When Peace is a Bad Word

The trunks were thick in every direction, and the hills monotonous roils lifting and falling into the distance. This heavy oak forest north of Toronto was let free to grow by the Canadian government. I seem to remember these forests were called Queensland, but now I can’t find written proof. With only a five-minute walk from the main lodge, I had disappeared into the woods to “connect with them.” The camp where I spent summers working as a teenager connected me to this work opportunity in Canada. The place paid me as much as the train it took to get there, but I was in for the ride. It was a family program where parents, young kids, and teenagers would camp out and connect with nature in a utopian kind of program that was based in teachings of indigenous elders, but there were not many indigenous people I saw.  I knew almost nothing about the program before arriving, but once I got there I found my job was to lead a group of seven teens into the woods for the week.

 

I had experience hiking and camping with groups of children in the woods, but they were often woods I was familiar with. My walks in the woods before taking a group of kids out were usually to find plants, to see the way the trees grew and died, to get a sense of the land, and center myself. I was 20 years old with two years of New York City under my belt and thick thighs from walking. I was streaming with confidence, yet there I was, yards from the lodge and I could have been 5 miles north. It wouldn’t have made a difference to me. I was lost, and calling myself a complete fool for thinking I could jaunt into a huge Canadian forest I didn’t know. I believed, because I had happy experiences in the woods before, that they somehow loved me. This appears to be the difference between the city and the forest. The forest won’t give you limits or options. While there are directions to follow or go against in the city, the forest exists. While the city is the dream landscape of architects and city planners and regulators, the forest, everything in the forest is in the process of living and composting. It’s not a place, it’s a community.

I don’t remember much of being lost, just the way the trees, the speckled sky, and the ground appeared to converge and wind around me. I knew there were thousands of acres to the north. There on the seam between humans and forest, I looked for familiar cues to return and, not finding any, I considered my relationship to both.

I’ve always had a power complex about the word peace. I don’t know if I was born with it or if it was given to me. Like a spell, I believe it may have been cast at birth. My name, “Irene” is a name derived from the Greek “Eirene.” In Greek it is the name of the goddess of peace. It has since traveled all over the world. I have spoken to people of all different cultures who all have said that versions of Irene are common in their friends or families. Ostensibly, an outcome of imperialism.

At an event for Anemones, a zine published by Decolonize This Place, one of the organizers of art actions to protest Warren Kanders at the Whitney Biennial this year, a collaborator with the collective MTL+ brought up how New York is a little obsessed with Gandhi, who stands at the southwestern corner of Union Square. Having grown up idealizing the nonviolent resistance strategies of Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr., it caught me off guard to consider another generative form of resistance. Especially when, for so long, I have relied upon a place of neutrality within myself to navigate difficult situations.

I looked up the word peace in order to get this all straight:

 

Merriam Webster

peace

noun

\ ˈpēs   \

     1: a state of tranquility or quiet: such as a: freedom from civil disturbance b: a state of security or order within a community provided for by law or custom  

      2: freedom from disquieting or oppressive thoughts or emotions

      3: harmony in personal relations

       4a: a state or period of mutual concord between governments b: a pact or agreement to end hostilities between those who have been at war or in a state of enmity

        5: used interjectionally to ask for silence or calm or as a greeting or farewell

 

 

Dictionary.com adds:

synm

4. law and order, lawfulness, order, peacefulness, peaceableness, harmony, harmoniousness, accord, concord, amity, amicableness, goodwill, friendship, cordiality, nonaggression, nonviolence

Okay, I will take friendship. I may even take bouts of harmony. But leave the rest, it’s oppressive; inexpressive. I don’t want to live on an entirely peaceful planet if this is what it is. Cordial? Nonaggression? Nonviolence? Emotions must be expressed or they are suppressed.  According to the American Psychological Association, anger is a tool for action and problem solving. There exists a debilitating stigma against confrontation in “civil society.” Anger is a difficult emotion for me to articulate, as I am sure is true for many people. Anger is perceived as dangerous, wild, uncontrollable. An angry person is perceived as losing some of their personhood, which makes the irrational absurd and unreal, and the more rational is empowered to suppress anger. But to be able to see one another, we must be able to speak and to listen to one another. The texture of emotion is layered with strains of multiple emotions so anger flows with joy and sadness and all the rest. The expression of anger requires emotional action and sound. It requires disagreement, and I believe that there is an element of physical presence that goes along with the expression of anger. Like any emotion, anger is expressed just as much physically as it is verbally, which is why passive approaches to resistance are problematic.

The point at which I most gravely misunderstood the concept of “peace” was when I first started teaching. I worked with a group of third and fourth graders. During that first year (and probably into the second as well.), the quiet classroom was the peaceful classroom. But the kids were silently resenting me, saying I didn’t listen to them. And the silence became a contemptuous place. When the quiet cracked, it flowed, and the atmosphere became impossible for me to maintain with my force of will alone. It took a while for me to let go of my ego, and after some time healing relationships (some of which did not heal), I found that the most rich classroom spaces were not quiet, but places where clear, fair, and shifting boundaries were set that were based on the children’s needs and where they were open to express their feelings without judgement. However, a wonderful classroom environment can only go so far. We were still in a low income, primarily Puerto Rican and Dominican classroom, and here I was a white teacher invoking all of the privileges I knew.  And the classroom was owned by the school, and the school one day arrested a child for stealing a teacher’s money. This becomes, and I bring this back to land, an issue of space. 

No, I’m not a violent person. I am not implying that to resist means to take up arms. I strongly believe that hate produces more hate. This does not mean that nonviolence is equivalent to love. And this doesn’t mean that direct, intentional action and disruption is not love. The Civil Rights movement made very important changes in the laws of this country. Marches have made impacts on legislature. But it didn’t change the people it was asking to change. And while laws create the illusion of peace, laws, and to tug at this cliché, to pull this little chunk right out, laws are meant to be broken. As long as people do not empathetically care for one another, and actively communicate with one another, there are going to be digressions from the rule of law.

The air in the crosscountry flight is stale. Pale dull walls wrap around us like I imagine the insides of eggs gone bad look. We are close to one another, curled into pretzel positions waiting to land. East to west, we can see the land transform from green to flat and brown, all allocated into squares until we get to the Rockies where the thin divides of land shapes dissipate into peaks. The sequence of land across the United States tells a story of separation. This western (which has spread to almost all places on the globe) concept of land ownership begins within England in the 12th century and the British Parliament issued the “Enclosure Acts” beginning in 1730. This model began with the interest of landowners. It promised to protect their property and their serfs. Serfs were taxed to use their land (which was the beginning of rent). Law enforcement was created to protect these landowners, thereby keeping their piece: the peace. Thereby, when the English came to the “Americas,” they brought the “Law of Enclosure” with them. So since there was no “property ownership” yet, land was up for grabs. 

So I got lost in the woods in the search for peace. But peace is not an external, political state. Peace cannot be centered around the controlling and manipulation of space. Imagine a composting process. There will never be a static protection. We live like surfers on the backs of waves, we live on continental rifts, shifting tectonic plates and rotating soil, we live with constant overhaul, and the only disruption to that is the capitalistic push to encapsulate land. We do not live on a peaceful planet. Imagine this outlook spread from one to two years, to many. We can’t look at short term timelines. We reach to people like we are reaching into ourselves, across generations. Within our own bodies are the makings of our grandchildren. I imagine a bright light flowing from our gut, like a beacon for others, connecting each other in strong bonds of empathy, not unlike Donnie Darko.

Sometimes, in a city surrounded by people, teetering between worlds of media and reality, I feel my selfhood slipping, my identity changing. In many ways the changes in community affect identity changes in the self. Many of these discoveries happen when I am lost. Capitalism defines our identities. When our selves are transactional, we define our selves like places are defined and made static our changing selves become broken, which happens all the time. The solutions lie in the next transaction, forgetting the ongoing, the entire process that is existing within us at every moment, the gentle biomes and seeds that inform and change us right now.

There is a Bread and Puppet book I found during my internship with Printed Matter called I Am You. It’s a book about a man and a bird who discover they are the same and fly away. Bread and Puppet Theater is an activist theater group that uses large scale puppets and masks. To merge with others we must first acknowledge that in the merging we will become unrecognizable.

I sought refuge in the forest. I went to the forest because I thought I knew it and that I could identify it. In many ways I could, but the land was fundamentally not neutral. My understanding of land shifted in that moment. In a way, by being lost in it, I became it. Measured breathing allowed me to focus on the things I knew instinctually. Simply, the sun was veering to the west, so I gently watched it stay on my right as I eased down toward the lodge and back. I see myself, the history of my name, the violence in my body. I accept it and I must forgive myself. While I didn’t find that peace I was looking for in the forest, I did find a will inside myself, a sense of capability, and a challenge I continue to grapple with. And it is for the better. To be lost is a form of resistance: walking, solitude, survival, unproductive, inefficient. To be lost strengthens our senses. I encourage us to get lost, to let go of paths we once followed. I hope we see the world in a different way over and over again without feeling broken, while sensitively negotiating with land as we go. I hope we can engage with the world in a different way, to express ourselves with openness and the knowledge that we are keeping the peace by allowing disruptive, radical change.

What my teeth know

I grind my teeth when I sleep. I never used to, but for the last several years, though in denial, and in the depths of my subconscious, I know this to be true. In 2016, the dentist in Greenpoint looked into my jaw and traced the carnage. “See how the tops are worn down at the bottom, see the chipping?” Indeed, I felt the sharpening of my lower teeth, and felt a slight slant when I ran my tongue along the upper half of my mouth. In the place of reeling insomnia that dissipated when I was 24, there a clenched jaw. I woke easy on April 23rd, 2019 and I thought to myself, “well, I won’t always have these teeth to grind,” and that comforted me, and then I thought - “wait. But I’ll be dead at that point - that or very old and have other ailments I suppose.” Which made me uncomfortable that I had even had such a defeatist thought. Is my mindset to struggle through life without pleasure?


And will we get old? Or is it as close to the end of the world as we all think? I’m having a breakthrough and everything I make is crap. How can that be? Is it possible to become a contented and joyful being and still make terrible work? Being alive is not being beautiful in the commercial sense. But sometimes it feels like we’re being sold the apocalypse.


When I was 12 I ripped the black thread of my best friend’s friendship necklace because I didn’t want her to lose it. While we were zydeco dancing with our friend’s mom, I noticed it getting shoddy around her neck. Far too many of my precious things had fallen to the bottoms of lakes, or between wild blades of grass to have that happen to her. So I broke her side of our friendship necklace in order to save it. All of my precious objects seemed to disappear and so I kept things around me. I used them so that, in a sense they became me. Or I would wear them just so that I could monitor their existence. I didn’t trust anyone but myself, and so here they had to be - on me, in my hand, in my pocket. Even if that meant breaking them at my desperate hand.


This monitoring led to squirrel-like hiding places for objects, and feelings, kept precious far away from any other person who might not know how to treat them (remember how I ripped the necklace off of my best friend because I didn’t trust her?) Same. 


But it’s strange when the foe comes at night, and it comes from inside, and it comes for your teeth, which I don’t plan to take out anytime soon. And yet they become worn down and chipped and I run my tongue along my plagued bottom row and know that those imperfections mean I still have knots in my psyche. My body says, “you can’t control me, no, not by worrying and working all the time, and also not through procrastination and panic in tandem.” 


As much as it hurts me, as much as it is not symbolic the fact that I am grinding my teeth. I am quite literally destroying my teeth. It would be easy to go ahead and blame society, to blame the very fabric of my life. As Sun Ra said in This Planet Is Doomed, maybe we are living ruses that keep us from seeing reality. I waver and complain in the face of something which I don’t understand. I feel somehow helpless to the monotony and simultaneous banality and necessity of the smallest tasks. Where is respite but in solitary moments? Do they call this a breakdown or a breakthrough or just a busy season? Either way, my jaw takes some of the feeling my mind refuses to process. 


So. I would like to honor them. My teeth, that is. So I look up “what are teeth made out of” and though it makes me cringe to look at all of the names: pulp is one of them, along with dentin, and enamel. Like trees they have roots and within a thin layer of nerves and tissue. I settle into their uncomfortable, vulnerable complexity. WebMD asks me to ask my doctor about stress relievers. Or buy a mouthguard. Everything points to: meditate and train your body to relax. 


What I am engaging with regarding my teeth is manifold. They are unique, they will not grow back after that first losing of them, and they are right there underlining our faces like a choice on microsoft word document. They are the gatekeepers to the consuming of dense material. In a way they truly are our golden fortress, our protectors. From a smile to a bite, they are the shield and the shape, and a weapon on our face, defining us to the outside world, giving weight to our expressions. It is the teeth that insinuate existential fear, from a panther, a shark, a dragon, the teeth are the faithful warriors. And the fear of their disintegrating seems to be born from a fear of helplessness.


I have my father’s teeth. They’re weird because the lateral incisors are small. I have cracked them more times than I would like to admit. Several of them are patched up with some sort of tooth cement (and I would imagine this will continue to happen in my life. I am not yet 30 and my teeth are haggard.) 


Dentists have always been very lax with my teeth “your wisdom teeth are growing in. You have room.” It may have been true, but I remember the intense pain of wisdom teeth growing in. I was around 22, and I would be writing when all of a sudden I thought every single one of my teeth would fall out, followed by my jaw. The sudden assaults scared me, but I didn’t do anything about it until I ran my finger along the crests of newly formed teeth and knew they were the famed wisdom teeth that many a friend had uprooted, and so for days sat with cotton swabs in their mouths and apple sauce and mush strawed in. 


My mother used to take me to this real holistic doctor in Massachusetts - where all the holistic doctors were - not in upstate New York, where I grew up several towns over. In my memory he was a very old man, his skin paper thin white, nearly transparent hair. Something about his voice was buttery, clicking against the walls as he asked me if I wanted braces. I said. “No.” Of course not. Who wants braces! And more importantly, why would he ask? He’s the adult -  he’s the damn doctor, weren’t braces prescribed? Weren’t they just necessary. Anyway. He listened to my ignorant self, and here I am, with teeth as wrangled as a tornadoed mountain, strong, and worn. An overbite for sure. At 29? I’m too proud to get braces now. 


And as I grind them, as the jaw circles, it seems to be grinding over some expected words, something that must be said. I dream of them falling out. I dream of them rotting, or, are there still baby teeth in my mouth for some reason that just forgot to come out so many years ago? I dream of molars as wide as mountain ranges.  What am I not saying? What is the motion for me to ease out these ingrained anxieties? Is an anxious free life even possible? I believe it. But there’s something I’m not saying.

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Black Hole and Portal Studies

Somehow the black hole seemed impossible, a well-known figment of Einstein’s imagination. A mythical beast roaming the cosmos the way the lochness monster may once have swam in the imaginations of individuals, only to become real by the discovery of a giant squid in the ocean, or even a shadow crossing beneath the waves on a ship. Monsters have a way of manifesting. Now in the corner of our maps of the galaxy, we can draw it’s glowing ring and gaping mouth. Eyes looming from the depths of a furrowed brow, I imagine Freud telling us importantly all about the existential fear inspired by a mouth, Vagina dentata, or eye, all of which the hole could possibly resemble. Either way, the existence of it’s very image requires contemplation.

My first impression of the image was banal. Unlike graceful nebulas, the black hole is a goopy blip on a computer screen. And, like anything galactic, it is inconceivably far away. Sitting there, blithely. Oh, only the image of complete nothingness. I feel like nothingness shouldn’t even be pictured. Images should provide some understanding, the black hole does nothing but confirm that which was predicted: that it is there, it has a inconstant ring, and a hole. A portal. While our seasons whirr in the delicate balance of our precious solar system, there is a place with no season. The image of the black hole is the opposite of newsworthy. Sure, the way in which the black hole was discovered, as presented by The New York Times, making the earth a giant telescope, a giant floating eye, essentially… Which makes me really uncomfortable: The world is not an eye. It is as if the news outlets were to write a story on death’s inevitability. There is not anything we can do with this information, except wonder if it is inevitable that it, or it’s sister, swimming through the galaxy will one day eat us. And if it won’t eat us, earth will go crashing into the sun like a cherry blossom petal smacking a cheek on a spring afternoon and then the black hole will approach from afar and our beloved sun will be transported into the pit. After a black hole dissipates, which, according to Wikipedia, they do, it is unclear what will become of the matter it consumed. I have so little language for black holes and the cosmos, that it remains for me, in the mythic realm, constantly reminding me that the more we find out, the less we know.   

After the memes started appearing about the discovery of the black hole, it seemed as though the image has been latent in our subconscious for a while now and came out in the form of doughnuts, the eye of Sauron, cat’s eyes, the end of Natasha Lyonne’s cigarette (I can’t seem to find this artist, if you’re out there please let me know who to credit). The implication being: maybe it has been here all along…

Our world seems to be so tightly knotted in myth, humanity, the planet, the animals, the sky, all wound in history that, shortly after the image of the black hole went viral, the burning of the iconic Notre Dame was deemed a tragedy for the world, when St. Mary Baptist Church, Mount Pleasant Baptist Church, and Greater Union Baptist Church were burned in a hate crime in Louisiana at the same time. Not to mention the huge ongoing environmental crisis that is occuring at this very moment, the attention to which will - I believe - heal aching divides between people. Notre Dame tells the myth of a monoculture. There is an element of representation in the burning of Notre Dame that is a homesick kind of longing for a white euro-centric politics that seems to feel threatened in the communal sigh of “what is the world coming to?” It adores a perfectly placed metaphor, it adores an image. I lived in Paris. I love Paris, the Notre Dame was stunning to have as a part of my life. But identities are not in objects.  

Afro-futurist and surrealist artists, have imagined portals in space, including Sun Ra, and George Clinton. Imagining a kind of freedom beyond the known structure embedded in imperialism, slavery, ethnic cleansing, and genocide feels like imagining a portal into space. The cosmos offers solutions and limits that are beyond our comprehending. Which is comforting. It is the complete trust in these myths this place of mystery has always held for us, and the surrender to magic.

And then I become unsettled in the presence of the black hole. What does it mean to have an image of a thing we cannot possibly understand? It must be mythologized. Space and time are our forms of measure, and they themselves are finicky in our experience of them. It calms me to see, within the bowels of Virgo the presence of nothing we can measure. The existence of a place beyond our imagination. It is in the biblical sense, awesome.

However, the black hole is an image now, one whose mysteries can’t be measured. We can’t help the existence of the black hole. So, rather than letting it be a place where we can hold our metaphors, our dreams, and impossibilities, I encourage we recognize these same mysteries are the fabric of our own bodies, our own every day lives - they are banal: a donut, the end of a cigarette, a feeling that we have. The more we pay attention to our selves the closer we can get to identify our own places of hurt, and begin to understand the deep and profound desires within ourselves, our families, our community. The unknown, the multiple fantastic futures and impossibilities - are right here.

The mist rolls off the city, revealing the sun like a golden tooth.  Morning is a promise.

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Future City

I hauled A Book of Signs to Printed Matter the last week in March. We orbit places. I orbit that place. But it moved from 10th Avenue to 11th, to a corner of Chelsea, further than the galleries on the west side. The store skims the river on a lonely avenue across from a BMW dealership. It makes me sad to go there. However, the decision was made years ago by a MoMA board member who was the director at the time. He knew that Hudson Yards was coming and probably thought it was for the better because all the wealthy, in those steeples by the river, called Hudson Yards might think it quaint. And the poors who live on Saint Mark’s can go to the Swiss Institute. I am crying with the representational logic this stinks of. I may be wrong. I’m sorry, I love Printed Matter. I would live there if I could, but instead I creep and write about it from a distance like all the time. Because I think their soul is golden but we live in such a fucking ridiculous social and economic structure.

(#hellohudsonyards is printed all over on banners, reminiscent of the coy salutation in Hannibal)

I stumble out into Hudson Yards from tunnels of escalators layered below ground. The square does remind me of Columbus Circle as it was referred to in the New York Times recently. There is a west-facing window in the mall, like a screen or a canvas against the bustle before it. The only green space I find is a splinter of white tulips, and a huge sign with foxgloves and hydrangeas printed in soft pinks and purples against the early spring twilight to announce an arrival the words of which I don’t see. But the synthetic petals do fine in the twilight, to ease and liven the grays. The entire place is dwarfed by the soaring buildings that anchor the square’s corners. As I walk into the center the sky is webbed with the most sci-fi structure seeming to grow right out of Metropolis: the famous basket-like structure known as “Vessel,” the presence of which feels like peeking into a keyhole to a future New York. The siding is rose gold, which is a color from 2016 that still haunts my dreams. Spilling from its vortex is deep blue LED light. You need tickets to go inside, and not to be too dramatic (but it must be said), Vessel reminds me of a depiction of Dante’s 9 layers of hell as people course along its thin layers bland as ghosts from this distance.

I am surprised at how claustrophobic I actually feel in the space, considering the amount architects at Kohn Pedersen Fox were probably paid to design this. The buildings surrounding the space appear immeasurably high. I feel vertigo just looking up at them. In the center, the apex, the meager ground these buildings extend from, is the focus: the “Vessel,” which to my surprise I associate to an inverted Eiffel Tower. The structure has the same shade. I know, it might not be fair to compare the two. But the vessel asks me to. It calls to the Eiffel Tower the way the Statue of Liberty calls to her smaller sister on the Seine.

The Eiffel Tower was built for the Exposition Universelle in 1889, 130 years ago. The tower was designed by Maurice Koechlin and Emile Nouguier in honor of the centennial of the French Revolution. The Eiffel tower rises high above the low standing Parisian buildings as a beacon. The structure itself is echoing Foucault’s panopticon, as a location for surveillance. The height represented a power over, in this case, the power of the French democracy over the people. Which can also be considered a unifier, a border maker. From the post at its tip, all the land below is theirs (think The Lion King).

When the tower was first built, a group of artists protested the structure, insisting that it was not tasteful, that it was hard and horrendous.

“We, writers, painters, sculptors, architects and passionate devotees of the hitherto untouched beauty of Paris, protest with all our strength, with all our indignation in the name of slighted French taste, against the erection … of this useless and monstrous Eiffel Tower … To bring our arguments home, imagine for a moment a giddy, ridiculous tower dominating Paris like a gigantic black smokestack, crushing under its barbaric bulk Notre Dame, the Tour Saint-Jacques, the Louvre, the Dome of Les Invalides, the Arc de Triomphe, all of our humiliated monuments will disappear in this ghastly dream. And for twenty years … we shall see stretching like a blot of ink the hateful shadow of the hateful column of bolted sheet metal.”

The experience of being on the Champs de Mars and walking towards the Eiffel Tower is a classical design of space. The horizontal length before the telescopic height of the Tower expands the landscape, shrinks the surrounding buildings. As if it was a king over subjects, it sparkles every night at 10pm.

The “Vessel,” unlike the structure of the French Eiffel tower is completely hidden, in a covered valley rather than a theater in-the-round. Rather than a unifier, the structure is a metaphor or a parenthesis in a city that is becoming so high it disappears into clouds.

And then there are the webs and then there are the spiders. The structures themselves are made of strands of metal as if to take the weight of it off of their hefty forms. The “Vessel” takes over the entire square between the buildings, and the small space becomes smaller, there is no distance, there is no way to extend your thumb and forefinger to hold these giant buildings. In this space we feel small, traversing an immense web, the exits of which are not visible. Perhaps we are meant to flock to the vessel, or burrow into the honey light of the mall. Because the shrinking sensation is palpable in Hudson Yards. I all but already said humans are flies in this web.

Where it’s possible to climb to the top of the Eiffel Tower one’s experience of it very personal, the tower can be fit in a pocket, seen from a distance. The bodies are not seen within it, in the presence of it, so the experience of climbing it is one of self discovery. While on the Vessel the entire interaction with it includes the others who are on it. It is impossible not to see the bodies upon it, which means immediately relationing the self to the distant bodies in the same way social media presents bodies as a form of comparison.

Inner Paris is built to frame the Eiffel Tower, and other of its landmarks just so. Let us remember the shape of Paris: Paris is often referred to as a snail, moving outwards in rings of neighborhoods. City planners, namely Hausmann reformed the city to essentially become a memorial of itself, vistas spread through the city of lights in constellations of star patterns. The Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe exist in planned views of themselves, even the beautiful Sacre Coeur, stands majestically and finally over the city like a queen, separating the city from the Banlieu. The city classified, literally moving from the inside out. The term “inner city” is not known in Paris. There is only “outer city,” this is where historically French Africans and other immigrants live. New York City seems to be taking on this strategy as well.

The word “playground” referred to in the Hudson Yards’ subway stop toys with the playgrounds that are in public parks. The vessel itself is a structure that says the city’s name as if it was a structure in a playground. Manhattan is solidifying from the inside out, gouging out old neighborhoods for huge high rises and compact, but illustrious parks. The city has not become bigger, the streets are not wider, but the use of space exists like hideouts throughout the city and the experience of walking into them is very much like stumbling from a tunnel into another plane. The highline, the Public hotel, the Williamvale in Williamsburg. These are “public parks” and yet they are so hidden, so surveilled that they crystalize standard expectations.

It’s hard to know now how Hudson Yards will integrate into the city. The geometry feels hard and unlived in. Yet people adapt. Inherently, the life in the city brings life to the buildings. It is our eyes that see the glow against the glass on the high rises at sunset, it is our bodies that know how to feel the movement of the train, it is our legs that know the feel of the escalator. When we are not used to them they feel forced. These things did once feel unnatural like breaking in a pair of shoes. Like the Eiffel Tower that may once have felt unnatural. And, honestly, it’s hard to imagine Hudson Yards including anyone who is not flying helicopters into the heli-launch on the southeastern building. Or even anyone who doesn’t have enough to buy shoes at Neiman Marcus. The people living in the city get used to a great amount of things, like how trees grow around and seep their trunks around signs, so the people who inhabit the city will learn to soar through it, the way we can grapple with Times Square. The way we marvel at The Verrazano Bridge. After 20 years the Eiffel Tower became an organ in the city’s communal body.  

But there is a certain point when we know the playground is not for us. City dwellers are people who live close to one another, work close to one another, are part of a community. Whenever I have lived in a city I have not been interested in the gawking of the city so much as the shape of the land and pacing of my legs within it. Speed and tempo are important signifiers that shape the life of a place. At various points in the city’s production, the way the bodies live in the city or not decide who stays and who goes. Who is included in this sci-fi future of the Vessel?

from Metropolis

from Metropolis

Vessel

Vessel

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Botticelli - Dante’s Inferno

Botticelli - Dante’s Inferno

Garden of Earthly Delights  Hieronymus Bosch

Garden of Earthly Delights Hieronymus Bosch

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.

.

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 should 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.

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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.

      *

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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