Sunday, January 17, 2016

signs of life

Thank you to those of you who still come here from time to time looking for me. I miss you, too. The last few years have been a lot of work and I didn't do any writing for pleasure for a long time. I didn't tell any stories. Lately it feels like whatever it is that makes me want to do that has been waking up again, maybe because life has a certain amount of predictability in it now within which it is comforting to remember stranger times.

For a while I really did want to wipe it all clean and start over, and I have found that this is disconcertingly easy to do, despite everything that's been revealed to us about the illusory nature of our privacy. Those of us who came of age in the sheltered garden of history between the Cold War and the War on Terror were encouraged to regard the digitization of our lives as a wide-open frontier of anonymity, ours for the taking, another iteration of our manifest destiny. We believed in free speech and the ripe possibilities of interconnection: tune in, log on, upload. How lightly we held the knowledge -- never hidden from us, only disguised as history -- that, like every frontier, this was a military project all along.

We wake up now as in a cold dawn, understanding with the gut-punch of the should-have-been obvious how easy it is to signal a cascade if processes, at first most likely automated, but perhaps slowly gathering an audience, triggering additional layers surveillance and collection: [caller, recipient, time of call, duration, location], camera in laptop flicking on, in-phone GPS cricket-calling into the cross-hairs. Data generating data to be reviewed, shared, commented on, analyzed by other frail humans with hearts full of ordinary brokenness and desire.

And yet despite all this, for me it's been easy to disappear in one place and appear in another by wholly ordinary means, and to begin a life as a contributing member of society, living a life that makes sense to other people so that they feel no need to ask more than the dinner-party kinds of questions. With all that it's possible to know, about me or anyone else, most people one encounters are not very curious.

Lots of people must have this same experience, although not everyone takes their living of a double life so literally as to create other names, other histories. Not everyone has to re-learn to introduce themselves by the name on their birth certificate. I have a tendency to take things pretty far. But many of us must be in some way doing this all the time, trying on and then shedding identities with and without an intention or a purpose, going new places and shaking hands with strangers like nothing ever happened, piecing together the rules for fitting in, curating a collection of stories that will and won't be told.

I'm not going to cop right now to anything as sad or self-eulogizing as saying that I have regrets about the new life or the old one. I've always fought against that streak of self pity in myself. My life is ordinary in the best of ways. When I wake up in the morning, I have an idea of what to expect, and to enjoy that is to enjoy a privilege. And still I am unable to forget all that I've had a chance to learn about the darkened rooms and the things that go on there, the splendid variety of ways the human soul (if you'll forgive me that word, in context) presents itself to another when it believes no one is looking on.

I have to try, like all of us do, to protect myself. I ought to keep to myself anything that might constitute identifying data: names, dates, locations. I supposed it might be wiser in cases to describe events parallel to history rather than overlying it. To lie, in other words. It would keep me safer. And then on the other hand again, I suspect the frisson of danger might just be what some people always liked most about me anyway: the idea that, if they wanted to enough, they could hurt me. 


Frank said...

Don't fuck with your real life. There's too many crazy people on the internet. Glad to see you still have that itch to tell stories, though and I hope you are well.

Ron said...

Wow - a year later I find myself again stumbling upon one of your now rare posts shortly after you wrote it. Last years' had me concerned. It is good to hear your voice again.

Grace - your poetic, revealing, amusing, enlightening writings have entertained me and nudged me closer to understanding the strip club scene and dancers. I am grateful for that. So are the strippers ;)

I hope things are working out for you.

Ron aka Anonymous

Graham Blake said...

Your writing has been missed.

Ambrosia said...

Hi beauty. I loved re-reading some of your old posts today. I went diving around my old blog yesterday, as I'm in a place of exploring imprints of my sexuality. I'd love somehow to reach out to you, as we are both in very different places now I'm sure, but have entangled pasts that I would love to explore. I wish I could reach out to a number of ladies who held active blogs during this time, but most have deactivated them. If you feel safe doing so, please email me.

Love, a fellow writer, and dark-feminine explorer,

TCB said...

Hey there. Met you once, long time ago. Cheap French food south of Houston. Still an awesome night. Glad you're moving along, you can still write like most people dream they could write.

Vaya con Dios, amiga.

Pauline West said...

So beautiful to hear your voice again, love. My favorite things about you: your words. Your bravery, and your honesty. Your words, your words, your words.

All the love in the world~