Content warning: this piece includes mention of eating disorders.
today on my IG the top post (like it’s urgent or the most important or something) was a video of a truck getting mangled in the mouth of an industrial steel shredder. crunchy, incremental, inescapable. i was just cruising my IG and pounding cheez-its, like i do on friday afternoons, and there it was on the screen—a feeding. it’s not the first time something like this has happened; i’ve seen footage of this sort of orchestration of industrial destruction at the top of my feed many times before. yes, abby, i do feel like the shredder is getting fed. and though it feels cheesy to write (so maybe i shouldn’t write it?), i could see an older person like maybe a grandpa or an uncle watching the video and saying something like: wow, that is so incredible, that this machine can crumple a truck to pieces so effortlessly. like i could see a grandpa’s jaw literally dropping like: wow i’m in the presence of greatness rn. which feels kind of weird to me bc the machine would literally eat anything, it’s completely indiscriminate, and it’s just chomping away and has no sense of what it’s even doing. but then obviously at some level the grandpa is actually terrified of the machine, yk? and maybe he's thinking about how humans made that machine, and he doesn’t want to admit that humans actually terrify him.
anyways i could also see how this video might make someone feel buoyant, a little lighter like? i could see someone with an eating disorder feeling that way. i feel like i can say that because i used to have an eating disorder, but maybe i shouldn't go there because i don’t anymore. but whatever, i’m just making the point that witnessing something large get demolished and vanish without anything having to enter my mouth might have made me feel satisfied a few years ago, IDK? anyways regardless, watching the video now, i don’t feel lighter. like i don’t feel satisfied by the video… i guess that’s what i’m getting at.
i know i’m fixating on this, abby, but there’s nothing super traumatizing going on—don’t worry. like i’m not thinking about what it would be like if i got fed into the shredder, contrary to what you might suspect. if i thought that way about the whole thing, i wouldn't likely write it out to you, even though i guess by mentioning it even in this voiding way, i am. you know how sometimes you really don't want to imagine something, and you try so hard to not imagine it, and then it’s like you can’t imagine anything else? no i’m not talking about that ‘would you rather’ question of whether you’d prefer watching your parents have sex every day for the rest of your life, or having to join in once to stop it, abby. don’t be gross.
anyways, what i’m really writing to you about is just how much things don’t seem to be in the right place anymore. i’ve been trying to train my algorithm to feed me only art and sometimes videos of super smart dogs. but still every once in a while i get fed something like: 10 ways to know you’re not okay. i usually block those efforts, so IG knows i think that content is stupid and irrelevant… bc even if i click on them sometimes, it’s not bc i’m not okay-okay. i’m just not okay, like, right then. my friend keeps getting fed videos about how to determine whether one might be on the autism spectrum. she doesn’t think she’s on the spectrum, and she rejects these videos, but then why does IG keep sending them to her, you know? so that brings me to my question for you, abby: why does IG keep feeding me videos of metal getting crushed in machines?
Dear an eater,
There must be a setting on the computer that turns off capitalization and spell check and such, because I doubt you went through and changed everything manually. Props to you for figuring out how to shut that all off. I think you’re on the right track, generally. Rules facilitate hierarchy and punishment, but I guess that’s mostly because a lot of people who enforce them suck.
Anyways, your question is a good one, and I don’t know that there’s an answer that will satisfy you. Not because you’re a generally dissatisfied person—that’s not what I mean—but more so because you’re… well you seem like you question things.
I spend a lot of time keeping the humidifier running for the plants in my house—I suppose I benefit as a bystander, but I don’t consider that when it’s running. I just love seeing the plants perk up and reach for the mist. They literally go from dying to saved in a matter of minutes once that mist turns on—straight-up Fern Gully in here (I think maybe you’re too young to know that reference but look it up if you’re interested). It’s one of those satisfying things I don’t try to fully explain or understand, because I just want to sit in it and feel it.
I’m not going to say it’d be better if you didn’t question things. I doubt that’s true. But I hope you have a couple of things in your life that allow you to just sink, deep dive, like a hand disappearing into a jumbo box of cheez-its. To clarify, I’m not talking about stuff you see on the screen—I’m talking about the super smart dog that paints in real life, right in front of you. Because I think everyone feels sort of empty sometimes, an eater. It’s a little sad to say, maybe, but it feels kind of like a basic facet of human experience.
I think you’re going to be okay. Maybe that’s all you need to hear.
manually uncapitalized abby
And for me it was love
Jesus comes into my life now and then.
He takes something when he does -
And he leaves
Something too... memories:
Hands held in the pews,
“Peace be with you”
To a stranger.
Jesus creature: I love you, I hate you.
I love you for the sweet moments with my dad,
Standing beside him,
Watching you rise again and again, every Sunday.
I hate you for the bread you became,
Dry in my mouth, never to be chewed.
I was terrified of what would happen if I bit into you.
Then, walking back to the pew, I’d swallow and sense
A gleam of bright light above
On the church's stained glass,
And I’d marvel at the oranges and blues,
Wondering at how men
Could make colors so true,
And warm, and wonderful.
On either side of steel that is slick, quelled, bolted
To the ground - we lay flat on our stomachs, and I call out:
Oh honey, is it always this warm down here?
And from across the tracks you say: it sure is!
Your hair is braided and you’re wearing a cowboy hat
And the planets may as well have recruited you in their… rotations,
Your eyes are soooo wide, scoping out a place you’ve never been;
Maybe you can teach those big orbs to fly off course, for once in their lives.
The rails shake and a mighty steel beast lumbers in and
I feel the suctioning of the air
Brush something over me - something
Thick and ancient that frightens me and then
Makes me want to live forever.
I lean back from the train, away from its pull, away from the
Cleaving, and say:
So this is life itself, the place I wait for kingdom come -
The same place where weight is used to keep me
Merciful, weathering the pound of something stronger than me,
Wanting nothing more than to end the days beside you.
Then the train is gone
And I see you’re laying there lost in your…
And I love you.
With all of my heart I love you.
janelle monáe of my dreams
a short story - 12
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