LA Diary 2005: September


September 1st
Singapore
A literary contest, in four languages: Chinese, Malayan, English and Tamil; fiction and poetry. The minister of culture insisted on literature, on high quality, to win the Nobel Prize one day. Freedom of speech was not mentioned, although the guy sounded real nice. People here notice you, but without showing they’re noticing you, the alien visible. Military victories and defeats are celebrated all over the city, as monuments, as museums, as flags. They made it: out of poverty, decadence, colonialism: they might be the role model for the East. Freedom of speech is of no use if your stomach is empty, an old Indian philosopher used to say. I wonder.

September 2
Sitting in the airplane, waiting fro the wheel to be repaired, typhoons in the air. Leaving Singapore, back to LA via Tokyo.
Last night I spoke of the war in Serbia, as a veteran, I said; back in my days: was it that long ago, that far away? People here hardly imagine it, a stable conservative society: toppling a dictator by doing street risky actions, WE women, must sound weird to them. They speak of literature here as politics, as religion.

Jasmine Khadra, an Algerian author living in France, took the name of his wife and called me Yasmina number 2; he used to be a professional soldier, now he writes about wars. He says he is a poet third generation, a dreamer and a lesbian and he thinks literature is above everything else, better, as much as good authors are better than any other people. Some of the audience loved him; people need to believe that somebody knows better than them. I was very skeptical at his attempt to become number one Yasmina; I didn’t stop him because I didn’t want to take his place; I tried to undermine the vertical structure from underneath.

In the plane to LA, already tanned flakey muscled Americans and similar Asians. No more modest nodding and bowing with clasped hands. Chinese people of the future.

Sep 2, 2005

Back in LA: seems like the third world compared to Singapore. People are loud, streets dirty, people big and fat and dressed with sloppiness compared to the tidy and elegant Chinese, Malayans, Indonesian and British. But I feel at home.

Singapore reminded me of Milan; city where money reigns, anonymous and big, as people on the streets are loaded, but whose money sees only those loaded like them. It is money for expensive anonymous objects and class taste; no kitsch, no exhibitionism. So typical of third world big money, US included.

Katrina disaster, a US tsunami in New Orleans: floods, displaced people, fallen houses, dead missing: real bad reporting, reminds me of Serbian bombing. It could be any catastrophe anywhere in the world: US press in concentrated on pathetic details, not on causes and effects of the real people in real world; a new fundamentalism based on brand new ignorance of climate change and global warming. As if refusing Darwinism in the name of creationism, American press and politics talk of this catastrophe as God’s will, not people doing and undoing: it is a pitiful shame.

Yet somehow I am more positive that US political idiots will finally understand the man made disasters in Iraq: the national guard is “rescuing” Iraqi people instead of being where they belong and really doing some useful work. As a young Serbian girl who went through the wars put it: their turn now. But whatever Bush does or does not, things have gone too far to change: Bush’s Christian fundamentalism has real support for what it is, the society here is polarized and the positions are real on both sides; credenti against non credenti, as in all religious wars.

President Bush urged US citizens to save the fuel, the petrol, not to buy if not necessary. How come he never said it before: the trail of petrol is the trail of blood and disasters. Oil made all this happen, Mr. President, and it will happen again if US does not sign Kyoto and implement it; if the American standards do not change when consuming is concerned.

Instead I hear nationalist talks against the Chinese and their productivity and productions: empires never fall gracefully and charitably. They end in mayhem and the most innocent people pay the biggest prices, as the black big poor New Orleans inhabitants. All bad rulers as a final warfare target their own people, those who are weakest and most vulnerable. The last and biggest war Milosevic waged was against Serbs dying of sanctions because of him. And then those same toppled him, although it took them years to put the two things together: somebody else’s skin never burns as one’s own.

The stampede happened on the bridge in Baghdad and 1000 people were killed in a couple of hours in the days of Katrina hurricane: the first is taken for granted, the second as a natural disaster: yet both are man made and almost by the same men.

Sacramento — The state Senate, in a historic vote watched across the country, approved a bill Thursday that would legalize same-sex marriage in California.

The vote was the first time a state legislative body in the United States had voted to approve same-sex marriage. Massachusetts issued marriage licenses to gays and lesbians only after a court order, while Vermont courts have allowed civil unions.

The 21-15 vote followed more than an hour of debate that included personal discussions about God, civil rights and family. The Senate’s three openly lesbian members spoke of their experiences, while another lawmaker spoke of his 50-year interracial marriage.

“At its core, this bill is about affording all Californians dignity and respect,” said Sen. Sheila Kuehl, D-Santa Monica.

The bill now goes to the Assembly, where it failed by four votes earlier this year and faces an uncertain future as the legislative session winds down next week. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has not take a position on the bill, but he recently suggested that a legislative effort to approve same-sex marriage could backfire.

Opponents of the measure said the Senate vote flew in the face of a 2000 ballot initiative that defined marriage laws as being between a man and a woman, and they promised to go to the polls next year with constitutional amendments that would ban same-sex marriage.

4 September 2005

LAX airport: waiting for the plane to Austin. I heard the city is full of refugees from the flooded Louisiana. Refugees again in my life; misplaced, badly treated poor angry miserable people. I’ve seen hundreds and thousands of them pouring in Serbia 10 years ago from bombed Croatia. I’ve seen them chased away by Milosevic because he didn’t want them telling everybody the truth of how he let them down. Those people never got papers or citizenships until this very day. They lost everything in their own country, which they had to flee.

Bush is behaving irresponsibly: he invokes prayers and patience, as if he didn’t know that people needed food and housing.
This is not the last disaster of this kind, annalists say; I wonder how long will American people put up with ridiculous and expensive antiterrorist measures which certainly will not stop a suicide bomber while thousands of people are dying unattended. This is a serious proof test for the American idiot.

Sept.5

Bats and refugees in Austin. Today at Barton Springs, in the park, I heard some Austinites speak behind my back, not noticing my loitering eavesdropping. They spoke of refugees with scorn and intolerance. It hit me to my stomach, I remembered Serbia, the word refugee was an insult, I heard seven year olds use it as an insult together with words like whore, lesbian: our city Belgrade was filled with refugees whom nobody wanted, who even today probably have no papers or houses. Some were rich yes, some were nationalists, that too, but most of them were just poor trapped displaced people from their home, running for their lives, a situation that nobody wants to witness.

Bats in the evening, female bats and their newborns live under the bridges of Austin since 1980; their males are in Mexico, these here cannot survive the winter; so they come in here and every night they fly in flocks, blind flocks. An attraction for tourists and locals who sit and sip wine on the grass waiting for the bats to come out. I wonder if those are the same Austinites that were today at the park.

Cindy Sheehan was in Austin; banners are all over the city, her photo and her mottos against the war. So many things in this town whose parliament is bigger than in Washington, whose ex governor is president now in Washington.

Sept 6, 2005

Black New Orleans in white Texas

Barbara Bush: Things Working Out ‘Very Well’ for Poor Evacuees from New Orleans

By E&P Staff

Published: September 05, 2005 7:25 PM ET updated 8:00 PM

NEW YORK Accompanying her husband, former President George H.W.Bush, on a tour of hurricane relief centers in Houston, Barbara Bush said today, referring to the poor who had lost everything back home and evacuated,
“This is working very well for them.”

The former First Lady’s remarks were aired this evening of National Public Radio’s “Marketplace” program.

She was part of a group in Houston today at the Astrodome that included her husband and former President Bill Clinton, who were chosen by her son, the current president, to head fundraising efforts for the recovery. Sen. Hilary Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama were also present.

In a segment at the top of the show on the surge of evacuees to the Texas city, Barbara Bush said: “Almost everyone I’ve talked to says we’re going to move to Houston.”

Then she added: “What I’m hearing which is sort of scary is they all want to stay in Texas. Everyone is so overwhelmed by the hospitality.

“And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were
underprivileged anyway, so this (she chuckles slightly) is working very well for them.”

Find this article at:

http://www.editorandpublisher.com/eandp/news/article_display.jsp?

vnu_content_id=1001054719

Friends,

We’re seeing the most awesome and heart-rending display of volunteerism and generosity this city has ever seen.

The donation sites are overwhelmed. The volunteer centers are completely swamped. Last night, at the Convention Center, there were between 1,500 and 2,000 volunteers registered and more coming every hour.

This afternoon, Carol witnessed a woman from Leander opening her home to three families, and another person writing a check to pay for any three families to FLY anywhere they needed to go.

It’s nearly unbelievable. A response to match the need. Austin has been truly incredible.

But we know we’re just in the earliest days of what will prove to be a long challenge for the city. We suspect that many of the people who have come to Austin to escape the ravages of Hurricane Katrina will not leave — they’re Austin citizens now. This is going to have a profound effect — as yet unpredictable in character — on our city.

I want to call your attention again to the news site we put up as a way to communicate about the relief effort underway, here:

http://austinhelpingneworleans.org

I have just added a bulletin board for people to trade information and discuss various topics, and that’s here:

http://austinhelpingneworleans.org/index.php/forums/

We’re also planning a fundraising event and we’re in communication with the City about adding more features to the Web site, like a centralized volunteer database.

I’d appreciate it if you would pass on the information about these resources, and sign up if you’d like to help.

Thanks, and I wish you and your families the best on Labor Day.

• Gary
Wednesday, September 7, 2005

Katrina: Jasmina Tesanovic’s account, Austin Convention center
Writer, filmmaker, and Serbian native Jasmina Tesanovic is best known for her work documenting war in the former Yugoslavia. She visited the Austin Convention Center, where many storm victims are being sheltered, and has this to say about the people she encountered. Image: Warnetta and Johnnetta, shot by Jasmina.

I am entering the Convention Center in Austin. Unlike the refugees an police, I have no ID, no tag on my wrist, just my ragged handbag and my lap top.
Nobody asks me anything, though I notice, all the people inside the camp are tagged with different colors, and there are security men and women all over the place.
In this huge no man’s land, there are so many nobody people that a woman like me can pretty much become one of them. After few moments of my wandering I am offered a cheese sandwich, information on where to queue for food stamps, and a wif-fi hotspot for my computer.
“Do you have a number Ma’am?:
No, I say, I am from Serbia…
“Do you need some clothes?”
Well, I could do with some clothes…
Piles of clothes, in all sizes, in all colors…
Here people are mostly black, of all ages, of all sizes, of all shades of color, but there are some like me too… Middle-aged white women from nowhere, feeling at home almost everywhere, when it comes to disasters…
This center for refugees is well-organized, compared to my ex Yugoslav experience. It has air conditioning, abundant cooked food, extremely clean bathrooms and well-behaved people. Nobody is crying, nobody looks depressed yet, nobody is even fighting…
Information center desk, youth center desk, school information desk, jobs information desk, family elder members desk, computer desk, deaf assistance desk, farmer’s desk, unemployment insurance desk, alcoholic anonymous desk, church desk
Warnetta and Johnnetta are approaching me. Warnetta is simply dressed with long black braids, and Johnetta is all dressed up in red, fancy red make up, literally red long hair, jewels, she is gorgeous.
Johnetta says to me: I need somebody to take over my group tomorrow after school; I will not have time to handle them…
Oh, I say, tomorrow I will not be here.
Johnetta looks at me in disbelief. But you can tell me who can help me, you are the woman in green.
No, I am here just to see you and write about you. Can I take a picture of you?
They gently embrace and smile: Johnnetta says, we love it here, tomorrow I am starting to work, nine dollars per hour, everybody is so kind to us here, we have no home but I don’t mind, I have my five kids, four are taken care of in the kindergarten and this is Warnetta my oldest, but she makes me look old, I am thirty three and I don’t want to tell she is my daughter, she is 14… They will never fix my home town properly and we will never go back… because they all knew it was coming and it will come again… but they never do anything to build us good homes, to give people money to build them…

Barbara Bush, the wicked grandma, gave an interview only yesterday, chuckling how poor people will abuse the hospitality in Texas and never go back home. Is THIS what she meant? Her cynical remark was not meant to be cynical; it was a threat, for Johnetta and Warnetta who want to rent a place and stay in Austin until somebody fixes their town PROPERLY.
Both sides know pretty well what they are talking about; Barbara and Johnnetta are quarreling.
“Ma’am, how are you doing?” I am patted on my shoulder by a perfumed elderly volunteer. “I see you managed to rescue your computer.”
I’d better play the refugee after all, it is the safest place in this messy country I guess: not that I am far from that condition. I’ve been a refugee in my own country. This time I am refugee in somebody else’s country. I can tell the difference now.
Is there any? Fay looks just like me. Fay sits next to me, presuming I was just like her: somebody who only a few days ago had a great life and didn’t know it, who took life for granted. Well, how else, I say, one cannot always be a refugee? Or maybe yes, she says, maybe from now on she will always be a refugee: she is a journalist and now she will become a writer she says; exactly like me.
She will become the main character of her own stories. And it will feel good, I promise her. Here I am still feeling good about it and writing.
At a corner of the huge circular building, black male teens have a basket and are playing basketball; tall handsome swift and deft. Some will join the NBA some day. Around them are children perfectly healthy playing games in wheelchairs; there are also some people in the wheelchairs paying no attention to the bored kids. In the corner watching them a pretty girl is sulking. The basketball player comes up to her and cuddles her: she is angry with him… he is neglecting her… a new romance, for the black Romeo and Juliet in a refugee center. At least they are alive and will stay so; away from their parents it seems, I wonder if the parents are alive…
“My husband had to leave too; he stayed until the very end but then it became dangerous, looting and shooting and the diseases… the smell, oh the smell… dead bodies, the heat….” The old black woman’s nose is quivering: she is very well dressed and well-kept, everybody is fussing around her, but she seems to be alone and wants to stay alone.
Where is your husband, I ask?
She is silent, her eyes are blank… In my country too, old people preferred to stay at their homes, whatever may happen. Is there such a thing as homeland after all, I wonder? Or is it lack of courage and energy… why did she make it here and he didn’t?
Who is this old respectable thin woman staring out of the window in silence?
The other old woman is all dolled up; she is sitting in the terrace, chain-smoking, chain-talking. The chair next to her is empty. People come and go and listen to her, but she never stops talking. She has thin legs and a big belly, a pretty old face and fancy sexy clothes: everybody seems to know her. They are offering her stuff and want to help, to carry her, amuse her, bring her music. But she talks and talks only. She reminds me of a raped woman who compulsively talked after she escaped the war zone; she talked sweetly and mildly of everything, even of her rapist… This woman is telling us all how happy she is with life as such, happy to be alive, happy to be here…. I wonder when she will break down, from that chair, from that cigarette to which she is clinging to as if it were a pillar.
I guess she needs a drink, but nobody drinks here.
A desk with pretty young white girls has several posters: child and women abuse. I approach them, they give me their material, they have shelters, therapies for all situations. They are local feminist groups present in the center.
I hear live music, it is melodic and rhythmical as in films I saw from New Orleans, a black old man is singing with his guitar, joined by another younger one who has some kind of flute, the on lookers are stamping their feet and clapping their hands… some are joining in…. not many, but I hear they are planning a party… I wish I could be there…
But then, they start playing the American national anthem, people stand straight and a big applause ends it. Is that their patriotism? Is this America?
What about the global warming that made all this happen, what about Iraq?
A young man from New Orleans was telling this morning how he plans to go back even though his house is destroyed, and to MAKE sure that the city is rebuild in a proper way: that the politicians don’t steal and waste the money; that right guys get in charge and start anew, make a new go of it, this time on proper roots…. Everybody could tell this disaster was going to happen, why didn’t anybody do something about it?
Corruption, racism, classism…. Bush is a spoiled rich kid and behaves as such….
No, I say, he is a war criminal: all the money the world is giving now to US, money from the poorest countries in the world, may as well be used for the wars against the same countries that are giving the money. What a thought? You should secede… from Bush.
Somebody in a county of Louisiana already proclaimed secession, that to draw the attention of the press and the administration, as a trick of course…
What a thought! I really meant it…
The barber’s shop; finally I see how black hair is neatly and patiently done in braids, dreads, colors…. I myself may give it a try. Many years ago, when my white friend from Serbia was attacked by some black people because she was presumably white and rich, she said to them a historical phrase we all white refugees quote here in black US: I come from a country which is in civil war, even if we look exactly the same.
Some military guys appear behind a neatly set desk. Next to them is a desk with a sign; We Support Our Troops, veterans. Well, good thing that troops are supporting those people here, if indeed they are.
And the wifi Internet access I am using while writing this is called Tsunami, it is excellent and free. Kids are gathering around me to play with my computer. Boredom is the biggest killer in places like this. Even if you have your needs met, the definition of being a refugee is being left without your day; be it in a palace, be it in the gutters. Women cope better than men usually speaking, children best on the long run…. They may even realize Mrs. Bush’ s fears and stay in their new homes as if their own, making the old settlers run after their survivor’s energy and skills.
I am looking at a beautiful baby toddler, a girl, she is playing with my bag, smiling and chirping. I pat her, tickle her; her father is huge and angry, he takes her by her belt and picks her up like a mother cat. She is screaming her head off, she wants her doll back, that’s me, I want my girlfriend back, that’s her… but we will never meet again. I am taking a picture of her, one of those faces I will never forget…. Her mom is missing.
A pang; I miss my grown up daughter in Serbia: she used to be small and dark and a refugee too… About 4,000 people here, an Austin volunteer tells me, giving me his email so I can send him my text. More people are coming in but some are already leaving, to other places, relatives, new jobs, new homes… They are not called refugees, they are called “evacuees.”
Elderly well dressed couples from Austin show up in the afternoon, strolling among the evacuees smiling broadly and kindly at all of us. When they asked me, with the air of Princess Diana, “How are you doing? We see you managed to get your computer out,” I didn’t have the heart to tell them that I was from Serbia, and that I am doing fine.

September 10, 2005

East Texas, poor rich county; alcohol is prohibited, you can get a margarita only with your driver’s license which proved that you are over 21. Only few miles, in the next county a big store called The Fat Dogs sells alcohol drinks in tons, with discounts; reminds me of Serbia under sanctions and the big business going on right over the border with Hungary, Rumania, Bulgaria. Only here it is permanent. In Tyler, Why is that? Do people really drink less? We under sanctions drank methyl alcohol if necessary, even we who never drank before. No, people drink even more, I am told, it is just a point made by the religious conservative parties.
In the oil museum, eyeglasses have the shape of the state of Texas; wow that kitsch is beyond nationalism. I could even wear them as a statement. But of what? What is a statement of people who have flags in front of their houses, big and several. As if they were governmental buildings.
One of the first oil pumps here; I am told that oil brings poverty wherever it hits the ground. A few people get rich and many get poor. Louisiana is just round the corner: the workers in the fat dog shop have Cajun accents and speak about the disaster; here in this gated resort community of mostly retired wealthy people no refugees are seen. No loiterers or unknown faces, like in my gated community in Pasadena: mentally gated communities.

September 11, 2005

In the airport, Austin, real special check this time; because of the date, because of my passport.
– Madame did you go through this?
– Oh yes
But what I undergo this time never happened to me before.
I tell them that.
The old woman who went between my legs from different position with a stick in the middle of the airport while I was my hand up on a carpet smiled satisfied. While she was doing it her colleague was going though my suitcase, pulling out my underwear, beauty kit, medicines.
He asked; are you European?
He asked me while he was handling my beauty kit.
I wanted to answer; I don’t know, a very bad but very true answer.
Then I thought better not; once I did it they kept me half an hour with questions.
But I asked him; why do you ask me that?
He didn’t answer.
To overcome the embarrassment of intimacy in public
I imagined I was a star in a serial of futurist spies where these lovely women dress to kill and kill and are killed.
Hey I was pretty well dressed myself, but the contents of my suitcase were rather disappointing, what kept his attention most was my crumbled package of Marlboro lights and my computer with stickers which was gently spread with some invisible glue and handled with utmost care as if it could explode.
Thank you, ma’ am, oh yes they always say that and have a nice day.
I will.
At my gate a crowd of women and children mostly is lined up in a semi circle.
I stick to two middle aged big women with short haircuts in shorts, no make up, no girlish traces: people in Austin I am told do dress shabbily.
What is this, I ask?
Soldiers coming back home from Iraq, says one with tears in her eyes
Directly from Iraq?
Oh no, they have their own ways, she looks at me angrily.
At that moment a soldier is coming out of the plane, dressed in sad colored uniform with bags all over him pending. He is received with applause, his small daughter runs up to him and the rest of the family is surrounding him. It is moving, flags are waving and he finally gets one flag in his pocket.
_ What about those who are not coming back home, I say moved.
The women look at me angrily and say; we came here to pay our honors.
And they leave.
At that point a black soldier is coming from the corridor; a much smaller applause is greeting him, most of the people have left and worst of all there is nobody to hug him, greet him; I feel like embracing him myself, his eyes are somewhat red and he looks around himself for several minutes before leaving. Somebody has not showed up, or he didn’t want to get here.
A third soldier is bordering the plane: he is looking in front of him; his eyes reverted to the floor.
He is big and somehow hunched. Nobody is seeing him off or applauding him.
I wish I had my shirt: STOP THE NEXT WAR NOW!

I hear that my report on Austin convention center is being spread and read in many places: Sweden, Spain, Serbia, Italy. I get hate mail from US patriots, Serbian refugee go back home, and also qualifications like global warming nitwit, feminist whatever: nobody better than your enemies can give you better and more precise compliments. In Serbia I could agree with every single accusation and bad word they called me: language is just a vessel, we fill it with meanings.

September 12, 2005
A lot of bitter comments from NPR national public radio broadcast a story of a guys who was sick and who managed to get out of the town by paying 100 dollars to be driven in stolen school bus out of the flood, and to be shot by the police. That sounds just like my refugee war stories; this is a never ending civil war because it is happening in peace, just as one of my refugees from Bosnia who escaped to US said about this country here, after tasting the segregation.

Back in LA: glad to smell the windy ocean weather and see these beautiful black people. The small shit dogs as a woman from Texas called the ladies’ pets in gated communities in Pasadena.
My daughter came today to US; she managed to get her visa without proving her DNA to the customs’ officer (her words).
I read in the news that LA is the next target of al Qaeda. Also a big earthquake is expected here somewhere: it is bound to come, but nobody knows when or where. I know now that if it does, we’ d better get ready by ourselves.

I must admit that only few months ago, before the New Orleans affair, when I thought of earthquake here I had a feeling that I would be rescued, that I am better off because this is America, the richest country in the world; well not anymore. Something in me is shattered.

Today a two hours power blackout in LA, I was in the metro with my daughter. The lights came back flashing weirdly and unpredictably, the cars behaved randomly, the train stopped and then started and stopped. I guess nobody could tell if the tracks were safe. I wonder if that lasted longer like in Serbia what would like life be in LA: I remember a literary agent from LA who refused to publish my war diary because it didn’t have those kind of instructions in case of disasters. Now I understand why.

September 15, 2005

Tools, Shoes and Misery
I am shopping my head off in LA and that’s what I see: some real ugly stuff costs so much and then the same stuff costs 4 times less, 4 blocks away. Some is even nice: but not by the Europeans standards, never as cheap and as dainty as shopping can be in Paris. But this weird LA between Target stores and hippie clothes is growing on me: I am already wearing black plain climber’s sport shoes with weird metal clip in the back, and feeling elegant.

I remember finding those kinds of shoes real bad taste and wondering how on earth American women wore male clothes, just to feel comfortable. I did that when I was young, as a punk, on purpose not to look sexy or feminine, but this is different, this is being comfortable and sloppy.
Today I went to the local police to ask for a locksmith; gosh how kind they were, the security guy left his desk and spent 20 minutes phoning the shops in order to make a double gate key for me and my mentally gated community. Finally I discovered that my key had on it a veto tattooed: no reproduction without authorization of the owner. I love security measures in US, they give us a false sense of security, like those security rules for flying: which will get tighter yet, as if suicidal bombers did not exist. Those guys are bombs themselves, they don’t need any weapons. Or keys.

September 19th, 2005

Last night I went to the All Saints Church for a book signing by Rushdie. The event was full, meaning the basement was full of local literati, not many Indians, they all seemed well educated and had the international air of people who suffer; it is hard to explain but I know that my impression is infallible and shared by other readers and writers. People who read or write have some kind of misery in them, some unveiled pain, or a streak of personality disorder. Nothing wrong with it, who doesn’t?

Well some people don’t, some are plain straight and happy: those go to cinema or to the chambers. The other ones come to the All Saints’ Church and instead of praying, they listen to a martyr reading his paragraphs of life and death, India and the rest of the world: LA precisely this time, since the plot is set here too.

So Rushdie the guy who survived his fatwa, married a Bollywood star, and stopped drinking, lost weight and gained newborn wit and brilliancy maybe through his VITA NUOVA: he spoke of survival, of being stubborn when the bastards want to get you, of how the streak he discovered in him was called bravery and he showed some of the stuff that martyrs are made of. Just raw human material we all have in us, it sleeps there and luckily enough it never has to wake.

I spoke that way of my common heroes, political idiots…Then today I got a letter from my friend who is bravely surviving her son’s suicide by visiting his suicide route and writing about that: well that is the same, and once again, hopefully we never have to prove to anybody that we are that brave. But if we have to, oh well, may all saints from all churches help us…but I know that doesn’t work that way: help comes out of the blue, a stranger’s glance… a sudden insight. As with writing books, a voice comes and wants to speak.

Rushdie spoke of good and bad literature, of fame and money and how it is not distributed according to literary merits and longevity, but how it is there and some day it eventually surfaces. It was weird for me to hear my own prayer recited by a celebrity, a martyr in a church. But it boosted me: I may even go back to my literary work, notwithstanding the fact that this is America, and America wants me to cut the crap and write stories which sell. I may even manage both: some did. It sounds like women who managed to have children and a career too, and not one at a time but parallel, just as men do.

The literati audience in pain was of different ages and backgrounds. The applause was huge and the signing of the book run as a lottery. The priest of the church was sitting next to the author, he wasn’t afraid of doing it. He wasn’t even ashamed of doing it.

Then during the night I woke up: I decided to forgive all my enemies. I will bear no grudge any more towards those I understand even though I disapprove of them, and am injured by them. I even pondered writing them such Gandhi like letters: but I will not. This is the real world we are talking about; open tolerance can bring me more open hostility. I wonder why inflicted pain causes guilt in the victim and only forgiveness can heal the wound.

September 21

A new hurricane is under way in New Orleans again and Texas. I wonder if these poor wretches will be better or worse off than the first set of refugees. My Code Pink friends are on the East Coast, today already in Washington, getting ready for the Peace March on the 25th. They were expecting arrests, and some have already started.

I didn’t go with them because I might be arrested and kicked out of the country. I miss the action: every peace protest is mine; I don’t like living in a gated community only, security gives a sense of being mentally gated. I don’t have a feeling of danger in the streets with other people. I plain like people. Somebody told me only today, but all people are racists, meaning all races are racists. I wonder if that is true, scary as it sounds. I don’t like my own best. I don’t even know what is my own…

September 22, 2005

Earthquake ten minutes ago. Here in Pasadena I felt it; the epicenter is north… I stood up from my writing desk, made my daughter go outdoors… she is complaining as usual, I am just making her do it… we are a team now, has been going on for years now, bombs or earthquakes or floods, makes no difference, in Europe or States… maybe there is some difference, after the Katrina event, I doubt it though; it may be even worse here in some aspects…

26, September, 2005

Cindy arrested in Washington, Sam from Code Pink tells me…It is in the news… good I am not with them, my friends say, but I feel lonely here in LA not even arrested.

I have a mouse or a rat in my flat. I call him Jonathan. He lives in this castle much longer than I do, and soon I will leave so I have no heart to kill him, even though I will try and kick him out of the rooms: he is too loud and scary. My Castle Green friends said, maybe it is the ghost: I said, well yes, maybe it is Jonathan the mouse’s ghost and not Jonathan himself. I am my ghost myself here in Castle Green; my heart is arrested in DC.

28, September, 2005

Attended a lecture at ACCD, the corporeal artist from France or maybe nowhere but speaking French, ORLAN. The woman who experimented with plastic surgery on her face and body, who open-ended the wounds, abolished the pain, and who calls her art corporeal art. She had the hairstyle of Frankenstein’s daughter movie and maybe from an African mask, half blonde half black standing straight upright. She is a hardcore feminist, her work quotes Derrida, Lacan…cocks and cunts… There was something unpleasant more than mad about her, although she was OK.

She talked too much and the translator into English was lousy although she, Orlan, was a bad girl and the translator a good one. The words didn’t match the images; the artist was refined and daring notwithstanding her spooky looks, while the translator was prudish and ignorant, notwithstanding her refined manners. That might be the encounter between generations and continents of two women. The old and the new continent. The old and new feminists/women,/artists as they were, as they are.

I stood in the audience, but I felt between them, as the dark future of old spooky looking ignorant Balkans waging global wars.

Sept. 29th, 2005

We went to Santa Monica beach by bus: two and a half hours, first two trains and then one bus. The bus was driving slowly though Wilshire Blvd, one of the richest streets in the world: with polite drivers, mothers with small kids in tow, hobos and innocuously deranged people. I realized that my daughter and I look like foreigners and rich ones, who are there by mistake. A tall white guy, with a bike falling apart and a bag full of trash got aggressive because we were standing too close to him. I felt on my skin the negative discrimination.

30 th Sept, 2005

The hills in LA are in flames, because of the drought. The polluted sunset is beautiful, the sky in flames, people evacuated, police helicopters circling…Foreign press is speaking about it, more than the local press, I have a feeling… Is that big or small politics I wonder? But it is like that all around the world, local elections for the same obscure ignorance are not connected with global issues, such as global warming, nuclear weapons, international peace politics…

About jasminatesanovic

Jasmina Tešanović (Serbian: Јасмина Тешановић) (born March 7, 1954) is a feminist, political activist (Women in Black, Code Pink), translator, publisher and filmmaker. She was one of the organizers of the first Feminist conference in Eastern Europe "Drug-ca Zena" in 1978, in Belgrade. With Slavica Stojanovic, she ran the first feminist publishing house in the Balkans "Feminist 94" for 10 years. She is the author of Diary of a Political Idiot, a war diary written during the 1999 Kosovo War and widely distributed on the Internet. Ever since then she has been publishing all her work, diaries, stories and films on blogs and other Internet media.
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