A Study on Gold

I want to understand the story of gold. Because something about it is not right. I want to go back to the beginning of gold, when it first pumped through the soil like a shimmering stream in a primordial time, free of the narrative that would follow it, like a celebrity before a celebration. Gold has gone through many lifetimes since the beginning. Notice how it remains a backbone of culture, how it has named and ordained so many. We are apparently helpless to its charm by nature. Humans are attracted to lustrous surfaces because they remind us of water. A glint in the distance to our early ancestors meant hydration and survival. But gold is still more than its shine. Gold is the color of the sun, deep and bold: a color of leaders.

There must have been a time when gold was strewn lazy as pebbles on the sun soaked land. Egypt mined and lacquered with gold back in 3100 B.C.. It is said to have blown in the wind with the sand across the Sahara. Lydia, or present day Turkey, was the first to separate gold from silver and fashion coins in 560 B.C.. Each coin was worth exactly its own weight. Thus the search for gold became a race for wealth. Literature and art began to represent showers of gold, caves of gold, pockets of gold that lay hidden in the world all ripe for the picking. The first man to find it was promised the riches it bestowed upon him.

Hence, explorers travelled to disparate corners of the world to pillage for gold and generate wealth within their respective countries. With the hoarding of gold the, 1800’s brought The Gold Standard, which became a global way of measuring currency. $20.67 per gold ounce was what the career golddiggers measured as they whisked their pans in frigid streams and creeks in the west - all the way to California: the golden state. The price of gold only mounted through time.

With the discoveries of vast gold deposits, the metal’s value fluctuated at alarming rates. To combat this unpredictability, the US created the Federal Reserve in 1913, a movement aimed to stabilize US currency. President Nixon backed out of the European Gold Standard a global measurement, the Bretton Woods Agreement, effectively allowing the US to print money indefinitely. Globally, the balance between dollars and gold continues to teeter.

So here is my amateur take on the gold market: save all of your gold belongings. The market has a mind of its own now, and, lord knows we don’t want to be scratching nickles at the cash register, or having our dear debit cards declined in the supermarket line. Keep those gold necklaces, grills, teeth, and bracelets for when the dollar fails us altogether. Make note of what gold you have pressed into the covers of books or sewn into the seams of clothing. As the stock market went in free fall at the end of December 2018, the value of gold has been on the rise according to goldprice.com.

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Gold is a dream, unlike its metallic brothers and sisters like mercury, lead, iron, and bronze. Ultimate accomplishments are crowned in gold. Paris chose Venus with a golden apple. Golden halls are adorned for long lines of kings and queens proved by the power of the luminescent metal. An athlete raises a golden goblet on a pedestal: a winner. The bearer of gold is worthy or chosen for it.  

The search for gold has been fraught. Like many precious metals and gems, gold has long been the reason for colonialism. Mining work is and has been given to slaves or native people. It has been reason to excavate swaths of land. The entire Americas became grounds for uprooting when the conquistadors searched, in madness, for El Dorado, a real, or imagined, or hallucinated city of gold. When the original gold diggers crawled over the west, sifting streams with peering eyes, long beards, burnt and chapped skin. Yes, these are the conquerors, in whatever form they take. These are the people looking to uncover a heaven on the earth, to uproot, export what the good earth has for the crowning of themselves or their kings. How can you adorn yourself in something that has been stolen? Crowning oneself, clothing oneself in order to name oneself is a kind of freedom. But we can clothe ourselves in items not pillaged or mined from spoils of conquest or through the subjugation of others. Being chosen, feeling the sensation of glory can’t come from the desperate pillaging for the material of the crown. A crown can’t make a king, like a title can’t make a leader.

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Robert Frost’s transient gold is a dissipation of that glimmering moment in all beginnings that is swallowed by time: a sunset overtaken by night. Gold simultaneously signifies its grandeur, and its opposite. While gold represents wealth, leadership, and accomplishment, it also represents emptiness. The golden apple is a pyrrhic victory, the golden calf is a lie.

Hold on….With this melodramatic thinking, does loss not just take on another thing? Loss is not an issue of emptiness, but that of adaptation. Sometimes we feel we are drowning. Sometimes we feel we are at the end. With the discovery of a gold-like-thing, there is nothing more outstanding that can come after. But I believe that there is no “the” in end. There is no one thing. If you were to ask gold in literature, and art, you would know the abundance of it. If you were to find it, like that poor soul in the beginning of Disney’s Aladdin, how it would spill over the world, over all of time - with such glory.  

I press my head into a pillow when the sun rises through a curtain too scant to keep out light. No proper shades, just a single sheet. I can count the mornings I’ve woken up and remembered someone has left. And I curse change. I can barely listen to sad songs because my insides feel like stale bread. Heartbreak is cheap. It feels like a damn waste of time and energy. This feeling has been around before. I think about Neil Young’s “Heart of Gold.” Is the heart mine or theirs? And I don’t think that searching will bring you any closer, doesn’t that gold, that heart, that love come like wind? Doesn’t it grow from the ground?

What is searching for a heart of gold versus searching for real gold going to accomplish? Tired hands. A tired spirit. A big hole in the ground. Think of the hands that would find that gold: trembling, dirty, worn for the fight put up against the stubborn ground. At this point what would it be worth? The western world stands on spindles for legs. It’s riches, the gold, or the luxury that expands is teetering on the hands of people and industries that are not sustainable or healthy in the same way we mine for dreams that are too heavy for our shoulders. The work to excavate can never be properly rewarded because it is never enough to fill all the halls, to crown all the heads and fill our aching hearts. And this is the emptiness that is missing, the emptiness between people that a unbalanced amount of wealth brings.

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A Color for the Year

I have a strange feeling that we already are androids. Our phones and our computers are training us to perform the whimsically capitalist fantasies of technology companies, or they are, or, perhaps simultaneously they are monitoring us with dubious purpose as we go through our day. The luxury of an iphone to fit within a certain social strata is an undeniable reality and yet to what it is tethered to is fearfully powerful no matter how innocently our information is being used or sold.

I would like to define a certain tepid aesthetic that I have noticed, as if we are being distracted by color, by shimmer, by shine.

And here is where I return to my main argument of the early 2000 teens: aesthetically the United States is living a toxic Rococo dreamboat. Look at millenial pink (you see it “died” in 2017). Look at Gen Z Yellow (both below).

And, lord help us, if we don’t need more colors like all we can handle is a strawberry flavored starburst without it getting stuck in our hair in some faux pubescent drama (I will never forget when the gum got stuck in my hair and my mom had to cut it out (tears and tears and tears).) Pantone’s 2019 color is Living Coral. I liked all of these delicious, joyful pinks and yellows at first, it was sweet. Obama was president, we occupied Wall Street.

Now I must object.

I am getting carpal tunnel from scrolling on my phone. I was too busy on my phone to text my aunt back. The only thing I look at are sponsored images my friends post of joyous times whose haunting I can’t seem to shake. But what is life without them? Where is connection without them? The only time I see my best friend is when she likes my posts or views my story on Instagram. A blip of “hello” so miniscule that it feels like that’s all I can get. What do we talk about if she knows my life through my images. There’s no more to say. We barely correspond. Proof of time lies somewhere in the mundane. Proof of existence, somewhere in time. Where there is change there is life.
That’s why I’ve been enjoying these dark days. They remind me that we live in an area of the world with changing seasons, and because I know these dark days won’t last, I put up some holiday lights and snuggle into the warm glow. I think the color is shifting to a green so dark it looks black. I think we need to get quiet for a damn second.

Why one color? It can help with phases as a jumping off point. The naming provides both proof and limits. Citizenship, or belonging, and also the opposite: what it is not.

The borders swing around time and space. Providing whefts and wheys for weaving stories. The colors provide variation and movement, a place to focus on that would cover the world in its shade. But the original weaving is always more complicated than we would have expected. Nothing is as predictable as we would have believed which is the reason why we are both robots and humans.

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Another Cinderella

Press one to listen to message

An exhale on the other line.

Presiona dos para esagnol

Press three to include another

From the mess of dripping leaves a woman approaches. A red heel steps through the threshold. A long smooth leg like a white sheet of paper follows behind.

Press four to keep your soul

She found her body in the gutter. She grew up here. She calls it home now. It’s a way of getting by, to cover herself with dirt.

Press five to speak to a missing person

From above falls cold snow, more beautiful and soft than rain. She reaches her hand up so that she can see what the snow looks like and she finds a handhold in the sod.

Press six for a lesson

Press seven for a change

Through the sway of grasses she can make out an immense body. It breathes deeply and roughly. Billows of smoke escape of moist nostrils. She only perceives a massive shoulder of a brown hide as she crouches closer. At once, a frigid gust springs on them and flattens the grasses down. She finds herself face to face with a buffalo. Eyes gentle and shining like glass.

Press either 8 or 9 for an answer

The roaming mountains are larger than giants that don’t wait for snow. Their tops are forever white and distant. One day they will be gone, but not now. Now they rule.

Appuyez sur 0 pour une voix

The girl is gone for years with no shoes at all, just some hide, dried meat, and a pair of glass eyes. She travels until she can feel a beating that measures the length of her heartbeat. On a winter night, from the distance she swears people are dancing.

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She recognizes something in the refracted light. She understands the words. The party people call her name. She approaches and slips into the bodies like a dive into a river.

The Color Gray: a Backdrop for Dreams

Gray is the aftermath of catastrophe, covering the streets, the town, the forest, with ash. It’s difficult to imagine beginning again when in gray. It is the climate of the rock bottom, stale and charred. Not tragically, but simply. From the wreckage that grays the air, through the ash that rises static in the breeze, we can count our blessings, count our losses, take measure.

Shades that control the darkening or lightening of shadow. Though it may be sleek in certain portions of the house or on clothing, gray is never outrageous or garish. Within a cloud of gray we can slip wordlessly away from the world and recalibrate in gray’s impartiality.

Gray is safe. The color that stands in opposition of a statement. Imagine a cashmere sweater in gray, imagine curling into its divine fabrics without expectation, without a bargain set. A nap when you’ve already had enough sleep: that’s luxury. Is gray not also the luxury of the mundane?

When you open your eyes in the middle of the night, where a street light shines through the window from a distance, there is a gray film over everything.

Gray is the soft intermediary between black and white, settling idly between them. It sits like a cloud: non chromatic.

The color grey is worn when you are not doing anything particularly important, a color for the home, the intimate and quotidienne. Buy bread in gray. Do laundry in gray. It’s the color of television snow, a forced static that both eliviates and dulls. But bare with me. Because from boredom comes a flow of imagination, the color is not in from the world, but a flow from something within that waterfalls out in the presence of gray.

The History of Snapchat?: A Dear American Story

In 1996, A Journey to the New World was published by Scholastic. An English girl traveled across the Atlantic on the Mayflower to “the new world.” Hear my Sorrow, was a Shirtwaist worker in New York City in the year 1909, also published by Scholastic in 2004 and the last of that 36 series called Dear America. The series was published on a wave of Scholastic’s success. Scholastic ended 2005 with a net worth double the amount of the year end in 2003. These dates also landed in conjunction with the Harry Potter books. Young adult fiction was in its golden age, and the Dear America books, while not matching the Harry Potter phenomenon, benefitted from its fame, and ultimately took a place that was missing at the time: chapter books about young girls, for young girls on a series-based platform.

I voraciously read almost that entire series of 36 books about girls’ lives, from the Mayflower arrival to a Sioux girl in a residential school in Pennsylvania.

The books read in real time, as diary entries. The day, the place, and the time written generously at each heading. Each entry leads us through the day-to-day lives of girls who lived during monumental times, in monumental circumstances in US history. Scholastic worked hard to make the books as personal as possible, with realistic illustrations, or old photographs of the girls on the front cover, down to the ragged edges of the pages, as if worn by time. The authors’ names aren’t written on the cover, only the girls’ names, where they lived, and the year. This strategic design were conveniently deceptive. Though I did not warrant them true outright, I happily suspended belief for them.

Not far from that time, I picked up the diaries of Anne Frank. The feeling was different in those words that spoke as if a ghostly. What stuck was that Anne Frank did have a voice. Unlike the narratives in the girls of Dear America whose lives are fictions based on true events, Anne Frank had lived her life and the words were already written. Her untold death echoes like a dark shadow behind the joys written in the diaries. She is real. Her wisdom is beyond the scope of the Dear America books, requiring a deeper sort of attention. But the Dear America girls are dreams into which we can play, in their words remains a continued life, questions still unanswered.

History is made by the storyteller, and while the books pointed to diversity, there was little in terms of non-white storytellers. There were no examples of Asian immigrants, Mexican, or Puerto Rican young women, the absence of whom are sorely invisible in the US narrative.

The books were published about tens years after the American Girl Dolls. Girls who are now 9, 10, and 11 are being introduced to snapchat. In the late nineties and early 2000’s, before we could compare ourselves to the real time stories of others through social media platforms and youtube. We were told real time stories of girls through magazines and Dear America. As a young girl living upstate New York, it worked, and soon I was the one tactlessly writing my daily activities in a journal with passion. I drew from these books as a way to feel a historical importance in my own life. Social media narratives lend to the Dear America zeitgeist, widening the voices and making significant the many voices. Now, unlike, Dear America, the issue is not diversity, but connection.

Dear America were narratives of girls going about their day-to-day while witnessing and undergoing moments that would become “historic.” When we read the journals in the late 90’s and the early 2000’s we were the same age as these girls. Seeds were being set culturally, politically, and technologically, that would shift our lives, and in no way we could have predicted. All that was happening would be ours. We read Dear America books, from the voices of young girls, not  aware of any kind of history “making” but using their private voices as the structures for time.

I am certain that the Dear America books inspired many girls to put their pens on paper, to parse out the historic significance running through everyday lives. More than a completed historical document we long for the unfinished narrative, the continued story, so we can run to catch up, grab the hand of another and form bonds through media.

Glass Buildings and a Case for the Birds

Chelsea are streets of optical illusions. The streets are glass tunnels. Just behind this door, behind that white wall of the gallery there lies a boatload of artwork. But all I can see are gleams of reflected light all along the street, and dark, unwelcoming entrances. Sometimes I wonder why Chelsea isn’t more beautiful if it’s the old swinging art gallery district. Forgive me if I venture that it’s time has passed. It’s been sucked dry and all that’s left are sharp remains of beautiful, messy times. I remember poking my head out of a Bushwick window on a warm day in June when Bushwick took the reigns. I was 23 and the only age I could have been because that Bushwick open studios was how artwork should been seen, I thought, where it falls out on the street. Now I am 28 and I feel out of the loop. It’s like, Why not make your door pink? Why try to compete to be more and more minimal? I am a bookmaker, this has in part to do with that. Book making really is just a very small and simplified version of architecture. I digress.

The highline from here is just a shadow crossing the streets, crowned with browning leaves. We are not there. I am with my mother, a bag full of books on my back. She’s a quick talker and frenetric on her feet. She only pauses when we come across a streak of red from the wing of a fallen bird. The only color to be seen for blocks. It looks like it fell a great distance to get down here to the grey streets, to the sidewalk of 26th street. “It’s the glass,” we say craning our necks to the sky where the buildings extend up like trees.

Later, I try to return to the location of the bird’s small tomb on Google Maps to take a closer look at the street and see what building was the culprit so that I can call them out once and for all. But when I set the little yellow human down on the street, I find myself in the middle of a gallery opening. And I imagine the person who took these pictures. This is very opposite from the street. This is very cramped with art enthusiasts and the building disappears within its own walls.

I continue looking for an image but find streets obscured in scaffolding. Nothing. I consider that perhaps there are no images of this building yet because it is so new. Hudson Yards was rezoned in 2005 and is going to open to the public in March 2019. The entire neighborhood is rumbling with potential. Most of the buildings surrounding Hudson yards have also be built in the last ten years in preparation for the massive economic boost that Hudson Yards is preparing to maneuver. I imagine all of the wealthy people who will live and walk there. All of the glass buildings. What will the birds do?

In 2013 The Vikings stadium broke ground at the heart of Minneapolis and The University of Minnesota for the Vikings, that team wistfully known as “the heartbreakers.” Almost making it every time. The stadium was built to look like a large Viking ship, and indeed, hull and all, peaks through buildings in dinkytown as if faring grandly along the plains of the Midwest. There were hundreds of complaints about birds flying into the large glass wall along the southwestern side. The solution involved a study that began in 2014 and is slated to end in 2019 according to an article written by Alison Thoet with PBS News Hour.

Autumn is the migratory period for these fowl. Often the traveling birds will mistake an indoor tree for possible food. Or the reflection of vegetation for food. These birds can be younger and less experienced, flying down from boreal regions to southern temperate regions. The Audubon Society has initiated Project Safe Flight, and nationwide studies  to find solutions for glass buildings. Most of the birds that fall victim to glass windows are smaller, lower flying birds compared to hawks that also migrate through Manhattan. Volunteers have discovered starlings, woodcock, and ovenbird as among the highest in fatality.

The Jacob Javits Center, the Northernmost bookend to the Hudson Yards development came across a similar issue according to a New York Times article in 2015. The author, Lisa W. Foderaro found that the Javits Center used patterned glass that is not visible to the human eye, but distinctly alerts birds of its existence.

As Hudson Yards revs its opening, here is a plea for the birds. Perhaps through patterned glass, through colored glass, through strong colors. If the complex should be buildings that would feign inclusion, warmth, a welcoming attitude, let it at least be authentic for the birds. Let the color on the streets be not the outcome of confounded songbirds, but artwork, but a flutter of wings.

Learning to Fight

The importance of stillness is lost on me as a I shimmy through the motions of a day, saying yes to everything, picking up forgotten meetings and chores that have fallen out of my full calendar. As the hours pass, I repeat “I’m writing, I’m writing…” over and over again to make myself believe I’m writing. But the phrase is vapid. No one believes me. I barely believe myself. Though you know I try.

In my desire to arrive at some financial or acclaimed destination my eye never settles in the blur the pace of my feet make of the world. All signs say, welcome to the potential New York City. But not the inevitable one. Certainly, there are a scant few people who can say that New York doesn’t blur them. I aspire to be these people (I also don’t believe that it has to do with class or money). I think has to do with a mindset.

I came to this city with a dream to write for Nylon, or Bust, or some other trendy, fun magazine. But I couldn’t get myself to just apply to the internships. They seemed petty, and I had too much pride. I was a Writer. I would weave winding pieces about death and dying and anxiety and nostalgia that could put the most avid reader to sleep. I sent these pieces to the editors being like, “I want to write about people who make graffiti in the walls of the subway tunnels. I want to write about how going to Union Square gives me an anxiety attack.” And so on. So, of course they never wrote back. I’m a dark bitch, who couldn’t accept that her dreams were not the substance of anemic pieces on the importance of a pair of shoes. Am I negging right now, Nylon?

Sometimes my ambitions seem to cover this city like the underbelly of a phoenix, so brilliant that I would swear this place was made of gold. Other times I wonder if someone pitched me my dream once and I bought it. Clouds are not formed by skeletons. There is nothing to a dream but the stories of the mind and refractions of light.

For the first time the question was posed to me: What will you fight for?

We sat at a white table stained with red acrylic paint. My elbows were sprawled out, fist on my chin, comfortable and sleepy. I said I didn’t think that fighting was the path to where I wanted to get. My interviewer seemed a bit taken aback and explained the story of her parents. How they fought. How, in their case, they fought to survive.

I left feeling unsettled. How did my mother fight? My grandmothers fought. The times that I fought when the break of day ambushed a good amount of hubris I had about the calculations of my bank account or a inclinations of a lover.

If you’re not playing you’re not paying attention. If you’re not in your body someone else will be. If anything, fight for the vessel that is yours for now.

Her voice crept inside me. Where is your fight? Where is your salt? Where does it boil inside? That’s the way. You know you are as bloodthirsty as the person next to you. It’s only natural.

In my dream a line of people said what they liked in sex, and what they liked in a partnership. I said I liked to feel the sweat. I liked to feel like I am working for something. Fighting doesn’t have to be hateful. Fighting can create place, can create boundaries, can be a form of exploration. Is growth. How else does a bud brace against the cold spring wind?

This is for you, Bust, Nylon, this is for all who taught me that I must fight, not only for my own writing, my own dreams that transform like clouds, but for the dreams of others, who are growing, who are defining their world. Who are building their strength. Who are not readily heard. We must fight for our voices, and not in a hateful way. But we must fight.

How I Dreamt I Had Three Sons: A Lesson on Letting Go

I had a dream a while back after making 30 hardcover leather bound books.

It was late. I had work the next morning. I was immersed in an audiobook of Ender’s Game on Youtube and skiving the last piece of mauve leather. I pressed the razor down and skimmed the plush layer of hide off so that the skin became thin. With a thin layer of leather the cover would be adhered smoothly against the book board. Before finishing, I left this piece of leather on my desk and went to sleep. I wasn’t ready, and wanted to keep the project going one more night.

That night I dreamt I had three sons. They were barely new, they were dripping, practically gestating there on a table in a house. But they were happy boys. Two were normal looking but one, had a strange face, a square face whose expression I couldn’t explain. He ran into my open arms, laughing as I crouched on the wooden floor. I held him. His mouth was next to my ear and I perceived the rolling laughs becoming panicked, high pitched screams.

I distanced myself from him and saw that his skin had been so thin that his intestines were falling onto the wooden floor. I woke with a start, sobbing.

It took me a long time to connect this dream to the books I was making. I had worked for months on the edition, folding, sewing, gluing. Skiving was that close attention to the thickness, flow, and consistency of leather. I’m as woowoo as it gets, but I’m sure you can buy that there was something of a spirit within those skins that I paid such close attention to.

Before beginning the project, I had never bound an entire edition. The task was much larger than I had imagined it would be. So close to the end, I was facing another kind of end. Unlike writing who’s process can be infinitely tweaked, there are countless ways to use language to express or weave story. With books, you already have the material. By the end you have made and used all the paper, all the ink, all the leather the project can give. Once they are done they are in front of you, imperfect perhaps, faulty in their junctions. But there the way these sons sat on the table.

In the creative process there are many stages, but the one I understood for the first time that night is simple, necessary, and profound. There is a moment where you have to let go. In letting go will feel like a death to end the creation of it. It will feel like the work is not ready sometimes. Living its own life to be adored, hated, to be used, or forgotten or all of these. And it dies in your arms as it goes. You can name it, you can speak to the time it took to make it, and the way it was formed.

But it must move forward or you will not have given it the life it deserves.

I haven’t been able to overcome this struggle, and often it is difficult to finish projects for this very reason. The release has not become easy, and perhaps it never will. But at least I know that the love exists. The love is what matters in the end.

Scorpio Rising

The Scorpion tail lifts tall over the horizon.

It’s an intensity in the eyes and a pull from somewhere secret inside you that guides you into darkness. But what is darkness but a thing that is unknown to us?

A place of extremities. In the full dia de los muertos, halloween, it is the veil that on one side touches the ancestors, and on the other side, an ecstatic vitality.

Scorpio rising is when you notice that it’s dark after an active summer day. When you notice it’s autumn. There’s a loss and a gratefulness that exist simultaneously within the shimmering lights that are set up around in the shadows that are the houses. This is the beginning of the season of lights.

Scorpio rising is the intense connection to the luxurious release of an orgasm. The during and the after. It is glory and then the moment after. What more could there possibly be?

What more could there possibly be.

Nothing less than a death within the self.

This is a time to acknowledge the darkness that you have. Take a moment to walk with that which is lost. What have those things taught you? Those years? Those relationships? There is an immense amount of creativity welled up in these darkening days, so let yourself be immersed in the new season, sit with it. There is a great amount of potential, perspective, and learning within the suffering.

Your rising sign is what is immediately seen, and how you initially react to something. Your famous sun sign lies in the depths of you, but as people pass you on the street and meet you for the first time they see your rising sign. Find your rising sign here:

https://www.astro.com/horoscope