Sunday, July 30, 2006

The passenger

Iggy Pop - The Passenger

I am the passenger and I ride and I ride
I ride through the city's backsides
I see the stars come out of the sky
Yeah, the bright and hollow sky
You know it looks so good tonight
I am the passenger
I stay under glass
I look through my window so bright
I see the stars come out tonight
I see the bright and hollow sky
Over the city's ripped backsides
And everything looks good tonight
Singing la la la la la.. lala la la, la la la la.. lala la la

Get into the car
We'll be the passenger
We'll ride through the city tonight
We'll see the city's ripped backsides
We'll see the bright and hollow sky
We'll see the stars that shine so bright
Stars made for us tonight
Oh, the passenger
How, how he rides
Oh, the passenger
He rides and he rides
He looks through his window
What does he see?
He sees the sign and hollow sky
He sees the stars come out tonight
He sees the city's ripped backsides
He sees the winding ocean drive
And everything was made for you and me
All of it was made for you and me
'Cause it just belongs to you and me
So let's take a ride and see what's mine
Singing la la la la.. lala la la
Oh the passenger
He rides and he rides
He sees things from under glass
He looks through his window side
He sees the things that he knows are his
He sees the bright and hollow sky
He sees the city sleep at night
He sees the stars are out tonight
And all of it is yours and mine
And all of it is yours and mine
So let's ride and ride and ride and ride
Oh, oh, Singing la la la la lalalala

I'm exauhsted. At Ps place, eating leftovers from last night while he is in den Hague. Looking back at the things I wrote in the past 7 months. A letter/email to a guy I met on the internet, another poz, who helped me a lot in the beginning. Supported me. Called me. Without incentive. And then just disappeared. Had an attack of shingles and took off. He was a middle aged American, really intelligent, really seasoned. Another one who touched briefly on my life.

It's strange how the disease made me see others as people, not sterotypes, and I think vice versa, although he would occasionaly slip into the old guy flirting with a young chick mode. Not to mention the sex addict mode. But these were just slipups, and there was a hell of a lot more to him then a sex addict. He is a brave man.

Here's what I wrote him, think it was in Febuary, so less than 2 months following my diagnosis. I was already going out with P, but just as buddies, and fucking E in his expensive desolate home. I was debating between the two of them, but really between two options: one secure and settled down [for all it's worth] and totally unrelated to me, despite the virus we had in common; the other, well the other is what I chose... what I choose and re-choose again and again:

These emails that I quoted you, what they have in common asides from the fact that they were all written by men who have had sex with me in the last years, was that they were written by members of the 3 great religions, Christianity, Islam & Buddhism. I have been thinking just as I woke up at 3 literally shaking with desire to get the apartment I’ve seen and coming up with all sorts of plans and schemes to beg and connive my way to the top of the customer list of my estate agent’s, how Jewish or maybe Israeli that is, and how I can’t help it, and how what I dread about Israel is the working assumption that everyone is doing the same or much worse as me, that I am always behind any anybody can cut in the line at any given moment (and what a relief someone like E is from that, the very opposite, so solid and stable and trusting of the system, though occasionally grumpy about it of course and recognizing its faults, but still). This relates to B’s boss having to call the cops after he had an accident without a valid driving license, and B himself, regardless of being at fault or not (which I don’t think he was but I don’t think it matters) having to pay a certain sum to the driver (& the police? In any case they took away his bank book as deposit) as compensation, or compromise, which in many places would be considered a bribe, which may in fact be a bribe but is the way things are done there and a swifter and more efficient way of justice and settlement than we have in the West (now Israel is a curious mix of the orderly and semi-legal so I won’t get into that).

You know, it drove me crazy how Z could give me up so easily when I know that he loved me so much. But what can I expect from a Muslim, the fact that he has never set foot in a mosque and escaped Islam and drinks and eats pork has nothing to do with that, it is the Inshallah or God Willing culture that is so deeply engrained and that has helped him to survive and accept all the things in his life, compared to which I am a minor inconsequential loss. We have that in Israel too, Jews have it and Arab Jews maybe more and that could account for a lot of the problems, the misunderstandings and even mutual hatred. By the time you figure out that things are just not done in the way that you’re used to, that worse, people don’t think in the manner that you can even assimilate (like what I have to face here with the bearoucracy and what I perceive as a lack of caring and service on one hand, and the surprising ease of obtaining certain things which in Israel you would have to fight for), that you have the real identity crisis, that you begin to really doubt yourself and your ability to survive, and that you become afraid. And that’s why societies in transition, as most of them are, are so dangerous, b/c everything is so flimsy, and people are so terrified about a future which is anyway terrifying and uncertain, and with the landscape shifting underground as in increasingly (or perhaps it has always been like that) does, how can you trust that actions taken today to secure some kind of reliability in the future, and not just economic ones, will be beneficial at all in a few years?

Like now the wireless internet that was installed in the building completely disappeared, and that drives me crazy, and I try to check again and again, even blaming myself for doing something although I know I didn’t do anything, and feeling frustrated and imagining the call I have to make to my landlord, and annoyed and paying for such a crappy connection, when all I need to do is just accept. Surely with all the things going on in my life accepting something as minor as this, or as not being able to get the hell out of here to the apartment of my dreams, should be easy, but we (I) am just so accustomed to want-want-want, yearn-yearn-yearn, beg someone hard enough, make vows, be good, improve, get fit, lean, strong and smart and you will get it, right? That’s how I was brought up, not by my parents but by something much larger. Actually the reason I feel so uncomfortable in Israel is that my parents didn’t bring me up that way themselves. In fact, the only seem to have adapted to it recently, in the last 20 years or later, and mostly as a couple.

Why don’t I write about the real things, the real issues, how I am afraid for my parents, how scared I am that by staying away, by indulging while they are out there in the sweaty polluted dangerous angry place, I am losing them. That I will not be able to live with myself if I do and yet I cannot be physically close, not to them but to that place. I did not quote him, but my (Jewish) ex relentless prodding and prying now that he has (presumably) found out he is positive is just typical and something I can’t take. Why can’t he let me be, why does he have to get to the root of it as though it would change anything – and isn’t that what I have been doing myself, although not by actively writing people (I did draft an email though) then by thinking and wasting so much energy on the relatively distant past, about which there is nothing I can do, not even learn from my mistakes because I have been having safe(r) sex and nothing that I do will ever take this away, bring back Z and the multitudes of people who will run away from me just like him if they do, and reverse this terrible accelerated growing up process.

It’s 4.30, I was unable to go out b/c I was so tired, then I woke up at three when my upstairs neighbors walked all over my ceiling in high heels, then I had some garden beans and Dutch pea soup from a can, then I read my great book which is almost over, which I will try to send you, and then I wrote this. I would have loved some more direct form of communication with you but this is what I have at the moment. And being the type that I am, I give up on calling b/c I know how pissed off I’ll be when you call me back and the line for no apparent reason becomes disconnected again and you’ll be diverted to a voicemail that I won’t even be able to pick. I suppose I should go to the shop and ask about that, b/c I could be getting important messages and missing them (typical Dragonette thoughts, pushy, semi-paranoid, restless, self-blaming). But I do get the calls from C or from my parents, or the messages they leave. I will go and ask anyway. Just one more thing that I have to do which makes my shoulders and neck cramp with tension. Though I am learning, I have learned over and over, that when you do nothing something happens, transpires all the same. But I have also learned a million times over that when you don’t do something yourself and when you trust others, however good intentioned they might be, your needs aren’t fulfilled. This is perhaps the number one lesson of my childhood, of my life. And the worse thing is whenever such a lesson is confirmed, I would have loved to have them disputed, or maybe I didn’t allow for them to be disputed (see my running away from E) or probably both. I can imagine how terrible is was for Z to have the thing that he finally obtained stained in such a terrible and to him hopeless way, and I can imagine how terrible it would be for me to trust and get fucked again, and I am not referring to him but to life. I am so used to blaming myself and hating myself and I know no other way but to compare, to judge, to push and be inherently unhappy even when I sometimes am – which always happens when I forget myself, never when I am myself. And this is something I should have taken from Boon, he is incredibly smart, and his life was just bloody awful, and he has the most uncertain future I can think of, the only certain thing about it, and that really brings tears to my eyes, is that it will be bad, yet he lives on and trusts life, continuing his existence. He does not have the tear that me and Z have nor the stability and break of trust that E had when he lost his job and find out he can no longer rely on the system in quite the same way as he used to (the system being the Dutch way of doing things, he keeps repeating but how can one person fire me just b/c she doesn’t like me, how can one person have so much power, when I was great at my job, to which I reply that I have seen the same thing, the same chaotic irrational behavior of a boss or an organization, throughout my entire working life, which is completely true, and I am totally unsurprised; so his losing his job is a breach of trust not just existential fear and inconvenience).

If I just accept, somehow accept it all, it would be easier. I would still be sick, still living in a crappy place, still single and lonely and afraid for my parents, but I would not be fighting, I would just be me, and that is the hardest thing of all, and that is the mirror that that HIV has dropped right in front of my face while I was running, running as usual, so that I can either crush into myself and come out more wounded, or I can stop and take it in and accept it, accept the person that loves me (he doesn’t know it yet but I think he loves me), the people that truly love me like my parents and brother and also B and Z from a distance, the last two that are unable to reach me or I them, yet they are there, all part of the cycle, undismissable.

Here is what I wrote after the Seder, which was in April, and was one of the most fucking lonely moments of my life. Surrounded by gossipy Israeli couples, with crap food (sorry but it was crap, and I am not picky at all when it comes to food):


It was a total flop. I was running around like a madwoman today because yesterday was not a good day. First, I have been unwell with my lungs or my throat, I am not sure which. Probably a result of the futile kissing with P this weekend when he helped me move; he was already down with something. So last night I walked, of course, with my bruised foot in the bitter cold (I have lost my gloves sometime this week) to the emergency doctor’s after work, and got checked and was told nothing is found but if this continues till Friday someone in my condition should definitely go to the hospital, because frankly whatever is wrong with me is beyond the realm of a normal physician. They are just postponing the end, so to speak, with their arsenal of drugs which they are not even sure what will do in the long run, except that it won’t be good and wreak havoc on my poor body. Then I got home knackered, but couldn’t sleep, and around midnight realized that for the life of me I can’t remember whether I took my drugs or not. The alarm on my mobile has definitely rang, but I was in the middle of something and these days I swallow the pills so quickly, all at once, that I barely register it. After trying to recall what the hell I did I ended up calling my parents at 1.40 their time and asking them to call the nurse, because I didn’t know whether taking a double dose would be worse than skipping one. All the warnings and horror stories of the virus building resistance and the grave importance of adhering to the regimen played in my mind. The nurse via my father reassured me that it would be OK if I forgot just this once, and at least he wasn’t working today. But before I called him I tried to eat, because the antibiotic that I take on top of the cocktails always brings on a particular kind of nausea when you put food on top of it, and I thought if I could feel that I would know that I had taken the drugs. However I felt nothing except bloated and stressed. This morning I woke up quite early, swallowed my meds and to compensate for the late night binging did a full two hours of intense workout, then went to work and did a quick job of preparing the presentation I was to give next week, which I was let of the hook for due to my concentration problems and insomnia caused by one cocktail. But still I wanted to give it to the head of the institution. Of course both the powerpoint file and the PDF I made out of it were both damaged, despite my having rewritten the thing already since the previous version was damaged as well. I did manage to save it and print it and give him some half-assed version though. I am embarrassed to look at it again because I worked so frantically that I fear it is full of repetitions and typos and worse, nonsense. But then I asked if I could skip the class to go to the Seder, and of course he relented. So off I go again walking through the park at top speed, I spend so much time walking burdened with heavy bags while around me everyone whizzes on their bicycles, because I am too chicken and set in my ways to learn how to cycle. I spent about an hour changing and eating something, then the trains for around 3 hours, 17 Euro and 20 more on the wine and soft drinks that I was told to buy. I got to the Seder and it was just couples, most of which I didn’t know, and hardly any talking except with the Jewish Canadian princess seated next to me, who was on about how hard it is to get Kosher stuff here. Me I was just there with my constant companion the Virus. The food was really bad. I can’t even say I ate too much, at least not for the Seder, although there was plenty of it, because most of it was really no good. Then shortly before the bought plastic cakes I jumped on the first ride out of there, around 22.00 to Schiphol airport. I got to the airport which is where I always end up in the Netherlands and one of the places that brings the most raw helplessness out of me. As flights stop really early there were not many people in the train station, and most of the cafes were closed, but the Burger King there stays open for 24 hours. So I bought cigarettes, although I threw out a nearly full pack the other day when I made my little voodoo ceremony with the picture of the guy who presumably infected me, the expensive Chinese silk robe he bought me, and a broken hand mirror I found lying at the bottom of the cupboard when I moved. I threw all that stuff in the trash together, but here I go buying fags again, with my lungs in the state that they are. I was queing at Burger King and they had some kind of shift change and were working to clear all the cash registers from the days’ proceedings. There really was a sad collection of workers there, especially the women. The men at least were immigrants but the women, they were not even young as most fast food restaurant workers here are and each one looked more worn out and fatigued and run down than the other. There was some blunder with the registers and in the meantime quite a line was assembling. One English guy in particular was complaining, and I wanted to say “can’t you see that they are working? You think these people are machines here to serve you?” but of course I said nothing and as I was taking my hot chocolate away (it is beyond me how someone can buy the unappetizing junk they serve there even when you don’t get a sense of the foul things going on in the kitchen amidst all the shouting and scurrying) I heard him pronounce very deliberately “I want fries and a cheeseburger!”. In any case I sat and smoked and got stared at by the Arabic speaking kitchen staff on cigarette break. I forgot to mention that a few minutes before I had a cry in the loo where I invariably end up after exhausting flights. My train left only at 20 past eleven and luckily I found it although for some reason it departed from the wrong platform and the drugs were already making me drowsy and disoriented especially in the raw fluorescent underground light, but it was a direct one at least and so I slept most of the way. But when I got to the station it was 2.00 a.m. There went another 23 Euros. This place is just so out in the boonies! My apartment is far from the station anyway and not that I would have been afraid to walk (I am hardly afraid of anything like that anymore) but I was so tired and the cut on my heel was bugging me so in my boots and stockings, and it was raining. Some guy was getting into a cab and I practically begged to be let on but the driver called another one, and a ride shorter than 10 minutes was another 8.50, and so I spent nearly a hundred Euro in this lousy pointless evening. I could have put that money to a better use but more than that I don’t need to be reminded of my loneliness. Not that I need something to remind me, everything around me reminds me. But still. One of the girls in whose house I was in on New Year’s was pregnant, and everyone was talking about we this and us that, and me what can I say but act nice and look pretty, and I know that no one notices anything, if anything they think I’m a snob because I haven’t replied to any of their emails, but I also know that none of them can handle the truth and that I can’t handle their reactions because I can barely handle the truth myself.

I forgot to mention that around 22.00, shortly before my ride left when I realized the fiasco would be ending early I called J in Deventer and asked him if I could come over. It was a desperate attempt to distract myself and redeem the evening. In fact my instinct even before coming there, when I thought about Passover Eve, was to do my own thing and spend it with him, though I wanted to do it here eating in my favorite Indian restaurant, but I had no idea if he would come here again or not because Sunday he spent hours and hours coming here for the first time as there was work done on railway, and I still didn’t get a full sense of his life there and whether there is another woman or not and whether the relationship with his ex really is over. Anyway en route to the Seder I really felt like changing and going to see him, but once you buy a ticket here you can’t change your destination, unlike Japan, even if you add more money. When I called him he was surprised and said he was at his host family – still not sure what that means, he seems to spend an awful lot of time with them – and that it is far from the center and he will be back late. Which seems strange because after all they are Dutch and it is the middle of the work week, so how late could that be? But I guess he is just being careful and wary of me and that my spontaneity scares him, not that I can blame him for that. I would have probably had the same sensible reaction had the situation been reverse, or not. I did tell him he could stay here Sunday but that was not so we could sleep together or something like that – although I would love to sleep with someone, and when I say that I don’t even mean sex, provided it’s not E of course. I don’t know him well and the phone calls don’t seem to give me a good sense of him, especially the ones on the mobile, or when either of us is in a public place. So he was apologetic and said that he wishes I had told him before, and I said I had no way of knowing and wished him a good meal and a nice evening. Come to think of it he said they were eating which is also very strange, considering that the Dutch eat around 22.00. Dodgy thing there. And when he was here his ex called – although he made no attempt to hide the fact that it was her – and he spoke with her also very curtly and politely. Who knows. I just don’t want to get my hopes up but without hope I am nothing because I really need it. This bug is just killing me and it’s killing my spirit just as soon as it kills the rest of me. And I am at my wits’ end. I really don’t know what to do anymore. It is the bug paired with my displacement and isolation in this remote place, and my lack of substantial relationships – although that is improving, and I am not talking about romantic relationships here – and my lack of meaning in this life that is becoming really acute. I always used to believe that physical illness is a manifestation of inner processes, although I resent that New Age decree of bringing cancer and terrorist attacks on one’s self of course, but to a point. I always felt that my ears begin to hurt when there are things I don’t want to hear and my throat becomes infected when there are things I want to say but can’t. so if this is the case I am bringing on something more serious now, because my chest and lungs, despite what the doctor at the night clinic said, are really acting up. And that’s because my heart is finally broken, and it is not by a particular man or thing but by the entire enormity of it all, the huge mass lying on my shoulders, the loneliness and the exile and the removal from my parents, the shame and the dislocation, the romantic disappointments and sexual humiliations, the futility and finiteness of my life. I wish not for the first time but stronger than ever that I could live it over again. I think it is this desperation that J and maybe even P and others sense and this is what they stay away from. I do need to be saved.

And here's what I wrote a few weeks ago:
I'm so scared.
Not scared of getting fat, not scared of being abandoned.
Sacred of dying.
I was so close to death and didn't know it.
It's only now that my life begun to be beautiful.
Only now, in retrospect, so many things are becoming understood.
Like the fact that I was nearly demented with my paranoias.
I'm so afraid, now that I finally learned not to compare myself to others and enjoy what I have, to lose it all.

Then I wrote, exactly a week ago [my current comments appear in square brackets]:

This is not the first time that I resist the manifestation of God/Love in my life.
I choose to ignore it. Why? Instead of trsting that it will provide for my next meal, seeing that God/the force inside me/life gives me everything that I need.
But one question I have no answer for: Why me? Why am I one of the lucky ones?

I need art.
I need it now.
Need it even more than love - need it to sustain the love I have. Sustain my life. Get me through my addictions (internet, eating, smoking, stress).
What I did this weekend:
Friday - picnic with girlfriends, gym, binging, laundry
Saturday - hairdresser, shopping, internet, little reading, binging
Sunday - littel reading, internet, littel TV, met friend, 2 fags, binging, lots of internet, bit of emailing, gym, hung up pictures

what I didn't do: cleaning, working on project, writing, reading enough, art, relaxation excercises

I shut myself off, escape from the rest of the world. Feel judged, embarassed. Want to hide, shy away. Cleanse/detoxify/purge/ride myself of what I burden myself with. Like now, I am embarassed from R, who hasn't seen me in 3 weeks [he ultimately hasn't shown up yet in the week since I wrote this exactly last Sunday, due to domestic problems with his GF]. I don't want him to see how much wieght I've gained [but a week later, I look fine], and yet even 4 kgs thinner I was hardly ever pleased with myself [I am pretty pleased now, just ONE WEEK LATER].
Even much, much thinner, healthier, with smaller and less conspicuous tattooes etc, and a lot younger, I was NEVER, as far back as I remeber, pleased with myself!

and on the internet - I don't consider looking into healthy things but only look into these things which reinforce those negative thoughts I have of myself, but at the same time, I also rebel against them. [All those people who THINK THEY KNOW. I am learning to ignore them and still use the web forums I want to be using].
Thinking: when will I write my book [I have started a blog of sorts]
Panicking over my project [a bit less]
Panicking over losing what I have now [namely P but not just him, also my family, my looks, my sanity sometimes, my health - the panic ebbs and flows, comes and goes. Right now it's in remission, but consider that I was menstrual when writing the original words].
That's why I was afraid to go to Thailand [alone, today, for 3 weeks, a trip which was cancalled due to my arm breaking and even thugh I probabaly would've been able to travel, since it's healing so quickly, I am really glad to be in Ps house now typing this with the rain outside breaking the hottest Dutch July ever and watering all the dhydrated plants]. Wanting the time to freeze [you betacha, but still looking forward a bit more now that I am not having my period].
I am so afraid [what else is new?]
The Bug just reinforces my fears. It is the extremity, but I am not afriad of it. I mean, I was already afraid wayyy before I ever concieved of the Bug. For as long as I can remember I struggled with fear [now I am finally stopping to struggle and am beginning to accept it as an inherent part of my life, the Golden Thread if you will].
Will this ever end?
Do I have to spiral down anxiety, self destruction, fear and inevitable loss over and over?
I don't want to lose
My family
My love
My body
My job
My esteem
My self
My health
My life

I don't want to! I want to keep them!

But I can't...

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