The Trapeze Manifesto

A pop of a cannon barely lifted above that rush of voices and colors that rushed the eyes. The excitement into which we easily slipped. A crowd of people kicked up a dirt floor leaving a film all over our bodies. I had a snow cone in my hand that I ate diligently so as to get all of the flavor before it melted away in watery blooms through the paper cone down my wrists. The ceiling swooping over us was inverted with long tent poles. The ephemeral was palpable, blowing up like iridescent bubbles in our hands at the circus. I remember rambunctious clowns. I remember horses running around the track like a fever dream I once had. Finally, there were the trapeze artists. A huge net spread over the ring to catch the flying bodies. Men and women in beautiful sparkling suits even practiced the spectacle of climbing as they reached the top, which felt unimaginably high. And there they engaged in beautiful courageous flips on the ultimate forms of swings, able to defy gravity, comfortable grazing the ceiling above us.

This improbable comfort of the aerialists, these beautiful costumes, and the extreme capability seduced my imagination. I decided there, on the edge of the aluminum seat,  I wanted to be a trapeze artist. I would be happy to spend all of my time swinging high above the world in a sparkling outfit. I would be happy to spend my life in flight. It seemed to me like a life of play.

I don’t go to the circuses anymore. There has been too much in terms of abuse of animals that has kept me from morally attending. Though the spectacle of it draws me. So I look up videos and images online of trapeze artists and arealists. The aerial arts include any elevated acrobatic including aerial silks and hoops, and the trapeze. As the images populate the screen on Google Images, I can’t remember what about the trapeze artist struck me. The videos are dull. The artisans perform at a distance, which shrinks them into the size of insects, butterflies, they transform to strange flying creatures. And the images are strikingly erotic. It occurs to me there might be little difference between a trapeze artist and an erotic dancer.

As I held the remnants of the soggy cone in my hand, the lustrous art of the trapeze claimed a deep erotic desire in me. But is eroticism so far away from any strong feeling of passion? Audre Lorde engages the erotic in a state of being that links to the spiritual inner desire that encompases much more than sexuality, and in fact acts as a source of true power. I wanted to be seen the way the trapeze artist is seen, with a sensuality and capability that appeared to be magic. How my own body contorted. How alive I felt in movement. How invigorating it was to swing, to fly, to be synced with the body in that way. A trapeze artist was all of these.

The circus has always been a representation of a life outside society. It is been a celebration of so called “freaks” and other “outsiders.”  In the past the trades of the circus have been passed down through generations, existing primarily in family structures. The performance itself is a small part of the whole workings of the circus. This is what makes the circus a quite revolutionary place, the values of which are placed in generational knowledge. According to Smithsonian Folklife Festival Director Sabrina Lynn Motley in an interview with National Endowment for the Arts, Motley states, the circus is not only based in a lineage and value of family, but also acts as a communal living situation, where the “circus arts” are not only defined by things like the trapeze or tightrope walking, but raising tents and making shoes. The circus is an example of a living community. The very essence of which is directly anti-settlement and self sustaining. The traveling circus is a complete commitment to place, and to moment. Motley insists further that the circus is an inclusive space for class, race, and gender in that it has been accessible to all people.

Often circuses are viewed as dangerous, violent, dirty, and lawless. These narratives are common with organizations that are different from a traditional colonialist framework that values separation and settlement of people(s). And, I warrant that there has been proof of violence against animals in circuses, and I do not say that circuses are by any means perfect models, since they are reliant upon spectacle and othering. And while I have not gone on to join the circus, I believe the circus has important models for us to consider when we are looking at our relationship between work and community. I am certain that I was not the only child to want to be in the circus. The erotic playfulness of the circus can exist because the circus itself barely exists, the ties to the land are inevitably sustainable as it travels like butterflies over the countryside. So when we wake up and find the strange myth of adulthood popping like ugly ghosts in our lives. I hope that we can learn to find the erotic within us, that will in turn find the play, that will in turn find the empathy and kindness that it will take to heal the wounds needed to be healed.

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Memoirs of a Houseplant

Houseplants generate at the periphery of my attention as I lie in bed, eyes extending up, following the long vine of pothos as it frames my window with heart shaped leaves lined with yellow like stretch marks. The sun has healed it. For months it reeled from bed bug spray that covered the apartment this summer. Now it grows tentatively.


My collection of plants has become abundant over the years. When I slow down, looking out the window or trying to open it from the heater my landlady has put on full blast, then there they are. My plants are quiet in their movement.

The truth is, people with a “green thumb” who live on some planet and speak to plants are not alien, they are the substance of our own bodies. We have inherited the nature of interacting with the life, death, and digestion of plants. The interaction between them and us is symbiotic, brought down from our ancestors. Caring for plants is a matter of listening to the inherent relationship between a person an plant. We all know how sensitive an orchid is. Are you prepared to give it what it needs?

Plants communicate with us all the time in the way they stretch, the way they shrug, the way they lean. Their nourishment from the soil, water, and sun is mediated by a houseplanter. Caring takes research and it takes attention, because a home environment has the potential to be a trying one for your plant community if their needs are not being properly met. However, with informed, and, need I say, intuitive actions, plants can also thrive in home environments.

Plants require consistency, so a variety of different plants may work well with your schedule. The jade plant, for instance, requires watering and will be happy in many types of soil. The snake plant is probably one of the easiest if you are a forgetful waterer, two weeks can go by in blissfully and dry. If you are highly neurotic and worried about the plants (and everything else) constantly (who, me?), a tropical plant like a monstera or a pothos may be appropriate as they prefer damp soil.

All of this said, there may end up being a shift in your soul as an outcome of a relationship with a plant. In other words, caring for the plants may help us change our habits. The plant  visibly exudes gratitude, like any living being, for nourishment, change in soil sometimes, a stretch, some sun. Ultimately the potential of the house plant is dependent on the ability to listen to it.

I came into the plant caring business blind. Several plants died under my watch - and sometimes they truly do get sick. But I was careless towards many of them, not changing their soil often enough, not watering them on the schedule they needed. For a while, the fear of hurting the plants kept me from collecting more. But as the years go by, I am constantly taken by a plant’s ability to regenerate. With the proper care almost all plants will grow roots if a healthy leaf is placed in water.

In the end a houseplant operates as more than a piece of furniture or homely decoration. There are three purposes for houseplants: one is the beautification of the apartment, to ease the walls, to make the apartment feel alive. Beautification is a healing many of us living in apartments need. The second is for food: basil, rosemary, or sage, tomatoes if the sun is right. The third is for therapy. Horticultural Therapy is an established practice assisting patients with coordination, task initiation, communication, and memory, among other treatments. There are specialists and programs located in several hospitals and institutions throughout New York City supporting people through the caring of plants.

In a way we must be matched or match our habits to the plants with a deep sense of knowing ourselves, honesty about our limitations, and the amount we are willing to learn for their well being. To give yourself a few minutes once, or twice, a week, or maybe a minute a day to tend to plants would do them wonders. Sometimes we forget days go by. Time rolls around, time expands and contracts. “Time,” my grandfather said, on his 97th birthday, “is an accordion.” He is a musician. But he was known for the buildings he designed in New York City when the world was being split apart, when the city was being hemmed in an attempt to carefully fold certain peoples out. Robert Caro discusses a lot about this in his book The Power Broker, which describes man behind much of the structures and systems that continue to impact the society of New York City.

At the same time, in the 1950’s, the city was portrayed as a polluted place. People living very close together seemed to produce the narrative of a polluted environment. Indeed the city remains as a conceptually polluted space, driven by the narrative of unclean closeness, disease, infestation, and waste. To avoid this, there are walls built, lofts become multiple small rooms, apartments are cut in half so that families are separated from one another and still can afford to live in this city. Walls between the living are closing in, so close as to be in our faces in the form of screens.

When I am home alone I often find myself on the computer or my phone, desperately trying to produce writing, formulate emails, or just scrolling. Time is endlessly filled with consumption or production. No wonder my eyes strain, my shoulders sink forward. After hours of this, I feel sore and it’s already night - how did it get so dark! I had forgotten to look out the window, to notice the sky, the plants. To move around the apartment and inspect the plants would simply be a physical break from the screen.

Houseplants are a direct action against the belief that we are unclean when we are close together. When we are near one another we give each other the opportunity to listen, to practice how we sound when we speak. In our own language. In our own voices. Plants don’t speak English. But what we can offer one another is transcendent and liberating.


By choosing to care for a plant you are choosing to learn a different kind of listening, you are choosing to listen. All plants require this, all plants have a different voice. May houseplants be an example and a start to develop more time spent together.

Climate Change Fashion

I don’t often check the weather. I walk outside based off of the way the sun is shining or the temperature I feel when I am getting dressed. In ten years living in New York City I have owned one down jacket. Shameful.

In my defense, years after not owning the proper clothing for the weather, it has become apparent to me that the fault is not in my choice of clothes, but the evolution of fashion. I can’t dress for a 0 degree night on a 50 degree day. In mid-January there was a heavy snowstorm that lasted for 30 minutes exactly. The city has been spraying salt on the streets for a month when there has been no snow. Pedestrians and cars barely need ice to be broken up, but for a few areas that have trickled into the streets from car washes. Predicting the weather seems to become more and more difficult due to changing weather. So as the climate shifts, so too should our shifts.

According to Kendra Pierre-Louis, with The New York Times, climate change will bring more extremes in high temperatures. While the cold snaps will occur less often, they will remain intense. The string of record low periods known as “Polar Vortexes” are, in fact, an outcome of the ice caps heating. With the rising heat in the arctic the cold air there breaks up. The frigid arctic air is then pushed south with the Gulf Stream to, for example, Chicago, leading to the -30 degree days and so on. The movement of these streams explains the dramatic shifts in weather that take place over short periods of time. Due to these new weather patterns, New York City recently experienced several dramatic swings. Most recently a shift of 60 degrees in a period of two days. If this is to be the norm, we are going to have to do more than “layer-up” to go through the day. We can’t stay inside for days at a time. We are earthbound. We need vitamin D. We need to be able to go outside.

I, for one, will not hear this bitching about how it’s cold outside when, for most of the winter, it’s been hopping around 40 degree and 50 degrees. I speak to New Yorkers when I say, you have seen worse, my dears. The cold is not the problem. You’re clothes are, you have no idea what’s going on. It’s ok, none of us do. But we have to get a grip.

While consumers learn to live their lives without complaining and learning to act, I include myself in this process, the grip starts with the fashion designers, and then the companies. Fast fashion has long been known to be an unsustainable model with regard to environment. Processing raw materials takes thousands of liters of water per shirt, for example. There are harmful chemicals used in the clothing that we, and the people assembling the clothing, are exposed to...

There is enough in the labor issue for an entire article that I am not going to get into right now. But I would like to take a moment to acknowledge the existence of sweatshops, globally, people living in poverty, working around the clock in dangerous spaces to make large box store clothing - this is unsustainable, this needs to change.

While there are many brands that have begun to use recycled materials for their clothing with a more conscientious manufacturing plan, these brands are very high-end and not spread widely enough to make a difference. This is why the movement begins with designers who have the platform to reconsider the uses of clothing.

.       . ..       . .. .        .. . .. .        .. . .. . ..       . ..       . ..       . ..       . ..       .

To fuel my inner designer, I would like to offer suggestions to designers to reconsider the uses and materials of clothing. The business model must be completely turned upside down to create inclusive fashion, with safe environments for workers, while also being affordable for communities that cannot afford the current standard that this kind of clothing would be priced at.

Here are some concepts for climate change fashion.

   1

Snowpants and snowsuits should definitely come back. Everyone knows they’re better than the hefty overalls that need to be broken into anyway. Overalls are more like wearing tubes than pants. Here are some sleek snowpants or a snowsuit! To lean towards a vintage look, as well as airing on the side of safety, it will be important to wear bright colors so that your neighbors can see you in 30 minute to hour long blinding snowstorms.

    2


During cold snaps, it will be important to keep the head and chest warm, as well as the nose, feet, and hands - extremities, if you will. Shawls will become more and more important as the temperatures change. The shawl will be used as a cocoon on cold days, to keep the hands and arms close to the body. As for the warm swings. The shawl will become a loose dress and, if necessary, rain gear. It will be a structural material that can be manipulated to the wearer’s needs, such as a hood or a face mask during sand storms (think of the movement of tinfoil). The fabric must also be breathable.

     3

Boots with shorts to walk through melting snow. The shorts will roll down to pants when it gets cold and the boots will have an inner section that will roll up as thermals for the pants.

     4

Waterproof everything. On land wetsuit for when your sidewalk falls into the ocean or river and you have to swim across the street

    5

Boat shoes: shoes that are literally boats for people who can’t swim… Everyone should learn how to swim. But this is an issue for the schools.  

Accessories:

Sand faring vehicle/backpack for quickly moving across the Missouri deserts with large tires.

Large sun hats that will cast shade over the whole body. There will be a tasteful chin strap beneath the hat because on windy days the wearer will experience a gliding effect as the wind comes up beneath the hat.

Navigational sunglasses. So when you lose your way in a snowstorm or sandstorm the directions will be labeled in the glasses so that you will easily be able to find your way.

These pieces will only last so long because materials are in short supply!

Get them while you can!

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Women without Wings

I was home alone when I began to make out words from my neighbors. They have been fighting recently. Based off of the tone of his voice I have come to the conclusion that he has an anger problem because his words rise with such force above hers. Sure, it may also be his tone. Once she told him not to undermine her intelligence. The phrase then slipped out of my own mouth when I was speaking to my boyfriend. In jest. But the statement, as soon as I spoke it, fell heavy on the ground. It wasn’t something I would say. Was I becoming this woman? By listening to their relationship, was it transferring to my own? Furniture moved in an explosive struggle whose manoeuvres were left to my imagination. Was someone hurt?

I sat on the bed, wondering if I should call the police or my landlady.

At 12:30am I heard someone come into the room and put all the furniture back in place, and pick up what had fallen.

Women’s personal lives have so long been within households. We have seemed to carve circles on the floors like slabs in coops: like flocks of hens or beautiful things that might fly away.

A few mornings later I heard her cry.

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I remember mothers who were delicate and skittish in houses with china atmospheres. Humans will change and adapt to environments like animals and house plants. I remember mothers whose skin was pale and delicate, whose voices were cracking. Will we not at least try to fit into the names that have been given to us - by god, by our family, by our society? And when we fail, what will happen? The air becomes tense and reality becomes easy to break. These masks are weak.

So does it seem so strange that women have become birds from all the names in the English language that attempt to define them? Clothing shaped the bodies of women. In the 1800’s bustels looked like the plump bottoms of birds. There was the trend of large feathers in caps that would accentuate a cheek bone. That would extend a head. Clothing will change the form of your body, and so women became rounded and small like the proportions of a plumed bird. They were referred to as chicks, birds. They shrill, cackle, cluck, titter the smallness and high pitch against the low pitched and slow. Not being listened to based off of the tone of a voice or the shape of a hand is an unfair dance.

Something in the relationship between men and women is shifting, and should shift if we are to air out the musty air of resentful houses.

Example: I never wanted to be a woman. I always wanted to be myself. These two do not contradict.

..

The skeleton of a wing is reminiscent of a hand or a mitten. The bird is stabilized by a series of digits shaped like a mitten that assist in stabilization to support the arc of the wing where the feathers extend. The dexterity of the hands seems to equal the freedom of flight.

So what is the purpose of wings extending out of the shoulders of women? What is it about women that could historically levitate them? Like angels. The last Victoria’s Secret Fashion show which stripped us all of good feeling. That seemed to undo all of opening that has been done to include all people into fashion, an industry that is being forced to change as conceptions of representation are changing, not only widening in terms of body image, but literally connecting people to those bodies, connecting the outside environment to those bodies. As I search through the internet to find examples of ways in which women and birds have merged in history and language, I seem to feel a growing disdain for the trend. I find the “god” mother, the great mother who is levitated like the virgin of Guadalupe, no wings but from the cherubs below her. She is not a monster, like a centaur, like a sphinx that is half human half beast, but the wings are there as a service. She stand courtly upon them, her eyes lowered in prayer.

The partial animal mythical woman was merged with an animal through wings. The point of access between this world and the sky. Sky generally representing the male, while the female figure represents the earth. While angels in Christianity were historically considered men, there are representations of the heavenly host that have become popular since the mid-1800’s who were women, looking young and sorrowful with puffy white wings on their backs in the theme of the neoclassical and pre-raphaelite paintings. They seem weighed down by their wings rather than uplifted by them. Women’s wings are more like pillows and not for flying. I need to come up for air from this one because I am drowning in down feathers.

I am not interested in looking at “fairy” godmothers, or generally fairies, or little birds who take the place of children and fetishize dreams and erotica. Bird wings are homely.

I was 12 when I bird first pooped on my head. I was with my family as we were looking for a place to eat. The incident did not hurry them in the least. By the time we were guided to a table, the seagull poop was plastered in my hair.

….

Conjured: the winged victory, or Nike of Samothrace, a Hellenistic statue whose name now graces some of the most sought-after shoes. We know the statue without head or arms. In this state she is particularly alluring. Without a head, her body appears very large. Her chest and her leg extend out in a forward manner of confidence. The backward extension of her wings that in this case are like arms, seem to accentuate this forward movement. She is the goddess of victory. Victory, a kind of ultimate safety that would open one up to celebration after a controlled struggle. The woman with wings is a brave messenger, both diplomatic, slightly homely, and wise. Let her not have a head, let her be all the women there was. Let her not have arms for she flys and this is her freedom. Her arms are things of this world, and Nike is not of service to others as hands might represent. Nike is a being of swift movement.

But then again. She is not a woman at all. Like all the angels are not women. They are the representation of themselves without gender and women are not birds. They never were. For birds are birds and I will end my argument here. I washed my hair of them, I watch them now from a distance. I admire their grace, but I let them be. I try to avoid walking under overpasses where pigeons are clustered for fear of their pooping. I don’t feed them and continue a marred relationship between people and birds. Birds do not sing for the pleasure of human ears like humans are not to be captured, homes like cages, relationships like bars. I do not try to embody victory, for victory is moving and ultimately ruthless if I cling so hard to its mantle. My direction is not bound to victory as my form does not generate wings.  


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.

*

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.

      *

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. I, for one, thought that’s what it took to change the world.

Now I must object. Color has more power than it has been given.

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 an eel 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.