Tuesday, February 12, 2013


One night Sean wants to get ready at our house. It's her first night out in full drag, she wants to borrow one of Abby’s wigs. I guess someone might as well use them. JoAnne and I serve cocktails and stirfry with peanut sauce, cashews, dill and liquid amino acids. That's JoAnne’s special. Sean arrives with Avery, who won't even look at me so I say to JoAnne: Avery thinks I'm going to give him AIDS.

And JoAnne thinks that's the funniest thing on earth. Do you want some AIDS in your cocktail, she asks. Vodka, cranberry juice and AIDS.

Avery doesn't know what to do, says he'll be back to pick Sean up.

Bye, honey — enjoy your AIDS.

Sean is so coked out she hardly even notices what's going on. Sean, I keep saying, do you want something more to eat? And she says Mattilda, do you want a bump? And: When are you going to stop with the straight-edge thing? JoAnne and I love that one — straight-edge, my ass — honey give me that cocktail back, okay?

When she's done with her makeup, Sean comes out with some blonde wig I've never even seen before, all curled like it's fresh from the store, and I say honey, at least you look gorgeous, and she holds out her hand and says Anita.

Pleased to meet you, Anita.

Anita Bump.

Oh, honey —of course.

Once Anita leaves, JoAnne wants to make sure I'm doing okay with all the coke around, and I say I'm fine, maybe a little wired, so we go on a walk through the dark streets of East Boston, around the perimeter of the airport, but this isn't so glamorous — maybe next time we should walk in a different direction.

            JoAnne loves my list project — she keep saying it's so inspiring, Mattilda, you're so inspiring. At first I think she's joking, but then one day she takes the cardboard from one of my underwear packages, and paints it gold. Then she sticks her fingers on the sides, fingerprints forming a frame. After it's dry, she takes a smaller piece of cardboard or paperboard or whatever, and glues that piece to the center of the other one, starts drawing with my oil pastels and markers, two figures, one with purple hair and the other pink, facing in opposite directions in the corners like on a playing card. It's the two of us. I'm the one in pink, and she cuts out the word TREASURE from the newspaper to go over my lips, TRUTH to go over hers and then all these swirling designs, the word "framework" from one of my lists, I'm not sure what I was saying exactly but I can recognize my own handwriting. And then, at the bottom corner, in small letters, also cut out from the newspaper: smokescreen?

When JoAnne smokes, she goes outside, which I think is funny because I don't really care about smoke, even though I guess it's been six months since I quit I still get angry when we go to a café and there isn't a smoking section: what's the point of a café without smoking? But JoAnne says listen, I'm not going to give you cancer, not after you quit, so she goes out on the balcony that we have on one side of the kitchen. And I actually forgot all about that balcony. When JoAnne first goes out there there's a big pile of sawdust that she ends up sweeping down to the street in a big cloud, and then eventually we pick up one of those big garbage can ashtrays from outside some business that used to exist, or maybe it exists sometimes like a lot of the businesses in this neighborhood. One day, all of the sudden — a restaurant. And then next day: gone. Speculation says it's all a mafia front, but maybe I spent too much time in Providence, where the most popular joke was about someone who came home and all their belongings were gone, they'd been robbed. So they called the cops. The cops said we don't know what to do. And so they called the mafia. The mafia said sorry, there's been a mistake, we'll be right over.

Actually, it wasn't a joke, the way people told it, but eventually you realized there couldn't be that many people with a friend who had their furniture accidentally stolen by the mafia, right?

But I was telling you about our art — yes, JoAnne and I are on a roll. I find one of those big gaudy jewelry boxes with a ballerina on top and a big mirror inside, a gorgeous soft red velvet interior. Slowly, I'm spelling out the word HELP on the mirror with contact lenses, I've been saving them for a while but I still don't have enough so I'm trying to think about whether I should ask other people for theirs, or whether it's important to only use mine.

Then I do the same thing with used razor blades, on a simple wall mirror. I have plenty of used razor blades. And my main project is called "What to Do When You've Just Been Raped." I'm going to take playing cards, and glue them to the top of a card table and a set of chairs. Each card will say something like "Fix your hair” or "Brush your teeth" or "Clean the house" or “Go to a movie.” Or, of course, you can sit down and play cards.

And then I want to do another piece that's just a big square of white carpet, with a sign like you would have for a wet floor except it will say "DON'T GET BLOOD ON THE CARPET." Once I find the right table and chairs and carpet, maybe I'll put it all in one corner of our living room and it'll be an installation. JoAnne's already started a series of faces that she tapes to the wall. They’re all different versions of Medusa, staring at you from the purple walls right when you turn the corner into our living room: freeze, bitch, freeze.

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