Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Poetry Slam

As part of my weekend of resistance I also decided to meet my date for duck and then head to the Green Mill for the longest running poetry slam in the city of Chicago. At some point last year when Hellion came to visit we accidentally caught the start of the slam on a Sunday night. This time I was going intentionally.

It was a good idea.

The artists were speaking truth to a power that resonated with everyone in the room. The lyrcism, the dub-step form of speaking that they used to engage us, words as weapons. Words as the sword and battle armor. Words for all occasions to prosecute, pillory and purge  the illegitimacy of the regime currently surrounding us. The words were not kind, but the words were necessary.

As we sat and listened to the beat, the the rhythm of the words that sound as battle drums being struck in the distance. We clapped and chanted along. We engaged. We enraged. We were one in our hopes and fears in the moment. When they come for our words we will find other ways to communicate. We will strive to be the voices of resistance and find ways to communicate.

The regime likes to say there is a movement. They are correct.

They just don't realize who the movement actually involves.








Monday, January 30, 2017

American Born In...

I'm working my way through figuring out how I can participate in resisting the regime that we are currently living in without getting myself arrested or having a panic attack. Crowds make me extremely nervous and my job would frown a bit on me getting arrested, so protesting is out. I've decided, given the current state of things, that I will do what I can to support local art, local restaurants and food owned and operated by immigrants and do what I can for music and culture. This feels like a good way to do what I can do. Considering how likely it is that that arts will be almost fully defunded in the regime, it will be a small comfort but at least one I can support.


Yesterday I went to the Art Institute as part of my protest. Each weekend I'm going to make an effort to do something different and cultural whenever it is possible for me to do so. For some reason, I was feeling early American modern and so ended up in the wing of artist painting and contributing in the 1930s to 1950s. This is the wing where Georgia O'Keefe lives, among others. 

I was taking in some of the amazing art from this period. Some detailed realism, hints hear and there of abstract or surreal. I read the names of artists and at first there was nothing terribly profound in it. 

And then it hit me. I kept seeing over and over in the American wing the phrase "American born in".

Politics today being what they are after yesterday this hit a real nerve. I started looking for "American born in" I started counting the times I saw "American born in" and I almost wanted to cry after discovering more than 30 artists on display, all American, all born somewhere else. In the end the land of their birth didn't change the fact that they hang in the museum today, noted for being American born somewhere else. 

I don't think this age is over. Rather, I think, I hope, we shall have a period in which we will adjust. Where we as a whole country will recognize that being American is so much more than being born here. Being American has a lot more than ancestry behind it. We should be proud of this, embrace this, embrace those who would be Americans born elsewhere. I'm counting the days until we get to such a place again. 





 

Sunday, January 29, 2017

The Present and the President

I've been writing about the past, ruminating on all the things I didn't talk about last year. There was a lot I didn't talk about last year. While my world was falling apart I just lost the ability to express it. As the world around me seemed to join in it became all a little bit too much.

There was a point where I was fairly convinced that after the election, when we knew it would all be okay, then, then, I would be able to write again. As I drank wine with friends and we watched the election unfold before us it became even more presently clear that things were not going to be easily made okay. There was no off button now. This was the world.

Last year I read a lot of books in an attempt to understand it. I read the novel It Can't Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis. At the time, this quote struck me:


“The Senator was vulgar, almost illiterate, a public liar easily detected, and in his "ideas" almost idiotic, while his celebrated piety was that of a traveling salesman for church furniture, and his yet more celebrated humor the sly cynicism of a country store.
Certainly there was nothing exhilarating in the actual words of his speeches, nor anything convincing in his philosophy. His political platforms were only wings of a windmill.” 

It was hard to read this and not think about the horrible rhetoric of the man that would be king. I was hopeful it would not be so. And then it was. The night of the election is one of the first times in over 20 years I've considered doing serious, fatal harm to myself. I was lost. It wasn't just the election, it was the mounting depression of an entire year in which the world seemed to fall apart.

Since then, it took some time but I finally found myself again. While writing over the last month I considered if I wanted to say anything about politics. I have so many feelings about politics and I don't want my writing to become nothing but politics. However, it is impossible to write at this time and fail to acknowledge the historical moment. I am living inside of this moment, and for better or worse, it is the stories of those caught up in historical times that help those that come later understand that times. With that in mind, I've decided to write my feelings and reactions when appropriate. I am not a political pundit. I'm not a journalist and my activism has always been fairly mellow. But I am a human alive in this moment, a woman, a latina, a bisexual, a pagan, an artist and educated educator. Now, I think it becomes part of my responsibility to contribute whatever I can to the ever growing narrative that will be a record of what happens now.

Yesterday was the Holocaust Remembrance Day. This is an important international holiday as it has history is recognizing the flight of Jewish immigrants trying desperately to leave Germany before Hitler really got things underway. The day itself was established to officially, and with some finality, promulgate that a) the Holocaust did happen b) six million Jews lost their lives. It is important to acknowledge the genocide of an entire people and how the world allowed that genocide to go to far before finally making an effort to stop it.

Sadly, on that same day 51 years later, a man who currently sits behind the desk of presidents and leaders failed to acknowledge the deaths of millions of Jews and issued an order to effectively bar immigrants and refuges of wars in which modern day genocide is currently being perpetrated from entry to this country. It's worse than that, of course, as this order included the banning of actual American citizens who hold green cards or dual citizenship with the selected banned countries. This includes military service members who placed their lives in harms way to earn American citizenship. The level of my disgust and outrage cannot be described.

I followed the news, trying to avoid it, wanting it to go away, again. Just stop. A judge issues an order and the thing is stopped but not really. The Department of Homeland Security has a taste of the power they have always wanted to manipulate lives. They refuse to follow the judges orders without a fight. The citizens stepped up and went to the airports to protest. There is outrage. There should be outrage. There is still not enough outrage yet. I think back to Sinclair Lewis and I recall
“Day on day he waited. So much of a revolution for so many people is nothing but waiting. That is one reason why tourists rarely see anything but contentment in a crushed population. Waiting, and its brother death, seem so contented.” 
The population is not crushed yet, but with the daily deluge of outrage after outrage I wonder how much more of it we can stand before we appear contented. I'm hopeful this will not happen. Soon I'll fly again and I admit to a small worry that with my Latina looks and my Latina last name that having my passport may not be enough on it's own to permit me re-entrance to America.

I'm worried.

It's a time of worry.


Saturday, January 28, 2017

Almost Somewhere

Last year had me on the road more often than not. I am looking on a year that will have similar amount of time traveling. I feel always best when I am somehow traveling, going, finding a new place, a new adventure. There is a sense of being inbetween when I am not traveling.

There is a sense of being almost somewhere when I am traveling.

There is no such thing as the location, there isn't a getting there, or a finding, or a landing, or an arrival. There is just the sense of being almost there.

Waking up in a hotel, strange rooms, new walls, different beds. Some better than others. Last year I ended up in a place with a twin bed with pillows so old and used that I wanted to call down and scream. I didn't. I just...accept.

When you are almost there you are always in between. You are just on the cusp of something. But never quite there.

On the road, a year on the road. Always somewhere. Always almost somewhere. Almost always landing. Almost always living. Almost always who you are supposed to be. Almost always.

Somewhere.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Elysian Fields: 25 Years

Somehow I ran across an ad for a concert being performed by Elysian Fields. It had been 25 years since Jennifer Charles crooned out the vocals to their first album Bleed Your Cedar.  This album is one that always makes me think of times at Shimer, young love, transitions, beginnings and endings.

Her voice always fills me with both melancholy and ennui. I've recognized her more than once singing or doing spot vocals for other bands. She has a dark throaty voice. The music is best described as art house rock. I first listened to her album when I was 21. It was a good album then. I was excited to here her sing this album 25 years later.

For the show I wanted to showcase the goth I was but rarely get to be, being beaten down by being so terribly corporate most days. I wore a plaid bustier that I thought would present me in an interesting light. I felt all the mellow gothness of my youth while I sat and sipped wine and enjoyed the concert.

The music was good, even though she didn't do a single song off Bleed Your Cedar, instead she her 10 year old album that I was not as familiar with. It didn't matter. My dark goth soul was still happy to hear it.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Ghosts

The world today is full of ghosts. I pass them on the street. I smile I at them. I wave at them. They wave back. For awhile.

The wavers are the ghosts-to-be rather than the ghosts-that-are.

The ghosts-that-are have disappeared. They don't die they simply vanish into the darkness of the world taking all the feelings you have given and leaving nothing in return. These are hungry ghosts, full of want, craving.

Ghosts that want attention.

Ghosts that want satisfaction.

Ghosts that want time. Demand time. Always eager to have a little here, a little there.

Sometimes these ghosts are but fleeting predators, singling out the thing they desire most and working to achieve their goal. These ghosts are not dangerous, they take too little and give nothing at all. Their disappearance is felt for a moment and then, they are gone. Memories fleeting, but never manifested. Never real.

The other ghosts go deeper. They find the passion within a soul and bind to it. They share love.

So much love.

There is caring there, communion, salvation. There is a bond. These ghosts are the worst of all. Their disappearance is wrenching. These ghost are thieves, sneaking away in the night and taking something that cannot be described but something precious. Their loss brings madness as there can be no grief, no morning, just the acknowledgment of the emptiness left in the space they once filled.

These ghosts hurt more because they were loved and gave no indication that they were about to disappear. These ghosts hurt the most because I see them all around me. Smiling eyes, cheeks rosy, lips parted in a smile.

There is a sickness for a world of ghost, with Chaos and Despair as their chariots. Every person becoming a shadow, a careless thought, a nothing.

For one person real, for another a thousand collected and vanished moments that cannot be retrieved.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Acceleration

One thing that was certain from my last year is that my life changes accelerated. Aside from all the ups and downs personally, there were also ups and downs at work. Piling ontop of everything was a realization that I really just couldn't stay in New York anymore. How that was going to happen in a way that would allow me to keep my job I did not know.

I just new it needed to happen.

The city was draining on me. While there were things I liked I was so tired of feeling like I was constantly chasing something I could never have. Paying to have a lifestyle that was only comfortable but not satisfying. Feeling a constant sense of chase. It was so tiring.

After awhile I realized I wanted nothing more than to go back to Chicago. So I worked what very few angles I had, and lo, to Chicago I was allowed to return. However, there are always trade-offs for anything that one really desires. For me, I can call Chicago home again but the life on the road has accelerated. I'm on the road more than I am at home. There is a strangeness to it, sometimes feeling completely lost in translation.

People hear about my schedule and ask "Have you seen Up in the Air?"

This always makes me smile. But not for the reason that people think. Up in the Air is a rather bleak movie about someone who has a life on the road. However, there is some weird fascination with transience people has. Something that seems exciting. There is an excitement but there can come a point where even when you are comfortable with it, it can become very tedious. And lonely.

My life has some similarities, which is true, but it's not the same. I love and hate the travel, but right now being on the move when I can be is more fun that always being in the same place. Chicago or not.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

The Botanical Gardens


There was a strangeness entering into what feels like an Asian space when you are not in Asia. The gardens reminded me of what some days feels like my long lost Korea. 


Everywhere I looked the air was full of soft pinks and purples. Somehow I was dressed to match in soft pinks and purples. The day was young, barely 10 when we entered the gardens to see what could be seen. It was quiet. We were practically alone as we walked down the paths. We took turns taking pictures of each other. 

We laughed. 

I looked at the small animals, and the small fish, and the small turtles, and the Asian gates and I wondered how I could feel so at home in a place that was so far away from the land I called home for almost 13 years. I had a lot of trouble leaving Korea. I was back at least once a year until, in 2016, I asked not to go. It would be the first time since 2002 that I had not stepped foot in any part of Asia. 

Here I was, at the beginning of 2016, walking through field that reminded me of home. A long lost home. 

I was older now. 

Was I wiser? 

I don't know. I was different. So many changes then, so many changes now, this constant pace of change that I feel I can barely keep up with it all. In the span of a single year I had been reduced to just myself. The circle of friends and lovers I held most closely had collapsed. The few I had remaining were further afield and not nearby to New York. 

I had become, was becoming, fully isolated from any sense of connection with others. There was the computer, Hellion, and my dog. There were the conversations I had with myself. Even the ability to write was becoming stifled under the weight of so much change. 

I remembered a similar walk under pink trees some three years ago in Daegu. I had walked with the Irish and the Artist to the bell park. We climbed trees and laughed. I was in love with all of them that day, even though our hearts were breaking with the loss of one we loved. It was a strange day to think about love and loss. 

Here I was under similar blossoms, some three years later. The Irish is a name and face I remember lost to time and distance and mishandling. The Artist a ghost, vanished into the ends of the world, no goodbye and no explanation for why she was going. 

My love, my boy, had also taken leave and so, all the connections and entanglements, friendships and loves were now parted. Here I was, in a familiar setting starting along a new and strange path. This year I would turn forty. 

This year I would have to figure it all out again. 

Hellion was sweet. He held my hand. He pointed out favorite places. He sat and drank wine with my in perfumed air. 

Life changes, but not all changes were bad. 

The light was beautiful that day. 

























Monday, January 23, 2017

Friendly Idea

Hellion came to my place sometime after the New Year and we were hanging out with the dog. He was not my regular doggy day care person, and Tino was completely in love with him. I liked the company and given the ridiculous cost of New York, it was nice to have someone to be around in the apartment that was comfortable, the food was good, and the booze was on offer when it was wanted.

"I have an idea if you are up for it?"

"What have you got?" I asked.

"My Dad's gave me tickets to the Botanical Gardens down in Brooklyn. I was wondering if we could go together?"

I had not yet been to the Botanical Gardens and this seemed like a very interesting idea to me.

"When would you want to go?"

"Thursday."

My job is a nive to five weekday type job with lots of travel. His is a more weekend type job with strange hours.

I work very hard and I rarely take any time off.

"You know what? Sure. I think that would be lovely."

Somehow, the timing for this was perfect.

"Yes, I think that would be a lovely idea."

It was March, just as the cherry blossoms would be coming in. It will be interesting to see who I am around the cherry blossoms this time.

Cherry Blossoms always made me think of Korea. Now, with this upcoming walk, it would be three years since I had live in Korea full time.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

The Last Crochet

As the year changed over I took up my crochet needles and a made a few things. I made a hat for my good friend Hellion. I made handwarmers for me. And I made a sweater for my dear sweet little friend Tino. It would be the last sweater I would ever get to make him.

He loved it.







Saturday, January 21, 2017

The Broadway Show

The last stop on my one woman tour of New York city was the Broadway show. I talked to Mr. Spanker and he offered me tickets to go see a show named Sylvia which I knew nothing about except that it starred Mathew Broderick and two other tony award winners. That seemed like fun, so on the night before New Years Eve I battered my way through the billion deep sea of tourists to get to the theater and see the show. I was on of party of four, including some friends of Mr. Spanker.

The show was taking place at bit of a classical Broadway theater, the Cort theater. The night was pretty and I was excited to see a show.

I can't say that I knew what to expect and since I hadn't read anything about the show I was entirely open minded about what was about to happen. I don't think, even if I had read about the show that I could have prepared me for what was an fascinating and entertaining two hour event.

It was also puppy play on Broadway.

You spend anytime in the kink community and you might be familiar with puppy play. Going to the kinds of events I go to, I've seen a lot of puppy play. I would not say that puppy play is very mainstream, but I think it is fair to say that this show is like watching live action puppy play. I say this as the relationship between Greg and the stray he finds on the street, Sylvia, ends up being a lot like the relationship between a human puppy and their master. It's a caring, loving relationship with a deep connection and one that is not really sexual in nature at all. It's an owner and a pet and it's kind of a perfect example of the intricacies of the relationship between one and the other.

It was also a startling show in both some of the profanity and sexual humor, that had nothing to do with the puppy play so much between Greg and Sylvia. The audience seemed at least mildly amused as a touch more titillated than they expected to be. The stages and settings were gorgeous and the acting was downright perfect, so all in all I was pleasantly amused and impressed with the outing.

It certainly was a nice way to end my little exploratory trip around town. I spent New Year's eve in bed. I regret nothing.