Seeking the Black Bear

BlackBearA few months back, a publication I admire reached out on social media for stories of unconventional women- those of us who, whether intended or not, just haven’t been able to find our way to and through life’s established tracks. Trouble with work, with landing a career and staying with it. Money fleeting and never sticking, we beg for scraps. Partners coming and going but never staying around. Dreams of children, or perhaps just one child, that fly into our minds like a plan, a real plan that migrates into our hearts, materializing as hope.

But ultimately unrealized, unattained, this hope too is vanished, finally, by the cruel clock that started ticking at the improbable age of, say, 14, when no girl is ready to have a child. It finally stopped at the equally improbable age of 43, when the woman’s chance of natural conception (per Kindbody) is reduced to the exact and inarguable figure of zero. No chance. Nothing. Zero. So that, too, has ended, which can often feel like another way of saying that the future is over. Perhaps it is. You are the last of your kind, singing your own dirge as you go.

I’ve spent so much time wondering about timelines, about being “on track”, and grappling with my anger, together with my own frank and unabashed jealousy of all those who seem to have found their way, one way or another, seemingly along a track of happiness and success. What are the factors that determine who gets to go one direction, and who must go another?

The other day I asked this question to someone I love dearly. He told me the coldest, most honest truth and I love him even more for that: “It’s all just luck,” he said. What do we do with the fact that luck is indifferent, that truth doesn’t care? The truth is cold and I want to love that too, to be bold and courageous. But the last thing a cold truth wants is company. Cold truths just want to be left alone.

I would love to sit down with all the fellow animals who know what I mean, who live those strenuously unconventional lives of cold, cold truth. I think of and invite the black bear. When she gives birth, she generally has twins or triplets. But sometimes she gives birth to just one. Then she regards her one cub, still mucus-covered and saturated in blood, before walking away. She abandons it. Raising one baby just isn’t worth her effort, it appears. This has been observed again and again, a hallmark of that ruthless black bear and whatever her calculations, her assessment and conclusion. The cub will starve or freeze to death within two days.

I would like to interview the coldest of the cold black bears. I would learn so much from them. I would listen to their logic, so ruthless and free. I would marvel at their easy release of just one of the many things I will not have but still pine for. Look how casually she walks away. Observe her freedom and her sense of choice. To be nonchalant in the face of monumental decision is a kind of wealth. So the black bear has that too- a long and indifferent fertility, unburdened by nostalgia and guilt, which she has burnished to a gilded, high wealth. The black bear is supreme.

I think it is unlikely we come back to this or any life. We live now and fleetingly, in this form, until the permanent death. All we have is our one, wild life as allowed at birth which, for me, is a straight, white, female. I don’t know if there was a chance to weigh in on this decision, if I had any say in my manifestation. If so, the choice is wisely stricken from our minds by the Brillo pad of the birth canal.

If I had had any say, however, I would not be a straight white female. I would be a large, ruthlessly large, and utterly indifferent black bear. I roam in my wild and free way, unencumbered, unsentimental, able to leave at any time. I will not be questioned and I will not be held back, for the other animals know and understand, nod and are reminded: Ah, yes, there goes the black bear. She is at her liberty, indulges no sentimentality, takes her leave, and is free. Observe her indifference for that, too, is a form of freedom. She is utterly within and beholden only and ever to her will. Yes, she is free.

Here is the story of my current freedom, as well as that of two other women recently profiled on the site Man Repeller. I wish I could know their true animal selves, too. I wish I could meet them again, not in a boardroom but in the rolling, open tundra of our truest beings, our respective fights for survival. Would those fights really be that different from the ones we are in now?

I would like to try. I dream about the chance. But, in the morning, I wake with a pain I can only and most closely describe as disappointment. I am not a black bear. I am not a black bear. Still, I am not a black bear. When and how do I become a black bear? I am seeking the path of the black bear. Black bear. Black bear. Carefully searching for the black bear. Carefully, and with a hope I had formerly applied to other endeavors– more conventional endeavors– I hope now only to become the black bear. Black bear. Black bear. You are so indifferent, so wealthy, so free.

“Art and China after 1989”

Today, the Guggenheim exhibit “Art and China after 1989: Theater of the World” closes here in New York City.

I did not go expecting to see any works of great beauty. To be sure, there were none. But so, too, did I not expect to see a view of China’s artists straining so mightily—and exclusively—under the weight of the CCP regime. That is the singular narrative. Portrait after portrait, list after list, needle after needle, video after video: oppression. I wondered: could there not be even just one alternate voice, one perspective from a slightly different angle that had turned its head not to the sun but, instead, toward the sky?
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Writing As Resistance

20312-original-4698It is possible to write your heart and your mind, both, to the point where they meet each other. There, they will shake hands and say “hello”. They will make small talk and exchange pleasantries. They will ask about wives and children. They will laugh. And you will shake your head at their fine demeanor and grand talk. Because you will know them for what they are, for they are yours. More here.

Gunna Press This Damn Duck If It’s The Last Thing I Do

bud1077_queenduckWhen life gives you cooling weather, I say, smash a duck inside the wicked confines of a duck press. These and other thoughts on the change of the seasons, the need for inhumane yet nourishing sustenance, and much, much more in my recent essay on the glorious la presse a canard. 

Goodbye to All That

imagesBecause everything is ephemeral and nothing lasts forever and if you want to keep it around you’ve got to build it yourself, I’ve grabbed this piece I wrote for Gawker and just want to put it here. Today I read of the site’s demise and pending shutdown, all of which has sent the New York media society abuzz. So it goes. Happy as I was to publish this piece and peace that I made with my $300 payment for it, Gawker always struck me as a snide, snarky little site that took a bit too much pride in the misery of others and trafficked a bit too freely in a rather unbecoming strain of self-righteous gossip. So, goodbye to all that! I, for one, am looking forward to seeing what the kids come up with next…

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Centuries of Eloise

EloisePhoneChanneled the original Doyen of the Plaza for a new article-sized dose of time-traveling snacks and treats, curtesy of the New York Public Library‘s newly digitized selection of menus. Come swan around with me, nibbling patties of frog legs and sipping every last mint julep we can get our hands on. As my dear friend’s three year old daughter queried this past weekend, “What about raisins?!” Indeed, we’d kindly like a silver dish of those too please! Thank you!

Last Call

photoThrilled to have a new piece up on the freshly revamped yet ever-glorious Farmer General, edited by superstar Sarah Kanabay. The issue, titled “Don’t Call It a Comeback”, features stories of summer kitchens and pie and ghosts and the phrase “silvered fingers” to describe that particular discoloration that happens when you root around in the dusty nail bin at the hardware store for too long. How true! Mine is about addiction in its many forms and guises. Thank you, Sarah!!