and Lenae Day.
and Lenae Day...
Lenae and her amazing work is coming up to RPS Gallery this October for IMAGINARY MOVIES, a group show of Blockbuster proportions. Her work not only recreates techniques and styles of vintage photography but each image is accompanied with short stories. Her Zines are illustrated short story collections and in full color. They are some of the most ambitious and beautiful zine magazines that anyone has ever created. You need to see them for yourselves, but even better come meet her in person this October 4th and 5th. Check out more about her and an example of her work.
come on everybody – put down de drink – clap hands – and get in de line – we going to have A LIMBO PARTY
When my father meets someone from another country, his speech slows down and he adopts an imaginary version of their accent. “How you liekeeng Amereekuh, mistuh Fong?” There was a time when this kind of thing was acceptable, even the norm (note Mickey Rooney's famous cringeworthy portrayal of Mr. Yunioshi in Breakfast at Tiffany's). Though it is one of his most mortifying behaviors, my father means well. It is his way of relating to people who are different from him. His philosophy, I think, is that foreigners can better understand him if he speaks very slowly and annunciates. Maybe he's right. I know I would appreciate a native speaker to ask me very slowly to pass the peas; “Eh-xcu-sez-moi, mais - s'il vous plait - trans-mettre les pois?”
Limbo was always my least favorite game. I was always the tallest kid in class. “There's no way I can make it under that pole! Is there any point in going on?” I hid in the back of the gym - intentionally missing my turn. Uncomfortable in my own body. Precisely why such petty failures cripple me, I do not know.
I was married.
Yeah. For four years.
Are you kidding?
No. We actually made it five years. . . through some pretty rough times. The last one is merely a technicality.
What? I can't tell if you're joking.
Something changes when I tell someone I was married, if only for a moment. A friend of mine said people react the same way when they find out he has a son. They take a step back. “Oh, here's someone that makes bad decisions,” we imagine them thinking. Though I don't know that people actually care all that much.
For the first time I am alone. As in single. As in I hang out with myself every night and have to learn to be the man in my life because I don't want to rely on anyone else to do my dirty work anymore.
But I haven't always been like this. I moved out of my father's house when I was eighteen and in with my new husband.
Was I actually married?
I think I wanted another man to tell me what to do. To make decisions for me that I couldn't for myself. Huh uh. Too scary. I married a man who had his own ideas of who I should be.
Halloween was the most exciting time of the year. A chance to dress up in disguise, venture out into the cold night, get spooked and bring home lots of candy to organize and squirrel away. The only thing that compares as an adult is falling in love. Or maybe Christmas.
Love is scary. I try on men like I try on costumes. Who can I be with this one? I try to anticipate their every desire of me.
Those who fall on their extremities or knock off the pole are disqualified. The horizontal pole keeps moving down until the final winner slithers under it. The winner gets a drink, compliments, and a chiropractor.
My husband and I lived in the extremes. He shared my father's temper and impatience. We shared each other's stubbornness. From anger to impatience to love and back again. Anger won.
I finally moved out – into a dilapidated former drug house on the bay all my own. I had to bleach it from ceiling to floor – but I was free.
The problem with living on adrenaline for your entire life is that when you are finally free of the intense highs and lows you don't know how to move forward. Life itself is too quiet. So you start scurrying sideways, like a crab. Hiding under rocks, until you are discovered by children, thrown into a bucket and deposited some five hundred feet down the beach to find your way home. Or make a new home.
There was a year and a half between my moving out and the divorce becoming final. Here are a few of the highlights from that time:
I walked in on him in bed with another woman. Writing this is like trying to extract an ingrown hair. Painful. Digging. Being married to him was all I knew in my adult life. Being in love with him was what I knew for most of my childhood. I wanted him back. More out of possession than anything else. I stalked him at four in the morning dressed in drag. We dated for three weeks after that.
A few months later, I dated a man who resembled the more endearing side of my father. The Dad that keeps a mini-Tabasco inside his pocket protector. Or puts leftover Chinese food on a frozen pizza. Or hints that he lived through the Great Depression when talking to older folks. “You know what I could sure go for right about now? A fireside chat.” Dating him was actually pretty great. But here was another man that I put in the role of telling me what to do, how to think, and who to be. And then I resented him for it.
After we broke up, I knew I needed to figure out life on my own. But how can a girl be single when she just keeps falling in love?
Authorities say all you need for a LIMBO party is three poles (two upright, one across) and a group of people with strong backs “bent” on having fun!
Next I dated a father. I bent over backwards to fit what I thought he thought I should be. We mythologized ourselves and each other. Davy Crockett meet Zsa Zsa Gabor. Which made it all the more exhilarating and devastating when it turned out not to be true.
Still up to my old tricks, I guess. Fictionalizing men. Fictionalizing me. Falling in love is just an excuse to avoid living for myself.
I made a garden and began a novel and started a variety dance group with my friends. I adopted my first real roommate and my third cat. I switched jobs. I got into the Grateful Dead. I bought a lot of wigs and became many different people and discovered lots of other people I didn't know existed.
The things I want from men are actually the things that I want from myself. Camping. Canoeing. Adventures. Handyman skills. I can figure it out for myself.
Day is my married name. My stage name. Because I married so young, hardly anyone knows me from the before-time. When I was Lenae Morley. With close friends, I am simply known as Day. Sometimes I find myself wondering exactly who it is they're talking to.
A month ago I opened the final papers – the ones signed by a judge saying I am divorced – while sitting on the toilet. After a year and a half of dramatic fights and excuses, it is over. But nothing has really changed.
I don't know why I'm surprised. Beginnings and endings are tools for making sense of time. Fictional devices. I'm just me and time marches on.