Posted in Almost Dorothy

14 things I learned this semester

King's Dominion, VA | Photo by Neil de la Flor
King’s Dominion, VA | Photo by Neil de la Flor

1. Friends are windows, not mirrors, we look into for light and love, answers and questions. They’re not a reflection of us or the myth of who we want to be.

2. Black angels are black angels. Archangels are archangels. Kings have dominion over nothing but ferris wheels.

3. Mental illness is not a joke, not a game of chess, but a mirror and window with no edge or hope.

4. All external events are external events until they spiral into and through windows and leave their catastrophic fingerprints on your mirror.

5. Suffering arises out of our obsession with peace, freedom, happiness and hope.

6. The universe doesn’t care for our fellow man. We care for our fellow man if we care.

7. There is no universal city, just Universal Studios.

8. I’m inhibited by the arc of impossible human behavior.

9. Individuals are responsible for their own action figures, which they can examine and control through rigorous self-discipline. Otherwise, we have no self-control, just a mirror of the self and a window into a world out of control.

10. The only thing beyond our control is hell.

11. I want you (and me) to live by the justice code and burn down freedom’s road.

12. There’s discord in the world that we walk into and out of without the slightest awareness of the knife and dagger pointed at our throats. Sometimes we hold the weapons against us.

13. To remain nameless is to live in shame and fear. To live conscious is to remain nameless to fear and shame.

14. Big gray clouds are full of danger and love is a unicorn.

Posted in Almost Dorothy, Angel

Angel: The Schopenhauer Slap

“One need only look at a woman’s shape to discover that she is not intended for either too much mental or too much physical work. She pays the debt of life not by what she does but by what she suffers—by the pains of child-bearing, care for the child, and by subjection to man, to whom she should be a patient and cheerful companion.”

—Arthur Schopenhauer

PROLOGUE

THE LAST DAY, MAY 20-SOEMTHING, 2012

When Angel threatened to slap me, ma said. I rationalized his anger and lost my brain stem.

That’s what ma said in her sleep just before she woke up at 5AM, ripped her giant t-shirt and fishnet stockings off and smashed the mirror with the mighty force of fifty gorillas. Dramatic and stunningly cinematic, ma stared at her shape all wild and wide and hairy. Bobo the Mutt shook and shivered as he presided over the shape of revelations to come.

I was his patient and cheerful companion, ma screamed holding her brain in place. I fucked it up. He was hurt by someone else—(and himself, I cut in)—and I could tell by the way he never looked me in the eyes. I promised to take care of him, she cried, but he was too much. He promised to take care of himself, I screamed at ma with bits of glass in her hair—but with the click of a mouse and send of a text he chose them instead of us.

It’s complicated, ma said. But so is quantum physics. His words burnt every plank on the ancient bridge between us, she said. But, I couldn’t fall back. I faced him face to face and asked him to get a job to help us out so we could buy rice and beans, chips and salsa. So we could move from co-dependence to mutual connection. I also wanted him to get his wings off the ground and free himself from the spiraling labyrinth. But, his anti-self turned his back on me, she said, and walked out of the room. He felt betrayed cause I promised to take care of him. Things change, I told ma, and the promise was not transubstantial—it was to lift him up, not weigh you down.

Even if it was a vague threat of violence, I deserved it, ma said. Even that’s a dangerous rationalization. It was a threat of violence, I told ma. I know, she said. But I felt responsible for his anger—for his health, raging depression and erratic behavior. I was the only one taking care of him. Like a good mother, I said. No one helped us. No therapist. No counselor. No friends. No family. Especially, no family, Angel said. No guru or godsend helped us through his life changing diagnosis. Once, he visited a crystal rock specialist, but came back more depressed. I remember, I told ma. But he didn’t want anyone else in, she said, even in the bleakest moments all I could do was hug him and pray God would take care. I wanna keep it between you and me, Angel told ma. I wish to remain nameless, she said he said. And live without shame is what he really meant.

Taking care, I told ma, is when you asked him for a fair exchange of energy. Besides, I said, he spent 20 hour days on the virtual reality machine re-manufacturing worlds within worlds and looking for answers to fit the narrative of his manufactured self-image.

Angel gave ma his answer that last day: You are not my family and you’ll see who I AM when I turn my back on you and fly.

“It is because women’s reasoning powers are weaker that they show more sympathy for the unfortunate than men, and consequently take a kindlier interest in them. On the other hand, women are inferior to men in matters of justice, honesty, and conscientiousness.”

—Arthur Schopenhauer

Ma’s first boyfriend, who turned out to be a socio-pathetic bag of almonds, went to jail for assault and batteries. Ma found his real arrest record on the virtual reality machine and showed it to Angel two weeks before they split. After ma dumped her ex, her ex tried to stab his new girlfriend with a kitchen knife. This occurred just a few years after ma’s ex slapped ma when they were in a relationship. He used his foot and fists too, but always missed. He did this when ma asked him to step up. To pitch in. I’ve been here before, ma said. And it was fresh in my head when Angel made his casual threat. Needless to say, ma doesn’t react well to threats. Not any more. Despite her women’s reasoning. Not even if the threat is just a fleeting suggestion.

Ma believes in the power of suggestion. The threat of violence is violence, she said. She doesn’t blame Angel, but she doesn’t blame herself either, so that leaves us with a paradox that leads us to an illogical conclusion that places blame on both of them or on the universe—or worse, God’s benign hand. We are responsible for our actions and threats of action, I said. Threats are manifestations of Schopenhauer’s deep-seated hatred of the feminine—and of our other half—and of women’s superior understanding of justice, honesty, and conscientiousness.

“The greatest sorrows and joys or great exhibition of strength are not assigned to her; her life should flow more quietly, more gently, and less obtrusively than man’s, without her being essentially happier or unhappier.”

—Arthur Schopenhauer

I lost my brain, ma said. I let him down even though I tried to lift him up over and over again. He didn’t want to get up, I told ma, you gave him an open home and a big heart and he collapsed in your head. And anchored himself between what he wanted to be free of and what freedom is. I lost my brain, ma repeated again as she stared at the reflection of the silly wild wide beast self in the shattered mirror. Your brain is right there, I said pointing at the dimple between ma’s breast implants. She fake-smiled as she held glass chips in her hands. It’s what makes you ma, I said. Ma, she said looking into the shattered mirror, is an illusion at best.

An ideal at best, I said. Human at worst.

Ma, what have you learned? I asked.

Not to break the mirror, she said, with my monkey fists. And that the only thing worth beginning is the end of Schopenhauer’s world of course.

Read “On Women” by Arthur Schopenhauer here http://theabsolute.net/misogyny/onwomen.html.

Posted in Almost Dorothy, Angel

Angel: Belief System

Saint Michael | Photo by Neil de la Flor
Saint Michael | Photo by Neil de la Flor

“A writer must always tell the truth.” —Gore Vidal

PROLOGUE

Ma is traumatized again because she believes in the power of vulnerability. Believes in the brighter lights obscured and shadowed by the minor shipwrecks and catastrophes of existence. Believes in the cosmic burst of light in the dark that began it all. She believes fiercely in her two selves—the heart diagnostic self (the emotional self) and the head diagnostic self (the intelligent self). She believes in flesh and bone, glitter and glow. Believes in practical magic and mambo. Subarus and salvation. Rachmaninoff and Ladytron. The stars and the moon. Shadows and soon. But, most of all, ma believes in the sublime susceptibility of humankind(ness) and the invincible flashlights of angels.

IN THE BEGINNING, DECEMBER 2010,

when ma met Angel, she said she jumped in with the full force of the wingless because she is not a bird. She said she didn’t even have one wing. Now ma is curled up on our bed with my batwings wrapped around her solemn mess as she munches on an empty bag of Lay’s Potato Chips as she clicks and clicks the blue lava lamp on/off on/off like Glenn Close did in Fatal Attraction. Ma is fetal-like and nebulous in the intermittent blue glow of light and no light. Write about it, ma said Angel said. And leave me alone. But ma can’t write, not yet, because her ego is a complex conjugation of egg and yolk—sense and no-sense—that she knows she will never understand even in the divine stillness of her most enlightened and aligned yoga position. There are no coherent narratives, ma said, in a shattered mirrorball. I told her I would write her story for her instead, so I did, and will, even with her mouth shut tight.

Angel told ma he was HIV negative when they met even though Angel knew he was probably HIV positive. She asked him about his status before they met because ma is like that. It was even written on his profile, she said, on the dating website where we first met. And it’s still there 9 months after ma took care of him after his diagnosis. When they actually really met in person for the first time, ma asked him again and he said he was HIV negative again. And that was that. What the hell, ma said. What the hell. At some point you have to trust the living or you live in a constant state of spiraling mistrust and fear. So they had sexual relations. And it was fine. It went like this and that and ma said Angel didn’t want her to leave his side because of the humane connection that had developed between them, so he held her tight just like my batwings are holding ma tight now with a potato chip bag clenched in her teeth. Ma said she preferred hugs to a notional life of sex anyway even though she has no problem with sex as sex or sex as an open window we sometimes use to guide each other into and through the surreal, fractured landscapes of our manufactured egos.

You can’t hold love in your body, she said. With the kindness of hugs and kisses even from the hardest of hearts.

Ma said she didn’t care if he was HIV positive or HIV negative because she lives in the real world and would have had sex with him anyway and stayed by his side, which she eventually did through the most radical transition an angel can experience, because ma believes in the power of loving humankind(ness). Ma just wanted to know. Just in case. Because in the Age of Information there is no excuse for misinformation with the miracle of post-exposure prophylaxis. He had reasons to fear revelation, ma said. Because revelation requires guidance. It’s not easy being alone, vulnerable and crippled by shame and regret. Ma supported his silence in silence as her body moved radically against her silence in its attempt to draw him into the light of awareness. But in this process of reverse rationalization and narration one must stop and return to point A and face the light head on.

Ma believed in Angel (and still does) because she believes in herself. Believes in her power of perception and emotional intelligence. In her graceless wisdom and improbable compassion. In her mistakes and trippy tippy toes. In faith and foresight. Patience and providence. Ma said she isn’t afraid of death or dying or contracting or developing this or that because she is aware she will die one day no matter what she she does. But the unintended consequences of shame, ma said, are costly burdens that weigh down the wings of angels weighing down the limbs of the living with iron balls.

Ma believed (and still believes) Angel because she believes in cosmic love born out of bedrooms on the bay, the front seats of sports cars, a pier overlooking the same bay, Key West and Saint Augustine, foyers and Florida rooms, chat rooms and dream states, doctor offices and diagnostic sites and any and every place humans reveal their most vulnerable selves and share responsibility for living with other humans being.

Ma believed Angel because he believes in angels. He believes in God and the violet light, the Universe and levitation, chants and oms, Saint Germain and Saint Michael, Christ and Krishna, Buddha and Shiva, the Bhagavad Gita. She believed Angel because she doesn’t believe in any of that but she is always open to the ever expanding room of experience. Even though ma believes in logic and science, X-rays and MRIs, ELISA tests and red shift, emotions and intelligence and in her fierce inability to be immune to the process of cognition, she always believes in absolute risk.

In every low risk situation there’s always a moment of absolute risk, ma said. At the moment of climax one has to decide what to do with what’s to come. That forces the blaring headlights of revelation.

In April, four months after they met, ma asked Angel again after visible signs appeared that pointed to a radical decline in his immune system. In her car parked in front of Buck 15, she closed her eyes and asked him again if he’d ever been tested. No, I’ve never been tested, he said. I don’t believe in Western medicine. It’s a test, ma said she said to him. Not medicine.

This act of empowerment, of closing her eyes while opening his, allowed ma to see the silences burst out of him as a thing in being, like a floating orb that was stunningly clear and fragile and vulnerable and scared and fiercely defensive as it spun violently like a massive tornado destroys everything between heaven and hell. Ma asked him in the front seat of her shitty sports car on a humid Thursday night and that’s when ma knew there was no shaking it out. No turning back. No more lights out. Just go.

What the hell, ma said.

When ma surrendered to the light, her two selves merged into one. She asked the questions no one wanted to answer. She plugged into the grid of dis-empowerment that weighed him down. Since ma is not a bird, she couldn’t and wouldn’t fly away even if she were a bird. Love is a complex conjugate of revelations, ma said. I tapped into his grid and absorbed his city of information into my sensory system just like an angel must absorb the entire history of a civilization into her bones.

Posted in Almost Dorothy

Angel Wings

Angel | Photo by Neil de la Flor

Sometimes angels are grounded. Bound by gravity. Bound by their desire to fly out of black spaces. Sometimes angel wings are just versions of wings. Versions of what they want their arms to be. Stretched beyond human limbs. Angels light the cosmos with possibilities. Their palms red from so much trying.