Thursday, October 17, 2013

Invention of morel/invention of reason?

Dear suicidal tendencies,

Last night I wrote a love poem to you. Maybe I'll post it later. 

Here are some more thoughts on suicide and art/poetry:
Invention of Morel is a wonderful novel by Adolfo Bioy Casares (deemed perfect by Borges) about a man stranded on an island with other people who don't notice/respond to him. Soon he finds out that they are only images - images that have captured all five senses of the person - the machine that does this wasinvented  by Morel and turned the Island into a museum of ghosts. The people died after the machine captured them. Morel and his friends died in order to livr forever. The book & concepts were sick, and it played with the old superstition that images capture the soul. (Belived by the Amish, in India, by some very very fanatic chassidic Jews). 

I thought this was such an interesting idea, and after reading it I connected the idea - killing one's self for immortality - back to I Love Dick. (But of course.)
In ILD Chris Kraus talks about how she isn't a torture victim or anything like that - all she has to offer is her own self as a sacrifice, and she's relevant because of her specificity. I like both of these ideas. 1. The idea of using one's own life a a case study. (Which at times is questionably ethical and not very nice. I'm thinking of Allison Bechdel's book, Are You My Mother? And how she would record the phone conversations she had with her mother, and her mother didn't know.)
2. Specificity making old ideas and overused concepts relevant and fresh or, worth noting. (A while ago I wrote an essay for myself in my notebook about this. I said how the very thing that delegitimizes science [subjectivity/specificity] is what legitimizes art. I think this analogy works well, but I also went my whole life without learning any science so I could be wrong about subjectivity not being legitimate enough for research, but I'm pretty sure that's a thing.)

I connected all this to Girls as well, Lena Dunham's show about bitchy white girls. (I do like this show!) There's nothing remarkable or extraordinary about the show's subject matter. (Relationships, struggling with identities, the clash between who you are and who you want to be) but what's remarkable about it is it's specificity. And the fact that it shows normal girls that we all know, which is refreshing. But Lena Dunham is essentially taking the specificity of her universal experience, tearing it out and laying it down as a case study of sorts. Thrusting female experience on the table, like Eileen Myles, but whinier. 

There's no question that art (I'm including poetry, photography, writing, filming, music and painting undeneath this word) makes the artist immortal. I mean Hamlet is in second place for the most talked about book, next to the BIBLE so it's like God, and then Shakespeare. That is fucking awesome. That is so powerful.

So artists can make themselves somewhat immortal (this obviously depends on how well regarded your art is and whether anyone feels inclined to keep it around) but with the internet (NOTHING IS EVER REALLY GONE) and this new phenomenon of publishing one's self online, we all get to be immortal artists. 

Which brings me to the "killing one'sself for   immortality" idea. (another reason why suicide, not literal suicide but suicide of one's soul/privacy/ethics, is essential for poetry.) A week or so ago, I wrote a poem about my community and how they respond to child molestation and sexual predators. I showed it to my friend and she got pretty upset with me because she thought it wasn't right a thay I was only showing the bad when people don't know the good. 

I felt unsure about the poem after that. On the one hand, that's kind of the point of poetry - I mean, I'm not trying to write a persuasive essay that equally shows both sides of an argument, I'm writing a poem. My poetry teacher says that poetry is for trouble making and I absolutely LOVE this idea. I've completely latched on to it & it's directed a lot of my poetry lately in a big way. 
But on the other hand, what she said was true - I did only show the worst parts of my community in the poem. It made me feel a little guilty. 

I wrote it for a project I was participating in, and I submitted it anyway, though I still feel a little guilty. I guess your soul can be sucke out by art in more ways than one - you can put yourself in your writing and not fully be there outside of it, or you can disregard niceties for the sake of poetry.

I don't know the answer to this suicide making life a case study problem. This isn't the first time I've encountered this problem and feelings of guilt over ahowing a very subjective experience about a community that already has a bad rep. But I also can't help but use it as material, because it's all I knew for so long and has molded who I am - the good and the bad - in a huge way. 

I'm typing this out on my phone in Spanish class, so I'm going to wrap it up. Thanks for sticking around and listening so long suicidal tendencies, I know  how antsy you guys get. 

For now,
Yours truly. 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Girls who'd been hospitalized for mental illness, cutters & whores

Dear Marguerite Duras,

Yesterday I was sitting on the train reading Chris Kraus' Summer of Hate, which isn't about her, really, but it kind of is - like how Esther in the Bell Jar is kind of Sylvia Plath.
Anyway, I came across this line where the main character of the novel describes her readership (which I took to be Chris Kraus describing her readers) and I completely cracked up because I am totally guilty of all, I'm sure, in some way or another.

Chris Kraus describing her readers in Summer of Hate --
"She attracted a small core of devoted fans: Asperger's boys, girls who'd been hospitalized for mental illness, assistant professors who would not be receiving their tenure, lap dancers, cutters and whores."

Today as I was driving home, I was thinking of Marguerite Duras' beautiful little book of short stories? essays? essay poems? called Writing. My favorite essay in there is "The Death of the Young British Pilot" which I can write pages about, but that wasn't the essay I was thinking about during my drive home today. I wish I could remember the name of the essay I have in mind -- but it's Duras being her wonderful and bitter self. She's writing from a house where she's staying alone, drinking, alone, and talks about how one needs these two things to write - solitude, and alcohol.

I don't really need alcohol to write, but I probably need suicide to write. I feel like every poem I write is a reason why I haven't killed myself yet or a reason why I should, like carving marks into a stick & counting how many days have passed or like when I was carving marks into my thighs & counting how many days were left.

That might sound depressing or morbid but I don't really see it that way. I'm going to go write a poem about this idea & get back to you.
On a slightly related note, I should probably stop listening to so much Fiona Apple.

(This entire post is a rough draft of a bunch of ideas I need to expand upon, later, when I've developed them more.)

Sorry Duras.
This is a post of non-writing.
You're cool.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Sylvia Plath and watching movies back to back

dear Sylvia Plath,

Today I was feeling a little depressed - (not in a terrible way, in a bit of a cozy way that I can snap out of, so it was fine) - and so I took a bath, which of course made me think of you.

I love filling the bath with water and then sinking in and closing my eyes to let everything stop and grow soft - my hair, my skin, my thoughts. When I feel ready to face the world again I let the tub drain and stay seated in it, letting the water fall off of me and slip away until it's only me and the empty tub.

I'm also thinking about you because I'm working on a little project inspired by you - I'll write more about this when I'm done with it.

Last night I had a date, but I made up some lie and canceled. I was supposed to go with him to the international film festival and then we were supposed to meet up with friends on the north side for some drinks, but I lied to everyone and said my dog died. I don't actually have a dog. I just wanted to be alone. I went to a theater near my house, by myself, which I really enjoy doing and need to do at least once a month so I don't feel claustrophobic in my own body.

I watched "enough said" and it was wonderfully well written and the actors did such a great job. I didn't feel like going home when it was over so I snuck into another movie and watched the remake of romeo and Juliet, which was less wonderful. The first movie was packed and I felt guilty eating the salt and vinegar chips I had snuck in. I chew really loudly and I didn't want to piss everyone off. But the second movie was practically empty, so I had a whole row to myself which was awesome. I propped up my feet and munched on my chips and licorice and felt the swell of the empty big room and had a very lovely time. Then I drove home and listened to Lana Del Rey sing about her pussy, which tastes like pepsi-cola, and it was the perfect night - cool and breezy and calm.

I thought about how still I felt and how still the world felt. lately the world has felt too big and it keeps growing and growing and I'm feeling smaller and smaller. This is usually fine, until I stumble and start swirling in the massive world and feel entirely unbalanced and worthless.
At those times, it's good to regain my balance, adjust my standing and tighten up my world a bit just so that I don't feel so lost.

I think being single contributes to my world getting larger. (not that I dislike this, just an observation) when I broke up with my boyfriend, the thing I missed most was having a home base. He was the person who had a perception of me I was comfortable with and felt good in. It was weird losing that. Especially since after breaking up with him, I realized that I should have been spending these past two years investing in permanent home bases - making my best friends the people who are always there for me instead of neglecting them for a shiny new boy. It's hard to find that balance, though.

There's this song by lana del rey called, "this is what makes us girls" that makes me want to bawl like a baby each time I hear it. It's totally sad and depressing and true. that's the worst part about it, that it's so true. The chorus is something like: "this is what makes us girls, we don't look for heaven and we put love first..."
I find this so horribly heartbreaking. it kind of makes me think of the Bechdel test, where she tried to find movies that showed two women having a conversation that was NOT about a man and had such a hard time doing that. Sometimes I feel like it's all we women are taught to know. even in the Chassidic world I came from, life was about preparing for your eventual marriage. (which was never that far away).

I do want to be married one day. But for now I need room to go to movies myself and eat chips in an empty theater with my feet up just feeling great about my hairy vagina and shitty haircut my friend gave me and stress pimples I've picked into scabs. or, maybe I don't need to feel great about the stress pimples, but I need this time to not care. I don't like having these things matter. I want to learn how to find my standing in this world on my own.

Here is something sweet and nostalgic I wrote when I got home last night, about teenage romances & how they make the big world more bearable:

Shrink with me
Let's spend saturday night
watching movies
back to back
In that old theater
near my house
where the sound is always fuzzy
and the 3D movies are always blurry
because they don't have the technology to play them right

Let's sneak in snacks
from the CVS next door
A pepsi cola and pack of gushers
Cheap Australian licorice that pretends to be fancy
I promise I won't laugh
when you hide the soda bottles in your front pants pockets
Even though it kind of looks like a misplaced penis

Let's whisper insults about everything
The characters the plot and the script
The people who shush us
We can't feel angry when we make each other laugh so hard
And have sex in the most outrageous places
Because your parents want us to wait until I'm 18
Even though 17 is the age of consent
And my parents don't know I have a boyfriend
And don't want me to tell them

I keep my skirt on while we're pressed against the concrete wall of the parking garage
The cement slab near the beach
The tile of the diner bathroom
So we can pretend we aren't fucking in case someone stumbles on us

Let's never think about how scared we are
We'll talk about it endlessly instead
Sometimes we aren't sure why we're together
But we're too lonely to question it
The world gets smaller
when you give me the stink eye
 for asking too many questions during the movie
And remind me that it's your first time seeing it too.

For now Sylvia,
your teenage admirer

Saturday, October 12, 2013

"Do you ever Daven?"

For my five year old sister:

My five year old sister, who is the smartest and sassiest five year old you will ever meet, sauntered up to me today and said, "do you ever daven?" (Daven = Yiddish for pray)

This really bothered me for several reasons. Mostly because I feel like the Chassidic way of life raises children to be really annoyingly self righteous. It also bothers me because I don't think it should matter, and I feel like she's being taught that righteousness = good person, which it doesn't always.

Lately she's been fascinated with whether or not people or things are Jewish. Whenever she hears me singing a song she asks, "is that a Jewish song?" If I'm reading a book she asks if it's a Jewish book, or if she sees me talking on the phone she asks if the person on the other end is Jewish, she asks me if the princesses in the princess stories I tell her are Jewish and if the person checking us out at Target is Jewish. When you're raised in such a bubble, like she is (and I was) I think you automatically assume everyone is like you. But my sister is smart, and early on realized that her world was small and that the world outside of her world is very big and unlike her world. And now she's trying to sort it out. Figure out what is a part of her world and what isn't and what that means.

Because of what they teach her at school, she's going to come to the conclusion that Jewish is good and that not Jewish is bad, which is problematic for so many reasons. I'm personally infuriated by this, because as a kid I thought the same thing - anyone with a black hat and beard is safe, while everyone who doesn't have those markers can't be trusted. Of course this is so far from the truth. The Jewish community is filled with sex offenders and child molesters and horrible people just like every community, it's just less known and hushed up more.

I worry about my little sister. I worry about her because she's already so smart and sassy and pretty and unafraid. I worry about people hurting her like they hurt me. I worry about the ideas she's being fed and how they will affect her in the long run. I'm worried that she's bored in her classes like I was and that she'll end up making trouble like I did and that she'll have all these questions that no one will answer and it will drive her crazy like it drove me.

I'm in such a weird position, because I want to be there for her. I want to tell her all the things I think and who she should be wary of and what she should believe, but I can't. It's honestly pretty miraculous that my family didn't kick me out of my house when I "went off the path" and chose to live a completely different lifestyle than the Chasidic one I was schooled in. When my parents finally semi-accepted me, they told me that if I were to live in my house, I would need to be careful around my siblings. I have five younger siblings and in their words, kids are pretty impressionable.

The most I can do is take her to the library every week and tuck her into bed at night and love her so, so much and worry about her. I can't say anything when I see her anxiously tugging at her neckline because it falls below her collarbone and she doesn't want to get in trouble and I can't explain to her that Jewish isn't always good because it's not my place, as I've been reminded more than once.

So to my five year old sister:
No, I don't daven. I can't remember the last time I did daven.
But please know that this doesn't matter. That this shouldn't change how much you love me and what you think of me even if everyone is telling you that it should.
You are such a special little girl. I don't know what you will be like when you grow up.
I wonder if you will question as hard as I did and if you will leave and I'm afraid for you but also very excited because you are already so smart and strong and lovable.
Know that I am always here for you. Always. Even though I don't daven.

I love you
Love your big sister.

Friday, October 11, 2013

It chooses you and I guess you just go along with it

Dear ___________,

I just finished reading Miranda July's book, It Chooses You which she wrote while struggling to make her movie, The Future.

The book struck me similar to how I Love Dick  struck me. The two were about women struggling to complete films and finding resolution or solace in unexpected places. What interested me about Miranda July's stuckness, was that it seemed to be motivated by the internet. Having the internet and all of what it encompasses did something weird to her process.

In one chapter of the book she visits a man who has manila envelopes filled with pictures that he's categorized and obsessively labeled as, "pictures of nice girls and babies and jails" or "pictures of nice girls and babies" filled with pictures of pretty movie actresses and jails and babies. After leaving, July realizes that this the best blog she's ever seen, but she would have never found it online - she had to find him on penny saver and drive to his house to see it.

I guess that unsettled me because I've been preoccupied with other's successes lately, in a way that's been crippling me instead of encouraging me. I suddenly felt like all the writing and art and living I have been doing the past two years wasn't relevant, or as relevant as others who have took that living and art and writing to the internet and documented it and then eventually became early successes because of this.

My online presence is small. I contribute to few things. Most of my writing takes place between pretty notebooks my grandmother bought me and on scraps of papers that I collect in a box on the top of my closet. Next to that box is a shoe box duct taped shut and filled with everything that reminds me of the psych unit. My entire bedroom is a blog. I saved my binders from pre-k onward and must buy all of my books and then I write in all of them, underlining my favorite lines and passages and filling in new thoughts that come to me as I read.

There's another interview in the book where July visits this woman who has birds and baby leopards and makes her fruit salad and it's unnerving, and difficult for her to be around. Later, she leaves and realizes that it was the fullness of this woman's life that unsettled her, because it left no room for invention. I liked that a lot. For so long everything I was producing felt full to me, full despite having no recognition from others.

And now I feel the need for invention - not literal invention, but invention in the way that it fills those empty spaces. And I wonder why, I can't figure out where the fullness went. Is it that I've just resisted, like how I find awful shoes cute during momentary fads? Or am I really missing something, maybe I lost something.

I don't know.
I wonder if the fullness only gets smaller and smaller with more and more recognition. The internet is this huge space where we connect with people and the world becomes so large through the lens of the web. Alone in my bedroom with my laptop shut, I feel satisfied with my accomplishments and life's work sitting on the white wire shelf of my closet. But when I open up google and open up the endless possibilities of what I could be doing and what it means to be successful I lose that satisfaction and instead feel like I need to search for something, be doing more.

I don't know how to end these thoughts because I'm having them as I write them and so far, there is no resolution or resolution in the lack of resolution.
I don't think this is a problem that will go away - I think it something that will keep expanding and getting more and more complicated as I get older and my world widens.

For now,

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

I've been wearing these black jeans for three days now

Dear [insert name of my ex-boyfriend here],

I wrote a poem for you while I was at work today:

I don't care about you 
I don't care that 
you found someone new
I bet she's ugly. 

I don't miss you.
I don't miss the face
I can't remember.

I don't know why
I cried
this morning over 
the message you sent me
letting me know 
That you had a new girlfriend.

I don't know why
I responded by
telling you I was 
seeing someone too in fact
I told you I was seeing
two people because 
I'm an overachiever
Who's only been seeing 
A lot of her therapist.

your ex with the dirty pants 

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

I Love Dick

Dear Blog,

I want to give you an identity. A bit of a purpose. Maybe goals, we'll see.
I downloaded the new iPhone format thingy today, just so I could feel like I was doing things with my life. I have a hundred other things to do, but I've neglected all those things to download the update and then download a bunch of apps and now I feel like an over-achiever. So that's what's new in my life.

Now, your life has just begun and will be so much more than the pathetic anecdote above.
I want to tell you why you exist - to get really grossly graphic, who impregnated you (as in idea) inside of me. (These metaphors are gag-inducing. I apologize blog. You deserve better than this.) But it actually sort of works, given that you're here because of Chris Kraus & I Love Dick. (Dicks, pregnancy, you see what I'm doing here...) Anyway, I Love Dick is this wonderful epistolary novel written by Chris Kraus, who at the time, was a failing, almost 40 year old independent film maker. The book is a collection of love/obsession letters she wrote to a man (Dick Hebdige) she fell in love with. Her husband took a part in the project and for most of the book they wrote the letters together, but eventually she goes off and begins writing letters by herself, which generally involve herself and have nothing to do with Dick.

I read the book shortly before breaking up with my first and only boyfriend of two years and that is when the letter writing began. The past three/four years have been really monumental for me. Not just because they were my teenage years, but because I left my Jewish Chassidic Orthodox community and learned what evolution was, and the difference between Mel Gibson and Mel Brooks and had sex and learned to self identify and spent more time than I should have in a psych unit and learned to speak out about the things that everyone was telling me to keep quiet. I don't want to overload you with a load of information at once, blog. I'll fill you in more over time.

Anyway, this summer was an important summer for me because it was the first summer that I had to myself. & So, in the vein of Chris Kraus, I began to write letters. These letters were purely functional - letters to prevent me from talking to a boy I missed and to help me understand the mess parading around in my head and to sort out the crazy of the last few years. But it turned into something cool. A mix of poetry/personal essays/self discovery/gushing.

And I want to keep the letter writing going. Maybe document some old ones. & like I told you yesterday, I've been struck with the NEED TO SHARE bug. Being a person sucks sometimes. It's this incredibly lonely experience that becomes hilarious and comical when threaded with other people's person and narrative. Lately I've been in love with this idea that our personal boxed-in subjective small minded narratives are linked with huge ginormous important narratives.

Also, you're here to remind me that there's no way everything there ever is to say has been said. That art & writing is about specificity (cue Chris Kraus) and everything can always be put together in new ways. Because I never learned science in school and barely learned any secular studies (and had little high school education, dropped out at 16 after being in and out of several high schools) I've always felt very behind. This used to be discouraging, and made me feel like shit, like I could never catch up with everyone around me. But now it encourages me, because it makes me think that there is always something new out there to learn/experience/be excited about/create. Life keeps happening in real time and I'm trying to catch up.

Blog, please be the sidecar to my motorcycle life and I will be the ketchup to your macaroni and cheese.

Congratulations on being born,
today is a good day.