Saturday, November 03, 2018

The Andies

I am in love with the Andes.

If I have a choice of where I end, let it be the Andes. Something about the mountains there speaks to a part of the soul I can't express.

The peaks reach.

So.

Hi.

Each step more.

Go higher.

Be higher.

But.

Each.

Step.

Higher...

Higher.

Struggle in it.

Calm yourself.

Try to breath.

Chock on your effort.

But the mountains.

And.

The.

Mountains.

Rising up around, in a circle. You at the bottom.

In the valley look up.

Struggling.

Climbing.

Pushing forward.

But the mountains.

The struggle.

The Andes understand.

The Andes have been where you have been in.

The know.

Undewater drowning in the moment when you are nothing. Submissive to the...

And suddenly, forced up..pushed up...saved. This warm thing that brings you something like peace and you change and you move, and you think nothing of it.

Until flat surface boils in ways that make you terrified. Your are an explosion waiting to be. And then you are. Hot and cold and ash and gas, beautiful and terrible. Whole and destroyed. Rescued and changed.

The Andes understand.

They have been there.

Tengo calor.

Tengo frio.

It's always when I leave the Andes that I feel the most at home.



Leaving the Andes

I'm on a flight home from Peru and I'm stomach sick.

Two weeks in Peru and not once did I subcumb to that sickness.

At the tops of the mountains, when I was at the top of the world I felt it. I look out at an audience of 300 and I watched them worry as I might collapse.

I did not.

And I taught them.

I will not have been the most important moment in their life. But for an instant, like every audience, gasp, word, exclamation, raised hand, question, question, question, response...

They are my most important audience in history. In that time, and in that place. For 90 minutes I am the most important thing in the world to 90 poeple, and that makes it all okay.

That's what matters.

Sixteen days in country and not once sick, even in a moment when I had the most reason to be ill. I was all.

I was whole.

I was...me.

Enough for then, I suppose, but not enough really, ever in the end.

I'm on a home plane from Peru.

I'm on a way to home.

Somewhere ,there is a home.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Those things I say and those things I don't say

I haven't been writing. Not because I have nothing to say. Everything, everywhere, feels so bad. So monumentally awful. I want to check out, do something else, have been someone else.

There is a trail of memories leading up to the moment that I am. I am now. I am the memories that have made me.

Part of the lack of writing is using every single waking moment to learn Spanish. I have decided to learn Spanish. I am proud of taking on the challenge. I am terrified by what it will make me. No me veo como una ciudadana de los Estados Unidos. No soy de Corena. No soy de Puerto Rican. ¿Quién soy?

That is the thing. Speaking Korean has just always made me somewhat other. Being other I always understood. I will never really understand being a latina, I was not raised latina, I have no history or culture to call on there, but still...I am. I am undeniably other because I cannot wake up any day and look like anything other than I am. I embody difference. I always have. The last few years in America have only made it worse.

And yet...

I haven't been writing for so many reasons. Then, just when you think it's safe, let's have a fun public slog down the depths of teenage "maybe" assault. What a good time. What a wonderful thing.

Let's knock some dust of the rape apologists and give them some new talking points. Among my favorites the: if it was rape, not raping and just trying to rape is not rape...of course the old 'boys will be boys'...

Funny thing: I grew up in the 80s, I was a pre-teen, but still, the 85-95 pretty much encapsulated most of my adolescence so I came of age and watched the weird transition happen between "he didn't mean that" and "date rape". I watched the entire national confusion as all of that went down. I even fully understand why so many older white people are freaked the fuck out about 80s date rape because, for them, that was normal society. The fear that no one seems to want to really talk about is not that these things didn't happen, not that the experiences aren't valid, not that drunken teenage assault, attempted assault, and full on rape were not okay! Of course they were not okay, just, you see, the standard was different. In the 80s the passed out drunk girl in your room, as long as they were in your friend circle, was totally open season as long as you were friends. What's a little sexual assault between friends! But you see, it wasn't assault, it was just high jinks, people!? Why does the modern area have to rob those innocents of everything?!

The thing is, for everyone defending this and down right terrified by this, especially those in their fifties and sixties, the real question is: what are you so afraid of? The truth, if you boil it down, is they are afraid of the fact that if they knew then what they know now they would know they were so far out of line it was beyond the pale. And the even greater fear: acceptance and humility. "Why should I have to feel sorry for something that, in that time, wasn't really that bad?"

Reality check. You can't change the past. I am fully aware.

I look at the long rope of history that weaves together and creates me as who I am now. I am willing to accept I made a great number of mistakes along that line. I own all of them. From misunderstanding, to awkwardness, to trying to figure out belonging, to miscommunication, all of it. I have been both demon and angel, predator and victim. Yes, I was too young and too naive to know. The difference between me now and much of the popular narrative is that I'm willing to accept that I've hurt people.

Any living, breathing, human being should be willing to accept that they have hurt people. None of us are perfect and that thing you said one time, in passing, that immediately left your mind never to grace the doorstep of your memories again? Someone, somewhere was crushed by it.

The thing I see most palpably is an unwillingness to accept that maybe, just maybe, there is a place for humility and a willingness to accept that our intersection in the lives of others may not always be a shining golden, gleaming light. This is truth.

This is all, of course, a torrent of words to think through a thing that bothers me most of all. The whole, "if it was that bad, you should have said something then?"

Here is my redacted story: When I was 16 years old my mother paid someone 20 dollars to come to my room and sexually assault me.

When he was in my room, I did not know this.

When I unlocked my door, I did not know this.

I cannot tell you much about the day before or after, only that I know it was a weekend or a holiday because I was home in my room, with a locked door, reading. Or watching stolen HBO. Or masturbating, who knows...I was sixteen fucking years old and more than anything else I wanted to be alone.

I can't tell you what happened the rest of the day. It's a total blank, if the rest of the day even happened. If the rest of the year even happened. I can barely recall with any kind of clarity any of the other days when I was 16 years old.

I can tell you I know the name he went by.

I can tell you I know what he looked like.

I can tell you he was muscular and thin and strong. But not nearly as strong or practiced as I was in wrestling and fighting. Part instinct. Part siblings.

I can tell you what his face looked like as I fought him out of my room and to the stairs, where I eventually pushed him down.

I can tell you I went back to my bedroom and locked the door and listened to my heart beat for a long time.

I love to read. I can't even tell you what I was reading when all this happened.

It did happen.

I found out weeks later from the siblings how it happened. That my mother had paid him, that she was pissed her money was wasted and I hadn't been raped. There was a level of amusement from the siblings in how I had thwarted my mother. As the oldest, I was the only one who was even remotely aware of how fucked up the entire thing was.

In all the years since it has happened it is a story I have told. My emotional detachment from this story is a weird thing. I have almost no feelings. I have so many feelings, but they aren't really there. On occasion, I have told this as a winning story in a contest of "how bad were your parents" with almost a point of pride at just how fucked up my childhood was. I have told this story enough to worry, and rightly so, that people believe I am making it up and this is a lie. No one, surely, has become who I am and yet come from so much malice.

And yet, here I am.

And yet, this is still true.

This week, I listen as a bunch of people demand to know why, if something was so bad, they didn't tell someone 30 years ago.

Who am I? ¿Quién soy? Esta es mi historia, pero ¿qué significa? Why didn't I say anything then?

Why do I even bother saying anything now.

I'm on a precipice of in-between of who I have been and who I am becoming and the world keeps pushing me to confront the narrative of who made me. Mi historia. My story.  Soy es...

It's all awful and I keep holding out hope. Tengo la esperanza.

Some days, that is all I have. Perhaps, I shall find that "Soy latina, Soy de Puerto Rican, Soy de hispanic, Soy un sobreviviente" those things won't hurt. Maybe they hurt less in another language. Maybe the new stories do conquer the old.

Maybe high jinks were just high jinks.

Or maybe we have cold realities we have to face about ourselves, our lives and our histories and we must be prepared to answer to them, and for them, for both who were were and who we are.

I'm not sorry. I am sorry.

Yo vivo.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Summer Crooning

All around the world the cicada rhythm sounds the same.

Feels the same, too.

The hot sweaty sing song lilt of a thousand plump little lovers all seeking, all hoping, some finding.

Unhidden is the desire they protect into the breeze, picked up on the wind a sound wave form that travels the same way in this country as the next, the song warm, and pulpy and beaty and pulsy and you fall into it a little as you listen.

The natural imploring sounds of desperation for love, for holding, for belonging, for contentedness, for now, for then, and for the future, future, future pulsing future of the only sort of immortality to be found.

The thrum hum humming lighting up the night under the same stars, in different lands, with oceans and rivers and streams and languages and the genetic composition of the varying locals interacting just the same, doing just the same, enjoying, annoying just the same to the backgroun hum hum hum thrumming that seems to never end in the late summer evening.

The sound travels like I do, traveling like I will, have been, will do again, the feel of that traveling.

The thrum hum humming sounds like the sounds of waking up in your new place.

It sounds like purpose.

It sounds like the wrapping togetherness.

It sound like unraveling.

All around the world the same sound.


Thursday, August 16, 2018

Hurricane History

Winds whipping through my brain at hurricane force carrying thoughts about the now and the then and the ever present and the thinking in the other realities. Who I am/was/is?

Remember that time you died going off that bridge in an unexpected blizzard when the roads weren't plowed. After you died you went home and woke your partner and tried to explain, but they said you were still here and it was time for you to go to bed and for them to wake up.

There is no eye to the storm. It's a spinning whirling tour of everything mashed together. Storm chasers are running around it trying to figure it out and unlock the secrets to prevent harm. This is impossible as there will always be harm. The history hurricane is a mish-mash of thoughts and weird and harm.

Remember that time you died when you were driving barefoot without a seatbelt and got hit by a semi-truck. Later, at the hospital they when you tried to explain, they asked if they could set your broken are with a pillow and the Twin Evils said yes because it saved them money, and now, when you ghost lifts weights you can feel the break in the dead arm that doesn't really exist.

Suddenly, it's all the moments when you cease to be and you don't recall why you are not ceasing to be. The storm is an open door to ever dimension and suddenly there is an awareness of everyone. I look through that door and I see all the me's. It reminds me of all the mes. Innana would understand. Ereshkigal, not so much. Enki is still pissed about it though.

Remember that time you died stepping off the corner, not looking both ways and the car honked so loudly just before the impact and you had less than a moment to really think about it. And then later, as you sat in a bar consoling yourself in chatter you felt bad for the driver and the damage to their car?

Swimming through the soup of memory mind and thinking all the thinking and all the times when it went straight off the rails. I remember wondering in awe, as I watch the winds spin, how very fortunate I am now. Am I now. Who is now.

This is now.

But.

Remember that you died when you gave a stranger the key to your room and their only interest was in your slaughter. It started as a love fest and ended in your entrails strung from the lights and a cryptic teasing message painted in your blood. The police, entirely confounded in the morning, trying to find the hints of the crime somewhere when you insisted, but the body was gone and there was nothing to investigate, and the ghost of you was being ever unhelpful in generating a lead.

It's a rapid flow spinning up now.

You died in the water, don't you remember? When you believed you were a mermaid who could stay underwater forever. So vivid, walking into that patch of foggy water in a river in a holler on a hot summer morning when the chill from the overnight was still melting away. You swam out but you never swam back in.

You died that time you took taxi and watched as he road about time hell bent on making every light and because you were in another country you didn't care about seat-belts, even though they might have saved you. When you corpse arrived no one would listen to the story of your death, your resurrection, your you.

You died that night you walked the lost stranger to his hotel, boredom, curiosity, amusement. You do things for strange reasons and really only contemplate them later when your ghost passes through the veil and you wonder exactly how you managed to get yourself raped and murdered in a country with almost no rap and murder, but then again, he was a GI and he was only in for a visit and who were you anyway. The staff ignores your corpse because they are well trained and then understand.

You died. You died. You died.

You died when that car hit you after you threw yourself in the street in front of it. You just forgot because you were distracted by a piano recital the next day.

You died that time you cut yourself in the kitchen, but you forgot because of the yelling and the guilt and the shame being dumped on you by El Diablo Madre.

You died slipping down that cliff when you wanted the view. They told you not to lean so far. Your ghost argued all the way back to the hotel.

You died in that brightly colored ally on that dimly lit street. The boys behind you herding you into the gang you weren't looking for and didn't pay attention too.

The winds kick up and on them spinning ghosts and as they whip faster, and faster, and faster I can see through them. These lives, those lives, their lives, my life, all whipping up a storm that is pain and pleasure and amusement and the sorrow sleep memory of continuing reality. The storm spins and takes shape and there.

There at the center.

There I stand.

Remembering that time I died.

And lived.


Friday, August 03, 2018

Headaches

The day had gone fine, all told. Meetings were meetings, the overall day ran a little long, but in the end an average, pretty Thursday with pleasant late summer Chicago weather, so there was no good reason that I should have a depressive anxiety episode, and yet, I realized shortly after I finished walking the dogs that I was on my way down the rabbit hole whether I wanted to be or not. I thought perhaps going out to eat at the local pub would help, but feeling only more isolated and alone, I ended the night back home in bed before the sun had set.

And so it was.

There is a weird challenge in trying to communicate what it's like to have these things happen. That there is some part of the functional, perfectly normal human side of me that asks "What the fuck, seriously, like, if you know you are getting upset do something else." Maybe that's just the internal voice that contributes the dialogue I don't need of the judgmental other. I get that voice all the time, episodes or not.

If you have had a friend who is not neurotypical, or someone like me who is actually neurotypical but who has suffered high (seriously fucking high) trauma and you may be curious what this is like. How is it that someone who is otherwise a contributing member of society can't just not be anxious or depressed when a situation is perfectly normal.

This morning, after a solid workout, while making coffee, I stood finding myself trying to explain. Maybe to explain it to me. I want to know what happened to me yesterday. Don't I know, shouldn't I have that kind of insight into my own brain at this point, in my early forties? My brain and I have been together long enough that you'd think we have that basic work function of getting through a perfectly average day without creating internal trauma; that should be a breeze, right?

For me, it's just not that simple. It's more like having a headache, with the varying tiers of headache experience you may go through. There are those days where everything is just ducky and you suddenly feel that tickle above your right eye and you know its coming, and its coming fast, and if you take a pill right now you might, maybe, be okay and get out of it this time. There are days when you have been working flat out, perfectly reasonable, happily sound, and suddenly you just want to close your eyes and hide because that headache just opened up and dropped on you out of nowhere and nothing you do at this point is going to make it any better and you know.

Then there are the days that you feel it coming, you take something for it, and you know that the best strategy would be to relax in bed but you have already committed yourself to getting through the thing you have agreed to do, and now you are trying to do the thing while balancing the pain.

Worst, perhaps, is when you have been working but everything is going to shit, nothing is coming out right, the calculations are all wrong and you can't figure out why this is happened when suddenly it dawns on you that you have a massive headache that you missed because it snuck in and built up so creepily that it was already level 7 dangerzone before you even realized it was there.

Varying stages of depressive anxiety are very much like the varying types of headaches one may have. Sometimes you can take something for it and it works, sometimes there is nothing you can do, it's already too late, or you have committed and have to push through regardless. And sometimes, you don't even know until you've done something you will regret, that you can't take back, that you may or may not be able to apologize for, that you may or may not live through.

So far, I've managed not to tick a box I can't untick, but not without leaving an assorted swath of bodies in the wake of my anxiety, not to mention several parts of myself sometimes that feel like they are incomplete because of the pain that is a part of who I am.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Getting Dressed

Sometimes I manage to find amazing ways to fill time voids that don't really exist. I might spend an hour or five sitting in a hammock reading a book which is time I could use to do...anything, I suppose. 


But then, I'll not do anything. 

Saturday I managed to rather spectacularly overbook myself. Having done so, I set an alarm so I would wake up around 6 a.m., even though it was the weekend, in order to have time to get up, get dressed and get the day going no later than 10. On a weekend when the commitments are not work related, this is a real chore. 

However, having set the alarm, I managed to wake and even abide by all the rules. I got out of bed, I made coffee and had a bite of cheese, a normal weekend. Then I contemplated the clothing I would where that would need to get me through lunch, a possible three hour bike ride, and then onto a date. I wanted something that would be cool, as it was insanely ripe and humid out, but also something goth and dark and flowing. 

Sadly, I had to admit that what I wanted was a dress made of material I had picked up in Brasila that I hadn't managed to get around making yet. 

I checked the time and saw that it was only 8 a.m. I ran a quick calculation in my head. I new exactly the cut I wanted. This was a pattern-less dress that I was basically copying off a copy of another pattern I had copied and modified. All together I needed only three puzzle pieces plus the wrap, and I figured if I started cutting now, I'd have time to make the dress, get shower, and get out the door by 10 a.m. at the latest. 

Any sane person would just go into the overflowing closet of close, finish their breakfast, watch a bit of T.V. and then go to the doctor. Sadly, I am not this sane person. 

Hence, scissors, fabric, cutting, setting up my machine and from cut to finish putting together a wrap dress for the rest of the days randomness. Random is the best description, for the day went wild indeed, but at least I felt well dressed for it. 

For some, getting dressed is an act of making a decision, for me, it is often the act of making the clothes I need to walk out of the door in that day. 


Monday, July 16, 2018

Pumpkin Hour

"So, I hate to tell you this, but I saw something in the kitchen on my way back in, it was round and orange and -"

"Shit. Like a pumpkin?"

"Yup."

"Were there like, singing mice in little carts?"

"Uh-huh."

"Gods, don't tell me there was an old lady."

"In a blue dress, yes."

"Did she have wings?"

"Rather iridescent wings."

"Gods, she's such a bitch. The positive attitude, too. She won't leave until I do."

"Uh-huh."

We snuggle back into an embrace we hadn't wanted to leave in the first place. I giggle into the warm strong arm wrapped around me.

"Did she have a crown?"

"Yup. And a wand."

"Ugh, she's relentless. You have no idea."

We giggle, our giggles stopping as our lips meet and do what lips do together, so slowly, so very slowly, with the quiet patience of being in the here and now and the not going anywhere. With the realization that we both knew before we started that eventually one of us would have to go back to their own beds.

I don't want to leave.

I'm the odd bed out, so it's my turn to go home.

We snuggle back and look at the stars.

"I guess I should probably get dressed then. I wouldn't want to upset your flatmate with the old lady and the talking mice."

"Uh-huh," laughs, arms around my shoulders.

"We are ridiculous, you know."

"Oh yeah."

"This should be a play."

"But it would only be meaningful to the two of us."

Perhaps, I think and perhaps not. The moment feels too warm, too real, too lush, too right to be a moment that exists only between two lovers wrapped together in arms unwilling to leave. We are in the trap all lovers find themselves in at some point, of wanting each other and wanting to get on with life and wanting sleep and wanting to be independent and wanting to lose oneself entirely in the other.

"Perhaps."

Wrapped in black, and thorns, and roses, I navigate narrow spaces, and find myself wrapped again in arms before I can make it out the door, and for a moment my mind is blank and there is nothing but strong arms and an even stronger desire to stay right where I am and let this moment exist until the end of time.

And like all moments, this one refuses to do so.

"It's pumpkin hour, darlin' and I have to go."

"Yes, you do."

It takes another five minutes to leave, and by then the kitchen is full of muckrakers, fairy godmothers rolling around the ceiling, and mice pacing too and fro worried about the time, and me, with one shoe on the foot, the other in had, disappearing into the night and out the door.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Deletion

I was reading in passing somewhere tonight and the mention of "deleting posts" put a tremor of terror in me.

Delete?

Delete!

Delete?!

Destruction, demolition, debris, detritus, deletion...

There was a part of me that was horrified by this. To take it away, delete it? I couldn't imagine. I would never (when I know that like Nin before me there are parts here and there that have been witheld from the public whole).

All of the words that make up the journal, that make up the thing that exists here, the emotions, the moments, the strange, the weird, the sad, the girl, the woman, the thing, the object, all of it in some way encapsulated here and to curate that to an extent that it just...never...existed?

Lately, I've been obsessed with the thought of HARD COPY.

Do I want that. You would think with over 15 years of outpourings here, that when I read through nothing must be a surprise, but I'm always amused about what I was compelled to speak about in any given year. I have to try to find that emotional mindscape again, the who I WAS than vs who I am now, and is the now me really so much different from the then me, and then we start to get off the rails and into the depths of existence itself, tricky.

So very tricky.

No, for better or for worse it's all here, it will be here, and it won't be me that makes the decision on what happens to all the letters in the void that no one actually reads. I might curate it.

But I won't delete it. 

Sunday, July 08, 2018

Past lights

It's one of those blisteringly beautiful Chicago summer mornings. Quite literally my hands sit in sun dappled light, clicking away at keys to bring about letters to create words that illustrate thoughts that communicate thinkings and feelings and it all seems a little mad, and it all seems so very lovely. Today, it makes me think so very clearly about time, life, the life I have lived. My life has change, the beauty that is the light that falls upon my hands from the windows is already eight minutes old. I am illuminated by the recent past as I contemplate my current now and consider my near future. The next eight minutes, the next thirty-six, and then...


What a strange and wonderful thing this life has been. Parts of it now feel like caked over capsules of mirth that are someone else's existence. I can think back so far and deep into the past, a blessing, a curse. I know what memories hide in the dark corners of my mind waiting for even a second of weakness to come chorusing to the surface to sidetrack me from my day, my week, my month. I avoid those old cupboard monsters as best I can, but I know they exist.

And then, of course, all that time when I was not in Chicago. When I was somewhere else. Overseas. An ex-pat. There is something so beautifully haunting about all that time spent in another country. Experiencing different kinds of summers. I cannot imagine sitting on July morning in Korea thinking about how lovely the day might be, when they day might best be described as thick as soup, so hot that you choke on the boiling air, watching the plastics in your unconditioned apartment melt.

There are so many stories.

This thing I have done, this long deep dive into various aspects of me, sometimes more coy than others, sometimes more just a stylist, a journalist living through the moments and trying to record them, this thing I have done captures only minutes or seconds, or sometimes hours of an event, giving me a foothold into some memories, some stories some aspect of who I was then, and who I am now. This thing is both the baseline and the layers on a wall that tell the story and make it easy to see how the narrative has changed.

All things are here. All of me.

None of me.

It's just a funny thing, this life. Barely three years ago when I was desperate to try to reintegrate with this country that was not the country I knew I loved, I would go out of my way to avoid telling any stories of Korea, of the other, of the overseas. If I did, I tried to describe them in such a way that it could be almost plausible that it happened just anywhere in the world. Now, now, I tell the stories and I do not mind that these stories put me in strange places, other worlds, make me otherworldly.

This is how I feel sometimes, as I look at everything happening, everything that happened, thinking about everything that will happen. Otherworldly.

This, then is the funny thing. New people, new places, new names, new faces, new experiences, new, new, new.

But the things that always make me interesting are the stories, and the stories are always old, old, old.

And isn't that funny. And shouldn't it be.

This life is a funny thing and I've yet to tire of it. This funny thing keeps going, with highs that are inexplicable and lows that are skimming the depths of our very human souls, we are of this now and that is enough.

Even as we do it in light that is already old, and already has stories to tell.

Saturday, July 07, 2018

Just Hanging Around

Roughly two years ago, just around the time of the somewhat rushed move from New York back to Chicago, I spent a week in Recife being good at my job. Like most weeks spent in foreign countries, I usually manage to do what I set out to do, and that particular week was no exception.

On this particular trip I'd managed to get some cash in the local currency. This happens less and less often now, as I may well forgo getting any cash at all under the assumption that most of the time I'll be with handlers or likely to be able to use plastic to science fiction exchange labor credits for things.
However, occasionally, it seems like having cashy-money is a good thing.

There was a car set to come and fetch me from the hotel that morning, and I still had a few dollars worth of local coin burning a whole in my pocket. The day before, when walking back from the beach I had noticed a gentleman on the corner selling various types of fabric things and made a note to try to stop by before I left for the airport the next day.

When I approached the guy on the corner, there was not much to see. He had a few macrame car seat covers, and some various other types of fabric one my used to adorn a vehicle, but then I noticed some stuff hanging around the other side of the wall which appeared to be tapestries, but I wasn't quite sure. Through a muddled process of 'I don't know your language' we managed to work out a system of communication that eventually allowed me to stumble upon a word we both knew "hammock". So the last of my dollars in the local currency went to procure a hammock. I recall he asked for probably a hundred more pesos than I had on hand, but when I showed him my wallet and that this was, quite literally, all the money I had in the world, he happily took my cash in exchange for a hammock.

My thinking at the time was that this hammock would make a nice housewarming gift for the Bard and the Electrician. After over a year of languishing in an upstairs closet, a stand has been acquired and the hammock now swings prettily in the backyard. The dogs are in love with it.





Thursday, July 05, 2018

Explosions in the Night

"I'm going to go see the fireworks."

"Let me know if you don't mind company."

"Meet me at my place at 8."

The night is a sticky humid city summer night. Chicago edging the thermostat to the top with matching humidity so that I feel slick from even a minimum amount of walking. Holding hands that slip around, but for some reason don't bother that much, we walk across the city towards the beach, joining a parade of people doing the same thing, going to see the light show, going to check out the colors in the sky.

From the sanctioned fireworks to the random people that have prepared for at least a month for this night, we are in good company to watch stars explode in front of us and watch those that want to blow up the night. On the train, I'm amused by people wearing what look as if they are prepared for the end of the world or a planned invasion.

Light is fading quickly against the sky, and we pass out of the streets and into the park edging the lake. There is a large hilltop there, topped with easily a hundred people sitting on the grass and watching the sky light up. We go further all the way out to the beach, sitting on top of a breaker wall, with people on every side around us, views up and down the lakefront.

There were hundreds of children playing on the dark beach, girls wearing bows that fluttered in the dark in neon light up colors, various children spinning around light wheels to add to the creative explosions in the sky. The air tasted like burning metal and the smell of ozone was everywhere on the wind.

"Mother nature's contributing," says the Drummer, pointing out the lightening filling the sky to the east and the south. And so it was, a thunderstorm rolling away from us as the backdrop for the fireworks displays up and down the shore.

In front of us people let of trains of sparkling explosions, while near and far up and down the beach cannons at various local parks, from local businesses, from everyone who was stocked up to participate, filled the night with sounds of popping, colors in pink, purple, blue, red and green, and all around us the whistle-hum-zip-boom of a thousand launches into the night.

"Humans are amazing."

"Yep."

"This serves absolutely no purpose but to entertain, really."

We watch a beach patrol roll along the lake front.

"Your tax dollars at work. So pointless. No one cares, everyone knows it's legal today, but still someone needs to make a fuss about in so that you can have a small convoy of four ATFs rolling down the lake front."

"Especially, tonight. Everyone knows that it's illegal in the city and everyone knows that no one will likely get busted. It's like an isolated mini-Purge. Acceptable levels of illegality to keep everyone in line for the rest of the year."

"It's not the same on TV. There is something about fireworks that must be seen in person."

"That is true."

We lean into each other and watch the night sky explode around us, drifting on the trails of a thousand different light shows as the cool breeze from the storm drifts off the lake and breaks up the choking heat from the day, listening to the music of the light show punctuated by the occasional flash bang and laughter of beauty of so many humans congregating to take in a single moment together.

Sunday, July 01, 2018

This is Our Today

We are in a moment that won't let anyone check out anymore. Everyone has to be on all the time, ready to go, thinking about possible solutions.

"It was just after the election, someone posted something asking if you'd be ready to hide people when it comes to that. And, I shrugged it off. I didn't think it would happen so fast," the Bard says as I sit on the couch spilling out all my various fears.

"And we are ready?"

It's sort of the constant spinning question now because it seems more and more like it's not an if but a when it happens. The last hope is still months away and there is still no real sure way to know exactly what is going to happen, how it will happen and how it will end.

So, what do you do?

For the last two days I stayed in my room, sewing, making things. I'm thinking of how I can make more complicated things. Anything to keep my hands busy. Keep me busy, keep me from thinking to hard about thing.

In the middle of the afternoon my heart started racing and I felt the nervous edge of a panic attack coming on, and suddenly I couldn't really breathe and I wanted to run, to hide, to cry. I felt frozen in it. My anxiety is become so real it is recognizable to me, palpable. The way it freezes me in place and keeps me from being active. I almost couldn't sew, the desire to do bad things was so overwhelming.

There is enough darkness in my life that there are moments when it is really easy to feel it on the surface, but this usually passes and I'm always okay, but lately, it just seems so much more...possible.
Everything horrible seems possible and this is the thing that is possibly the most terrifying.

Nothing horrible happened yesterday, just thousands upon thousands, upon millions of people standing up around the world and shouting that we would not go gentle. And yet, it still seems like the sky is falling and that each today without the world ending is just today in which we have been so lucky yet again.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Heat Mirages

It’s oppressively hot tonight. From a long hot day. A heat wave rolling in over the city, rolling in over the country, rolling in over what feels like all of the world and all of history. All day the Earth is baked, sky a yellow green with the smell of leaves being baked on the air itself. 


There is a sense of anticipation, this much heat. Like the penultimate something. Like waiting.

Tomorrow there will be rallies, rallies in the heat, rallies across the country, protesters, protesting the monstrosity that has become the country we live in, the horror of the current genocide taking place in a land that swears it will be the gold standard of civilization.

We have always been barbarians.
We have come again to be barbarians.

The heat will beat down on the brows and shoulders of all those willing to stand up, to go against, who are ready to fight, potentially be arrested, punished, pummeled and pushed back. There is a danger to it, and a joy, to know that so many of us are still human inside somewhere: willing to be our humanity.

The heat is both a joy, an attraction, an barrier. I do what I can from where I can do it, feeling like a failure for not baking with the masses, but, in a time of resistance it’s also important to have those who can continue to resist if all else fails. There are special dangers for some, we all have rolls to play.
In the wilting, punishing, oppressiveness that is the current heat wave I prepare for a roll I hope I won’t have to play. Desperate for hope, any form of hope, to get us through this. To get through until the storm breaks and cleans us, heals us.

Unless the storm breaking is merely another disaster.

Tonight, we cannot know. Tomorrow we will watch it unfold through the shimmering mirage ripples on the hot air and wonder if what we are seeing is real or simple a hope, a dream, a wish for the reality we want to have.
Tomorrow, the heat will beat on, uncaring about those who bask, who struggle, who walk, who breathe, who live, who die. The sun, the moon, the stars, in their wisdom they ignore all these minor things. We think we are the intelligent life in the universe, but maybe we are less than the great rocks and gasses spinning in universe, infinite wisdom.




In the meantime, we are ants under the magnifying glass, burning and wondering how and when it will end.

The Underground, The Overground

I'm dreaming. This is what dreaming is right now, that even in your sleeping you are trying to figure out the things happening during the waking. I want to abstain from the news, I want to hide, I want to pretend that this doesn't really matter, I want to pretend that everything is fine, fine, fine, and

Bodies moving around in the dark, in the attic.

"Shhhhh."

"They are here."

"Quiet, we know. Be still."

We lay plastered against the mattress listening to the banging throughout the house, hiding together. Fair weather friends, finding ourselves now being companions for months, hidden in the top of the house, hoping the hastily installed walls look solid. Dark compartment to prevent any light from getting out. We hold our breath, hushed as we hear boots on the stairs.

Will they be able to protect us this time.

Tossing and turning and wondering if this will be the fate of us who it seems the citizens are becoming more and more comfortable daily with the notion of eliminating.

Give us your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Give us your trans people, give us your colored people of all races but Caucasian, give us your queers, and your gays and your lesbians and your alternative folk, and your tattooed, and your dyed and your varying other human explorations of the concept of being alive. Give them to us and watch us burn them up, tied to the stake, this evenings entertainment. Give them to us, so we can be free of you, so we can create a better world, a smaller world, a world without colors and distractions and variety. A pretty cookie cutter world, of cookie cutter people, marching in lockstep and believing, thinking, doing the same thing. Give them to us. Feed us. Feed the machine.

Tossing and turning and wondering if this is where we are heading, if this is what will come to pass.

We are huddled together behind the secret wall, having hastily made a mess to cover a half eaten dinner delivered to us. Worried that the smell of food, when food is so hard to come buy and so unequally rationed, all of us sharing what little we have, so we can be hidden here and safe, in our modern underground railroad and wondering if we are safe enough.

"What if they have heat sensors-" hand over mouth quiets the talking as we listen to people on the other side of the wall. We stop breathing they and I. We are suffocating in our little room, unable to know if there will even be time to draw a last breath if we are discovered.

The world is claustrophobic and it is invading my dreams; in all of my dreams I'm hiding and hoping and hiding and hoping and I still don't know what I think the outcome might be.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Historical Moments

In the car all day wanting to do anything but think about the news. Last night was bad. I sit and read from my hotel room about the chinks being taken out of democracy and the quick slide towards so much more than dreaded McCarthyism, into full blown, outright fascism.

Last night, I sat on a hotel couch and I watched the news, after having spent the better part of an afternoon in a city which celebrates and lauds it's participation in American democracy from the revolution through through all our wars (good and ill). I sit and I watch a video of children crying in a detention center were staff have been given explicit instruction not to comfort. There is a level of horror that you cannot fathom here. Most normal people cannot understand what it means to watch children suffer, and as adults, withhold comfort. I watch and I start to cry again, and I start to feel completely isolated again, and I start to want to find a quick way out again, and I know that this is not about me, it's a political moment, but...

On the road at 7 a.m., little sleep, dreams are nightmares of being kept in corners with no freedom, told not to move, wish that the parents I despised were there to save me from the adult caregivers I was given into. I read the comments and responses. I should not have read the comments and responses. "It's basically summer camp." "If their parents loved them." "Most of these kids are probably super happy to be away from their parents and off the road."

I loathe with almost every fiber of being the parents of my childhood. They were both horrible people. They were both irredeemable to 2-7 year old me. And yet, when other adults tortured me I craved their torture because it was the torture I knew. This is a thing it's impossible for me to explain to you, through my degrees, through my learning, through my developing expertise in this field, at the visceral level this is not just something I am educated in, this is something I am experienced in. No matter how much children go through, at the end of the day, the parent is still the best of all possible worlds even when they are the height of evil.

It's hard to quantify unless you have lived through it. Even when your parent, your ultimate caregiver is the height of evil, they are still your parent.

The current political moment, this is not the case. The parents are doing the best they can, they sacrifice, they have done things no one who was raised in first world country will ever understand. The impetus to do such a thing to their family is overwhelming. We cannot ever know. Even me, with my experiences, I cannot know. I watch their suffering and I cry. I weep for the united states. United in nothing at the moment except a blanket march towards the worst of humanity, towards evils we once fought against.

This isn't about me, but I feel it too much. I cry and cry.

It's 7:00 a.m. on June 27th and my driver is shouting.

"I might just be a white guy with white guy privilege but it makes me so mad."

"I'm there with you."

"I just, it's awful. What everyone goes through, people with a tan, people without a tan," he works so hard at trying to not see black and white. I appreciate the fuck out of him for that.

"I can't fathom what it's like. I mean, it's hard to know, you know."

"I know."

"I know you know."

"No, I mean, I know. I know exactly what's it like. You can't imagine what it's like to go into deep red country and have your heart race, looking at every person and know that they are looking at you, feeling like your skin is just not the right shade, your hair a little too dark, your eyebrows too thick, your lips to big, your nose too big...and everyone is staring at you as you walk...you walk just waiting for someone to say something, knowing if someone does say something that it's on you. Wondering how submissive you will need to be to keep from getting punched in the face or worse, stabbed, shot, you don't know. Knowing that if you don't have your phone out, that if you aren't recording it all, that you are going to be at fault. That you were the one that stepped out. That you were the one that was wrong for being here. Being told to go back to a country you belong to when all you have ever been is American, when you have always been here, raised here, grown here, alive here, where everything about you makes you a citizen, expect your not just quite right skin means you need to go back from where you are from because..."

We sit in silence for thirty minutes. I realize I have been ranting. I want to cry. I can't cry.

On this day I see signed posted in office 'I am an unafraid ally! I work with and support undocumented students and families.'

I weep that this is the time we have come to live in.

The drive back is quieter, we talk more about our day, work, things, we leave politics alone. I make the mistake of checking the news and my world collapses. Justices retiring, after a day of decisions that are the epitome of backwards progress. I feel a lump in my throat as we say goodbye.

"It was off to a rocky start, but it was a good day."

"We did good. I'll see you tomorrow."

And in my room I cry for all the horror and I don't know anymore how to begin to feel anything other than that.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

The Impact of Forgetting History

The news is becoming oppressively hard. All I want to do is tune out and not look up anything with a news story. I want to cry at every headline, I feel like I'm swimming in it. 


I took a walk today in a historical city, I can write more about that later. I stopped in front of a World War monument, erected to remember the falling. On the stones were inscribed words. 

Words we have forgotten. 

Words that still have meaning. 

Words that are so important. 

Words that we should be thinking and feeling daily. 

I'm exhausted by the news. I'm exhausted by living history. 

My exhaustion doesn't make this go away. If anything, it makes the fight all that much more important. 



"Let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations." - Lincoln (1865)


"We shall fight for the things which we have always carried nearest our hearts — for democracy, for the right of those who submit to authority to have a voice in their own governments, for the rights and liberties of small nations, for a universal dominion of right by such a concert of free peoples as shall bring peace and safety to all nations and make the world itself at last free." Woodrow Wilson (1917)


X. Courage

  So nigh is grandeur to our dust,
So near is God to man,
When Duty whispers low, Thou must,
The youth replies, I can.

  PERIL around, all else appalling,
Cannon in front and leaden rain,
Him duty, through the clarion calling
To the van, called not in vain. 

-Emerson (1904)


Monday, June 25, 2018

Problems with Traveling

The problem with traveling is that it changes you.

The problem with traveling is that it changes you and makes you different.

The problem with traveling, if you really travel, if you travel like I do, if you travel in the way that I have learned to travel is that it makes you different a person and gives you a different reality of travel and of the world. Something that is less in the romantic and more the vagabond with no place to lay your head with nothing that really makes you.a person that is in this place in this time in this now.

Your life is hotel beds in random cities, people you don’t understand because the micro-culture is so micro and the macro culture doesn’t actually prepare you for anything, really.

You are a strange, and the strange, but everywhere you go is strange and strange and strange an unknown and you lose yourself in this place and you become who you are in that moment and it is a moment of experience and knowing and understanding and…

When you have this experience your world is both larger and smaller and harder to understand and fully resolve.

"What do you do for a living?"

"I travel."

"Wow, that must be so exciting."

And it is.

And it is not.

And it is a thing that can define you in a way that is hard to full define and yet...it is making me who I am or who I have always been.

The thing about traveling the way I do is that exposes who you really are better than any single experience ever can.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Kisses on the Bus

It’s Pride week in Chicago and This evokes a certain number of memories. Right now, the memories of are a pride weekend 8 years ago when I was working in New York.

I was exhausted from working in New York, and even though I was invited to go, I ended up sleeping in a big bed while others went to party.

I was in punch drunk in love with a girl I met in New York City and she had invited me to the pride I slept through. She smiled as she told me to sleep and that she would be back later, and she would be back later, and we would make love later and I would leave her later, because this is how my life often works.

Back in Chicago, working, trying to figure out life again, because half of my waking life is trying desperately to figure out life. She wanted to come to Chicago, and I thought why not, and so we managed to make it work. I got a hotel, she got a plane, we met in the city.

It was a few weekends after Pride, a few weekends after the world goes crazy for the gays. We walked around town together arm in arm, in love, in lust, in life, in a willingness to experience in a way that most people don’t understand experience.

At one point, we were headed to our room in the gilded elevator of an ancient lobby, hands held, kissing as we waited, and as the doors shut a hand intervened. We moved back, thinking it was someone else that needed to go upstairs, but it was just a bellhop he felt the need to stop us.

“You two are just so beautiful,” he said.

“We know.” She always had so much more confidence than I did. I had confidence in her and in my love for her. We decided to go shopping, because that seemed like the thing to do on the visit.

We got up early, got dressed for the last of the warm Chicago weather and headed towards boys town.

“Let’s take the bus,” I suggested.

“That sounds good,” she said. 


We caught the bus in the South Loop and wandered slowly up north, enjoy the lake, enjoying each other. She managed to find seats together so we took them. Holding hands. Looking into each other's eyes.

We did the only thing that makes sense on a warm day in August, things that make sense to lovers who are together and who are traveling arm in arm, and who are affectionate and who knows that this time together maybe the only time, may be the last time, may be the forever time.

I kissed her, warm sweet lips, she tastes like sun and rainbows, I loose myself in the movement of her tongue and her in-drawn breath. We don't break until we both need to breath and then we smile at each other that giddy smile of lovers. That giddy happiness of two people together that are completely in love. 
 
And then we heard the commentary from the people on the bus.

“Ewww.”

“Shhhhh.”

“No it’s gross.”

“Shhh.”

“It’s not natural.”

I look at her and she looks at me and we are both having the same moment in our different way, in a city that just celebrated Pride in a country that like stop talking about how gay it is one for one month out of the year, we sat there, two women in love, confident, strong I each other, in ourselves, and we listened as the strangers on the bus judged us for who we were.

And as much as I didn't’ want it to, it hurt me. It may have hurt us. To be so together but so outside of being acceptable, to being the kind of couple that the world.can understand.

This, is, of course, the dark underbelly of taking on something that was supposed to represent the counterculture and making it mainstream.

We didn't get anymore mainstream. If anything, at that moment we were the living embodiment of the outside, and we were being judged for our love and for our happiness and for our giddiness in each other. For what we wanted from each other and from how and where we wanted to express that love.

It wasn’t better. If anything, it is even worse, to be at the end of an experience after a month of everyone pretending that it’s A okay to be Gay.

It’s not.

I’m on a train tonight surrounded by all the pretty people attending pride. Young, and often straight, mostly allies, but only allies for 30 days. The rest of the time, we are alone with our love, living our experiences around the judgement of our allies.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Cores do Brasil











Fortunately, It's just a Game

The morning I managed to crawl out of bed, and get into a shower in time to get downstairs and get some free breakfast before the restaurant had fully closed. In the room, being that it was already past 9 a.m. local, the World Cup game between Brazil and Costa Rica was playing and everyone in the hotel seemed to be packed in together.

All the cooks and servers from the kitchen stood in front of the door, watching the t.v. Everyone position in the restaurant in a way that allowed them to view the action. I took the only table no one wanted in the back without a good view of anything and grabbed coffee, water and queso blanco for breakfast.

Quietly minding my business reading the news, suddenly a half roar goes up, I look up and lean to see what is going on, but it's only a half-hearted whoop. The ball doesn't land in the goal, and the game goes on. The kitchen staff runs a quick change of food and gets back to the station as quickly as they can.

I'm amused and decide to get some work done before I am fully distracted so caffeinated and hydrated I return to my room. Answering emails, doing little bits of work that need to be done, fully focused on the screen and the pre-flight preparations. Lost in my own little world, when suddenly the world around me explodes.

The entire hotel is screaming, the floors are vibrating with it. The cars and trucks are leaning on their horns, a constant cacophony of clarions rising up in chaotic levels of sound. In my chair, I'm actually shook for a moment, feeling the fight or flight response of it, anticipating danger. It takes me a minute to get back under control.

Then the guns start going off. Little pops all over the place giving me chills.

Then fireworks.

Then actual canons.

If I didn't know about the game, I might think we had gone to war or entered into the actual end times.

The city is in a frenzy of joy as Brazil scores once. And then, shortly, again, the raucous roar of victory. The country is on fire with it. And I smile, since I know it is a game and there is great passion. And I think about being in Korea at night as the country turned red with delight. Brazil lights up with green and noise and party and festival. Work is canceled the country celebrates, and I am delighted with the celebration.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Realities over Dinner

"But you never told me, I don't really know anything about some parts of you."

And that is probably the truest thing anyone has every said to me, and the most honest.

"I tried."

"But did you really? You only think you try."

"It's hard for me."

"You have secrets, and it is probably those things I don't know about that make you the way you are."

"But I told you."

"You didn't. You just disappear."

This is also true.

There is a weird dissonance to this conversation. In my reality, I have told it all, there are thousands of pages of words in this very journal that I keep that hold all those raw stories and all those secrets.

Yet, some of the people I love, I never send those words. For some I want to embody the perfect that attracted them to me in the first place.

There has always been confusion for me about the attraction. What brings people into my life and makes them look at me, and experience me, and learn from me, and talk to me, and see me and still want, for some reason I cannot fathom, to love me and touch me and talk to me and be with me and -

When you feel broken all the time, this is the hardest thing to manage because there is no way to really manage it. There is just the brokenness. And the brokenness is something I work hardest to cover up. I tried, especially when I was younger, to make sure the brokenness never touch anyone I loved. I wanted to embody that perfect thing.

The dark stays buried, it's not for casual worship.

The dark belongs only to me.

And then...

The longer the connection the harder it is to hide, the more obvious it is.

"It's been, what was it, it's been 8 years since we met, don't you understand?"

"I know, I remember it well."

"And I still don't really know you, do I?"

"But-"

"No more excuses."

No more perfection, no more the portrait I want to pant, to ease your comfort, to keep you focused on all the good things about me and not all the bad things. The stark reality is not something I want to share.

"You know so much about me."

"I do."

"And you won't even-"

"If you'll stop talking, just-"

"I-"

"No. Just, listen."

And then I tell my stories, ripping of a band-aid, as quickly as possible, and I watch as I disintegrate in front of you. Becoming someone different but still the same.

I sit naked and exposed before you telling truths that I wished belonged to someone else and for the world I can't tell if this will make me less in your eyes or more.

"And now, we can really talk."

And now maybe we really do. What does it really mean to be seen? How much has to be known for me to be imperfect but still okay?

I don't know.




Casual Dining Leads to Dangerous Expense

Thursday, having most of a day free, I decided the best thing for life would be stable internet and getting work done so I'm not behind on work when I get back from another work related trip. Considering that traveling feels like 24 hour working, I'm always a bit amused by how things pile up when I'm not just sitting in front of my computer doing stuff. Internet makes the doing of stuff much easier, so I found a space and worked away.

Around lunchtime, I figured it was time to take a break and possibly to enjoy some of the country I was traveling through, so I started walking, taking pictures and looking for food. I wanted something very local and not fussy, which had me moving in and out of various back alleys looking for the right thing. I like eating street food, but I wasn't fairing very well on places that looked like they wouldn't kill me. After about 10 minutes of stumbling around, I finally called up a map, found the spot where the places to eat were hidden (by a mall, of course) and walked into a nice little street side sushi place. For 10 dollars, I managed to have plenty to eat and amused the locals who wanted to practice English with me.

"I English study. You need. You ask me. Okay?"

"I teach English. I will ask for you."

We smile. I use translator, deciding to spare myself the stress and anxiety of fumbling through the language, though I try only to use it sparingly, preferring the experience of fumbling through the language to remind me what it is those who are learning from the content I develop experience.

A nice, sunny warm walk awaited me back to the co-working space, and since I was no longer searching for food I could take a less circular walk back. Starting down the main street in an area that seemed to be made up mostly of auto repair shops, something waving in the light breeze caught my eye.

As I got closer, I confirmed that I was seeing what I thought I was seeing: free floating fabric.

Internally, I tell myself to just walk by, but there is no chance in hell that I'm going to pass up an opportunity to look at fabric. And, what beautiful fabrics. Entranced by the most perfect georgette that was exactly what I was looking for, I started to feel around and look through the bolts. The Brazilian shopkeeper, who reminded me much of my many shop keeping hajumas, was on me in a second and started to put things in my hand, speaking fast Portuguese. Establishing that I did not speak Portuguese, I fired up the translator and began to learn and practice new phrases, "Quanto custa um quintal?"

And from there, I was doomed. I tried, really, really hard not to buy anything as I have a small 20 inch suitcase that already was full of clothes for the 5 day trip, but try as I might, after studying the bolts I was poured over for longer than a second, the hajuma didn't miss a beat to put just the right pieces in front of me. She even cut the fabric where I stood, Korean style, none of this hauling bolts of fabric all over the place, just get the amount I want and move on.

Her selection was exquisite, and almost all of the fabrics she had were fabrics that I adore She could even tell that I was clearly searching for something very specific, and she was right. I pulled out the translator again and managed to describe basically what I was searching for: a floral print on black in a light weight fabric for a summer weight kimono. I've been wanting this exact thing for awhile, but haven't been able to find the right fabrics for it. Sure enough, in seconds she pulled me into a section I hadn't seen and there lay my prize, with an excellent flowy drape and the most elegant pattern for a nice summer kimono.

At this point we had both gotten fairly comfortable speaking into the translator and letting it do the work for us and finally I called and end to it, much to her amusement as she was already firing up new pieces of fabric for me to take a look at. She laid out every piece, and total I pulled up a final phrase to say goodbye.

She handed me the bill and I just nodded, and pushed play on my final message.

"Agora estou falida, mas também muito feliz. Obrigado."

She laughed and smiled, and I stuffed a backpack meant for work with a bunch of pretty colors and wended the rest of the 15 minutes back to my office space to finish out my work day.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

International Shopping

During a search for a secret dinner, much longer story I don't feel like telling now, I somehow ended up in a mall in Brasilia. Malls are one of my least favorite things, but in some countries malls are the beginning and end of the best of the best.

I recall this from Korea. People going to malls to be seen in malls to spend 1000% markup on an apple because they got it in a mall. Yes, malls. This is a very different experience in Brazil, where a mall is actually much more like a mall in America crossed with a factory outlet, crossed with a pop up garage sale. It's nice, but not so nice that you have to pay more than ten bucks for anything.

Wandering through said mall, low on sleep, low on food, at least three quarts low on water, and definitely low on booze, I saw a dress.

It always starts with a dress.

So, I wander into the stores and the very nice girls speak very nice Portuguese to me. Apparently, when the language is not Spanish, I suddenly know Spanish. This is amusing since anytime anyone speaks to me in Spanish I only seem to know Korean, so I guess I'm slowly working out that language problem.

After looking up and down at the dresses for a few minutes, I find something I love and really want to try on (not to mention the dress that dragged me in here in the first place). I stumble through communication, and manage to find my way into a dressing room. I try on the piece I want, which would fit beautifully if it weren't for some of the weird flaws of my body. As it were it fit everywhere perfectly, but it still didn't quite fit the way I wanted and I couldn't completely justify to myself buying a dress I would have to alter.

While I tried on this, several more dresses suddenly appeared in my little cube. Apparently, aggressive selling is a thing. Several dresses later, I was pretty sure I was leaving empty handed.

I looked at the dress I wanted, but I would also have to fix, and sighed. Walking out of my cube I went to hand it to the girl who showed me in, trying to explain the problem.

"I...ugh. I don't speak Portuguese. It's perfect everywhere except the arms. I have some trouble there."

An older woman, who is being fitted in a dress and who has been talking quite loudly for five minutes turns around and yells at the girls. I figure she is upset for being disturbed.

"I explained to them. I speak some English. Here, you come help me."

She disrobes and stands naked before me.

"Sure, what help do you need," I ask, not blinking. This is not my first naked rodeo.

"What do you think of this cut. They say they love it, but I have arms like you. What do you think?"

To be fair, very few people have arms like me. Being able to lift my body weight means my actual arms are lean and strong. Having lost more than half my body weight, my arms are uneven and sometimes challenging to dress. More often then not I buy sleeveless as this is just simpler.

She tries on several outfits, stripping naked underneath between each new item. We finally agree that the last one does what she wants while still being flattering. The Brazilian girls, not giving up, have brought me several more dresses in the meantime, forcing me back into a cube to try a few thing on. One lovely long maxi dress I really enjoy, but it's very long.

I step out, feeling a bit emboldened, even with my arms showing, by the naked woman earlier.

"Que linda, small!" the shopkeeper exclaims. I turn, trying to figure this out.

She puts her hands on my breasts.

"Small."

It has been awhile since I've been felt up by a random stranger in a foreign country who finds my body just fascinating.

She points to my ass, to my arms, to my legs "So big!"

Then she points to my breasts "Small."

"Secret," she says pulling me in close. She pulls down her shirt and shows me her padded cups.

"You, boobs. You know, get boobs."

I smile, because what else can you do when every other part of your body is smoking for days, but you barely manage to squeeze out a B cup in the chesticle area.

In the end I bought one dress and we laughed as we closed out that at least they got me for one dress and more than a little foreigner amusements as we tried to figure out clothes, styles, interests, boobs and language all in one go.



Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Language Confusion

I do enjoy traveling south of the border, but it always seems to be impossibly hard looking the way I look with a second language that is Korean, not Spanish, not Portuguese. It always feels like I've done something very wrong to end up where I am, talking as I do, and not fitting in even though I look the part more than anyone else. 


This was the trouble with showing up in São Paulo. My coworker meets me at the airport after several various farces in communication. 

"I'm at the Starubucks."

"I'm standing in front of the Starbucks."

"But you are not here."

"It's across from the Red Lobster."

"What is a lobster of red?"

In other words, it took awhile but we finally met. He went to work and sent me on to my hotel where I hoped to check in and get food. 

Things I forgot about Brazil. Eating times. Brazil eats between 12:00 and 15:00. Then everything closes until 19:00. It was now, 11:30, I'd just gotten off a 20 hours flight where my last meal was easily 18 hours ago, I was hungry, tired, an little fatigued and still, in spite of trying, didn't speak Portuguese. This means, of course, additional waiting and additional frustration and me getting hangry which all boils down to, bad time. 

Finally, I sulked in my room until noon and then ate the only thing on the menu I recognized which was frozen ceviche (not exactly how that is supposed to be done). This makes me smile and think of a note from the Guitarist ("I don't like to eat seafood when I'm this far from the sea.") 

Later I do what I am good at doing before being left on my own to feel like I'm bad at what I'm doing. If my goal is to make English more accessible, than why oh why do I keep ending up in places where everyone invests in the language but no one can speak it. 

Do I need to do more? Probably. 

In the meantime, I have cold fish, cold booze, and a country to play in. 

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Up and Over

Sitting in an airport lounge on a Sunday afternoon, when I would really most rather be sitting on my couch under a pile of dogs.

Sitting in an airport lounge watching the temperature tick up to 100 in the windy city.

Sitting in an airport lounge, working my weekend away.

Sitting in an airport lounge looking down an almost 20 hours flight.

Sitting in an airport lounge typing away.

Sitting in an airport lounge thinking about all the things I miss in this city when I am not here. All the things, all the people, all the places, the little pieces of this place I want to be home that I am starting to think of as home.

Sitting and waiting to fly.

Such a familiar feeling.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Past


She had a history, but she had not past. 



It's a funny thing, to see all the words here. This is all history. Theoretically, it is even my past, but it doesn't feel like the past. It doesn't feel like the life I lived. It's the story of someone else's life, while mine just goes on and one. It's just words like rain, falling in the dark, making wet puddles on streets of memory I refuse to travel on.

Laying in bed with the Guitarist, trading stories of our histories, my history rarely goes back more than ten years, his history goes back so much further. And there in lies the difference between me and everyone, history has always been a safe place, but not the past.

Somewhere, somehow, I lost my past in favor of my history and the pursuit of who I am. Somewhere in the sunrise ahead lies a future I cannot predict. Tomorrow I wake up inside history that I am living, moments that will become history and my interaction in those moments is as meaningless as a butterfly floating currents in the wind. Float for word, never back words, let the past be dust and the history be sand floating through the never ending hourglass that turns, and turns, and turns, and turns.



Friday, June 15, 2018

Fitting

A thing I think I have learned that has merit is that there are different ways people fit together physically. That half of our lives and our loves and our obsessions are around how we fit together as humans. If you don't take a chance on trying everything you want, you miss the deeper problem of how people relate, how they fit, how they work together.

This is the thing that I have fully understood, and it's a strange thing to comprehend.

It's about connection.

"It always seemed you had the best time with the ones you connect with," Calembour described it once.

This was a correct description. I can tell it from reading through myself, every time I write about an experience it was because there was a connection. These connections were always fleeting and they disappeared so quickly. Until...

This is the difference between now and then. Then I needed to know so much more.

Now, I want so much more.

The desires is only satisfactory to such a small degree.

The connection is the thing that makes living meaningful.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Dull Life


This was the only interesting thing to happen today. 

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Visions

There was  some kind of breakthrough. I don’t know how to describe it. If it was something in me that was finally seeing clearly, or something in you that was finally projecting the right way, but there was a moment when there was suddenly  a complete and utter openness into your soul. Like blood magick, like sex magick, there was almost certainly magick involved.

“Do you mind if I burn sage?”

“Not at all.”

I watch as you swirl it around yourself and I think about the smell of sage and what it means to me. The memories that the smell evokes. Deserts from my youth, rituals from my youth. Cleansing out the ghost of the past. Opening ways for the future.

You pass the sage to me and it is in my hand, white sage. This is as familiar to me as time. Breathing in, breathing out, the warm salty, musty cedar drifts in front of me. This piece I hold, watching the ember burn close to my fingers.

“It’s really hard not to invoke the four corners with this.”

“Oh, you practiced magick?”

“Practice. I still do. I hate to be a stereotype, but here I am stereotypical. A goth girl, bisexual, pagan, hedonist. Stereotypes exist for a reason.”

“Sometimes I think I’m a stereotype.”

“Which one?”

Sage is burning in my hand and I can’t help myself, I hold it to the four corners and close it in the Earth sigils and then I ask where I can let it burn. Dangerous magick, intuitive magick.

There is something waking up inside of me that has been denied for so long and I can’t tell if it is you or the other events in my life. We are perfect together. We are entirely mismatched. I talk too much, my loquaciousness seems to fill a space of silence; inadequacy bubbles under the surface. You tell a story with a parsimonious usage of language that I envy in the moment.

I babble before you like a brook.

“Can we look at the stars now?”

On a bed, we lay back and look at the glow of the stars shining above us, in the crook of your arm, safe, contained, vulnerable. This time is quiet, there are no words, either yours or mine. I’m comfortable with this silence. We listen to the music droning on in the background and the stars thrum overhead.

“What are you thinking about?”

“That I want to sketch you.” And it’s true. My fingers have traced the lines of your muscles and your views pulsing under skin, looking at your profile thinking about the turn of your muscles as you bend, as you stretch, exhausted, invigorated.  

Later, I exhaust myself over you, you with a view of me, my hair a strange dark cloud around my face, the room full of the smell of sex and sweat and sage, and as I feel like I’m about to finish a marathon and achieve my goal, desperate to keep my eyes open, I am suddenly very far away. In your arms and not in your arms, in your bed and not in your bed, in my mind and not in my mind.

And then I have a vision.

Across my mind, I hear myself screaming out “I can see again.” And I know what I mean as I watch my vision unfold.

Vision
Flying over a field of trees that unfolds before me, there is smoke rising up in spots from the trees and large mountains in the distance. Music punctuates weird places of silence and there is such strange tranquility. I am the bridge floating above this,  a breeze. The air smells of human smoke but none of this feels threatening. I glide out into the forest, confronted by the sea, oceans slamming and cresting against a shore and suddenly there is the blackness of a city eventually, but somehow in the city the connection is better, the connection is stronger, the city doesn’t feel quite so foreign the city feels even more like home and homecoming is not bitter. There is connection here.

“I’m sorry.” I come back from my vision in tears. I don’t know how long I have been gone, I don’t know how to explain to you what has happened.
“I’m sorry,” as I lay next to you and curl into your arms and let the tears happen because I am so happy in this moment because it has been decades since I have really seen and I’m overwhelmed. I’m not entirely sure I understand. But I do. And I can’t explain without words.

Something, something, something, opened, like a Rosetta Stone, interpretation happens and it all falls into place. Earlier I had said, rashly, rudely, that I didn’t know how to read you. That you were beyond my ability to read. I am a good read of people. I have to be for my work and my life, and everything that I do. I was wrong, I was being belligerent, I was closing myself off to something obvious, to the communication that was there. I wanted words.

Words mean nothing.

Actions mean everything.

This was what I learned in my vision. That, and more. There is much in this vision. It has been so long, so long, since I have had a vision in waking time, not in dream time. It’s easier to ignore dreams. It’s harder to ignore what you know in your waking time.

You were communicating. I was ignoring you. This is what I learned from my vision.

The moment was so much, and too exhausting for me to process fully there. Only later could I appreciate all that we had said. Not just because we had talked but because there was so much communication that had nothing to do with talking and I wasn’t listening. I processed again, listening to all of it.

Somehow, this is part of the fabric of what I need. Not the only part, but an important part.

I can finally hear it.