Adulthood? Never!

I’m kidding, kinda.  I don’t have an oppositional stance to adulthood so much as a perturbed curiosity towards it.  My orientation towards adulthood is a queer one–meaning, I see adulthood and I feel its pending doom, and so I dance around it playing with the power it gives me.

Yes, there is power in adulthood.  There is the power of the normative, of course, and the validation one receives from complying with its normative playbooks.  The will to win within the rules: but what about the will to win by breaking the rules?  That’s what I like about adulthood.  What I like about my looming adulthood is the reappropriation of this power, the disidentification of it.  I love people beginning to see me as an adult, because it gives me that certain kind of (normative) power, but I relish in it and laugh and use it against itself.  I like to name that which is unnamed: the “normal” things adults are supposed to do on an everyday basis in order to reproduce our life projects as such.

And there are so many of these things!  These things that make me laugh but it’s a laughter from a place of pain and violent subjection.  Take, for instance, access to couples counseling.  EVERY “COUPLE” DESERVES ACCESS TO MENTAL HEALTHCARE.  However, the silliness that is our hetero-patriarchal nation-state only permits access to such resources on the basis that two adults record their status as partners.  Minimally, this is domestic partnership.  My partner and I have decided to sign up for this all-inclusive package as we move our lives from San Francisco to Tucson, Arizona.  In other words: getting access to mental healthcare as a “couple” (two people who care about each other in need of counseling?) is fucking difficult and EXPENSIVE without proper documentation.  Thus we become “domestic partners” whether we like it or not.  We begrudgingly accept this call to ideological reproduction at the same time that we acknowledge the positions of privilege and power we have in order to even get access to such surveillance.  AND, through the begrudging, we might even experience joy and elation from the cultural celebration of our partnership.

He’s got a fancy full-time respectable job with benefits at The University of Arizona with UANews.org, and I, the starving writer/artist/activist/theorist, do not.  Talk about being unwillingly interpellated as an adult when it comes to getting the basics of life sustainability: health care.  Now, not only do I need healthcare, but WE, my partner and I, need it as we are unsteadily incorporated into the normative confines of adulthood.  It’s a violent and stressful and depressing life process, and we need some support (like anyone and everyone!).

Why is it violent and stressful and depressing?  Because, as a queercrip feminist awesome bundle of joy, shit like marriage and being documented by the state is… it’s like this: one mini-crisis after another apologizing to my 21-year-old self for betraying all that I have always been so ANTI- about.  I am so sorry radical revolutionary self!  I am so sorry!!  I succumb to the disciplinary and regulatory technologies of governmentality.

But at the same time, I’m not SO sorry because it’s all so silly.

Take this language for instance on the City of Tucson Domestic Partner Registration Instructions:

The Tucson Domestic Partnership (DP) Ordinance is a city law enacted September 15, 2003 and effective December 1, 2003, that provides a registry for domestic partners who wish to register. This is a means by which unmarried couples who share a relationship of mutual support, caring and commitment may document their relationship. This is the first domestic partner registry law in the State of Arizona.

“… may document their relationship”?  Aw, thanks State of Arizona, you’re so kind to extend this privilege to me.  “May I?” Why, yes you may (does anyone else think this is hilariously awful?).  Thank you for recognizing my loving and caring partnership in this manner.  Now as an eligible dependent (that language doesn’t make me feel like a burden or anything), I can have healthcare and get the sweet UofA tuition discount (more in-class queer theory? yes please!).

Well-wishes may be for bullshitters.

“The gift of happiness is imagined here in terms of civility.  Human happiness is increased through the courts (law/justice), knowledge (reason), and manners (culture, habits).  Civilization is imagined first as what is brought to ‘their doors’ and second as an irresistible moral pressure.”

“Colonial knowledges constitute the other as not only an object of knowledge, a truth to be discovered, but as being unhappy, as lacking the qualities or attributes required for a happier state of existence.”

-Sara Ahmed

She texts him, I hope your day is steady.

Steady.

Not good, not bad.  Steady.

Because well-wishes for the day are bullshit when you’re depressed.  She knows this.

She knows this but it’s a struggle.  It’s so much easier to say, I hope you have a good day, and leave it there, hanging in the air, empty and pretending.

It’s so much easier to say, I hope you have a better day today babe.

But getting better comes at a cost greater than the struggle.  Struggle, steadily.  Well-wishes may be for bullshitters, but what other vocabulary do we got?  There will be no justice within imperialist utilitarianism.

Have a steady day.

The PhD and normative time

Recent personal disability-happenings have me reconsidering launching into a PhD program right from my MA.  This shakes me in many ways.  I’m in the fast-lane, ready for my “career.”  What might it mean to wait another year, if not two more, for the long-awaited doctorate?  In the context of disability justice, well, my comrades might simply give me the nod knowing that I gotta do what I must do.  Good days, bad days–crip time is tricky against the normative ebbs and flows of legitimated knowledge production.

Who says I’m not a scholar already, anyway?  Because I am.

In her 2011 Society for Disability Studies Annual Conference paper presentation “Cripping Anti-Futurity, or, If You Love Queer Theory So Much, Why Don’t You Marry It?” Ellen Samuels writes:

At the University of California, Berkeley, where I earned my Ph.D. degree in English, graduate student education is structured by an administrative construct called, with no hint of irony, “normative time,” referring “to the amount of time it takes ideally for a student in a particular discipline to complete a doctoral degree.”

Samuels goes on to quote the book In a Queer Time and Place:

Finding that the normative time model could not fully accommodate my queer, disabled, parental existence, I have sought other temporal models to think through these multiplicities. Judith [Jack] Halberstam offers the concept of “queer time” shaped by “nonnormative logics and organizations of community, sexual identity, embodiment, and activity” (6).  Halberstam’s queerness refers not so much to sexuality as to the “outcome of strange temporalities, imaginative life schedules, and eccentric economic practices” (1).

I am glad that Samuels is starting to think about queercrip time in the academy.  I know many, many other disability scholars have written about this topic, especially as it relates to accommodation in the academy as either grad students or professors.  So I let myself pause alongside my disability-happenings, think with the happenings and not against them, and I actually don’t feel so bad with the thought of letting things settle.  In fact, it feels relieving to validate my own crip time in the academy.  We’ll see what happens.