This time of year the radiator sings at night. The gray mornings are carbon copies of Cleveland’s skies. Those years full of bravado that only darkness holds or youth demands. To the east, the pastel light spins out into easter yellows, baby blues, and softened ripe peaches.
I watched him dip his boots into the fountain, one at a time, muddied from the urban forest he was paid to curate.
When we talk about the work be explicit.
Do you care
We all have somewhere to be
someone to hold (ourselves mostly)
accountable for what happens today.
that feeling when you are rendered invisible
that process when you have no ability to move forward
that entrenchment when you know everyone is battling each other’s evils
that line around and that territory where power thrives
Did you hear that?
It was the collective sigh of those who bear their souls to empty rooms.
This week I did everything I wasn’t supposed to do and everything I wanted. Sometimes they were the same thing.
On Friday, I spent the day in a space designed and curated to invoke imagination. The plan for action called for disruption not-so-cleverly disguised as profit. Some bragged about organizing “cockfights” and others advocated for righteous indignation. The ferocity of their arguments were fueled by unconscious privilege and unchecked assumptions about who would benefit from that specific vision of change.
A call to home confirmed this truth: struggle and hope are symbiotic. Like fog on a window produced from warm bodies and breath, redemption is a process.
Vaginas in jars, human horns, input about the famous Siamese twins Chang and Eng (e.g. they raised over 21 children and maintained separate households), jars and jars of fetuses, a giant’s skeleton, and a history of the forceps.
It was the intimate possibility of how grotesque the human body can be, neatly displayed in tightly sealed jars, that validated my skewed body image – in a good way.
Professional development: Relationship building, inspiration, intentional knowledge fortification, and strategic epistemological adventures.
Personal development: Deflections, sidewalk propositions, anarchist bookstore, blue-eyed funk, and missed Amish apple dumplings.
The experience of focusing on the space outside the intended focus provided the best learning. It ended up being more accurate and balanced that way. The undercurrents of access, influence, and unintentional nepotism were the white noise to the dance of my own rhythmic exploration. I’m building my own portfolio of success.
Change is inherently risky but the alternative is not my modus operandi. Within the next few months, I will no longer be in the same place and that fact is both surreal and acutely corporeal.
As the days grow closer to the launch, I feel more and more like a situationist. I’m constructing situations that fulfill my desires, presently and for the unknown tomorrow. The geography of such an architecture is fraught with dérive but that’s where the beauty lies.
* Negative space – the space that surrounds the subject to give it meaning and shape
I’m feeling the tension of transparency. Talking points are not on a spectrum of disclosure.
Sometimes I wish I had the luxury of ignorance but that sounds incredibly pretentious.
I fear the (inevitable) numbness of privilege that’s associated with moving up a class. There are doubts tangled around every conversation and the heavy dread of diminishing self-confidence is illogical but still it lingers.
Assumptions of belonging are dangerous.
Watching those with privilege and wealth access opportunity and exercise their option of choices while ignoring the reality of the majority is a melancholy pursuit. Do you spy what I spy?
Did you feel your heart sink when the rich white man uprocked the evening designed to honor women? The crowd cheered; some even had tears. The injustice was ignored because of the $100k donation and the women danced on the sacrifices of those who had come before them.
Perhaps what I’m really feeling is the tension of working within a broken system where hope is a commodified ideology. Or it could be the looming holiday season of forced consumption. Or it’s the slow realization of not fitting into a place that was never designed to accommodate you in the first place. There are many hypotheses to consider for the sadness of consciousness.
After reading this article about passing as stupid results in prestigious job,I would use this as Exhibit A that patriarchy, does in fact, still exist. Despite the rhetoric that education is the bootstrap on the American dream boot, not all are welcome to pull themselves up.
A dream of violence against a midget who was after my box of pastries; translation: feelings of insignificance with fantasized empowerment.
Wealth and parody walk a fine line. Attending a day long meeting whose purpose was to inspire and champion the cause is exponentially more difficult to engage in as I learn more about philanthropy, funders, social justice, and nonprofits. Peacocking wealth in a fabricated slum hut was probably the worst part of the spectacle followed closely by a professionally produced montage of employees set to the song, “Proud” (aka the Biggest Loser theme song). I was the only one in the crowd who understood the tragic irony.
Random street encounter results in confessions that were bold but true.
I’ve been finding myself in spaces that are out of my comfort zone, the slippery slope of trying out new things and new ways of thinking. Yesterday was no exception. The irony of sitting through a precision workshop for eight hours was not lost on me. It was noted that I think out loud which pretty much takes me off the executive track or even the ability to meet with the executives. [Note to self: celebrate and honor this] Learning the language of Power was the hidden subtext of the day’s activities.
The workshop was an immersion into a hyper-masculine way of thinking and ultimately practice of precision. Learning how to answer concisely is not a bad thing and learning how to ask questions that are more direct isn’t either. It’s the big picture of how these techniques are used to influence conversation and potentially alienate those who don’t think this way (i.e. non-executives or people who are not in positions of Power) that left me drained, drained of hope and creativity. It also left me with a new-found skill of listening for this technique so that I may either avoid or engage. Fight or flight.
Having an opportunity to observe a culture that is the opposite of your constructed reality is a rare privilege and requires a perverse sense of adventure.
Deconstructing signs that on the surface seemed to demand a forced dichotomy was exhausting. In fact, realizing that the human experience is homogenized despite one’s circumstances was a chance to expose the soft underbelly of the fabrication.
Understanding one’s place between these two realities is an intimate undertaking. Cultural scopophilia never felt so good.