I was raped a few years ago

I was raped a few years ago

I was raped a few years ago. I had liked and trusted the guy. It had started out as a completely consensual encounter. But at some point, after he had me alone, he began to hurt me. When I asked him to stop, he continued. He got off on my pain and terror. He was bigger, he was stronger. The humiliation and horror stay with me to this day.

I could not admit what happened. Forget admitting it to others, I could not admit it to myself.

I denied that anything criminal had taken place. He “loves” me, I said. Things went “a little out of control.” He “cared” about my career, so it was fine. Sure, some parts of what happened had been “confusing” – but we all have those confusing nights, don’t we? We remained friends, or sort of friends. One time, I tried asking him why he did what he did. He coolly told me that he could’ve done worse.

If you knew this man, you would know him as intelligent, talented, popular. You would know his politics to be “correct.” You would know him to be brave. You would likely defend him. Not me. God, to this day, I still can’t imagine anyone defending me.

The experience changed me. It killed me, in a way. I still freeze up sometimes when I’m alone with a male friend. “Could he also…?”

After all, I was a feminist. I was already a vocal survivor of sexual abuse. I *knew my shit*. It hadn’t saved me.

Eventually, I began to admit the disastrous impact this incident had on my life. The evil of it, transmuting itself. I can’t say I’m healed. But at least I get it now. I know.

What I go back to is the girl I saw in the mirror on the morning after. I saw her bruises and saw the blood. Although my mind had already switched into denial mode – and would remain in denial mode for years – my reflection fought that narrative hard. I knew in that moment that if I went to the police they’d have a hard time turning me away.

I didn’t go. It would only destroy my reputation and turn everyone against me.

Neither did I want to destroy him. I didn’t want to hurt the people who were close to him. Looking back on it, I know I may have given him the chance to hurt others. I live with that too.

This isn’t a comment on the Pavlensky case. And it is a comment on the Pavlensky case.

You think you know someone. There are moments when I no longer know if I know anyone.

This is what violence does.

I originally posted a slightly different version of this text on Facebook as a response to all of the people who said that a great artist like Pyotr Pavlensky, who stands accused of sexually assaulting (and stabbing) a friend and colleague of mine from Moscow’s Teatr.doc, could not have possibly done what he did. Although I am naturally biased in this matter, this is not a comment on Pavlensky’s guilt or innocence. It’s a comment on the fact that we never really know what a person is capable of behind closed doors.

Writing round-up, 2016: Six non-horrible things that happened this year

Writing round-up, 2016: Six non-horrible things that happened this year

I’m not really sure what to say about the year 2016. “At least we didn’t all die in a nuclear blast” is one good thing I could mention, I guess.

On a personal level, it was a year of disappointments and setbacks, fears and frustrations, but also the year in which I sat in a taxi coming back to Chelsea from Broadway after a dinner with great talents whom I also simply admire as people, and the very dear friend and great talent sitting next to me turned and said, “You’re doing it right, you know.” I surprised myself by believing her. There are people in my life who burn very brightly, you see, and I’ve learned to let their light in, and for that I am grateful.

In light of that, in light of them, here are the six things I definitely did right this year: Continue reading “Writing round-up, 2016: Six non-horrible things that happened this year”

November, depression, and the illusion of another world

November, depression, and the illusion of another world

“This is so depressing.”

It’s a common expression. I don’t begrudge it to people and frequently use it myself. I don’t like the self-righteous condemnation some people will heap on you if you use “depressing” or “depression” as throw-away words in casual conversation. If you get horribly offended by that, you may need to get over yourself.

Language evolves constantly, and our language has evolved in such a way that we regularly use “depression” without meaning “serious illness that can really fuck up your shit.” There is nothing wrong with that, and I think it has actually gone a long way toward normalizing the illness and people who suffer from it.

Having said that, depression is still very much a serious illness that can really fuck up your shit.

I am most prone to it in the month of November, and, as I have discovered from living in sunny places like Dubai and Greece, lack of sunlight may not be the main culprit. Maybe it’s due to the tilt of the earth. To the days getting shorter. To red leaves framed by a blue sky. To something.

I would love to write a buddy-cop-like parody novella about November and depression. Here they are, on yet another adventure together, barrelling through the mind, fucking it up like regular buddy cops fuck up city blocks. Here they are, making the lights go out behind the eyes while tossing comic insults at each other.

A lot has been written on the dangers of depression, but there is one particular danger I think is seriously overlooked:  Continue reading “November, depression, and the illusion of another world”

Love thy neighbor: in Trump’s America, some of your neighbors need it more than ever

Love thy neighbor: in Trump’s America, some of your neighbors need it more than ever

I’m going to share with you guys two stories sent in to me since the election. Two events that occurred in a country that has elected Donald J. Trump.

The first is from a Nepalese American woman who lives in the Midwest. Let’s call her Kyrah. It’s necessary for her to keep her identity hidden. Her bosses have warned her, alongside all of the employees at her company, that “politically themed posts” on the internet “will not be allowed” following the election. They are ostensibly doing this so that the company “will not attract any negative attention.” I’ll let you be the judge as to whether or not this is responsible policy.

Although she lives in the Midwest, Kyrah grew up on the West Coast. She came to the United States as a child. She describes herself as “not very political.” She did not vote in the 2016 presidential election, having been put off by both of the major party candidates, a decision she now regrets. Here’s why she regrets the decision. I am republishing a portion of her e-mail to me, with permission, and with a couple of edits for clarity:

“A lady who was my neighbor in my hometown for 20 years sent me hate mail after Trump was elected. I am calling it hate mail because I have no other way of describing the message, although it’s hard for me to believe…that somebody could really write this to someone they know…

Here are the exact words. I am not making them up:

‘Your nice job and nice home could have been a real American’s nice job and home. Its [sic] simple math. By coming here, you are taking away from someone who has been here longer and has more of a right.’

She thinks I should leave. This is someone who knows me. She watched me grow up. Now she treats me worse than a stranger, she treats me like the enemy. My husband [and I] are upset and grieving.”

The focus now isn’t just on migrants, on people deemed “foreign.” The focus is on who is and isn’t a “real American.” As you can imagine, this issue is close to my heart. I have also frequently been compared to “real Americans” – and found wanting. The fact that Trump’s wife is an immigrant herself is completely irrelevant to the people who now demand what amounts to a witch hunt against those of us who “aren’t pure enough.”

I also had a conversation with an older friend from North Carolina. This conversation was even more shocking and upsetting.  Continue reading “Love thy neighbor: in Trump’s America, some of your neighbors need it more than ever”

Tornado of Shrieking Demon Heads (The Calm the Fuck Down Song)

Tornado of Shrieking Demon Heads (The Calm the Fuck Down Song)

Calm the fuck down, bitch
Calm the fuck down
Get it together or get out of town
Oh you crave a crisis
Just to feel important
You’re jerking off again
To a tornado
Of shrieking demon heads
And other fucked-up shit
Bitch, calm the fuck down
Jump in a lake
Sink to the bottom
And listen to the sound
Of nothing and everything
Of water worshipping rock
No one acknowledging you
Or measuring your cock.

Nothing in nature or in the stars
Cares for your shit, bitch
So calm the fuck down.

I wrote this song a while ago for a musician friend and it feels especially appropriate to post it today, in light of everything