I guess it's about staring the train wreck down, right down to the rail road ties, sifting through smoke, metal and memory. "Bravery is not for the beautiful."

Mostly you will find posts that contain poems, paragraphs or narrative non-fiction in process or my thoughts on my writing adventures and of course there may be the occasional rant.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Resistance

Usually when I make art, it’s quick, messy and thick with a sense of urgency. With ceramic sculpture I will take my time to make sure that it won't fall apart or blow up in the firing process but I won’t smooth out fingerprints or nail marks or that little dent just to the left. It’s often imperfection that makes something beautiful or at least lends some sense of meaning. When I paint or draw or write all of this still applies, it may all be patched together quickly or hazardly but it will be standing come morning. This is my resistance.

I rarely go out to buy art supplies, I have never been very good at allowing myself this indulgence. So, I find them. Discarded wood on the side of the road, already painted on canvas at the thrift store, old stove tops in a junk yard, free house paint on craigslist. The greatest gifts I have ever received in life have been art supplies. Trying to create something from what the world has given me has turned into an art practice in itself.

My Mother was an artist but I didn't understand this before she died. As a kid, the fact that she sewed was boring. Sure, I loved the blankets that she made just for me and was even some what intrigued by the dolls but I didn't understand the skill that went into it. I didn't know about fabric choices and colors and stitching it all together. I did not appreciate quilts or afghans or the beautiful dresses. But I married a seamstress and once again find myself more often than not in fabric store on rainy Saturdays. And it’s the patterns that I notice. I loved them as a kid, I loved fingering through packets upon packets of something I didn’t understand. I still don’t understand. Maybe It’s the unbearably thin paper with the notches and dotted lines that magically make clothing, or blankets or something useful. Everything is exact, complete with instructions on how exactly to cut this unbearably thin paper, it makes me think of surgery and skin and blue prints. There is an art to stitching it all together, to making it work, to linking one piece to the next-- this too has become part of my resistance.

Most days I have no idea who I am or how I got here or if I have even arrived. But I know that I have stitched something together despite the fact that I can’t even thread a needle. I know that I have become a sculpture of found moments, grief and distant memories to painful to be anything but abstract. It’s all here, stitched together quickly at midnight or maybe it was 4pm every thursday for the last twenty years. Some of it’s glue, some of it’s clay and some of it’s tears. It’s messy and childish and strong enough to weather a storm. I don’t know if it comes apart, I don’t know if I want to take it apart, I don’t know if I can look at it piece by piece, moment by moment, because it’s all just thrown together with everything I have, it’s private and ugly and the most beautiful thing I have ever sculpted from nothing.

Some days I want to show it to you, even in pieces. And everything feels wrong and I know that this is the answer, to peal back the moments like an onion, to reveal why the sculpture still stands come morning, to revel in the masterpiece of becoming and creation.

And I resist in sharing and telling and the truth because silence and resistance have become the glue, the substance that is holding me together. Resistance is everything, it’s all I have left. And I am going to cling to it because that is survival. Resistance is living, it’s what brought me to this moment and what will hold me until the next. I can not stop resisting, this is the pattern, the stitching, and all of the lint in my metaphorical pockets-- I let go of this and everything --sculpture and all come tumbling down. Resistance has become the fiber of my being and sculpting my secrets  into meaning has become my art.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

A random letter written on a Tuesday in June or Glitter does not make everything okay

For years now I have been a letter writer, often having several other writers to write back and forth with. This is a letter written last June.
*****
Have you ever seen the documentary "Paris is Burning"? If you haven't - you should. It is one of the best documentaries I have ever seen plus it's focused on queer, and poor folks of color- without even trying too hard. I tear up every fucking time.

For some reason the film makes me think of Alice, I wonder if she ever saw it, I wonder if it would have made some sort of difference, I wonder if I am an asshole because I never thought to suggest it. Some times it doesn't feel real that she's dead. It doesn't feel real that trans people just don't make it to adulthood, because it's too hard and drugs are too easy and glitter doesn't make everything okay. I still have her last boyhood item stuffed into my back pocket, it's funny how much masculinity we put into a little leather money holder, and she thought it so fitting to gift it to me. There's something about a boy who never wanted to be a girl, trying to teach a girl who never wanted to be a boy, how to become a masterpiece. Some days I think I failed when I think about the little seventeen year old hooked up to life support in Oakland's children's hospital and some days I think back to her giggling, talking about girls and clothes and think that at least she died being open and honest about who she was. But wouldn't it have been better if she had lived, grown up to show the world the masterpiece she had become?


If you haven't seen it yet please check out the book Alice's mother has been working on- it's heartbreaking, beautiful and real. Really. Go now.
http://laurustina.com/the-complicated-geography-of-alice/


Friday, November 30, 2012

Metaphor


He gave me silence-

   the kind of silence
that only snow can bring to
   New York City.

He gave me his hands,
   brown, worn and angry.

He gave me my body,
   his body
Leviticus- tongue to cheek.

He gave
  hair patterns, books, philosophy
and the tight rope between
51 and 50.

He gave me her, only
on loan, a Mother.

He gave me breath, bullshit, butterflies
  and battleship.

He gave me silence,
            but left me words
and I gave his hands
   my
      tattoo's.
****

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Louder please


If I could tell you anything,
I would say-
Speak louder.
No. Don't shout, it just makes you look angry.
Please don't say- Never mind
Learn to rephrase and not repeat,
I didn't understand the first time. Choose different words.
Step into the light and don't cover your mouth.

If I could tell you anything,
I would advise you not to ask me why I wear hearing aids so young, unless
You ask every person
Under thirty why they wear glasses
Please don't ask if I like them or whether you should get some. Please just see an audiologist.
Do not ask how much they cost, they cost a whole lot more than money, in fact they cost more than words.
Do not ask about the percentages of my loss, there is no way to break it down,
Could you ever put a percentage on how many times, you missed a joke, missed some one asking for help, whispering a prayer or saying  fuck me?
Could you ever put a percentage on the inability to hear your own voice? Or how many sunny hours were lost as a child in speech therapy so you wouldn’t have an accent?
I would also advise you to
not move your lips around with no sound coming out and ask me if I can hear you, this makes you look like an ass, in fact this does make you an ass.

If I could tell you anything-
I would say speak louder,
Loud enough for my heart to hear you,
Loud like the dawn chasing the night away
Loud enough to make the floor vibrate
Loud like a smile and an extended hand
Loud enough for me to not have to say "sorry, could you repeat that?"
Loud enough for me not to apologize for my disability, again and again
Loud enough for me to say, I understand.

If I could tell you anything,
I would say
speak louder.

Thoughts on writing

I write because I have to, when I write- it becomes bearable, real, alive. When I write, I am no longer choking back the words but finally breathing fire. When I write, I take the knife and go right up the vein, not across- mind you. When I write, I no longer exist. I long, some days, to no longer exist. Words become color and sound, blue warmth and thunder heartbeats. I miss Midwest summers when the thunder would become my heartbeat and the storms would hide my shame. When I write, discomfort becomes my friend, driving the words like a herd of sheep towards the some day greener pastures and the sheep know only to follow. I can only follow the words as they move faster, become larger, make the leap from nightmare to dream and I am still standing when it is all finished. I lean quietly on dangling modifiers, semi-colons, and enjambment, not the sort of thing one wants as a foundation but it is a start. When I write, I am finally breathing, releasing, living. When I write the demons come out of the shadows and take shape, they can be named, I can be free. When I write memories are no longer mine, but some thing else entirely, a moment outside of my secrets, a window into someone else's story, a journey towards something shared. There's a stillness to words, even as they move faster, space to breathe between letters and periods. There is a silence to words that is louder then any other sound that I have ever heard. A silence that can be bold and full of explosions and never uttered aloud. There is safety here,even with a knife to my wrist. It's up the vein- baby-never across.

My Fathers Childhood bedroom

You asked about my memories- unspecific but demanding. It was a gesture of mercy that you allowed me to write them down.

And Fakir, with piercing blue eyes, whispers, "this is not about being stoic".

There was always something about this room, it chills me even now, twenty three years later and the house has been sold. This room with wood paneling,  dusty trophies,  vertical blinds, the heavy desk, the stench of onions and my fathers childhood. This is the room she left us, side by side tucked into a full bed. This is the room where I learned to swallow my  prayers, snot and screams. There was always something about my mother leaving. It started before I can even really remember.  Back before my parents lost their house, the few times my mom ever left for an evening out, I wouldn't just scream, I would wail. I would wrap myself in one of the multicolored afghans she made and fall asleep next to the window, hoping to know the minute she got home, the minute I would be safe.There was always  something unpredictable about my fathers eyes. But this time was different, this time my mother wasn't coming back. A month or two is an eternity to a seven year old especially left in the care of a grandmother with different ideas concerning soap and the multiplication tables.

This is the room, where as my mother lay in a hospital, I memorized my "our fathers"and "hail Marys", on my knees- carpet worn but still scratching through a thin floral night gown. This is the room where at ten years old, only months after my mothers death, I had to tell my grandmother about the blood in the bathroom- she clutched me to her chest sobbing about the woman I had become and I was sobbing about the woman I would never be, the shame on my cheeks matching the spot on my underwear. This was also a moment meant for my mother, and even that was taken from me.

This time, both of my parents stood awkwardly in the door frame- his dark skin framed by her light, they promised she wasn't going to die, promised that we would all be a family again. She was leaving for IV's, nausea and hopefully more white blood cells. I sobbed, holding my pillow to my chest- shaking and begging her to stay. Pleading- because my life depended on it. Instead of focusing on my feelings, I focus on the room- the ceiling- where I would lay on my back and stare  for long enough- shapes would twist and emerge like watching shapes come alive in the clouds, or how at sixteen it was in this room my fathers brother told me how my mother embezzled thousands of dollars- hundreds of thousands. This room has become the coffin of my childhood, and this memory it's first nail. The nail being my first understanding of loss- the first time- I understood what it meant to be alone. Like the first time when I lived on my own, and spent all night vomiting in a bathroom- wishing to have someone to hold my non existent hair back- wishing to be the sort of person that some one would want to hold my hair back. Wishing for my mother.

My sister is just a wisp in this memory, perhaps too young to have understood what was happening, to young to be a comfort to me- often she was more of a chore, but in the end- it kept us both alive.

 My Mother did come back for us, some time in the end of March but in this moment I knew she was going to die, even though it happened three years later. This was my first taste of my life without her, that first kick in the gut - that I never really recovered from. They say that you learn to live with it- I still sleep holding a pillow to my chest.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Strong (piece still in draft stage)

You gave me a box of rocks
for my 30th birthday.
30 rocks in a pocket sized box,
tied together with a ribbon.
You brought them back from the coast of California.
a coast staggered with pine trees, fault lines
the ghost of john Steinbeck
my history
and acres of vineyards.
You told me each rock represents a
 year that you have survived,
and all I could see was a little monument to the pieces of me
that died each winter, marking solid thoughts and misguided respect on misunderstood tombstones-
You told me that you are strong
but not like the rocks
like water
picking one up- you asked me
how big the rock was once before the water got a hold of it, how long the water worked it until it washed up on the shore
and to think of the strength it took to mold its current shape.
Again you say
you are strong like water
a strength you don't even know that you posses-
strong like water.