I LOST / I GAINED: AN EXERCISE IN COMING TO TERMS WITH THE PANDEMIC
Drawing from The Hundreds Reading Group (2019-20), the members of Doing Feminism in the Pandemic were invited to contribute “hundreds” (100-word reflections—give or take—on the everyday of the pandemic) in the form of a list: I Lost / I Gained (or not!). These lists constituted an artefact of our early pandemic affects and our exchanges and conversations as we built community together.
The Quarantine: A balance sheet
Lost: / Gained:
the city / the lake’s slow thaw
small talk / an interest in statistics
the classroom / lessons in deceleration
the breath of others / Zoom air kisses
one blue glove / oil at $0/barrel
the hum of the street / a box of old photos, recovered from a tool shed
gatherings / the thought of universal basic income
the Mediterranean / my dog not remembering what a leash is
holding my sister close / respect for the epistolary
touch / a debt to invisible others
time / perspective
cheek kisses / arugula seedlings
community / wildlife crossing empty highways or shuttered squares
ambition / dreams of fixing what seemed beyond repair.
1- one of many existential photos I’ve been taking of rooz, my doll. 2- people in lebanon decided to break quarantine and go back to protesting the streets. The army used live ammunition for the first time since the revolution started in October. 3- the full moon sometime in early April.
Conferences and CV lines
Spontaneous opportunities for mentorship
Final in-person weeks with my first grad class
Space for creativity that would have gone into projects
A concrete sense of time
A clean workspace
Doing resilience in a couple
Late night catch ups with hometown friends
Greater global awareness
Insights into caring for others and myself
Multiple ways of reaching the same goal
Juicy critical research and pivots in existing projects – the plot thickens
Two new fiction novels
Words for my book
Softening and stillness
I long for the bubble of the semi-anonymous public space––the library, the corner cafe, and my favourite, the sparsely populated night train. Seeing strangers navigate the quotidien forces you out of your own minutia. The ordinary––despite its tedium and precarity–– offers up its own grounding rhythm. The tiny bananas at the marche grow spottier with each passing day. Each step kept me moving towards answers. What does it mean to view this as an exercise in humility, in adaptability? What is the recommended paradigm, and how do I summon the mental energy it requires? It’s all questions these days.
I lost a conference I spent months organizing
I gained time to reach out to friends.I lost closure with my students after a year-long class,
I gained “zoom class movies” featuring pets and parents.
I lost a weekend visit with my 82 year old dad following his surgery
I gained a new ritual of talking to him on the phone every night
I lost my motivation to be productive
I gained time to cycle & meander on my bike
I lost my confidence, over and over
I gained more tolerance for uncertainty.
Lost and Gained
A set of keys to a basement apartment. Home to the only person I am allowed to touch. Gifts (from this individual). Two paintings: one purple, one yellow. A slow growing cactus in a plastic pot.
Hebrew Aramaic prayers reverberating with multitude voices.
Care packages from parents: soup in recycled kefir containers, held shut by two rubber bands and a clear, plastic bag. Smokeless shabbos candles.
Their fierce embraces.
Handwritten letters in the mail. Painted, drawn, decorated,
Fear permeating breath into stiff asthmatic lungs.
Hands for the dying.
Earth for the dead.
People I know in their passing.
“Doing Feminism in the Pandemic” is conceived as a collective, process-based living archive. Based on the Slack platform, it invites in-process reflections, “hundreds”, keywords, conversations, prompts, and encounters amongst its participants. It is organized around four streams: “The Crisis was Already Here” (#thecrisiswasalreadyhere), “What does COVID-19 teach us?” (#emergentmodels), “What is the ‘Everyday’ of the Pandemic?” (#theeveryday), and “Reading Space” for sharing links, articles or other material (#whatimreading). Each stream includes some preliminary thoughts and questions to begin an open, process-based, collective conversation.
Alongside the living archive, the Feminist Media Studio is organizing a series of Zoom conversations, artistic prompts, and roundtable discussions with members of numerous communities (academic, artistic and activist) vital to doing intersectional, antiracist, queer, and decolonial feminisms, which participating FMS members can attend, and which will form a vital part of the living archive itself and its various collaborative contributions.