i. deséspoir (despair)
** I’m having a real day of it.
something I had to do. But what?
There are no alternatives, just
the one something. **
These days, It often feels like a big pause button was sledgehammered on the World and Time just… stopped. It didn’t, of course. Earth never stopped spinning. Time never stopped ticking.
I’ve become more familiar with the sounds of this apartment in the past 2 months than I had been in the past 2 years. It’s clear this room is very much unsuited for voice work and for filming and why is the shower whining again???–
When I think of the future, there’s often a visual element. I can see where I’d like to be, who I’d like to be with. What I’d be doing. I don’t know what I’m doing anymore. I can’t see anymore. And so I find myself aching for a return to stability, while also understanding the necessity for pause– even as I tiptoe the line between depressed and determined. Even as I’m faced with the inevitability of despair.
Despair, from the French: “desespoir”, the negation of hope.
Kierkegaard believed that, through hope, one retains spiritual health despite the crushing, relentless resolve of depression. In letting go of hope, depression mutates, much like a virus, bringing with it despair. And for Kierkegaard, despair is directly opposed to a supremely important thing these days– (Patience).
ii. patientia (pacience)
It’s not that I am curious. On the contrary, I am bored but it’s my duty to be attentive, I am needed by things as the sky must be above the earth. And lately, so great has their anxiety become, I can spare myself little sleep.
(meditation in an emergency, Frank O’hara)
The politics of Patience is something I wasn’t expecting to think about these days.
I’m not a Doctor. I’m not a Senator. My power in this current situation is limited to that of a spectator. I watch and read the numbers, the symptoms. Information shared by WHO and the CDC, shining the dimmest of lights in this pitch black tunnel. I watch an administration unshakeable in its evil embrace of ineptitude, and its hordes of followers dragging the rest of us back to square one, convinced that science is myth and freedom is gospel. or that gospel is freedom.
The government successfully turned basic precautions into a wedge issue, a dividing political line. To protect yourself and others is now proof of how you bought into the conspiracies pushed by… Health Experts?
I don my kn95 mask and blue latex gloves. i need to buy milk.
now a face I can see in it’s entirety is a face I cannot trust. it is especially true today that eyes tell the story. if i only see your eyes, i know you’re being patient, as am I. to feel the sun on my skin, the breeze guiding my path, is a limited but welcome pleasure of my walk. fresh air for a few seconds to offset the CO2 excess trapped in this mask. i’m reminded of the unpleasant discovery of this whole period — your breath stinks. all the time. so i keep a pack of trident on me at all times. phone, wallet, chewing gum.
i stand in line outside C-Town. to hunt for groceries is suddenly my biggest risk and only liberation. i nod at the person 6 feet ahead– it’s her turn to go inside.
an underpaid and overworked employee greets me. fellow essential workers compensated with little more than “thank you” from their employer and the uncovered faces of impatient patrons. —
a woman bathed in jesus’ blood. another who was in quarantine too long, ‘needed to go out and party’. too angry men and women with rifles invaded a state capitol? gym-goers protesting outside of a closed gym by…… working out? wait,
6 weeks ago, if we collectively chose patience over profits, maybe we could all go back to how things were by today, or by next week. it wouldn’t have been easy– this was never going to be but… damn it didn’t have to get this complicated. And yet, it isn’t complicated. I do my part, you do yours and maybe we’ll come out of this okay. Of course, it’s never that simple–
i pay for my stuff and muffled ‘thank you’s are exchanged. the vibe is cautiously optimistic all around, because “in a sense we’re all winning. we’re alive” (Steps, Frank O’hara). this will not last.
a few miles west, protesters are assembling, the next day, a few miles north. on top of everything going on– that consistent reminder that Racism persists. A more dangerous virus, built into the DNA of American Society. Colin Kaepernick took a knee in peaceful protest, Officer Chauvin pressed a knee to violently murder George Floyd. Suddenly, my emerging existential emergency seems tiny and trivial. Black Lives Matter is not as obvious for everyone, and The politics of Patience becomes obvious to me– Be Patient in controlling COVID, Impatient with Racism, with Police Brutality.
Entire systems of society designed to protect a chosen few above all others have been fully exposed and collapsing as conflicting approaches to patience surface and conflict consumes all of us.
Patience is a cliché– i mean, a virtue. I wonder what O’hara thought about patience? I find it hard to believe he was a patient man. But maybe in understanding the value of life as he seemed to, maybe he would have the words we needed. in cutting, straightforward and beautiful prose. indeed, he wrote the exact words that have pulled me out of my struggle and sparked the words i’m putting to paper right now.
iii. 未完成 (unfinished)
feel worse. I can’t remember how
I felt, so perhaps I feel better.
No. Just a little darker.
“Anxiety”, Frank O’hara
another day, i get out of bed
and drink too much coffee
and type too many words and wonder–
where was i going with this??????
my big character flaw is that i’m obsessed with closure. i never learned to leave well enough alone. that migraine that never fully reveals itself, just lurks and lingers and leaves before i could ever fully comprehend it.
Some weeks ago, a switch was flipped in my brain and it was decided– this quarantine is more good than bad. with the entire entertainment industry on pause, I’d have time to catch up, finally. I’d be able to get it together, become a “serious artist”. Maybe it’s destiny. And for couple of weeks, there, I believed it. But… okay, I need to be real–
maybe i am more comfortable when drowning in depression. in my isolation, despair has made itself at home. an uncertain present has given way to an unclear future. I never expected to just start making art that would reach people and lead to a life fully immersed in the creative– I’ve never been one for delusions. But I always thought there’s something better on the other side of madness. I found comfort in chaos and overdosed on patience.
(i’m out of coffee.)
Patience, I’ve found, is only good for 14 days so I’ve taken to rationing remains.
i don my mask, my blue latex gloves once more. I grab my phone, wallet, chewing gum and just enough patience to get me through today.
maybe today will be different.
maybe today i’ll try again.
that’s it: to clean something. A window?
“Anxiety” – Frank O’hara