Two Forms of Memoir Part 2 : the Tactile as Vessels of Transformation

On seeing photographs of Picasso sitting and walking amid large canvases and eating from plates decorated wth his drawings of fish, I realized imagery in my work could take up a larger space. . . More and more I tacked up on the wall cards, prints, and photographs, even carried them with me. Finally I took to Scotch-taping my typewritten pages on the wall. It began to make a difference in my work.

Adrienne Kennedy – people who led to my plays

scotchtape

Make sure you gather every piece of clothing and be sure to handle each one.

Marie Konde – The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up

clothes

Isn’t it strange how in this digital, sensorily-amplified, modern landscape, actually touching objects, and interacting with letters, patterns, fabrics, textures, words, is a transformative, even radical, act?

 

Advertisements

Conversation about a pivotal summer

Do you remember your summer of 18? 18 years, I mean, not 2018. That hasn’t happened yet.

That was the most jacked up summer.

In what sense?

Emotionally. Revved up like a Camaro spinning whirlies on a slick street under a full moon. Flying on an airplane to a beach town when I craved being someplace else, a photographic mountain town with a boy I knew well but had never gone all the way with so he pegged me a virgin. All that latent longing and dizzying depression and unspent ambition and thwarted intimacy and fraught connection pummeling my heart with a whack ack ack!

Ouch!

Yeah, and the feeling that whatever was mine to grab would be gone by the next time round the sun,  And the dread of knowing that I was too chickenshit to go for it, that I’d have no one to blame but myself for my pathetic spiraling out.

Have you experienced such self-loathing since?

Fortunately, no, but I suppose it’s there, if I dig for it.

The Magic of First Takes

The putting together of this project/ feels so analogue and piecemeal/ not at all peaceful/ her friend says to record it when the feeling hits

It’s strange to listen back.

It’s 1995, I’m living at the Parkside, 19th & Aloha. I’ve taken to writing poems on tiny white pads of paper. In my mind, they’re just frenzied mental notes, slated for the scrap-pile. One day I press record on my Sony Walkman and speak the bits into the room. Later, I listen back. The thing that hit my ears is astounding – polished and confident! I’m ashamed that I had thought so lowly of my scribbles. They’ve morphed into something real, something worthy of existing! Now I have something I have an obligation towards, something to preserve and protect. I stash the cassette in a box and later find the tape has tangled with another tape and must be cut. I keep the damaged tape for some time, but eventually throw it out,  tired of seeing it un-mended.

Flash forward to March 27, 2018. I soak in the tub and listen back to a recording on my phone. It’s rough. I’m playing a few coarse chords on the piano and singing words from my journal about the impossibility of capturing the essence of the moment. Body submerged, the sounds coalesce. The content strikes me as raw, yet perfect. Once it’s in my ears, I know it has become a thing that will hold up for me, that I’ll expect. That I’ll defend. If I hadn’t recorded it, I wouldn’t give it the time of day. The recording makes a claim on my memory, fixes it in my brain as something worth saving. What is behind my fascination with first takes? Is it blind obedience, or something higher, something approaching grace?

The Man Who Can Forget Anything, a response to a performance by the same name

Preface

I do not trust my mind to remember anything. Thus I incessantly scribble ideas down on whatever I have on hand. A passport. A handbill. A ticket stub even.

Lofty beginnings

They took a very small boy and put him on top of a high high ladder in the old Eagles Auditorium. That was my son. And he sung a song from up there. It was a very long time ago so I can’t remember exactly what song it was, although it was a song from the musical Suessical.

A brush with the divine

I was trying on a dress in the vintage shop Mike’s Old Clothes, in a version of Seattle no one remembers anymore. The dress had a peculiar sash which I found myself frankly at odds with. I emerged from the dressing room with the two ends akimbo. A man leapt out from the shadows and tied it with a flourish. I recognized him as the dancer Mark Morris. I was too timid to tell him it was I!-the girl-child he had dedicated his solo Jealousy to at Bagley Wright some 5 years earlier. I was aware of the irony of needing more time to pull myself together when it was my inchoate state he had found so refreshing in the first place.

Diminutive yet stong men

I saw Mikhail Baryshnikov not in Moscow but here, on this very stage, dancing to Ivor Cutler. From the front row where I gratefully sat, having procured a ticket from a stranger, he appeared quite small in stature though wonderfully expressive. His face above all was a superbly malleable instrument which crowned his divine proportions.

Waistcoat and angel wings

Image005

Outside of Seattle’s new opera house, I shot Kepler and Charlie in a candid pose before a performance of the ballet A Midsummer’s Night Dream. The balancing act, with children, is not being too strident in passing on one’s own predilections or occupations. Thus, the pitter patter of my heart when my son choose the donning of a costume free of my suggestion.

Snowman

The dancers filing out of Cornish gathered around to watch my boy-child nimbly mold a snowman. The way their giggles rushed out of them, only to be squelched by the frosty air, reminded me that though young, they had little knowledge of, or time for, the pursuits of childhood.

Nothing but regrets dept.

I am remorseful that I failed to see the production of Three Sisters when it came recently despite reading glowing reviews. I am contrite.

More of the same

I would also like to express regret for failing to see Ezra’s site specific dance piece exploring mental health and mother – son relations. I sensed the value of his work with every pore and yet failed to get my sorry ass to the street where it unfolded. I am ashamed and unabashedly penitent.

In case anything should happen. . . . .

We ought to have the manuals for every obsolete technology we’ve ever used to articulate our ideas uploaded into a chip and inserted into our skull cavity, to be removed upon our demise.

Memory palace

One day my son came home and said that they had learned something extraordinary at school. They had been taught they could remember anything if they hid it away in a crevice born of imagination.

The Entr’acte

Silence. Foot steps. A scuffle. The world is created sound bite by bite, each stab or slap or stomp or shuffle or shove another layer of scaffolding, the culmination of which is the tinkling of a grand piano and a man in a hat saying enjoy the show.

Time passing

The train is pulling into the station. My son boards the train. From the viewing platform I see him moving about the dining car where as a minor he is required to exist. I am a voyeur, drinking in his autonomous form as it readies itself for the exhilaration of travel. I am also gazing into a time capsule, reliving my own rail adventures from my stationary post. “All aboard!” the lady cries deafeningly as time rattles on for us both.

My heart is like an expensive piano

Two words overlapping inscribe something new. Two distinct time frames interposed jolt the audience into accepting the murkiness of the time-space continuum. Sitting in Room #608 and watching the high jinxes of silent film unfold as the clatter of feet – at first faint – grows in volume until, at last! the characters from the film are made flesh and burst into the room with the audacity of time bandits!

Concluding comments by two Vladimirs

“Memory is repetition.” Those words were spoken by my character Vladimir in A Warehouse Dream. Beckett’s Vladimir said, “Habit is a great deadener.”

Disclaimer

I apologize for having seemingly used the space here to write about my life, instead of reporting on the show as expected. In some sense, the performance was a blank canvas which I utilized for my own memories, some of which had much to do with the show, while others had less.

Epilogue

My son and I traveled the long route up Denny (unhampered by snow). Our fellow bus passengers (including a man carrying a dustpan and a pickaxe with bike locks hanging from his pockets) enhanced our understanding of our fellow man while the revolving floor tested my sense of gravity. We arrived home safe, greeted by the smell of apples, with the work through the night before us.