Take Another Look











{February 21, 2010}   Erased

I saw Downey had erased his favorite pictures of me and I went to the bathroom nauseous and my legs are trembling frantically. I started to vomit. All I’d eaten so far was oranges, but I could taste their acid everywhere. Orange splatter doesn’t look so good in a toilet. I don’t know why I’m so upset. They were revealing photographs, maybe not to me, but to him? But they were memories, and you don’t destroy memories. I don’t like it when memories are destroyed. What else makes up a life? I hate how gestures can have the power to make me throw up and cry. There were four of them. Four of them shredded through the shredder machine. Never to be seen again. I feel ashamed. I want to erase my account. I want to erase myself. It’s that easy for people these days. Click, and you no longer have a boyfriend or a friend. Click, and you no longer have to look at their face. Click, and all the messages in your inbox are gone. Click, Click, Click.

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{February 21, 2010}   fear

Fear is what comes at us at the strangest times. It’s the thing that jolts you awake when you find yourself lying in a pool of your own vomit, in a place you don’t know. It is the animal coming to swallow you whole when you show up late to your new job for the second time. It is what causes you to break the law because you are afraid you might lose your prosecution case. It is what halts your breath for a second or two as you try to speak up in front of an entire auditorium of people who hate you. It is what makes you lose yourself in sleep for days at a time because the prospect of waking and having so much to clean up is shaking you down. It’s the friend you don’t want but can’t get rid of. It’s the enemy you never knew you had. It’s the shaking that arises after you text somebody because you need somebody to talk to, and even they don’t text you back. It’s the sobbing that emerges when you invite a married man over to your house, and only his hands can soothe you from falling into sharp pieces. It is the only thing keeping you from jumping off the roof of the mall, and it is the only thing keeping you from not jumping off the roof of the mall. It is what causes you to pee your pants in the first grade just because the teacher created a new policy, saying too many first graders used the bathroom pass. It gives you nightmares over and over again, trying to send you the same message and failing. It is the moment you stop nodding off as if you have been inhaling poisonous gas this entire time, as you remember somebody saying that medications mess with how much oxygen intake your brain gets, and how your body gets tired of the switch being fucked with all the time and your body not knowing how or when to intervene. It is what comes over you when you learn that you are losing your memory and that you will have to wear diapers as you grow older, using up the last of your pension fund. It is the surprise on your face when the only person you relied on laughs in your face and tells you they never wanted you around, they just liked your money or your body and they don’t care for it anymore. It is the moment you look into the mirror and realize you are getting old. It is the time you see your daughter running across the street, barely noticing when the car stops so she can keep running across. It is the moment you can’t save yourself, much less your own offspring. It is the moment you realize you are about to lose your kids and there is nothing you can do to get them back. It is the moment you pick up a gun to gain control of a situation and your hands begin to shake uncontrollably. It is the fifteen irritating voice mail messages left on your machine that you don’t want to listen to. It is the flood on your hands that you can’t bail out of. It is the mortgage pressing down on you and there is nobody to hold your hand. There is usually a place you to go to when you are that afraid, but what happens when that place stops letting you in. Then you have another fear. The fear of the 86. Being kicked out of the last place of refuge you had makes you quiver in places you didn’t know were capable of that kind of movement. Having to actually use those two quarters to call out for help and hearing no answer, not because they didn’t hear you but because they don’t feel like answering. It is the helplessness of having to leave a husband that makes demands you cannot meet anymore because they are beyond your scope of comprehension. He promised he would never go to a strip club, and now he says that he needs a third girl living with you for him to have sex with, and you don’t say anything, you don’t leave him, and your son grows up afraid that nothing will ever change. It is the hesitation  in a policeman’s trigger before he gets himself shot by the criminal he didn’t want to have to take out. The primal cry of a baby that won’t stop crying in its teenage mothers arms. The shivering of the hardest man in jail, trying to remember the sound of his mothers voice. The puff of a cigarette that helps keep denial at bay until one day the cigarette doesn’t work anymore.  The lovely plush of a needle into a vein until the blood clots. The only thing that circumvents fear is the absence of fear, but for as long as you use drugs or sex or people not to  feel fear, the fear will come back to you as soon as you don’t have your blanket around you. It’s the sensation that something went wrong and nothing will change it. The worst of all is being given a chance to fix it all, and fucking it back up for the ninth or tenth time. It’s what people like to harshly say stupidity, as if by treating it with an iron fist, they can beat it out of their lives for good. It’s the lie you swiftly tell the welfare workers who come in asking you about the bruises all over your body and you tell them, no, of course you fell down the floors for the tenth time. It’s the dreams you have after of leaving home and never coming back again. It’s the moment you turn from a victim into somebody that has to batter other people for making a mistake.



Clothing

I never understand how certain guys see fit to put down other guys who happen fit in the handsomely disheveled category as downright unattractive. Usually the guys who have such opinions have their own flaws. Maybe they have nose hairs, or fungus toenails, or they wear happy t-shirts that are would be considered more than just a fashion disaster if the equivalent happened to a women. These are shirts that are not only the wrong shade of bright puke yellow for his skin tone but that set a bad stage for their personality. Haven’t Americans men learned anything from the French or Russians about clothing? If you are a larger guy, take it from the Russians and look for something to soften the hardened edges of your look. Don’t pretend that you can scare away aging with fluorescent t- shirts that nobody ever had the guts to tell you to throw away. If you are a lean guy, go for some elegance, unless you happen to be able to pull off a gangster look. Throw out all ideas about pretentious blouses with ties and just go for soft sweaters and occasionally something obnoxious. Maybe all those years you spent judging what other people should and shouldn’t wear you were wasting time when you could have been finding the joys of wearing what you want to wear. Discovering what feels good in your own skin instead of feeling shock at how those around you dress and trying, like a chameleon, trying to be moderate and therefore look nothing like any of them, with their pathetic attempts to look dressed up or their grunge jeans that they feel both comfortable and sexy in despite the word being out that it’s not okay to feel sexy in clothes that should only be worn by men or women one year younger. It seems the most important thing about clothes is not being pointed out. If you are an artist, it is imperative you find some other way to explore your individuality. And before you find a way to say that everything is an extension of expressiveness, look around you and notice how many people are trying to fit in, and just try, please, just a little bit?



{September 24, 2009}   Revulsion

The phone rings. First it is my mom. You know how most parents, they try to protect you from the world? Well my mom tries to protect my dad from the possible damage my sister and me might inflict. “That’s daddy’s chair, don’t you dare sit there.”

“Get the fuck out of the way,” she’d say when I was only three. “Daddy might trip.”

“You piece of shit,” she’s swear when I was four.

I went through this phase where I had seizures where I thought I saw the devil eating me, killing me, torturing me. Later it was nightmares and I always got kidnapped, and I often wet the bed, and at eight I often was so filled with confusion and embarrassed I would try to knock my fists and my head against the wall so that I made enough noise to scare the darkness away.

I’d look at my dad with a hurt expression on my face, but he couldn’t see. So I was like stone. Always. My mom just liked to taunt and hurt me with my feelings, so I had to turn them against everything around me. The only thing I had going for me was the piano. And even then.

“Do you have to pound it so angrily? What is wrong with you, Nicole, why are you so angry? There are rules you know,” they would gang up on me when I was 16.

And now. They call me relentlessly, even though I’m supposed to be an adult.

First my mom calls. She who almost never calls, since she doesn’t give a damn. The only topic she ever calls about is my father. “Dad is stressed out and it is all your fault. You need to straighten this thing out with your insurance agency, I received this thing in the mail about it, and it says that they denied it, you need to find out why they denied it, and don’t ask dad about it because he does too much.”

I thought I’d already resolved that issue earlier in the morning, but apparently not. She is the voice of reason, and I am logically impaired. When I am done wrestling with her, my dad calls.

“You don’t have your priorities straight,” my dad says in a high, wheedling voice, like he is begging. His sappy neediness makes me want to vomit.

“You said you’d do this, and I don’t think it’s straightened out yet. You said you’d do this, and yet I don’t think you did it. You said you’d return your library books yesterday, but it’s today. Where are you right now?”

He is relentless. He won’t stop. But he likes it if I tell him whatever he wants to hear.
Maybe that’s why he and my mom married.

“What is it? I can try and help you. Anger? Depression? What is it?”

I just want to get off the phone, as usual. Anytime I tell my parents anything they use it as a weapon against me. It’s been this way for so long I can’t count. So it got to the point where I made my friends my family. Only they sort of spread out, like birds in a flock going different directions. I said it was a guy that burnt a hole through my heart, but really I think it was watching all my beautiful friends spread their wings while I sat and kicked at the ground.

They are two children begging me to pretend I have everything together. That I am fine, all the time, like I tell them, because to have any other feeling other than “fine” would be an injustice. It might be unfair to them. They want to remain as insulated from the corruptions of the world. I might taint them with my experiences. They want to know as little about what I’m really passionate about as possible. It might scar them.

They always have made me feel only one thing. The desire to get away. I don’t always know what to do with this feeling, I just know it creates all sorts of conflicts inside. And that these conflicts manifest in all sorts of ways around me until I feel like I am a danger to anybody around me, and that to be loved, I must sacrifice everything, because I had to sacrifice who I was to get them to love me. Why would it be different anywhere else?



{September 7, 2009}   fuck’d

Her mirror showed hazed eyes that couldn’t seem to hold their own. A dazed non-confrontational trance that could not be shaken. The handler wasn’t coming through today. Why did she think she was, trusting those jerk offs with her daily sanity? People were so flippant about these situations. Watched it too much on some “reality TV” show. Or maybe they sat there forgetting to take the needle out of their arm thinking about how cool Punk’d is. Punk’d is a waste of space, and so is anybody who watches it, especially if they are over 14. Ashton goes all the way to Atlanta to put ding dongs in front of a restaurant and ring a bell. Wow, his mother must be feeling pretty proud right now. What a contribution he is making to all those teenage followers out there that now are so excited about their boring leader. Just make sure you mention it in school, the crowd think, or people will think I don’t fit in. Which they don’t. Gawky, acne, half-adult half children walking around with the only thing on their mind being “please let me be invisible.”

She stumbled down the stairwells and tried to swallow something to get the bad feeling that had been building out of her system. Just ignoring it wasn’t enough. Just relaxing and getting lost in what she liked doing wasn’t enough. She had to be shallow one moment and deep another and it was getting tiresome. All the spinning of gears wasn’t attracting the right sort of attention. Instead people were poking and pointing at one another, staring at the car, wondering why the car was spinning and digging its wheels into the mud.

Where was she supposed to be? Just be there. It’s not so simple, she would say, but she doesn’t have it in her to speak. Now is when all the visual aids would pop in: she begins to meld into another image and some commentary is made by the image, except if you asked whoever was watching their only response would be was “it was cool?” Nobody would know what it was they actually saw.

You can’t really waste time. Can you?



{September 6, 2009}   Description

“Anything But Normal”

A man chanting native american speech “yo ho yo ho” was lying on the couch, his legs sprawled out there as if he belonged there. As if he was a part of the lightning fixture set in concrete. There remains a cloud over the room, as if something had gone terribly wrong and nobody had looked up at the ceiling since. The floor was scrubbed over and over again with pine sol or more advanced brands of cleaners, as the owner was lucky to be dealing with a hardwood floor and not a rug. A rug attracts fuzz, stains, and cigarette burns. You can’t erase the memory from a rug. You can’t really erase the memory from a floor, either, but if a stranger walks in they can’t see the memory unless they have luminol and a whole bunch of other investigative tools that detect any forensic evidence in play.

Perhaps scientists probing these floors would be able to see the real truths but plenty can be seen by the naked eye. For example, a scientist might see residue from a kids watered-down fruit punch orange juice spills. A visitor might notice paper cups carefully handed down to the kids so the cups don’t break. But can an outsider see a history that has been sleekly erased?

A scientist can see history. A single scratch that occured after a dish went flying because a wife criticized her husband demands retribution, appeals that time lost be time taken. They call it the suburbs and they call the suburbs normal. So why is the rain outside so heavy? The water has filled up two feet of a plastic pool made for summertime.

Why do the swing sets outside call to the children the way the sound a Bach prelude and fugue calls to a man on his death bed? And what does it mean for a man to give up his home, the home he remodeled with his own bare hands? Uprooted once again, but now it’s made clear that the whole time home was just a fleeting idea. One to fill a children’s book so that Goldilocks and the three bears could call what they had a name.

Who knows better than a man who builds what a house means? To some it could be any four walls with a door, a frame, a window. But a house that has a longstanding address is supposed to be a symbol of security, and that security is now being uprooted and he knows better than to raise his fists in protest but fortunately he does it anyway. There is no fight left in this home. A sign should be raised, a flag should be saluted: fights not allowed in this house. But the furniture announces it so the sign is not necessary. The chairs are not big enough for two people, so affection may be limited to children and dogs. The dog goes between hyperventilating, running around madly, breaking rules, but mostly his nose sniffs around like every pat to his head is going to be his last one. The way the dog uses its eyes to try and get what it wants is nauseous to those who don’t have the time to dole out empathy as if it were candy. Empathy is not a luxury here.

The little girl cries to be lifted in her daddy’s arms. “Uppy,” she says. The word rhymes with puppy for a reason. The older daughter just curls up on the other chair, feigning indifference. She knows better.

“And don’t act too excited about something or he might say no, so you have so sound kind of excited, but not too excited…” she lectures on how to sound suitably convincing when trying to participate in something engaging that might involve the slightest bit of action or agreement.

Diplomacy is as fallen as the leaves outside. The chickens no longer lay eggs; it’s everyone for himself around here the tractor outside shrieks, and the more scraps of devotion in your heart the worse off you’ll be for the endgame. Maybe the endgame is adulthood; maybe the endgame is tomorrow.

The best thing is to not want affection. Then you win the game you didn’t want to play because everybody is off wanting a piece of you and you just want to be left alone. And as long as they continue to want you, then you can yield the poker stick and poke them into the fire as many times as you want. Because some people aren’t winners. They don’t have it in them. Or worse, they don’t really care about winning or losing, they just wanted to be included, and when they walk off having lost all their savings instead of being broken they are just bewildered because this sort of swindle does not happen to them. It just does not happen inside a nice house like this.

“This is a piece of shit house,” the architect says when describing the place. He says this because the home is manufactured and looks like hundreds of other homes that were carved and cast from the exact same design mold. The room attached to the bedroom is completely unfurnished and the sheathing boards are exposed, with bits of dangerous looking nails and lint leaving what was meant to be the floor to a bathroom exposed.

Don’t hold on to anything too closely because there are more than a million excuses that can be used to push somebody away. More than one muscle aching or one bad mood. Those classics can all be used over and over again, and hell, if you need another one, why bother being creative? Just shove the person out on the porch and remind them that they wanted you and if they decide on out now, it’s a little late, and they knew what they were getting into. And plus, this is just a phase.

You pray it is a phase. You wonder if it is a phase. You wonder how much you can take. You wonder how much you really can put up with because your memory doesn’t like to play tricks on you but when it goes into survival mode it cannot be stopped.

Once you really like someone or something and they hurt you in “the way you deemed unacceptable,” as people inevitably do, because that is how time works, you try a million ways to reconnect. When (it’s only a matter of when, not if) that doesn’t work you easily lose the little patience you had. The only answer is retreat, and even that you do have to do with snot in your nose from crying so much. You’ll learn that dignity at times like those was never important anyway. You threw dignity away at the bus stop when you continued on, refusing and refusing to give up. “I can’t give up,” you say, not noticing that you refuse to say won’t. You don’t believe you have a choice in the matter, not when your head makes arrangements one way while your heart assigns you to another precinct altogether.

“It’s sort of like being an angel, and you meet up with a priest that wants to believe in miracles, but to him you don’t look like an angel, so he sends you out the door. Like on that show Saving Grace? It’s so funny when the priest of the drunken policeman sister meets the sisters angel and dismisses him as somebody of no importance. Do you know what that’s like? Hey, are you listening to me? What are you doing?

Listen, sistah, you gotta find new ways of destroying the memories. Drugs do the trick, but they aren’t thorough enough. You really have to find the memory. Locate. Concentrate. Falsify.

It’s shocking how lousy you are at pretending that what you loved was something that was positively atrocious! You have to pretend that despite the fact that what was once so significant to you that you refused to give it words- for even the meaning was so bursting, overloading with joy that it was that untouchable- or so you thought. In order to lose it, you simply must come over there with razors and a plastic hat and tear it up. Just don’t get too emotionally unglued when you find yourself smashing it over and over again; it’s just a memory chip and the chip itself it not to blame. It’s like burning down every house you built. It’s not personal.

It never was. What is wrong with you!

The fight between asserting and withdrawing feels like a choice that has to be made at every second, and making that choice gets so tiring that eventually you fall into a dizzying silence, a silence that is choked by labored breathing and tears that fall for so long people wonder if you have allergies. Yes, you have allergies. Nobody cries for that long without knowing why they are crying. Crying implies mourning, so what could anybody possibly be mourning here?

It is what is unspoken that is being lost. The reason the tears flow is because retrieval is not possible. You can retrieve anything except the intent to connect.

You get so cold that you get the chills, even with the heat on and two jackets, and even when you are soaked to the bone in the hottest water possible, you are still frozen to the core. The goose-bumps don’t go away. And it is then that you know. You know what you feel the loss of. It’s particles and it’s science and it is feeling what another refuses to feel and please don’t let the warmth be gone and all you can do is shiver and please you cannot ask them to hold you or God forbid stroke you because they will not only resent you for asking because you should know better, they will turn away and when they do that again then your worst fears will be confirmed, but you don’t care about your worst fears as much as you care about stopping the shivering and you can’t stop shivering not again not this time. And you don’t know if the warmth will be back. Until then.



et cetera