High on mushrooms with my best friend on my 22nd birthday, sitting in the dirt, watching him play in the trees on the mountain, all of time seemed to have collapsed on itself, and at the risk of sounding like hocus pocus, everything in material reality seemed like a big inside joke. It seemed obvious to me that our bodies are new, but our souls old, if old is even measurable at all; but that the soul and body are not the same. Faced with the physical reality that is my body; one of a young woman, of what I’ve learned is “classically beautiful”, “striking”, a genetic lottery of sorts, and at the same time, in a constant immune battle against itself and in near daily danger just for existing, just for being a female person, the lesser sex; all things I struggle to consolidate inside myself everyday, I remembered, re~learnt, decided, that my body carries lessons I can learn, this time around. That the vessel I carry doesn’t define me, and doesn’t decide my fate necessarily, but has much to teach, it has much to inform my experience of living, and is an essential tool in my art.
Some drunk guy called me late one night in a mutual friends kitchen.
Moving in closer, eyes wild in the reflection of my own, he said,
“Suck my cock, Blondie Beeeaatch!”
Placing a hand on my shoulder, pushing firmly, nodding towards his crotch.
“Suck my cunt first then.” I said,
raising an eyebrow, almost bored, without missing a beat.
“YOU’RAAAaaaaaa CUNT!” he spat,
and I stood:
still, smirking, staring him square in the face.
Eyeing me up and down, he grit his teeth, he bit his lips,
“Will you suck my cock Puuuuuhleeeeeze!?”
His words like grunts, forced through cigarette breath.
If nothing else, I knew, he was way too wasted to get hard anyway;
making his request really kind of funny,
laughable, cute, emasculating.
“Hmm, not today.” I shrugged,
twirling my long blond hair, taking another swig of my whisky mixed drink.
“Can’t say I wont ever, but not today.”
Our friend, effeminate in a silk floral robe,
was bent in half laughing, cackling at this, he loves a show.
“Will you suck my cunt tomorrow?”
“Well, I don’t know now do I…” he snarled.
“Right, so, if we see each other tomorrow, we can discuss it.”
“He really respects you.”
the friend said later, earnest.
I laughed at this too.
I know that sometimes, to some people, in some states,
I’m nothing but a mouth and a cunt, hair and lips and legs;
and to them I say, suck it.
A man says in a Spanish accent that he’s closing the window beside me and I say,
“It’s going to rain?”
Disbelieving, liking the air untill yes it’s pouring.
Sitting under a coat rack in the corner, our legs intertwined.
His best friends girlfriend keeps calling me his girlfriend,
loudly and giggling.
“Not girlfriend!” I say from under the coat rack.
He’s sticking his hands in through the rips in my jeans,
we are high on MDMA.
A black capsule split in the bathroom,
he wrapped it in toilet paper.
I made a face,
asking does this actually work?
I swallowed it anyway since he’s been doing drugs for like as long as I’ve been alive.
“Would you like a bump?” Asked another,
the kind of aquaintance I haven’t known how to bond with previously and I hesitated,
“Oh…,” he said, “I dunno, I’m just trying to be nice.”
So I did two off my triangle tattoo because why not and this is how to make friends.
Then I met a guy who looks like Nickelback and we did a bump together too.
Then he stalked me all night like a fucking softcore Canadian nightmare.
Standing way too close, staring, following.
As if I owe him sex for a sniff of Coke.
Haunted by his terrible haircut,
lurking in the shadows of the shadow loft.
So I crawl under the coat rack,
digging in my bag for my soggy gum.
I need three pieces to save the skin inside my cheeks.
And we watch as he lurks at the bar,
watching us be watched.
His best friends girlfriend keeps slipping us free vodka drinks.
We watch super models hullucinate and I rant about friendships.
Beside the bar,
under the coat rack,
he says, “Not girlfirend!”
His eyes coaxing and scanning my face like the first time,
when he was the stalk-y one.
“She’s just teasing us.
You do whatever you want,
I’m just happy to spend time with you.”
And I smiled the smile I feel for being so happy to hear men say that.
And the spanish man with a cigerette in his mouth and a coffee in his hand,
slides back open my cafe window.
Even though it’s still raining,
the wind has softened and the storm has passed.
We exchange smiles and I say, “Thanks.”
Madeleine Black is younger than the number of her sexual partners would suggest.
She is presently a student in, ‘How to change the World with Beauty and Non Violent Protests of the Heart’, at Concordia University in Montreal.
She drove a boat for the first time yesterday and isn’t afraid of the dark.
A sister piece to ‘Fall is for the Ultimate’
I wrote most of this around the end of April and I’ve been building on it since.
I’m already nostalgic for Spring now that Humid Summer is upon us (even my eyeballs feel sweaty!).
Spring is for the romance. Spring is for wanting (to have) someone to pet your hair, because just the feeling of the wind moving through it in the sun is enough to make you cry.
Spring is for wanting to eat burgers everyday, so you do.
Spring is for first encounters skipping handshakes and moving straight to hugs.
A Mile End landscape drawn on diner place mats. The reflection of rainbows that last nights top sends casting across the table and your bagel. Comparing the colors of your eyes and ending with, “well there’s so much here!”
Spring is for a new book for every sleepover. And for only ever reading the fist three pages of every one of them when I can’t sleep. And for borrowed books, fiction and otherwise, about sexuality.
Spring is for men saying to me, “I think you’ll really like this.”
(over breakfast and beers)
Spring is for friends who look like all of Tumblr at once, and up all night talking until 9am because whatever.
Spring is for, “Can I touch your scabs?” said romantically. She said, “You are quite literally an open wound.” Highly sensitive people discussing sensitivity and MDMA hangovers in sunrooms and over cigarettes. She said, “It sounds like you don’t need to do drugs, you can already feel it all.” I feel so much.
Spring is for skin theory, surface contemplation, sensory overload. And should I be a lab rat? And exactly how deep does my disease go? And how much of myself can I expose before vulnerability will be misinterpreted as performative.
Spring is for meet me in the rain would you like a cigarette?
Spring is for blueberry pancakes, when the sun feels dark, visiting the animal shelter for emotional therapy, and every Vitamin water tasting like, “are you hungover?”. Can I buy every shade of lace and plaid and blame my art?
Spring is for a fresh new notebook soon filled with sprawling letters written while kneeling in a gravel alley way. A notebook like a companion to remember the overflow. The overflow of living presently.
Spring is for school is over, seems like it’s someone’s birthday every other day, how many days can celebrations last before they become benders? Is there such a thing as a date bender? Can you overdose on feelings? Fall into a pit of romance, down down down the rabit hole only to find yourself lying in a park sharing a beer thinking, ‘Oh, I think I’d like to get used to this’.
Spring is for April feels like some sort of time joke, like no, I haven’t had enough of purgatory yet.
Spring is for a roommate asking what the poem you read was about and when you say, “being a girl”, her saying, “ahh” with a smirk because this topic seems to consume all of you and by extension all that you create.
Spring is for can everything be a photoshoot? Are you filming? Is this a vine? Am I on the internet already saying this? (and I haven’t even finished my sentence yet.)
Spring is for I can finally write this outside. And we can finally make out outside. And we are drinking wine and making out in the park. He said, “We are the people we would normally laugh at, but also feel happy for.”
We are spinning. Twirling around the poles on metro cars like this is a Jon Hughes movie and I’m sometimes scared it could be.
Spring is for he is in my bed again and he literally blends right in. And where does one naked hug end and the next begin. He said, “I wear lace shadows on my face just for you.” And I can’t keep my eyes open, and I can’t see you this up close, and are we talking about hamburgers or sex, actually? And in how many different contexts can that last question apply before it will feel like a city wide joke?
Spring is for the lipstick smudges over my tattoo gave me an idea for a painting.
Paint me your brain in watercolor. And I will send you my name in flowers since you like to say it so much. Spring is for you say so much, I wish I had a tape recorder at brunch. Spring is for brunch became a picnic and picnic became life. Sleepovers and goodbye parties trail from the park and back again for days on end.
Spring is for “Are you titillated?” Tittylated. Tittyland.
“You’re breasts are even nicer than mine.”
He said, “Are you actively into girls?” and she (the girl I like) said, “You and I will be wearing leather for very different reasons.”
Spring is for gender neutral pronoun politics making me self conscious. But only because I’m so relieved to be living in a sexually progressive city. He said, she said, they said. We are a galaxy. He (they?) said, “Madeleine, what if the galaxy really is reflected on your skin?”
Spring is for NO PARENTS. And this means sex in the kitchen. And texts saying, “Your kitchen is an erogenous zone.” And I’m, beginning to wonder what’s not. And your hip fits perfectly in my hand like side of a pin ball machine. And I want to play you like a win win situation.
Spring is for having erotic passages about pinball read to you in the park.
Spring is for the rain giving me mermaid hair. And for mermaids giving me hope. And for mermaids who smoke like 1950’s movie stars to match their haircuts.
Spring is for this threesome or that one?
Spring is for this city is smarter than people give it credit for. Not just a pretty place, not just a La Bohemian lifestyle. This city brings personality to knowledge, and it brings people together in living rooms where we gladly share beer and poems and are kind to each other even when we’ve been sleeping with each others lovers. Imagine that.
Imagine a place where I have not been home yet.
Spring is for if you see me out in the world somewhere before 7pm imagine that I haven’t been home yet. But also imagine that there’s a 30% chance I’m just earnestly up at a decent hour and probably trying to be productive or find coffee or round up a picnic.
Spring is for do I have a cold because:
(1) I kissed someone with one
(2) rolled around the city all night wearing something sheer
(3) put substances up my nose
or (4) all of the above.
Spring is for I hate to admit that I kind of judge people based on their nail polish color.
Spring is for at this rate everybody could be married by the weekend.
Spring is for there was a moment this morning where I forgot how to write so I wrote this instead.
Spring is for group writing parties. And fact sharing. And cross pollination between disciplines to procrastinate the morning away. And caesars at 8am when you haven’t been to bed yet because maybe this will bribe the essay outa me?
Spring is a place where one lover is saying to me about another lover, “For someone who falls in love so often, I just don’t understand people who make such a big deal about it, just be nice to each other.” while I’m making a big deal about it.
Spring is for we can hear you fucking while we say our awkward, lingering, tension filled goodbyes.
He cut all of their faces out and filled them with light. And I left my eyes blank because I’m unsure of what I see. And my prof considered this unfinished but I consider it self aware (optimistic).
Spring is for I have been taking pictures of my reflection reflected onto other surfaces for months, and then I met a boy carrying around a gigantic sheet of a reflective surface all day. And he said, “Oh you and I, Madeleine Black, we’re going to be great friends.”
Spring is for can you choke me and he said, “Gladly”.
Spring is for sexy socks. And friends running into my bedroom screaming, “Maddy! I feel like you’re the expert on boys!??” only to find me in bed with a girl. Spring is for booty calls have dress codes and hers was black socks, which she didn’t have and I gave her. Mine has become no makeup, and sadly that is actually something I have reason to feel proud of myself for.
Spring is for all I can think about is skin. And so I pulled it all off, in public. And a new friend told me a month later that the first time he saw me I was standing on a bench surrounded by a crowd and he thought, ‘What the fuck is she doing?’ And I got an A.
At a party once my roommate told another friend that she thinks I’ll be a performance artist, and that was the first time I’d heard her say that. Spring is for every prof telling me that I’m very performative. And all winter I’d been trying to hide behind a scarf, but then they say the scarf became performative because it was on me, and I laugh to myself about trying to hide from the things that always find me, like performativity and kissing people (everyone) at parties.
Spring is for I’ve given up on trying not to put on a show. I am treated like a spectacle in a hoodie and no makeup at the grocery store, so I will not apologize for the spectacle that erupts when I do nothing more than add lipstick.
Spring is for sweethearts who ask, “D’you think they have performance art in vancouver?” And, “I have so many clothes because I’m a performance artist”. And no, absolutely not, my mental health has nothing to do with it. Mental health has nothing to do with anything. And how could you live in this century and not be at least a little depressed. And, “I only like people who are a little fucked up”. And I totally hated her when we first met because she was so happy and she was encouraging me to be happy and I thought, bitch.
Spring is performative in the same way that your hair always looks specific in the mornings by accident.
Spring is for your hot prof jumping up and down with excitement to show you artists whose work yours could parallel someday. And telling you that you could be a really interesting artist someday. And that you have a presence. But sometimes it’s just so hard to get your essence to the spaces where it needs to be, literally your body where it’s supposed to be when, and that’s a problem.
Spring is for the predictive text in my phone suggests, “this —> cuddle”.
Spring is for we’re so platonic he didn’t even notice he was spooning me naked in the morning.
Spring is for anxiety about happiness. The seasons are designed to make us all manic depressive and I am in guilty adoration of mania, my own and others.
Spring is for anime eyes. Wide like the way I feel to the world right now. In terrified and elated awe of all the beauty and chaos and mania that it brings.
Please, just hold me. (and pet my hair)
I never write down anything like dates or whatever because I’m too easily bored by stuff like that and the profs usually post all of the power points online for us anyways. (For this reason, I also haven’t included any quotes or ideas brought up about/by any specific artists because I’m more interested in the unscripted comments in the everyday.) Most of my notes from school are just long lists of artists, projects, and techniques that I should research, mixed in with quotes from profs and little snippets or ideas talked about that I think are interesting/important, here are my favorites from notebook #1:
(AKA you can know everything I’ve learned. Like, basically)
– Prof on University: “practice play and hang out with kindred spirits.”
– “It’s best to wait as long as possible before making money from your art because it’s kind of awful.” – prof
– Ultra Marine Blue. Vandyke Brown. Hint of Cadmium Red. (makes Black) (watercolor)
– pure pigment vibrating.
– “I couldn’t help it, the colors made me sick.” – puked on paintings
– “I don’t really care about grades, I just wanna teach you skillz.” – prof
– The death of painting. – rumors
– “Painting is often dead from time to time.” – prof
– “If anyone ever tells you that painting is dead, and you’re dead set on being a painter, just ignore them cause painting will be stop being dead about 3 years after that.” – prof
– “I’m not a poet, I’m just drunk.” “That’s the same thing.” – overheard
– “Art forces us to live within a grey zone.” – prof
– Move away from abstraction and recognize the importance of specificity.
– “We’re kind of at this moment where ‘Queerness’ is a sensibility.”
– Dye lace with beets and blood.
– Try on skin before.
– “The identification of the body as a place to define us.” – prof
– “There’s no gender on the internet.” – unknown
– “The face is a point of contact with infinity.” – who said this? -> defined ‘the other’ -> the objectification.
– The rhythms of childhood.
– Relationship between social structure and the experience of being a person.
– Everyday choreography.
– Thinking about the body as a floating signifier.
– Hybrid Body -> a body that stages trauma through inscription.
– Mutable, malleable, performative -> explodes
– Looks at depression as an esthetic quality/sensibility.
– “Tropes of Darkness.” – can’t remember who/what/where
– “How is this esthetic excess framed?” – prof
– Lyrical film making.
– Coming to terms with mental illness and living with it in the home.
– Critically unpack the stereotype.
– “It’s an argument that you have a true identity.” – prof
– *The subject, you the person, is just an invention.*
– Feel like I’m getting a degree in how to be a revolutionary.
– “Male and Female is breaking down before our eyes.” – prof
– Come back to penetration during this.
– “Our glorious leader, who will lead us to heaven or whatever.” – prof
– Connection between ‘Plato’ and platonic relationships?
– “When you see color, you’re experiencing the atoms on your body.” – unknown
– “The revolution here is not the work of art, you become the work of art.” – unknown
– Performativity -> not performing -> we are it.
– Be critical -> of femininity.
– ‘Normally’ <- why you want this kind of normal?
– *Marriage set up as a structural false sense of choice -> Conform or Die.
– “Society as we know it is detrimental to our well being, so we would be better to dismantle it.” – unknown
– “He caused a complete scandal, and today we say, ah well, that’s what artists do.” – prof
– “We don’t learn anything, we just do it.” – prof
– “In this kind of work, boredom is perfect.” – unknown
– “Art History has a hold on how we see things -> they have institutional control.” – prof(s)
– Why do pigs have penises shaped like corkscrews?
– Maybe any, maybe not?
– To be ‘crazy enough’.
– When silent, people don’t perceive you as human.
– “There are more winters in the world than the other seasons, because there are more dark people.” – unknown
– Being a perfectionist about your personality.
– Self consciousness starts to perform itself.
– Esthetic in a critical way -> you make who you are, identity is not natural -> this is the nature of creativity.
– Having, ‘Pretty Guilt’.
– “She always exhibits herself, never anyone else.” – prof,
– “She wanted to touch on the things that men wouldn’t be bothered with…” – prof
– *Put her hot dog vid in my sketchbook.
– “In the absence of clearly defined goals we become enslaved by the day to day.” – prof
– “Love is that condition where another persons happiness is essential to your own.” – unknown
– “In any kind of erotic attraction your expectations aren’t realistic.” – prof
– Hair shadows, over pages of books, your face, peoples faces, walls.
– “It’s all Madonna’s fault, all of it.” – prof
– “There’s always going to be someone who pushes it over the edge, and that person should be you.” – prof
Couldn’t stop LOLing and nodding (and loving her!) while reading this ‘rant’ by a really great friend of mine, Sonia Stanger. We met in Kindergarten, and have been talking loudly to each other ever since. She was in fact just here in Montreal last weekend for an NDP youth conference and we had hell of an adventure hang night (although I’m a bit worried she still might be pissed at me for breaking one too many beer bottles on the dance floor, ha woops!) But seriously, this sentence! “Women, as a collective, are like the sublime and unfathomable and unknowable goddamn raging ocean.” …
Oh why hello there! Fancy meeting you here. What’s that you say? Shouldn’t I be studying for a certain stats final just now? I think you and I both know that that’s why I’m even here, so I wouldn’t complain if I were you.
Just a little procrastination soapbox time for your Tuesday eve’. I should probably write a post about my weekend and Montreal and how much I adore the city and how Canadians need to battle against mounting cynicism, but that sounds altogether too timely and logical, and rather unlike me. Just go back and read my post about Amsterdam, and insert “Montreal” where it says “Amsterdam”, and you’ll be set. TO THE SOAPBOX!
Today, I read a comment online that I wish I could say was shockingly uncommon. Instead, it left me groaning and face-palming by its sheer, disheartening echoiness through the ages:
“I just like…
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