Today began with Cairn and I sitting in a Jewish diner eating Reuben and brisket sandwiches while the old men sat at the deli counter with their coffee and knishes and our president on the television defending the latest domestic abuser in his speechwriting team. His tweet asked Americans to not jump to conclusions about all the men these days who are being charged with harassment and abuse claims. We live in a country where our greatest leader is a male chauvinist, who blindly defends those accused of sour deeds and other crimes against women, yet he is more prone to give them the benefit of the doubt than he is to perhaps believe the females. Our politicians and people in power have a long history of being bastards and liars so it shouldn’t surprise me. Only whereas others have been unveiled and revealed after coming into power, he was elected with the knowledge of being a noted rube. There is no connection to his presence on the screen, or as my leader, to my life. I know lots of men, including my own, who do not share these values toward women. We are a world at a rift with no visible signs of union.
We spent the day hiking up a canyon by the sea, underneath a gorgeous crisp sky and a golden sun, trudging up hills. I haven’t walked in two months since the fires, worried about air quality, and it showed in the hardness of pulling my weight up hills. My body looks as if it has a flesh belt around the middle, and even though yoga has strengthened my ass and my legs, the liquor softness around my waist has become a burden. Cairn asked, “Where’s your yoga now?” as I huffed. Every woman on the trail was beautiful with horse mane hair and taut thighs. Then me, the middle-aged woman still striving to balance her body with her brain. By this time next year, I want to be a goddess. There were small dried up bushes along the path, the kind that lives in harsh cold winds and turns silver like antiquities. I am collecting photos of these specimens for a future art project in which I will draw grand homage to these survival plants. They glimmer beneath the sun and give me hope.
We visited a Hindu temple on the way home where a congregation was praying before gaudy golden statues behind bars and notes asking the devoted to please not crack coconuts before the deity cages, or to light camphor.
Once home, I drank some bourbon and ate some salty chips and spent the afternoon on the couch with the stack of newspaper crosswords. Every once in a while, that thing that happens while drunk would occur, in which small snippets of truth pounded through my mind and I would struggle to capture snippets on the margins of the puzzles, alongside the page, and in my small red notebook. These fragments of thought I capture while drunk are everywhere – papers of glimpses of what’s underneath the drunk. A story I’ve been trying to write my whole life. In actuality, a story that struggles to come out when drunk. Only when I take myself out of my present do I grab these bits, these bits that spurt up not unlike vomit. I need to get up and under them, unearth them from their home within self-medication, find the courage to see them while straight. To blur the line between sober and inebriated so that the story can waver up and find a new place to be told from. Monday begins my new code – my new year of life in which I will be entirely uncomfortable without my favorite forms of assuage, and which I hope propels me into an altogether new personhood. The drunk no longer works, it just lays a thin veil over all I used to drink to forget—the jello body, the old wounds, the moments of fleeting happiness. From within it I see myself on the other side, or the moments of clarity once held, and in each glimpse, it is clear that I am over “there” waiting for myself to break through. It is no longer fun, nor therapeutic. It has no place anymore. I need to find the brilliance without it. I need to convince myself there is no reason to escape.
We watched the Night of the Iguana. Tennessee William and his drunken, troubled people who fall freely into their deepest whims and cells of neurosis, have been lifelong favorites. I loved the movie and Ava Gardner’s character yet was bothered by the normality the movie lent to the young nymphet in the beginning who seduces Richard Burton. Like many old movies we watch these days, I find myself mad at the way women were treated, idolized, cast as vixens or idiots and rarely anything in between, yet the men were empowered to waddle in their flaws, their primal errors made manly. We are supposed to be living in this brave, free new world yet even our president is nothing more than a slave to his penis.
I should be grateful for the fact that I am in a sex-free partnership, that companionship and communication and friendship rule the bond between Cairn and I. I asked for this many moons ago, in a list I wrote about what I wanted in a partner. I wrote that I wanted someone who is not obsessed with sex because I had already had enough sex for one lifetime. Sex to Cairn is just a messy ordeal, and too much work, for someone who doesn’t like to be touched. Masturbation is simply a stress reliever. Desire is just a moment of horniness over a novel pair of big tits. A distraction to be wanked away, but meaningless in the realm of true love. Sometimes I feel lucky. Sometimes I feel part of something that is broken. Most times I think that brokenness is okay because it allows me to live without jealousy, insecurity, and all the other conflicting emotions that come alongside. Sometimes I feel I am part of the wise because I have learned to compromise a part of my life that others have in lieu of feeling safe and stable. Safety and stability are more important to the map of my body that has been so priorly misused in the realm of desire.
My editor wrote that my writing on Banksy was masterful and fun. I get to write about artists and art movements for a living in order to pay my bills so that I can focus my other time on my more creative endeavors. Being a writer is such a lonely experience, an experience of living constantly in the mind, of having an inner life more active than the outer.
Tell the truth through whichever veil comes to hand – but tell it. Resign yourself to the lifelong sadness that comes from never being satisfied. – Zadie Smith