Saturday, December 15, 2012

Reaching a fever pitch

With no way to comprehend and assimilate the unnecessary battle scars I sustain in my daily fight for sustenance and respect, knowledge and self worth, I can feel the rips in the fabric of my spiritual being, and am overwhelmed by my soul's inability to bleed the white hot pain away. So I will wear the scars of my soul on my flesh, rendered in beautiful forms out of metaphors dark and rich as the cultural history I have awoken them from.

It amazes me what comes out of us when faced with the various circumstances of daily interactions, and even more so, the blinding animal tendencies we show in the face of reason and logic, every motion and thought rooted to animal needs, the scavenger, the pack animal that wants to fit in, the small of mind and body that fill their lack of presence with useless, abusive chatter to scare off the predators and competent alike. I have seen the wolf in our blood. I do not possess an inner bull, with a fearless relationship to moving matter, nor the desire of the wolf to be in a group and protect its ideals and roles with my life, it is with the crafty, shape-shifting  coercive creature of fables and fairy tales that I have found a resemblance, a similarity in our methodology of self protection.

Backed into a corner, I met the fox in my being, his sharp teeth grazing my tongue as I talk my way out, tail swinging, to continue building my life. If only the fuzzy redness of my anger and the iron taste of my inflamed pride didn't give me away, sending the dogs baying after me, tongues wagging. Sometimes I wish I was invisible, but my anger is often so palpable, it is it's own living creature with its own sharp, brazen tongue, and there is only so much an angry red creature can do to go unnoticed. More and more I find the fox in the place I am meant to be standing, and am torn in my logical self with right and wrong and good and bad, and deals are being made and allegiances forged by the fox while I wrestle with what I believe. It is lonely, the circumstances I find myself in, I have not even recognized the quick talking and fierce person filling my shoes and swinging my hips, an abrasive and bitter individual that I have little control over. With nothing and no one I can trust, no support, back up, or kind words to fill the gaping holes in my being, not even the momentary comfort of body contact to suggest I am not wholly and completely alone, all I have to rely on is the toothy grin of this clever creature, trusting instincts that cannot come from an logical place of rules and expectations, but have been lurking in the recesses of my fleshy human form, some deep secret memory of being rooted to the earth, and have been called forth into action with flashing and intelligent eyes.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

strange fruit.

I decided to let it go. All the anger, all the helplessness and frustration. I converted the back file room of the shop into a printmaking studio and will spend most of a week hand carving linoleum blocks and printing over 200 holiday cards for businesses and clients that work with my shop. I shut out the world and found something that has been in hibernation, taking in experiences and contemplating how to utilize them in the most powerful way. My body and brain are tingling awake, and finding dimension in what seemed previously like a flat world.

In perfect tandem with the solar eclipse, helplessness is being eclipsed out of my life.

I am reborn.

Monday, November 12, 2012

the river tasted me once, spit me back out, so i'm not afraid of her.

The devil? He exists. I've seen him. He lives in the shadows, and fills the holes in our being caused by self doubt. He lived in the words that found me on the playground, whispers from my peers that fell from the lips of their parents, the PTA, who saw we didn't go to church, didn't follow the rules, didn't attend bake sales or fundraisers. Satan worshipers they called us. But he also followed me home at the end of every day, as I trudged as slowly as I could through the thickness of trees in my lush little town, past houses, each one with a different personality to be considered, until the foreboding of turning the corner into my own neighborhood. Often, as I was growing up, I awoke in the middle of the night to the devil standing in my doorway with my light on, watching me as I slept. In the guise of Stepfather, my voice had no meaning, for the devil distracted my mother with lust and laziness, and my fear and words and needs were insignificant to the soul she traded for the ease of darkness, and the wickedness of idleness. As I grew into my voice, and my strength, I would have killed him, beaten his now fragile drug infused bones to a puddle of hate, with no remorse, but it didn't matter how hard I tried to protect my family, the greed and hunger for an easy life was still a flame in the remnants of my mother's soul. She slept with the devil to acquire things without the effort that honest people earned with the hard work of their bodies. She gave away one of her children for an afternoon, traded the innocence of my little brother, as well as her own body for a piece of my Stepfather's inheritance money before it was lost in drug trafficking and prostitutes. The devil drives a peacock blue 350Z and carries a duffel bag full of money.

I did not get a chance to kill him, and he changed his form to fit my evolving insecurities. Donning small, sweet breasts and a sassy upturned nose, he inflicted a pain so close to my heart I mistook it for the fire of being in love, and I lost myself in the urgency of feeling that ransacked my body for three years, the scar tissue building up so fast it obscured everything important in my life. 'Worthless', she screamed at me, so many times those three horrible, lost years, I had that word for breakfast everyday, I drank it from her lips when we fucked in the shadows and I believed it. Nothing fans the flames of abuse like honest intentions. My goodness and trust were the knives she used to flay me open to the spine like the center attraction at a pig roast, skin charred, and the devil invited everyone to grab a plastic fork and cheap off-brand barbeque sauce to sample the texture and flavor of my beauty and innocence and moral integrity.

I thought I had put some distance between me and the devil, but I glimpsed him the other day, lurking in the eyes of my coworkers in the shop, in the poisonous words that have suddenly poured slick and stinging from the one person who had my back, whom I shared my triumphs and accumulating dreams with, as well as my fears and insecurities. It doesn't matter what I do, good or bad, if I have to defend myself from verbal abuse, or I fight for someone to get a raise, or take on responsibilities I won't get paid for, simply because it needs to be done, the guys in the shop will whisper over the table at the lunches I have been ostracized from about how all of those things merely prove that I am the reason seasonal workers have been let go in the past, that I am the reason people who don't work get addressed by the bosses for not working, that raises are withheld as well as handed out because of me, that failed crops and plagues are dictated by my whims, that anything I receive: respect, accolades, raises, authority are born solely from the whiteness of my skin, rather than my competence  rather than my own strength and ability. And I watch smart, capable people choose ignorance over growth, to spit the devil's rime rather than recognize the truth and beauty of the people around them. It doesn't matter if I have no awareness of things that are happening that I get blamed for, but they are still my fault, and every gesture I make with good and honest intentions gets twisted by these people I use to love, into cruel, evil shadows of themselves. The only way to protect myself is to become a ghost again, when I have been trying so hard to become real.

All of these occurances feed off of the depth of my insecurities, my need for validation, my earnest desire to see people treated fairly and getting what they deserve, good intentions and open, honest conversations, and the more of myself I give away, in love or in fear, the more I fan the flames of hellfire that scorch the souls of my feet and stumble on my path. I am a different person than I was three days ago. I can no longer blame my childhood for the setbacks and confusion of my adult self, or use it as an excuse for my lack of awareness of the darkness that waits in the shadows of every action of my physical being, of every word that falls unguarded from my mouth to be twisted and misunderstood and used against me. I am solely responsible for what I give away of myself, and what I allow to dog me. Self doubt and insecurity are the doorways that open to the devil, and the only way to escape is to eradicate all self doubts and insecurity. The only way to survive, is to wholly, without question, trust your instincts, trust your intuition, and ignore your fears. YOU HAVE TO TRUST YOURSELF COMPLETELY AND WITHOUT QUESTION. Yourself and no one else.

Then the devil will be blind.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Empty his pockets and Wreck his days.

Misconception is such a funny thing. Having someone's best interests at heart is an oxymoron, because in the end, we all see what is best for our own selves via someone else, and we view others through the goggles of our own perception. Some people's Rose is a little more blood red, other's, a vintage dusty pink, and the shade of our glasses cannot but tint every reaction we have to the world around us with self serving emotions. Not suggesting that is necessarily a bad thing, merely something to be considered as we encounter mentors and spiritual guides as we navigate the channels of our lives.

One of the most profound subtleties I've started to become aware of, is the legends in which we associate with, and how we drape these associations around ourselves, almost unaware of the stereotypes that cling to us in our views of the 'self'. The Jamaican Man who drives the company truck, has revealed to me recently a hint of the VooDoo Man, and as I have increasingly learned to unwind our discussions for the half truths and leading statements designed to tease out secrets... I am stunned by the intensity of spells he weaves with conversation, the cloak and dagger of familiarity and pretended disinterest so artful, so natural to a human being who may or may not even care about the messages and truths he tricks from his victims, but apparently plays the game out of force of habit and to combat boredom in his own life. Him being a Sagittarius, half horse and half human, I find it fitting that his speech is a half breed of truth and lies, that as the driver he is part of a much larger symbiotic being, literally a vehicle for transporting heavy equipment from the waist down, and that he bets heavily on horse racing, with a past he vaguely refers to as related to training horses in Jamaica. He often shares his lunch with me, with oxtail and whole snapper, and the most seductive jerk pork this side of heaven. But sometimes, as adventurous a soul as I am, even I have qualms with chicken feet and cow hooves as a main source of protein. As another layer into the hoodoo in him, he is quick to offer up bizarre remedies, a common one being to save a horse (and recently babies, to mine and my partner's horror) from colic, is to urinate into a bottle and force it down the affected creature's throat and force it to walk. Aside from medicinal wisdom, he often has very sharp, earthy comments about the interaction between men and women, and always relates it to strong sexual imagery that could just as easily be applied to any type of animal, so rooted in the animal world of male and female dynamics, is this man's perception of the world.

Yesterday I became aware of it for the first time, when listening to him describe how he tricked information out of someone, and watching his eyes rove along my collarbone and shoulder, down the the line of my snake tattoo and the blooming definition of my bicep, in the rhythm of casting a spell, a glance so strong it was practically a caress. There is something unsettling about his eyes, not in a negative way, but a lack of commitment to color maybe, and a jellied quality, like sunlight must travel deep through its clear surface to interact with the milky brownish color. When he smiles a true, wicked smile, you can see a good couple of inches of pink gums above his teeth, like a horse, in fact. In the sunlight, his glance as strong as  touch on my skin, he told me some of the secrets to the spells he casts, with a variation on his favorite tales from the Ghetto, and his own personal legend was laid bare before me, illuminated like the brassy greenish color of his eyes in the powerful afternoon light.

The time of the traveling salesman seems like something from wizard of oz, from the great depression, but I met one this past week. I'd encountered the owner of this global company before, have wandered empty Louisiana streets in the dead of night and drunk absinthe in the sulfuric aftermath of flaming sugar cubes on top of our glasses, and stripped off my boots to crawl around under aluminum structures to lubricate joints with airplane wax alongside him, this quiet, gentle giant of a man. Like the Jamaican Man, he too is a spinner of tales, but with very different tactics. While there is a gossipy Grandmother feel to Jamaican Man, the Traveling Salesman resonates with a Grandfather to the World persona, is like Oz himself, and in direct opposition to the control of others sought through petty human jealousy and guilt of the Jamaican Man in his VooDoo incarnation, the Traveling Salesman must inherently believe his tales, to convince others of the truth of his product as a direct validation of the truth of himself. He lives out of a suitcase, in a constant attempt to outrun responsibilities he has created, delving into emotional dramas and nuances of human relationships, protected by the image of the Grandfather, packing up and leaving before his vulnerabilities threaten to rise to the surface and expose him for what he really is. His whispering voice and sage like stories cannot veil his carpenter's hands or the strength of his sudden bursts of laughter, and in my recent conversations with him, I could distinguish the bias in his tone, an imperialism in some of his references, and with a blinding flash, I saw the death of the Grandfather he tried to depict, as it flickered out of existence leaving only the Traveling Salesman in its ashes, I felt myself become a matter of profits and not individuality, felt myself being played to distract me from my own visions of the future, in a desperate attempt to fortify his Emerald City with an offer of smoked green glasses. He does not see the world like the Jamaican man, as a separation between male and female, and ultimately as an earthy animal existence - but rather as a separation between animal and intellectual forces, and I felt it rather sharply when he tried to artfully, disdainfully suggest that I should be involved in work that was less animal, brutal, 'hairy' than what I am proudly involved in. Comments I barely noticed before, but struck me so fiercely in their destructive nature, I realized the underlying cords of much of this man's projection of self.

Discussing the disdainful tone towards my work with my shadow brother, us both possessing a little of what the other needs, just as often as I get locked into the image of the intellectual, he gets placed in the role of the brute and brawn, and people in life divorce him from the potential to develop a role that is in the region of possessing brains, we are the cowardly lion and the scarecrow, me searching for the courage to understand my own strength as I have always existed so easily in an intellectual plane, but never tested my body's limits and him, respectively, scared of admitting he has the ability to comprehend and synthesize, crippled by his own powerful fear of failure and a lifetime of being classified as the workhorse by society. Rising up from the working class as we both have, carrying our families on our backs from childhood, we are self made men, respect self made men, and agree when approached by the homeless, the junkies, we know every man can choose to make it , to build something, I so strongly believe we are all possessed of the power to define our reality, that I respect humanity enough to never give in to the feeling of pity, to never place myself so far above another man to look down on him and pity his poor existence, or to denounce where I am in life, like I haven't fought and earned every piece of what I have become, like it was a gift someone else bestowed on me, rather than something that I have built with the sweat and blood and tears of my own being and am wholly deserving of. A christian man, the Traveling Salesman, who often gets involved in reaching out to the homeless, will smile and joke with the beggar and junkie alike, he feels pity for their station in life, and shame tainted gratitude for his own in comparison, a successful businessman who, instead of taking pride in his accomplishments or relationships can only talk about his stained suits and empty wallet, broken love affairs and the time he cannot spend with his grandchildren in his constant running away from his own reality, as it dogs him around the world. His happiness then can only come in sharp, momentary, bittersweet bursts, before it is consumed by the shame of experiencing so animal a reaction to the world around him. So sharply looking down upon his own earthy nature, separating himself from eating animal flesh, as well as his own animal needs gives him a basis to look down upon the working man who lives within the context of his animality, a prison is created in the Traveling Salesman's mind, crucified by needs he so desperately fights to rise above as weakness, an intellectual inconsistency. He feels shame for the very things that make us human.

But the Traveling Salesman believes he is better than the brute, and wraps himself in Jesus to hide from his body's own animal tendencies, just as once, a long time ago, he made the choice to severe himself from the workbench, from the wood and tools, from the brutality of the shop, and lose himself in the cerebral world of building empires with  numbers and contracts and clever tales... that when the animal in him does lash out, thrashing in his blood and his memory, it shows itself in a negative light, because he feels such disrespect for it. The ego is there, the coercive undertones, without any true respect for what I want from life or the direction I am heading, and with a Judas Kiss in the searing afternoon light, I could see through his pretended ambivalent tone to the sneaky, imperial root of his words and his essence. He is the very thing he pretends not to be.

There is another, shifty eyed creature whom I haven't been able to shed light on yet, but he is somehow spawned from the Traveling Salesman, and the more I understand the Traveling Salesman, the more I begin to see the foundations of some of the other tricky beings playing larger roles in my life. My rosy goggles of perception have sustained similar scuffs as my literal glasses, wearing away at the subtle shades of poisonous cadmium, singed from the flame of the welder and darkened around the edges by my interactions with the many shades of human, from the brute force of animal instinct, to the snide superiority of intelligentsia.

Deep in my secret heart, I start to see a pattern in my broken sexual history, that maybe my own fear of that animal nature has found a way to decimate every interaction I have fumbled through and shut down in the midst of. Maybe watching with a child's eyes, I learned an intense disrespect for that part of my biology. Equally terrified and mesmerized by pregnancy, creating and raising children being equal parts intuitive impulses and cognitive responsibility, I dashed away tears and shortness of breath as I rode the train the other day, on my way to a baby shower for my shadow brother. The shower took place on the rooftop of where we work together, symbols overlapping and colliding like atoms, giving rise to new elements, and as the afternoon sun shifted into twilight I saw whispers of another powerful disparity between the personas we choose to associate with and their manifestation in reality. Young and fertile and feminine as a living Venus of Willendorf, in flowing coral against warm brown, gold dusted skin, this young wife and soon to be mother was herself the shadow side of the warehouse we work in, in glaring contrast to the intellectual child born of the woman who runs it, a labor of love for a shifty eyed creature living at odds with his intellectual and brutal selves, trapped painfully and disdainfully within the same body as he attempts to achieve the power of creation. I wonder if this kind of struggle can dry up the womb, by undervaluing our base nature, we further separate ourselves from the very things that brought us into existence. The young mother to be lost her first child, and her body was slammed with another pregnancy in the tide of grief following, she has existed in a suspended state of pregnancy, a year and a half of nurturing life inside of her, and the birth of this child will be such a profound and welcome gift in a family dense and dark skinned as flourless chocolate cake. The woman who's business we danced and celebrated life on top of has too, draped herself with the mother principle, has claimed some of her workers as 'mother', stemming from the imperial 'motherland' from which our country was loosely born from hundreds of years ago.

As she surveyed the baby shower preparations the day prior, from cameras that link directly to her phone, she issued a clipped and sneaky 'big mother is always watching' comment as we drank beer and watched each other across a table surrounded by fairy lights and trellis with Adam and Eve without the hope of conception, and the Snakeoil Salesman convincing us all to taste, the garden closing us in and winding up around us towards a full, ironic harvest moon.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.

It feels like I've been waiting my whole life for a sense that my being leaves a wake in the ether, a ripple in the universe. I have always watched certain people who seemed more real then others, who carried a seismic force of character, the virility of their atoms leaving a residue on the world around them and a tremble of tectonic plates beneath their footsteps. The groove of a wrinkle declaring its owner's history, ancient cowboy boots worn smooth by chain motor grease, the unapologetic expression of one's self, they all make my heart stutter a bit, drawing myself as if around a fire to glean warmth, only what I hunger for is the essence of realness, of deep and true knowledge, the ability to mold one's reality... in the hopes it will somehow rub off onto my physical presence. Typically I have associated these elements with men far older than me, adding strange kinks to my romantic and professional history, but recently have found people possessed of this sense of weight in knowledge and fearlessness that are close enough to my age that it has completely redefined my sense of reality and how much easier it is to manipulate then I had ever realized, that I am having to unlearn everything I ever knew to be true. 

From a young age I put myself in the category of survivor, of rising above the negative elements of my childhood, but when I came across an article about child psychology and being raised in different circumstances, how it affects us as we mature, I found that I fit an entire description of lacking major survival skills. In the article I found myself, the difficulty expressing needs, a stunted emotional vocabulary, inherent fear of authority, lack of feeling validated in my judgments, all the things I wrestle with every day in my professional life, that wracked at my adolescent spirit in grade school. This article touched a nerve I never knew was raw. My younger sister had experienced a vehemently painful senior year in high school, but being away at college, I had a hard time resonating with her trauma, and it wasn't until almost 5 years later, meeting her in her adult incarnation that we spoke as peers and I could finally grasp what had happened that awful year for her. She too fit the description of this article, and trailblazer that I suspect she has always been, she had become aware of our reality and its circumstances before she had the emotional vocabulary to explain it. She was choking on the truth.

My mother lied. Like Santa Clause and the Easter Bunny, parents lie about what is real. Children believe because they respect authority, and we trust our parents to have our best interests at heart. What if you suddenly woke up and realized your mother was not so different from the mother who sits at the subway threshold with a baby to further elicit your sympathy and guarantee the silver change right of your pocket? Having been raised by con artists, I feel like a child of the court of miracles, having never witnessed capable adults, moral adults, real adults it was a shock to find a bright fierce world, instead of perpetual semi darkness and living at the edge of survival on purpose, because it is easier to elicit pity change. Hearing the infantilizing way in which my mother spoke to my adult sister, and her vague attempts to force me into an emotional stranglehold, I suddenly realized that we had all grown up, so she no longer had purchase on other people's emotions, she couldn't be the single mother raising four children to beg and borrow money for milk and pot, and now desperately attempted to invert our relationship with guilt. No, you did not give everything you had to us. How dare you say that to me. You chose to live a substandard life and are trying to blame your laziness in developing individuality and respect ON us. How dare you call yourself a 'child advocate' and teach child development courses, or talk about the survival skills you gave us when you raised your children to consider it NORMAL to live with a crack addict and convict. Remember how you paid for tickets to Germany for you and my little brother? What do you think that teaches your daughters about how much or how little their bodies are worth? If actions speak louder than words, any values you have ever claimed are null and void the face of your actions, and the supreme selfishness in which you have not only lived your life, but subjected your children to have taught us that you believe in nothing but instant gratification and superficial desires. Like a child of the circus, it's no wonder that I am constantly striving for nuances of what is real, having spent my life in a grand charade, where my young eyes witnessed the adults around me with sagging and cracked faces act out the kind of immature pantomime I was born too old and responsible to ever partake in.

Suddenly I know what my sister saw years ago, and I only regret that she had to swallow the truth, that it writhed inside her, alone and misunderstood for so long.

So I have moved like a ghost through my own life, in a desperate search for gravity. With lovers, friends and work, I have evaporated, cheshire catlike, leaving nothing but an echo of laughter, and no true knowledge of who I am, nothing and no one rooting me to this time and this place. Without a discerning eye, and having developed no clear concept of truth from my childhood, often it has been too easy for people to take what they want from me, without my voice rising convincingly to declare boundaries for itself, so I have been poised for desperate flight for what feels like an eternity. But somewhere in the rush, I have found moments of blinding truth and values that have risen fully formed from the core of my being. The deeper and farther I go in eradicating the blood ties and emotional strangleholds that claw at me, the more I know what I truly believe, what I am derived of, people can SEE me, instead of through me, or project upon me.

I am tired of the pantomime, tired of this mask of sweetness and laughter, even when my insides are aching with anger and bitterness. I want someone to know me. To know the softness under the exoskeleton, the steel under the fear.

Now it begins. For the first time in almost a decade, I unpacked all the boxes. I threw the cardboard away. I claimed the walls, I made a space, and it is mine. Not pieces of other people. I have a family, and while it includes my siblings, it is not one of relatives, but one of my choosing, consisting of people I respect, because to me, love and respect are indivisible. I cannot love what I don't respect. I am finally ready to build an identity, to be something tangible, definable. To be real.

“What is REAL?" asked the Velveteen Rabbit one day... "Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?"

"Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It's a thing that happens to you. When [someone] loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real."

"Does it hurt?" asked the Rabbit.

"Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. "When you are Real you don't mind being hurt."

"Does it happen all at once, like being wound up," he asked, "or bit by bit?"

"It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't often happen to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept."

"Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand... once you are Real you can't become unreal again. It lasts for always.”

I came from crocodile mouths. I swam thru the bronx of my mother's belly.

Beach bound on a Sunday, Church day, for baptism by salt water and I was trepidatious. After three intense years of growth and focus on a very urban landscape, and very urban realities, I had fearfully avoided making the trek to NYC's beaches alone, unwilling to dispel the illusions of my childhood in perfect water and soft white sand. That coastline is ever in my thoughts, so contrasted by my daily life, even a recent vicious hurricane couldn't permeate the concrete membrane that separates the city from the earth, and left us practically unscathed while entire mountain towns around us melted and washed away. I never really understood homesickness, but have often felt the pull of far distant tides and the kind of release of total trust that I would never allow myself in my daily war for respect and knowledge from the people stacked up in this city with me. Closing the car door,  I had to actively reconstruct my atrophied beach sensibilities, insecurities of surrendering the white of my flesh to exposure from the elements and the eyes of the person on the blanket next to me, and once in the water, about rolling with the swells instead of fighting them, the pressing nature of reality pulling and choking and breathing around me, like being inside a much larger organism. And in the smack and flow, I had to re-find the rhythm, the pulse that beats through my own veins, that I had been to busy to pay attention to, the cacophony of other people's needs was lost in the white noise of the waves and gull cries, and quite possibly, for the first time in three years... I could feel myself breathe.

My partner in crime dragged out a body board, and I found myself attempting to navigate the waves from above, something I had never bothered with, and giggling and screeching with the seven-year-olds around me on their boards, I became acquainted with a nuance I had never before paid much mind to - how different it is to be on top of the waves, rather than immersed in them. The strength of the pull up into a budding wave, and the force that carries you on top and then crashing solidly and swiftly into the sand is so different than the rolling punching surge in the underbelly of the wave, that catches you unaware and senseless, unable to avoid the body parts or sea life caught in the motion with you. Later, as the tide crept back in, pulling with it decaying crab bodies and seaweed, a helicopter circled overhead, and a police boat chased shadows in the waves. When I asked a passing vehicle with a couple of nonchalant beach cops what was up, I was informed they were searching for a body. A quiet malevolence seemed to surface, reality rushing in with the tide, wrapping itself around me like the sting of the sunburn spreading down my thighs, a painful reminder that even the sun will do us harm, as it nourishes and sustains us.

After my first pilgrimage to the ocean, I decided to try a more urban accessible path to a closer beach, taking my roommate and the subway, in the hopes that I might find a place I could run to on a whim. I had heard the Rockaways were beautiful, but with a belligerent wind and painfully strict swimming boundaries from insistent lifeguards, it was ominous at best. Stealing myself to the water's edge, by the time it was licking and pushing at my calves I was frozen in place, almost unable to bring myself any further in. Late as it was in the day, I found myself once again greeted by the tide, and all the human and oceanic refuse slapping and sticking to my thighs, being drawn shoreward on a sour sweet smelling wind, with only a hint of brine in its odor. Reality and horror filled me down to the core of my being, I could feel my body stutter in its motion towards the pounding surf and come to a panic-filled stop. Chunks of wrappers and bizarre flat paperlike plant matter swirled around me, and my mind was flooded with images of the ganges river, the masses that bathed themselves and their clothing and animals in the polluted waters, other abused and corrupted natural sources of water that were slightly unreal images in history classes from grade school, of the sea life that breathed and lived in this, how only damaged and mutated genes could survive in the monumental funk, that toxicity would only beget more defensive toxicity in a desperate attempt to survive...

And the the shame I felt was quite possibly the deepest I have ever experienced, my revulsion so intense it felt like a rejection of my roots, of the deepest truths at the core of my being. I was bearing witness to the desecration of the womb from which we all clamored out of, it was no longer far past my peripherals, it is here, and it is real. With a childhood that was comprised of watery memories woven and fed to me by deceitful adults, the disappearing of a weak and lazy father figure, tarot cards on my mother's bed and conch shells and coral in the corners of the bathroom and nooks and crannies of windows, I had always sought a sense of the psuedo mother figure in the shores of my childhood, since I could touch and define its truth, its pervasive sense of reality. Abrasive and temperamental, it burned and bruised without apology, scrubbed me clean of impurities and connected me to something larger, almost omnipresent and rooted me to my sense of self.

Now, in what seems to be a perpetual coming of age, as all my deepest beliefs are being tested and redefined, the ocean continues the shattering of my deepest childlike perceptions. Circumstance like a tidal wave is battering everything I have ever used to define myself and my reality, and when the floodwaters drain away, I only wonder what will be left after the deluge, what will still be rooted, who it will be standing in my place, and whether or not she will still have my sassy grin.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Astronauts love golf.


     Action vs reaction. Inertia and momentum are fixed states in a vacuum. Chaos theory is a way of defining probability and patterns in everything around us. We have found the god particle, the higgs-boson, but did we find it because it was waiting to be discovered or because we created a concept to explain reality and manifested our own limitations of existence? Are theology and science really so different?

    I feel like I've been waiting my whole life to be 30 years old, to have laugh lines and a defining wrinkle or two, and suddenly, I can feel the momentum building, and the fear of inertia dropping away as I read and work, converse and watch, as the world continues to fold in on itself. Globalization is creating a fantastic new landscape for human interaction and social development, but depending on what industry you fall into, you witness such differing notes of a grandiose symphony, and we are all so busy trying to master our individual melodies and personal instruments, that it can be difficult to truly experience the powerful pattern we are all so deeply a part of. Running away from the separation between artist and reality, I found myself stumbling into an entire network of powerful young adults who FEARLESSLY navigate the entertainment industry in its technical aspects, rolling and riding the rising waves of our needs for constant entertainment as a way of dealing with a monumental economic shift happening. Such shifts have happened before, and to spare you the history lesson, I'll just touch on a few key moments in the development of the human race. 

   Cultivating/controlling nature to reap its reward in a time frame, agriculture stopped us in our tracks as roving bands of nomads and quite literally rooted us to locales, giving us the permanence to establish communities of wildly different values, beliefs, and personal and spiritual histories. The printing press gave every individual the power to choose how they interpret and share ideas, which gave us access to translations and notions that broke us free from kings and church heads and inspired revolutions worldwide over the next century. The industrial revolution brought materials things into plentiful reach, redefining comfort and luxury as accessible in a completely new way, changing our labor force completely, as machines could seamlessly start to fill laborer's roles, freeing up large amounts of society to cultivate new invention and greater intellectual pursuits. In the past two decades, the development of the internet and the software boom has continued to accelerate our ability to outsource jobs so they get done faster and cheaper, freeing up even more of the workforce to delve even deeper into the virtual landscape that has manifested, in which we all act and react to with the most powerful ability the individual has ever been able to have, and be guaranteed an audience. We are in a time where there is no excuse, there is only lack of drive to explain one's inability to carve out whatever riches they desire from the global community.

   For those of you who have been incubating the same job for 10+ years may need an attitude adjustment, or else the world may provide one for you. 

   Having just taken part in NATEAC, a conference on theatrical elements of engineering, architecture and other key elements to physical productions, I noticed some specific and interesting blips on my radar of where there are starting to develop very strong overlaps across a number of previously almost unrelated aspects of entertainment as an industry. As I attended one of the top animation schools in the country, and watched the animators get snapped up by the top animation companies worldwide, I've been considering the basis of needs in society that are being filled by these individuals, mirrored in the world of gaming, the development of interactive greeting cards, gaming graphics, 3 dimensional movies (since we have all but given up on the 2 dimensional disney landscape of my childhood) in animated characters and environment, as well as live action movies shot in 3D, the comeback of letterpress as an art form profound for the high key of emotional experience of truly handmade items brings us that much closer to other individuals and realistic interpretations of existence. So listening to IATSE union crew's presentation during this conference, I heard a lot of unasked questions trying to surface about the next big development in the world of larger than life theatre. Automation has been developing for some time now, and has succeeded in cutting backstage technicians to a slight few, further dissipating the needs of the labor force. Slowly, patterns are emerging where the industries that I straddle seem to collide, and noticing on my facebook, some of the animators I went to school with were talking about an international tour of an arena show that was based on an animated movie made by a major animation studio. More frequently now we are seeing theatre and literature derivative of movies, just as the comic industry has had to shift their entire story structures to fit the huge movie market for their characters that only previously lived and breathed in the pages of a comic book. At the same time, I found out someone I have been taking notes on in a more technical world, involving some of the foundation structures of the entertainment industry was touring with the same animated movie turned theatre show. Suddenly the degrees of separation have shrunk to olympic standards of hundredths rather than whole numbers. So whilst everyone writing about globalization talk about the software boom and the power of the internet as a force for collaboration, I have just witnessed what seems to be much more all encompassing than that, as expressed through how society either seeks out or is simply given an entire new way of experiencing the world around them.

    After some quick research, I was stricken by a number of implications of our changing expectations of experiences. The automated dragons are massive. Massive. I can't even imagine, with only a slight awareness of weight displacement and the intricacies of rigging myself, the kind of preparation that goes into most shows, let alone multiple characters moving as the CRUX of the magic show that we provide for our patrons, sometimes 3 times a day for a week, before dragging the whole thing to another city, and another, and another. During my sessions at NATEAC, I remember specifically hearing an engineer mention that we as an industry have more frequently completely overloaded the venues we load in and out of beyond their capacities, and this show seems a prime example of a work of art coming into a different venue every week with completely different circumstances in each building, but very set and specific needs for the magic of the show. There are only so many flexible aspects of any show, and one focused almost solely on flying dragons doesn't have much in the way of weight related changes that can be made. But if this is a reoccurring scenario, our shows as a whole have gotten larger in flash, higher in audience expectation and much more intense in its engineering needs to manifest all of these elements. So here we have an interesting connection between Art and Engineering. What makes this even more emphatically important to me, is that in the world of animation, with the 3D programs that have become industry standard, from conceptual development to final movie, you have to take almost the SAME considerations of characters as the automated puppets we see on stage. In Maya, you build the frame/skeleton/rigging of a creature, test out its movements, model in incredible detail the outside surface, from a sculptural and textural standpoint, it has to be lit in a space, all the same kinds of processes that go into the creation of any kind of show. And if companies like Dreamworks know they are planning to create physical representations of their movies, character development then begins to take on a whole entire need for engineering awareness, to more adequately prepare for when their characters come to life in any type of theatre near you.

    In a more philosophical vein, I wonder, with the highly interactive experiences being developed by the entertainment industry at large, especially as they have to collaborate across boundaries that are falling away as you read this what that is unveiling about our own inner nature. Just like the Higgs-Boson, the 'god particle' that has been found and will most likely define this scientific slice of my age group, this prevailing idea that there is some invisible glue holding the atoms in the universe together, this powerful collision of various industries seems to be rooting out the same thing, some underlying connection between all things, a blurring of the boundaries, a freedom to manifest whatever one truly desires, if you know how to ride the waves, whether they are sound waves, or brain waves, microwaves or ocean waves.

The power to see through the differences to the root, where all things are the same.