Seattle, Washington USA
(J) Ahoj........ Miranda July?
(M) Yeees, that's my name ...
(J) oh...um, hi! This is Joey Velazquez.
(J) Well, my name is Joey. We've never met,... but I've really wanted to talk to you.
(M) Oh.... .............I don't think that this is
(J) Wait wait!!....Please don't hang up.. I'm very nervous.... It took me ages to get through.
(M) I'm really sorry, but this is a busy time for me. I thi...
(J) I know you don't know me but there are some things on my mind and you are a person I've always thought I could talk to ....
(M) Maybe you ca....
(J) I know, I know.. but... but but...please!... uuhm... Otherwise, I might....well.. ahhhm.. I might collapse on the floor and turn into dust! Maybe....aaand.. I might get sucked up in a vacuum and shot into space and burst into 1000 pieces! Shit! That's very scary when you have secrets and love pumping in your heart.. It might happen any second! So... let me talk to you and then you can be the person who records the last moments of time as I know it..
(M) (chuckle) Ok... maybe you're right.. I would hate to have you become a puff of thin air on my watch.... Lets talk.... On the count of three we will start our new... friendship, ok? Are you ready?
(J) Yes.. I mean... Yes. Sorry I kept interrupting you.
(M) No problem. Ok, Ok, you start, on three. 1....2......2 _....... & 3
(J) .... Ok.... Well, I wrote you a letter once and e mailed it...I mailed it to 2 different addresses. Both came back saying that you didn't exist... Do you exist?
(M) Yes, I think so. I would pinch you on the goose to prove it... wa ah ah ha! (we both laugh). I'll look into the sites, sorry about that, which ones were they again???
(J) Oh, I can't remember, but my letter started by me talking about a picture of you. I've stuck it with tape to the shelf-lining just above my computer. It kind of dangles there... It's neat because when the side door opens at my house the wind gusts in and blows it a little and it has this kind of shy ripple effect. It also makes a funny sound.... It
(M) What kind of sound does it make???
(J) Uhmm.. something like the crinkled paper sound that you hear sometimes in the movies... you know what I mean? Like when a character is carefully reading the note that was dropped under the door, or a dear-John from a lover, you know?, and the music gets extra anxious or tender, maybe with a violin, and you lean forward into the allure, trying to see what they're reading before they drop it from their fingers, or shred it up, or the voice-over comes on .... The person stands there looking stunned or has to dash off so there's still time for a happy ending. All these things are like my heart beat right now, that anxious and careful sound of paper rustling and popping into different shapes.......... and sometimes I have to remember to breathe.
(M) Easy now......If you remember to breathe you will stay alive, don't you know? What do you do to help yourself breathe? Take a deep breath and relax.... Smooth sailing so far...
(J) Thank you.... I feel more relaxed already. Ok ok... For you then, Miranda, can I call you that? For you I am crying out with life! (Nervous chuckle) Haven't you ever seen those parts in movies?
(M) Yes. I love Foley arts and have incorporated it in a lot of my work. It's great! Attention to the small noises can make a big difference in creating suspense that lasts.
(J) I think so too...
(M) Suspense that lasts can be pretty rare today.
(J) Yes.... It's pretty rare.
(M) What do you like to do Joey? It's Joey isn't it????
(J) Yes, to make suspense last?
(J) Uuummm. Well, It's funny. I like to go jogging at night. Well, I guess jogging isn't too funny, but I think of a million stories about the things I notice during the day or what I feel like right at this or that moment. But I don't have a fucking tape recorder, and I always forget my pencil & paper... Plus you can't write while you jog... It kinda dicks up the handwriting... Then I always forget my stream of thought by the time I get home. I only remember tiny snippets every once in a while. .
(M) I tried that once, with paper and pencil, I mean. Always stop start stop start, except I was on a bicycle. It was really annoying. And of course I couldn't see when I was trying to write things down. I almost caused an accident once... well, maybe twice. I bought a tape recorder that same day. Do you write down your snippets???
(J) Sometimes I write them... when I am not lazy. I like your story... Maybe I should buy a tape recorder before I crash into a parked car. It'd be my luck....
(M) So what about jogging??
(J) Oh yeah! Jogging... Well, the neighborhood I jog in is sort of uppity, but the roads are nice and the view is pretty at night.
(M) Where do you live?
(J) Mmn.. Seattle, the west side of Queen Anne. You know Seattle, right?
(M) Yes, I know it ok...
(J) So anyway, I like Looking into the windows of houses as I go by. It always looks warm and clean, except it seems that it also has a shallow glow of ... of a sort ooof... cheapness. Well, not cheap cheap, but like gaudy chic.
(M) What do you mean?
(J) I don't know.... It's easy to make snap judgments about the aesthetic quality of peoples' lives when you're running by and not taking the time you really need to stop and look inside. It's tempting but I am too old these days. Time and stuff, you know? It seems like looking in quickly like that just gives you a view of the tokens that people flaunt to look more beautiful and successful and accepted by other people. I see lots of little trophies of accepted beauty and an American brand of.... Um... a sort of complacency or docility, whatever... . like they have maybe never had to take risks and have always stayed well within the lines, you know?, never really cut loose and screamed out-loud. I guess that
(M) What do you mean, accepted beauty?
(J) Oh... well.... Monet.
(J) The things people use to make it look like they appreciate something that a lot of people think is beautiful without it having any real meaning to them or even feeling any emotion in it at all. Not that there is anything wrong about that but I have a hard time understanding if that makes these people harmless or more dangerous. Maybe I am being too sensitive. I don't mean to make it sound like a class thing... It's easy to see everywhere...
(M) I see what you mean..... Lots of... frivolous feathers.
(J) (chuckle) Yes... something like that exactly... The TVs are always on and nothing looks original. It makes me think, ‘How can so many people be so artless and cheap in what they consider valuable?' I get angry, because I hate catching myself making value judgments about strangers but everybody does, and it can be really ugly and way off the mark... I have to stop myself and consider, "What makes me so special that I can afford to condescend to these people about what I think is or isn't meaningful or a fawning, mediocre existence,?" especially when I am jogging at night and am too self-consumed to see their true dynamics.
I mean, I have never taken the time to talk to any of these people and get to know what they love or what makes them truly happy or sad and when I do talk to them it is all surface level pleasantries, because people want to maintain their guises and expect that from you as well. It's really sad to me. And I wonder at this point in time how much difference does it make???
(M) Yes, yes, I understand that. It almost makes you feel cheated out of the prize sometimes, doesn't it?
(J) It really does. This is what gets so confusing...... I hate my own apathy. Because I want to live so much, and experience every part of living I can to make a positive difference in peoples' lives, which means I have to accept things that seem false. Even when I am trying as hard as I can... you have to be a fucking track-star to be able to jump over all the shit and hurtles. It's exhausting!
(M) It's too easy to let apathy run amuck and pass it off as something starting from someone else's flaws and lack of contact with an awareness that some people think that they alone possess, but that's so vain and ridiculous....It's really, really dangerous too because it covers the fact that they haven't learned more about measuring people than being able to mistake their own insecurity and pain for other people's individual insecurities and pain... It doesn't solve anything.
(J) I have been that way before. Everybody has. It hangs you up and sucks your guts out if you let it. Gloomy shit like this reminds me of what it might feel like to swim in the womb of a great white shark where all her beautiful babies lurk around crazy-like in the dark, surfing in the muck and bile while the strong ones eat the bodies of the helpless. This is what insecurity and pain represent to me. This kind of fear, however anybody experiences it, stops people from opening up more completely... more deliciously to say hello.. maybe.....
(M) That's a cool analogy.. I have never heard that before....
(J) Me neither. I saw it on a National Geographic show last week about weird things in the ocean.
(M) But what you are saying is true. Owning a part of that also means being willing to accept the consequences too...by not being afraid to swim in it and look for the way out into the water, even if it's salty. Consequences don't always have a bad connotation, sometimes consequences are really blessings that help you find the balance you need. Everyone has to take the best steps that they know how to. If you don't like the way they do it, you just have to take your own steps and not be afraid to communicate why you took them if they're different than other peoples. You know what I mean? You can't help everyone. You can only do what you can do to be your best and try to explain it to people if they take interest. What more could you expect? Being a healthy vehicle of change also means accepting that your responsibility to make change can only stretch so far, otherwise you start to intrude on people's right to choose.
(J) I agree, you can't expect anything else, I think... but the hard part is accepting that you have to have patience with yourself to have patience with others. I understand that nothing happens all at once... Monumental changes happen over time...but what about all that wasted energy in the meantime??? There's so much stupid crap you have to go through in regular living to be able to get to those shining moments you remember. Anyone knows that. I guess that's why it's called stupid crap. But why does it have to be like that? I hate feeling like Antonius Block on some fucking goose chase for something that seems like a waste of energy. The irony is that if I didn't actively use it to search for the answers I would go crazy just sitting on my ass thinking about it. But I wonder... What about car crashes... or... air explosions, or aneurysms. Those things happen in the blink of an eye and change peoples' lives instantaneously and forever. I want that kind of energy, the kind that gushes out and makes an impact this second! I don't know... wishful thinking..... What were we talking about???
(M) I think jogging.
(J) Oh yeah, so, my trick is, rather than boring myself with intellectualizing how people form their principles about anything, I usually just create pictures about things I am torn between.
(M) Hhmm... Well, what do you want to be? What are you torn between?
(J) Happy. I just want to be happy. It's a simple answer, but it's that simple....
(M) Coooome ooon... you can say more than that....
(J) Well... to live in the U.S. and be more domestic and responsible or to keep traveling and experiencing diversity and the fruit, you know?, living to find more fucking romance... I don't know, those sorts of things, I guess. The US is losing it's luster for me. Anyway, So... I'm plodding along, and sometimes I listen to this band, um.. they're called Lightning Bolt. I like loud music when I jog, and this group is super high energy, they sound like freaking lightning bolts.
So... I am running and running down a quiet street, right? I start to imagine that everything gets so still inside me, even the music is muffled, and after a while all there is is my heart beat... and it swells up and starts to beat and crash like my chest is an ocean. It starts going insane.. All of a sudden something I can't describe stretches inside of me and shifts the way I see things. I am not sure where they come from, but scores and scores of dark green lasers come barreling and streaming out of my air drum sticks and red ones come out of my eyes and they riddle the fucking houses and trees and road.... Everything gets incandescent and sweaty. For a fleeting second I think of the smell of Christmas and the color of decorations, but it only sticks for a second.
These lasers create an overwhelming surge that radiates outward from inside of me with the power of 10 million electric chairs. .....and I am screaming at such a high pitch everything shatters but you can't hear a sound.. but I'm not screaming out of anger, it's out of frustration. There's a big difference.
Then those lasers bound through all the shattered windows of every house on the street. And once they're inside they make scathing and murderous monster noises and turn into big toothy saws and balls of fire and start ripping the shit out of everything. The funny thing is that Lightning Bolt is always playing behind me on a flatbed truck with no driver... which I think seems weird that they're there. Those saws just keep menacing the shit out of those poor people and terrorizing them out of their wits.
(M) Jesus! It does sound weird that they would be there.
(J) I know. Behind me a wall of fire a mile high and wide blankets everything and is devouring the sky and ground behind me....It's like a vortex into something bigger than anything humans were made to understand. It's not like a special effect that you see on TV and watch stolidly, because shocking anyone is nearly impossible. This shit is gripping hot fire that sounds like millions of children being burnt alive. It's loud like derailing trains twisting and exploding down canyons, like all the accused witches revolting against the Christians, and millions of bullets coming right at you in the height of war. All these sounds combine into these tornado lasers that won't stop seething out of my eyes and ripping apart everything that lives.
And the peoples' souls are so scared that they collapse and give up the ghost but the saws do not let up for a second and the souls leave masses of clay heaped on the floor but can't get away. The saws are laughing at them and chase their shadows into the dark orange of the fire. And I just keep jogging.....
(J) I like the intensity of that feeling but do not like the destructiveness of it... It's really ugly to want to destroy life that does not deserve to be destroyed... but sometimes maybe it does deserve to be destroyed, I don't care what anyone says. Plus, I don't think the guys in the band would like they're music destroying life. They're fun loving.
I get so lost in the art of those images that I almost got hit by a car once because I was not all there... So afterward, at the end of the street I started to feel bad. In my brain I went back and went through the street again and rebuilt every nook and cranny like it was before, with a little pat on the rump for perversion and posterity. I stood there in front of all of them, shameless, and let them all see me and know it was me that caused what had just happened, but only for a minute, not out of vanity, I'm no fucking Bonaparte! It was more like a plea. Then I erased it from the peoples' minds forever. I guess I just wanted to show themthat there was power in their hands, just like it was in mine, and that they can create everything or nothing for themfuckingselves and I will still be me, and they will still be them....but we are still going to die all the same. I just fucking want something to happen in the meantime.
Only the cats, and a few dogs and some birds could remember, but they did not bite or run away from my ass when they saw me coming... They just stared at me after that. I didn't look at them but I could feel it. And they were used to me because I jog the same streets a lot...... but I am always looking for new ways to go..
I told a friend of mine about all this and she said ‘you're crazy' and I said ‘you are' and left it at that... then we laughed....
(M) Wow! Channeling frustration like that makes you feel better afterward and helps you explore things... Don't you think??? I know how you feel... It's hard not to feel crazy sometimes when you want something to happen right at this moment and have high expectations, no matter how outrageous, and then nothing happens... It can drive you nuts.
Like this one time I imagined I was on the top of this building... just looking around... and then I thought.... what if I jump??? What if I set my body on fire and just let it fall like an angel being spit down from the sky? It was my secret that the fire didn't burn me and I didn't get hurt when I finally touched down, but no one else knew that. The only thing the people saw was a burning human diving off a roof and splattering on the concrete. They wailed and scrambled and fell to their knees in panic. The weird thing was that they didn't even know why their bodies reacted like that, they couldn't see themselves... but I could see them on my way down; it was like slow motion. I saw them all going home afterward to their lives and they told their families that they loved them, and they tried harder, and they secretly vowed to become the kindness of strangers more often.. And they did. They re-learned how to love their ability to have intimacy, and empathy with themselves and with others. It started this rush of adrenaline and manic desire that is hard to organize into tangible thought, and is made to look old fashioned and silly by the TV and vulgarly fashionable people, but the pulse is always there... Sometimes that kind of weight is the very thing that gives substance to the feeling of weightlessness....I think.
(J) I think so too. It's nice. That was a pretty daydream. I am glad you feel the same about some of the things you see around you... I love the symbolism in all of the work of yours I have seen.
(M) Thank you. But, then I realized that I was just standing at the crosswalk, and the light had changed, and people were passing me by and going about their routines. I felt empty for a minute, and then I kept walking. I'm not selling everyone short.. there are a lot of people who feel very deeply and are very good at expressing themselves but there are also a lot of people who are very misguided and seem so cold.
(J) I just want.......WWWLAAAAAAAYYYYYYUUUHHHGHGH!!!!!!.............. you know? Sorry if that hurt your ears. I just want to be able to wake up everyday and be so full of everything beautiful that I do not worry about the little specks of grey hair growing on the sides of my fucking head and I don't want to care about the little lines and dark circles that show that my blood and my skin and my bones are getting older... even though I don't really mind that they are. When I look in the mirror I want to see eyes that shine because somebody loves them, other than me, and will be waiting on the other side of the door... of every door.
I want to sit with someone and have the words pour out of my mouth; I want my voice to sound like the songs of little birds. When we touch and look into each other's eyes I want fucking sparks that form whole worlds; I want oceans beating out songs from their deepest source, just for us, making waves that clean our bodies when we touch, from the tips of our fingers, bubbling out through our heads and toes. I know it sounds sappy and ostentatious when you tell people, but that's because that kind of courage to love is being ripped from our hearts by..... I don't even know what.... By us.
What is that you said?? "The person you are looking for is waiting to be found". That's really beautiful and brilliant.
(M) Thank you. I think everyone wants that in some way or other but not everyone knows how to start to look for it and sometimes even when you think you see a glimpse, it's not really that at all. It isn't so easy to recognize; you have to keep your eyes wide open to see it when it arrives... It could be today or next week or in 10 years from now.. Everyone wants to be loved. You just have to keep yourself open to the possibility and not force it. It is easy to force it and when you force something you usually lose it because it wasn't genuine to start with.....
Phewww...... I did not think I would have a conversation like this today.... It's been really nice. It seems like we have been talking forever, like old friends.
(J) I know, huh. I'm really happy too. I know you are busy, it's nice of you to listen to me talk. I'm glad that we could finally make this connection, I always knew we would if we ever had the chance.. So let's end it on a good note and maybe one day soon we will talk again about lighter things. Maybe one day we will even meet somewhere.
(M) That sounds really good, you never know.... Thank you again for calling...... I hope you don't get sucked up in a vacuum and hurtled out into space.....
(J) I think I'll be alright. Ok, Miss. Miranda, we started this chat on three... So, lets end it on one.... We can hang up at the same time.. ok?
(J) 3.....2 1/2.... 2...thankyousomuchforbeingasourceofwindformysails ....1.