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    Thursday, November 09, 2006

    Found things

    I was able to recover most of my stuff off my computer. Here is something I wrote maybe four or five years ago, at a time when everything was weird and disconsonant (as opposed to now, tonight, where everything is sad and thoughtful and Neko Case).

    1. I do not know exactly what people mean when they say that the way we live in our cities is unnatural. I do not understand what they are comparing us to, how they can speak with such certainty about what is and is not natural. Is living in a city an unnatural thing for a human being? What is a human being, and what is a city?

    2. I have thought of cities in many ways, as a complicated system of compromises and alliances, as a larger organism made of smaller parts, as a fiction in which we all invest our belief, as a factory or a machine. The nature of a city is constantly changing, because we ourselves are constantly in motion. Nowhere is the tension between our need for space so directly in conflict with our reliance on one another. It is this tension that makes cities into crucibles, melting pots, kitchens for delicious craziness.

    3. I am most aware of the city as an entity greater than the sum of its parts late at night. I like to walk out in the small hours, prowl around feeling all the things I pushed aside in the more pragmatic daylight hours. Once all the bars have closed, and most everyone is in bed, the city takes on a beast-like quality, as if in sleep all those people coalesce, their breath merging. The people who are awake are all out hunting for something, sex or food or shelter. Or like me, a little space to stretch their brains into.

    4. Somewhere towards late adolescence, certain parts of my world collided tectonically, leaving my with a burning anger in my gut I could never properly express. I began to have trouble accepting my life, and spent more and more time alone, depressed and emotional. I discovered that if I wanted to, I could just get up and walk away from things, my classes or conversations. In time, I began walking away so much that I got lost.

    5. Its dangerous to walk out at night, especially for a woman. The way I walk, the turn of my hips, gives me away and attracts the wrong sort of attention. I have been hassled, harassed, followed (in car and on foot), threatened, insulted and once nearly attacked. It has become so that my persistence in these rambles, my resistance to fear, has become my greatest personal gesture of revolt. The city exists because we share it, and only because we share it. I have the right to walk alone without being accused of looking for trouble. My access to life will not be cordoned off, the hours of my day will not be ghettoed into those that are safe, and those that are not. It is a small gesture, but it is important to me as a way to claim who I am. I once saw Jean Smith perform a song about something like this. As she sang, she wove her way through the audience, so that sooner or later we each had to confront her. She sang fiercely, and I felt she was voicing my own defiance. I like to think about her, singing that way, when I am out sometimes.

    6. Of course, my midnight rambles are not so simple, as nothing is. Sometimes I would rather not be defiant at all, and the pressure of being a woman is just an added complication, a distraction from the things I would really like to think about. Sometimes I go out intentionally looking for trouble, because I am angry, want a fight. Sometimes I feel like it is I who am the sexual predator, when the weather gets a little stormy and works its way into my blood. And then sometimes, sometimes I go out looking for you.