Tuesday, April 1, 2014

If I told you you had a beautiful space time continuum would you fold it against me?

 'soul connects and loses itself in connection. it falls and falls; it falls into beauty.'

As I went to get on the modeling platform in a classroom with a small number of animation students, the small, ancient, whispering professor removed his shoes and stepped up next to me. I wasn't sure what to expect at first, I've never had a teacher cross that boundary, and even though I was fully clothed, there is always a sort of invisible wall of light and space that is rarely penetrated, but for pointing out a line, a muscle, a shadow, a color transition. He wanted me to react to his gestures, and than slowly shift from pose to pose, so the students could draw the history between poses, the in-betweens of our key/dynamic poses. I know this game. After the initial surprise, and realizing his limitations of body movement, I played back, loose and silly and expressive, and when he reached a hand towards me in offering and froze in his place, I brought my hand to just hovering over his, as if accepting a request to dance. He fought for eye contact a little, straining his neck, so I looked back, held that frail, blue gaze for the full 20 seconds of the pose. As we began shifting in space and for the rest of the session, he spun me and twirled me, embraced me and prayed to me, and I countered and accepted, flourished and played coy in an elaborate slow motion dance. I could hear Sinatra singing to us in a vague, bizarre mesh of time periods and artistic allusions that we trekked with our bodies, across his student's papers.

That experience played itself in my head as I stared at a spot of shifting light near the window, as I lay frozen in a pose last night. It bubbled up suddenly cause I could feel the snuggling movement of the other model's toes against my thigh, as he valiantly fought against the cut off circulation, trying to subtly inspire blood back through his leg. I remember the first time I posed alongside another model, and had to wrestle with the sharp awareness of the naked animal smell of another person in very close proximity to me that was in a non sexual encounter. It wasn't good or bad, merely real and new. Since moving to NYC I find I seek out these deep, personal exchanges with complete strangers and it has become part of some bizarre pursuit of intimate interaction, these moments of trust, of drinking in knowledge of self through others, of not being judged always stick with me, reminding me of other moments of intimate awareness of people outside of myself. Like the scent my little sister's skin gives off, a tangy baby sweat smell, of lemony sunshine, and earnestness that I will never, ever forget. Or sitting on the train the other day, when a large, distinguished, older man sat next to me who was just a large dark shape in the corner of my view, and who emanated such a strong, delicious scent I finally leaned over to ask him what it was, but only after I sat in silence for awhile, gulping it in for as long as I could.

In the physically exerting nature of some of my work, one of my closest friends/work partners and I often ride the train home together drenched in sweat and construction materials. During some of our intense discussions its hard for me to focus on his words completely, sometimes I'm so distracted by the sharp sweetness of his sweaty-body smell, a sensual-information overload.

Somehow these after-work train rides have become really important to me.

Being able to admit deep and true things and look someone in the eyes and witness the realities of myself and my life reflected back at me in the minute twitches and guttural responses of his face and body language leaves me feeling clean as I walk home from the subway. Whole. Maybe there is something to be said about the catholic act of confession, of absolution. Maybe it's not coincidence that I found my priest/confessor in the carpentry trade. Sometimes, deep inside of a conversation I get a bizarre urge to nuzzle his 5 o clock shadow, or lay my fingers in the grooves at the corner of his sardonic sideways grin, like the ways I do to my dog, who doesn't see my successes or failures, my gender, or my insecurities... just me. I don't even think I have words to communicate that emotional response in any other way. I realize now, suddenly, fiercely, like lightning why sometimes I want to eat the kind, loving, gentle words out of his mouth. I'm desperately trying to consume pieces of myself through other people's reactions to me, like some cannibalistic attempt to regain something that has been lost. To harness the existence mirrored back at me in the tiny fragments of muscular reactions in other people's faces. I can almost see myself in the eye contact I can barely hold and it almost feels like someone can actually hear me when I speak.

And then, sometimes, I'm terrified he is half in, half out, living in the in-betweens and possesses some partially drug induced shamanic ability to dance through various states of reality. That maybe this is the only reason he can see me at all.

Nature abhors a vacuum.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Age before Beauty

Slouching into the seat of the Metro North as it rolled up the length of the city along the Hudson River, I watched the rose-gold fingers of dawn stroke their way down Harlem, where it gilded building facades with a lovelorn copper, flashing off glass widows and painting the blanket of snow with ironic warmth. I pondered the blushing snow and the hush of sleepy commuters before rush hour. Ambling through the outskirts of NYC into the industrial wasteland of Yonkers where another new shop waits for me, all I can do is look at what is sprawled out in front of me. My inability to penetrate the obscurity of my own future leaves me locked into the silent landscape sliding past and its seemingly never ending waves of arctic chill.

'Wait.' the winter is telling me.
'You're not done cooking.' it says.

With the winter coat the city is wearing, all advertisements and cars and modern structures are lost under a sheet of icy innocence, lost in time, ageless. Opposite me, across the River, the terrain is so different from the flat prairie and marshland of my childhood. It is straight from the paintings of the prestigious Hudson River School of the mid 19th century, something I witnessed like fairy tale landscapes in my History of Illustration class, only it's real, like something I know but have never touched, like I could sense the closeness of those artists through their connection to this landscape, like their breath mingled with mine against the glass of the window, time overlapping around me. Familiar but not.

What is the difference between Love and Familiarity?

With hurricanes constantly blowing across the flatness of Florida, it is always in a state of running from something or rebuilding it, towns emanating newness, sparkling in the copious amounts of sunshine like a fishing lure for tourists - even roots can't penetrate too deep before hitting seawater, except for the banyans that have learn to walk on water and survive without the nourishment of soil. Florida is constantly washed clean, Florida is temporary. I remember the hours of flat scrub brush passing by on the highway like the dull pain that signals a pending migraine. Tourists flood the economy searching for its lightness of being, for its clean, white beaches and gypsy lifestyle. Its obvious youth and freedom from the responsibility of time and tradition are its charms, but escapism is difficult to feel connected to.

Outside my train window, the rugged rock wall of the Palisades hints at the origins of the Hudson River, carving its path through prehistory, just as Hudson Scenic is the hulking, aging behemoth that IS Broadway. The shop lay just far enough out of the NYC metro area that there was no local subway access, no stores or bodegas, and in the recent onslaught of snow, only the smallest foot path through mounds of snow and rusty industrial carcasses of factories around it. Inside the belly of the beast, I can feel the seriousness of its traditions, like the wrinkles in the faces of the Local 1 members it houses. I understand for the first time the notion of an 'institution', like being inside of history, wrapped in its massive ribs like a whale, impossible for anyone to hear me from outside. Suddenly the roaring twenties and the golden age of Broadway doesn't seem that far removed from the here and now, and I can almost understand how its reputation draws masses of tourists, still. I wonder what NYC would be without this at its very core, if all of our concepts of art and culture aren't intimately related and specifically begat from this small, dense community of grumbling, aging stagehands with their beer bellies and precise measurements and archaic attitudes.

I cannot decide if I am working for everything I am against, or if this in its own way an apprenticeship into really understanding the fabric of our cultural by allowing myself to swallowed up by it, I cannot bring myself to pass up the opportunity to work in the metal shop, to become an iron worker for Broadway. To really truly meet the laborer, to find the industrial revolution within myself, to be immersed in union banter, to be folded into history draped in the regalia of Rosie the Riveter and see what lies in the flame of the welder.

I feel like I'm about to unearth some serious roots.

Friday, January 31, 2014

What we risk reveals what we value.

A man sitting across from me burst into a laugh he couldn't keep in his chest, startled a few of the subway riders around him. But he didn't notice, giggling silently to himself, so completely immersed in the pages of his short novel with yellowed pages and cracking, apple green binding. I don't remember what stop he got off on, or the name of the book, but I remember that true bursting laugh, it was so familiar to me it was almost as if it came from my own insides. Like a handshake. Or a hug from someone I haven't seen in awhile. And it had nothing to do with me.

A deep, rich rendition of 'Papa Was A Rolling Stone' filled the Delancey/Essex F stop that was so compelling I was singing it behind my face mask. Suddenly another man's voice rang out from across the platform on the opposite side, going in the opposite direction, belting out the painful and true words with the aging black gentleman singing behind me and fingering his worn guitar. I went to board the train as it drowned out the music, interrupting the palpable connection being experienced, when a very large man with dreads and a puffy tear stained face leaned down and explained to me through his thick accent that the music moved him so much - he could barely even speak. I didn't know how to handle such an intimate confession, the connection suddenly choking me, just as I was small against the tears and large figure towering over me. It may have just been a subtle lean in my direction, but I was the only person he addressed, and him being so large and wide I felt wrapped up in him practically, his emotions dripping like sweat down my spine, too raw and real for comfort. Slightly panicked for some reason I thrust myself into the faceless crush of bodies and lost myself inside the guts of the mostly silent impersonal subway car.

Sitting on the Myrtle/Wykoff L stop with my dog in my lap, a heavy set, loud, socially awkward woman started talking to my dog in the hopes for some kind of reaction, like the hobos or creepy dudes who make barking noises to get her attention while she perches calmly on my thighs like a proud little ship, anchored by my heart and nothing else. I trust her to handle herself, so remain solidly planted and dismissive as the woman talks at her, and at me. My self aware, self possessed little girl pointedly looked everywhere but at the woman making a scene till finally giving up and wandering off. Since I had stepped on the platform with Calypso sitting straight spined and tall in my arms, I watched a handsome younger man continuously glancing in my direction. Having a dog in New York City inspires a wide range of interesting and often emotional reactions in people, and I always let her make eyes with certain people across crowded subway cars, and yearn towards spiky little boys pretending not to be just as interested in her as she is in them. I pretend I don't notice, let her have these little romances with other people's hungry eyes and hungry hearts. As I sat down, he finally approached me and gently vomited up bits of his life, currently in transition. Going through a break up, having to find a new home for his dog, starting a new job. Still swimming in the romance of loving and losing, his whole presence seemed tender like a bruise. Open, honest, he was confessing his whole being to the little, warm creature in my lap, and I felt, again, like his face was in my hands, or snuggled in my lap with Calypso, though she hadn't even bothered to glance in his direction. I knew exactly who he was in that short, quiet conversation. Then he stepped off at the Lorimer stop. I may never see him again, and I surely won't recognize him if I do.

I walked past a pizza placed but continued since the two guys behind the counter stared, more interested than I am comfortable with... but doubled back because it was my last chance to grab food due to the lateness of the hour. The pizza section melted into a low lit bar and I sat in a boozy semi darkness stuffing mediocre pepperoni slices into my mouth gracelessly, while the older man of the pair came and leaned back against the alcohol regarding me and the nightly news on the tv near me with thoughtful silence. I watched him subtly as I dripped grease on his bar counter and scattered red pepper and crumbs across the dark wood surface. He was distinguished looking, of some Arabic/Persian descent that I couldn't quite place. The obvious ethnicity made me wonder what the people working around me felt about women and propriety, since I sat in a cutoff sweatshirt that left my tattooed shoulders exposed, the left shoulder bright underneath the pin-light over it. The face of a Siren from Homer's Odyssey stared drowsily at him, and he stared back, focused, contemplative. There was nothing lewd about how openly he stared, I thought, smacking and sniffling as the red pepper lit up my sinuses, as I watched him watching my shoulder. It was interesting to see someone, like in a museum, looking at art on the wall, but they were looking at a piece of my flesh, but it was so earnestly interested, almost reverent, and honest, I made no move to cover myself, or distract him from his thoughts. I waited for his questions to inevitably surface, and I answered them.
'She's beautiful' he said quietly. 'Who is she?' I gave him the name of the Greek story, but didn't see recognition in his face.
'Why that?' He asked. I explained how sometimes when we experience emotional and mental battles, that test our souls and our hearts, I find it is unfair that I don't have literally battle scars to show the world how hard I have fought to be where and what I am.
'What if you change your mind?' he asked finally.
I asked him if he could go back and change things in his life, his childhood, choices he's made before there was grey in his hair. He nodded to let me know that he understood some part of my question. Then I finished my food, cleaned up my mess.
'Get home safe' He told me as I disappeared out into the cold and dark.

I realized in my last relationship that I was being treated with more respect - simple kindness even - on the train, by complete strangers than the person I was rushing home to, and in the last 6 months I have met people who see me clearer and deeper than family members who have known me my whole life. It feels like I've suddenly discovered I don't have to vigilantly protect myself from the people I encounter, that I don't have to live in constant fear that they don't really know who I am, or care what that means. My days are filled with such rich, electric interactions that even I can feel my own realness, I can hear the heaviness of my footfalls as my body connects with the earth, with other people, because I am real. More than just a phantom of other people's perceptions and expectations, family, lovers.

It was the third of September
That day I'll always remember, yes I will
'Cause that was the day that my daddy died
I never got a chance to see him
Never heard nothing but bad things about him
Mama, I'm depending on you, tell me the truth

And mama just hung her head and said,
Son, papa was a rollin stone
Wherever he laid his hat was his home
And when he died all he left us was alone
Papa was a rollin' stone, my son
Wherever he laid his hat was his home
And when he died all he left us was alone

Well, well

Hey mama, is it true what they say
That papa never worked a day in his life
And mama, some bad talk going around town would say
That papa had three outside children and another wife
And that ain't right
Heard some talk about papa doing some store front preaching
Talking about saving souls and all the time leeching
Dealing in debt and stealing in the name of the Lord

Mama just hung her head and said
Papa was a rollin' stone, my son
Wherever he laid his hat was his home
And when he died all he left us was alone
Hey, papa was a rollin' stone
Wherever he laid his hat was his home
And when he died all he left us was alone


Hey mama, I heard papa called himself a jack of all trade
Tell me is that what sent Papa to an early grave
Folk say papa would beg, borrow, steal to pay his bill
Hey mama, folk say that papa never was much on thinking
Spent most of his time chasing women and drinking
Mama, I'm depending on you to tell me the truth

Mama looked up with a tear in her eye and said,
Son, papa was a rollin' stone (well, well, well, well)
Wherever he laid his hat was his home
And when he died all he left us was alone
Papa was a rollin' stone
Wherever he laid his hat was his home
And when he died all he left us was alone

I said, papa was a rollin' stone
Wherever he laid his hat was his home
And when he died all he left us was alone

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Distance provides a kind of grammar.

Seated in the audience for a small dance company's showcase I had designed marketing materials for - the performances were all filled with interesting young women, except for one particular piece. A 70 year old woman, the choreographer and company's focal point moved alone, feet shifting in and out of time to delicate sounds. Like a butterfly, like a crone, halting and awkward one moment, powerful and arched the next, making shapes in the space with her body, her sharp movements, her meandering, emotional pauses, she danced as vigorously as a young woman, whatever one's taste for performance, her presence and sharp awareness were nothing to be overlooked, alone on that stage.

I was struck by both her freedom and control over the movements of her body, and thinking back to people in my life, family members, pseudo role models, teachers, adults I encounter all around me - near her age, some not even close who have lost that sense of connection with themselves. It makes me so angry sometimes, that the people I should have been able to look up to when learning what truths composed the world I exist in seem to have willfully relinquished that awareness, of self, and the space around them. That I could find deeper, more meaningful exchanges with individuals perceived through a screen, remote, unrelated to me, than when drowning deep in the clotted embrace of some of my blood relatives. That a simple movement of an aging figure against a white wall could make me want to cry for the grandmother I should have had, for what the human body could be, could have been. For the wisdom I could have drunk off of knowing individuals at the earliest formation of my own sense of self and concept of power.

Like a prayer, like flagellation, like a nightmare, I can only keep fiercely repeating to my friend walking through the cold next to me, to myself in bed that evening:

I never want to be trapped in my own body, by age or fear or disuse.

Oh god, please.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

And broken heartstrings bled the blues.

I have not been brave in art. I have been merely a technician, and possibly, that is why making art has always been a painful struggle for me, one I would happily avoid to go cover myself in grease and heft heavy things around. Just because I can use the tools of society's concept of Artist with obvious skill and precision doesn't automatically mean I have said something worthwhile with any of it. All those awful early student paintings my mother is hoarding are the same as anyone beginning the study of a craft - coagulated excesses and structural inaccuracies, just as my first welds were lumpy and unsuited to actually supporting weight, useless - we must all do those same technical studies to build the skill set to actually craft things, and our growth is measured by how far we have evolved since those early attempts at creation. I was always just trying to tell the truth. To do what was 'right'. It is easy to aspire to truth in a discipline, truth of form, but it is only of face value, it can only ever be structural. Floating on the surface, wrapped around a skeleton, holding something together, but not imbuing it with meaning or experience. We can rely on truth of form and space as being universally agreed upon in its general 'rightness'.

The nude figure is an ideal study subject, as it is often completely devoid of a specific personality, stripped down to a loose similarity that dispels the illusion of self we drape around us/shield ourselves from via clothes, and witty conversations or political stances. I wonder if that has something to do with the proliferation of tattoos in my generation - trying to claim a self-hood that extends deeper than our clothes and is impossible to be robbed of, or so we don't lose ourselves in the constant tidal shifts of acceptability and expectation coming from generations past. I cling to my figure modeling work as a tiny bit of respite, like going to yoga, one of few places where I can safely escape judgement, free from assumptions or expectations related to my role, gender or sexuality. I can completely unmask, allowing a room full of people bear witness to the truth of my existence without feeling the need to protect or defend myself. But it is easy to hide in that intimately non intimate place, never getting past skin deep. To not feel.

I have tried making art as an emotional experience, but a desperate fight always ensues in my brain with what looks correct, and in response to some deep desperate fear of exploration, of straying too far from the recognizable, I give up. I shrug my shoulders. I do something else to avoid the helpless frustration. If Life imitates Art or vice versa, I have spent my Life/Art in search of Truth... not of Self. Maybe I needed to find Truth, so I could construct Self from a premise I can rely on, a foundation rooted in function, where every muscle is justified for its existence and can be moved with purpose... I have been tasting other people's wants and dreams, like Goldilocks, to see which ones taste 'just right'. Artfully avoiding having my own, so I don't have to learn the bitter flavor of disappointment. Trying to embody truth, rather than self helps me lose myself in the machine of working on crews, and the loudest thing being spoken is body language, and we are all an extension of each other, a functioning being made up of characters and muscles allows me to interact with the varying degrees of wants and dreams, truth and self, and I can be lost in a tidal wave of emotions that pass through me like electricity, but that I don't have to let them weigh me down because they do not belong to me. Sometimes I desperately wish I could bring that home, wrap myself around like a blanket, like a human being, to taste the technicolor realness of wanting something - but I know that the ringing truth of making structural things speaks to our rational selves. I can allow a total sensual immersion in work/coworkers because we are all aspiring towards the same thing, and the similarity of our experiences is reflected in each other with such intimate familiarity that I forget they have lives, girlfriends and wives and children they go home to. Expectations and friends, roommates and pets. Families and needs. When we step offsite, there are rich, throbbing Real Selves where the Rational Men used to be. 

Sometimes I can feel the beast in my blood that I have yet to look in the eyes. I don't know when it woke up, but I am too unsure of its needs and expectations to bring it into existence by calling it by name. I think it is my Self, and that it grows too hungry for me to contain much longer. I have been on a passionate pursuit to break every boundary I've encountered, and have always found truth on the other side, disproving the necessity for other people's boundaries at all. But I can't be truth in my core, truth is just another boundary. It is a thing that sits outside, and on the surface, and while shielding me valiantly from lies and illusion, so too is it shielding me from the richness of emotional experiences.

Maybe Truth is the next boundary I am meant to break.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

it's because you taste like home.

At the movies with a handsome carpenter on christmas, I had one of those moments where I remembered who I was, and the true value of what I am doing. It is so easy in the entertainment industry to get lost in the brilliant waste, of building concerts and spectacles only to ride home on the subway and hear the audience members around me open and close their mouths with debilitating, complaining negative noises about the experience I gave the labor of my body to, for it to have manifested for these ungrateful bastards. Seeing the newest Disney Princess confection (Frozen 2013) the best part of the movie was hearing the reactions of the children around us, especially the loud "Huh?" every single child uttered when the prince/boy did not save the day. Discussing the newest line up of Disney princesses with some of my close female friends, all of us with a vested interest in the genre, as a large amount of our college friends have ended up in the Disney/Pixar/Dreamworks world, it was fascinating to note the extreme and different reactions we all had to the different stories, what we resonated with was so much deeper and more tangible than the barely more than skin deep princesses that defined our concept of femininity, destiny, self worth and true love in our child selves.

How would my mother and grandmother be different, if they had these kinds of Disney characters in their earliest memories and associations?

I witnessed, in that audience, the shift from previous expectations and the happily ever afters my generation and those before me chase, crumbling under the weight of failure... and I saw the future change. As much as movies and tv shows are crafted for children to sell a ton of merchandise, more than make something beautiful, there is an inherent shaping of culture that is taking place, and it may be decades before the meaning underlying the medium of transmission can fully reveal itself in our adult incarnations. Stories like that of Wicked, and soon, the movie Maleficent, go back to the stories of our childhood, to look at what happened through a different kind of historian's eyes. The new Batman movies, and Daniel Craig's James Bond focus on pushing our boundaries of right and wrong, black and white, bringing us into the shadows that our existence is actually comprised of. Allowing children and young adults to weigh motivations, to feel for what was previously considered the 'bad guy', to see past labels and unlucky situations is giving our youth the ability to come into their own with a much deeper awareness of the depths and feelings that trigger the responses of the people around them. Buying that ticket to see that movie, that crappy princess Merida costume, those Batman action figures may be feeding into the mindless consumption that some of us struggle against, but when our children pretend to be these characters, they are embracing the depth that WE as the makers of entertainment have given them.

It may be that the only way to truly experience/engage/affect culture is to be immersed in it. Maybe to be above it, or better than it actually separates us because we are stepping out of our time and its realities, and become disconnected from time altogether. If a handsome stranger running from an unpleasant past hadn't walked into the Columbia Restaurant in Sarasota Florida and made eye contact with a youngish woman who hated her father, sometime in the late 80's,  I wouldn't have had the silly, sweet voice on the phone with me last night, listening to my panic attack about my career - my sister would not exist without the holes created in our mother by her father, who then allowed that handsome/horrible stranger to alter the direction of her life. those threads are necessary in the grand design, and to go back in time to fix those holes would alter the entirety of the universe. It is because of my grandmother's 16 year old self, writing letters to a handsome young man in the air force that my mother grew up broken and angry, a cause and effect that we can have no cognizance of how it will ripple the future, how that 16 year old's first love, sometime in the 1950's may still hinder the positive choices I make in my personal and sexual relationships now. Memories are as real and tangible as atoms, they construct the realities we live in and the things we choose to define ourselves by. They are real, and they exist in this time, because we carry them with us, using them like divining rods to navigate the future. We are carried along by the momentum of simple actions, getting up in the morning, buying that cup of coffee, the smile one gives a stranger whose life may be altered by that simple muscle twitch, evolved from southern manners an individual cannot escape. The feelings of a 16 year old in the 50's resonate with so much momentum, they are still swimming around me in the now that I exist in, in such a real, unbreakable state, just as real and powerful as Elvis's pelvic thrust in defining culture and moving us all forward. Just as I may have atoms from exploded stars composing my flesh, so too are moments from a past I will never know reflected in the anatomy of my own unique existence, and every choice we make is a ricochet of those 'past' atoms, colliding and making 'future' atoms, no different than matter and anti matter, just unnamed and undiscovered by the science community yet - the 4th dimension, the undiscovered plane of existence that we are unable to see as a scientific reality because we are still so emotionally sensitive to it.

Some of us, 70 years after the great depression, still cannot walk past that huge value bag of greasy potato chips that their grandchildren will never eat, because some part of them is still caught in the scarcity of the past, on repeat, like a scratched record, or a ghost, walking the same hallways, doomed to live a traumatic event over and over again. Some people repeat their parents mistakes, or continue to fall in love with the same kind of man, at the expense of their children's safety over and over again, stuck at a point in their development where things ceased to change, to grow. Like the past atoms became a cancer, that multiply and fill them up with a time they cannot escape and are doomed to repeat. I also know people that are so afraid of the past atoms they were given by their parents, they choose to only live in the future, and are caught in a time warp of working and planning so strong, they cannot even see that they are missing out on their lives in real-time (I was caught up in too many past atoms once, and encountered someone filled with future atoms and flaming red hair, and a few conversations with him exchanged enough mutually missing atoms to balance that I could move out of the mistakes I had been repeating. Those conversations changed me and my entire life path). And some of us are taught as children that there are no boundaries, that we can do and be anything we want - some of us learn it the hard way, later in life, how to get past the skip in the record - and some of us have been doing it the whole time without ever realizing the power of our actions and self explorations:

Change is time travel. It is dependent on one's emotional state and their concept of boundaries. To disrupt the waves of poor choices or bad memories carried throughout history, to stop and actually effectively choose what kinds of momentum you offer to the universe intimately manipulates the future in ways so far past our ability to see, it is when we are fully present, to give positive ideals and experiences to the collective waves into the future, the rooting of and knowing of self in our own time and cultural history that we actively define the next generation, what matters to them and how they see themselves. Just by living more deeply than our parents and with more awareness of self than previous generations we are laying a stronger foundation for the future.

I saw it for a second, the future, like a flash in that dark movie theatre, and I no longer doubt my ability to be a part of it.

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

some people underestimate how erotic it is to be understood

the last gallery show i was in (that i got featured in the new york times for), the series i did was based on the concept of that miscommunication/misunderstanding of our worth in relation to our female sexuality (that it could, in fact be directly linked to a higher form of spirituality, but our mothers never realized that potential, and let society continue to brand it as shameful and 'naughty', so could never teach us that it could be a source of good, let alone related to our own divinity) and this negative expression is passed onto us from our own confused mothers, and their confused mothers, something that defines the types of partners we choose, the fathers and grandfathers i had (awful men, all of them) and that is a similar feeling i have about watching my mother and grandmother's terrified and almost superstitious relationship with money, and the things they consider to be rewarding (fast food, sitting in front of the tv and shitty lattes, rather than eye exams/prescription glasses/ability to see properly, nourishing/high quality/healthy food, yoga/bike/anything active) and on into infinity. especially right now, as i am the only member of my family to have moved out of florida (little sister recently changed that too!) i feel like it has given me the distance and objectivity, as well as vastly new and different stimuli to consider (while they continue to ruminate in their own juices and reinforce their misconceptions) to really breakdown some of my learned behaviors towards my sexuality and concept of worth, men, food, taking (real) care of myself, money etc... and it seems to have resulted in this disconnect with my heavily female based family, where it is like speaking two completely alien languages, and our concepts of everything are so different it makes conversing practically impossible, particularly due to the fear base from which they respond to everything, reinforced by the whiffs of the baptist church my family is bred from.

that series of work was really just the beginning of my being able to bring some of these gossamer notions into a more concrete understanding of actual concepts and breaking down and restructuring neural pathways that have been built to receive and log information in very specific ways from my early cognitive development. then i come across articles like this (i've read stuff about this before) and aside from making me feel more rooted to history through my genetic ties, strikes me deeply as i may be wrestling with precognitive conditions gifted to me from such major events as things like the industrial revolution, potentially harboring a distant, glowing link to eve herself, stripped of the power of creation (babies), something truly beautiful and awe inspiring, divine even, by being made to feel it was born from a shameful act, forevermore a condemnation against that powerful place in ourselves that possesses the power of god and was turned against us/her - relegated to nothing more than a ball and chain forced on her by a man she did not choose (adam).

i think this kind of stuff should be talked about more, i think, for people like the ones in my family, it may be the only way to establish a bridge to speaking my new empowered language, with its foundation in logic and rational self awareness. i know its just a boring science article, but i think the concept could potentially be much farther reaching:


Tuesday, December 24, 2013

May the bridges I burn light my way

"you," he said, "are a terribly real thing in a terribly false world,
                                          and that, I believe is why you are in so much pain."

For all the times I have stumbled home from excessive hours at work, black with steel grease or the dust of the piers, not bothering to wash the black from my hands when I actually take the time to feed myself, when sleep is so much more valuable than showering regularly and even my sheets smell like steel... I sometimes desperately drag my broken body into the random Vietnamese nail salon, even though I have to face the looks of horror from the man or women handling my calloused and work stained flesh. Part of me is apologetic to them for how much harder they will have to work to make me even presentable, but some deep part of me is begging for strong hands to press into my sore muscles and strained tendons, so much I could cry.

I can't help but feel the sidelong looks from the skinny dyed blonds, old fussy women and haughty preteens around me, getting their long, feminine nails painted boring shades of pink or shimmery brown while they gossip - polluting the calm with unnecessary complaining noises I have to tune out, to catch the twang of Asian instruments adding a subtle glamour of the geisha to the odd practice all of us are indulging in, however removed most of american culture may have come from the origins of this particular feminine tradition. I am no less a woman than anyone else in the room, and so much more in need of their arts than most of the women sitting around me, but I still stick out like a bruise. I'm not there to be pampered and girly - I'm there asking these craftspeople to cut away the dead and bruised skin, like sanding weathered wood, to find the natural beauty and form hidden underneath. Sometimes I need help to find myself. I just can't allow myself to feel too deeply judged, because it is already so hard for me to ask at all.

Today, Christmas Eve, I went to one such place, near where I am apartment sitting in the Upper West Side, a part of town that always tickles me, because I feel my difference VERY strongly here. One of my secret favorite things is to have searingly colored toenails hiding inside my smelly, beaten work shoe. The woman working with me quickly erased the caution yellow remnants of polish still barely clinging to my toes, to replace it with a violent neon fuchsia... but could not hide that she paused in horror when she reached for my hands. I asked for a back massage afterwards, something I never do, but was so desperate for it I didn't care if it seemed selfish, I didn't care who saw or knew. Since she would struggle working under my shirt, I simply took it off, sitting in my sports bra, exposing my tattooed and heavily muscled shoulders - from doing a man's job for a living - and the sturdy, cheerful woman grunted and thwacked, pushed and pulled as she wrestled with the demons that had wrapped themselves into the grooves under my shoulder blades and stretched themselves down the column of my spine. The woman working on my back chatted to me about my tattoos in her heavy accent, the people who work in these places usually are extremely appreciative of them - which makes sense to me, Asian/pacific island tattooing being such a developing factor for our own culture to embrace the concept of body art that sailors brought back with them in the 18th century. To the snotty women in the room, the ink in my flesh always seem to cause a specific negative reaction, as if it were in fact filled with some sacrilegious quality, whispering anti traditional and rebellious thoughts, threatening the rules of their pink and white world.

She ended emphatically, with loud thumps of her balled up hands up and down the length of my back, filling the space with the sound of my naked skin connecting with them. As I pulled my shirt over my head, I noticed the room was silent. As I paid and stuffed my feet into my boots, I felt the difference in the room, though I don't know what it meant. Nor does it even matter.

I left at least 2 inches taller.

Monday, September 2, 2013

but, if you pay attention, nothing is trivial.

Rolling out from the last stop in Montauk, NY, after a week off the grid. I feel my disconnect in a vastly physical way. Everything is cash only, and all I have is a useless piece of plastic, on a stretch of island without an ATM. I sacrificed my phone in my rush to assist a struggling black Labrador treading water and ropes just offshore at the beach, but even before, there is no reception out here, I had started leaving it in the rented house since it served me no purpose. half the weight of my backpack is an obsolete laptop, as there was no internet for me to connect to. useless pieces of plastic and circuitry that connected me to the future, but there is no future out here. Only yesterday.

The six of us, most of the Art Department for a Sci Fi film we had just finished shooting, had escaped the frustration and endless hours of working through futility and miscommunication to a house that was filled with the sleepy crust of childhood, of summers swimming and brown at grandma's house. We made meals together, we explored the local tourist haunts, the fishing boats, poked a beached jellyfish and had lots of ice cream and dollar beers. We napped on the beach, and we napped when we came home, wrung out with exhaustion from the sunshine and salt water, we played board games and read and jumped on the trampoline. We filmed everything, we secretly interviewed the locals (indigenous mermaids), and became zombies, camera pointed at the mirror, while we painted each other with lotion and flour, some of us choked and sputtered a fine ketchup blood, and for a brief moment, the outside world simply didn't matter.

It was like the mystical land of Brigadoon, or Avalon, where the worlds had started to drift apart, and time passed differently. At a bar full of pink cheeked fishermen, we learned how proudly, morally defiant the indigenous people were of things like cell phone usage, and of the tourists that define the economic structure of the island itself. The intentional separation from connectivity permeates the island's locals, a state of mind that directly manifests into reality, one that I hadn't realized I was in, until I boarded this train without a ticket and find myself struggling to maintain the here and now as the train hurtles me back into the future, where I came from. I have no idea how many emails and texts I've received from this past week, the voice-mails that wait for me, the state of my world when I return to it, and I'm walking straight into gig after labor intensive gig, but I can only count the seconds by the shadows of trees rolling across my skin, the minutes through the sleepy blinking of my puppy, sprawled across from me in a sunspot, in a red bag, in my heart. I can do nothing, I am trapped like a still frame, in my helplessness, trusting that everything is alright ahead of me, and in the five days that passed without me... but the clinging awareness of the duality of time, and the precious awareness we gave to our play hasn't dissipated yet. It feels almost like I acquired the ability to choose the speed at which I perceive reality, like a camera lens, to shift the focus of my gaze at will, rather than being required to point my attention at things by someone else's order of importance. I AM a time machine. Time and space and the world wheel around MY center of gravity, like my limbs as I shift yoga poses around my core, from Downward Facing Dog to Warrior 1, before exploding into Warrior 2. Thou art God.

The world is the same as I left it, but completely new and different. We all move through time at different paces, meeting up with college friends and family members brings us back, we step out of time briefly to a gap toothed reality that is still present, depending on who's eyes we are looking through. Coming back to the city, it looks like how I always pictured Paris, the city of layers, nuances and reflections of the future and past colliding, constantly shifting depending on the time of day, the way the light hits it, who looks at it, and where they were in time when it moved them. We try to see time as a straight line, because it's simple and easier to pretend we understand, but Einstein's relativity and Heisenberg's uncertainty suggest we already know better. Time travel is a matter of definition. We do it constantly, we just haven't redefined our concept of time to match what we instinctively know. An artist I chatted with recently described a finished portrait as a lie, because we are such different things depending on whose eyes are holding us - I have been/am daughter, granddaughter, sister, lover, friend, ex girlfriend, coworker, steamroller, confidant, boss... and everyone I encounter sees me completely differently, so a single freeze frame, a time, a specific context, an expression captured is a fragment, a glimpse, a joke compared to the entirety of who we are as a complete person constantly moving forward in time.

I return to the city a tourist, curious about my own culture for the first time in a long while. The people and places that I have tuned out in anger or embarrassment or in a sense of being disconnected from their reason d'etre, the weight of digging into those reasons seemed so overwhelming, so I brushed past everyone on my way to work. But there is so much for me to learn from how individuals in my immediate local reason with their reality. Looking past southern or jersey accents, and what seem like mundane choices evolved from feelings of having limited options, generations and economic boundaries... there exists so much more meaning to be derived than I was ever aware of.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

and he tells me that maybe we used to be flint.

Once, during an exploratory meeting with another creative type, as we were discussing a potential partnership of sorts and researching warehouses for rent, I nonchalantly pulled out a painting I had done recently on a piece of wood and handed it over in lieu of a description of my work.  The painting was on a small square of 3/4'' plywood, taken from the shop I was working in, one of a million pieces of scrap used to shim up height variance in the building of platforms. 

In the dry spells between busy seasons, in the industrial district of Greenpoint (Brooklyn) one could almost see the comical tumbleweeds blow past, gray-green metaphorical shadows against the acidic spray paint colors shaming the walls around me, it was like the wild west, lonely and desolate and sometimes blisteringly hot. In the blinding, scraping nothingness of boredom, my awareness to the things I was blindly stacking and re-stacking, to keep busy, to avoid censure, suddenly shifted focus and I saw music, frozen into the surfaces around me, and emotive eyes, pure poetry looking up at me out of the rich textural grain from the massive amounts of sturdy sheets of wood being tossed into the dumpster every day. Little, practically worthless bits of wood, that I smuggled a handful of home like a bandit with a bag of diamonds became resonant and full of depth, after layers of varnish and the backsides of each, supple and soft from ruthless sanding, because the world is beautiful, and we have no respect for it, like Pocahontas mistaking corn for gold, like our own bodies, strong and resonant and capable, but we move through life too full of fear to express its full power, so we forget how to see it, or what it even looks like - the shape and texture of our uniquely human motive power. Those worthless bits of refuse were like the shining pieces of my soul, that were getting whittled away from the disregard, from disrespect, from the fact that in those old movies the sheriff is always dirty, and the law is often opposite of justice. Those pieces that I salvaged, that I could take home and buff away the splinters and the lies from, barely needed a hint of paint to be sodden with purpose and a potent extension of self. 

The other creative type, a carpenter with whom I was sharing this recent excavation of my soul with, could have had no idea how much that painting on that piece of wood meant to me. What it represented. So many people look at artwork face on, and it doesn't penetrate any of our other senses. The barriers of visual art keep us from reaching deeper into the craftsmanship, the meticulous care with which some of us strive to make a piece complete, and something about the remove makes me fiercely angry, because it is perpetually inaccessible. What is the point of any kind of expression, if it cannot truly breach the boundaries of perception? Why are we so afraid to touch each other, or to let ourselves be examined in return? Are we afraid of what others will see?

He took it from me, looked, appraised its visual appeal with his eyes, then rolled it around in his knowing, work-roughed hands. He flipped it over and felt the back, he looked at all sides of it, found value in it and acknowledged that as he handed it back to me. It was a moment, but it was my entire life, my soul and body's yearning to be handled and explored so specifically, respectfully as a whole, the front and the back, the hard and the soft parts. To be explored and witnessed, and accepted for what is there... by hands as sensitive and conscious as eyeballs. All the blemishes and scratches, down to the roots and the core, the structure underneath the shine, witnessed and accepted as valuable simply because I exist. 

He will never know what that meant to me, and my interactions with him are random and a bit strained due to the odd consistency of life (full of lumpy weird bits)... but I learned something about myself in those few seconds, like a sudden burst of clarity. There was no emotional exchange, yet the depth of sharing from myself that was given without fear or expectation, based on my innate knowledge that the product I had created was of value... became the most intimate exchange I've ever experienced. Like a caress to my deepest principles. He would never remember that tiny moment, but I saw it, and it meant something.