NEW YORK, 2023
I thought I would share some thoughts with you. To let you in on the state of things. Black things, existential things, things that beg and things that are wasteful. No/things.
THE COLOR PURPLE
I find myself pulled in by the purple of the fingers of King, once Prince, Charles. Looking at his coronation pictures, in the middle of the night, I’m endlessly pinching the image to feel the swelling. His hand emerges from his robe/cape holding his scepter with the confidence of a colonizer. At moments I’m afraid that my pinching and pulling and zooming and squinting is squeezing that gold ring tighter on his pinky finger. This season of The Crown has certainly been affected by the writer’s strike.
I overheard a guy accidentally hit some part of his body. “Ow, shit!” The “shit” was about the mistake. The potential time wasted on this unforeseen incident. Then the pain hit: “Mmmhmmnnnn.” “Groaaaaaan.” “Ssssssshsssss.” His friends come around, the moaning grows. He wants to communicate that he is in pain but taking it well. Simultaneously holding and leaking. This is in the back window; out of the front window I simultaneously hear sirens. I wonder if this injured man is thinking of calling an ambulance. I wonder if the sound of the ambulance is worsening his pain. I think about all the people I see in my area of Harlem ambling along, injured, sick, making it. Writing this I wonder about the beginning of the injury, the slight, the mistake, the accident.
The state of american life is such that humorous reflection is a nonstarter. There’s a poorly crafted joke in there about the authentic quality of the Michael Jackson impersonator’s performance or the allegations stemming from MJ’s real life and that being the reason that a white man would feel so compelled to suddenly choke the life out of this person in the middle of the day in the middle of life. There’s also a terrible knock-knock joke that would fail but seek to explain why a grown man would shoot a child in his head for knocking on his door by accident. So many things about life can be funny. Even death has its moments. Proximity to violence chokes the laughter.
The new threading woman is young. She does threading and waxing near the space where my current project is happening. She calls me “baby” after every sentence. Sometimes it’s a question, sometimes a fact (yes, I am your baby). Sometimes it’s meant to settle the words so they have somewhere soft to land. You want me to get rid of these ugly hairs, baby? You want your upper lip too, baby? Lay back, baby. Put your bag right here, baby. You doing good, baby? I like your nice clothes, baby. You sure you don’t want your pussy waxed? Why not, baby?
I quickly share my body secrets with her. A confession with strings and wax if you will. We don’t ask each other about the state of things. Somehow she knows I’m here because Pinky went back to India. Somehow I know she has other plans. I leave her with my one thousand little hairs and a tip. Walking away I wonder if she has nightmares of drowning in a pool of wax, a sticky visa situation, or suddenly finds herself itching all over with the tiny curly hairs of performers.
I open the notes app and go to one of the twelve notes that begin with “idea” or have “idea” in the title. One of the “ideas” is to do a project as a salaried curator at a museum. There’s no description.
A couple of weeks ago, my cousin and I were taking selfies in the bathroom at my Aunt Pearl’s funeral. Ada Pearl Sanders is my grandmother’s sister. She was a hairdresser. Several people described her cooking skills, her ability to multitask. Certainly a BLACK JOKE. Aunt Pearl used to care for an American Indian man, Steve. He stayed in the trailer in the back, always around. We didn’t ask questions. We didn’t know the nature of their relationship. There are collages of relationships that exist in my life. Sometimes people seem cut out from their various magazines and periodicals. Roughly cut around the edges with left-handed scissors, backs glued, laid on top of one another.
We took several singular selfies to get it right. The lighting in the Blue Ridge Baptist Church is perfect. Brown/yellow/pink lights from the 1980s. The plastic flowers and potpourri shamefully rotting in the bathroom, while the real flowers steal the show on the casket top. I was a blonde and she had a bob. We are dreamgirls. I promise to send her my exhibition catalogue. She leaves the bathroom for a cigarette. I go back into the room with a dead person. We are all excited to be alive.
There is another note: queer midwifery / “Homo Negro, Endlessly New”
Another note: Shopping List: Borax
Better than Bouillon
Coconut soy sauce
My new birthday is coming up. It’s June 27. A special holiday in Houston, Texas. It’s a warmer time of year. As I grow older, I realize how much things can and do change (and remain the same). There is space for reinvention. This year is the first year I must remember to celebrate myself — twice this year. Once on the day I arrived and once on the day I commit to being endlessly new.
Ok, last thing. I’ve been very busy. You know this. I’m looking at this pamphlet on my fridge, titled “HOW TO GET RID OF STUFF.” It’s a little guide for us New Yorkers to let us know where we can “get rid of stuff.” This is a place of accumulation and excess, so thank you, NYC Sanitation Department! You know I’ve been busy, so my quest to get rid of most of my possessions has stalled, and it has affected my mental health. Goal: one bowl. WWFSD? (What Would Fumio Sasaki Do?) Fumio is the author of the book Goodbye, Things. A book (purchased online) to help you throw your shit away and be free. If you know me, you know I’m a failed minimalist. But I continue to crawl back to this sacred text (a physical object) that demands I see material possessions as the ick that they are. It is now dawning on me, like most epiphanies, that the Sanitation Dept. could be referring to my stuff stuff, my impossible stuff…
THE GIVING TREE
[Insert something here about a surprise apple core in an
ankle sock at BAM IYKYK]
New York, May 2023