Sunday, May 27, 2012

Serenity Rose, my Asexual Years, books bound with human skin and men on Linda's bed

I’m reading Serenity Rose, which I got used for $1 from my wish list, it is “my court appointed psychologist suggested journaling as a means of ‘working through the negativity.’ Only Diaries are way too girly so I’m making a comic book instead.” About a girl in her 20-something who is a witch, called Elizabeth Rose a.k.a. Serenity Rose.

My copy is a library book, though on the description they said it wasn’t. After three week’s wait that is really irritating. Except this book has purple glitter on EVERY page. There isn’t a lot, it starts to become ‘Where’s Waldo’, and I’m trying to figure out if it is from some goth teen’s fingers. “Geez, when they say glitter gets everywhere, they aren’t kidding.” And I am glad that while at Sakura-con, that woman at the Dior counter didn’t convince me to buy the glitter purple mascara (particularly as I am following the trail of purple glitter through this strange/cute comic). From S.R.: “Another time they told me I could have ‘unnatural’ hair colors in class, so I fixed it like they wanted and they said that’s fine but could I do that in private from now on.”

I wonder if I would drop my jeans and start a dye job on my snatch in the principal’s office (he’s a PRINCE and your PAL – how I was taught to spell that word)? I decide that I probably would.

Why is Serenity Rose real while Katniss of the Hunger Games isn't? Perhaps it is the combination of lethality with determined ghosting through school days, insecurity too large to hide completely. Katniss can't make up her mind what to wear, much less hunt and kill, she was one of the girls who wore the best because she was told what was 'in' becuase she had a father figure and money. Serenity Rose and the mystery reader ahead of me know that life is made up of short bursts of brutality which has fall out, and nothing can stop that.

I had to cycle a couple miles to school. I would bring road kill into biology class. I think I was trying to show the teacher that I was 'keen'. This did my rep no good at all. Just another story when they point the fingers at you, and say, "Did you hear?" In ninth grade, we went to Cal Tech and saw electron microscopes and experiments with mice.  The head scientist killed live mice. I was the school photographer, because it allowed me to keep something in front of my face. I asked the scientist, 'Can you kill it again, I didn't get the shot.' And he picked up another mouse and snapped the neck, and skinned it in a smooth motion.

I looked up and my ninth grade teacher was staring at me instead of the mice. "You might make a good war photographer." he said in a funny tone with his head cocked, "You seem to have, uh want the shot."

Two (three?) days ago I had a three hour test in my bed from a psychologist and psychiatrist. One said he ‘appreciated how I was deconstructing the assumptive nature of the test.’  Am I?  Mostly I’m in my own world, and I think I am getting things wrong as one test I am asked the connection between words, and told two words. I think of The Little Prince and the picture of an elephant in a boa constrictor and tell them that the connection of the two words is that they start with a tall word and then go flat. I also point out that both words have two vowels. One of the two men starts laughing while the other writing. Words are floating in my head, going round and upside down. It reminds me of tests when I was a kid.

I have to count down from 100 by 7. They stop me at negative 5 and ask how many are left. How many of what? And how many 7’s. Apparently I got that right. It seems that the need to understand the importance of the number 7 is something I have passed.

I read a bit more of Serenity Rose and follow the tale, plus the clustering of purple glitter. I think I used wear glitter. Stuff like that is fun for a night, now I don’t do night’s out. I’ve just woken from 14 hours of sleeping.

I’ve spent my life hoping that the NEXT group, like junior high, would be smart and get me. But no. Then I hoped that they would be in high school. Nope, just broken into: those who make fun of you, those too absorbed in themselves to care if I exist, those who pick on me, and those who seem to be bad imitations of who ever the pack leader they follow. I remember the first time I met Linda and after I liked her she invited me out to the farm. "We've just finished cutting and baling, do you want to do some baling? If they are dry they are only 60 lbs, and it goes quickly."

"No!" I said, with a look of horror, "Honestly, I don't think anyone WANTS to do baling." Geez, I was prepared to help with the dishes or making food, but hours of throwing 60lb hay bales? Was anyone ever THAT much in love? At the science museum they tested hand strength and Linda was at least 30 lbs stronger than mine.

The university program where I went for my masters, there was a woman who wrote about her life with goats. She had a weathered face, said ‘fuck’ a lot. She was cool. Master’s program scared me because I was in the writing program and all the teachers were gay. Gay and OUT. So 70% of the students were gay guys, and the teachers were screwing students, and stumbling by my cabin drunk and naked, except for a neck scarf, going ‘Yohoo, Charlie! Or is it Bradley! Where ARE you?’ in this singsong way that drunk naked gay men seem to do well. Then there were the lesbians, who were all OUT, not out, but out in all capitals. And very serious about it. And the woman I wanted as a mentor only took very OUT lesbians because her book won an award and she wanted to find a writer worthy of her. And at the ending session dance I danced with one girl, who was OUT, and she led. Didn’t ask, just led. I don’t know if the program even accepted femmes’. I was at home, and NOT OUT, when I wasn’t at college. Well, until we went and lived in the Tower and I sold rare book of the occult and other occult objects. That includes the guy who wanted to sell me a Grimoire, which is a old spell book of a witch, or warlock, sometimes centuries old. Only this guy wanted to warn me that the book was bound in human skin. I’d like to say that was the oddest book or object I was offered or sold, but no.

Linda says that I somehow managed to ghost in and out of dodgy flats, old trailers, and other dangerous places and still made enough to eventually rent part of a book store. I was invited to a wiccian mass, and then to a black mass, not a faux black mass but an actual ‘we are here to worship the devil’ mass. I smile, try to explain that I care about the books. They laugh. No one believes that I don’t do drugs, and that I have never done drugs. But I haven’t. And I don’t. EVER.

I read more of the goth witch Serenity Rose and her shy ways. That’s because she is 4’11”. You can’t be over six feet and shy, because everyone is ready to tell you who you are, even if it their fantasy. Or perhaps you can, I’ve been shy most of my life. But there is the face for survival and the real face. That’s what being 20-something is about: who to trust with the 'real' face. Sometimes I think I am always 20-something, and other times I am SO glad I am not 20-something anymore.

Well, I couldn’t be out, not in that master’s program, so I was dismissed, and returning home, to be honest, in a pre-pansexual city of Victoria, surrounded by Churchy folks, I think I had sex, but it was likely worried and shameful sex.

When I went off to uni for my off campus masters, I applied to 15 places, 14 accepted me, 3 offered scholarships and jobs. I reapplied to the one place who didn’t take me. They took me six months later. Not sure now why I wanted to be at the one place they didn't want me.

I didn’t fit in with the others in the Master’s program. I ending up drifting to a group of five or six who didn’t fit either, ‘the outcasts’, and we hung out. One guy had dyslexia so bad, he couldn’t swear correctly, and a guy in a beard who was a good listener and always handed out free cider, plus the guy who ‘still’ hadn’t graduated and a few other ‘undeclared’ because who you were having sex with seemed more important than what you were writing. Then my mentor, and another gay mentor did reading on how great anal sex was. It started this cascade. Everyone, students, teachers and visiting writers were doing readings on how wonderful it was to do this or that, fisting or things with objects I didn’t really understand. As one author said, “Sex is something to do, not write about.”

One of the new students that semester told everyone that he was one of Gore Vidal’s lovers. Everyone was oohing and aahing about this. Meanwhile us, ‘the outcasts’, drank cider and tried to figure how being one of the MANY, MANY people Gore Vidal screwed made you a better writer? Was it some magic sperm that did it? This is when I decided that I was Asexual, and told the guy with the beard. He sort of did a ‘y’up’ and gave me another cider. Okay, I was Asexual, which compared to what was going on around me, I was.

And I wanted to be. I wanted to meet someone who got my mind, then maybe my body. Everyone was having trysts and affairs but the ‘outcasts.’ We couldn’t take another night of the ‘sex odes’ and sat outside drinking cider. My roomie kept telling me to do a reading, “Your writing will blow them away.” Well, I wrote a poem about sex, about my experiences; mostly about how having an hypersensativity to sound, smell and touch combined with 'too much in my head info' isn't good for sex. The roomie fell out of bed laughing while reading it. “Oh GOD, they are going to die when you read this.”

The woman with goats (who I had had renamed Eve, because I told her if there was one woman to start from, it should be her) was reading the same night. Some butch lesbians were trash talking us, saying it would be nothing worth staying for, and how Eve, the goat lady, wanted attention. “Oh princess,” Eve said to the butch, “of course I want attention, don’t you? Or did you enter a writing program so OTHER people could be read, and not you? We are ALL attention whores, to the last one of us.” She had this laugh, low from too much cigs and I thought ‘that was who I wanted to grow up to be.’ She silenced the rabble.

Up at the podium, I could see my roomie at the very back. Not just at the back but up in the loft, leaning against the back wall making these ‘go on’ motions. So I read my poem. It immediately caused about half of the students to hate me. But I also had two offers to have it printed immediately (I had hand written the final draft on a piece of paper) and it stopped the topic of sex DEAD. No one dared read about sexual experiences for the rest of the sessions. My mentor, Kenny, who writes for the New York Times, amongst other publications, had been introducing me to every important book for gay men (which is why if there is a book about gay men in prison, I’ve read it, Henry James, read it, French early gay writings, read it), turned to another teacher between stanza and said, “There is something very seriously disturbed about that individual.” And ended as my mentor. That was the last time I had a mentor. I had to mentor myself.

Linda says that Stephen Fry wrote about not having sex and it made his career, I seem to either have done it wrong or I should have taken the rejection and gone to another master’s program. But now, published on four continents, in various publications, I am one of their most successful grads. But not like Stephen Fry, alas.

Back to three days ago when the two men are sitting opposite me, remember them, like a joke, a psychologist, a psychiatrist and me, a doctorate researcher sits in a room…. One of the guys hold up a picture of a Rhinoceros, and asks, ‘Do you know what that is?” And I am thinking, ‘Is that a black or white? Low or high second horn?” I tell them I think it is the white Rhinoceros, but could be black.

“How do you know….”

The next one is a sub-Saharan camel as Mongolian ones have two humps. I am not deconstructing anything, I am sharing my life honestly. I don’t know how nor want to say: I have a friend who is smart, has an article published in a science journal and has outlived her siblings is who taught me all I know about Rhino’s.

I still have no desire to wear purple glitter today. Alas. Though I can remember teachers saying, “Uh…..fine, just never do THAT again.” I was such an intense little bug. One junior high year I self organized the ‘Math Olympics” on March 15 and went around telling everyone, “Beware the Ides of March, Math is Coming!” The previous year, in the one year they allowed ‘an outsider’ to teach, we had art class. In sixth grade they allowed art class for one year. I spent most of my time making a 3-d object, two feet by two feet, which when asked I said was ‘The alter of those who Worship the Egg’  Yeah, me as a student…..

I kind of scared the teachers. I was just TOO….something. (“Kelli, do any of your friends take medication?”; “Why?”; “I think they might be OFF it!”) I got caught playing softball in Geometry class with an older girl I was crushing on, and they didn’t know what to do, so did nothing. (hey, who brings a softball and glove in the backpack to your geometry class?).

From Serenity Rose: “When I was eleven this teacher tried to wipe off my ‘makeup’ on account of it was ‘causing a disturbance.’ She spent a good 20 minutes scrubbing at my eyelids before had to give up and apologize and tell me not to tell anyone about the whole thing” (I read this and thought, “Wait, I wonder if she has Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome” – causes pale skin).

That's my mental experience with the first 50 pages.  As my first and best creative teacher said at least once a week, "You think too much McClung."


Lorna, Bob and Liam said...

Well, that was just wonderous. A wander through the mind and history of Elizabeth, complete with incredible structure AND free association.

You are a better writer on your worst day than most of us will ever hope to be at our very best.

Love you.

Lorna, Bob and Liam

Linda McClung said...

A really enjoyable read, Beth.

What's wrong with throwing a few bales? I actually preferred doing that to preparing one meal after another to feed the people throwing the bales. Didn't have to do dishes either.

Hmmm, I think I'd be interested in reading that poem you wrote which stopped the sex-capade readings.

Your last sentence made me laugh out loud - 'You think too much, McClung'. Yup, how many times have I thought that over the years. I remember when we were first dating you'd keep asking me questions. What do you think about A, B, etc? And I remember often starting my respons with 'well, I've never really thought about B before, but...'

You do think a lot - and what an amazing mind you have. It's one of the things I still admire about you.

Anonymous said...

I really enjoy getting these glimpses into your life before I met you. It's quite interesting seeing the way your mind works. In many ways I see myself and in someways your descriptions remind me of my brother.

I was using a flashlight andlooking at Serenity Rose to see if I could find more glitter. The overhead light works best to find the glitter.


Elizabeth McClung said...

Lorna, Bob and Liam: Thanks, I tried to keep things bouncy and interesting (and edited) - I tend to write every day now, about 2,000 words but I only do the two blogs a week, the rest just are written then decide that isn't going to work out.

Linda: Okay, well, I am glad you like it, I would rather do dishes to be honest. Maybe it is back pain.

Oh, I had that on the computer, I will see if I can find it.

Yes, I think a lot, and I love you a lot and sometimes being grounded is more important than thinking but sometimes thinking a lot in advance is useful too.

Cheryl: Yes, I like how we are different, and also how one teacher, one mentor, a person who comes at the right time who cares can really sort of change things - but for those who want to return to high school - go for it, you can have my ticket!

I found one corner of the page with 11 glitter pieces, the most so far!

Elizabeth McClung said...

The continuation of the journals of Serenity Rose (after 4 years wait) is on the wish list - you can get the first book used for about $5 I think - I have read the first but not the second - thumbs up on the first book

JaneB said...

Wow, sounds like there's a lot going on today! And I have a lot of things to comment on... I was also wierd and intense and maybe not asexual but close to it in college and after, because really, there was so much intensity of the mind, and so much sensitivity and analysis, that the way to keep myself safe seemed to be NOT to run naked around the place (initiation rite to drinking club... very popular... do not get!) and wake up with different people - that seemed the way to fly apart, to shatter, to not be able to hold the things of the head. And what was the POINT of all these things one could do with the body unless you were doing them at the mind level? I;d love to read that poem!

Oh, I love the idea of unfettered logic and honesty for some of the questions on those sorts of tests, without all the social layers of 'knowing what they want' - I was SO bad at that as a kid, people thought I was very odd.

Much sympathy on being shy and tall - try being shy, fat and noisy as well as tall! It's just not OK to be shy, because, well I don't fit the rules, right?

And I love you, and I wish we could talk the moon down and the sun up some day, because I think we might fight and get fierce but would probably also get each other, and it would be So Much Fun!

Neil said...

You think too much? Poppycock!

You have led a most amazing life; it's fascinating to read about your early years, as terrible as they sometimes sound.

Tall and shy? Oh, yeah! But I'm still invisible sometimes, despite being 6'5". I'm just not a social butterfly never made friends as a child, and have a hard time in social situations now.

A most enjoyable and informative read, indeed.

Love and zen hugs to all 3 of you,