I accept / and I collect upon my body / the memories of your devotion

I’m probably significantly more nostalgic on a day-to-day basis than most people.  It’s not so much that I think that things keep getting worse, that the past is better, that things will never be that good again; It’s that I’m very high-strung, so it’s kind of grounding to look back. Ideal would be to stay in the present, but I suck at that unless I’m doing something so pleasurable that I need to memorize it for when I look back later.

I’ve been extra nostalgic lately, though.

I had a theory going back 20 years that whatever’s going on culturally (music, art, and fashion) makes an indelible imprint on your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual bodies.  I remember rolling my eyes at any 60s music that wasn’t the Beatles, and I’m sure my daughter will do the same with Bjork and Portishead. I was lucky–I turned 18 in 1994 (happy 20th anniversary of becoming an adult, me!).  There was actual alternative music that was accessible through word of mouth and mixtapes, Manic Panic and body piercings were harmless options for rebellion, and mainstream clothing was actually pretty cute.  I am still very attached to a-line skirts and Docs.

This Antony and the Johnson’s song came into my mind today, and I found myself on the hunt for the version of this he did at a show (him, CocoRosie, and Matmos) that I went to at the Warsaw in 2006.  (All I found was “Bouncy Balls,” unfortunately).  I put the album recording in here because I can’t find a live version that’s both decent quality and as uninhibited as what I remembered.

This is my favorite Antony and the Johnsons song.  Masochism is a theme that runs through a lot of his songs–masochism, loneliness, loss, and an awareness of being pathetic.  I don’t think it’s fetish for him; I think that romanticizing the abuse (what’s the difference, really?  Love is pain) is his attempt to accept what he has.

Despite how domineering I became with my husband, I actually view myself as being rather submissive.  And I don’t mean because he “broke” me–I think that’s kind of my natural state….submissive (mostly in bed, but bleeding out to other areas sometimes), with bursts of fighting.  Or maybe that’s just my natural state at the beginning of relationships, when I’m without security, but it is always a relief to temporarily return to that.  Ideally, I’d be however I am in bed, and then be middle-of-the-road in real life.

When I was sick, I semi-consciously shaped my everyday beliefs so that they (1) made me seem “special” (I can’t explain it any better than that, but that’s sort of at the core of every eating disorder: the inability to accept mediocrity combined with impotence to do what would be required to transcend it), and (2) maintained the romanticism of choosing to flush my youth down the toilet rather than living it.

When I was in residential treatment, we were encouraged to conceptualize the eating disorder as something separate from ourselves.  I had a tremendous amount of shame when I got there; I used a plain, spiral-ring notebook to journal there, because I didn’t want to taint my actual diary.  Viewing it as something separate from me helped remove some of the shame that kept me trapped in it.

It was important to believe that I was not my eating disorder–that it was separate, that it was something that I could remove from myself or walk away from.

Somewhere along the line after I checked myself out (not quite AMA, but not quite because I was ready…I needed to get back to work, and I wanted to go see my friends at SPX), I ended up distorting the idea of the eating disorder as a separate “thing” to the point at which I viewed it as someone with whom I was having an affair.  It took all of my love, energy, and attention away from my husband…it was my abusive lover.

I would hear “Fistful of Love” as a love song between myself and anorexia.

Antony Hegarty was a perfect person to latch onto as an anorexic.  He is alien, beautiful, pathetic, bizarre, and angelic.  He doesn’t quite fit into this world or his own body.  (I was also really into “Candy Says”–the original, his cover, and especially Beth Gibbons’ version.  It’s about “gender dysphoria,” but the idea of fighting being trapped inside a body resonated with me).  His voice is odd enough that a lot of people might nervously laugh upon the first listen.

For me, it was “Hope There’s Someone” on an episode of New York Noise celebrating the release of Nomisong (about Klaus Nomi…he probably deserves his own post, but the description of Antony above fits him, only he actually did die isolated and alone, and we all hope that that’s just Antony’s worst case scenario).  My husband and I were speechless by the honesty and utter bleakness.

I don’t dare to listen to that song now.  “Fistful of Love” is actually safer.

I was lying in my bed last night staring
At a ceiling full of stars
When it suddenly hit me
I just have to let you know how I feel
We live together in a photograph of time
I look into your eyes
And the seas open up to me
I tell you I love you
And I always will
And I know you can’t tell me
I know you can’t tell me
So I’m left to pick up
The hints, the little symbols of your devotion
So I’m left to pick up
The hints, the little symbols of your devotion
And I feel your fists
And I know it’s out of love
And I feel the whip
And I know it’s out of love
And I feel your burning eyes burning holes
Straight through my heart
It’s out of love
It’s out of love
I accept and I collect upon my body
The memories of your devotion
I accept and I collect upon by body
The memories of your devotion
And I feel your fists
And I know it’s out of love
And I feel the whip
And I know it’s out of love
And I feel your burning eyes burning holes
Straight through my heart
It’s out of love, ooh hoo
It’s out of love
Give me a little bit serious love
Give me a little full love
Be full of love

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