The Body Electric

Body Electric: Textual Prompts from Petra and Another

I'm feeling like maybe I am only scratching the surface, or rather writing on the surface, writing about and not into, nowhere near "for text to be like skin"(Buzzeo).


1. “When someone beats a rug,
the blows are not against the rug, 
but against the dust in it.”


Instructive, no? The dust needs to be released. Get it out. After these blows: new air passing through old threads.

2. Write from the part of myself that knows all the things to the parts that don't know all the things.

Do any of my parts know? Nope, I think. Not one. Not yet. Maybe soon, after pen hits paper.

But: why does it need to be written to be known? Or, maybe I know but words solidify my body's knowledge, allow me to truly know where the knowing lives; build a sturdier home.

3. "it's as good as time as any to find just where in your body the block is and describe it, move it, know it, write it, blowing it up right at/into it's center as a practice as an exercise in this packet? exploring blocks of energy of flow of life.force and how certain practices break these apart for certain people? just an idea since you're at the precipice of the "block.ed" energy anyhow."

Part 1:

I feel it:

1. I'm procrastinating, making lists on lists. Rewriting my study plan. Moving a book title from here to there to there. Wait, maybe it should be here?

2. I'm obsessing. About leaving the dog, about whether my love loves me, get to the post office, water the plants, I forgot! Put it back on the list. Even now: just went into my notes and removed "Write into the blocks, Petra's suggestions". Get it done, scratch it out.

3. I think of creative writing, these days, and I breathe in without allowing the breath to release. I hold it in my chest, feel the expansion and then clamp down on it, air bubbling behind locked jaws. It's a particular taste, its own flavor.

4. Here I am trying to write about this block and then I leave to visit Amazon, Twitter, create a new document of things to come back to, more to write into again.

5. Drinking coffee until the acid becomes a second stomach lining; thinking I can't go forward without a sip promising focus. Energy. Promises.

Part 2:

Last October I committed myself to an opening. Everything in my life demanded I shut down but I didn't. Then, in March, I permanently inked this reminder on the inside of my fingers: "Stay Open".

It should seem obvious; if there is a block, get in there and blow it up. Disassemble it. Deactivate it. Break it down. Sometimes I don't know there is a block though, until I say it out loud. It's rooted and wrapped around calves and forearms and when mentioned, is so tangled it requires more patience than most have. It keeps on being contained, restrained to knowing an unknowing. Ask me where it lives and I'd say it lives in the kind of nowhere that is everywhere.

But it doesn't live everywhere. A few years ago, the blocked energy lived deep in my pelvis. The easy answer would be to now point out that my pelvis has experienced trauma; it knows pain in a way that makes it never want to know that pain again. There was breaking in so doesn't it make sense to now lock the top lock, check it twice? The pelvis has a mind of its own, it makes independent decisions without the other dependent parts. And shutting down is a perfectly appropriate response.

Upon closer look, that answer is too simple. If in fact the block lives where the trauma hit than logic says it would be in that empty air between ribs and heart, embroidered onto my scalp, settled deep in marrow; highlighting the kind of energy that wasn't strong enough to keep the bones from breaking, hair stripped from the root.

Maybe, right now, its in all of those places too. Certainly, at one point or another, it's been in all of those places too. A few years ago, almost three, I rode passenger in a tiny car over deep potholes from Tulum to a remote bungalow in a jungle preserve further south: a vacation in celebration of my 30th birthday. There were other passengers in the car; I had packed them into my skin years earlier but they were loosened ever so slightly, recently, during a writing class. My job was to write through the chakras, to explore the places in ourselves where creative energy was stuck. This class came on the tails of another class where I wrote into my survivorhood; it was there that I realized I knew nothing about the erotic and what I did know I was resistant to. So writing into the lowest chakra first, the Muladhara, the root, electric red, I continued up into the Swadhisthana chakra, the golden color of the sacral region. Both intimately bound together for me, proving themselves untrustworthy at one point or another. Somewhere in there, in that writing and exploring and moving I stopped. Maybe it was because it was the ten year anniversary of my rape, maybe it was that days had become a torturous and shaky realm where wanting and reaching quickly became judging and retreat, whatever the reasons, my attempt to explore two large regions of my body completely shut me down. Or rather, a part of me shut the rest of me down. I became sick, I had a flare up of a stress related health issue, I was desperately sad and lonely on a beach vacation that was supposed to offer me renewal. Certainly since then, I've moved through those blocks. How did I retrieve those parts of myself, the ones bogged down in somatic connection to the skin? I don't remember but I don't think it happened quickly, it wasn't a direct response to my knowing the source.

A year or two after that knowing, I went to get my aura read. Nestled in a tiny multi-purpose shop front in Chinatown, I sat on a throne and touched fingertips to cold metal. What came back was violet, indigo, lavender: proof that my body had forgotten its solid mass and was now living in air, gulping that air. The woman told me that I was tired, that my lower region was empty.

All of this backstory, it's proof of the way I reach so far back in order to understand the now. Can't the now just exist as now, released of the critical nostalgia? But the parts of my body that don't know each other, or the parts that have the knowing locked down behind bones and brawn, these parts are not strangers. They are the old familiars, the ones that take on the fear and worry each time I start to step out.

I'm searching for the sign that lets me know I've reached a previously unreachable place, a final destination but can't the process be the sign? Any movement forwards, be it a tiny step, puts me in the new.

Something that is new, now: I am fucking in a way I've never fucked. With a partner who has patient eyes, strong soft hands. At first, I had few inhibitions, I was thankful for the lights that allowed me to look into eyes that looked back into eyes. I was thankful that I could bend and shape my body into ways that folded on top of each other. I didn't care what I looked like. It was almost winter and layers had to be peeled off. For this body of mine, these feats were nothing short of a sort of corporeal revolution; a few long battles won. But all of that release; there are consequences for moving out of the places we demand ourselves to stay put in, consequences for leaving the time out corner before the time is up. Now, we are six months into that, my body, their body, and I feel the clamp once again, the violetindigolavender refusing to give way to red turned yellow.

When two skins that, like pewter have experienced moments of tarnish, when these skins discover each other, there is a body electric, a knowing and a mirroring. I crave this body electric. I want to hold on.

These fears are on such a bodily level, they bring a visceral pain that I can actively experience, racing racing, but can't quite find the words for, can't pinpoint the root. I may not have the distance from it yet but I know this is a repeat. Which means the way my body has been manipulated, the violence mistaken as intimacy, I am uprooting it from my skin. I am pulling them by their hairs; like my hairs, too, pulled as my body was tossed out of a Philadelphia brownstone.

So what does it mean that I have decided to commit a $40,000 (loan covered) degree and two years to, in part, learn how to know my body? And in the knowing of my body, hopes that I can discover other knowings, work towards making connections, share it freely. What does it mean that I've chosen work that demands my physical form: demands I embrace an erotic that I previously believed to not exist, to have no power and certainly none over me. My body: I've moved from first, wanting to deny; then to fix, cure and now am living in something else. Is that what I'm doing here? Is that why my body feels tighter?

So these blocks. These blocks remind me of their mass even if I can't touch the location yet, even if I think I have expelled them; they remind me that if I want to stretch, I need to identify, push past, birth new. The knowing means that I do know, now, and knowing means there is a chance for new. There are ways to remove by root but allow still for growth. I can find the tender spots, the ones needing more time under the grow light and I I can replant myself right back into myself. I want to grow, so grow. 

These are blocks I know, in a body I'm learning to listen to, in a body that is becoming strong enough to hold all of the knowing.

"One day I stopped and let myself be haunted."- Diane Cluck