A couple of months ago I did an interview with the France-based fashion magazine, Veine. In the interview I talk about some of my uncle who disappeared, the bridge between the present and the past, why I shoot square, my installation work, what I'd rather be doing, and future projects. I learned through this interview that some of my images might be considered violent and calm, at the same time. The interview is in both French and English, and if you know french I'd suggest reading that over the english (apparently I sound proper in french).
Monday, December 5, 2011
A battled wind.
A topple down.
To and in.
The deepest of pits.
A solid wall, a solid ground, a thud on dirt, a slap of flesh, a crack of bone, an ouch! without a sound, just the feeling, God, this is pain. I look around, and give a good-grief to myself. It can only be, yes, only be this place again. This place, like an old familiar, that person you can't quite shake from your past, nor from your present, like a sibling at the distance of a cousin, coming in and out of your life without warning, without you ever liking it. This place is exactly that, I've been here so many times and over so many years I can see my progress from early caveman drawings to life-like renditions by hand. How I get here is completely different every time, this cave has a million entrances, just one exit.
I forgot what I was looking at, some ad that was covering the window, I just looked at it without ever reading it, I don't think I could have read it anyways, my mind was somewhere else. The train kept screeching away on the tracks like it shouldn't have been moving that way in the first place, and that ad, there in front of me, telling me I was far from home, and home wasn't any better. Similar to having the wind knocked out of you, it felt like that to my soul, a soul punch, something interior, a mental broke rib, a black eye, a fall in front of too many strangers, but at least then they offer you help, what do you do when your heart just feels messed up and your face and body looks completely normal, just regular sunny day in Florida, on my face. I was far from anything sunny, sonny.
I remember my father and I used to go fishing, we owned a Bayline, we used to take it up to Navajo Lake, and my mother with my older sister would go diving beneath. Underneath our rocking vessel was a flooded town, my mother and sister would go diving from house to house, shining their hand torches through the murkywaters of a house, through the window into the living room. It was as if they were looking into post-apocalyptic scene, the only thing missing was skeletons, gathering around the kitchen table, still in the same positions just before the world ended. Now fish would swim in and out of their lives, or rather, what used to be their lives, and the settlement would slowly bury their homes into the seafloor. While they were down there they'd spot out where all the fish were hanging out, they'd surface and tell us to move the boat this many feet or yards in that direction, and we'd throw our lines down. Never have I caught that many fish in my life, so many, so much, that I still look to that day when I end up with no fish on my line like I caught all the fish I would ever catch when I was twelve, on that particularly sunny day in Navajo Lake. Every two minutes I'd be pulling my line back up, oh here's another fish. It even got to the point where if I simply pulled my line up fast enough a fish would get hooked by the gills. That many fish.
My father was never anything like the Hollywood stereotypical father, not by any means, but fishing with his son was probably as close as he ever got to it. When I go home, my father can't help but want to go fishing with me, and for some reason I can't help but not want to go, it just wasn't the same. I remember late nights in Galveston, TX, at the pier, fishing. Galveston at night was beautiful, I used to bring my Nikkormat with me, and take a few snapshots, my father taught me how to keep the shutter open by jamming the camera strap between the winder when the shutter is cocked. I never minded the smell of the live bait, sitting around and watching nothing happen, seeing the waves crash into the pillars, the smell of the ocean, the Mexicans smoking in the beds of their truck, telling jokes to each other, in Spanish, and I'd only know it was a joke by the smiles on their faces and the laughter in their mouths. Something in moments like those hold on to me, have become me, even.
I remember the most beautiful moment of my life. My father was there. We were waiting to catch the ferry out of South Padre Island. The sun was setting when we hit the long line, and it looked endless, with no hope of ever moving. My Mother and older sister stayed at the resort, and for some reason the boys just had to leave early, we had business on the other side, and I wanted to keep my father company. Night fell, and we still hadn't moved. Hours went by and we started our slow approach to the dock, someone next to us said they were finally loading the ferry again. Hours dipped by like the slowest dip coffee ever: one dip at time, with eons in-between. The landscape slowly changed, from the gates at the entrance to a winding road through forest lit by charcoal lamps. With engine turning on every half an hour, you'd see the slowest chain reaction of brake lights stretch on ahead until it got to us, it was our turn, and then it would pass through us and carry on to those even more unfortunate souls behind us. Sometimes I think that there are people still waiting in line, that they must have gotten there right when we got on the ferry. I wish I could've met them, I would've sent them letters, photos and stories from the world outside that line, but I didn't, I was too busy listening to The Strokes' This Is It and Beck's Sea Change on my portable CD player at the time.
Eventually we reached that ferry, but I don't remember that moment quite well. What I do remember is that it was three o'clock in the morning, that I had never waited in line that long in my life (and still haven't waited nearly that long even to this day). Once on the ferry, when all the cars were settled, and their headlights were turned off, and we were surrounded by almost complete darkness, looking out to that ocean, under a full moon, with all those stars twinkling above, all I know is it was the most beautiful thing I ever witnessed. If I was a painter I'd paint a canvas black, with small clusters of tiny white dots, a giant yellowish white sphere hanging somewhere in there, with illuminated clouds, and the faint detail of ripples before a surge at the boats edge. I'd look at that painting and see a moment without a continuum, without a twelve hour wait at the ferry dock, without the sand in my hair, without the four hour car ride ahead, with my father yelling at himself every ten minutes to wake himself up. No, all I would see is an imperfectly black canvas, with white dots and white smears, and a memory that can never be captured.
And so, there may be plenty of fish out there, but some, some can be hooked to a line, and put up a fight, only to rip away, taking a piece of your line, your hook, and of course, your bait. You can either head back to the truck and head home and sleep, or you can fix your line, rebait your new hook, and cast away. And though it doesn't seem like much of a process, and though there doesn't seem like that much time in-between, there has been change, something is different about this occasion, or at least you keep telling yourself that, as the hours dip-dip-dip by, something just may come by, and you just may catch it. But you never know. And isn't that beauty of fishing, the uncertainty, in both the not knowing if you are going to catch anything, and what you are going to catch in those murky dark waters below.
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
GET READY TO RAMA!
Gallery TPW's annual group show/fundraiser, PHOTORAMA, is a'coming, and they need your help, love, support, and your eyes. In a collection of absolutely fantastic artists, TPW celebrates its 25th anniversary of Photorama. I'll be showing alongside these fine forks, a beautiful space, new work.
TPW @56 Ossington Ave, Toronto, ON
(A Younger Version of My Father, Cruising Around in Someone's Boat, Feeling Rich But Feeling Free, 199-)
Did I ever tell you how my folks met? I'm not sure, I probably talk about myself or movies too much, I'm really sorry about that.
Both my parents came from boats, they came to this country (Canada) on two separate boats, coming from two completely different places, and then their paths one day, one fateful day, met. And it wasn't just seeing some beautiful stranger on the street, or in a cafe, smoking and reading Catcher in the Rye or some Vonnegut book, or off the internet (which didn't exists at the time), it was something romantic, something that if there weren't two people in the world that can back it up it would sound like a work of fiction, something old people in their eighties or nineties say how they met. Well, it isn't, ok, this actually happened, and I'm not lying on this one either.
In 1970-something, downtown Toronto, in City Hall, on the iceskating ring the city prepares each and every year, open to the public, my dad was figure skating, graceful like a bumble bee glided over hard slick ice like it was air. It was night, the mood was just right, people sipping on hot chocolates, bundled up, keeping each other warm, it was colder then too, but my dad was out there in his dark red leotard and shiny black skates, Italian made, probably the most expensive thing he owned at the time. He was all but missing a headband, in the same dark red as his leotard, but he had long hair, smiled a lot, loving every minute of it, doing a 360 in the air over the fat kid who fell on his face. Somewhere in all that mess of tourists and clumsy idiots a white swan, also in hi-end Italian made skates, pierces the crowd like shots fired in a riot, my dad, who wasn't my dad at the time caught sight of her, probably in mid air, floating back to earth like freaking angel, and saw her, long red hair, soft white skin, blue in the eyes, grooving along the ice in her own rhythm, in her own world. My dad probably thought that his moves would one day get him a girl, and that one day that girl would be his wife. He probably spent all the money he had on those hi-end Italian made skates, and probably someone, one his few white friends at the time told him, in Canada, that's how you get 'em, by skating. I was never told how my father came to learn and become so well at ice skating, let alone figure skating, I couldn't imagine it being that popular in China during his youth, all I know is he was a natural. A Natural.
My mother, who wasn't my mother at the time, caught glimpse of my father, she was watching his moves, he was moving for her, without ever looking over, confident like a stray bullet, curve after curve with that grinding of ice being shaved by perfectly sharp stainless steel blades here and there, to show off, points for style. Eventually he had gotten my mother so riled up she couldn't take it anymore, she wanted to know this man, this graceful asian man on ice. And so she went up to him, and started to skate beside, and they just moved with each other, in their own grooves, but in the same rhythm. All night long, or at least until City Hall ice ring closed back then.
I could imagine them doing this every night, at the same time, for weeks before actually dating, seeing each other outside, with non-bladed shoes on. They both had to know, without words, that they were meant to be. And they have been with each other ever since.
Now this part of my father not knowing English at the time is true too, at least he didn't know a lot of it. Which is probably why he just skated and communicated in that way. And with his moves, the only one that could understand those wordless words was my mother, who is very understanding. They would eventually date, and a few years later they would marry. How much English my father knew when that happen is still left a mystery, some say he never knew he was getting married, he wondered why this event just for him and his Irish girlfriend was happening outside of their anniversary. A priest spoke to him, telling him to repeat after him, and he tried his hardest to replicate those meaningless sounds as good as he could, and when the priest motioned to apply that ring around my mother's thursday finger he did exactly that, sealing a bond that which he may or may not have known he was sealing. Whether he knew mattered not, for they are still married, after over thirty-four years. And these days, when everyone is surrounded by divorce, dysfunctional families, whether you're in one or were in one, close to one, had friends, or an uncle, that bond is cheaper than some hollywood version of what love is, it appears beautiful, wonderful, amazing, everything at first, and for a while, but the movie ends, ends before things could get bad, and if you think about it, why do so many Hollywood romance movies end with marriage, like there is any reinsurance on that shit, happily ever after, like a skipping stone, or the ending of Inception. Is it all in our minds, no, there are some things that stay together, that are tales of true romance, and it is real, it is possible to love someone forever, but you're going to probably hate them, possibly imagine killing them but never doing it of course, just curious, and you will find love again, in them, and things will be good for a while, and just like your life before marriage, it was up and down, but this time you have someone, which makes it harder, easier, harder, ahh-idontknow-anymore...,better, worst, like a square wheel rolling down the road, the sky is clear, animated birds are singing, the sun is whistling, and everything is good, until that pointy edge of the wheel meets the ground, the weight on both of your shoulders hits you, and some of the load is displaced, your wife is covered in oil, your husband in covered in manure, then the point passes, the threshold is over, and you're back to the planes, and you suddenly appreciate when shit isn't crazy, when you're not yelling at each other, ASK FOR DIRECTIONS, I KNOW WHAT I'M DOING, YOU'RE DRIVING THE WRONG DIRECTION THERE ARE CARS COMING AT US!, YOU FORGOT TO PICK UP THE KIDS, THE HOUSE IS ON FIRE! When you aren't using all caps in your voice, when you're able to stand each other, when the sting is gone, when it is easier. When it is easer, ahhhh (relaxed, deep exhale, ahhh, the opposite of a sigh). Easier.
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
The Future/The Past
In a moment, in an open gas station, with stained concrete, cars passing by on a highway turnout, and the ding of pressure hoses being ran over an asian man with long hair, in a red vest, slim wore jeans, and handsome face is walking back to his car. The car has been counting down this moment for its entire life, it was right before this asian man as the odometer ticked up the number of miles. It has reached its final mile. Something sparks inside the car, something that still to this day remains a mystery, and some electrical wire meets gasoline and they form an ignition, which in turn forms a fire. This man, wearing his vest, steps inside of the car, it has been on fire, from the inside of the engine compartment for over a minute, and he tries to start the engine but it is already going. Smoke bellows out of the hood, which is soon followed by flame, the man had already clicked into his safety belt, he struggles to free himself, his mind goes into survival mode, and the moment slows down. Small details like the crack in the windshield, the molding around the passenger side window peeling off, the smell of gasoline burning, the piercing bright sun engrossed in smoke, all heighten for this moment, all will be forgotten once this man escapes from the burning car, kneeled over breathing hard.
I don't remember ever being there when all of this happened, but in my mind I remember everything like it happened to me, I remember watching my father run from a burning car, over the years it has changed into a smoking car, an exploding car, but burning car is the most accurate to what really happened that day. The gas station is one off of Route 66 in Gallup, NM in my mind, it is the same one in southern Ontario where my father escaped a fiery death. I imagine him doing a barrel roll upon escaping the car, the car exploding, my dad's hair looking marvelous in the wind, in the slow motion of the scene, and I am there, as a three year old boy, looking at my father the same way I look at Arnold Schwarenegger in some awesome action sequence. And that memory of him was left unchanged somewhere deep down inside of me, where the three year old boy hangs out with all those things that slowly come back to me over the years. Mainly from smoking pot and having my childhood return to me in vivid representations. My father is far from that man of action now, he is old, somewhat grubby, somewhat amazing, and we don't get along, nor did we ever really. My definition of father is someone who was there when I was growing up, taking care of me, but showing love in a very mysterious and ambiguous way, it was there, but there was no face, it was just completely self-less, behind-the-scenes, done perhaps unintentionally.
Every time I see him I feel like a dick, that I'm a horrible son, and where I once thought I was a kind person, a caring person, at least my mother tells me so, and I used to feel like that, I am not. Some people are hard to be around, to be able to take them, for who they are, like opposing forces. There are some people that I absolutely get along with, that I feel totally comfortable around, and I am myself, the self that doesn't come out for 99.9% of people I meet, sadtosay, that there is this lingering feeling like I care so much to keep this alive I'll probably fuck it up by trying to hard to hold on to it. I can't, I can't hold on, it isn't mine to hold on to, that it will flutter away, the more I try to keep it down the more violent it rips out from my palms, and the farther it goes. Fuck.
There are 6.8 billion people out there, if I'm lucky I'll meet some high number in the tens of thousands in a lifetime, and even then that is a lot, that might just be too much, and I am going to be constantly changed by these people, coming in and leaving my life, always. For. Ever. There are traces of who I am, the essence or whateverthefuck it is, from all the people I ever met or known of, and even the people that the people I meet met that transcends through them into me. Where one great person is replaced by another, and to spite how stubborn I am, how much I just want this one, just this one, don't take this one away from me, waaah-waaah-waaannnn goes the baby, I can't, I just can't. And out of all the things that are shitty in life, that is the shittiest, saying goodbye without a bye, just an abrupt ending. And it isn't over then, no, they eventually get replaced by someone else, and all those feelings, all that they were that remains in you, as far as you can tell, is given a new face, a new body, and you carry on, oblivious to your past. I can say I put my foot down, but I can't, it isn't up to me.
My father survived that fiery car, I wasn't there, nor was I born yet, and if he had died in the car, and exploded with it, I wouldn't be here. And if my grandfather from my mother's side hadn't gotten stuck in that barbwire in Africa during the second World War, and his friend, who toured with him through Europe, who survived with my grandfather, hasn't gone ahead and gotten blown up from a land mine, I wouldn't be here either, neither would my mother.
The Point: Crazy shit has happened for me to get to this point, for whoever you are to come here, and for you to read this, to be alive, for me to be alive, for us to be sharing this moment, and hopefully the next. And we are not giving an answer to why this is significant, nor the meaning of life, but it is the fact that we are both alive, living in our respectable worlds, meeting people, watching the sun set and watching it come back up the next day. We are lucky to be where we are, to ever to have friends, family, to have fallen in love, or come close enough to it. We are lucky to have each damn moment into the next, and over and over, everything. So this is where I tell myself to stop being a bitch about ever, ever complaining for something, for wanting something so bad, and not getting it, I have no right, after all I had been given. Chillout man.
I fall asleep rambling tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow as Daisy's fog light glows through the night, forever, after seeing everything that happens in the Great Gatsby.
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
(Mother and Son Reunion, early work image for The Barking Wall, 2010)
I think I only really asked for one miracle ever in my life, it was for my parents to sell their condo and not to have two montages. They had found a beautiful little plantation house for the right money, and couldn't let it get away, they just had to buy it, and so they did, and put their place-at-the-time on the market. It remained on that market for two years, maybe even longer, I just remember it being a long time, and that the word, recession, was in everyone's mouths. I prayed on most nights, even the nights I came home stumbling drunk, I sobered up to have a one-sided conversation with God, asking him, like I did the night before to give my parents a miracle.
Eventually it reached a point where I wasn't sure anymore, things in the regular scheme of life show signs of change within a year or so, it was well over a year, and I kept at it, avoiding being a negatron about the whole thing. My mother would call me, tell me how bad it was, how the broke got broker, and how she and my father were working their asses off, literally. In my prayers I usually say the same thing, asking for my folk's condo to be lifted off of their shoulders, and to take care of those I care the most for (my parents, the rest of my family, my close friends), and ask to say hi to some people I know up there (heaven), how they were doing. When I think back at it, when I was doing all the praying, I wonder now, in retrospect, what I really thought about putting my hands together and thinking, clearing my mind and directing my thoughts to nowhere, somewhere, idontknow. If I pray today I feel the same, there is a bit of uncertainty, but just as much certainty as well, and that whether or not a miracle did happen for my parents when their condo sold, or if there is a God or gods, I will never know (at least, in this life time). The whole thing is a mystery, leaving me alone just as much as I have been all my life. It is the fact I am completely neutral I find no need to change, to believe or not believe, for there is no advantage or disadvantage being in this state. I could never stand church, in Junior High and Middle school when my mother would occasional ask me to go with her, I'd sleep with my head in her lap, it was an Episcopal church, they're not a lot of people in there, everyone was chilled out, the priest was always funny, so no one ever paid me much mind if I was sleeping.
When I moved from the bible belt of the south to Toronto years back I remember going from knowing a lot of religious people to knowing none, it was then I became very neutral. I never really presented myself ever as religious, or even as a God-believing person, then again I'm not really quite sure how one does that, look like Ned Flanders in green cardigans and maintain a perfectly meaty moustache? I once tried to go to church here, it was two seconds from my place at the time, it was this baptist church in the middle of chinatown, they sang gospel. And to spite it being mono-racial, I didn't necessarily feel out of place, or uncomfortable, I felt closer to them than any other church I had been to. I didn't know any of the words they were singing, I lipped once and while, and stood or sat when everyone else was standing or sitting. At the end of ceremony I left the same way I came, without a word, and I never went back. That was the only time I ever went to church on my own will, just to experience it, and when I experienced it, once was good enough, it was fresh enough to keep me around, but I could see nothing more in continuously going.
I often wonder what the future will be like, if I have kids, will I start going to church, simply because that's what my mother did, and simply because we all turned out pretty good, none of us turned into nasty people, crime-committing evil-doers, we care, and at least until we were old enough to decide if there is a god or not, we were never really alone. Alone. Maybe that's it, the thing that holds me to a deity, is that, to spite how separated, how alienated I become, I will never be completely alone, there is a god within me, keeping me together, keeping some sense of hope alive, like coming home and there always being a warm fire, on some days being just amber but still there. I have a strong sense of self, but even that can be destroyed, knocked out by a storm temporarily, and instead of falling into an endless pit of despair I have the illusion of something, something being there, a light of guidance, showing me there is a future. This is all ridiculous, this is all nonsense, but even all of my experience and all of my acknowledgement of future can be rendered useless, I know after heart break, after everything goes to shit that I will recover, things will get better, and that I will mend and recreate, step up, and climb the ladder, I will return, stronger, and that this has happen over and over, time after time, and that this will always continue to happen sodealwithit, I know THIS, but even that can be useless. In a place where I know my feelings are illusions as well, a chemical response to the state I am in, that I am machine, my body feels this way because of this, that, and that it is a mechanical reaction, that something that happened without my control of it, knowing that I have no control of the sequence of events nor my feelings, there is comfort in knowing it is just a reaction, but sometimes the feelings, the chemistry is too strong of a poison, and all my experience and all my knowledge is not good enough to keep me from falling completely apart. What then? I fall to religion, I fall to this god which exists within me, and it is blind-faith, the strongest illusion, that overrides feeling hopeless, lost, and alone. This may or may not for others, and I could care less, what people do, if they choose to believe in something or not, and that in the end, once the shit hits the fan all we got, all I got is myself, and whatever else remains, is an illusion, something, a mist, a cloud, a fog, a transparency, a miracle, a nothing, something that cannot be explained, something left undone, something something, something that is something, not a void, not a lack of, but something. I got that. I got that, at least.
After the universe expands to its limits it will eventually (in theory) contract, and return to a singular point, once everything is undone, everything is compressed into a vacuum, and all is gone, there remains one thing, a singularity, just one point, everything that was anything in one point, and perhaps it isn't a god, or anything that could be given a name or a definition, but just a singular point in the middle of the universe surrounded by a nothing that isn't even nothing it just doesn't exist. It is something I will never see with my own eyes, something that is only a theory, an idea, a thought provoking thought, spoken, written, and given to anyone to believe or not to believe, changing very little about your life, and changing it all like a table being turned violently underside down and thrown against the ground hard, and the ground itself gives in, and everything around it falls into a darkness that swallows everything. Destruction, chaos, peace, harmony, angels singing Aquarius, beams of light piercing the clouds, halos, levitation, walking over water, once-blindness now clarity, miracles happen everyday.
Can you hear that, not the music you're listening to, or the people chattering behind you, not the sound of traffic, not the sound of wind, or objects hitting the floor, nor birds chipping, the cat's meow, the dog's bark, the couple in the apartment above having passionate-sounding sex, none of that, can you hear nothing, can you hear the void of your soul, that static linger, the hum of your body, when you are not thinking, when you are free of distractions, and notice it has always been there, living between the noises of your everyday, your very thoughts, and will continue to be there, it is the space above our heads, below our feet, it is absolutely everything, it is neither god nor human, it is just, just, just, that something, we can give it a name, we can rise buildings in its name, it doesn't make it any stronger, nor does it give it a life in which can be taken away and die, it was here before us, after us, and will always remain. Can you hear this?
Monday, November 14, 2011
I'm dying, I'm dying, I'm dying (without you). And other things that will never be said, spoken, let loose in the air with a pound of flutter, and flap-flap-flap flop. So many things. Yes. so many I feel tongue-tied. Release me and I will spin, shake, rattle, and roll so hard I'll scare everything from here to Tucson. And so it begins.
In Carlsbad, a few of us, the brave, ventured off. A legend of a bet was made, to dance and to keep dancing as long as you could, enter the darkness of the desert and to make it to the other side, alive, if there was another side. Was there? At first I felt embarrassed, I was dancing alone, with no music either, like extras in a movie, but at least they had someone, they had purpose to their dance, what was mine? A strange rhythm took my body, entering it with cold fingers, unknown to me, I felt not myself, but I was lost in myself, in my dance, the more I moved, the more it made sense, but it was otter nonsense. The boys who entered at the same time were off to my sidelines, I could hear them shuffling, I wondered how they were dancing, and then thought of them thinking of me dancing, I sudden had an audience, but I already felt eyes burning into my back when I was giving her my back, and eyes burning into my chest and my hips when I was giving her my front. I wasn't trying to be sexy, I was, which isn't normal for me, but in moments like this, I felt I had some sex appeal, or else all was lost (long before being lost in the desert, long before the set of sun).
I felt the ground beneath me rumble, I was digging myself into the ground, foot by foot, I dug myself a grave. I was still moving forward but I was just underground now, not to be seen, to spite I still felt her eyes burning into either my chest or back, occasionally butt, burning my butt. The rumble grew louder, the darkness of night was now complete, and I couldn't tell what was approaching (only the things around me as they glowed in faint amber from the fiery burn my feet were making and feeling). Everything was rumbling up, my words, my feelings, all that I couldn't say them, all that I couldn't do then were moving my legs, bleeding in the sweat of my thighs, steaming up, and producing a mystic scene of my fiery feet. I swear I could hear moaning, and truth-be-told I wasn't sure if it was her or me, but it was somebody, and that was when the ground, the very ground that stretched endlessly in the darkness ended, spending me to a violent plummet off of a merciless cliff. My shirt ripped open, waving like old glory in the winds of freedom, my long wild and curly hair danced in the wind, wiping my cheeks a red. I started to sing, what I sung, I cannot remember, something my heart was feeling the moment it blew up in my chest.
I saw her, her eyes were crying with blood, drops fell into a dish of water she carried in slow motion. A giant made of boulder grew from the desert, and I hit flat like a lifeless piece of shit, and I swear I didn't die just then, no, I didn't even feel anything, just a bit of sand in my mouth, ahh-bah-chew-wee as I spat it out. I got up, and rather than brushing the dust off with my hands I continued to dance. I figured I had about four more levels of desert floor to go, my feet still on fire, I couldn't help but grin, look back to those eyes, piercing, forever watching, and just say back, with my eyes, "When are you going to join me, all I want to do with dance-dance-dance with you." Word-up.
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
(Currently Untitled Stalactite, from The Barking Wall, 2011)
Darkness never lost it's evil, it's crawling with demons, all things scary dwelling within, -ness. I made the transition from a child to a tween to a teen to a young adult without darkness ever changing. Growing up my mom thought it would be better to sleep in the same bed as my sisters, and since I had two I often switched between the two, or when one was gone there was always the other. I'm better sure my mom was careful of who was sleeping over at who's that night because my sisters were never both out, both gone, both leaving me alone in bed. When my oldest sister left the house after highschool and my older sister started dating on the regular, often having some boy over, or she would sleep over at his place I'd sleep in my parent's bed, with my parents. My dad snores, and I'm pretty sure my mom does too (sorry, mom), but that was fine, I had someone there beside me, protecting me from the darkness. When I was old enough I'd have the girls I was dating sleep over, it wasn't every night, they'd have to lie to their less-lacked parents about sleeping over a girlfriend's. Those nights, spent with someone outside of my family were different, better, but different, perhaps not the same comfort, something missing, and the part of another person that you never grew up with, that stranger part of them, was in the bed with you. Each girl sleeps differently, some more inviting than others, some fitting alongside your body better. Some would always put your arm to sleep, you'd take it, wake up in the middle of the night without an arm, and some just fit perfectly. I remember having "snuggle buddies", those few that were always down to sleep over, without sex, without any chit-chat, just sleep, holding each other, all night long. I often wondered if they too had spent their lifetime sleeping around, finding a bed that isn't so alone, hidden in the darkness.
I can count the times I slept alone in bed, not enough for someone my age, and over the years I've learned to accept that I slept in the same bed as my parents until my highschool graduation when I moved out. Those first few months, looking for friends, and people OK with just sleeping in the same bed as you were hard, the darkness seemed to grow more menacing. I've become good at asking, and convincing, people to sleep over, sleep in the same bed, it was either that or the darkness, something I still can't get over, something that still remains this meaningless demon haunting me in same effect as the day I was born. Now as an adult, I look at the darkness the same as I look at sadness that has always been there, I can analyze it, demythtify it, breaking down my emotional response to a chemical reaction, seeing the full scheme of cause and effect, and once I understand why I am sad, what darkness is, and the fear it produces, it starts to have a face, I start to know it better. My imagination ceases to be, it is no longer wild, but explained by reason, in a logical state of mind, I breathe easy, take each step one at a time, and enter the void, the cavity of darkness, the part of me never complete, something left undone my entire life.
Slugs. Yeah, slippery, holding on to each other, becoming one, fitting within, like pieces of a puzzle. I think we're both puzzling pieces, but when we're together it all somehow makes sense. The darkness falls, it is late Autumn, it get dark sooner these days, the sun is far from it's happy place it has in the summer, and it now burns the sky, is absent, and is mysterious. I can smell something that enters my nose, fills my lungs, and enters my bloodstream, it is intoxicating, it smells beautiful, something that lasts all night long. My fingers creep, I hold to what is faintly before me, in the faintest of light, I watch endless, eyes closed, sleeping away, beauty, beauty, a moment captured only in that state borders on dreams, I am barely here, I am drifting away.
This Saturday, November 12, 2011, from 7-10pm (at 25CPW 25 Central Park West), NYC, I'll have a little piece in a group show. This will be the first time I'm showing in New York City, and I'll even be there. Special thanks to The Vanderbilt Republic for putting this night o'art together and for thinking I cut the mustard just right for them. More info on the show and the organization, click here. And a special thanks to Nathan "Shnasty" Cyprys for referring me to this submission.
This Wednesday is the Flash Forward book launch and exhibition, at the Airship 37 (37 Parliament St., Studio 2), 7 - 10pm (with the show continuing in that space till the 16th of November). Flash Forward is a collection of emerging artists from Canada, US, and UK, organized by The Magenta Foundation, and it was a tough cookie to get into if I might say. This year I will be in it, and will have work in the traveling exhibition, which starts this Wednesday, and will continue to Boston in the spring.
Tonight is the Shift 5 book launch tonight at the OCADU Student Gallery, from 7-9. Big thanks to Antonio Lennert and Symon Oliver for their work, and for having me on board. For more info on the book, click here.
Tuesday, November 1, 2011
(Stealth Site No.1, 2011)
We lost him. Never been sure enough about anything. I sat there watching the road move in reserve, the yellow dotted stripes slowly passing like star trails during warp speed. The rain came rolling down the window, my eyes were dry but I felt like I was crying, watching the darkness of the world creep into my very soul. Every now and then headlights would shine through the darkness, coming close to hitting us, and veer just in time, just in the nick of time, and pass by. Darkness returns until the next car, or truck. Jesus Christ, what is wrong with this bus driver.
Jimmy Page was a chocolate lab, I took him everywhere I went, not that I did a whole lot of traveling, he was just always there, with me, waiting for me to return from work, waiting for me to finish my shower before finding his favorite spot to sleep, at the end of bed. I never married, not that it is too late for that, nor did I have children, which was too late for that. And I was fine with all that, as I walked Jimmy Page through the park, throwing him a tennis ball with my catch/toss stick. Sometimes I'd imagine myself deaf, blind, and mute, and when I really let myself go into that idea I imagined Jimmy Page being able to guide me through my world, he would save me from a burning building, a vandal on the street biting him in the boys. Perhaps I would never know my life was being saved, the world would be lined with fur and sharp things, all darkness, just that fur keeping me there, safe, never alone. I started to cry, thinking of what that dog would have to go through if I had lost all those senses, walking aimlessly, and depending completely on him. He would carry the weight of two on his shoulders.
The snow hasn't fallen, it is actually quite warm for November, the sun is out, and on a day everyone was expecting rain it is quite lovely weather. I can't help but feel miserable, like a part of me has been removed, and perhaps that is more true than anything. Something is missing.
There is a moment just after I wake up that I feel free of this feeling, like it was a bad dream and I escaped. There is no mercy from my feelings, my dog, my Jimmy Page died. I feel caged in a small box just large enough to fit my bent over body, the walls are cold and the tips of my fingers stick to its surface. Everyday this box oscillates from bigger to smaller, on the days it is smaller I can't help but feel absolutely lost. On the days it is bigger I can appear to be happy, content with life, which is far from the truth, what if I went blind, lose my hearing, and worst, I can't talk, what then, who will be there for me. Not Jimmy Page, as much as his spirit was with me, he was very much not here anymore.
One day, wearing my shirt that has Jimmy Page's portrait on it with the numbers, 1999 - 2011, a coworker of mine asked me if I believed in reincarnation. I never gave it any thought, thinking it was some Buddhist stuff about watching where you step, not to eat animals, and to believe life never ends -it just takes on another form. She told me that she once had a rabbit when she was a girl, and that one day it stopped moving. She had carried it around for hours before her parents realized that her rabbit was dead. She was seven when this happened and instead of her parents telling her that her rabbit, Fluffles, had gone to rabbit heaven, they told her that it went on to become another animal. Sofia, my coworker telling me this story, tells me she didn't believe her parent's words, that she was too sad at the loss of her dear Fluffles that she didn't want to imagine him anywhere but here in her arms. It wasn't until she went on a camping trip with her parents when she came across a frog by a small pond. The frog stood there, watching young Sofia slowly approach him, and when her small little fingers came climbing over his head he didn't move, he let her take him into her hands. Sofia looked long and hard into the frog's eyes, she saw something in them. After about a minute of this staring contest she let him down, the frog stood there for a moment before jumping away into the bush somewhere. Sofia, the one which has turned into adult, tells me she believes Fluffles, her rabbit, found new life in the form of that frog. And that she was happy, knowing that he was free now, beyond any kind of Heaven, he was to roam the earth in all walks of life. Something in her words struck me, gave me peace, and that night I found sleep that wasn't followed by tears. I prayed to Buddha, I asked him where my Jimmy Page was, what was he now, if I could see him again, to have a moment like Sofia's, to say goodbye, I really needed to say goodbye.
Every minute of free time I had I spent on looking for Jimmy Page. In those days I was neither happy nor sad, but anything was better then how I was feeling prior to Sofia's words. I read everything on the subject of Reincarnation, with a focus on pets being reincarnated. I came across personal accounts of owners finding their pets in new forms, they all talked like they had been abducted by aliens, no one believed them, only the ones who knew their pain and didn't give up on their pets even after they passed away in whatever form they were would understand these stories, these pet owners. I wondered what Jimmy Page was before he was a dog I owned, I imagined him as a wolf, where he was free in an endless desert, I imagined him as an owl flying high above looking over the forest late at night. I imagined him as a human, a small boy, with parents, did they know he would be a dog some day? I wanted to meet these people, I wanted to live in the forest he was an owl in, the desert he was a wolf in, I wanted to be reincarnated as well, I wanted to be whatever he was, I wanted to be happy with him again.
Every weekday I worked, I can't remember the last time I took off, my days all blend into each other. Eventually all the material I could gather stopped bringing anything new to me, and that was when I decided to leave, to take my search out from the books and into the world. I started by spending my Sundays feeding the pigeons and squirrels in the park. I took the bus to Montauk, to Mashomack, to Rocky Point, no sign, no frog, no cat, no such thing sitting there, waiting, looking at me, not running away as I approach it, no staring contest, no soul that matched my Jimmy Page. I was sad again. I wanted to roll up and die, as pathetic as that was, an middle-aged woman wanted to just die-die-die. For the first time in my life I had no purpose. Sofia, save me, tell me something new, something that would give my spirits some energy, I was down, I needed something to keep me going, I couldn't do it alone, I need some guidance.
And something did happen. I swear to God, I swear to Buddha, something very much happened. In all my doubts, after letting go of everything, everything being everything but my will to find Jimmy Page again is when it happened. It was a day like any other, I was looking down to my feet, I felt strange, not having any hope, little will to live, and just kept on going on in whatever this life I had when I stepped on a dog. Rather than it barking out in pain, or even moving, it just continued to lay there. This was in the middle of the city, coming from work. I stepped on its tail, not all the way, I realized halfway into it and pulled back. He looked up at me, it was a white lab, he had a smile on his face, he looked to be still a pup, no more than seven months old. It had been seven months since Jimmy Page had passed away. Things were making sense. I kneel down and pet him on the head, he gets excited. I scratch his neck, focusing my efforts behind his collar, he loves it. At first I was afraid to look him in the eyes, I didn't want to look into them only to realize he wasn't Jimmy in there, golden boy, a miracle, but miracles happen everyday, I needed to know, I needed to be strong and so I took a leap of faith. Into his eyes, they were the same eyes as Jimmy Page's, and in a vortex of black we made a connection. I thought of Sofia's story, and something was complete now, I was no longer a bystander to it, I was experiencing exactly what she had, I was staring at a life which was thought to have ended but had transformed, finding its way into another vessel, and what a beautiful vessel it was. Soft to my hands, I heard a voice calling out.
"Roberta. Roberta Plant."
Roberta looked over to her, then back to me, he was a she. I can't tell you what I thought about him changing sexes and how that would feel, and how I never thought about sex change during reincarnation ever. Her master came up to the two of us, she looked over and apologized. I didn't know what she was apologizing about, I was the one who had stepped on her dog's tail, and started petting it. I asked Roberta's master how old she was, the dog that is, and I was right, she was seven months old. I told her how beautiful her dog was. She thanked me. I told her I had a chocolate lab just like it, and when she asked how old it was I started to cry. I wasn't sad, nor happy, but in something bittersweet, I had found Jimmy Page, after all was almost lost, I found him, her. Her master, Patricia, asked if I was ok, and when I didn't respond she came over and padded my back then started making small circles. Her face said, I'm really confused but something inside of me feels pity for you, you look like you've gone through a lot, a lot of what, I don't know. I stopped crying, and showed signs that I was returning back to my normal self, Patricia had been with me the whole time, and it was getting dark. Patricia excused herself, said it was really nice meeting me, we didn't exchange names so we introduced each other while shaking hands.
-Nice to meet you.
-We honestly must be on our way. I hope you feel better, I am sorry about your dog.
-Jimmy, Jimmy Page.
-Yes, Jimmy Page...(linger)
As they were walking away my thoughts were all over the place. By the time I cleared them up enough to talk they were far away, faint representations in the setting sun. I ran after them like a crazy lady, and when they stopped I came up to them in a pant.
-Could I. Could I see Roberta again someday. Your dog reminds me of my dog so much, and like no other dog, it is the only thing that makes my heart stop hurting so much?
Patricia's choices were to run away, say yes and give me a business card with a false number on it, no, or yes, and actually yes, I will let you see my dog every once in a while you crazy lady.
She said yes.
Now every Sunday, instead of going alone to the park I see Jimmy, I see Roberta, I see him, I see her, growing up again, growing old again. I know I must sound crazy, I know I must be ridiculous, but there are things in life that are as simple as a dog's love, as easy as petting its fur, as loving as you know you two were meant to be, in this life and the next. Some things are strange, some things are stranger, where one life ends another begins, and this keeps on going on, over and over, until my mind starts to swirl, and I fall asleep, but this time without the tears. I know how to smile again. The bus continues to move backwards, I forgot where we are going, Patricia lost Roberta, and we're going to find her, and somehow I feel like it won't be hard at all. Not this time...(again with the linger)
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
(Me, Alone in the Tub, As My Whole Family Watches, 198-something)
I can't remember a lot of my childhood, and things before twelve seem vague and far away. Only bits and pieces come to me, like a desert with only a few trees large enough to make a mark on the land when viewing from bird's eye. Usually photographs this old allude me, seeing a smaller and younger version of myself, somewhere I don't remember with smaller and younger versions of my siblings, and younger and dated versions of my folks. Not with this photograph, at first I was really confused when I saw the reflection in the mirror, my entire family, my sisters laughing their heads off. My father is wearing some funky shorts with that nineteen-eighty's splashed paint effect, a flash illuminating from his head like the poster for John Carpenter's The Thing. My mother who is the family documentarian is off on the sidelines, coaching my father in composition, she was able to convey him well enough the photograph is perfectly composed. The question of why I was abandoned, why is there this separation between me and my family, why am I alone, left there, in cooling water, being laughed at. The adult in me sees something that hasn't changed; I always felt that way, alone, in cooling waters, naked and alone, with an expression on my face between confused and contemplative, a face I still make that confuses people as they remark, "What's with that strange look you gave me just now." Perhaps that is the reason why I remember it so well, that it was the moment I realized I will never escape this, this loneliness, I am bosum-buddied with it in a three-way with fate. My whole family lies ahead of me, but they aren't there, in the same room as me, no they are in a parallel world, separate from where I am. I am in Phaedrus' glass sarcophagus, seeing my family from behind glass, being able to see their faces, as they look on to me, I try to talk to them, to tell them how I feel but they can't hear me, the glass separates our realities, they can only look at me, see in my face that I am frightened, not ready for this life, that I am too young, too inexperienced for my heart to break, to be mended, broken, and to be alone. All goes dark, I am sitting alone, the water has cooled so much that it makes me shiver, the water feels like blood, but not mine, it is someone else's blood, I start feeling faint, the air is thick and sticky like a swamp. Soooo cold. Soooo alone. (as white mist appears from my breath)
Now I remember what was going on in that photograph, I remember I once pooped in the jacuzzi (my father had turned our standard tub into a jacuzzi with jets), and that my poop just orbited my entire family, around and around pushed along by the jets. I remembered how we all took baths together, and I was allowed two toys to play with. At some point my family jumped out of the tub without me, they all looked at me and laughed, I was so cute, I just pooped the tub and I was cute, who couldn't love that.
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
(My Father as a Monument by the Sea, and Fan-Submitted Image of Me Photographing My Father, 2011)
Something comes along. It pulls at the roots until what was once foundation is ripped, teared, and shivered (forever). Of course there will be blood, the roots were veins and the veins carried blood throughout the body. Everything is a mess, this something just came out from nowhere, batoutofhell-like, and when it left it left a grand ruin. Of course we're all standing around, handsinpockets-like, wondering how to clean it all up, to restart, and to find normal again. The way of wicked passes, one must fall, and peace will return.
There was a great meteor shower the day you were born, did you know that? Those who weren't sitting in the waiting room went outside, it was dark, Uncle Bobby took his telescope out of trunk of his car, and we all sat around looking at the stars, the ones that were shooting. One by one they all fell, and soon enough they came showering, by the word, by gully, it was something to see! Everyone was silent, everything was still, we all stood where we stood, adam apples poking out as our necks bent our heads all the way back. Wow was the general feeling, dumbfounded and whoa whoa wow. I couldn't remember ever seeing something that spectacular. The closest I ever got to seeing that shower was the time my mother took me to this bat cave somewhere in Northeastern New Mexico. We arrived at the scene just before dark, there were about twenty others, wearing flannel and fleece, warm looking couples, gray in their hair, lawn chairs spread, all was quiet then too. The pine trees in that region weren't tall, but old, and strong, they produced seeds the native kids would harvest every year. Through the pines, the chatter of a million bats sung, it was a dark-dark blue when they first appeared, like an evil cloud, a school of fish in pattern, as they pierced the early evening sky. All around, swallowed whole, they came one by one then by the thousands, their number uncountable but someone was counting. The meteor shower was just that, but with small balls of light falling, burning up, disappearing, no sound, just the faint breath behind our tongues.
Auntie Barb came out to tell us you were born. Bobby broke down his telescope as we headed towards the light of the hospital. Something magical filled our hearts, it seemed like a perfect moment, a baby girl being born during a meteor shower, memories long-forgotten coming back, everything felt warm, and it was, it was July in the Sonoran desert, we were all in shorts and t-shirts, smiles and something sweet, nothing for words, just something that came along.
Eyes still closed, the florescent glow sagging to yellowish green, Ruth holding you, sweat drying on her face, us all standing around like you were a campfire. Inside a fire burned, it kept us all warm, a warmth against the coldness, -a coldness that one can carry even on the hottest and sunniest of days. At the sight of you, all slimy, confused, gentle, soft, lovely, it was absent, the cold, replaced by something else, something warm, something forgiving, something that seemed to give us hope. It was in everyone's eyes, I speak for them all, on behalf of a mutual feeling, and when the lights went out in the hospital there was a brief moment of silence, in the dark, and I swear I could hear the hissing of space rocks burning up in the atmosphere above.
The lights came back on only a few seconds later, the darkness was soon forgotten and we were welcomed by your newborn face again, never losing that warmth.
Tearing through the planes, all turns to crumble, crumble turns into bramble, apple crumble, and oh-my-my-apple pie. All delight, fallen, broken up, eaten alive, the yum going around like the sound of thunder in our stomaches. I'm hungry. I really am.
Sunday, October 23, 2011
Chih-Han from New Odor, a lovely blog on contemporary photography, did a little interview involving my work, my dreams, and my likes. Learn about the weird dreams I've been having (if you haven't gotten enough from what's written on this blog), and the books I've been reading. I read. Books. Click here for the interview.
Friday, October 21, 2011
(Beach Baby, 2011)
I call to you, Stargazer. The sky opens, what was once day in blue and white is now black, the air is being sucked out and lost in the cosmos and the little dots of white that float aimlessly in the darkness are burning balls of nuclear fusion. I sit back in my lawn chair smoking a pipe I found in a box of my grandfather's things and just say to myself, yes yes yes... I put my Ray Bans on, I smile, and take puffs of mary until I am completely numb.
A comedian once said that out of any other death, no matter how unique and bizarre it was, dying of the apocalypse would outshine any death. You'd arrive in the afterlife, a celebrity, "Hey, that's John, he died from the Apocalypse", the man eaten by a shark would say.
I often wonder what I'd do if I were to face something so brilliant so fearful it made no sense and yet it made all the sense in the world. I wonder what the end of the world would look like, then I wonder how I would feel about all of it. Inside me I'd want to capture that moment, remember it forever, it was one of those photographic moments that speak for the crazy world we live in, it would have to be captured and shared as a mark of history. But there would be no history afterwards, everything will be gone. I really hope the animals and plants can go on, just take us, humans, in whatever blast of furious energy that sends us all to our deaths. But let this planet keep going, let us go the way of the Dinosaur, may our bones serve us as vague reminders of our existence, may it take generations after generations to put the pieces together. May there be movies about whatever intelligent beings that come after us interest us, such as Twenty-First Century Park, The Humans (a spin-off of the 90s Television show, The Dinosaurs), The Land Before Time-Time, and then go as far as to name basketball teams after us. The list goes on, we will be remembered but remembered for all the wrong reasons. All our mistakes will be buried. All of our greatest achievements gone. Beethoven, Space Exploration, The Encyclopedia, Wikipedia, The Internet, The Computer, Classical Rock, Dancing, Michael Jackson, all forgotten. Somewhere in the future they will discover an iron-clad instruction of how to do the Thriller dance, all is not lost.
The moment it actually does happen, that flash of light, like lightning, silence as the sky starts to burn, then moments later the sound of explosions, and everything going to shit. Everyone's head is looking up at the sky, some are crying, some are lost in thought, some running with their children (running where, we're all fucked). I'd use those last moments to think about the life I lived, what it all means now that it has a definitive ending, perhaps then it will all make sense, perhaps then we can all truly appreciate what limited time we had on this little big now fiery rock.
When I think about my childhood I think how amazing I was at Legos, not to brag but I was honestly the best out of anyone I knew. While I was watching my friends put their yellow bricks mindlessly in their already blue and red wall I made functional vehicles in uniformed color schemes, in perfect symmetry, and they wouldn't fall apart. I would take a kit box, build the model from the image, and then deconstruct it and improve upon a previous idea. I thrived for perfect in my construction, there was an idea in my head that must be achieved or else it was nothing, it fell short, it was nothing until it reached that high. My very nature was defined in Legos, I thrived to achieve what my mind saw. Over the next couple of decades I'd come to learn the meaning of this practice, why it was so important to convey something inside of me in an external medium, which has been many of things, and now that the world is coming to an end, at least for my species, I could contemplate if it ever reached what I had in mind. I wonder if anyone has ever successfully conveyed that, that sort of reversed transfusion. And then, did it ever really matter, once it is a medium it loses something, it is given form, it is given a body, it is its own, it is no longer yours, just like a child is not it's mothers, but it's own. It becomes an episode of How We Say Goodbye as we watched our creations become their own, you as the proud parent, the medium as the offspring going off into the world, it learns to crawl, then fall, then walk, and then run, it survives on its own, becomes greater, becomes worse, it learns heartbreak, it learns love, it goes on to impregnate others, and as a result parts of it get broken down and reassembled with parts of another, and form something new. The idea is born, and then it is born (again) in new form, and the jolly Elton John sings on something from the Lion King Soundtrack. It all goes on, the idea, influence, and the creation.
In the end, the real end, when all that matters matters not, we are given a new purpose and that purpose to give our bodies up, to fall, to be blown away, and to turn to dust, our bodies become something else, our spirits, I'm not entirely sure what happens to them, but the idea of us floats on, lingering underneath the ashes of what once was. When the Earth is bald, stripped of humanity, and the landscape returns to nature again, time has happened, something has happened, it made take years before this brief and crazy history of us is recovered, in bits and pieces, sometimes more wrong than true, we continue to live on, like the dinosaur that lives within us, we will live on in animals, as they learn to trust the world again, not fearing a hunter's bullet, a fisherman's hook, Rambo's knife.
Up in the stars they watch on, as one episode ends another begins, or they grow bored and surf the channels of the Universe for something more interesting. AND SO IT WAS, IT WAS, IT WAS, IT WAS, WAS, WAS, NO LONGER, BUT NEVER SAY NEVER, JUST STOPS, FOR HOW LONG, I'M NOT TOO SURE, BUT IT STOPS, AND IT BECOMES SOMETHING THAT WAS, IT WAS, IT WAS.
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Qian Ma wrote some really insightful words about my word for a submission I did for Hot Shots, a photo-based competition for a shot at a group show at Jen Bekman's gallery, with the potential of cash prize and future exhibitions in her space. You can read the article here. As for the words themselves, they reach deeper than my smallish artist statement, and make me happy to hear that visually my thoughts are being understood for exactly what I intended them to speak for.
(Untitled, from We Soon Be Nigh!, 2011)
Sitting across from a complete stranger I stare into his diverted eyes, he's reading something. He looks up and sees me, I am an attractive young woman, I have very beautiful eyes, and he smiles, I don't smile back, and my eyes continue to stare, looking for something. Eventually I divert my eyes, off to the scene behind him. He didn't have it. Have it. The room grows cold, people leave and people come and the hours pass unannounced. It is going to rain today, the air is cold, stiff, and almost completely dead. It is a feeling that stirs in my head, that I need to get out of here, but I don't leave, I go nowhere, for there is nowhere to go, I am neither here nor there. The room itself fades away and I am left alone. All is quiet, the book in my hands fades into a new reality, I make my escape and I am gone, so gone that I am dust, dust that is so fine that if it wasn't for the occasional sparkle in the dark it would seem not to exist. Just. Like. Meeeee.
When I return to my body it is no longer mine. I walk, my feet which aren't mine touch the ground differently, the bareness of flesh against the hardwood has a different slickness to it, I could be pushed and I would fall. In the mirror I see a face, my mind tells me it is mine, but I know it isn't, something else tells me so, something hidden and ambiguous, it is my heart. I point and probe my face for minutes, trying to return it to normal, normal whatever that is. Normal never happens. I put on clothes that aren't mine but are, I play a role that isn't mine, and I leave the apartment I woke up in. Down the street it is spring, it is in the flowers, it is in everyone's hair, a small white dog comes up to my leg, it seems to know the leg I move to walk more than me. My feet seem to walk for themselves, where I am going I don't know, I move with the flow, hiding amongst strangers.
"How's it going?" says a young woman, her eyes shaded by sunglasses.
"Oh, you know, pretty good."
"Here." The young woman points to her chest, she starts unbuttoning her brightly colored blouse, then when she peels that off she starts to undo her bra. Her breast sit there in front of me, I look at her face then back to her nipples, feeling like if I look long enough some form of answer will appear in their shape. Her hand grabs mine, they are cold and dry, and she places it over her left breast, it is not cold and dry. I try to say something but she shushes me before I could complete a word. She closes her eyes, opens her mouth slightly, taking a breath in, I follow suit, closing my eyes, taking a breath through my mouth, and focus on my hand within her hand lying on her soft left breast. In the veins of my hands I feel a pulse, at first it feels violent like an erupting volcano, it kicks my hand, it turns into a sort of pain only a heart can produce, I am being kicked, my eyes still closed, I am falling deeper and deeper into a darkness. The pulse continues, the connection between my body and mind grow in distance, I no longer feel my palm, the pulse is all that is.
A voice in my mind starts to speak, it is not my voice for I still have my own voice as I think, as I realized this voice is not mine.
Do you feel me. Are you apart of me. Are we one. Are you there. Are you afraid. Come with me. Follow me. Don't look back. Just come. Bummm-puh Bummmmm-puh,..Bummmmpuh-baaaaah-bump. Follow me.
My body no longer feels surrounded by my person, I am freed of it, I float, without levitating, I roam without leaving, I am one but now two, I carry the voice inside of me, the darkness echoes the pulse, and I am two, three, four, diversion, cells multiplying, becoming two, four, eight, sixteen, thirty-two, etcetera, etcetera.
And soon even the pulse of the heart disappears like the constant of chatter that fades to deep thought. The feeling of my hand that isn't my hand is gone, and I reach a new level of loneliness.
The woman that was before me, the nude one, falls to the ground, I look down at her, her face is in stock, I don't know how to feel, I feel an impulse to feel sad for her, but there is no sadness to feel, just a voice that tells me I should, but I am not. I reach my hand down only to fall myself. There is something in the air, something on the ground, something that is making everything fall apart. I lie next to her for what feels like eternity, I look at her the same way I looked at the man yesterday, when I was more myself, and in her eyes I search. Is she, I wait for a feeling, a gut feeling telling me yes, without a doubt, she is a clone. I look at her, something tells me something but I can barely hear it, my heart is being pushed down my throat by my thoughts. Like Galileo, I have discovered something profound and yet far away.
I cannot feel like you human, your flesh is not right to my soul, my body is too large too clumsy, your feelings are not mine, your life is not mine, you may fall, you may cry and I may cry back, only because I am confused, I don't know what you want me to do, I feel void when I am here, I feel lost in thought, not as much as heart. It is gone...
The voice within me called me out, put me in my place, my face which was never my face looked like mine. I looked at my body, it wasn't mine a minute ago but now it is mine. And as the rolling stone raced down the hill, the mountain, the peak, the erupting volcano, I realized this life is mine, very much mine, the only one of mine, and the only one I'll ever get. One step into the future, dragging my hide leg from the past, telling it, it is time to leave now, come-come-now.
Outside it is a city I am familiar with, I have lived here for five years now. In any moment now it will transform into a place I am vaguely familiar with, the landscape will be a distant memory, one in which could be from my distant past or embedded within me from someone else, all-in-all, uncertainty covers the land. My hair will turn from black to blond, my heart will oscillate from there before me to once there behind me. I care or care not, I see and see not, for the person inside of me is shifting, I am losing grip of who I am, the only notion with foundation is the only notion that is challenged the most. I slip away, I turn into her, I call up her friends that are strangers to me, I lie to them with my eyes, my uncanny resemblance to their friend, snickering at the fact I am getting away with it, without a doubt without a thought in their minds I am not who they think I am and yet there is no mistake, I am who they think I am. We decide to go to the movies, we see a film, we talk, we head to the bar, we drink.
"Hey, Charlotte, remember that time you fell so hard you fractured your hip?", says Charlie with a face I mistaken for a goofy expression but really is just his dumb face.
I think hard, what would Charlotte think, how would she feel,
"I try not to think about that, when it rains I still feel it."
"Sorry to bring it up."
"That's ok, what is done is..."
"Done. Yes, buried."
"Yes, buried, alive."
"Why alive, it didn't die before it was laid to rest?"
"Did you at least say goodbye?"
"I was done with it as soon as it stopped hurting."
"Besides, pain is all the same, it hurts, it reminds you that your body doesn't like falling, neither should you, so you should try not to fall so much."
"And. What, there's nothing more, nothing less, we fall, we get back up, we continue whatever it is we were doing before that, avoiding making that same mistake twice."
"And so goes life."
"Exactly. Now enough about my hip, my fall, I want to let that movie soak up inside of me for a while."
"Wasn't it good?"
"It was, but I'm not sure yet."
"Sure of what?"
"What kind of good it was to me, I mean, somethings take time to comprehend, you need to experience a bit of life with it inside of you, and then when you have some good examples you can compare your life with a story you saw, you read, you heard."
"You lost me."
"Forget about it, are we going to dance or what?"
"YES!" says the entire group unanimously.
We're all walking down the street, it is a Saturday night and the feeling is alright when I stop, leaving them to carry on a few steps before they realize they're missing one.
"I hope you've been practicing those dances moves because this time there will be no curfew to save you from the Lord of Dance." I gave one of my menacing smiles but it didn't translate as devious as in my other body, the one in which was truly mine.
Sunday, October 9, 2011
("Aliens are beautiful," 2011)
The grand and late mister of the cornflakes fell to his knees saying, "Yi-yi yi-yi", over and over until no one can hear what they were thinking, just "yi-yi" in the air, in their minds. Everyone fell to their knees shortly after he did. It made people cry for some strange reason, the words were insignificant, it was how he delivered them, how it made so much sense at the time and yet now, in retrospect, it is completely and utterly nonsense. When you talk to people that were there, the ones who do talk (most being quiet about the whole thing, giving you the impression that people think they're nuts), they say it was something that formed a plane beneath their feet, that before them was an infinite horizon, the plane was black the sky was as well, a faint red glow grew in the distance, that was him, his words were the rumble of that plane, their foundation was being touched, rocked, and turned upside down. That's the gist of it. Always the black sky with the black ground, the faint red glow. Some decided to leave one element out, or describe in great detail of how the sky black was a different black. Is there a difference in black? If we all see colors differently, how can we see the lack of them differently, there's nothing there, black is the neutral, it represents the void, space, darkness, and the unknown. But this person who saw blackness different, he came up to me during the interview, grabbed my hands, his hands were like sand paper, unusually cold, but not moist, they felt like my father's hands, but less worked. With my hands inside of his he then felt comfortable with telling me how this black wasn't like any other black, it swirled without swirls, it moved like an explosion traveling through a viscous fluid, slowly turning, spiraling and twisting in a pattern that exist in nature, it was forming and deforming to the laws of nature itself. To spite how scaring the sight sounded, it did not scare the sandpaper hand man, if anything, he said, "It felt comforting. Somewhere in all of that I felt like the day I was born, one world ended, my whole universe and all I knew and thought existed disappeared in an instant and was replaced by pure white light which was then was replaced by objects and people slowly fading in from the brilliance." I stared into his eyes, he didn't once blink, his words stuck with me, and I felt my ass start to numb. Later when I reviewed the tapes I noticed that I sat there, frozen for twenty minutes, the crew didn't want to interrupt the scene so they just sat or stood in whatever position they were in, the boom operator's arm started to shake, but kept the mic out of frame.
Years have passed since that interview, I have gone on to do mediocre stories since, all dim and meaningless in comparison, and as a result I have grown bored, cold, and almost lifeless. A connection with another human being, a certain connection, a certain human being goes a long way, so far of a way that it pushes you up into a plateau region when you are still able to communicate with the sea level below, and those snobs in the mountains, but there is still a distance between you and them. Once in a while my eyes do this thing to me, they zoom into to someones face, and it's the worst when I'm doing an interview with someone, especially if it's the first time they're meeting me and we are a little awkward with each other. I think it's some sort of tunnel vision, it feels like I'm high, but I hadn't taken any drugs, my eyes just zoom in to their faces, my eyes feel lazy, endlessly staring, and when I get this sensation I am absolutely lost in it, staring into their faces. The room fades away, and it's just their big ole face in front of me, around me, all of what I see, my words as I give the occasional response to their words is never effected by this phenomena, and for the most part it is a secret I have against them, that my eyes may be a respectable distance from them, but in actuality they are closely orbiting the surface of their face. If I may say one more thing on the subject before changing the topic, it first started in 99', when I was interviewing this group of men who had claimed they were abducted by aliens. Each gave their account of the clearest detail, and not once did I feel a lie was being spoken, I believe them like I believe an old man telling me he remembers a time without television, when photographs did not have color, and that it was harder back then, whenever then was then.
In the summer of 02' I was sent on assignment in Nebraska, not far from the house of Mister Cornflakes, I decided to venture up to his place. He had passed away a few years prior but I was curious who was living there, if he had any family, or if some young couple were now living in his house. I looked up his surname in the yellow pages, and found one Cornflakes in there, gave it a ring, and after the fifth ring an old lady picked up.
I asked if it was Mrs. Cornflakes, she corrected me and told me she was, Miss Cornflakes, that they hadn't married but she certainly and legally changed her name. I asked if she would be as kind as to exchange a few words in person about her late partner and she agreed. It was a Sunday afternoon, without a cloud in the sky, the sound of chainsaw echoed down the streets, it was late summer. When my rental crept up to her driveway, Miss Cornflakes came out to greet me, as if she had been waiting the night before and in the morning after. I grabbed my notebook, a recorder, and exchanged my sunglasses for my regular glasses and greeted her with a smile, a handshake, and a pleased-to-finally-meet-you, giving her the impression I had been interested in The Cornflakes for a while now. She took me around the back, telling me she doesn't let anyone in through front door, not since her partner had died. We walked through the garden, a beautiful one at that, and I could tell it was something she worked hard at keeping it as beautiful as it was, and that it was the best time of year to see it (I felt privileged to see it in this state). We entered the back door, the interior was completely naturally lit, looking dim at first, a touch of gloom but I passed it off as just the lingering feeling of entering a house of a widow. She made tea, and we sat at the kitchen table. I asked her when Mister Cornflakes had passed away, she said a two years ago, in a cold winter, and that she was actually talking to him at the time he suddenly stopped living. She wasn't sad, nor in stock with his sudden death, it just felt natural, it was natural, to die, and to die without some sort of unusual cause. She told me she kept talking to him before she decided to call an ambulance, and when they took him away, she returned to the chair she was sitting at, and continued to talk to a now (then) absent Mister Cornflakes. She had been doing that ever since. She says it helps her avoid the loneliness of having something and not having something anymore. She may have lost her partner's responses, but she hasn't lost his presence.
On one wall in the living room there is a large collection of images of Christ in various sizes, frames, both catholic and protestant depictions. I pulled a camera out of my breast pocket and photographed the wall as Miss Cornflakes filled the kennel for more tea, she was in her own world at the moment. In the corner of my eye I saw the table where we were sitting, and there in my seat was a figure, white glow, and when I turned around I saw a table, empty, with Miss Cornflakes putting teabags into a teapot. We continued our conversation, and eventually it led us to the significance of the Yi-Yi. She grew quiet, as if lost in thought, and after a few minutes I looked at my watch, not as a sign of impatience but to make sure I make it to the airport in time. Time was running out, and it was on my mind for the remainder of my visit. She eventually broke the silence with a call, a cry, something animal-like, the words were, "Yi-yi". As if it opened some portal within me, the words were just words, a key to a door to another world, necessary but functioned only to summon something much greater. I started to stare at Miss Cornflakes aging face, white with small folds, pleasant but lost, and her slowly disappearing nose, and though I was looking at her, I wasn't. My mental vision was all black. Two black parallels, one red glow in-between, I was racing towards the glow, as if I had been waiting a long time for it. To spite my velocity, I felt nowhere closer to the glow, it seemed to continue forever, and to keep its distance. Yi-yi...yi-yi. Over and over, calling me, what did it want from me, why me, who was me, the sandpaper hand man's words came to mind as I looked to the ground as I looked to the sky, there was that black, that black like no other black, that was formless and black but faintly changed, melting within itself, in a slow explosion, and yet its surface remained solid and unchanged. The rest is indescribable, something I only knew from an experience of having my hands in another man's hands, and hearing him make sound with his mouth, being in his house, and his story. Now this was my own story, I was experiencing it with my own body, I was there. And somewhere in all of that I thought I have to remember this, as if I'd forget something this significant as insignificant as it was. I wanted to be able to come back to this place, this dream-like place one day and escape whatever reality I was living to be lost. When I returned to Miss Cornflakes dining room I was on my knees. I felt embarrassed and she smiled at me from her chair. I apologized and thanked her for her time. She was happy to have company she told me. I was happy to be that company I replied.
A photograph of wall of Christ sits at my desk at the office, on the back of the print I wrote the words, "Yi-yi", there is something sad about those words, as magical as they are, written there, on the back of that print, they are powerless and without magic. Grim reminders, they fall short of something breathtaking, and even maddening. The memory of that moment they represent has reclined far back into my mind, as I watch it from a great distance now, seeing a shade of myself that has died and been replaced by many generations of me.
I scroll through my Rolodex and find Miss Cornflakes address and decide to write her a letter. I started writing it, but stopped, and it has been left unfinished at my desk, covered in papers and cards, and will probably never be completed, sent, and received. I close my eyes and try to put the pieces back together, I sigh as I fail to recreate a moment that has passed. Yi-yi where have you gone.