Wednesday, January 29, 2014
I am starting on a new project, and this will be quite the challenge for me. Valentine`s Day is coming up, and I am intent on writing a love poem. Granted, I write love poetry all the time, so not such a big deal it would seem. Only one problem: my poetry is usually dark, deep, and sad. I want to write a hopeful love poem. In other words, one that is bright, joyful, possibly borderline ecstatic. This will be for a friend, so it is important that I keep to these parameters. Anyway, wish me luck. I really think I am going to need it (and it is a very good thing I have a deadline).
Tuesday, January 28, 2014
I draped my tie loosely over the back of the chair after a long day of performing for an audience. Only, this time, the audience does not know that they are watching me. Are they watching intently without knowing? Are we all just watching intently without knowing?
I see myself as creating desire with every movement I make: when those who watch, subsequently will then wish. This then leads to desire. When I perform, I create something from nothing.
I slip on my bra, finally after a long day of being saggy and limp; breasts pressed against my chest like a crushed loaf of processed bread. I slip my nightgown on, let my hair out of the intricate hairstyle I have created to mimic a sort of `metro-sexual` male, the only male whom I could in fact mimic convincingly. I am tall 5 foot 9 inches, so that helps, and my hips are on the narrow side, allowing me to be admired for my apparently masculine litheness.
Let me begin from square one. I am a woman, born a women, and very happy to `be` a woman. I am trying on an experiment for size. I wish to `be` a man. To feel what it is like, to understand through the eyes of others how a man is perceived, a man feels among others, and how a man copes with these perceptions. It is not only an experiment of experience; it is an experiment to prove a theory: that we are shaped by perception, by our mirroring out in society, not so much by whom we are inside.
I have been an actor for 22 years, more in fact if you count the years that I dreamed of working as one, and even more if you count that fact that I am an actor and was born as one. I live for my career and do not mind sacrificing myself in order to embrace another character. In fact, I revel in it: the ability to feel how others feel, to enter their psyche, to feel their pain and pleasure.
My experiment has just begun. I have convinced everyone, No one has given me a sideways glance at all. They have all treated me with respect and manly acknowledgement. It is different. It is more of a solid treatment, therefore less soft, less warm. Do I miss the warmth? Sometimes. I am now moving on to the next step. To attempt to seduce a woman, or at the very least, connect with one as a man. To understand the difficulty in walking the line between masculine strength and power and that ever-elusive union between two people without gender. I want to hold masculinity in the palm of my hand, feel its texture, but then drop it in an instant.
As I hurry to leave the next morning, pulling another tie off the rack and swiftly looping and tying it carefully, I notice one thing a little off with myself today. I am feeling weak. I have lost that initial feeling of aggression that was so exhilarating at the start of my experiment. I feel reluctant to begin another day again, but quickly collect myself and my things to exit the haven of my apartment.
My shoes feel snug and a bit too clunky as I march down the hall to the elevator. My limbs feel heavy because of it. I pull my shoulders up strong and ready to face that sea of faces in the city below. I must remember that this newfound persona of mine should not be so conscious. If I am to live as a man, I must feel comfortable within my own skin and not think about the fact that I am only playing a role. I must rid myself of the awareness that I am feeling. As an actor, this is the ultimate challenge: to just drink in another life.
I plunge forward into my day, one life consumed in order to fuel me.
I ask this of you right now
Maybe the sun is not there for the peddlers
The jacks of tirades
The artisans of peppers
The conveyors of words?
Hope breached by the almighty nothing
The stupendous lie
He who is bidden could be mistaken
By his biding for time
In fact he is bitten by the firm jab of fear’s metal blade
The bite of rust nicks supple flesh
Fast he is wrested away by the nape
Only to be jarred into coherence by the nigh
All wrong is everything
And everything is awry.
The sullenness of sighs
The rhetorical Why
This mere dust among loneliness
The rafters and riddles of cries of surprise.
I dream of houses. Whenever I remember a dream, it is almost always about a house, or sometimes snakes or rats, but that is a different story altogether. A recent dream of mine including a house, but this one was filled with all sorts of people milling around. This house served as a container of many things: life, love, memories, change, nostalgia, hospitality, the old guard and tradition, as well as the new and the progressive. This particular archetypal house stirred me to understand the meaning of the house, not only as structure, but as an archetype of the mind and of humanity.
I will describe this dream. Most of the time, when I dream of a house, there will always be some sort of haunted room that I am both avoiding, but, at the same time, drawn to and fascinated by. This house was different. There was no haunted room. I searched and searched, but could not find that thickness in the air, the feeling of a presence or a pull or heavy gesture all around. The house was completely empty of prior deathly existence. There was a different figure to replace the inevitable ghost. Instead of an apparition, there was the physical reality of the previous owner. She, a woman of about 80 years of age wearing an old house dress and slippers, was still wandering the house like a ghost, where it was clear that my husband and I had just taken ownership of it. While I was struggling to discard all of the trash and old catalogs littering the house, she was frantically trying to prevent this by collecting what she saw as sentimental tokens of her life and love that this house was imbued with into discrete piles, neatly separated from the real trash (well, `real` trash to her). I was meanwhile collecting in a dark trash bag old home design catalogs from the late sixties that were mirroring the design of the renovated kitchen, circa 1969. The pictures were the same as what I was seeing all around me (I was organizing a baker`s rack filled with papers in the kitchen), but the wear and tear of time was evident to me, and I could almost feel the age of the surfaces and masses around me. To the lady, the objects represented her lived life and her loved ones, her kitchen, her care and concern for those who crossed her threshold, the food she cooked, fuel for the other lives she had touched through the years, while to me, they represented the past that must be discarded and replaced in order to make way for a new life, a new way of living, a better world, the beginning of the future of my family and our own ancestral line.
It was not only the objects I was discarding, however. With chisel in hand, I began to literally destroy and discard the kitchen itself. With every blow of the hammer, the walls and tiles of the kitchen crumbled. I remember feeling empowered, my strength increasing with each strike at the mortar. As I continued, something emerged beneath the dust of my destruction: it was the old original kitchen made new again. The white subway tiles gleamed in the light, even the room began to get brighter as I worked. There was no sign of wear and tear in this new kitchen. It was the essence of the house finally revealed after years of being pulled into the house`s subconscious. The woman who had been pacing behind me, back and forth, disappeared as the dust settled. Without a trace of her physicality or essence, the room was made new again. The old kitchen was completely gone (no dumpster needed), and the sun`s rays were streaming into the room through the line of windows along the driveway side of the house. My husband, my mom, my son (my own ancestral line), and many others were there as this transformation occurred. I had been brewing some coffee for everyone: the first creation to be made within the new walls of this house. The coffee was too weak though, even too weak for my mom`s mild taste buds.
I somehow knew that it would take time before I was able to replace the life that had been there before. The coffee would get stronger, my own magazines will start to fill the shelves with the year 2013 printed upon them, I would fill those cupboards with my own china, the refrigerator with my own culinary creations. I believe that the lady had left because she understood that life renews and moves on. We are all part of life in our own time, we each take a piece of the timeline to do what we will, and the house will be our vessel, our time machine that will enable us to hold onto those very artifacts that make our lives sacred. Houses, therefore, have become our sacred vessels. And truly, houses are one of my own truly sacred objects. This is the reason why I feel it my duty to honor the essence of houses, to reveal their inner honest beauty instead of the falseness of pretense. I see houses as mirrors of our bodies. As our bodies serve as vessel through our journey through our lives, so houses are the vessels that contain the body and all of what is truly sacred in the lives that we choose to lead.