August 5, 2016
Break the Rules
At the farmer’s market I meet a man selling Kombucha. He says you may actually be able to alter the way your genes are expressed by certain microbes in your stomach. I say that I’m reading a book on microbes but I don’t know what it’s called. I show him the DNA on a necklace I made the Natural History Museum yesterday. There’s me – in the spit around my neck – a pure expression of who I am. A microbe is an invisible force that could change all of that in just a swig. Who ever said God wasn’t real. Who ever said invisible forces have no factor on our lives.
II. Pillars of Light
The Hirshhorn Museum calls me when I’m sad and lonely. I go to feel something breathing between those empty walls. I go with the hope that I can walk out less confused.
Three years ago, I came to interview in DC for a spot to teach in rural China. I walked into the Hirshhorn to find the museum was featuring art from the Chinese dissident Ai Wei Wei. Children’s backpacks lined the ceiling to count the dead in the Sichuan earthquake. A middle finger flicked off the White House and Tiananmen Square. The Bird’s Nest Olympic Stadium was big enough to hold the whole world inside to compete and oppressive enough to trap its creator under house arrest without a passport. Off to the land of “tofu-brick” buildings that crumble under corruption. Away from the swamp where the student’s from schools built in the early 1900s remain almost as segregated as they did upon the building’s conception.
Today, I watch while a museum security guard tells a couple how to stand between two pillar-shaped mirrors in order to show their reflection. I ignore the exhibits’ large white canvases covered in tiny dots. If an order of dots is what’s to come, I suppose I find it more frightening than Ai Wei Wei’s dystopia. At least there, I found hope amidst the rubble.
III. The Tower
A man is playing guitar across from Trump Tower.
I turn to him, in a burst of angst. Make him go away!
Vibration warrior, knock this tower down.
“Yes girl, this is my protest!”
I day dream on my bike ride back about a boy I met once who did street art. How we may have ended up if I hadn’t wanted to follow the rules so much rather than the laws that govern this universe.
I get money out of the bank. The teller cannot recognize my signature.
It’s two short, I only left my initials, I tell him. I write my name out longer.
“You can tell the counterfeiters,” he says. “They write it so delicately and with precision, but if it’s yours, you just do it naturally.”
I’m at the temple of a man who watches a million signatures a day, to a believer in the art of hands this is pure gospel.
The world is moving towards fingerprinting technology now, you know, I say.
“But a signature, will always stay the same. You can slice off a finger but you can’t steal the way someone moves.”
I like to eat dinner and watch Chef’s Table. Perhaps is a phenomenon of not sitting to enjoy your own creation and needing that of another to truly feed you. Grant Schatz made food that can float and switches out strawberries for tomatoes. He lost his sense of taste to cancer and kept creating. Reborn when he took a sip of coffee after chemo, he made art on the dependence of others. It’s as if he said, “Look what I can make. Now let’s see if I still love how you look with my eyes closed.”