I haven’t felt much like writing lately; somehow I haven’t been able to get to that point of processing yet. Everything feels like cutups. I have finished fixing the sink, uninstalling the hot water heater from the wall (it didn’t work anyway), changing the faucet, finding out it will only screw in upside down, finding the right kind of sealing tape, five trips to the hardware store later … an upside down sink that works. I am the dancer in a gothic club now full of gothed-out teenagers, German bikers and skeletons on the walls. On Saturday Juan had his first Berlin fashion show, complete with all these other designers, paparazzi, and costume changes in the street. It was incredible. Mostly these days I’ve been trying to get back into myself, I really fell outside of myself, or far too inside of myself, during those weeks that I was so sick. I’ve never felt so close to being insane, not in control of my head anymore. I have decided that western medicine can do nothing for me. I need to go to an acupuncturist and a miracle worker.
There is so much to say. I find myself wanting to relate it all in note form. Like it hasn’t gotten beyond the notes and into really understanding what it is that I want to say. Which is maybe a metaphor for larger questions in my life. I’ve been thinking that somehow there is this really big story I want to tell, but I don’t know what it is, I know some of the elements, but I don’t know what the story is yet. I know that it involves the way that the Berlin holocaust memorial—an expanse of concrete graves—looks when I ride past it on my bicycle. I know that it involves advertisement and representations of women—the woman on display at the photography shop blowing bubbles. It involves the aspect of the world getting smaller the farther I travel away from where I started, and the idea of forming communities, localized knowledge versus global knowledge being different kinds. I know it’s about power and speech and saying what I mean in the moment. I know that its about different types of performance and what we “wear” in the various ways we wear clothing. I know it’s about the conversations that stick in our brains.
I was back in DC temporarily under horrible circumstances. Tina’s mother was suddenly killed in a car crash. Jeanne, Tina’s mother, was such an amazing woman and I just remember laughing for hours with her! The joyful part of the weekend was that we girls from highschool–Maria, Tina, Tara, Nora and I, were able to be together. Every time I see them I am reminded just how exceptional they are, how proud I am of them, how lucky I am to have been surrounded by them. On one rainy afternoon, we heard stories from Jeanne’s friends, a group of women, like us, who grew up together and stuck together … a group of women who watched each other have babies and saw each other through these momentous times in each other’s lives.
In this next generation, we girls find ourselves more oriented towards our careers than towards making families, more spread out geographically … yet as Tina said, are any of these adventures of ours that much more interesting than sitting around together and making peanut butter sandwiches with people you’ve known your whole life? It does make me wonder. Because I think that I agree—no, not more interesting. Still, I can’t deny that I wanted to leave Virginia, felt that I had to leave Virginia, and haven’t ever regretted it, that I’ve found friends around the world, that things become more familiar as you add to the plate. In fact I noticed this. That returning to the states was not much of a culture shock—rather, it made me realize that my experience in Germany had become simply more to add to the realm of the familiar, more to contribute to my notions of ways of living.
I’m not sure why the gothic tragedy is so pervasive here especially in Berlin in the cooler months. At times I look around and things seem beyond surreal … Berlin is a city, a village, built on connections and friendships, almost Mafioso, the feeling, that stepping on the wrong person’s toes could be tragic … When I was alone here, I wondered, who can I trust being alone? Where and with whom can I ground myself as a point of normalcy? At moments I feel myself going further over the edge, that with only myself as a point of departure, I have no reference of what is real and normal and right and to some extent this is absolutely beautiful, because it forces me to throw the categories out the window altogether. On the other hand there are moments that my gut tells me something is scary or should be scary or things are slightly askew, and suddenly my mind twists Berlin into some kind of gothic city of dark and morbid hell, that it is coming for me, that the entire structure of it were built around mistrust and conspiracy and stepped upon feet.
I have never had these kinds of thoughts before, I have never been involved in a world that seems so tenuous, where life seems so tenuous, where trust seems so tenuous. And then there are the moments where the sun breaks through, where you feel real trust real love perhaps is forcing its way in, and still you put up a barrier not to trust too much, to be self protective, because you have to, because you don’t want life to bite you in the ass. Because you don’t want the swirling surreal faces of the night to eat you alive. Why is it that I feel this morbid gothic world at my toes? Where does the world get away with suddenly spinning out of control?
I think if I do one thing “right” its to get people to share with me how they feel, how they perceive the world, through writing. It means more to me than I am quite able to express. It is a beautiful gift to be able to open up my letter box and see the words of the people I love sharing their souls with me. This is more or less all that I need in the world.
I went to the protest at the EXTRA supermarket to support the rights of political asylees within the German welfare system. The other protesters there were trading cash for the “chip cards” (food stamps) and in effect subverting the system—saying look, we are all equals here, why are only some people, refugees in particular, given no trust, why must they alone use the card system. I talked to an Syrian man who came here he said, “someone told me the only way things can change for me here is if I get married. But you see this is really very hard for me, because I’m really very shy. And I don’t want to go talk to a girl just to get something out of her. So you see my soul is sick.” He used to study biology and then came to Germany to research the isolation of DNA. And then stayed on because he didn’t do his military service in Syria and didn’t want to do it. And he disagrees with the Syrian government. He says, “I studied biology but I realize that I’m really interested in politics.”
Thinking about the idea of nudity onstage juan makes a really good point that as long as I’m true to myself that’s the real test—That it would be worse if I didn’t involve nudity in my pieces because my boyfriend told me he wouldn’t like it, or if someone from the audience got offended because they took their husband and they didn’t want their husband to see it, or because I was afraid that some woman would take it as offensive to women in general. So I am nude onstage and then let them say what they will say. And I am so tired of women being accused of being less than what they are because there was some kind of sexual interaction involved, because I daresay that about half of my interaction in life have contained some kind of sexuality—but why should that mean that I am less that intelligent or than what I really am? Am I allowed to claim some comment as genuine even though he grabbed my ass … am I allowed to claim some other comment because he was drunk. Is there any kind of unadulterated state of interaction between one being to another, where the words are “true” in some cases and not true in another? Is it possible to salvage those moments that contain some aspect of seeing one another—when we see each other for what we are, when we recognize, is it possible to salvage those moments even if they appear to be adulterated by something else.
This reminds me of how our personalities are compromised (depending on how we view them) by contradictory behavior. But is it possible to take each moment, or each comment as isolated, so that none of them have history or any kind of symbolism attached to them, so that we take each comment and each word and each moment as placed in one moment in time, apart from everything else.
I was thinking about how difficult it is to remove ourselves from roles in our lives, that we have played, like how we become the “teacher” or the “policewoman” or the “controller” or whatever it is … we get caught in these roles, many times by the people closest to us, our partners, they see us in these roles and it is easier to end the relationship entirely than to quit each of the roles that we have started to play. Even when we start to break out of them, even the slightest memory of the role will trigger a mountain of symbolism so that glimmer instantly places us right back there. Which I suppose has to do with the idea of being able to see each other without history, without any kind of baggage, though I hate the word. And I hate even more saying that I hate the word.
Just like the word fuck or the word cunt, why is the use of such words a signifier that one person is less than intelligent? Why is getting naked the signifier of one being less than intelligent? When I know that for some people, who are seeing everything as sex and are afraid of that feeling and afraid of feeling that feeling of sexuality, trigger that feeling is scary—because somehow people feel that the performer is pandering to someone’s most base desires and using one’s most base talent (that of triggering sexuality in one another) and yet each of us always rely on our most base and basic skills when dealing with one another all the time, our eyes, the flash of our smile, how we deliver our words, how we hold our bodies. And we are not necessarily doing it consciously, with the intent to disarm others or with the desire to get something out of them or because we are “only” our cunt or our smile or our body language… our we instantly reduced to these other qualities because we use them, with anything other than sexuality? Even though one could argue that the flash of the smile is sexuality, too … am I instantly reduced to my cunt as soon as I show it? When I cover it people forget that I have one? How come? Why am I instantly reduced to some ignoramus (whatever that means) when I say the word fuck, why are people suddenly rendered to view me selectively as made up of nothing more than that vocabulary word or that body part? No one thinks of me as merely an elbow for showing my elbow. No one thinks of me as merely a brain when they look at my head? Or perhaps this is why we cover our heads with hair and when we shave them then people think we are nerdy … no … though I suppose baldness is a kind of signal of wisdom, of old age, of maturity? To expose one body part is to bring attention to it, to its function, as though it ruled all the other body parts?
Reading blood and guts in high school: “my life politics don’t disappear but take place inside my body.”
“Writers create what they do out of their own frightful agony and blood and mushed-up guts and horrible mixed-up insides. The more they are in touch with their insides the better they create. If you like a writer’s books read his books, the books aren’t pure suffering; if you want to publish/help the writer, do it business-lie, but don’t get into the writer’s personal like thinking if you like the books you’ll like the writer. A writer’s personal life is horrible and lonely. Writers are queer so keep away from them. I live in pain, Hawthorne said, I’m going to be happy I’m going to be so happy even if I’m not alive anymore. There’s going to be a world where the imagination is created by joy not suffering, a man and a woman can love each other again they can kiss and fuck again (a woman’s going to come along and make this world for me even though I’m not alive anymore).
For the criminals, the agony of being rejected
And yet I will keep on being rejected, because I
Will live only by my dreams
For those who being dreamers in this
Fucked-up society must be unhappy criminals,
The lonely, the royal fuck.”
There are moments when I fear that Berlin is nothing more than the state of being trapped in an artist world where you can only make art about each other and nothing is inspiring in each other and nothing seems new and exciting. So you have to get outside the art world to really see anything anymore.
There are other moments when I realize this is a state of mind, not a state of place.
I met a man today who guessed at my age, attacked me with what it is that I am, told me gender politics are old and boring, told me power was uninteresting and then told me he wasn’t playing a power game with me. It was not all that different than any other interaction I’ve had in my life with men in power. It was not all that different and yet I struggle and struggle against believing that I am still living in a world that’s based on these clockwork interactions.
The date to take my ticket or not rapidly approaches…it is may 30th and then I was supposed to come back. But after spending the winter here in Germany it is hard to think that I would come back in the summer when that is the best time of the year here. But juggling with the health care system here has had me tired and frustrated and I think of throwing in the towel before it gets any worse. We now have all of our stuff in storage in San Francisco (minus my yellow bike, which got stolen) and so there aren’t the same kinds of loose ends for us to deal with…and now we could stay indefinitely, I am legal for a year to live and work here in Germany, and I hate having to think about the future, I just want to live day to day and yet it is so difficult, thinking about how to deal with health issues, thinking about how to deal with ticket issues and saving money and how to best save money, decisions always seem to have to be made way in advance.
Conversations with my mother about dressing and how I dress. The advantage to these conversations is that my ideas about how I dress are granted some kind of theoretical backbone, whether or not my waking in the morning is deserving of such critical analysis—like whether or not I wake in the morning and think of Judith Butler before getting dressed, or whether or not I think, I am going to change society’s view of gender today when I get dressed, I’m going to gender fuck! One film maker I talked to said “what. .. you’re a 25, 26 year old girl with a little writing degree and what .. you think you’re so cutting edge, so righteous. …” and I said, I don’t think of myself as rebellious, I don’t think of myself as cutting edge, these are not how I think of myself. “oh? How do you think of yourself” he didn’t let me answer, he just kept talking, but I thought about it, like, how do I think of myself. and I thought of loving, self-reflective, vulnerable, sensitive… I don’t think of the way that I’ve ever dressed (and its undergone a myriad of changes) has ever been much “more” than a collection of appropriated and temporarily loved aesthetics. But then, is anyone’s dress much more than that … other than people who feel entirely trapped more by what they “can’t wear” (ripped stockings, tight clothing, horizontal stripes, clashing colors, ripped edges) than guided by emulating the images they would “like” to wear? But do any of us live lives completely divorced from fear, are any of our decisions ever completely divorced from some kind of deep deep fear? “My choices” are not solely and purely my own … in part because I am lazy, and to be dressed in the most purely “me” at a moment would be to put a huge emphasis on clothing every morning when I wake up and to sort of give one’s life to one thing, like the surface aesthetic of one’s image.
And this makes me think about how time is so … exhausting, that we could choose to spend all our time on one thing, just one little thing in our lives and never feel like we have perfected it. Like wouldn’t interpersonal relationships be so much richer, even, if we spent all of our time focusing on them, endless conversations to be had with our partners. I often feel this way with juan, that we could talk and talk and never be done, that we could spend all of our focus on each other, on improving the way that we relate, and yet we don’t have the time or the desire to make each other our only priority in our lives … and we don’t have the time or the desire to make getting dressed in the morning our only priority when we wake up in the morning … and we don’t have the time or the desire to make cooking great food our only priority, and yet there is always the lesson learned that—wouldn’t it be so great if we could. Wouldn’t we be so much more spiritual if we spent all our time meditating. Wouldn’t we be so much more giving if we spent all of our waking moments giving.