Friday, April 6, 2012

Raw Fresh Things: The Fine Art of Falling Apart

Act 1:

I've been lost in that part of the labyrinth where you can’t see ahead or behind and you’re too short to climb over the hedge-- that locked up bit that causes young parents to call the police and David Bowie to take acting jobs with muppets. Floating through a murky haze as if I've taken a red-eye from Istanbul, jetlagged, but from life, there’s something more going on than I can find in the mirror. I’ve been tender and sad and unsure, like there’s a little girl inside that’s been shattered over something-- a bad grade or a bad boy or both-- and the big girl that's in there too must care for her but she feels like putting on black eyeliner and black boots and stomping around with her friends before taking the time to apply the band aids and find the tissues to wipe up the tears. I can’t tell if I’m making up the story or merely recording it, but I know it’s a footnote to the void, the luggage compartment of the hole, that space that gets emptier and hungrier than a vacuum cleaner refill bag if I’m not vigilant, a vortex in me that wants more, more of anything, even a bad thing, especially a bad thing-- if it’s familiar. I think being tired is the red carpet for tears and so today I’ve let them roll.

Act 2:

Fine, tears, deliver your message. I’ll welcome all of you now, even though if life were a menu I would have ordered blissfully happy for every course. Even though blissfully happy is actually a bit watered down—jacked up ecstatic is more like it. In the past and even the present I haven’t been above using whatever crutch I could get my hands on to get me there. But these tears, this welling up of something can’t be denied just because I have a longing for an imaginary crack house in heaven. They’re here for some reason and what I hear them saying  is I have more to give than I’m giving. I’ve been holding back and the result is a log jam that can’t help but spill over. I’ve been holding back because over exposure isn’t cool and raw fresh things are easy targets for skewers and sometimes I want to put a heavy blanket of books and HBO specials and iPhone apps around this needy pulsating thing that gets me up in the morning and moves me around during the day. When I don’t write with that blanket stripped away and my heart completely naked it’s like having the harvest from my own garden rot in the fridge while I eat CheezDoodles and HoHos and Hot Pockets from the microwave. I need to call myself back, all of me, so I can be funneled into the important pieces of my life, this work, right here.

Act 3:

I want to build a closer, steadier, more reliable relationship with my art. I want to be close like husband and wife or mother and son or two best friends who finally shacked up together, not like those people you duck into another aisle to avoid at the market because you missed the real appointment with them long ago. I want a rich, deep, daily relationship that self propels like a La-Z-Susan circling back around again and again, serving me as I serve it, my writing and me, eating breakfast together at the table. I want to take new risks regularly, going beyond the flimsy invisible walls I treat like steel. I want my art and me to know each other like bread and butter, like skin and bone, not third cousins twice removed at the family reunion. I want my art and me to be buddy-buddy, not just pen pals where one person suddenly stops writing back, but blood brothers, blood sisters, who can’t get to the door fast enough to say everything, that did or didn’t happen, was or wasn’t there. I want my art and me to go for fancy restaurant dinners but to come home together and lock the door from the same side, no one shut out, no one alone. I want art and me to drink milk straight from the jug, one after the other without apologizing for being unseemly, without embarrassment, without threatening to leave to find more distant, polite and acceptable company. Because this is the only way out of the labyrinth I know. 


  1. awesome. you said it so perfectly. i love the milk metaphor, and everything else.

  2. Happy Passover to you too, Val. You described the intention of the holiday just right.

  3. I feel your pain (even thought it was 4 or so months ago). Sometimes the desire to create something can be an overwhelming feeling, one that can overpower any others near it. It's a nice feeling to be able to unleash it and create something. This feeling that you recorded is often a motivation in and of itself. It's just not one of the more pleasant ones. Well said. I like your style.