Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Waugh by Bryan Washington




I am so sick today, yesterday as well, hence this today. Body of mine, please heal thy self.

Below is a great short story from The New Yorker a few issues back. Enjoy. Prey for me!


Waugh
by Bryan Washington

Poke lived in a one-bedroom with five boys and a window. The complex sat on Montrose, just across from St. Thomas. They rented it from a woman who couldn’t be bothered with a lease, or regular maintenance, or even a deposit; Rod had talked her down so that she wouldn’t raise the charges on them. Rod was the one who spent the least time fucking around. He was always out tricking. Most of them were. But, on the rare mornings Poke awoke on the fading carpet of the room, he could watch crowds from the chapel drifting up the block. The apartment was next to the Chevron on Richmond and the pharmacy on Yoakum, with the diner in between, and Poke would hover by the window, humming at the sink, willing the tap into something a little nicer.

Usually he was cleaning up from last night’s john. Poke tried to keep things local. It made life easier. Most guys were fine getting jerked off in their cars, or driving Poke and the other boys a block from the bars on Fairview—but others insisted that they had to be comfortable, and these were the ones who took Poke home with them.

Although, once, Poke ended up at Memorial Hermann. He’d been sucking off some doctor and the doctor was on call. The doc’s pager went off, and he wouldn’t leave Poke at his place, so he drove him to the hospital and stuck him in the waiting room. Poke sat beside a pair of bleached blondes waiting for painkillers, three bespectacled Mexican women, and some whiteboy with his head in a bandage. The whiteboy looked broken, and he slumped beside his girlfriend, but even through the gauze he was the only one who stared.

When Poke finally asked what’d happened to his face, the whiteboy’s girl grabbed her guy by the shoulders.

The whiteboy said he’d been cooking and he poked himself.

Poke smiled, but he didn’t laugh.

The other boys Poke lived with were fine: Scratch and Google and Knock and Nacho. They worked the same bars, the same apps, hustled the same set of clubs. They looked out for one another well enough—like when Google’d told Poke about dragging his heels, so he wouldn’t track shit from the street into a john’s house; or when Nacho’d advised, after staring for months, that Poke find himself a shirt that didn’t scream pato.

But it was Rod who’d given Poke his crew’s rules of engagement: don’t do anything you wouldn’t do twice; never, ever, ever double-wrap your rubbers; never give your government name, find some shit that’s cool on the ears, and when Poke told Rod that he didn’t really get that since his name was his name and it’s what he was called, Rod christened Poke as Poke.

That’s what got you a regular, Rod said. You established patterns. Patterns became routines. Routines meant a sure buck most days of the month, and that’s what kept the lights on.

When Poke asked Rod about his new name, he never got a straight answer. The dude always dodged him. But one day Google told him: it was because Poke was thicker than the rest of them. All of the other boys wore one another’s clothes, all Supreme and Adidas and Urban Outfitters and Gap, except for Poke, who Rod made solo purchases for.

Rod wasn’t their pimp, but you’d be a fool to tell him that. He took rent from the boys. He bought food from H-E-B. He kept the carpet decent. He scrapped with the whiteboys on Yoakum. He made the rounds at all the shelters for handouts, kept roaches from colonizing the kitchen, and, once, after Nacho’d asked who the fuck made him king, Rod broke his thumbs launching him into the wall.

Poke called a cab to drop them at the Urgent Care on Westheimer. Rod’s thumbs swelled like a pair of pale cucumbers. Nacho had a sprained ankle and three bruised ribs, and he wouldn’t step straight for the rest of the year. But Rod iced Nacho’s ribs. He brought pho from the noodle bar and menudo from the taqueria. And although Nacho still called him el pinche pendejo blanco, there was warmth in those words from there on out. Not respect or gratitude. Nothing akin to praise. Just acknowledgment. An acceptance of the way things were.

It took months for Poke to ask Rod why he’d done that. When Rod answered, it was like he’d been waiting for the question.

Because one day someone’s gonna kick the shit out of me. They’re gonna beat my fucking ass, he said, and then we’ll see what you do.

Rod kept tabs on all his boys, but he kept Poke a little closer. He’d have denied it if you’d asked him, but he felt for the kid—there was something in the way of kinship.

Poke had no history. He’d hit the streets straight out of the shelter. Rod hadn’t seen him swapping needles on Almeda, or huffing paint in Hyde Park. This made Poke, Rod figured, a true victim of circumstance. So Rod kept Poke in clean socks. And Rod told Poke which cabbies to dodge. And Rod snuck Poke into Minute Maid Park on an off night during the playoffs, a favor from an ex, and they walked from aisle to aisle palming the backs of every seat, mouthing the names of Astros who’d walked the field before them—Biggio, Oswalt, Peña, and Altuve—muttered like saints under their breath.

One night they sat in Katz’s huddled over a Reuben and a milkshake that Rod had insisted on despite the extra dollar. Most Thursdays found the boys on Fairview, waiting for the bars to leak their patrons into the morning. But Rod said he had news. Big news. And Poke’d learned not to sleep on an empty stomach.

They rarely ate out, and Poke thought maybe Rod had come into some money. It was about fucking time. Maybe he’d found them a bigger spot. Poke envisioned wood floors, painted walls, no rodents, but Rod only sighed, and shut his eyes, and told Poke that he was sick; he’d finally caught the bug.

The two boys eyed each other across the table. Rod with the lighter skin. Poke’s a little darker. Rod with the tapered fade, shaved to the neck, and Poke’s close-cropped, curly at the top. One a little older, the other a little shorter. Both of them brown in the eyes.

Poke took a long bite from his half of the sandwich. He asked if Rod was sure.
Sure enough, Rod said. The rapid looked sure. Nurse sounded fucking sure.

O.K., Poke said. So take another rapid.

That was the third.

They glanced at the diner door as it yawned open and a gaggle of drunks stumbled in from the cold. Poke blinked through the men, glancing at their ring fingers, wondering how much he could pull. Then he pinched himself.

Rod sipped their shake. He didn’t use the straw.

So find a fourth, Poke said, but his voice was cracking.

They didn’t know much, but they knew about H.I.V. They knew the way it hung over Montrose. They took their precautions. And then there was the rule, Rod’s rule—you got sick, you were gone. No questions. No exceptions. Your ass was on the street.

And yet, Poke thought.

There was froth all over Rod’s lips, strewn with half-chewed pastrami. Poke flicked the end of the straw against his nose.

Fuck, Rod said. What’s fucked is I don’t even know who it was. I can’t even tell you who threw that shit to me.

Poke wanted to say that he’d thrown it to himself—and that’s what didn’t compute. Not with all Rod’s yelling about safety. All the precautions he ran them through. All the grief he gave them. But those words dissolved on Poke’s tongue, and he shook his head instead, and he rubbed the nape of his neck with his palms.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Sylvia Plath, Lady Lazarus





I just had a birthday and with another acknowledgement around the globe issues of being a woman, of the body, of the existence that is pressed against our flesh, minds and feelings seem to compress even more.

 Like most girls, when I found out about Sylvia Plath at a pre-teen age, I was smitten and found her to be intoxicating in her tragedy. There is a recent release of her letters in book form and the re-investigations of her death, her legacy and the guardians and gatekeepers to truths we will never know.

Reflecting back today, post birthday whirlwind, I find myself thinking of her. Her young life, her acknowledgement and confinement within her times and body…As well as her use of language as a tool to manifest her conditional and potential selves.

I will make it short today as this body of mine is reckoning with me today and just include her poem, Lady Lazarus. Read it slowly and more then once and then look in the mirror and think about the skin you that you are in and the multiplicity we all carry.



Lady Lazarus

Sylvia Plath

23-26 October 1962


I have done it again.   
One year in every ten   
I manage it——

A sort of walking miracle, my skin   
Bright as a Nazi lampshade,   
My right foot

A paperweight,
My face a featureless, fine   
Jew linen.

Peel off the napkin   
O my enemy.   
Do I terrify?——

The nose, the eye pits, the full set of teeth?   
The sour breath
Will vanish in a day.

Soon, soon the flesh
The grave cave ate will be   
At home on me

And I a smiling woman.   
I am only thirty.
And like the cat I have nine times to die.

This is Number Three.   
What a trash
To annihilate each decade.

What a million filaments.   
The peanut-crunching crowd   
Shoves in to see

Them unwrap me hand and foot——
The big strip tease.   
Gentlemen, ladies

These are my hands   
My knees.
I may be skin and bone,

Nevertheless, I am the same, identical woman.   
The first time it happened I was ten.   
It was an accident.

The second time I meant
To last it out and not come back at all.   
I rocked shut

As a seashell.
They had to call and call
And pick the worms off me like sticky pearls.

Dying
Is an art, like everything else.   
I do it exceptionally well.

I do it so it feels like hell.   
I do it so it feels real.
I guess you could say I’ve a call.

It’s easy enough to do it in a cell.
It’s easy enough to do it and stay put.   
It’s the theatrical

Comeback in broad day
To the same place, the same face, the same brute   
Amused shout:

‘A miracle!’
That knocks me out.   
There is a charge

For the eyeing of my scars, there is a charge   
For the hearing of my heart——
It really goes.

And there is a charge, a very large charge   
For a word or a touch   
Or a bit of blood

Or a piece of my hair or my clothes.   
So, so, Herr Doktor.   
So, Herr Enemy.

I am your opus,
I am your valuable,   
The pure gold baby

That melts to a shriek.   
I turn and burn.
Do not think I underestimate your great concern.

Ash, ash—
You poke and stir.
Flesh, bone, there is nothing there——

A cake of soap,   
A wedding ring,   
A gold filling.

Herr God, Herr Lucifer   
Beware
Beware.

Out of the ash
I rise with my red hair   
And I eat men like air.

Monday, November 12, 2018

My Boring/Busy/Beautiful Life This Past Week, Part VI




Doesn’t it feel like November is already over?! Anyways, what a week. Going to do one of these things cause it’s been a while and yup, can’t think deep thoughts today. Scorpio season is in full effect. I hope we all make it out alive.


Monday 5

I was soooooo depressed (read last post) but I knew I had to just trudge along and trudge along I did. Went to work and was barely cogent but got through it. Afterwards, went to gallery for a meeting to talk about a food project. It was a nice meeting. Went to drinks afterwards and felt a bit better from the buzziness of alcohol and nice conversation. Went to sleep.

Tuesday 6

Voting day! Another day where the whole ‘the universe hates me’ was still in full effect. Went to voting location and waited on a long line even though it was the short line. Sigh. They don’t have my name on record, which is insane since I just voted there for the primaries. Sigh. Fill out an affidavit ballot and walk in rain to subway. Go see therapist. Go to work. Supposed to podcast later that eve but feel like a pile of crap and it’s raining and I just can’t bare to hear the sound of my own voice so I cancel. Go home early and take a bubble bath. Feel a it better. Make hot chocolate and get a hot water bottle. Feel a bit better. Probably watch something, (don’t remember) and fall asleep.

Wednesday 7

Wake up from a crazy dream/nightmare but feel refreshed from all the sleep. Feel like today is the turning point of the depression spell; finally feel like I’m coming up for air. Feels good but also precarious. Go to work. Drop off a piece of work in Dumbo. Go back to Manhattan to kill time before meeting. Walk around Chinatown. Buy some cool, cheap clothes at a martial arts shop. Get to meeting early. Drink wine at the bar. Person comes. Eat mozzarella sticks and drink more drinks. Feel buzzy and relaxed. Person meeting seems young... Another person I know passes by, they come in and we chat. I leave the meeting but have time to kill before friends DJ set. Call friend and we agree to hang out before her set. I get those lycee like fruits that are round brown balls, clementines and soju. We make muddled fruit soju drinks and chat in her room. We get ready to go out. Go to bar for dancing. Dance. Guy comes by and we dance more. Very drunk at this point. Drink more and dance more. Someone picks me up in the air. I think it is fun. Go back in a cab and fall asleep. Can’t remember how I got home…

Thursday 8

Feel like a garbage truck ran over me. Call out of work. Make omelets then immediately need to take a nap. The drinking and depression overlap is not a good idea... Sleep most of the day. Drink seltzer, tea, more seltzer, water. Try to feel better. Go out to eat with friends in Chinatown. Feel like a slug. Eat and chat while eyes half open and wearing sweatpants. Go home and pass out.

Friday 9

Go to work. Go to specialist in Mid-town. Have to check out wtf is up with this lump in my boob. Wait for over an hour. They forgot about me. Sigh. Get mammogram. Have to do 3 times! Freaking out. Get ultra-sound. Wait in a robe with other women waiting in robes. Finally they say it’s all okay. Feel relieved! Feel elated! Feel like my body is my friend again. Supposed to do a studio visit but cancelled it. Go home and make myself a nice meal. Friend texts, she is outside. I share my dinner with her and then she leaves. I watch a baking show and then try to sleep. Insomnia, but it’s okay.

Saturday 10

Go to gallery to meet photographer. Artists come. Photographer comes. Hang out there for more then I expected waiting for photos. Go home and make a grilled cheese. Feel sleepy after eating so take a long nap. Meet up with guy and play pool. Learned how to play 9 ball. It’s fun. Go to a diner for Dominican food. Go to his apartment and chill and watch Planet Earth. Sleep.

Sunday 11

Go back to my apartment and have an urge to clean like a crazy person. Laundry, reorganizing, throwing things away, clean out drawers. Feels productive. Want to go to friends open studio but something last min comes up. Later on go to a sample sale on Canal street. Buy too much but I think that’s okay! Go to a birthday dinner. Eat a lot a drink a little. Go to arcade. Win a stuffed animal. Go home and guy comes over and we watch Planet Earth and fall asleep.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Well, I Guess I am Depressed



Okay, I surrender. I give up! Society, you win! Stick a fork in me I’m done! UGGGGGggggggggggggg is the only word/sound that I think can describe the last few weeks. I think the insanity of insignificant busy-ness, the turning of the season, the sun just ticking away and the barometric pressure karate chopping my body in two has left me in the current state of puddle-blob-weepy-dark-cloud.

I get this way sometimes. I think we all do. And most of the time I know I have to just trundle along and deal, cope, get through it and then voila (or more like, okay...) it gets less and the existential weight, doom, malaise starts to drip off you by Spring time. But let’s get serious for a second. Depression is so real. I think most people have a form of it and for those that are a bit wired differently or are missing a few cognitive plugs and well grooved behavioral pathways, depression can be more then just a momentary blip.

Depression is physical. It’s in you, on you, pushing you down and draining your brain and emotions and all the good juicy stuff that makes you someone people want to be around and someone you yourself want to be around.

Depression is patient. It will wait for you to be exhausted or exasperated or incapable of holding it at bay and then it gets you. Sometimes fast and hard, something slow and creeping but it always gets you.

Depression is embarrassing. I know nowadays people talk about it more then before but it’s still a private island most often through self-expulsion.  No one wants to be a drag. No one wants to make it heavy. No one wants to be needy in a way that is not logical in that it isn’t something that can be nursed and cured through attention and affection. It makes you feel exposed and that can lead to anger to any viewer witnessing it. It’s a double edge of self-loathing and disgusted abandonment and NO, we don't want to talk about it with you!

Depression is common. It surprises me how little we as a society cope and handle depression because it is so common. I feel (maybe wrongly) that it’s sort of crazy more people aren’t more depressed or have episodes more often. I mean look at this world we live in. This society we all cog and cling along too. How can anyone endure it, grin wittingly and not crack?

Sadness, anxiety, they are different things. They are pointed or poking out from something. An event, a tick, an idea that won’t stop churning. I’m not diminishing these types of feelings. I think they have a debilitation in their own way that scars just as deep but yeah, depression is like some smoke monster that fills your lung from out of nowhere.

So, will it get better. Yes. I’m a long sufferer of these spouts with the black blanket and while I have no idea when it will end or how to make it will end or what to do about it, I know that it will pass eventually.

I don’t really have advice to fellow sufferers. Its one of those things that is so specific and internal that to give advice seems arrogant and unnecessary.

All I can say is good luck and when we get to the other side lets remember to give a fuck about things including ourselves. 

(P.S. This isn't a cry for help! I'm fine. Don't ask me how I am. It'll just make me more depressed.)