"We Were All Born Very Brave"

A couple of years ago I had my first dream of permaculture spaceships. I see the skin is made up of translucent, epidermis-esque photovoltaic panels that capture solar energy from space and beam it into the ship to feed the plethora of perennial food forests and permaculture systems on-board. Everyone can take as much as they need from the ship’s offerings, foodwise; they are periodically scanned and organic matter on their person is registered in the ship’s log, so that the community can be notified if one member or family is taking disproportionately more food than the others. There is no carceral system on-board the ship; there is only space-holding and rehabilitation. So if one person is taking more food than the others, then the community literally gathers around that person and holds space to receive more information about what is motivating that behavior. The decision-making process is community-run, and flows from Awareness to Implementation to Practice to Mastery. Children have as much say as adults. The ship is zero-waste, and has a vault of super-rich topsoil on-board as well as very rich compost from their on-board worm and fungal composting systems, red from organic food waste from the kitchen and dining halls. There are living machines to handle black water and grey water. Children are unschooled, and combine “classroom” education (rarely in a classroom) with hands-on learning. They are all given responsibilities in the kitchen and gardens, and animal chores too. There are ducks and guinea hens and pigs and chickens and cows; all heritage-breeds, and all adjusted to space travel. I love this idea of space-pigs chomping on fallen chestnuts, floating through the Milky Way.

Those thoughts are coalescing into a speculative fiction novel now, with the working title Planet Femme, an excerpt of which can be found here: https://vimeo.com/203405146

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A while ago, while I was doing my first Marie Kondo tidy-up of my room (I have just completed my second), I came across a zine that my dear friend had made while she was pregnant. It had a series of numbered quotes; fabulous pregnancy-thoughts that were very clearly written by a creative body playing host to another body. Here they are:

  1. step back from the dominant narrative and listen. the world sings with everyday love, with exchange of inspiration, the unspoken gifts we give each other just by living. your self is an infinite gift, both to & from the unknown.
  2. Everything in the world deserves to hybridize. Cross-pollinization. We overlap ourselves with the unfamiliar & evolve (Biology is weird that way)
  3. moebius strips of infinite gift-giving, positive feedback loops. A billion friendship bracelets tied together would encircle the earth, easily.
  4. latitudes & longitudes, invisible gridlines, astrolabes and other navigational instruments. Set your sights to the stars & sail your ship into the distance
  5. group b (the kitchen group): Farjana, Archana, Deepti Bista, Nadina, Chencho, Yangdon, Tshering, Aby Baby, Tam, Quynh, Pearly, Tabussum, Lyny, and Jeya Ruby. (b is for beautiful)
  6. I prefer to live in places where I feel at least a little uncomfortable.
  7. My senses and capacities have shifted. My singing voice is three notes higher. My eyes animate objects, give life to still things at the edge of my vision. A halo of strange animals ringing everything
  8. illmaculate conception, raising the bar, lifting the veil
  9. Ive had dreams from my unborn’s perspective. They always involve escaping from a confusing room. In one I was Johnny Depp matrix-diving out a haunted house’s window.
  10. the magnetic imprint-and-recall bridge methods of your synaptic workshop. Dont forget to say thanks to your brain sometimes
  11. I thought about the sci-fi story Im going to write while on maternity leave: the all-female laboratory, biopharmaceuticals, neutraceuticals, plant-based and genetic-modification anti-aging research. hormones, pheromones, & interns: the heinous singularity
  12. Your dna is shaped like a ladder for a reason
  13. imagine being an old boat, a trader’s junk, heavy-laden with the earthly world’s exotic riches. ostriches & silks, spices & flowering trees dripping nectars & forming strange fruits. Floating slowly on the open ocean.
  14. I woke up worrying in the middle of the night and spent the hour I couldn’t sleep remembering as much as I could about the fourteen girls in the first class I taught at the Asian University for Women. 
  15. A tightrope tied between two limbo sticks, perpendicular circus acrobatics, always barely balancing. My other favorite dance is called “the balance beam”
  16. “birth gets the brain ready to sense the world” says science daily. birth: the very first frontier. we were all born very brave
  17. Sometimes I wish my baby would just keep growing inside me to full adult capacity, fill up my skin & then shed me
  18. told myself a story so that I could fall asleep again.
  19. My baby’s aura is bottle blue today. Best seen when backlit by indirect sunshine
  20. in the middle of a long game of two-way limbo, bending over backwards in every direction
  21. lost at sea, like lost in space, an empty vast waste. bound there, caught floating in your body with only your lonely soul as company
  22. Jesusina Junior starring in Die Hard Infinity: reborn at Forrest Gump’s feather 
  23. My new fave thang about being pregnant is all the strangers approaching me & sharing their birth stories. The non-dominant narrative of love & care work
  24. When I was little, my favorite dance was the limbo. Maybe cause I was so little. Nowadays my main dance moves are bastardized tai chi temple exercises. Manipulating my meridians
  25. Today I celebrate Zheng he, the chinese eunuch sent to sail the seven seas. He brought back ostriches from east Africa, left settlers in South Peru, perhaps 100 years before yung Columbus. 
  26. A staring contest with myself in the mirror. Everybody wins
  27. get familiar with your dreams and they won’t scare you anymore. Shake hands with your many dimensions

I love these quotes so much. I love how relentlessly creative my friend is, and how relentlessly energetic her baby is. If Victoria, the mother, is air and water, then Samimi, the daughter, is fire and earth. When Samimi was one, I made kitchari for her and Victoria. Kitchari (a dish Rob taught me) works on apana vayu, or elimination energy; the hingvastak, turmeric and root vegetables are super grounding. We fed some to Samimi and she went from her usual extremely high-pitched chirping to deep, guttural grunts and foot-stomping. A beautiful literalization of a ten thousand-year-old ayurvedic truth. Fire and earth.

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That junket to me—#13 of Victoria’s quotes: “…ostriches and silks, spices & flowering trees dripping with nectars…”—that trader’s junk is the colonial precursor to the permaculture spaceship. Cast adrift on that starry ocean we call space (it even has electromagnetic waves), our permaculture spaceships, our diasporas, roam in search of other earths. I hope that our earth is a happy twenty-something in earth years by then, but she could also be dead; blown apart by nukes. Or she could have just kicked humans out and gotten on with her day, as so many of us fear and suggest. That seems unlikely to me, though. In so many ways does the earth forgive us for our trespasses against her, and so quickly; forests recover 80% of Vermont’s desiccated farmland in 80 years; rivers break levees to slither back to their old haunts. Camus root—a plant with a bready root that co-evolved with Native American hoopwalkers in the Great Basin for tens of thousands of years, that needs the human hand to thrive—will burst forth and propagate at campsites, thriving from even the most neglectful touch. The hardest things for human beings to grasp, it seems, is that they are wanted, and that they can go home at any time.

Chloé Rossetti