April 22. 2012.
I have hiccups.
A strip of black and white photo booth pictures curls on the wall just above the bed. Whenever a couple gets into a photo booth, there has to be a kiss shot. It’s an unwritten law. It always looks contrived. It’s never romantic.
The lampshade on the bedside table is a red corset with black fur and lace trim. Liter-sized coke bottles tumble out of a cardboard box by the radiator. I want to ask if Garth and I can recycle them for food money.
Why can I not find something I want to do in the world? A profession. Am I lazy?
I want to write. That’s what I want to do. But I hate journalism and travel writing. My writing isn’t clever and succinct. The publishers would say, “It isn’t about anything. There’s no point.” They said that to F.Scott Fitzgerald about This Side of Paradise. Not that I’m comparing myself to him. He was an alien of some kind. But the point is that the publishers completely miss the point. I’m writing about life. Life is not about anything either. And I despise the concept of grooming or molding my passion so that it can be shrink-wrapped, critiqued by some hack from the New York Times and SOLD. This is what I do. It is me. I don’t want to sell myself. In our culture, if you don’t want to sell yourself, you die. So there it is.
I’ve eaten two pieces of toast with honey all day. Pierre’s roommate, Yan, from French Canada, came home while I was hanging his clothes out to dry. Garth and I needed to use the washing machine. I got kind of embarrassed. It might not be considered okay in Europe to touch a stranger’s underwear, even if you’re technically doing them a favor. He was a lovely fellow and he gave us the name of an all-you-can-eat buffet that only charges 3.50.
But then he went to a baseball game and Garth and I promptly forgot what he said because I’m having an existential crisis and Garth is always raging mad at either his phone, his computer or the internet. So we ended up milling aimlessly about in the cold wind again, amongst the same expensive cafes, not finding anything within our price range to eat. Today is Sunday. Even the rip-off convenience stores were closed.
I wanted to walk a little and look for the buffet. Yan said it was close by. Garth wasn’t in the mood. The wind was vicious. Wind never fails to magnify my already acute awareness of the fact that I have no place to be within civilized society. There were warm restaurants full of food all around me. They may as well have been icebergs for all the good they did us.
This is the end. The bottom. It’s over. I want to get a tin pan, a bag of rice, a shaker of salt and my backpack and start walking. If I’m gonna have nothing- if I’m really going to get down to the bare essentials- I should stop fucking around and do it. This in-between nonsense is torturous.
“If I’m gonna have nothing, I wanna do it in the woods,” Garth says. “Not in the middle of the city, where everyone’s eating all the time.”
We return to Pierre’s flat and get back in bed.
I feel like everything is okay when Garth and I are walking. It’s the best lifestyle we’ve come across. We have our own space and we live on our own terms. We can be poor and still meet people. We meet them because they’re interested in what we’re doing, sometimes even inspired by it. Things happen when you meet people under those circumstances. You see fascinating places and interact with unusual personalities. You get showers and food and all the necessities as a result. Things just fall into place. When we stay in one spot and nothing is going on, we become like a puzzle in an earthquake.
There’s still the chance that The Occupied Biennale could turn into something beautiful and intense. It could turn into an international Zuccotti Park, where people from all backgrounds filter into a space without rules or hierarchies and collide like atoms, creating explosions that change everyone’s way of thinking. I don’t want to abandon all hope for that yet. And if it happens, I don’t want to miss out on it. I want to be right in the middle.
Garth goes out in the afternoon. He has a website-related meeting at the KW. I write for hours while he’s gone, clearing the trash from my brain, sorting out what might be useful.
Long after dark, he comes back with a package of noodles and a can of tuna and cooks the most incredible pasta dish I’ve ever eaten. You don’t need much to survive. Staying alive is not that hard. It’s like planting dandelions- you kick one on a breezy day and you end up with a whole jungle of them. He also brings a package of cigarettes and a bottle of wine. I’d asked for the wine. It makes me feel a bit less destitute. And I can’t complain about the cigarettes, even tho we have no money and they are not edible or essential. You can’t eat the anti-zit cream I buy either. It’s not exactly a survival tool.
“The alarms have been turned off at the Hall” he says.
“Do they have sleeping spaces set up?”
“No, but since it’s open we should go there tomorrow.”
We’ll be the first ones there when the sleeping spaces are officially available. We could construct them ourselves.
This is a very positive development. I was worried that we weren’t going to be able to stay at the Occupied space. I didn’t think it would be a true Occupy situation. But it seems we will have the opportunity to live right in the middle of the action, just like I wanted. The best part is that, in an Occupied space, no one is in charge. No one can tell you what to do. Garth and I will be living on our own terms again. We won’t be imposing on anyone, waiting for them to tell us we have to leave.
The long nap, the pasta, the wine and this good turn of events have significantly lightened my mood and improved my outlook on life. Now that I think about it, I can’t imagine what there was to be so sad about. I’ve been homeless and starving forever. It’s self-induced and I can use it. This lifestyle is my way of having a low impact on the earth. It is how I am teaching myself to be humble, grateful and generous. It allows me to see the other side of the world- the subterranean honesty of real humanity which is never written about in Lonely Planet guides. I have nothing to lose, so I can do anything I want, say anything I please, be myself. The freedom to do that means more to me than anything I could buy.
I still want to see this project thru. I want to see an international Occupy happen and I want to see the Global Square happen. We have an opportunity to bring people from all over the world together in reality and online. The internet changes everything. Everyone can communicate with everyone. And they can do it fast. I may not know how the internet works or how to build it, but I know how to use it. That’s just as important. I am an artist and a writer. I can get a message out. I can bring many people onto one page.
I don’t want to give up on the movement.