Monday, January 21, 2008

Until you remember

After errands I'm trying to think of something to do that won't hurt my hands, now that I've missed all the movies I wanted to see and it's too early to go to Blow Buddies. Then I can't decide what to do, so I'm trying to stay here and do nothing, but before you know it I'm checking email or reading the newspaper or scanning through that essay again and then everything is burning, this is the worst it's been because I've been editing my novel, what a nightmare.

I can only spend so much time with the stuffed animals, and then my hand’s back on the computer mouse, the arrow keys, I better stop before I get to that point again where there's too much burning. Then I remember oh, I have a few movies here, I can watch Todd Haynes’s Safe and maybe that will be comforting, since it's about a woman who becomes allergic to the world, everything really, item by item, starting with her husband. It's brilliant on so many levels, but one of those levels is that the woman, played by Julianne Moore, is hardly a sympathetic character -- she's a super-rich housewife living in Southern California who freaks out when a sofa set of the wrong color is delivered for one small corner of her expansive living room. But as she slowly starts to fall apart, the camera lingering over all this space around her that gives nothing like comfort, even while critiquing everything that she stands for it's still impossible not to see the hopelessness of her situation.

I have a particular relationship to this movie because, the first time I saw it, I remember Chris or maybe it was Zee saying: that'll be you in a few years. And that's the problem with watching it, because I'm watching Julianne Moore and seeing things that could happen to me, like when she suddenly can't breathe at a baby shower with all her friends and their permed hair. And especially when she's writing a letter to someone who runs a support group for people with environmental illness, and her husband comes into the bedroom and says what are you doing, and she stares at him and at first you think she doesn't know whether to reveal what she's actually writing, but then she says: where am I? Because she suddenly doesn't know.

That's where I'm sobbing with Julianne, I realize I stopped at this exact point the last time I tried to watch this movie. But it's just a movie -- I should be able to get to the end, right? Now they're talking about how sometimes people can have seizures and then Julianne Moore is getting conventional allergy tests where they prick your arms all over the place and then you see a close-up of all the red welts arranged on her forearms and it's that exact sensation that keeps triggering me, the repetition of mold on the red cabbage or beans stuck in the drain, something that makes me cringe I press stop on the mouse but then the image is frozen on my computer screen I don't know what to do until I realize okay, I can press eject on the DVD drive. At first that doesn't work and I'm panicking, but then out comes the DVD, it's okay.

I head out for Blow Buddies, the Geary bus is coming so I jump on it but then I'm confused because it doesn't really take me that much closer, I'm not ready to be around all these people. At Market I catch a cab, but then I think wait, did I leave the beans boiling on the stove? Sometimes I think I've done that, and I'm just being neurotic, but this time I really think I'm right. I tell the cab to take me home, back to my apartment there's the pot of beans, boiling. What a mess. I mean it could have been a mess, I'm glad I came back, maybe it's time to get ready for bed but instead I run outside and catch another cab.

At first I think I should just leave, I mean after I get there, but then the music changes and I get wacky, running away from the poppers with exaggerated expressions, waving to people who looks dazed, and then I'm in an alcove with this cute short guy with facial hair that could be the leather look or it could be scenester fashion or I guess it could be both, anyway he's pushing me down on his dick, you already know it doesn't take much pushing. Then he's trying to slam this other guy's dick in my mouth with his and I'm thinking that doesn't really work, this isn't a porn video, but I'm attracted to his pushing anyway and eventually get kind of does work -- I get it, their dicks go it into my cheek more than straight back, but I hope this isn't hurting my jaw I mean I'm sure it is a my hands feel fine, that's a good sign. Eventually I'm standing up into the second guy's arms kissing his neck and hugging him and I've got my hands on the back of the first guy's head he sucking my dick that's when I get the rush like I could be anywhere I could do anything, we alternate positions for a while we’re all super-present in something that's all of us.

Then when I come all over the first guy he gets all toppish and angry like he’s scared of come and immediately I’m so exhausted like why was I doing any of that? At home I'm angry at myself for staying up too late, is just so hard to tell when I'm really really exhausted and shouldn't go out because I'm always exhausted, except sometimes I feel better when I go out.

I'm telling Chris about trying to watch Safe again, I'm talking about the scene where Julianne Moore says where am I? And then those red marks on her arms and how they triggered some kind of flashback I mean something about repeated marks on skin or something caught in the drain or mold on cabbage and then I don't want to get dramatic, but actually I'm wondering: where am I? I mean I know I’m in my kitchen, but I'm trying to tell Chris what those marks remind me of, I can't say it I put my head in my hands I'm scared of looking right at him I mean looking out at anyone.

Then my body's shaking, I'm sobbing, Chris has his hand on my leg that feels sweet I'm reaching my hand over for his I still can't say anything. Then I'm sobbing more, I say can you come over here? Chris moves his chair over, I say I'll write it down -- I mean it's not a memory, it's just something I'm thinking, okay? Chris nods his head but I can't write anything, I close my eyes again, I really want to say it aloud just to say it I say it reminds me of something rotting, something dead. Then I'm staring straight ahead, can I say it do you think I can say it I can say it, maybe I can say it. Then I'm conscious that I mumbling and then I'm staring straight ahead again.

People.

I get that feeling like okay, now the world will end but also that feeling like okay, now the world will end but at least I'm okay. Really I'm thinking babies, faces smashed and decomposing, but somehow people is easier to say. Then I say: don't tell anyone, okay?

Which is funny, because immediately I think: who would Chris tell? And: my father is dead. And: I'm going to write about it on my blog later on.

I hate the way that everything can suddenly get scarier, that I want to feel safe but it never works, that my mother could at least make me feel financially safe but she hasn't, that my father’s dead but I'm still a little kid saying don't tell anyone, they put that in your head so well that you can’t even remember what they didn't want you to tell. Until you remember, but it's all warped images bent around feelings twisted tangled knotted rotting memory isn't the word for memory.

4 comments:

D. said...

oh so many hugs for you, sweetie.

do you ever see stuffed animals at places like goodwill and want to take them all home?--i do. i always wonder who they lived with before they ended up in a big jumble, in a box somewhere for twenty-five cents each.

i'm glad your stuffed animals have made their way to you, and you can cuddle them with hope now, finally. thank you for sharing your stories with us.

i have two little stuffed animals that i keep in my apartment that i've had since i was a baby--a little snoopy dog, and a little lion. i'll photograph them sometime for you.

xoxo,
deena

mattilda bernstein sycamore said...

Deena, I do get teary-eyed about random stuffed animals out there in the world sometimes... Thanks so much for the hugs!!!!!

Love --
mattilda

Hurling Obscenity said...

Jesus I love that movie. You reminded me that I need to replace the copy an ex-roomate lost...

mattilda bernstein sycamore said...

Lost? Ex-roommates are always losing things...

Love --
mattilda