Dispatches From The Mundane 029
i watch the moon, let it run my mood pt. I
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This is a long one. I nearly reached the limit of the email. I went on a trip and I want to tell you the before and the after. I’ll warn that this letter contains mention of death, body dysmorphia, gun violence. I wrote this to songs about the moon and skate videos. I like to imagine that the Earth ate shit the first time it tried to ollie.
I'm not one for souvenirs - I like to think of my memory as a gift shop, a junkyard of broken and antiquated items that I hold near and dear. I'm bad at the sincere collection of objects. I've attempted it, but as a child in and out of foster homes and displaced; I couldn't predict its importance every time I'd try to hold on to an object. The Little Mermaid failed me. I'm mostly good at hoarding trash, or anything people give me for free because I am always in a scarcity mindset.
Not quite minimalism but a broken ballad about surviving at all cost, an ode to anglerfish and the monkeys raised by barbed wire. All I cling to hurts me, and souvenirs that don't remind me of suffering have no value. Do you ever feel exhausted by all the sad and sardonic media of our youth– the sort of shit that groomed you to feel so bright, the best at receiving the grotesque humor? Sometimes I wish I could look at clouds and see anything besides the fact that I didn't have a ceiling when I was a child.
Sometimes I feel exhausted when I think of all the dark humor and bleakness that challenged the hope in my heart (although I must admit hope remains like cockroaches, everlasting), but it made me feel superior. It's genuinely some gifted and talented bullshit. Go off, kid, you are astute and swallowed The Pedagogy Of The Oppressed, and you can't admit that the greatest mystery in life is who turns off the light in the refrigerator? Is it a smurf? Is it a gremlin? How come I know the light will turn off but also, how come this is a light I can't follow?
Power comes from risking ourselves in creation - Paulo Freire
I recall watching Poltergeist as a child, and in the middle of the night, we'd recreate the scene in a dark kitchen. The fridge was empty, and my kid sister would fit her body inside. We'd yell at her to follow the light and close the door. She’d open the door and remark somberly that there nothing was there. Maybe we didn’t try hard enough, maybe we're not meant to see it. Why don't I collect and savor all that's important to me? How come all I know is that my origin story fits like a myth about the creation of Echo– Manmade hysteria, a yearning sound chasing the shadow of love and meaning through a widening, cavernous tunnel only to be swallowed by darkness.
Went on a trip recently and suddenly wanted souvenirs. I’ll get to the souvenirs but I’m still trying to figure out what the trip meant or maybe this is just how I am after something different - anything new. It feels like I’m getting new penny loafers for church at Payless in 1994. Kid sister is barely born and I get frilly socks and an itchy dress. It’s Easter. I hate Easter but I love new shoes. I love how shiny they are and—
Tested positive for Covid for the first time. I feel like I’ve got a crush and the whole school finds out who it is like I am hot like I'm going to puke, or I'm going to scream and cry. I want to say it was the worst thing that’s happened to me but there’s been so much bad that I can’t rank it. I sleep for days and the break from overwork gives me energy to have desire. I am so well rested after Covid that I feel lust for the first time, an appetite to linger and I feel like I’m going to scream and cry. I want to dance, I want to find the fiddle, I want to stay up all night during the apocalypse. I’m from a breed of people that long to sing when it’s all over. I want souvenirs from a gift shop. I want to turn a corner on the jaded. I can’t start anew and yet. If only the re-borners, the Heavenly Gate-types got a hold of me, I’m so easy, I’m eager to be remade.
I always have this musty angst for my life to start and failed attempts in a scrapbook. I’m not sure what should be starting, most of the time. I’m wandering about a junkyard looking for spare parts for a car not realizing that starting a car relies on perfect timing, combustion and compression in alignment and isn’t just a product of stargazing and well-wishing.
V. texts me to check in, and I try to make a joke, and she texts expertly - Covid sucks, and you're alone. What do you need? How are you feeling? When the doctor comes in to see me, she pats my back. She says, "poor thing, let me explain exactly why you feel so bad so you can understand why you need to go home, drink warm water and try to rest." My credit card is on file to process the fees, and I'm surprised not to see "sympathetic gestures" invoiced on the bill a week later. She says I can't go to work and I'm mostly relieved. I go from pitying myself to feeling like I got snow days in the summertime. She says I can’t go to work and I’m mostly relieved. I’ve been given permission to rest. Home— my body is near collapse like the best cities and I fall easily into bed.
On the weekend, I succumbed to covid for the first time; I left the house and assumed the world hated me. I felt so aware of my body that I could feel an ingrown hair form. I can't gauge how big I am until it feels like the seams of skin, and I am splashing all over the carpet and apologizing for taking up too much space. One day I'm sitting in a chair, and another day I'm spilling over; I'm aware of how I burst from clothes, how my voice is too loud, and how I stand awkwardly beside loved ones taking up too much space. I only know what I have felt when it doesn't fit in my body and overflows from this flesh fountain, a geyser of misfired neurotransmitters and blood.
The brain, just like the body, is irrational. It feels impossible to navigate.
Each day I read about new ways the world finds to hate or edge people I love out of existence and I’ve internalized the mob. The drag me through the streets like Orpheus in the hands of maenads, torn to pieces, lyre to toe. The only time I know I have feelings at all is when they don’t fit in my body and overflow from this flesh fountain, a geyser of misfired neurotransmitters and blood. I can’t recognize myself although all the landmarks are the same: this is my mirror, my toes in beige carpet, startled doe eyes.
Skin isn’t thick and my psyche’s got a gorilla grip on the katana ready for my demise but I try - I leave the house and swallow chunks of night in my inhale. I am out of my house in the thick of crowd and singing along to songs I love and I feel the old bile hitting my throat as I scream into the mic during the Ceremony set: PACKYOURFISTSFULLOFHATE.
Let myself join the swarm of voices because it’s easier than standing in my body. I’ve told you I feel at peace in motion but I don’t do that much— maybe that’s why this trip felt so good. Blood rushes up to my ears and inflame and they’re Dumbo flapping and loose to my shoulders. Panic that I have taken too many gulps of air outside the venue and say hello to someone from long ago - so nice to see you, I’ve been around, I’ve been missing, I’m not sure where I went, small talk. Someone new reaches out to squeeze my hand goodbye and I squeeze back, bear paw. Their fingers touch the hair on the back of my knuckles, the tip of my claws. The brain, just like the body, is irrational.
In fever dream, I maul someone to death and wake up crying “I’m sorry, haha, I’m just too much, I’m too much, too much.”
In my fever dream, I am an anglerfish and in the depths of The Mariana Trench, I am a porch light.
In a fever dream I sit with Tori Amos and I hold her gun and she looks at me and says “The song is a revisionist’s fantasy— I held a knife. ”
Weeks later, I am sleeping in Mollie's spare bedroom and have spent the evening talking until I'm hoarse again. I can't believe I'm in her house again after all these years and that I just read poems the night before, and many people I love showed up to do something I am doing. It's been so long since I saw PW, Annie, D., and it's interesting how their smiles haven't changed. I've never had a surprise birthday party, but oh, boy, I'm surprised. In many ways, I thought we'd grown too far apart to love each other again and that we'd gotten too old that reconnection would be weird. I love to be wrong.
There are so many people I want to know again after all this hell. If I believe in anything, it's reincarnation. If heaven is real, hell is real; I'll seek you out again. I'll want your company even if angels and devils are real. I'll want to hold your hand and choke on the smell of sulfur brimstone together.
On the eve of leaving my house for a while, I go to a sweaty room and dance with Abbey and Cherry until my feet hurt, until my back pools with sweat and its pride, but I'm just surprised I've survived illness; I'm another year along with the terminal shame that threatens to undo me. What's pride without shame? I'm at Abdu Ali's show, a return of Saturn for me because years ago, I met many people for the first time in the sweat of their audience. Fearless, we young ass dummies would have breathed in skin and touch and danced without pause, and now my hips seize periodically -- should we be dancing? I recall in the thicket of exhausted and gut-wrenching summer nights after Freddie Gray. Things are different now— I don’t know if I could recognize myself then and now and I’m in a limbo but I recalled fondly the day Abdu beckoned us to dance out the pain and loss and, for five minutes, to the blare of house music, screamed, "I exist." Over and over and over, we lost our minds, bodies throb 4/4, hearts 120bpm, warped electronic generated noise that shook the hips of my late uncles in the 90s; beckoned them from the edge of existence to flail supernova, alive. That's all I'm ever doing in music - I want to feel one more time triumphantly. I’m going to chase that til I die. I only listen to surrender. It's like worship music, but I'm falling, oh, I’m eulogizing Nero and Rome.
Days before: Much of my day has been eclipsed by migraines when I emerge to venture to the pharmacy. I'm packing for a week across the country, and I know I won't pack everything, and I know I'll get there and shout, "I forgot my meds."
Get a few feet around the corner, and I find myself slowing, and the sound and shake of the Earth as children run home with shrieks fill my ears. I hear other voices, men, yelling, and that raised male octave causes me to shudder and shake my head. My eyes squint at the yellow bus heading up the block like the sun setting, and I look behind me. The kids have frozen like a still-life painting of a game of chicken. Someone says, "is that for real?" Seven shots ring out, and the kids stand terrified before running fast, screaming for their parents. My legs walk and then run, and I want to call for someone, anyone, but I am just as far away from looking back. My chest still burns from having covid, and I'm hot in the face because I can't breathe. I want to go home, but it's in the direction of what is now the unknown. I asked myself if it was fireworks or a car backfiring. I know there were seven shots, nine little boys were running past me, and none of them lay on the ground behind me. I keep thinking how they're safe and how narrow the threshold of life and death is– we're just waltzing on it all the time, our stupid heavy feet, two left feet trying to stay alive.
Days after: I am on a flight to Los Angeles. 7:30 am, but we're throttling back in time. Turn to a woman and apologize because I've only got a few blinks left before I fall into a deep slumber, but should she need me to move (middle seat), feel free to shake me. She smiles softly and says, "I'm going to sleep, so we can sleep together." The man to the right of me laughs, "I wish I could fall asleep on flights, but I never feel safe." I woke up hours later to turn the screen off and try not to move too much because everyone was asleep. I'm turning into the woman, the man turning into me, and we're unfurling what we knew to be true. I thought I couldn't sleep with strangers anymore and that feeling of safety was an illusion but now?
I want to believe, oh, I want to believe.
A few summers, I discovered forests and rivers, and I spent a lot of time in the sun, on rocks, brown body amongst evergreen. I let myself hang low, fall to the earth like paw paws, and shed skin of urban myths I tell myself when I confuse street lamps for the moon in pictures on my phone. When I forget I don't see stars and how much my belly craves to be full of the overwhelm my kin did when they lassoed stars into modern myths of liberation, of safety, and how I always gasp when my eyes connect. Each time I whisper, "dipper, dipper, I know you, I know," it's the only thing I know like a beloved's lips from a past life. I'll know it when I feel them - one day.
I'll stay awake thinking of that safety, of chasing down something new to collect like the days I believed I was merely a tree turned back into something ancient, a child of Dionysus.
I'll tell you what I found in Los Angeles in Part II.
alone in my room is an occasional newsletter written by a ficus that wishes it was a peony. there’s loads of fucked up shit going on, and throw your dollars where you can, but also wrap your arms around your loved ones and say how tight it is to love them in this hell space. be the smile you’d want to see on the day you’ve got a loose grip and don’t know if you can hang on. cheers.