“I cried to be with her at the laundromat on Wednesdays. Begged. And there were times she did take me and I walked on the hard tiles in soft shoes – pushed the wayward wheeled carts around. Leaned against the warm washing machines that vibrated against my back. Stared at the people. Watched the clothes tumble behind the glass. Wondered what it would be like. Like through a looking glass?
Laundromat white noise is a thing. And it is interwoven with textures and surfaces. And the sweet/dirty smells of poverty.
And refuge from home – because going home, staying home, home is just a temporary place for a mattress and a record player, an ashtray and a coffee cup that needs cleaning.
The stains wedge themselves into the seam around the bottom of a mug. Deliberately. It feels deliberate. This side of the looking glass is filled with willful, colluding objects. Dishes are the Wednesday night segue to a beating which is a prelude to everything else […]
I still don’t know how to write about this. Not even in the process journal. There is another sentence after the ellipses. But one that risks too much.
Because the party line is “you have nothing to be ashamed of”, but the real response is “for God’s sake, what’s the point of talking about it?” It’s (it’s meaning the events that make you you are) not worth acknowledging, what good does it do to upset people? Is it worth titillating people who get off on that sort of thing?
Titillating is an uncomfortable word.
If someone got off hurting you, you can bet someone will get off hearing about it. So at what point does an act of fury and reclamation become an act of self-immolation?
Regarding the sexual assault on the performance artist Yan Yinhong by two men in the audience, while the rest of the audience filmed with their phones:
Mr. Wu [Wei] concluded that the men’s actions were a form of interactive art, though he conceded that at one point one man may have overstepped a boundary — when he unzipped his fly and took out his penis, a moment also confirmed by Ms. Yan. Even that “basically fit the meaning and needs of the piece,” Mr. Wu wrote.”New York Times
I already despised Wu Wei.
Interactive art would be consensual. This was a crime. One so familiar we gasp – then shrug.
Why do we turn the anger on ourselves when we perform it? Write it? Because the alternative is to become an abuser?
We can’t control what we put in the world. No matter the care we take in terms of context. A word like vulva will jump out of a paragraph and work idiosyncratic magic. No two people will hear the same story. Even a word like finger can be uncomfortable, can titillate. Or terrify.
And god save us all because someone’s always burning, and we don’t even notice.
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Thank you for this outstanding explication of the inside of this for you. I appreciate you being willing to step into the pain of writing it. It was a gift to me. Helps me understand how I feel when asked to talk about my “dis-abled” experience. Prompts me to think about what my words are generating in the hearer. Thanks, again.
Thank YOU. It is uncomfortable writing about this and I am feeling torn heading into this project. It does mean so much to me to know that there is a point to it – one that isn’t entirely self-serving.
I hear the tension between wanting to express your feelings/experiences/truth and the awareness that “If someone got off hurting you, you can bet someone will get off hearing about it.”
Especially as writing — if we think of it as art to be shared — assumes an audience of strangers. And we cannot know their minds (interpretations, obsessions).
The discomfort can be a revelation to some readers, and prompt a feeling of relief that they’re not alone in other readers. There’s value in it, but I would not urge you to be that vulnerable unless you feel you can take the negative and prurient and abusive and voyeuristic responses that may result. MAY result. It isn’t a given.
So a certain kind of trust is required here. And Ren, it’s OK if you do not possess that trust.
Thank you! It is this nearly life-long pendulum of needing to be seen, being afraid to be seen. It feels absurd it is still something I struggle with. Although now, I think it is more of a question of presentation than whether to present – what to say, what to allude to, what is clear without being graphic and gratuitous. And who knows – in the end it may be just as veiled a memoir as Red-Eared Slider is. And that will be okay, too. And … you are dear to me.