Wednesday, November 7, 2007

The Halfway Point: SANTA FE AND THE DESERT

We interview Mei-Mei over tea the next morning on her sunny balcony overlooking a prehistoric southwest landscape (pictures lost). Mei-Mei is sixty, and has a regal and wise air about her. She is draped in an angular cream tunic, and her calm pointedness resembles the Agnes Martin paintings that hang in her bedroom. She was born in Beijing, from a long line of strong women, her grandmother being the first woman to have a formal education in China. “These dandelions are like a yellow blanket,” she uttered at age five, beginning her long career as a poet. She was the first Chinese-American woman on record to publish a volume of poetry, and as a result of her field, she very much considers herself a feminist, publishing through Kelsey St. Press, an experimental women’s poetry venue. Mei-Mei remained completely focused on her career until she had her daughter at 42, who is “the most significant person” in her life now. She sees an over-stressed, over-competitive streak in our generation, and believes we don’t have enough time to figure out who we are, which will inevitably effect modern feminism. She doesn’t feel much allegiance to “European principles of heroic individuality,” intuiting that a new feminism should “change the worldview to be more about unity and connectedness. Gender now has only elements of convention rather than an absolute.”

3 comments:

LILI said...

That was amazingly written. Stay strong, everything happens for a reason.

Susan said...

Ditto the above remark. I've enjoyed every entry, but somehow tales of separation, loss and redemption make us that much richer, even if you have to lose a camera or have a sleepless night in the meantime.

GIRLdrive said...

Bailey Doogan wrote this wonderful note to me, and allowed me to post:

"Dear Emma,

I was sad to read about your camera. I remember our discussion about your beautiful twin-lens reflex. I'm assuming the loss was your other camera. You have my sympathy, but I know that yours and Nona's project is stronger than that loss -- I have been following your project and now I'm addicted. I really loved your writing on New
Mexico, and was very moved by Nona's piece on her mother.

When I moved out West in August, 1969 to teach at the U of A, I had
to buy a car and learn to drive. I traveled with my two friends,
Barbara and Sara in my 1963 Volvo P544, which I bought for $600. My
friend, Willie Foshag, called us the "Motor Girls", his favorite book from his childhood in the 20's. My memories from that trip are so vivid -- a devastating hurricane in Mississippi; the volvo being repaired for $25 in Purvis, Mississippi by a man who had lost his home that morning in the storm; my car being rear ended in Saltillo, Mexico, and then being "banged out" for free by the guy who hit me; drinking and dancing on the rez with Sara's brother, a lawyer for the Navajo's, and a few of his clients; passing out in the desert and sleeping under the stars while coyotes howled all night...

You're both in my thoughts -- Motor on.

Peggy"