Friday, December 31, 2010

found (paradox)

"But you want things," she said. "Once someone has a full blown eating disorder--anorexia, at least--they stop wanting things. It's all self-loathing."

It's true. Thinking back to the months when I had most trouble eating, I don't remember wanting anything except perhaps to die. I went through the motions--but I was even skipping dance classes. Then, someone came along who violently insisted I had the right to want things, at least the basic things, at least to stay alive and safe, and that was enough. It helped me un-stick myself, however painfully.

I remember the first ballet class, first day. It was horrific, hyper-extending knees, twisting ankles out of shape, trying to correct the curve of my lower spine without the muscles for it, the habitual tight warping of my shoulders gone sharp and searing. But also: a tiny teenage professor who didn't understand the limitations of my body, the dress code of (pink tights not manufactured in my size, black leotard, no warm ups) designed to rat out all rebellion from strict conformity. Also huge windows where non-dance students would pass by or stop and stare at us at will. It is difficult to express how much I hated my body in that hour. I resolved three or four times to quit in the duration of that class, but. I wanted to learn how to dance.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

a list

Someone asked me for a list of the books that have influenced me the most. I suspect he's looking for a list of books that more or less explain my philosophical and political positions--but a different list emerged. When I think of books that most influenced me, I think of Children of the Dust, which I picked up in middle school and could barely stand to finish reading. Somehow when I started it, I believed it a history. It played exactly into my parents' end-times survivalism, it complimented the gruesome but fascinating imagery of "events leading to the second coming," and it was terrifying. It may well be the source of a lifetime of nightmares about nuclear war. . . well, you know. That book, and reality.

That's influence. And why limit it to books?

When I was twelve, I'd learned repeatedly that sex was about shame, pain, coercion, more shame, and at best insanity-producing-guilt filled pleasure. I walked through the Smithsonian, saw a bronze copy of Rodin's the kiss, and it was revelation. Angels sang. Like a switch turning on the sun outside a dark cathedral, for the first time I got it--I finally understood it wasn't a lie, sex could be about love.

I read Ciardi's poetic interpretation of Dante's seventh circle and felt not quite so alone.

I saw Requiem for a Dream at a film festival, walked out alone in the middle of the night with the clear understanding that film could overwhelm my sensitivity to violence, and that this was worth being careful of.

I walked into the national gallery in London out of the gray rain, saw Van Gogh's Sunflowers against the blue wall, and understood for the first time why one travels thousands of miles to see a painting on the original canvas.

And after a summer of crying alone days and working nights--the summer of rape crisis training--David made me a scarf to help me not wear mourning. It drapes like a thneed, the color is like a sky so intense it's burning through your eyes, dashed with robin's egg--and when you touch it, it feels like kittens. Honest to God, kittens.

(Cue ________'s disturbing kitten joke here.)

Anyways, that other list is worth writing. . . but so, this.

Monday, December 27, 2010


1) I consistently want but can't find conversation and a hug at 11:30 Friday morning and 1:00 Monday morning. It's a statistically unambitious prediction, considering I almost always want a hug and very often want conversation, but still. For the loose.

2) Buying your house didn't become The American Dream (TM) until labor threatened to make progress in the 1930's, and it seemed prudent to see that every worker possible was owned by a bank. That worries me. Few of those workers were going to own their property outright while young, which I may. Still, do I want to devote half my remaining life to accumulating capital? Is that really a good idea? A better idea than paying rent, says the voice in my head.

There's no sitting out. There's no way to be a neutral player in this game. Also ftl.