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A Self-Portrait Using Objects I Threw in the Bin

August 21st, 2014 § 1 comment § permalink

My internet friend (does it matter what type of friend? we have never met in physical proximity or looked at each other in real time,  so I signify it as a type of friendship for clarity, for specificity?) R recently wrote a resonant blog post about moving into a new flat with his girlfriend. Recently, Caroline’s (my roommate) best friend moved into her boyfriend’s flat. We discussed the pros and cons of moving into someone’s space rather than finding a space together— holding hands holding sage over a doorway to burn away old encounters to make way for a world of unknown welcome desires.

In R’s post, what stood out, was the softness with which he moved through the memories, not in some grand gesture of removing them from his life, but knowing that they had their time, and granting himself the permission to let them go. The objects don’t need to be in physical proximity for that archive to exist, but that archive does need to expand its boundaries to include a new person & to move with a new person.

I include the whole post because reading an excerpt is wasteful of the experience, even if it doesn’t comply with his fastidious page arrangement. 

A Self-Portrait Using Objects I Threw in the Bin

ON SATURDAY I AM (we are) moving out of this flat and into another, within the same building, yes, but larger and with more windows. It is the windows I am delighted by. 
I moved into this place eleven months ago but it doesn’t seem so long ago as eleven months. Time moves as it does, and so it goes. It has been quite the year. Much has changed. In preparation for moving out I have slowly been sorting through bits & pieces, clearing drawers and throwing away many of the things I have collected over the years. It is strange to go through the drawers. In my parents’ house – which it is now known as – I would often, through laziness or indecision, simply put objects in these drawers only for them to now be stumbled across once more: letters from family and boys and girls, an untold amount of very bad photographs, small gifts I received but had no use for, cigars I never smoked, maps, posters and promotional flyers, new & used batteries, Allen keys, busted lighters, paintings that I had abandoned or lost interest in, bills, payslips, gig ticket stubs, t-shirts I forgot about, two piano books (sonatas and jazz respectively), about a score’s worth of foreign money (European and American), instruction manuals and birthday cards. Going through it all was something I normally would have, in my usual way, put off from now until forever; I was forced to clear the drawers to make way for things my girlfriend may wish to put in there – for a long time her own possessions have been scattered around the room.

Beside me was a gaping black bin-bag. With a brutality I found most unnatural, I picked up each item, considered it briefly, held it close to my eyes, and stuffed it into the bag (which burped after every swallow). All this time! Vanishing! It was therapeutic as it was sad. Before I tied the bag I contemplated bending down and retrieving the goods but could not bring myself to do it. What would be the use? The bag weighed heavy. I drew the thin corners in and tied them tightly. I carried them down, in the rain, to where the bins were and felt nervous that somebody could go down them. I threw the bag to the back of the farthest bin. 

I checked today and the bins had been emptied. All those memories – or at least the stern to which the barnacles of memory attach themselves – are gone.

And now I leave this place. I viewed it just under a year ago on the seventh of September. I was finally inside the flat I had wished to live in for all the years I had taken the train past it. One Saturday my parents and I visited (parking in the carpark of a McDonald’s where I bought something to stave off my hangover, and the sun hazy and thick) and we, all three, fell in love with it. Two days later I put down my name.

It has been my first place and it has treated me well. Though she is sleeping upstairs this very moment – or tossing and turning, if I can hear through one unearphone’d ear – it has always been mine. It is small and its one tall window is my sun. How much I will miss it! Soon it will be empty again. By Sunday night it will be empty again, and clean, untainted by any of my belongings. What will the space be then? Even if I were to stand up right now and remove the rug from the middle of the floor, I would not quite know where I was. The memories are on the rug, as they are anywhere else I choose to look.

I feel sad to leave it behind but excited for all that which lies beyond it, the times that are to come. There are other places, other dates.

For all I express in these words, please understand that I have not packed anything. Everything is still in its right place. I should get away from this keyboard and put it orderly in boxes. I am appalling at packing, excellent at procrastinating, and a devil at putting-off. It is likely that the next time I write here I shall be in our new abode, wriggling into a new writing space and endowing new memories upon new things.

How do you live?

April 11th, 2011 § 2 comments § permalink

NYMag ran a series of photographs of artist homes, called The Perpetual Garret. Here are my faves.

John Cage, 1979

Cage and Merce Cunningham shared a loft at 101 West 18th Street. By 1982, Cage had filled the space with 203 plants. // Photo: Lelli & Masotti/Alinari/The Image Works

Cindy Sherman, 1982

Sherman with her blind pet dove in her apartment at 64 Fulton Street, where she lived until 1983. The shower was in the kitchen and the toilet was down the hall. // Photo: Mary Ellen Mark

William S. Burroughs, 1978

Burroughs nicknamed his room in this partially converted YMCA at 222 Broadway “the Bunker.” He lived in the former locker room; twenty years earlier, Mark Rothko worked on his murals for the Four Seasons in the abandoned gym. // Photo: Udo Breger

Patti Smith, 1974

Smith in her apartment on Macdougal Street. She had just performed her first extended gig, a six-day stint at Max’s Kansas City. // Photo: Allan Tannenbaum/Polaris

& New York Times ran some porn shots of Marina Abramovic’s abodes – her loft in SoHo & her country house. In case you didn’t know, she is 63. The article also provides a hilarious glimpse into Marina’s character.

In the city, any guests must abide by Ms. Abramovic’s rules: “They can stay only three days, no more,” she said. Pointing to an austere-looking vintage piece with a thin, hard platform, she added: “And they have to stay on this uncomfortable daybed.”

What does your place look like?

I believe in God.

March 12th, 2009 § 1 comment § permalink

President Roslin, who is dying of cancer sits with a dying woman, Emily, who is at the last stages of her own terminal cancer in the hospital quarters.

“Those are the gods you believe in? Capricious? Vindictive?”
“They are not to be taken literally. They are metaphors.”
“I don’t need metaphors, I need answers.”

I believe in metaphor, thus I believe in God. I don’t need answers or reassurance, because they’re in me already.

I don’t think I was ever truly an atheist. The anagram of my name spells A Mad Angel.

MP3: Frog Pocket – Celebrimbor Tur-Anion (Planet Mu)

The horizon leans forward

January 30th, 2009 § 2 comments § permalink

I want to go to there.

I want to explore what it means to be me (how cliché is that?), what it means to be allowed to experience everything. Sitting in front of my laptop playing Solitaire isn’t getting me anywhere, but it’s what I do. I’m stressed out. Solitaire. Finished a part of an application. Solitaire. Being told what to do at work while someone else makes the decisions isn’t working me out. It’s wearing me out. Being in the same city since I was a preteen isn’t conducive to risk. But I’ve never been a risk taker, so what do I do? I have these projects lining up in front of me, but I cower. I take them on, on, on but not with all of me. Never with all of me. Where is the exploration in a desk? I don’t want to be no armchair archeologist. I think I’m starting to grow old because I think about my mortality in a different way. In a way that things are changing, moving so fast that all I have time to do is go through the motions. Sometimes I feel because J is such a dreamer, I have to be the one to induce practicality in our lives. He is the one living out his dreams as an artist. I can’t let myself.

MP3: Neon Heights, 16 Again, A View from the Heights

This song is from my favorite downtempo house album of all time, A View from the Heights. My ex introduced me to them. I don’t even recall how and when. I wish I remember the story of how he came across them. I  found a copy of the album in some small shop on a corner in downtown Paris. I also bought Cassius’ 1999 and Feeling for You for 5 euros each. This was 2002 and the euro was just taking over, all the prices were still in franks too. This lovely blonde woman worked there. She kept talking to me and I pretended to know more French than I truly did. She found it pleasant that such a young girl was backpacking and still had the will to buy vinyl to carry around so she gave me some French house record. I felt so cool. I didn’t feel so cool when I was sweating buckets in June carrying heaps of records from the different cities I visited, but at that age, the struggle feels less. Always.

Einstein + I have a lot in common

November 23rd, 2008 § 0 comments § permalink

Einstein said:“If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, then what are we to think of an empty desk?”

There he is sitting at his desk, just like I do, but with my back way more twisted. There are papers everywhere surrounding him and his genius. I am not cluttered, but merely complex and thorough.

These images of Albert Einstein’s desk in his office at Princeton were published by Life magazine in 1955, just months before his death. They can contemplate a blackboard full of equations, a pile of old magazines and even his own pipe momentarily abandoned on one of the notebooks.

Where Am I?

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