Phase 1: Cry about it
I’ve been thinking about physical intimacy a lot lately. I have a crush okay, sue me! (If you are my crush and you’re reading this, no you are not) I’ve also been crying a lot lately. Not like wistful, looking out the window, single tear cries. These are sobs, weeps, forget-to-breathe types of cries. I’m a huge believer in a solid bawl! It’s a fabulous way to release pent up tension, and so this is me trying to find the source of that tension.
For those of you that are new here: I moved a lot growing up. Since I was four, my family has packed up our little Alexandria, VA home and jet set around the world to build relationships in capital cities. Aside from the mental impact of constant change and having access to the literal world at a young age, it was a very physical life. We were actively moving, whether that be into a new house, neighborhood, or school. My mother (the diplomat) was regularly traveling for work, and my sister and I were often playing sports, outside with friends, or going shopping. My upbringing rarely escapes me, but I don’t tend to think of the downright physicality of my childhood. I used my tiny little growing body to run and jump and experience the world because what else was I gonna do? Be miserable? I’m nothing if not a team player. That being said, I never really felt in any danger, but I also I don’t recall ever feeling at truly at ease. Bless the USG for providing it’s foreign service families with the same style of furniture in all corners of the earth for an attempt at normalcy. But other than recognizing the type of pillows on our rotating couches, my body was reacting and working to understand my physical surroundings pretty constantly. And all this during puberty (ouch).
Back to intimacy - a weird thing. Not to brag, but at this point I know my own body very well. I know what it can do and how it’s gonna react to most situations. I know what makes it feel good and what makes it feel bad. I’ve learned to be friends with the rolls in stomach and the hair on my toes. To recognize back pain as part of owning a uterus, not my own personal failings. But I don’t think I’ve given it enough credit for taking me all over the world and back again. She’s a motherfucking working body! A good soldier. The amount of pressure my surroundings and brain put on my teenage knee caps to move at the pace of global institutions is astounding, now that I think of it. These knees have taken my eyes and ears and mouth and hands to Beijing China in order to then play basketball! In the span of a four days, my spinal cord got me on a plane, explored the Great Wall of China, got fourth place in a basketball tournament, and played guitar hero at a strange family’s house whose kid I had just boxed out on the court. Are you relaxed? I mean, fun! But I’m exhausted just thinking about it now. Physical discomfort was not the prevailing feeling, but most of the emotional memories from that trip were about how I had one friend on the team. The only other gaijin, Melissa Maggart (I hope you are well!). Thinking back now, I probably had a really intense stomach ache the whole time that I just ignored by channeling it into athletic determination and cultural diplomacy. I was adept at using my physicality to feel strong and capable, even when my 9th grade little heart was hurting.
The older I get, the more I’m understanding how the body expresses feelings experienced in the brain. I have a job and increasingly creaky bones, so I can’t just jock my way out of feeling anymore. But my gut will tell me to stand tall when I meet someone who’s bad news, and I pretty immediately get the flu when my racing brain won’t let me sleep enough. My favorite: uncontrollably sobbing in the grocery store parking lot before I shop, preparing for the excruciating journey of navigating a crowded produce section when all I can think about is how much I miss home.
All this to say, while my physical sack of blood and bones has allowed me access to some of the most made up and extraordinary parts of human civilization, my parents are still divorced and the idea of genuine physical intimacy with another person where romance is involved causes my brain to short circuit and my limbs to curl.
In friendships, I’ve always been a relatively physical friend - I’m very protective, and I love a long hug and an arm around the shoulders, a playful one-two and a high five. That’s a huge part of how I show affection. But I also can see where that comfort zone ends, the line where my body tenses up and runs from back, away from what it doesn’t understand. Here’s to pushing those boundaries.
If sustainability is the goal in this next level of physical intimacy, I can’t full force these things ahead the way my ego wants to. Tried it- doesn’t work. So I’m grateful for this time in my life right now to rest and decompress, just as much as I’m grateful to have visited Pearl Market in Beijing. I’m hoping as long as I take care and listen, my body will tell me when it’s ready to explore new territory again.
Again, thanks for reading and being patient with me. Thanks to the friends who’ve seen me before I see myself and listen to me bemoan my own awkwardness through this ongoing journey. Thanks to my mom for not reading this blog but who is eager for the memoir. Thanks to those who’ve reassured me that everything is embarrassing. I promise I’ve got the next stretch. Love you!!
A brat boy
The other night, my friends and I went to the club. An astrology and gay-themed, ticketed dance party in Hollywood. It felt pretty standard, nothing too complicated. There were great drag performers, RENAISSANCE on repeat, and we let it all hang out under the starry Los Angeles sky (they projected space photography onto the walls).
I’ll admit it: I can be abrasive. I grew up in Germany, okay? This sort of directness makes me powerful, but sometimes just makes me an asshole. Stick with me, you’ll figure out where this is going, but for now…
Let’s bring Ronnie the kleptomaniac onto stage! Everyone, please give Ronnie a warm welcome. [applause]
Kirsi: Hi Ronnie, thanks for coming on.
Ronnie: Yeah, you’re welcome. Thanks for having me.
K: Okay, let’s start with what happened.
R: So we are at the club, dancing, having a good time! Soon, I needed water. It’s a hundred degrees out and the cotton mouth was real. So I go to the bar and order three bottles of water (6$ each - we are living in hell, didn’t you know?). The bartender puts them down on the bar and turns his back to me. So I take them and leave.
I take the water to my friends and the party keeps going.
K: Okay, but did you pay the bartender for them?
R: No. He turned his back and I’m quick on my feet. Did you hear me say they cost 6$??? For water? In this heat! They’re robbing us!
K: That does seem expensive for water. Let me know, what did this bartender look like?
R: He was a tall bear.
K: For the people in the back, what does that mean?
R: He’s a big hairy dude, had a beard and gave lumberjack.
K: So this guy is bigger than you right?
R: Yeah, but I’m cute.
K: Okay, fair. Last question, did you pay for a ticket to the party?
R: Yeah, also annoying but understandable, it was like in a parking lot.
K: Okay, well you heard it here first folks. Apparently there’s free water in hell! We’ll see you in a few, thanks for coming on stage Ronnie.
So back at Gay Astrology, I took the water and told my friends and laughed. I received awkward, uncomfortable laughs in return. The night goes on, and I leave the dance floor to get MORE WATER, in this sweaty dance-y haze. I walk back up to the bar and smile at the bartender. He looks at me and says, wait it’s you! You stole all those waters. You have to pay for them.
…What? Oh yeah! I took them, you just left them on the bar and turned your back, so I took them.
And now you have to pay for them, I remember you. You can’t just steal.
So we get into this argument about how it’s criminal to charge 6$ for the water and why do you care?? You don’t get the 6$. (yikes) So then I offer to give him cash (short 10 bucks) and tell him to keep it. He says no. I don’t want your money. So I’m leaning over the bar at this point, screaming over the music trying to explain to this man that the world is unfair and do I really have to pay for this water?
So I plant my feet back on the ground, take out my credit card and let this dude charge me $31 for the three bottles of water, plus two new ones.
In my defense, at the last show I went to, the bartender absolutely took cash for the drink when the venue was card only. But here in this parking lot, the whole exchange was a vibe killer for sure. But this isn’t the business of killing vibes! So I pouted for a minute and let my friends berate me, quickly returning to dancing.
The best part of this whole story: I got more drinks throughout the night, and I kept going back to him. I’m not sure why, it just seemed like the easiest place to go. I could have gone to the other side of this massive bar, but I’m not that avoidant. Who’s got the time for that?
For the rest of the night, this lumberjack and I barely exchange words, just orders and money. I smile and he smiles back. As we pass the bar on our way out, without thinking, I raise my hand and reach out for a shake. We make eye contact, do an easy high five/handshake combo, probably grunt, and go our separate ways.
Now it’s time to bring Ronnie back out on stage.
K: Welcome back Ronnie.
R: Thank you, thank you.
K: We’re gonna go on a bit of a trip down memory lane, shall we?
R: Let’s do it.
K: Do you have a history of stealing?
R: Not when I’m sober. That’s lame and not worth it.
K: So you’re just a klepto when under the influence.
R: First of all, we love to flex. Like it’s a party, let’s get the drinks flowing! I don’t want to wait in line.
K: Circus girl first, I get it.
K: Right, that too.
R: I also used to steal like picture frames and vhs covers from house parties.
R: Like I wasn’t gonna take the VHS, that’s too big, they might miss watching that movie-
K: On VHS?
R: Okay… But the Beetlejuice cover is cool.
K: Do you still have these things?
R: No, I’ve since ditched them. I mean, at this point they’re trash. But it’s a habit I picked up at frat houses in college.
K: Oh here we go. Why were you at frat parties?
R: Underage drinking. Free alcohol mostly.
K: And stealing their random shit. Seems like you wanted to take something from them. Why do you think that is?
R: Because fuck those guys. They deserve to be taken from.
K: Okay, well good luck with that. Thanks again for coming on Ronnie. Crowd, give it up for Ronnie the kleptomaniac one more time! [loud applause]
The night was a 10/10 honestly. Will do again one day when I regain the energy. The most mind boggling part of this isn’t that I stole, I’ve been doing that for ten years. It’s that I didn’t notice I was doing anything wrong. Not until someone spelled it out for me, did it cross my mind that stealing is bad. Bwah. I was just thinking about how I could not spend thirty dollars on some fucking water, and look cool. I didn’t want to fuck this bartender over or this party host honestly, like I unconsciously did with the frat boys. I was just avoiding the boredom of waiting at a busy bar. Like a brat. A brat boy.
Anyway, thanks to Gay Astrology, that extremely cool bartender, and my friends for a great time and a little bit of growth! Love you very much <3
A palate cleanser, if you need one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W2ySBtVLCYA
Horny on main
In the film 20th Century Women, Greta Gerwig takes pictures of the things she owns as a self portrait practice. So as a fan: Yes, thank you Mike Mills, I will do that too.
For consistency, I waited til dark. I put up a black velvet fabric as the background. Then turned on all my lights and the spot. I used a warm light bulb, and a very low shutter speed. The results were kind of blurry because film cameras require so much light! But it came out feeling like a soft, sort of intimately focused stage.
A 2006 Chris Brown Music Video.
A 17th century painting
Guess what’s in the box
I wasn’t really expecting all the drama that came out of these. But I guess black velvet is reliably a vibe. The photos individually all have a perspective, but seem thematically random when put together. So what’s the point? Something about finding your voice and power. They all have a certain sensuality, I suppose.
Thanks for reading always, catch you on the flip side <3
She was too nervous to sit still and think about it.