 started off pretty cool. I had scored free tickets to a reading happening in LA called Feminist as F*ck, being put on by the actress & poet (and my FB friend), Amber Tamblyn. Also on the bill were Amy Poehler (yes!), Roxanne Gay, Eileen Myles, Lidia Yuknavitch, and Rhonda Jarrar. I had invited my mom to go.
We got up there with plenty of time to spare, so we got to go to a place I’d wanted to visit: The Last Bookstore. It was awesome. They were having a reading as well (the AWP conference was happening so there were events all over the place). Mom & I explored the upstairs area and just the way it’s designed is cool. I could have spent all day in there.
On our way out, I ran into my friend, Murray Thomas, my former editor at …Next! magazine from the early days of the SD/OC/LA poetry scene (mid-90s). Fun! Mom & I headed back toward the theater and had a bite to eat at a place on the corner. It was yummy. While sitting outside, I saw another friend, Mindy Nettifee. We’d been teammates on the ’99 Laguna Beach Slam team. She lives in Portland now, but she’s very close with Amber so had come to the show (I’m guessing she was in LA anyway for the conference).
There was a huge line for the show, but Mom managed to get us reserved seats because she complained that she had emailed about getting handicapped seating but never heard back. They printed up signs and placed them on the chairs for us, ha!
The show itself was fine. It was thrilling to see and hear Amy Poehler, who is very smart and extremely funny. A special guest was Carrie Brownstein (who is on Portlandia with Fred Armisen) and is a musician.
My favorite part of the evening really was talking about feminism with my mom. I wrote a poem about it. Here you go:
My Mother Says She Doesn’t Think She’s a Feminist
I smile at her
we are at a self-proclaimed feminist reading
which is what sparked her remark
I simply say, “Yes, you are.”
Her quizzical look inspires me to add
“You learned to drive as an adult,
you have a college degree,
you had a career,
you became a U.S. citizen,
you have your own bank account.
When you married Dad, none of that was true,
but because you wanted those things
you made it happen.”
She said, “Well, yeah.” Then, “Oh.”
I tell her it’s not about being a bra-burner
or a protester. It’s about having rights.
To put it another way, I tell her
that she raised two daughters
to think for themselves & to take care of themselves.
She supported me & my sister
in playing sports, going to college, getting jobs.
She timidly says, “But men are better at some things.”
And I say, “Yes, and women are better at some things,
but you wouldn’t deny the opportunity for a woman
to try doing anything.”
And then, as if to prove something to herself,
as she waits in the long bathroom line, she sees
that a men’s room line doesn’t exist. She questions
the women in line, “Well, aren’t we feminist as fuck?
Why don’t we use the men’s room?”
Women cheer & agree, and some move to the
empty, barely used men’s room.