It can get tense sharing space with those with whom you don’t see eye to eye. This essay is from one Ladyscumbag whose relationship with her neighbors was pushed to extremes. Traversing slut shaming, childhood fantasies, fertilization, and coping mechanisms, this text is an internal journey through external conflict.
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Hey! C’mere…yeah I’m talking to you. I can see you—do you think I’m blind? Of course not…So here’s some news for you, neighbor: I SEE YOU. I don’t even need eyesight to know you’re around—I can feel your bad vibes just by sniffing the air. Stuffy and thick, did you know I would spit on your welcome mat every time I passed your front door to climb my stairs? A liquid condensation of the tension that settled like a gas. Our bedrooms are stacked—it’s like our lives are housed in a bunk bed, but I’ve never sensed any tussling, any moaning, groaning, primal noises from your lower bunk. There’s le petit mort, the little death but I think you two are in for the long slumber…
A cumshot, if he’s fertile, contains between 200 and 500 million sperm. Roughly half of these tiny swimmers carry the Y chromosome—which represents future boys. The other half carry the X chromosome—giving rise to little girls. They say that Y sperms swim faster but die off quickly, while X sperms—with their four arms, instead of three—are slower out the gate, but can cling to life, surviving in the womb after their brothers have died off and leaked out. Each year on my birthday I think about this: how, out of all my competitors—up to 500 million of them—I was the toughest, most stubborn, most willful sperm, staying the course even as other wilted around me—dodging their carcasses to win the race for existence.
Lately, words have been getting stuck in my teeth. Concepts evaporate, storylines disintegrate just as my lips wrap around them—my tongue moves alongside them. Breath dissolves in the back of my throat, letters twist and block my airway, my mouth opens and closes without sound. The present feels thick, viscous, dense like mud—this is what it feels like to sit in the shit, and here there’s no room for meaning to bubble up in the spaces between bodies. Without a storyline, without one thing leading to another, time goes flat.
And it’s from within this fog that I begin to understand what numbness—a non-desiring state(lessness)—has to offer: distance from other beings, other bodies, other subjects whose auras have to be negotiated and responded to. Dipping in and out of various colors of reality is exhausting—especially when your words slip out from under you. I’d rather be floating up above this too dense, clusterfucked landscape.
Mom, do you remember the first words you taught me in English? I do. The first phrases you had me mimic: Excuse me. Bless you. Thank you. So that if I sneezed at my new daycare, I could be polite and offer the appropriate call and response for my involuntary bodily function. Despite having traced the ABC’s countless times on the concrete floor in our old government issued home, I never got to the part where the letters work together.
Did you know that the Chinese name for this place translates into “beautiful country”?
As a newcomer, I spoke no English so when I sang about 3 little monkeys jumping on the bed, I had no idea what I was actually saying—only that I was following along appropriately, performing on par with my preschool peers. I was a good little monkey in that way…
What most people don’t know is that sperm are actually poor swimmers. Varying in ability, the stronger ones tug, towing their weaker peers as they flail along. In this way, the plurality that is the mother load works together to arrive at EGG…though most die along the way. EGG is their mother ship: so awesome that her gigantic spherical body can be seen even with the naked eye. The largest of all human cells, she is the field to their vector, the calm to their frenzy. Single giantess seeks small strong-willed partner for mutually beneficial relationship. Must be well built and D+D free. Inquire within. Far from floating passively waiting to be penetrated, her external stillness belies her incredible internal mobility.
After you taught me Excuse me, bless you, thank you—I asked for some new phrases. When I would get to daycare early in the morning, everyone would get a bowl of sweet hard, crunchy bits and submerge them in milk. CER-E-AL. As the dry pieces of cereal soaked up the milk, they’d get squishy and dissolve in my mouth in the most pleasurable way—coloring the white milk pinkish brown. I slurped down every last drop—always still hungry gazing into the emptied bowl. You taught me: One more. So I parroted One more. One more. One more. They taught me No more.
Have you ever had your face on a flyer? Not a missing person kind, but more of the WANTED variety. And by “wanted” what they really mean is Please get the fuck out of here now. Circulated by an anonymous do-gooder, she/he/they alerted the whole neighborhood except me—what an awkward document to receive from your landlord.
DO YOU KNOW WHO YOUR NEIGHBORS ARE?
ADULT BUSINESS OPERATING OUT OF UPSTAIRS APT/STUDIO RESIDENCE
[screenshot] [screenshot] [screenshot]
FROM THEIR WEBSITE BELOW IS WHAT THEY DO IN THIS RESIDENCE
–How will this affect our property values?
–Are the men who frequent this type of business “safe”?
–Who monitors the people that are renting the space on an hourly basis?
–Does the city allow this type of business to operate in a residential neighborhood with children present?
My face is stranger danger.
My face is children at risk.
My face is civil disobedience.
My face is financial ruin.
But the thing is, I just want to apologize. It must have been torture living below us: brazen femme sexuality x 3. Our heels clacking, our voices howling, our fluids dripping and leaking into your ceiling, until it collapses on top of you and you have to move all your stuff to the garage and then it floods there too. Our guests take up all your space, space that was meant just for you. That was your buffer and we made a settlement right in the middle of it. Some of us have to work in the morning you know! Each day must have reminded you of paths untaken—you don’t want to be the old person making noise complains but this is your valancey that we drew out by our chemical composition.
They say your memories never go away, but mine have been seriously misplaced. Five years ago, when I first walked into his office, I did so out of an urge to integrate my disjointed reality. Dave Leon MFT LCSW. I liked that he was a bit swishy, non judgmental, giggled often. Growing up the only child of a single mother, my relationships tended to be dyadic in nature, 1-on-1, two bodies making contact within a vacuum, each node an end point rather than a stepping stone. I told Leon how I felt like an extra in my own life, embodying bit parts in everyone else’s novel. In order to do this though, I had to stay in perpetual motion—like a shark, if I stopped, I would die, killed off on the next page. Survival. This the pleasure of life-Tetris: accumulating your tasks, arranging your obligations, never saying no, always saying yes, yes, yes! Thank you! There may be more than one way to skin a cat, but in order to kill two birds with one stone you need to stack them with precision…
3 BED + Dining room + 2 BATH + Guest STUDIO
–Entire top floor of 1920’s duplex in hip desirable location
–Can be used as Residential Living Space OR Office Space OR Live / Work Space
–PARKING for Up to 9 cars
–Private 2-Car garage
+ 1 Reserved Driveway Space
+ 6 Guest Parking in Driveway
–Real Hardwood Floors, will consider Pets, Approx: 2500 square feet of space. Fireplace, beamed Ceilings, Exceptional Natural Light. 3 Private Entrances, endless possibilities.
If this life were a play, I’d be the only audience member stuck in my seat, so let’s make it good for me. Mesmerizing myself with the plates I spun, my eyes blurred as they overwhelmed my field of vision…but even through the vertigo, there was a latent desire to play the protagonist—I am made of stardust after all. So here we go: 60 minutes/wk, every week on a sliding scale. $80, $100: cash changing hands, words finding footholds. And here’s the thing: it worked. I shoveled my art and work and love life and friends and roommates all into one big pile and jumped right in it like a mountain of leaves. Whooooosh! Now I’m in it, swimming in it. Everything is here, everything’s within reach, close—too close. I can’t move my arm without bumping into—where picking up one thing means knocking over another. Too many bubbles to navigate, to dodge, to penetrate, to bounce off of—this is life from concentrate. This is crowd control.
But is this how the physics of the center of the universe works? Am I a black hole? If this is power, then being a leader just means that I’m EVERYONE’S bitch. There are so many needs I can’t swim away from—relationships like cinderblocks, dense enough to weigh me down, form a wall, build a tank. Without distance to span, the only possible movements go back and forth, up and down, to and fro—even the atoms of a cinderblock vibrate. Unable to contain the excess energy, shark succumbs to the pre embryonic drive to differentiate and divide—soft innards rupturing tough skin. Penetraila exposed, entrails dangling, shark’s parts float up—as viscera and bile. Up, up, up beyond the walls of her holding tank: bye bye roommates, bye bye home business, bye bye friends, partner—have a good life. Or die. I really don’t care.
–3 BED + Dining room + 2 BATH + Guest STUDIO (TRUE)
–Entire top floor of 1920’s duplex in hip desirable location (TRUE)
–Can be used as Residential Living Space OR Office Space OR Live / Work Space (FALSE)
–PARKING for Up to 9 cars (FALSE)
–Private 2-Car garage (TRUE)
+ 1 Reserved Driveway Space (FALSE)
+ 6 Guest Parking in Driveway (FALSE)
–Real Hardwood Floors, will consider Pets, Approx: 2500 square feet of space. Fireplace, beamed Ceilings, Exceptional Natural Light. 3 Private Entrances, endless possibilities.
Now it’s just a home and I’m just your normal everyday neighbor living with her boyfriend and her best friend. Except oh yeah, I still have to be house mom even though I hate being house mom and I never wanted to have you damn kids and blow out my body, and fuck up my personal space like this…
Another English phrase I remember asking for early on was spurred by an interaction—or rather a non-interaction—with the blond boy who sat behind me during story time. As my eyes were glued on the pictures in the oversized pages of the teacher’s book, sitting cross-legged on the thin carpet, I felt something hook on the back of my shorts, in my underwear, pulling it away from my body. At first, I thought I was imagining it—the tug was so gentle, feeling almost like a breeze. But as the pages flipped, the blond boy became more emboldened, and it became obvious that he was peeking down my shorts. Even knowing this, I stayed frozen in place, unable to make myself turn around without words at my disposal. How do you say…? Voicelessness is one hell of a tranquilizer.
So how does it feel to be the conduit for someone else’s pleasure? Well face-to-face, it’s tense since bodies work to displace one another, fighting to inhabit the same time, same space. But if you can become an image flattened on a screen, the position can be quite seductive. Similar to death, there is no ego in the second dimension; a body without volume becomes a body invulnerable. Here, I am pure object, data optimized for the gaze of other subjects. Contrary to popular belief it is the subject, not the object, who is truly vulnerable in this dyad. As an object, better yet, an image (which is an object times infinity)—you can be consumed a million times by a million pairs of eyes and never feel a thing—propagating yourself like a Xerox machine, a line of code, a virus.
DON’T TOUCH ME! The words propelled themselves out my mouth as I spun around. After that, I started having these fantasies at bedtime. Sharing the double mattress with Grandma as I always had, I would imagine little boys from my class climbing through our window, one at a time. In our old home, there was no such thing as personal space, property lines, fenced-in yards, lawns; the only privacy was inside your own imagination. And here the boys would sneak up to the bed and pull down my underwear just a little in the back. Each boy would pull them down a bit more until my small 6-year-old ass was hanging out of my Wednesday panties. In bed, I’d slide them down myself and felt a charged, guilty pleasure every time I’d play out this scene just 10 inches away from my slumbering 奶奶. It’s safe in here but it’s lonely. Learning how to externalize the internal is the alchemy I’m training myself in…
When she’s ready, EGG exudes progesterone—which causes the flagella of the sperm to flap rapidly, propelling them towards her, however unwillingly. Sperm are internally passive—airheads, bimbos really—that can be controlled and directed this way and that with the slightest pheromone shift. As their only limbs spasm and fap furiously, EGG opens herself, enveloping the chosen one(s) after a heated chemical exchange. In this model of human fertilization, I am the conflation of the catch and the bait—I am zygote.
You know neighbor, sometimes we can hear you too—raised voices, crying—echoes of exchanges between the two of you escaping from our vents. These leaks are unintentional, rising up like heat. Only when you pound on your ceiling (my floor) BANG! BANG! BANG! Do I know that your message is intended for me. BANG! BANG! BANG! means SHHHHHHH! So does SLAM! SLAM! Without distractions of your own, our laughter and movement must be torturous, unbearable—death by a thousand cuts.
BOM—back on market. Buyers failed to perform. This beautiful corner lot property consists of 3 units. A large 4 bedroom 2 bath craftsman house with exterior and interior original details preserved including a large fireplace, original wood moulding, built-ins, and a massive grand porch, with 2 studio units in the rear. A diamond in the rough, this is a perfect property for an investor or buyer looking to owner occupy and have extra income from the studios. Electrical and plumbing are updated. Located on a quiet tree lined street in the Historic Preservation Overlay Zone of this up and coming desirable neighborhood. Please call listing agent for details.
I used to write journal entries every night to keep a record of what I did that day, what I accomplished, how I felt. In these pages, I am pure subject. The subject is fragile, precarious, always on the brink of tipping over, falling off the knife’s edge. The subject’s will can be negated, desires unfulfilled, advances brushed off, best laid plans foiled. Can you…? No. Do you mind…? Why. May I….? (silence). A subject’s integrity depends on its recognition as such—either by itself or others. They say you can only control yourself but sometimes self-recognition is the most elusive of all. Agency, ego, subjectivity: concepts so fragile built upon a foundation of composite defense mechanisms.
An object, on the other hand can never be foiled, never be negated. A PVC pipe is not vulnerable to being misnamed or misrecognized—it has no need to be perceived accurately. It just is what it is: powerful in its inertia—like a tank. So what’s your spirit animal? A tiger? An owl? A stingray? My spirit animal is an ottoman, a footstool. My spirit animal is upholstered, but without wheels; my spirit animal is an elevated cushion with storage underneath. Made by humans, for humans, my spirit animal has devices of its own that are impenetrable by any subject. Stable, constant, unwavering: the stillness of objecthood is heaven. I know this pleasure because I give this pleasure. I turn subjects to objects all day. Human ottoman seeks human toilet for mutually beneficial arrangement. I watch the transformation occur right in front of my eyes, like a strand of DNA unwinding, subject and object decouple as the two sides of the coin separate, the boundary between them inflating into a volume—creating a space. Take a deep breath and just keep breathing…this is the alchemy I taught myself to perform.
Some people don’t believe in the magic of being a thing. They don’t know what it’s like, neighbor. I think you may suffer from this willful misrecognition—thinking that subjectivity is the place to be. That center of the universe is where it’s at—even if it’s so crowded there that you can hardly breath. You, him, her, the woman in the Jaguar who brags to handsome bartenders about how she shut it all down, you all radiate with some kind of gamma ray that burns. Brown skin cured by the humidity of midwestern summers, I can take a lot of heat, but sitting on this volcano of hate is starting to singe my ass. It’s so hot up here on my level; everything is hot, white hot, too hot, too white.
Every morning when I wake up: I perform an entire goddamn ritual to protect my aura. First, I get up and walk around the block, then I meditate (for the longest 20 minutes you’ll ever feel) and then I picture a layer of light around my skin radiating out further and further until it’s a sphere around my entire body and I say to myself:
YOU ARE PROTECTED, YOU ARE SHIELDED FROM OTHER PEOPLE’S ENERGY. LOVE YOURSELF, DON’T JUDGE YOURSELF. YOU ARE PROTECTED; YOU ARE SHIELDED FROM OTHER PEOPLE’S ENERGY. LOVE YOURSELF, DON’T JUDGE YOURSELF. YOU ARE PROTECTED; YOU ARE SHIELDED FROM OTHER PEOPLE’S ENERGY. LOVE YOURSELF, DON’T JUDGE YOURSELF.
Then I take five deep breaths, open my eyes and wipe away the condensation that’s accumulated on my face from everything that’s in the air, but this time it’s not spit.