At around the same time that I got raped, my family faced a crisis of needing a new place to live. Everything suddenly felt too heavy, it’s funny how different forms of oppression cross simultaneously. At around this same time I didn’t really have anyone to hang out with and everything felt isolated and dark. I took so many trains at this time, trying to escape all the violence that was currently afflicting me. The first thing that I did was try to date the guy who raped me. I recall how much the darkness suffocated me. I don’t think I escaped that place. Every day I have to find the inner light to guide me out of the overwhelming darkness that surrounds me.I resorted instead to seek a friendship, but this friendship was not nurturing, it was the kind of friendship where I had to be happy to feel loved. I have learned to be happy even when everything feels awful. I have been so fucked by capitalism to say the least. I have been in danger of losing my access to education, have felt the reality of having nothing to eat in the house, was forced to abandon the country where I was happiest, and have felt the anxiety over not knowing where we would live next. To top that off I still don’t have health insurance; this is probably the worst reality I currently live as I really need trauma intervention. When people see me, they often do’t know how to take me, I am at once a firecracker, full of happy gestures, and an explosive full of nervous energy. How can I not be nervous when my existence has always felt marginal, always contested. Legislation and the capitalist market contests my humanity every time I don’t have access to something that should be my human right. This is the main reason that I attempted to hide and instead hung tightly to the person who I thought would never abandon me. Losing such a person was a bit of a wake up call, it reminded me that I am in a hostile world and no one will do the work that I have to do to find my own home and safety. The sort of life that I have lived has given me many negative qualities but at the same time its made me the sort of person who doesn’t stop nor gives up. Somewhere down the line I hope that I am able to deal with my negative reactions and begin to truly live. I hope that in this path I find a person who will love me for everything that I am and never finds a reason to leave. I am a lot because I have lived through a lot. I don’t want to hate myself for it, I want to begin to love my scars.
“No cultural object can retain its power when there are no longer new eyes to see it.”
The leaf rested on the barren ground
a brown thing had consumed it but from the outside
a flame reflected:
it had seemed beautiful, the way the color
now didn’t seem drab.
But was the color a flame, could the leaf
feel the burn, or was it merely
a reflection of the taillight
of a mechanism called a car.
Language carries power,
such power is not objective;
in it-self language is neutral,
while reflecting the power structures that we participate in.
Telling your ex boyfriend that he was bad at sex
is your way of exerting him as an object
something you felt he so often did.
The light grows brighter, on your periphery a car moves,
power structures are in constant motion
but it is time to remove yourself from this long drive
you no longer desire the spinning happiness,
you just want tranquility and to be the brown leaf
laying on the grass, asleep.
The moleskin with the blue cover is lost; Relief is knowing that I don’t have to look at its contents anymore:
Mania gripped me
and as I grasped your hand
you didn’t care.
I dance again now and joke about the suffering I experienced, not out of anger but out of acknowledging that life is not static but rather a wavelength of dreams. I survived the nightmare world that surrounded me and now I’m searching not just for someone who is interesting or cute or funny but for the real thing. The real thing is not to be found but rather will occur so I am focusing on finding me. The last 6 years have been chaotic and that’s an understatement. I dated a myriad of people and don’t really know how or why. I’m tired of being an object or of using people as objects. I’ve been a really fragmented person and I have broken myself too many times. In the way my rapist held me at the beach only to walk me to my end, my eyes were closed as he entered in and out of me. I had so much anger I never expressed and I directed all that energy in frustration to the boy who often emotionally neglected me. There’s a connection to this romantic tragedy. I keep escaping one tragedy by clinging to people who can’t see me or who see me and run. Run girl run. I’m taking a seat and seeing life not for anyone to like me but for me. I spent too much of my energy becoming a concept for someone but then my little wall would crack and people abandoned me for another concept or else I abandoned them for some concept. I have been really hurt and likewise I have really hurt people. I’m not going to be responsible for all these bad feelings anymore. I’m abandoning this endless pursuit in the name of real love. Love is not made but found and you find it by being truly yourself.
This post is written post psychosis, with a heavy heart, full of guilt and nausea. As David Foster Wallace once said: “There’s good self-consciousness, and then there’s toxic, paralyzing, raped-by-psychic-Bedouins self-consciousness.”
There is a buzz in my head: a sound bleating so loud I can’t ever sleep nor eat. [I] seem to have lost control of my impulses: run around listening to a whispering and looking upon strangers who I once thought were friends. The whispering is particularly ugly, in form it might be some faceless shadow; in reality it is probably a part of my brain that wants me dead.
- Why must my brain continuously fling these horizontal variations at me? I stand. I sit. I punch the air quotes. I pray to some other form that the pain flies away. Metaphorical existence — The only form of courage I can muster to bring myself back some days. Hegel once said: “The spoken word unites the objectivity of the corporeal sign with the subjectivity of gesture, the articulation of the latter with the self-awareness of the former”. But what happens when there is a part of your brain disconnected from so called rationality; this battered part that only reacts by slowing down interactions and contiguously outlining words, crossing out literal meanings, and inserting interpretations unaligned with the text. I tell my students every day to provide textual evidence when their answers don’t match the text. Is this what we learn from reading and understanding text: how not to let psychosis take over your brain?
- I lost someone who I thought and still think was my twin flame. Again there is no sense of reason in thinking that divinity exists. If divinity exists why did I lose everything again? The other day we were reading a story where a family is losing their home and the mother said it must be the intention of God for them to lose their safety. My student claimed that such a quote was a misunderstanding of the situation, the loan agency was to blame. I asked: does blaming God give the woman a sense of control. [If God is in control, he may save them.] The church did always say: ” your deeds will save you.” Who will save me?
- The fractions keep popping in my head. After my sister told me that my relationships always end due to my unhealthy interactions, I kept visualizing 8/6 and how it could also be 4/3 and how they both reduce to 1 and 1/3 and kept checking to see if 1 and 2/6 would truly reduce to 1 and 1/3. I’m not really sure what the fractions mean, I just spend so much time solving them.
- Party on the L train; except the L train is always late or stuffed with people, or else it gets stuck in the tunnel or leaves you right by where you and your twin flame went to the street fair, seeing the state of hipsters, you both ran. You know that the relationship ending is not entirely your fault. And you know that at least September is over and with it that part of your brain that wants to kill you is finally dormant. You make a home out of nothing and start to sleep again.
Hope is that thing with feathers. And although you lost it all, you didn’t lose your hope.
(I entered the scene; black shirt, black jeans, a can of cider, bought at the liquor store where I didn’t pay for my cigarettes this one time; I walked out and ran, justifying the theft as karmic justice: Who doesn’t have a bathroom?)
How can the eternal begin but with the idea of heavenly bliss?
“We are doomed to choose, and every choice may entail irreparable loss”
I chose out of some skewed concept of autonomy: a hand had held my shoulder.
I should have known better, should have known
——That karmic justice was awaiting me: (There is no patriarchy here)
Who said that and why did they lie ——-
That escaping horizontal violence didn’t mean
I was free from pain;
The hand that touched me was eternal
felt like home; like a friend that I never wanted to lose; enter hypothermia
I thought the priest was honest when he said love would come to stay
Love did feel eternal, but eternal meant:
[Everything I’ve ever let go of has claw marks on it]
I did eventually find a bathroom.
Maybe the eternal is the rush of the urine as it hits the water
The mix can always be reversed;
The hum of everything sings as it did when we forgot to see each other and saw what we most hated about ourselves: the stench of being a person.
Aren’t climaxes supposed to feel like the resolve of a conflict
Or maybe I’m confused
And the climax never ends
But continues going on
Like the way dreams envelop images
And in the images the hand that felt eternal suddenly feels
To be floating away.
“Acceptance is usually more a matter of fatigue than anything else”
The hum of everything sings as it did when we forgot to see each other and saw what we most hated about ourselves: the slow acrid banality of existing.
Is this how it feels to die?
like a spinning nostalgia that isn’t just metaphorical but literal?
“i killed the ego”
is that the superego speaking?
the chemicals push out images of some form
a crippled fraction lingers in my head.
the crack in the back of the couch is pulling me away; my hands are holding
while this verbal mastication digests
the images of some night
i killed the gnat and
he said great.
As inspired by both flushing my hair down the toilet and this David Foster Wallace quote:
(The interesting thing is why we’re so desperate for this anesthetic against loneliness.)
The reality is that I wrote the poem first and found this quote afterwards;
some simple honesty relaying that I did not find hope in this seemingly distant case of mutual suffering.
You drop the hair into the spinning resin
Watching the slush of water
spin itself away,
Taking away layers of damage,
you hope at least, that the spin
is a delta adding the change from rise to run,
changing your interactions with the world.
When will your slope recline?
No longer do you hear or feel helping hands
instead there is frustration as you attempt to put out the fire
the fire that constantly haunts you,
the fire that drove you to hospitals, to hands, and
eventually confirmed your greatest fear:
if you push enough the lingering hope turns away;
so you are awake writing something-which can’t even call itself a poem
and scream casually into the void.
But still on your head the hair sits
so you await the moment when it will all end;
There must be some connection between hair and suffering
you always tried to align both metaphysically,
The only real metaphysical truth is that beyond society
we are alone,
figments of some imagination
always falling short.
Sung: so hush little baby, don’t you cry
The camera is held at the point of establishing a full shot, subject begins under the water in a bathtub. The viewer hears the roaring of the pressure, in the background a song plays. As the subject’s head submerges from the water the pressure decreases, just the rush of the water hitting the still conservation is heard and the music becomes more noticeable. (ay ay amor canta y no llores…)the song loops around these lines, which the subject cannot hear; the song seems to envelop the glaring sadness in the subject’s face as the camera pulls away from the scene and focuses first on the subject’s face and then pans out: the face as the focal point of the zoom. As the subject rises out of the bathtub, and turns off the water, some water falls on the side of the tub, demonstrating the form of apathy that the subject has for maintaining order. For the split second of nudity the camera will focus on the tiles of the floor, clean but covered in the residue of human flesh (dust) at the places where the tiles converge. A towel is seen swinging across the camera and at last the subject enclothed in the vile color of some serene blueish-green fabric walks out of the room as the camera goes from side facing to following the subject’s backside. The door swings on the camera a slight pause to seeing the subject and recognizing the voyeurism of following a person, who beneath a fabric is but a human body. The camera suddenly in the room again sees the subject who has put on some underwear, the body non-consumed and glaring sports the imperfections of a life lived: scars, marks, the flabbiness of excess. The subject now established as a person, opens a bag, a bag with the potential for coloration, a powder of rouge is taken out and a brush is held by the person who presses on it, bringing the powder now in the form of specks to the face; the hand makes circular motions near each cheek bone, the face now flushed rather than pale looks at the circular mirror. Out of the bag, the person brings more powders to the counter, the fingers dig into the powder and find the creases above the eyes, yet again painting outlines to hide the real flesh. Once the person is satisfied the excess powder is wiped on the puke green towel, leaving behind a brown mark. A black tube is taken out and uncapped, revealing a thin and flexible brush which is pressed directly above and under the eye, leaving some black line, the hand cannot shake and the natural wrinkles must be straightened as the line must be straight. The person looks at their face with each second becoming less themselves and more of a mirage of color, and puts the cap back onto the tube. The subject repeats the motion with a similar tube but this time outlines their lips. After the outline is made, a tube is uncapped and slithered across the pout. Now the cheeks look less pale, the eyes more urgent, the pout more structured. A t-shirt is found, tight enough but not calling for attention, the camera pans out as the person throws on the ware and the camera spins as the person stands. The last part is coming: the subject grabs a phone, opens up the world, find the right angle and presses the button to capture the perfect still. The camera alternates from shot to subject. At last the subject sends the pic to somewhere or someone, looks at the mirror one last time, and wraps their body in a blanket on what is called “their” bed. They immediately notice the glaring light and turns it off. The last thing the viewer sees is the immediate sense of darkness as the person’s bed squeaks; their body once again finds its way to the bed. With the hope of some connection, the person holds the phone to their face, both vacant, but as the hope fades the subject lays their head next to the protruding light of the screen and closes their eyes. the camera pans out noting the darkness and the only light being the phone. The light suddenly flares out and there is nothing but darkness.
How to be a Latin Lover seemed promising: Derbez was the protagonist and the premise seemed to have room for growth, but then precisely because of the premise the movie did not live up to what Derbez had previously made. Derbez playing a sort of emasculated man with very little regard for anyone, rather than work, finds old women and allows himself to be fetishized, exchanging his body directly for material possessions that very easily fall away. Perhaps I needed a movie where the main character realizes that happiness is not money, or at least that his self-worth is more important than having the sugar mommies that take advantage of him sexually. But alas this movie did not have that sort of plot and instead failed in so many ways selling the image of the lazy immigrant, the spicy Latino who projects his machismo onto his nephew. It seemed like a caricature of the Latino immigrant identity at best, in many ways reminiscent of problematic shows like Modern Family and Fresh Off the Boat. Being extremely white-washed and made for white consumption the movie hardly addressed the systematic obstacles in the way of Latino immigrant progress. Salma Hayek playing a hardworking single mom is only one step away from progress, pulling herself up from her boot straps. Yet again, with this trope the movie pushed the conversation away from the reality of racism, capitalism, and sexism and sympathized with the general issue of work progress versus experience: the neoliberal issue of the age. To an extent in the deep background there were clear moments of microaggressions but these were too subtle to be noticed by anyone except people of color who have probably experienced them at some point. The specific moments of culture mockery attempted to blur the image of the Latino as one that is culturally different but still the same: “whites we are not dangerous, our stereotype instead is really funny”. I wonder actually why the Spanish language was used at vulgar moments and the English was saved for serious conversations almost implying the purity of one culture over the other. I did not like this movie although it did have some moments that I really connected to and loved. One specific moment that I loved was the point where Salma and Derbez are singing together and dancing as a way to let go of sadness, but in the corner comes the very respectable and white-acting 10 year old boy (Salma’s screen son) to inform them that they are acting irresponsibly and should go to sleep. I resonated so deeply with this scene because at times when the white-dominated world becomes too engulfing I play the music of my childhood almost as though the apathy of the world can be hushed down with the rhythmic che-che-che of the music. The child of course was made to be white acting and even white passing to ensure that he can fit into the prep school that will ensure his progress into middle-class status; his identity is blurred into the sort of nerd trope as a way to show that it is the culture of dancing and singing that is vulgar, not the forgetting of roots. I have to stop here and think back to the sort of Enlightenment premise of cosmopolitanism. The way that cosmopolitanism is framed, as the white man feeling at home anywhere, already implies that the European tradition and language are preferred, whiteness being the standard through which cosmopolitanism is actualized. Is cosmopolitanism something that delegitimizes my sadness for the culture which I left behind but am nostalgic about? Back to Latin Lover though: there was hardly any real critique about having to leave a nation-state behind and accept a new culture as one’s own: immigrants can feel at home anywhere as long as they accept and internalize the new culture. No real critique about capitalism was made anywhere in the movie: the movie almost works in a world that does not recognize how it functions. Now here I know you may say: Laura this was a romantic comedy, what did you expect? But I expected a bit more than ableist mockery, the spicy Latino stereotype, the emasculated irresponsible man, and the acceptance of whiteness as fact. How to be a Latino Lover accepted the American identity as white and made Latinx identity a stranger that had to excuse itself and move closer to whiteness; After all: ” White is but a metaphor for power” (James Baldwin).
cw:rape, mental health and medication
I woke up today and actually felt like a different person, as though a weight lifted and I’m plateauing back to rational. 2016 for me was a stretch of a year, one which made me face myself head on. The lithium medication left me stranded in a small internal hell that I couldn’t represent externally. But I stopped taking it, and even while on it forced myself to be productive. I do remember how inadequate and guilty it made me feel any moment that I was not being productive. I ended my relationship with Dan. I still don’t know how this makes me feel. A great amount of my choices are based on my mood cycle so I never quite feel connected to them, only in some distant way do I feel like they affect my current actions. I’ve gotten very good at compartmentalizing but this has also allowed me to survive the downfalls and bad choices that I have made recently. The resilience to continue despite wanting nothing but to stop has proved to be my best character trait, better than anything I could portray externally. I experienced a third case of rape this year; it left me angry, energetic, self-destructive. I think these feelings are staring to fade, becoming a quiet hum while instead I just want to make real connections. I became for a while this person who kept displaying inappropriate emotions and critique. I think 2016 served to humble me: it showed me that I am no one and that I am not superior to anyone, just living through this capitalist reality. I have a lot to externalize in the sense of repressed sadness but I think that eventually I will be able to and the days are staring to get longer rather than shorter. I think that I am ready to go back and to be at peace again. I beat the beast that was trying to suffocate me and I am in a non-cliche way new.