Wednesday, 8 June 2016

The living is easy

Do I really think that adding a splash of rosewater to my iced coffee is going to make me sweeter to other people, as it would to stinging and biting insects? Do I really think that dancing alone in the dark with the windows open and candles flickering is going to draw people in like moths? This has been a cold summer thus far, and I'm fine with it. I still wake up occasionally with raging itchy bites on my knees and ankles. One of them I've scratched so persistently that it's now accompanied by a bruise. Just one in an ongoing project to be as physically abhorrent to strangers as possible. Be my friend/ stay away. 
There are matching bruises on my forearms, which look more like dirt than bruises. These are from work. I spend days at work looking sort of like a filthy little boy but I still wear mascara. I think I'm the only one who does this. I might be the only one who needs it. 
On a scale of 1-10, how much would I regret an ouroboros tattoo (small) in the shape of an infinite figure eight, one end fucking the other, headless and phallic and floral and feminine, instead of the serpent eating its tail? It might take a while for me to determine if it's an actual desire or a miniature act of bodily terrorism. Maybe it's fortunate that I don't have money for these things. Where are my people? Where is my club for those of us who grew up ugly and instead of building character, it made us insecure for life, apologetic at taking up space in the world? 
I don't even feel that grim today, but everything I write, always, sounds grim. Self-pitying. I assure you, I'm quite fine right now. I'm seated next to an open window shaded by green vines and a tall pine. My toenails are rose-colored. I'm doing okay, for now. 

An Inuit man warms his wife’s feet, 1880—1890s. Robert E. Peary 

Saturday, 4 June 2016

Letting go no. 73

I slept too late.

Two days after the 'anniversary' of my moving into an apartment alone, I lay awake in bed in the minutes before sunrise. I took deep breaths to avoid picking up the phone, to resist the crazy urge to text him, This is too sad. This is not right.  The first actual urge of its kind, honestly. 
And then he texted me, in the predawn blue, after months of hiding. That thread between us, frayed as it is, still holds. 
It took me minutes of staring at the phone to understand what I was seeing. It was the apology I thought I'd taught myself never to expect. It was the voice of the friend who would squeeze me until I thought my ribs would crack, and I loved it. I lay back, breathing hard, not smiling, but almost. I fought against it, but it kept me buoyant all day.
Until I heard from him, again. 
He'd left. He'd moved. Without saying goodbye. It took him two thousand miles to apologize to me. And he did not say this. What he said, in the way of the coward, in the way that I can only assume via text is smirking, was, How's life in __________?

I could avoid pain in life if I didn't let myself get excited about things. But it's an incredibly hard impulse to resist when life is already such a sad, monotonous drone. I guess it's like trying to grasp at a prism's rainbows. I was always such a shit Buddhist. My emotions are too feral, too capricious to observe from anywhere other than a mountain top. 

I always thought as I grew older, my 'family' would grow, I would add new people to my life. But it gets smaller and smaller. I took my last remaining Ativan, so expired that I had to chase it with a beer. I lay in bed with ice water and the soft rain outside at dusk, let my cheek become embossed with linen wrinkles, and watched a documentary about Janis Joplin. I feel for her in ways I don't feel for other artists. At least in ways that are raw and ugly and vulnerable. Poor girl. I don't have the miracle of a voice, but I feel for you.  Not enough people know you, how you lived and died.

Why is there a part of me where the most useless sort of hopes just don't die? They low mournfully, stagger and huff, find poisonous plants that bloat and pain them but keep them alive, skeletal. Long-horned hopes. The poisonous plants are the source. I can't find them, they look like all the rest. 

I imagine that, from an outside perspective, my entire life has looked like the most pointless exercise in self-flagellation. How it's a miracle if anyone at all has an ounce of compassion left for me when I keep coming back to stick my hand on the hot stove. But...why is it this way? Is it so hard to understand how letting go of someone you loved more than you'd ever loved anyone before, would be a struggle? Who are these people who so easily flip their hair, say, "Not today, Satan", and toddle off feeling empowered and like god's gift to mankind? I can't believe it's one hundred percent to do with self esteem. Haven't people with good self esteem ever experienced something so life-changing that its sudden, confusing, unforeseen dissolution takes an age to process and grieve? 
Is it so hard for other people to accept that 'the one who got away' is a real thing? That happens? Does all the rhetoric about fish in the sea and 'something even better coming along' come from people who don't want to face that fucking awful truth that sometimes the best person for you does change, does leave, and the rest of your life is spent in compromise with someone else who is still 'pretty good'? Why aren't people able to admit that this happens, just like it happens with occupations, jobs? 

And what if the person lost was the best part of your life? Well, then, surely you deserve whatever kind of sick lesson this loneliness is. Our culture doesn't like people who find happiness in being with others. If that were legitimized, what would happen to all the precious positivity blogs, the manifesting gurus and 'influencers' and life hackers and airbrushed floggers of watered-down New Ageisms who rake in thousands of clicks a day by regurgitating stale nonsense about autonomy that's been circulating since the 1970s? Nope. What you're allowed to care about, strive for, and participate in is capitalism. Give your life to a job that you've convinced yourself is a calling, measure your self-worth by how productive you are in the mill, and no one will judge you. Ways that you contribute to the machine, those are the ways of being that are acceptable as being central to your life. But something as intangible, unproductive as a psycho-spiritual-sexual companionship so fulfilling in and of itself that you don't think a whole hell of a lot about the things, the stuff you're going to buy next? That's not okay. That's pathological. Hoarding money, working oneself to death, Facebook exhibitionism, moving in the world as a walking advertisement-- these are the things above ridicule. 

These are the ways to be, if you want support, need encouragement. 

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Still colonized

Still failing to depart from certain eras of my life with the gentle sort of ruthlessness that they say is necessary. Still trying. It's been a year of aggressively not-knowing, pain in the solar plexus, subtle bright spots.

Maybe in some other life we are standing side by side laughing that in some other life we are apart.
Graffiti told me that.

Saturday, 28 May 2016

tired starlings

A few days ago I accidentally came across an illustrated horoscope. Scorpio's said, "Don't disappear just yet."  I inhabit a mental dimension in which I simply can't believe in astrology and yet also strongly identify with my sign. So. If I haven't disappeared yet, what exactly is this life? We're still in the earliest stages of summer, not even official summer, dark and wet and green. The cool, humid air has fed everything in me that has tentacles, root structures, eyes on stalks, encrustations of brilliantly hued lichens. These little emotional parasites probably won't become fully-fledged. The unwholesome warmth they need to take over will come, but they'll die in the blinding white haze of the sun. The confusion of summer depression! Edges are indistinct, eyes tear and squint, on the worst days strangers are all wearing zinc-white Emil Nolde masks with boozy grins. And yet. And yet. Summer never stops being at least the tiniest bit exciting, at least where I live. Here, leaving the house in winter is a production. In summer the magic hour is a peach glaze over ivy-covered brick apartments and stuccoed monstrosities with mudded-over front porches as if the builders immediately realized that a three-season porch here is barely fit for two seasons.

It's ready to storm. The birds are riot. My body is readjusting to machinations without artificial hormones. When I was younger, those traitorous female organs ran with the trusty clockwork of a Swiss train schedule. Now they function with the maddening lethargy of an Amtrak. Amtrak: When you need to be, whenever. Thank you, body, for the four extra days of rampant sugar cravings and dresses that won't zip. Then finally, blood for days, Bates Motel blood, Stygian blood, it all comes on to the opening strains of "White Room". Cramps that barely exist, might only exist to remind me that his hot hand isn't there on my belly to magic them away. Put a dollar in the mental swear jar. It's two dollars if I say his name.

Absolutely useless female parts. The rain started. The birds are still riot.

This wouldn't be an entirely truthful entry if I failed to include the bright spots of the past week, the kinds of interstices in which I'm trying hard to see the magic. Again. It uses so much energy. Hence the compulsive sugar ingestion. Anyway, since I've never yet allowed a blog post to die with dignity at a respectable, parsimonious length, I will include these things:

The cat and I waking with our heads pressed together

The landlady drifting upstairs to talk about drugs with the maintenance man and me, asking, "What is that? It smells so good up here," in reference to the amber incense I've been burning. I'm admiring her chipped green nail varnish and witchily-unkempt grey hair

The bloodstone Honda CB400f that lives down the street

Dollar-store lipstick in a rainbow of man-repelling, uneasy shades

Having no turntable, but pulling out The Zombies on vinyl while I play them from my computer, propping the record next to some guttering candles in a silly, puja-like gesture. Pour one out for the Technics SL-5100

Beer and too many snacks with a friend

White linen bedding

The VVitch. 

Baby snakes

Saturday, 14 May 2016

Concert 1995, Birmingham Road 1997

"No, but I mean, it's a skill, it's a talent. It's this cool thing to be able to suggest hidden reserves even as you're there, offering yourself up to people. Listening to them," said an old guy with spiky hair and Buddy Holly glasses. He thinks I just sit back and run the show by simply being, when in fact I'm a tabula rasa. For days that conversation made me feel prickly, overheated with a kind of oblique shame that I hadn't immediately run away, because I wanted to be polite. Because I had to spend the evening in the same venue as this guy. The fourteen year old and the forty year old, in the cinderblock corner.
Kids hanging on to the tail end of the grunge era roamed the vaguely louche El Torreon Ballroom, many of them with dilated eyes and silly grins. Girls linked arms to traverse the floor, friends of all genders embraced and kissed in greeting to show just how relaxed, how cool, how anti- they were. Jelly shoes, thrifted button-downs with the gas station ghost-attendants' names embroidered on the chest, highwater corduroys, threadbare cardigans. Shift dresses that looked cut from sofa upholstery. Eyebrows plucked to single-file hairs, Manic Panic, Dr. Pepper lip balm, baby barrettes.
I had shown up there with a small group to watch a friend's band, and other than the charitable few I'd ridden with, the crowd mostly steered clear of me. They could smell that my chemicals weren't theirs. They could smell my unease, they treated me as if I were better than them, cooler, with more singular style, which wasn't a kind of fawning but a delicate ostracizing. I was here on a Friday night because I was good, no trouble, my parents were permissive, while theirs were negligent. Except for a moment of friction when a cousin reported on my watching the film Kids, my mother promising we'd "discuss it later"--which we didn't--I was generally free to read what I wanted, watch what I wanted. Most certainly listen to what I wanted. My attempts to live a parallel life by corresponding with a much older boy in England without even bothering to sign up for a separate email account from my dad's--well, those were quashed. The internet was small in those days, a lot of fan pages of green Times New Roman on a black ground.
In two years' time I was again back at the Ballroom, waiting for another band, tangentially friend-related, to start playing, this time in my gamine phase. Short-cropped pixie, no makeup, thrifted ballet flats, cap-sleeve t shirt and no bra. No hips to speak of, no thighs, almost no breasts, untended brows. In retrospect, it's a wonder that any heterosexual boy my age ever expressed a bit of interest in me. Not that there were many. But a few, and a few is enough. I left after the show with Paul, a homeschooled musical phenom whose parents, sometime intellectuals, lived in a geodesic dome. Paul was only a few inches taller than me, wiry and lean, with thick black brows and a shock of short side parted dark hair. Perfect teeth, high pitched laugh, the most effortless indie wardrobe west of the Mississippi, east of the Rockies. Chuck Taylors, Action Slacks. Adorably dorky, quite literally too cool for (actual) school. We sat in a pitch dark country lane in his ancient bottle green Volvo, sipping a cherry icee and fishing under the seats for tapes to play in the aftermarket deck crammed awkwardly into the dash.
I sat with my legs across his lap (why was I in the driver's seat?), leaning forward to kiss during lulls in the conversation, which would resume, unbroken in continuity even after several minutes of making out. Medium format film (kiss) Harmony Korine (kiss) gruesome urban legends about the village on whose outskirts we were parked (kiss) French classes (kiss). Lazy kissing, we invented it. I never found occasion to tell him that I kissed him more in the course of that evening than I'd kissed anyone else, combined, in my short life thus far. Somehow we switched places, and I ended up in the passenger seat.
I Wanna be Adored spilled canned and soft from the car speakers, my eyelids fluttered, as I felt I couldn't look when he planted a kiss right between my thighs. Oh, I suppose this is happening now. Okay. Had to happen sometime. The windshield completely fogged over. His hand skimmed up, squeezed me at the waist. The windows fogged over. A tiny staticky interval, then My Bloody Valentine came on. Headlights flooded us momentarily, diffuse through the frosted back glass, and Paul came up--shot up--, both of us holding our breath, and the car passed. Not the sheriff.  He collapsed forward, gave me a wet kiss, leaned his sticky cheek against mine and cupped my face in his hands and giggled, which started my own giggling at his Mozart laugh, in theoretical horror and relief. I squirmed, pulled my underwear back up around my hips. "Sorry about your car seat," I said in mock apology. "Oh, it's my dad's car," Paul said, deadpan, then winked. I must have looked mortified because he quickly reassured me that it was, indeed, his own car and not his parents'. Then, abruptly, he reclined the driver's seat with a rickety clunk, and with his eyes closed and a dopey, peaceful grin, put his hands behind his head as if he weren't in a slightly-too-chilly Volvo, but in a hammock in some balmy clime. Utterly unconcerned about anything at all, totally innocent, totally unselfconscious. Saint Paul-without-Guile, floppy, squirmy little dude with the crooked smile.

I went away to France that summer, and he was absorbed into another band. My hair grew longer and I resumed wearing mostly black. I mailed him a photograph (yes, by post!) of myself in my French school uniform, on my motorcycle in front of the golden stone bricks of Carcassonne. He mailed me a couple of cassette tapes of him talking about his music, his family, about falafel, about nothing. Our relationship-which-wasn't-really-one became more nebulous, and we drifted apart, painlessly and naturally. He's married now, living in a far corner of the globe. I thought of him today, when the radio announced that the Stone Roses had come back after twenty years with a new album. Tonight I'll dance around my empty apartment, alone, to I Wanna be Adored.