Epiphany

Fear. These first few days of the new year have been very introspective for me and, in the past two days, depressive. Whenever I begin to feel real depression this spirals into fear, which leads to more depression, and silence, and the need for escapism. My anxiety over whether Juan will be here on February 28th or February 29th (this is a perfect metaphor, since it does not exist) is so clearly a reflection of my own insecurities regarding myself professionally and my fears and my doubts … the invading doubt that anything will so passionately seize me with creative fury that my entire life will be catapulted into a new sphere and imbued with a surge of fresh energy. The fear that in fact my fear is not at all about professionalism but has much more to do with fear of depression itself, that in writing this I am admitting to the “fact”? that I don’t feel inspired as much as I did even two weeks ago, that colors don’t seem as rich as I’d like them to appear. Though even as I write I realize the errors of my positioning, and this scares me still more, because it appears that “it” takes me over, the fear itself, and this time I won’t be able to talk my way out of it. The fear that this would be what I would offer to Juan when he arrives and not the energy we both need, or that I would seek salvation from my own depression in the light of his energy, the fear I am not suited to any real commitment, the fear of the fear itself, that by articulating fear I reproduce it, manifest it, and make it larger. The fear that there is no place to escape to, that I have already learned the meaning of escape by coming to Berlin and there is no other place to go that will be different, in essence. The fear that coming to Berlin was essentially an act of escape and yet my demons of depression still follow me. The fear that I won’t be able to meet Juan physically with the energy I so badly want to give him or to people far away with whom I communicate and want to shine for, to accomplish something for, though you have glimpsed in me some of it I can’t seem to fully access it at this moment. I am an ocean of fear.

Hair. That is to say, change. I dyed my hair blue and black again and cut the pink almost entirely out so that it is not quite as prominent like a huge feather sticking out of my hair. Before Christmas I had three paid performances, the most exciting being the night I had to myself at Barbie Deinhoff’s, where I performed for about 25 minutes. I attempted the first three or four pieces of what I am beginning to conceive of as a one-woman show and Juan helped me immensely by organizing the music, DJ-ing, and working the door. I never realized until recently that constructing a one-woman show has been a subconscious wish of mine for a very long time, since seeing a young woman perform one at Colleen’s summer theatre camp when I was about 13 years old. She combined movement, song, character, and recorded voice (if I recall correctly, it was the voice of Anne Sexton) to express her experience in the world. The memory and inspiration of her performance flooded back to me as I began to think of how I could make my writing three dimensional. As I begin to delve into it, I realize that I am most interested in the problem of portraying those most intimate moments in our lives, like the moment of waking, what that feels like, to wake up, in the morning. I am interested in capturing the gray areas of experience, that cannot be necessarily described categorically or with descriptive words of emotion. In this first performance, I explored the extremes of dance—oscillating between the idea of stripping/sex and ballet/love; these two “extremes” of dance, if one chooses to think of dance as linear spectrum, serve as a type of metaphor for life’s paradoxes. They symbolize the oscillation between control and loss of control, the oscillation between private and public, the oscillation between socialite and hermit. The oscillation between sleeping and waking. The oscillation between all and nothing; the two essentially being the same. Taken together they are a kind of conversation with the divine. I re-watched Waking Life after my performance and was reminded of what the boy says at the end, that time is an illusion and rather we are living in an eternal moment. That moment is an eternal conversation with god. The illusion of time is that constant questioning where we are asked to live on eternally, that is, to die, yet we don’t, we say no, we say no, we continue to say no. This is time. And when we finally say yes this is the end of time.

Nihilism. Despite re-watching this movie, despite reminding myself of the infinite now in which all is possible, I find myself feeling as though I have not done enough and that the changes that have occurred within the past year have not been drastic enough. Though rationally I know that these first few steps in performance have been an incredible step for me personally. This negativity is nothing but illusion and mental positioning. Though perhaps this is what pushes me to keep going, because nothing seems enough. I know that I felt depression touch me again during this past year, when I had felt somewhat untouched by it for about two years. And then, I fight it, I am in constant battle with it, though I have learned so many mechanisms to cope with it, or to fight against it. I assume this is true for so many people, but I have no point of reference other than myself and the people I know who are vocal about their depression. We are not particularly unique in our sufferings and for this very reason perhaps we are not particularly interested in uniting in our commonalities, this would destroy our very sense of self which seems to be created out of this uniqueness. I am an obsessive recorder of myself, whether this be inside my head or on the page, and for this reason it is very easy for me to go back and look at how I recorded my past feelings. This is an interesting exercise because every time I feel that I have fallen into depression I look back and “discover” that in fact it were only two weeks ago and I felt the exact same way, and only two days previous I felt that the world were my oyster and imbued with the passion of life, that colors of my world were brilliant and that I were on the wings of freedom. But two weeks ago I considered, in my darkest writing, something like the axe in my hallway and the absolute inconsequence of life and death. I protested the war in Iraq because I believe we can’t kill each other and claim to love one another but then a tsunami wipes out such a large number of people that I wonder has it anything to do with the value of life or the numbers at all. I think perhaps it is this kind of thinking that could lead one to take part in suicide bombing, I mean, if one really could kill the evil of this world through suicide bombings why not do it, given that ultimately my life is so meaningless. I figured all of these thoughts are better to disclose than to keep hidden, these thoughts never seem to go away; I always hole up with these thoughts. Though I cannot remember the meaning of “always.” Paradoxically I am completely dynamic as a human and yet absolutely static at the very same time. Or the oscillations appear to be the same, or are they more severe, as I get older? I cannot remember. My memory has gotten worse. I mean, worse than it was before.

Commitment. My father said, “Do I dare to say that you sound happy?” when he found out that juan and I had committed to each other indefinitely and that we had used the word marry, though marriage is probably not something we will do as such … It was interesting to me because I think that what he meant was that he was happy and my mother were happy to be able to use that vocabulary, though I find myself shy from the vocabulary of marriage because this is in essence not what I want to take part in. And it appeared funny that he had not said that to me the entire time in the past three years that I have been more happy in my life than ever. That I would have to fit into a prescribed box in order to appear happy to him, and yet I desired this, to fit into the box to make him realize my happiness, not that my decision to be with Juan has anything to do with making my father happy, but it is true that as soon as Juan and I had decided to be together, I did tell my father, because I knew that I would be rewarded with his happiness for me and still … somehow I felt unhappy at his reaction. Does this make sense. Can this make sense.


Processes and goals. And so this leads me to the place where I get out into the world and do something despite all this and these bizarre thoughts that lead me nowhere. Precisely I will tell you what I have been doing. Besides the performances in December, which was very exciting, it looks as though Jessica and I may be writing a column together in New York. This is very exciting especially if we can get our foot in the door in the freelance world. I finished some of the first big steps for my photography project called juxtapositions and I continue to write about the theory behind it, thoughts on photography, objectification, pornography, sexual power. I continue to write essays and explore my thoughts about sexuality and sexual politics. My thought of the day is: sexual power is extremely addictive. The idea that one can get power through their sexuality is extremely addictive and can cause depression when it is no longer accessible. My future projects: to combine with juan writing and music in order to flesh out this one-woman show, and to make original music with him. My goal: to finish this book of essays. My goal: to pitch and to be published writing about sex and performance in Berlin. My goal: to volunteer with an NGO here in Berlin so that I can continue to be politically active in a direct sense. My goal: to find the right balance between producing work and sending it out, so that I can both produce and get published, so that I have time to make art and also have enough money to live. At present I am not making enough money to live realistically.

Blessings. I would have to say of this year that I should write what I feel blessed for. I do not want to write about this past year without writing about two people, one of whom is Juan, who is such a light in my life, not to mention an incredible support to me. I love him much more than I can express in words here. He and I have a committed partnership in a way that is new for us both. Though it would hardly seem that I would have to say we made a decision about it, it just seemed to happen, this sense of partnership between us and wanting to be with each other.

I also want to mention Jessica because I think she and I are the only ones who really know how incredible our correspondence has been since I left for Berlin, and it seemed, on looking back at this year, to be too vast of an omission not to mention it. I am not sure that I can do justice to say that it has been incredible for me to have correspondence with her of this type, this regularity, and this clarity and with this honesty, but to say that it has been one of the things I most look forward to each day. When I left for Berlin I took no pictures with me and the only ones I had were the new ones I took of Jessica in New York before leaving … so I put them all up on my wall and I have been staring at her for the past two months, though new photographs have since joined her. Perhaps this is one aspect of bringing me closer to her. Perhaps it seems so amazing because I have never had such a consistent conversation with anyone through writing as I have had with her, and perhaps this is a love affair that we’ve created together because I most certainly love her more and more each day if that is possible.

I feel blessed to have so much time on my hands, though time slips so quickly. I feel blessed to have such a community of people I love back at home, especially in California. I feel blessed by the inspirational women that fill my life, the women at la med, the women from college, and the women from high school that always inspire me as they grow, the women living in my community wherever I am. I feel blessed for my chosen and given families. I feel blessed by my brother and the way that he is growing older and the way that we are becoming friends in a new way. I feel blessed for the changing relationships that are happening with my mother and my father, I feel blessed for the houses that I know would receive me if I ever needed to come back, Hrair and Melanie remind me of this whenever I speak with them. And thanks to Melanie for reminding me that the reason I need to stay here is because it is hard. I feel blessed for the isolation and time I received this year for myself, the months of intensity, between Iowa aloneness and Berlin aloneness, to the intense community of SF and living intensely with Juan there in a house that also so warmly received me, combined with the intensity of the theatre workshop and the imminence of departure during August and September. I feel blessed for the intensity of the spring, how emotionally difficult it was, how blindly I lived at times, how roughly I lived at times, how recklessly I pursued my explorations, and I feel thankful to Dustin for how much I learned from him and new lives I glimpsed with him. I feel blessed for the support from all of the incredible writers I met at new college as we finished our degree. And for the women I learned from was inspired by that I met inside the SF jail. I realize at the end of this letter that this writing has taken me from a space of selfishness and self-loathing to an entirely new sense of the coming year and I feel thankful for that in itself.


Comments

Epiphany — 2 Comments

  1. Thanks, Jason. No, no books of my own out yet. Just an essay in a book called “Controlled Burn,” which is an anthology of short fiction by New College MFA students, available in some SF bookstores. I also have some short fiction and essays floating around on the web, info on the contact section of my website.

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