Editor’s Note: Maria is taking a few weeks off to finish a book project. In the interim, we will be rerunning some of her columns, because we really do think they are that good. I’ve chosen her first Planet Waves article, from May of 2011, for this weekend; something about its concluding paragraph feels right as we approach this solstice. The “current unpleasantness” she references early on was the Fukushima quake and tsunami, with its nuclear repercussions. If you have a favorite article of Maria’s you’d like to suggest, comment below or email amanda [at] planetwaves [dot] net. — Amanda
By Maria Padhila
I grew up on a missile testing range in the California desert. Family trips often included tours of nuclear power plants. My father, brilliant, raging, drinking, was himself a device one had to avoid detonating — and sometime one of us would set him off, unintentionally.
Current unpleasantness has me flashing back to those times, and forward as well — wondering if I’ve done what I need to do to stop the deception that’s led us to this. It’s what everyone asks: But what can I do? Once in a while, as a journalist, I could get a few digs in. In writing and art, a few more. But — and this may be as self-serving as it is self-deluded — I think I’m doing the best thing by following my desire.
My mother filled the house with feminist novels during that great flowering in the ’70s, and I read them, some openly, some snuck into in glimpses. Now these ladies are out of fashion and out of print, but I still love them — Marge Piercy, Judith Rossner, Fay Weldon, Erica Jong. They shaped my dreams — you could live in a group house full of artists and workers scrabbling to survive, rural or urban, and it maybe, maybe, could work. You could sleep with women and the world wouldn’t crack open. You could sleep with more than one man and you wouldn’t be stoned or shunned.
The writers were less naive than I was, of course; dry and chiding and even a little cynical. The commune falls apart; the center cannot hold against women always having to bake the bread, make the bread, carry the children. But at the beginning of the books, it all looked possible — and that’s the vision that formed my ideal. Time and drugs and punk rock and the career ladder all eroded that ideal, but it remained within me, folded on itself, until after I had a child and made it through her toddlerhood.
To read more, you must be a registered user. Registration is free.
If you are already registered, please login Here!