Public Universal Fantasy Casual Dispatch Gallery
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An envelope falls out of your pocket and the wind throws it in the river. The koi fish flock to it and seal themselves inside. The breeze kicks the envelope out of the water and slips it into the hand of a mailman. Everything is blue again, just like you predicted. Inside the envelope is an aquarium. The aquarium experiences everything the mailman experiences. A little water spills out along the way. The mailman is changed by everyone he sees. His bag becomes lighter. Everyone who sees the mailman is changed by him. The people receive their mail. Everything that happens outside changes what happens inside. The fish need more water.
Brown dog sleeping in the curl of my fist
Denim braiding to a lane of Blue
A silence to celebrate:
Little black stallion trampling over everything.
The birch canoe slides into the water
Open and sunny and scrupulous
Raining. It is preparation time, which means everything is quiet here. Have streamlined the art of apple crisp - a can of coconut milk over some oats apples cinnamon and salt. Bake. Maybe some raisins or almonds, blue agave. Dying to exude more discipline, no longer feel so absorbent, place my hands over the fire of study, maybe I will pick up a martial art in my future, knowing it’s just another way to get to know my shape, or sit back down and tend to my plants more thoughtfully. The aloe vera is getting pale again and the palm fronds are wilting. Either way I’m already warm.
Autumn tasks me - find more chamomile, eat dark greens, scrub my sickly parts with sugar
I woke up shy of 1am silently flailing; I left the windows open and it’s too cold for that now. More coronavirus dreams: thin and dry and crumbling air quality, repetitive swallowing, a shaky outline like someone drew my body while extremely scared, catastrophic consequences.
We did go to the beach and found that everything was laying down there. Not extinguished, just resting and waiting. After the moon? I took home one white shell and one grey stone.
My sturdy and good raw materials are guiding me into the fall. When thinking of last October, a month into which I felt flung by whatever bored or committed-to-my-growth angels, more forgiveness comes to mind than anger or regret. I’ve come home since then…
1. Oh, the incredible discomfort of having wings just below the surface
2. So daintily covered by a gauzy layer of skin
3. Something pries them forth and the blood drips down
4. Only way to dry them out is by flying
My stomach is hurting and I’m considering if it’s possible to eliminate future choice by making one present master choice. But I feel comfortable with my pain and so I will continue eating things that sometimes harm me, like sugar, oil, and garlic. I’m waiting for the rice cooker to beep so I can let all the steam out. I turned my red light on after I woke up at 4:30, S asked me, are you up early or did you stay up late. I said early, S has a red light too, they said the light turns the space into a darkroom
Charlie is coming to visit tonight and I want to take them to the beach, early tomorrow when it is rainy and the mist is rolling in. I’m waiting for my stomach to stop hurting, waiting on a phone call, waiting before I leave to walk through the cemetery, waiting for the rest of October, waiting for November and buckwheat pancakes and my car tires to prove themselves unworthy after the next snowfall, waiting to go to another apple orchard before all the leaves fall and make an apple crisp with all the apples, waiting waiting waiting
Thinking of the armadillos that line the highways in Arkansas, and dreaming of the next time I’ll be driving past them
Tonight or tomorrow.
Do I exist this way.
With delight in my heart.
In the rain.
I’ve been taking the dog on walks in the morning and imagining all the way around the neighborhood. Why, when I feel it (as I do today) a soul puncture/deflation/slit looks and feels like that - why, if I am not so low to the ground, if I am generally floating or levitating between places, elevation comes with such risk (afraid of falling? afraid of not being carried? afraid of not being picked up?) - how to get out of bed better tomorrow, to strike the digital stepping stones and uphold a nicer bridge (how the phone is so relentless, loves to be what pulls you into the morning, love to let myself fold).
Last night I dreamt I was collecting acorns, green marbles in my hand, some of them without their small caps. Was I going to make a flour or meal? Or just wanting to hold their smooth elastic shells. As I walked towards the park this morning acorns were falling onto the street. Shooting down through the oak leaves and onto the ground, rolling towards my feet.
In the corner of my left arm the dog has put his face and fallen asleep. I feel a nameless, amorphous dread which appears as a tear in my side. A little rip I’d like to embroider (maybe Louis will teach me to darn). When I resist my own disembodiment I might as well be trying to read a small-print page in the dark. It’s frustrating; in the dark I say, “I am learning nothing!” instead of experiencing recognition and shutting the book (or turning on the light, or fumbling for a magnifying glass, or sending the line: will someone to read to me?). Ugh. The yolk is running down and I just want to exclaim, the yolk is running down!
Pat Califa: Pleasure is a blessing; delight is our sacred birthright. There is honey with the bread, like feral lilies in a field of wheat. Another word for love is bliss, and this ecstasy is ubiquitous and never-ending, if only we can stop trying to possess it solely in a beloved Other. As Julian of Norwich said after her vision of Christ cradling the world like a chestnut in his hand, precious and beloved by him in its littleness, “All will be well, and all will be well, and all manner of things will be well.”
Summer is evanescing, the morning breeze that’s coming in through the window feels no humidity, we’re wrapping ourselves in the gauze of the loosening leaves. As autumn’s arriving I’m embraced by an image: I’ve been clambering through the car all year, trying to get from the backseat to at least to passenger-side window, eager to rest my wrest against the sill and dip my hand out into the wind. But in the moment before I put the seatbelt on, I realize I could instead just exit through the sunroof and enter into a crisp sentimentality. I am pulled and so I do… and there are all the pieces of my heart: flaxen and shimmering like fragments of a sundial.
My entries here end with an exhalation because the feeling of sharing with you is so easy to breathe into.
Who’s coming up the staircase? I wrap vigilance around me like a heavy coat and put my ear to the floor. The steps whine sometimes. Or do I hear myself confused and whimpering; alarms call me to several things at once. Now I am creating signage in my head with which to regard my own plasticity. When I cross my arms I am tugged tightly and uniquely. Only me. Only me.
My child fingers cradle the dirt. It is clear that I am pulling, pulling, pulling to bury. Billowing into opposites just to climb the mountain. On the way home, it rained. I took my shoes off before stepping through the door because I did not want where I had been to follow me.
I’d like to tell you. When I shut myself in my room, the air thins out and I live through the coldest season. A current washes in and we play mirror to break the ice. The daydream of companionship crashes into my abdomen and I pray. Swollen from the ache of being a temperature I can safely bask in.
Guidance doesn’t mean to worship, it means to follow.
When my voice travels I see a human body building a conduit out of soft materials, in whatever outfit, in whatever place, but most notably the sound visibly moves and is therefore visibly received.
With two windows on either side of me I watch as a hammock of light is woven between them.
That things are this way - how? Good morning - in my new home there are unfamiliar sounds which startle me awake, serve to remind me how loudly newness comes into me, introduce my ears to change. It is erotic and predictable. I need not put my ear to the ground, I am already listening closely.
May I be reduced to a thing that writes more frequently again very soon…
The circle opens so that the intimate might break through*. To harness the light in all its exorbitant and fecund glory (the light that’s coming through the pinhole), I’d like to: hurdle down an Ohio highway while watching the sepia fields drag on, play a show at Jon Brion’s house - Sublevel 58 - in Worcester in 2015, drop by the bakery near by my old college and get a spinach pie in plastic wrap for $2.50, skateboard up and down those quietly chaotic tiny hills in Bennington, VT while admiring my seeping first tattoo, encounter on a loop the rest of my favorite quiet memories..
As a supplement to all the spaciousness I feel today, it’s again cool and breezy outside - I drove to Brookline to walk around the pond with Wren and kept a light jacket on except when we were sitting. Temperature cool enough that skin now seeking sensation of being covered. Me and Jack walked down the East Bay bike path and watched from the dock as the slippery cormorants dove into the water. And now an evening with the windows open and me hoisting myself out of the window to sit on the small flat square of roof below it..
*Max Loreau: “pour que puisse poindre d l’intime”
Kai Cheng Thom has this essay about storytellers: about how though we may be expertly trained in our craft, we are generally not trained in how to be storytellers or in how to hold and contain what comes with storytelling - we just are and we just do. We offer unique and special conduits to our audience and welcome, sometimes with efficacy and sometimes with uncertainty, the many things that follow. There will at some point be a murkiness of boundaries - what do you do with that. I’ll turn towards where the ambiguity is: if what is performance/theater/choreographed and what is intimacy/trust/connection - and is it reciprocal? (and is it real?) - isn’t clear, what should you hold onto?
When people approach me with intensity/passion/activated emotion after seeing me perform, I wonder: is what you’re feeling about me about me? And when I welcome those people and embrace the vulnerability and intimacy they’re offering me, I wonder: with what and whom am I connecting with?
There’s an undeniable power dynamic and sense of idolatry present when you’re a storyteller, that’s why we call it - it, the stage, the social capital, the celebrity, the presence - having a platform. We are not trained on how to navigate having a platform or on how to share work that has magical lasting effects on others. We may not know how to safely offer only parts of ourselves, and our audience may not know how to safely receive only parts. I’ve played shows where I’ve felt so raw I left nothing for myself/watched other people have nothing left too. Thinking about boundaries and how my boundary-setting feels most secure when I’m lovingly and slowly pursuing the question…”where is it safe for us to connect?”
It’s a breezy day that feels like fall and the breeziness and ease I felt last fall is coming around. Lots of spiritual air bubbles popping up as if to collect and contain any residual summer anxieties. I wish to imagine entering September with a bag as light as air, having already dropped everything that doesn’t need my carrying.
I said: The sky outside is matte
Lucy: A container of heavy rain
Me: My personal weather
Lucy: A field of lights
And I walk and walk and walk and walk and walk
To explore: to willfully enter a situation you have not yet entered. What is the etiquette of exploration? If done with efficacy and skill, is it so exploratory? There is a massive pressure that fills the plain - to learn and gather and then possess. No denying the not-so-sheer presence of whiteness in this pressure. Mastery as in white supremacist culture. “Exploring” is the historically inaccurate way we obsessively describe colonization.
How deeply embedded that masteryperfection value is within my body. When I feel I’ve betrayed it, I feel defensiveness, protectiveness, anxiety; a hot flash and nausea, cyclical thinking. It manifests in my relationships and my work, the pressure to hold in front of me with both hands like a picnic basket all the lessons of my past. To exercise my knowledge, to not repeat mistakes, to not willingly and enthusiastically enact what Freud calls repetition compulsion*. But the whiteness of the psychology complex is not separate from anything, and it too says we have not a but the role in transforming the conditions in which we live, and pathologizes us when we fail. This is an individualist and self-punishing and violent way to seek healing and transformation. Alcoholics Anonymous often propagates this culture very, very well. My whiteness has made it easy for me to truly believe that my suffering is the result of behavioral failure - you can see this as a “benefit” because it kept me from understanding the intersections of suffering/protected white supremacy&capitalism for a long time. How obviously fucked and racist (and classist, ableist, + more) it is to me now, to apply that idea onto other people (and onto myself). Punishment and perfectionism are one of many disgusting tenets of the prison industrial complex. Capitalism wants us to think it’s inescapable and no amount of window of tolerance work alone can alter those conditions.
So I don’t want to own the situation, I want to forgive myself for all the ways being here can look. And then get to work again. Vigilant exploration and hyper intention are not curious practices because their scrutinizing stakes are always pushing something away. Where can I let go and still trust that I will be carried? I lament that the only way to be is to be disciplined because I fear the me that is less disciplined is unloveable. This is why we so desperately need friendship and community, and why my practices root themselves in transformative justice, accountability, and healing work. Maybe it is right to make mistakes and fail, to place yourself in the middle of things. Maybe it is best to throw the map in the river over and over again so the water, the waters - of awe, family, lovers, friends, care - can just carry you for a little while. I want everyone to have memories of being carried.
Unrelated, I am opening my email inbox for anyone seeking some advice on any topic whatsoever. I will be posting your advice here publicly unless otherwise directed.
*Freud’s theory around repeatedly seeking and recreating the same conditions, popularly used in trauma theory, re: inadvertently or purposely reenacting traumatic events/ending up in similar circumstances on a loop
Maybe I was tender before. Now what steps into focus is obsessive integrity and lack of self-forgiveness. Let me slip into the in-between like it is old socks, old pajamas, old shirt. Let me slip out of what feels so astonishingly essential but is ultimately just more ego, more ego and blotted out anguish. The drama is annoying in that it raises dust. But I like the philosophy language bullshit, always my mode when I’ve been reduced to a thing that wants to write — open TextEdit — type, type, type.
I’ve flames on the horizon like crystals waiting to be pushed through the tumbler. Excuse this tone, I’m trying out a Virginia Woolf outfit. Look at my shape-shifting, I only need to pick up a book to be subsumed. Sometimes I consider my relationship with literature and feel learnéd. In this note I’m trying to bridge the gap between humor and my current flatness but finding no source materials. Oh, moving time has come and I placed all the dining room chairs in a circle, far away from the table. They congregate to celebrate their uselessness..
1. What are you reading?
2. Give me a quote
3. Ask me a Q
Noraa sent me a poorly lit, blurry iPhone photograph of her dinner. She said sorry for the bad pic. No, I love the humor. I love her. Within our container there is a shared language of extremes. And how nice it is to meekly step onto a comedy stage with a tragedy script in hand and anticipate only acceptance.
Another nightmare last night. Now eating three small dumplings before bed.
4. What altar are you worshipping at lately
Names in my book of trees that drew me: Tulip Tree, Atlas Cedar, Strawberry Tree, Chilean Fire Bush, Snow Gum, Weeping Ash, Mountain Snowdrop Tree (or Silver Bell). Here I go, into the brush, whispering to myself as I touch the bark/scales/roots/leaves. Seeking more wilderness outfits for the latter half of 2020 - seeking excellent pocket knife recommendations - seeking camping experience, more bodies of water, more earth’s-hand-touching-mine encounters. Seeking the exhalation… nervous system regulation… craving invitation… you know? You know!
Every year I end up in August. I am here and we are decorating my weeks with full-bodied celebrations of all different moods. The insulation material that pads my friendships is made of something that glitters and is squishy to the touch. Colorful, edible, always replenishing. My friends are real speakers of the heart and my text threads are replete with Cloud emoji, Heart emoji, Red car emoji. Images: nectarous wind wafting from the marigolds. Out goes the canoe. And I swim. Tomato bubbles in the tiny cup. Stickiness, glow.
When I lay on my side / enter the wrong room / don’t fit quite right I bend and am then comfortable. I oppose the juxtaposition 1) I am made of several shapes 2) I must change them. I dreamt of a field in Connecticut filled with horses and my belongings (the redness, glossiness, smoothness) melting across the grass, as if to be sipped up by a pony. The stallions made water-like shadows as they flew up and down and across the hill
And the night - Yesterday I emailed Edie, asking where does it go? I know, it’s delicate… I am feeling a sharpening - this I told Lucy, that the Tower card might represent opportunity for realignment within its crumbling, explosive chaos. Rawness hides nothing. If the color of our blood really indicates something,
And what else. My meter is clunky, one foot tripping on the other. Car already rolling forward, fumbling with the seat belt / what I am imagining is loud but comes out quietly in lowercase. Efficiency
And a poem
Me homeschooling myself right now looking like: consuming lots of survivalism media; watching shows about preppers and the arctic and tiny houses and farming, harvesting my two potato buckets, compiling wilderness survival documents, examining examining examining… Of course rabbits produce milk since they are mammals but I was still surprised when the man hunting for hares in the arctic referred to “rabbit milk”. Simply amazed at the fortitude and the human body… the abundance of squirrels in the trees around me now in feels precious and rare. Scarcity affects you even from afar….
My iron deficiency has been sending me into fatigue clouds -> I am so tired I must nap -> I do not nap and am exhausted -> I do nap and am disoriented. Channeling the frustration into the very small amount of dishes I’ve had the energy to cook so my unrest may fuel the flavors… Eating baked beans and pretending I am in the hills of Vermont, surrounded by farmland, listening to the nearby goats, watching the wind brush through the long grass…
The heat is blooming in my room. The dull ache of change is located in my right shoulder, my stomach, and the back of my head. Two years ago, I printed out a Susan Sontag interview and taped it to the living room wall. Last night, I dreamt I wheat-pasted her interview print-out to a building on Battey Street.
If the brain is a predictive item - if the brain considers its only task to be convincing us of its predictions - can we forgive ourselves for our trauma responses? Shame song. And what shape would the melody take? Maybe in Eb major*.
Ellsworth Kelly: Somebody asked me about heaven and I said “Heaven? Who needs it?” I want twenty more years on the Earth. That’s my heaven.
On my album, whatever that is, and whenever it will actually be, there is a song called “Heaven.” Me and my Biblical sensibilities. I am actually very called to and drawn in by theologist Hannah Bowman’s take on the intersections of prison abolition and Christianity. This interview I have listened to many a time in the car…
Here is a video of me in my new room, leaning on my new door. I wonder how it will feel to walk out of in the morning, to open to a new house filled with the most soothing hum of secure relationship energy.
*=“the key of love, of devotion, of intimate conversation with God.”
The wind bends the window screens and you’re waking up. The door is restless in its frame. The sun comes in. You don’t need to twist your head around to see who’s in the room. The blanket is cool. Someone carried you to bed last night. Someone is making you breakfast now. The morning says to you: you’ll be taken care of.
If you hasten your pace. If you move into flame. If you map a diagonal line and burrow. If you shake your arms awake. If you do all these things over and over, learning and unlearning which methods are unbreakable and which drag you across the coals. If you keep trying. There will be a time when the repetition begets newness. Even when things feel cyclical. Even when there is dread, wretched fantasy, or an assumed fate.
When scripture is exposed to too much air, its palatability dissipates. There becomes a sour taste with no buoyancy. So I think with loss, there is meant to be a staleness. When you lead differently, who follows you changes too. Frankly, I believe in the rightness of changing shape. One necessity of my survival has been getting used to who I am - something I have done (and undoubtedly will continue to do) again and again. Sometimes it has felt like a pursuit of shapelessness, this acceptance that I will never quite know what shape I am. Other times a desire to build, concretely and with severe knowing, my shape. When I’m able to sit with this contradictory doubleness, I watch my silhouette emerge. I give myself air. I give myself permission to let go of what has become stale.
I think there is no need to be scared, and what is powerful about emergence is that we are going somewhere regardless. I am curious about all the ways I can remain process-driven, so somewhere down the line, I will look back and know that I experienced fully how smooth, cloying, sharp, tender, sad, humid, slow the process felt. I imagine that if I am able to cultivate that kind of recollection and that thorough a connection to my past, I will feel in relationship to all parts of my life. Me writing this at age twenty-five remembering writing in my journals at age ten and dreaming of writing in my journals at age fifty.
I am holding a wheel and it is spinning in my hand but going nowhere. It stirs me.
I put my yellow chair on the curb. I bought it for $25 in 2018, me and Mikey drove to Connecticut for it. It rained after just a few hours so it might be ruined now. I have very few feelings for it but my roommate’s cat really liked it.
Consistently having dreams about sickliness and coronavirus symptoms and acute physiological mirroring of the external. Like something is going wrong in my dreams, and then I get sick because the wrongness has infiltrated my body. My body so sensitive it can’t help but mirror it… (Buddhist dreams-disease=expression of harmony disrupted/disturbed?) I wake up surprised that the cough that wracked the dream did not follow me into the morning.
One more long and soft moment and I’ll be moved into a new room. Saying goodbye to the rickety baseboards and goodbye to the ceiling that caved in all through winter 2018. Everything else that matters in this room I brought into it and will be leaving with me.
Queer Nature: When Mystery is marginalized in culture and society—or monopolized and only allowed to come from one source, like Western science or Protestant religion—as we believe it has been (at least publicly) for much of the last century, the future also becomes more monolithic and constrained. This has social and political effects, because then it is only certain people—often white, wealthy, and cisgender—who are able to imagine themselves in these futures. The mythos of the future is closely tied to how we come to define ourselves. Especially in adolescence, whether we are queer or not, we are unknown to ourselves, and in a healthy culture, this would be a source of mystical power, a ‘necessary crisis,’ and the object of rite-of-passage through which we would come to embody a local future by growing in to our unique role in community. Mystery is … a primary need, along with shelter, food, clean water, and community. We both grew up in a society where we were told we could ‘be whatever we wanted,’ yet what if what we wanted to be was something society was not ready for—or even saw as antithetical to itself? This is not just any society, mind you, but one driven by immense capital created from slavery and stolen land. When this society becomes invested in certain futures, there is very little social and mythic space for roles that would question or undo those systems of investment. This is partially why mystics are medicated and institutionalized, hackers thrown in jail or their innovations appropriated by the state, Indigenous land protectors are imprisoned or assassinated, and transgender people are dehumanized and murdered. They represent futures that are not economically viable for the state and global capitalism.
I want mystery to be my friend, which requires me to divest from certain predictable futures, certain predictive and defensive ways of being, certain definitions of myself as a permanent creature. If I want my own ecology to maintain a lushness, I have to let the dead parts die. To no longer let scripts that have become stale continue to take my energy. As simple as deleting apps or as difficult as pulling my own teeth out.
I wrote a sestina to share.
And here is a video from last week, of me moving slowly in the morning, sitting on a blue couch in Baltimore.
Julian of Norwich: For as the body is clad in the cloth, and the flesh in the skin, and the bones in the flesh, and the heart in the whole, so are we, soul and body, clad in the Goodness of God, and enclosed. (from Revelations of Divine Love, chapter IV)
After three years in a third-floor apartment on Meader Street, I’m moving to a new third-floor apartment just a few minutes away. I’m looking to August as if it is the empty room of the year. And with all empty rooms comes a kind of slow pathology and reflection: was it ever full? did I inhabit in the right way? have I dismantled what was once here thoughtfully? will I remember it this way? should I not look back?
Putting old garments into a white trash bag to be thrown into a green donation bin is so void of sanctity. But forcing something to be sacral when it doesn’t call for it is contrived. I just get stuck - with what devotion should I acknowledge the parting? Any?
Horoscope for myself: I know what deep listening feels like. I know what is coming and I know that empty rooms are where I am most effective at building ritual. Bareness gives me full access to intuition, slowness, and permission to fill, embody, and release at a pace proportionate to me. I know there are things I’ve held onto for so long that they have become defined by their staleness alone. I know if I want to keep up with myself I can’t hold onto everything I’ve ever had.
Back to Julian: if we are acting within our values and following the call to be in right relationship with the people, items, and life around us, we are clad in the cloth of our truth. To wrap yourself and feel enclosed by the container you have built by living in your own definition of holiness...? How can we always remember to remind ourselves of our daily impermanence and of the inherent transformative quality we all possess...
Insistence separates into strands of smoke and encircles me like a snake, licking my skin as if it were called to it. Like a snake, so lazy a metaphor. I am insistent that I could never be lazy because laziness is the stuff of past me who hadn’t decriminalized or anti-Capitalized all the implications of “laziness.” Now I am a garden of snakes, sharply condescending in the right moments, fixating on what you can’t smear across the wall, waiting for my friends to text me back. When I feel desperate and mortal the “I can be better than this” marquee in my head blinks a bright red. When the wind fails to carry me I get so hard on myself, like I am light enough to be swept up but too heavy to rise above.
What is the whole picture today? My check engine light is on. I am walking up and down stairs, tidying, piling dependent clause on top of dependent clause to communicate my exploratory nature.
Last year, I wrote a short story about getting my haircut. I submitted it, along with another short story about a child at the beach, a few poems, and an essay about Andrew Wyeth, for a literary contest. I did not win. But you can read the short story here.
What’s wrong with the passive voice? I like that I have been places and have had experiences writing while visiting them.
I have an assignment for you:
Fill in the blanks:
I am a body born of ____
In the close dark night I hold ____
When I was sixteen, I ____
My phone is ___
When I cannot leave my house, I can still ____
My imagination is ____
My result is here.
Some links I’m thinking about today:
Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution by Peter Kropotkin
Interview with Dutes Miller and Stan Shellabarger (thanks E for sending this to me)
Like I am a writer and someone else has gathered all their favorite quotes of mine into a tiny book, here are some things I have said before:
”Scenes I imagine. My non-intuitive parts want attention. I have no pride and never did. There’s no master. I become loud and vicious, externalizing in all caps, the tiger destroyed his cage.”
”Crushing epiphanies! Then they sputter away like bored stray dogs.”
”With subtleness and sanctity, they refer to things I gave them during our relationship. But they can’t say they miss me outright. And I refuse to initiate another conversation. So my arm remains outstretched as a fixed distance flows across it.”
”It’s not a habit that I care so deeply, this is how I am wired; connection is the pinnacle of living for me, so I build and seek it like I place my feet in front of each other to walk.”
”I would say that Joan Didion is in love with ice - its temporality, how it exists as a solution to hunger, a panacea to indulgence. She grabs a cup of cracked ice from the pharmacy. She wants iced coffee. To ‘soften the harshness’ of the heat, she embraces a buffer. I take in her relationship to ice as a confession - one in which she exists far closer to me.”
”I actually do not know platonic depth. All of my best friends, I have fallen in love with.”
It is raining so lightly this morning there is a veil over Providence. The mourning doves that sit on the phone wires still sitting on the phone wires and I hear them cooing. Their call is often confused with an owl because it sounds a little like a hoot. It also sounds like a tritone, Bb to Eb (then down to C). The chickadee call is a major second interval, often Bb to Ab. In the 1950s, French composer Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992) composed thirteen piano pieces for Catalogue d’oiseaux (Catalog of birds) - Messiaen had a huge collection of bird call transcriptions from his travels and in this work, each piano piece is dedicated to a particular bird and “word paints” (like the composer version of “onomatopoeia”) the bird into the piece using transcriptions of its call as well as by “painting” its environment. E.G., “Le Loriot” (“The Golden Oriole”) contains moments of grandeur and golden sounding chords mixed with a dawn chorus chatter of all the other waking birds, even kind of romantically-Debussy-adjacent at times… whereas something like “La Chouette Hulotte” (“The Tawny Owl”) is more solemn and evocative of a distant, mysterious hooting intruder in the night, less chatter and gold, more subdued dissonance and stillness and jarring chromaticism… Messiaen is a twentieth-century composer so some might say it all leans towards the discordance of being unhinged from tonal beauty, but either way…
In the first act of Carmen, she (Carmen) sings “L’amour eat un oiseau rebelle” which is an aria about love being a rebellious bird who cannot be tamed/Carmen being a mercurial seductress whose antithesis is commitment - “Beware, if you don’t love me, I love you / If I love you, watch out / If I love you, I love you / Beware / Love is a bohemian child.” Maybe some word painting in how the main melody is comparatively light and floating above the heavier violoncello bass line. More bird imagery. Did you know that Harriet Tubman was an accomplished naturalist who used birdcalls to guide the freedom seekers she was assisting?
The windows are open and the cold morning wind is blowing in… I feel there is nothing afoot today except what I welcome in. Might I be so bold to predict, when the morning has scarcely begun, that I actually have control of where the day goes…? Last night I walked my usual evening route (something like walk down Broadway, cross to Carpenter, walk towards Knight St, head back to Broadway, avoid anyone, etc), feeling very peaceful, listening to opera, wearing a comforting jacket.. I felt my brain welcome in a future vision I hadn’t thought about in a few years/had abandoned for lack of practicality. But the vision suddenly seemed so complementary and also plausible. Quarantine has brought me many revelations. Sometimes I record them into a voice memo as they come to me.
Ok, one more bird-related thing (listen for the bird-like flickering piano at the beginning):
I dreamed I ventured into a basement full of bats - but the bats were also monkeys with wings - and they had hands and were picking up cylinders and flying around the cellar with them - I raced back up the stairs as quickly as I could - and fell to the floor as soon as I got to the top. It was the basement in my childhood home. My dream a few nights ago took place there too (in that one, I had the coronavirus). Many of my dreams have been happening there lately.
Em sent me this video and it was the first thing I listened to this morning.
When I’m writing lately, what I love to do is put on my huge headphones, turn on whatever phase-shifted William Basinski I think will mold me with its clay the most*, and open a TextEdit document. I started doing this during Creative Writing 101 in college. It made me enjoy writing poems I didn’t care about. The efficacy of this technique means I can write even if someone’s in the room with me. Mariame Kaba: “Everything worth doing is done with other people.” How loving.
On a late night walk a few months ago, I realized that instead of perfecting just one morning routine and inevitably becoming perpendicular to its promises once my mood/physical ability/mental capacity shifts or cycles in a new direction (as it consistently does), sustainability might instead be found in having a small catalog of routines, any of which I can plug into at any time depending on my needs. Like, that skill is not found in force but in flexibility. I’ve never felt like I could be disciplined in the ways that capitalism and white supremacist culture tells me I should be (just make yourself do it! 7 times before it becomes a habit!) and I feel a lot of shame about that. It’s taken me a long time to figure out how to move at paces that work for me and to realize that if I can’t keep up, it doesn’t work for me. I’m working on unlearning the literary, punitive understanding of discipline, and learning how to bring more play and spaciousness into my practices instead. My revelations feel like obvious Truths but it took forever for me to reach them. Anyway, all through this summer I have been designing morning routines. Making my bed and then going to sit at the table before anyone else is awake. Writing on my computer or in my journal with a large glass of water. Walking across the wood floor with bare feet - how it does not feel so quiet at any other part of the day.
*=Excerpts from the Youtube comments section on my current favorite Basinski album:
“This is like being inside a tear”
“Is like being underwater in a lake and seeing the light sparks coming from the surface”
“we are terrestrial sea creatures from the ocean planet”
“This is how angels speak to one another”
”the spirit fill up room with light. i can't feel my bed underneath anymore.”
Here is my casual dispatch gallery catalog homepage website. I wanted a place for my writing to exist outside of TextEdit and emails and have now made it so. Today I am in an anxiety spiral so I feel I have fully embodied the sensation of having accomplished absolutely nothing. Indiscrutable successes include, however: eating an egg sandwich, writing, COVID-relief volunteer work, coding this website, drinking liters of water, talking to Judy.
Talking to Judy makes me feel real. All the time we talk about the inextricability of all the layers that comprise us. This is fancy words for all the bullshit goes on when you’re a person who loves other people. Judy is my best friend. We joke that we would kill each other (“I love you so much I’d kill.. you!”) and it is true. The offering is in the gesture.
I’m reading a few books right now. Nurturing Resilience by Kathy L. Kain and Stephen J. Terrell. Dawn by Octavia Butler. Care Work by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha. Sometimes I am flipping through other books for a few minutes to pull quotes and phrasing but it feels like page-turns, not reading. I am also currently also watching every Metropolitan Opera production of Carmen. A simple explanation for why I undertook this task is ‘I played Carmen in college opera workshop and feel attached to the role.’ But idk. There’s little to no nostalgia. Right now I want to feel like I’m studying and also want enjoy what I’m doing while I feel like I am studying. Over the winter I watched at least seven different performances of La Boheme. I didn’t take any notes so I don’t remember which version was best. Anna Netrebko is a better Musetta than a Mimi, imo. If you have the time..
Every couple nights I bring my skateboard to the small parking lot connected to the Samuel W. Bridgham school across from St. Mary’s Church. In the very back there’s an even smaller strip of perfectly smooth asphalt, and I skate from one to side the other over and over. I used to skate across the gigantic Rhode Island College parking lots after my late night classes. Namely in the fall semesters. It was meditative and empty.