sry if the towel is keeping you from feeling the fantasy
ive been on mental walkabout, which is a thing that apparently happens when your boof/housemate leaves town for four weeks and you’re a person who has some shit to work out. he did it once before, and i like, had some real breakthroughs and realizations, but i can’t remember any of them now. there was some kind of theme. i forget what it was.
this time around the theme has something to do with art. and feelings. i think last time it was probably feelings too. but last time it was like “hm, feelings” and this time it’s like “wait does art have the power to access feelings, and is that NOT BAD?”
tbh, it’s hard to imagine something being not bad at this point in my life (hence all the feelings). i have flashes where i feel like i can see into the gnarled and crushed insides of my brain. and i feel guilty, because it’s not earned, because, you know, white privilege and stuff, and my parents are nice, and still married. and i feel ashamed, because that means that it’s my own fault.
and so the setting is always punishment, always working off a debt. the novelty i’ve been able to bring to it recently is “self care,” which I think I thought was sincere but really just seems like efforts to keep the gears going. because you can only work and punish so much before things start to grind down. so, exercise. cleaning my clothes and linens. avoiding bread.
i have recently made to-do lists that seem extremely meaningful, that just exist to focus me on doing shit that will just allow me to survive. “this is what i’m going to do for myself. i’m going to eat food. i’m going to sleep.” somewhere on the list is always “do something fun” maybe with a question mark next to it, and no sub-points on what that might consist of. i can never think of anything. if i ever think of anything, it’s something that’s a responsibility that seems less unpleasant than others (“fix Neal’s shirt” rather than “do the dishes, again/forever”)
i live in terror of anyone asking me questions about my life. explaining that i like my job, which is true, while simultaneously feeling guilty about it, and possibly ashamed of it’s uncool, compromise-y-ness depending on my audience. god forbid someone ask me about what i like to do “for fun.” my throat is tightening in a cry-y way thinking about it. i usually say something about running or cooking, neither which i particularly like, it’s just that they’re all i do. they fall into the survival priorities. the to-do list.
i feel like i have the most pain, out of anyone. i feel ashamed because it makes no sense. i feel ashamed because it’s obviously not true. i conjure up thoughts of people with physical suffering, people who are being victimized. i feel guilty for not helping them. i push them out of my mind, because i feel like i can’t bear the weight of even thinking about them. i feel ashamed. i think about how i am almost 30. i feel ashamed. i feel ashamed, for being overdramatic.
i went to a drag ball tonight. i dressed up, as…. something. me with more makeup on. me in an oversize silk shirt tied around me as a dress. the theme is, something. it is not customary for a straight female attendee (read: non participant) of a drag ball to dress up as something. i just wanted to feel the fantasy.
when i arrived, i felt self-conscious. i was alone and dressed weird. my completely real and shockingly effective coping tactic was to literally pretend that i was invisible. the rational “nobody is looking at you, they care about their own stuff” argument didn’t work, but i could feel “you are literally not here” run down my back, easing the tension. along with the wash of relaxation, the shame: you are almost 30. the sorrow: how is this who you are now?
ive been reading about art lately. i am not knowledgeable about art. but reading and thinking about art interests me. it makes me not wish i was dead in a way that looking at internet bullshit and reading teen vogue, two things i supposedly like because i do them all the time as if i found them fun, don’t. art is interesting. people doing new things, for reasons that are essentially mysterious to me, is interesting.
the things the people are doing is the part that is interesting and fun. the reasons people do them is the part that is the dust particle my thoughts and feelings are condensing around during this solitary period. the theme. which is, as you’ll recall, something.
this is the second year i’ve attended this particular drag ball and both times it has been great. this time, the climax included two extremely fit male dancers stripped down to their tights. one stole a judge’s glass of water and dumped it on his bare, arced-back chest, and he was blond. imma let you finish, bearded dancer who allowed yourself to be “walked” by the blond dancer via a leash-like accessory you were wearing, but blond dancer was robbed.
the hostess is a local queen named pepper pepper. she’s also a dancer. last year she gave a performance that was stunning and like, thesis-y, about drag and beauty standards and appropriation. her arms were painted blue. she was so beautiful. this year she wore like, a jughead hat? and a short caftan? her makeup was flawless and so were her skinny, skinny legs.
she gave a performance where she took off her caftan to reveal a harness and a fetching sort of high waisted panty, and attached herself to several dozen very large balloons which assisted in her doing a walking/dancing crowdsurf as she lip synced to “Wrecking Ball” by Miley Cyrus. She had a wand with a pin on the end, and she slowly popped the balloons to release bursts of glitter and confetti onto the audience who was lifting her.
the reason i went to a drag ball alone, dressed weird, was because i couldn’t miss it for the world. the performances i saw last year were some of the most powerful things i’ve ever seen. they touched me inside, in that art-y way. they made me want to be a different person.
I like “Wrecking Ball,” and I was just straight up screaming watching the way Pepper performed atop everyone’s hands. Her grace. Her composure, her unflinchingness, as she trusted her weight to the hands below her, including those, who I fucking HOPE were her friends, who slapped her ass. Her strength, literally. The way her body moved.
She is a consummate drag queen hostess and her smoothness and confidence onstage is nearly uncanny. When she returned to the stage from her crowd walk, she thanked the crowd, and she said it was the highest she had felt in years, and made some comment about “i didn’t even drink or snort anything” . It wasn’t un-smooth but it was just so obviously true—she felt victorious. She felt alive. The performance was really good. I wanted to be her so bad. I want to be her so bad.
I have known that very, very thin drag queen was my ultimate form since probably season 3 of RuPaul’s Drag Race. Maybe before, when I learned about David Bowie, or started wearing weird shit in high school. I don’t really know what to do about this realization as a cisgender woman.
One option is to become a thin (let’s start there then move onto very, very thin) cisgender woman. I’m considering it. My gut says this is kind of not the point, but I would really like to be very thin. I might have to cut out eating like 50 red vines a week and I’m just not sure how that whole equation balances out yet.
Another option, which fortunately supports being thin, is learning to dance. I feel it in my gut every time I see a dancer. I wish I was them. I wish I could do that. I feel drawn to doing that.
The above options won’t make me a drag queen. They won’t even really make me a performer. I don’t know if I want to be a performer. (That is a lie, I totally do, but I don’t know in what capacity, and I’m not at terms with whether it’s realistic.) But I want what Pepper Pepper has: I want to be seen, and maybe even touched, and have that feel good. I want to stand in front of people and get a charge from being looked at—or just accept being looked at. I don’t want to be a person who has to play pretend that they’re invisible to feel ok. I don’t want to avoid being asked questions about who I am.
So is there healing in art? If I dance, will I find my real self again? If I dedicate my time and energy to expressing something that comes from inside me—will I regain my ability to interact with the world with something besides fear and shame? And can I do the stuff? The art? The practice? Can I stop hating myself long enough to even try?
It’s so bad to wrap up with a bunch of questions like that, because now I have to answer them with a “well we’ll just have to wait and see won’t we” and that’s just wretched. I guess the real question, for myself, is “how am I going to lose 10 pounds” LOLOLOL JK the question is “so, what are you going to do?”
And the answer is….something.