Notes on care of the body as resistance from the mind of someone who's piecing it together.
Past Stealth Care Entries
Looking for Kicks
What to Do with Stuff
Under One Roof
Getting Your Hands Dirty
On Leaving the House
When Blood Runs Cold
Putting Your Foot In
Out of Time
Everything Must Go
One Thousand Words for Skipping School
Stealth Care by Ruby Brunton
What to Do with Stuff
“All I wanted was a piece of her jewelry.”
So begins Dodie Bellamy’s essay “Digging through Kathy Acker’s Stuff,” in which Bellamy, who had had a fraught relationship with the writer but had admired her work very much, is invited by her executor Matias Veigner to retrieve some sort of trinket from Acker’s earthly possessions.
Stuff, otherwise known as the accumulation of belongings, the sum of a life. When someone, like Kathy Acker or my parents, is a traveler, nomad, art collector, art creator, or simply a lover of beauty on a budget, the pile of stuff accumulated is likely to become gargantuan, and at the same time infinitely precious. The stuff left in their final home is the most precious since this is the stuff they selected on each move from house to house, city to city, country to country. The stuff they sent at great expense to their next address. The last stuff they ever accumulated. The stuff they chose carefully and with the wisdom of many years of stuff collection behind them. It feels important to at least look through it, touch it, keep some of it, offer it around before donating the rest to charity or a dumpster.
I didn’t use to be able to look at photographs of my parents nor hear their voices. Now, I’ve become greedy. I scour the internet for anything and everything that remains of their largely pre-Internet footprint. I type into Google different combinations of their first and last names, the name of their theater company, their names together, their names apart, their names plus my name, in case I’ve missed anything. I say a thank you inside my mind to the people with scanners who have spent hours uploading photographs from newspapers, book covers, albums with plastic sheets. I say a thank you inside my mind to whoever digitized old cassette and VHS tape so I can watch, listen, remember, recreate. I share my findings with friends, on social media. In a way it’s a comfort to finally be able to look, listen and watch without pain.
On Mother’s Day, I read “Eulogy” by Sherman Alexie five times. Three times inside my mind and twice out loud with my poetic co-conspirator Sophia. The poem is beautiful, moving, melodic. On that day, I was overcome with greed to hear the poem over and over again. The repetition sang to me, I wanted to hear the words “My mother” 500 times. I thought about how my mother and I had read parts of The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven out loud to each other. I thought about how we went to see Smoke Signals together, and both had a crush on Adam Beach. I thought about the loss Alexie and I shared, and the many losses we do not. The losses I can never understand.