Monday, May 11, 2009

Of Handmaids and of Hope

We interrupt our scheduled programming (On Zombie Invasions, part 3) to allow the author to wax eloquent about her "feelings" and so on. (This is inadvisable). The author wishes to make it known that you may allow your attention to wander freely, as she is not likely to say anything of interest or importance.

This is probably utterly incoherent, but, alas, that is the way in which I am wont to function. This evening I attended a staged reading of a new, one-woman adaptation of Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale. I have never read the novel, but I now feel a burning desire to do so. It's a dystopian near future (well, a possible near future of 1985, when it was published, though there is nothing in it to date it; it feels positively modern), in which women are second-class citizens under the new totalitarian theocracy. Our heroine, Offred ("of Fred," the commander to whom she belongs) is a "handmaid," a woman whose sole function is to (hopefully) be impregnated by the commander. If she cannot conceive, she will be shipped off to the colonies, where the "unwomen" are made to tidy up pollution problems for society, without any protection against even nuclear waste. Offred was separated from her husband and five-year-old daughter when the new regime was instigated.

So the reader, or audience member, expects Offred to play the hero - to escape or fight. Certainly, she feels the injustice. She knows it's wrong. It's all so horribly wrong. But as her tale goes on, she gradually becomes used to things as they are now. "Normal." There are some concessions. She becomes comfortable. She becomes complacent.

And I became frightened. Because I am a creature of comfort. I'm lazy. I binge for the comfort. I like warm, confined spaces, provided there are no other people invading my space. This is not only comfortable to me, but comforting. I keep trying to figure out why I am only truly at ease when I am totally isolated. I am, in general, not a terribly happy person. I'm not satisfied with where I am in life. I am not still striving toward a goal, yet I never reached one. I just got tired and sat down. I am not in the process of becoming. I have simply left myself unfinished.

Where am I going? I mean where the fuck am I going?

New York City. If I can put myself together enough to actually go through with it, I will be moving to NYC. To make a movie with some friends. This movie is not my passion. It is a half-mad attempt to make my life worth living. And I am so frightened and lonely and empty. I don't want to accept whatever falls into my lap. I want to want things! And have the guts to go after them!

This is a problem with me. Somewhere along the line, I got knocked down one too many times, and now I am almost too afraid to stand up.

So, if I hurtle myself as far as I can outside my comfort zone, I am hoping I will simply transform into an altogether different sort of human being.

Oh, but hope is a fickle friend.


Meg said...

Hmm...very well said friend. I think we all feel like this, or at least I hope we do so that I don't feel like I'm the only one. It is so very easy to stay in the safe confines of what we know. I have done this more times than I like to remember. I'm not sure what the answer is, or if there even is one, but I reckon that being aware that it is part of life is a good first step to overcoming complacency...golly I hope so anyway...

On a side note your new layout is super lovely...the header kinda freaks me out though. :):):)