Saturday, November 29, 2008

Bare necessities

Ron asked me, in a yet-unanswered email, if I have been doing any writing. The truth is that asides from the last posts and a couple archived ones that I published, I have been self destructing. When I speak about self destruction these days, it no longer involves punctured skin or chemicals or painful sex, but it still invariably involves the self loathing that would set these off, the anger, the idling, the panic, the stress, the fatigue, the despair, the gritted teeth and shallow breath and strained muscles, and of course, the eating. I wouldn’t call it binging because I have binged in the past and I know it doesn’t get nearly as far these days, but it is definitely stressful emotional eating. Strange that this is the acceptable term, since I do not feel emotional at all when eating like that. If anything it crystallizes my lack of emotion, as soon as I eat, a vacuous monotony replaces these hints of fear and dread, as though I had hurriedly swallowed a prescription painkiller when hints of thunderous pain flashed on the distant horizon. It is not the pain I am conditioned to numb, fear but the hint of it. Someone has been shitting on our stairs. This weekend, implausibly, on the stairs themselves, a stinky soufflĂ© of human manure. Last night, at the entrance to our house, a smaller, not so distinctly human pile, except there has been a lingering smell of urine by our door for months now. Last winter, I opened the door one day, late for work, and nearly stepped on a shadow of a female addict who was messing around with her sleeve in that tiny filthy space. You’d think that being treated for HIV I’d run into junkies all the time, but I have never seen any obvious IV drug user at the clinic. There are a lot in town though. Usually asking for change or telling you the age-old, universal story of trains and wallets. Some of them still look pretty good, especially the women can be made up and everything, but the eyes and faces give them away, at least to me. And the walk, of course, I can tell a junkie from a distance just from that walk. That time, I slammed the door without saying anything, and a few minutes later she was gone. Whoever is shitting here, I woke up in the freezing bedroom at 6.00 and the fumes of dark gray anger, resentment and desperation settled all around me, on the bloody leak in the wall that hasn’t been fixed since august and has been seen by who knows how many renovation, building and plumbing specialists without any of them actually solving the damn thing, because the owner is too cheap to do anything but emergency dam fingering. And with all these guys meeting and discussing and being paid by the hour, I’m the one sleeping with dirty freezing water dripping into a plastic tub in my room, for weeks on end. On the shit that will no doubt appear again when we least expect it. On the extension of my contract that I have been promised ages ago and heard nothing about. On the salaries that were change and the unresolved tax blunder that ensues and my debts that accumulated into more than 10,000 Euro. On my total lack of social right, on the distance and the inflating flight prices and my infertility and my RSI and my work with those people that take care of themselves and politely and warmly ignore everyone else, on the recession and the crisis and the inescapable unemployment, on the aging of my parents, on the escapism of my brother, on the fact the no one cares or wants to do anything and everyone’s out to save their own ass, self very much included, on my impotence as well as my infertility, on the godawfulhelplessness of it all, and of course, how can I forget, my self inflicted scars and scabs and marks and tatts, HIV not withstanding, though I don’t have a bloody fucking clue how I got it. Not that it matters. My life is good even without HIV, it’s the fears and the shit of others that occasionally threaten to destroy it. The other day I was watching TV when I saw a face that I have only seen once in the past before, but I recognized it immediately. When I saw her, she was standing behind me at a supermarket queue, and I had to restrain myself from openly staring at her. But I guess I did anyway, it was impossible not to (though the Dutch being Dutch, they were going obliviously about their business as though this blinding sight was not in the room, like an android sent to us from another planet where the life forms have been perfected to the essence of human characteristics that will call beauty. And I mean, this country is full of beautiful girls, as are other countries, but I can’t remember anyone taking my breath like this. She was just sunburned a wild haired and wearing some denim miniskirt on her long tanned legs, and she didn’t give off the showy air that a lot of pretty girls do, although what would I know anyway, we are only interested in great beauty or deformity that catches our eye, that we hope not or dare not imagine occupying. Then I saw her on TV and they said who she was. Her life wasn’t glamorous, and becoming Holland’s Next Top Model just kicked up more dirt. The show host, one of these soft-spoken, pseudo-therapist but still rugged and adventurous types they love here was intensely nodding and gazing while he interviewed her about the escort business. He also gave her the initiation ceremony all minor celebrities have to undergo here, visiting some orphanage or children’s clinic in a developed country and taking lots of smiling photos while playing a few games with the kids, and I often wonder if it is always the tough kids that push to the front and the frame in these situations, just like the benefactor who has ejected themselves to stand out from the masses and invade our attention span, grabbing our attention even more on the background of the dark small faces we can’t and won’t tell apart. Do they bother learning their names in the short time they spend dropping by? And those orphaned and abandoned, who have used out any spare luck just getting into a dingy buidling with rows of cots and handdowns from children who get their clothes new and their toys shiny, do they have any inkling that the big, brazen visitors are just as starved for love as they are?

No comments: