I was in Sacramento this week, the heat dense and humid like stepping into an open mouth. It was 100ºF at 4pm. I loved it and rued it as my body faltered, and loved it again.
Friends and I were there to testify before the California Senate in favor of SCR-110 [CW: talk of medical trauma to follow] a resolution which says it's best practice for doctors to hold off on medically unnecessary genital surgery on intersex infants until these infants are old enough to consent or otherwise to say, I think I know how I would like to be. The language of the resolution was appropriately delicate. There was no mandate beside that moral and ethical impetus which occurs when organizations like the WHO and ACLU have both deemed an act a human rights violation. The general sentiment of the resolution could have been summarized as: Doctors, no one should have this arbitrary power; Families, waiting is a healthy option. And yet! The two men who came to oppose the resolution stuttered things like 'normal' and 'brain-sex' in that great and mercifully air-conditioned room, and with equal mercy and no small amount of grace the assembly members descended on the deeply problematic framing of the history of 'normal' as it regards any motive which irrevocably and needlessly alters the life of an otherwise healthy child.
The resolution was passed. I blessed California on that day.
As may be inferred by my having been in Sacramento, my response to [gestures to everything] has been to embrace my usual doggedness, and - as much as I can - simply get to work.
I am keeping a wary eye on the political situation... and I am getting to work, making art and otherwise lending a hand wherever I can.
Here in my body and out in the world, I am striving — an operative word. I am doing physically more than I have done since I first began passing out in the studio around four years ago. I feel that I am carrying entire worlds in me, so pent-up is the desire to make... and so much is simply discipline now. The body cries out [quietly] for activity and it is given activity, and it [loudly] cries out for rest, and it is given rest. Love and the work are the engine of the body.
Resilience is constant, while stamina is a moving target. On a granular level I feel as though I have the flu every day. This is as it should be — strangely, I am told this is the topography of the road to wellness. My sense from those who have gone through it is that any person who rehabilitates from this thing feels like animate garbage for at least the first year. Gradually, as one travels this absolutely difficult, poorly-paved road the foliage clears and it seems the patient is suddenly in the wide-open: and here we have standard life, finally, once again. It stays or it doesn't. I have no idea if it will work like this for me, but if I'm good at anything it's dogged pursuit of a goal.
I am about eight months into striving. I will still run a low fever if I have a very, very busy week; I will still shake somewhat if I over-exert. I am not physically strong yet. However, there are also things I am not doing any longer (knock on all the redwood in this beautiful place) which are: passing out; falling down; experiencing precipitous symptoms of shock after exertion; migraines which last weeks; inability to eat anything but boiled rice and chicken.
The limitations seem to be easing. Strangely, all the things I'd considered woo are the things that help the most - acupuncture foremost among these. I suppose it makes sense. My understanding of the traditional system behind acupuncture is that it hinges on regulating a delicate electrical and neurochemical system - and neurology is, itself, made of delicate neurochemical and electrical systems. It is very gradual, yet the progress feels incredibly quick at the same time.
Part of this sense of speed is the warm welcome I have been so grateful to have received from my arts community. I have been very pleasantly surprised to have been approached for a handful of commissions within a short time after announcing that I'd been ill and that I was improving now. I told a friend recently that when I began making friends with artists and people who love art, I did so because making art can be so lonely and because I wanted to challenge my work, and most of all - I wanted to have friends who understood the mission. It (perhaps naively) never occurred to me that these same people could bring opportunities to make things in the wider world.
Merriam-Webster says the opposite of 'opportunist' is 'altruist', which I suppose describes my general temperament... I find concern in the well-being of house spiders. My tiny writing group has been laughing at me lately because I don't know the names of famous people or what they're into - and my friends laugh at me because this is true, while they say I can name a line of some dead poet from the first bar. I must confess I don't see much motivation to change. Deep work seems to require a certain amount of insularity.
I am giving myself the rest of this year to bring the studio practice into sharper focus, and I'm beginning to feel out the values of people I may want to work with in an official capacity - and what sort of people may feel as though they'd want to take a chance on an artist who has, to this point, intentionally avoided the gallery system.
I have been making music, and 3D modeling. I relish the interdisciplinary bent. I don't think I can give that up.
I did a shoot recently with my dear friend Hans. (I've been doing random photography with friends and acquaintances as a way of practicing, as well as a path toward invoking kismet, and further - as a means of giving something beautiful to people during what is generally a globally difficult time.)
Here is my favorite image from that day. It lives on the front page of this site now, as well as here.
As always - thanks for being here, and thanks for reading along.
In art and striving,