It's More Like Mentally Desisting | 2016
February 26, 2016
11:45 AM to 1:09 PM | 74º
800 lbs quartz
Performance

I walk into the room relatively composed
but slightly uncomfortable.
I lie down on the floor,
and it becomes an invitation for stress on my tailbone.
My shoulder blades press into the concrete
because there is space between the arch of my back and the ground,
and I wish more of my body was touching the floor.

She begins placing the quartz on my sternum
and it is colder than I anticipated.
I hear the shutter of the camera
and it reminds me of the exaggerated sound of a vintage film apparatus.
It’s like mentally desisting
so I won’t think so much
about things I can’t control.

The sound of falling rock creates anxiety,
but I feel like I'm being nurtured.
I can’t stop focusing on my eyes
because they won’t stop twitching,
and I wonder if it’s the membranes of my eyelids that are fretful
or if the spheres are convulsing in their sockets,
but the harder I try to stop them, the more persistent they are.

I feel goose bumps form on my skin
and I can’t pinpoint if they are derived from fear
or apprehension
or elation
because my adrenal glands are working hard
to alleviate my stress.

I’m hyper-conscious of the pace in which everyone is breathing
and the speed in which these rocks are being placed on me
because they’re almost in sync,
but neither are natural—
they seem erratic and amplified.
Heavy inhaling and exhaling through the nose
dragged out in long strands of sound.
I stay rigid because if I relax my limbs
the rocks descend
and that is unacceptable
because that’s not the goal.

Is it?
I’m trying not to be in control,
but it’s not working.

She continues to place the rocks on my body,
moving from my chest, to my abdomen, to my pelvis, and they fall in the space between my legs.
I feel my body twitching again.
The action is somewhere in between a spasm and a shudder
because now I recognize that I am cold.

My right hand goes numb
and then my right arm.
I try to reposition to get my circulation flowing
but it’s kind of nice to not have that appendage.
Gradually I can’t feel my waist
or my legs
and eventually my left hand and arm.
I tell her and she asks me if I’m concerned
I respond that I’m not because I feel like I’m being taken care of.
Partly by her
but mostly by the rocks
because they’ve supplied so much weight that I no longer need to hold my body taut
and I can rest
because I know they are supporting me.

Now that I’m writing this
I can’t believe I didn’t feel itchy
or have to sneeze
or to yawn
because I was paying attention to my breathing
instead of needing to fill the space with actions to feel comfortable.
Because somehow being still is more uncomfortable than most things.

I created  my own kind of womb.
Is this what it felt like? 
Nothing but the sound of a heartbeat
and the awareness of a body
resting in fluid.

I think the want to be connected to anything
was being proven as I lay there.
Because I felt comfort in stillness and coldness,
bare-skinned on cement.

I’m getting dizzy
so I continually open my eyes to steady myself.
It’s not like spinning, more like tipping from one side to the other,
comparable to the first phase of sleep.
I feel hallucinatory
like I might be upside down
or sideways,
any way but right-side up.
Too much weight makes me feel weightless.

I think I’m imagining it,
but I can’t shake it
until she asks if I’m okay,
and the rocks start falling off my chest
only so she can pile them back on.

She puts one on my nose
and I wince because it hurts
so she moves it.
Places one on my mouth,
my upper lip.
My left nostril is plugged,
and I can’t part my lips because the rocks scrape against my teeth.
My initial reaction is to shake my head back and forth
but I don’t.
I just try to keep my mouth closed,
It is hard to swallow because of the pressure on my neck,
and I feel my breathing turn into more of a pant
because I suspect that it is shallow.
What I should be concerned about is my chest
but covering of the face causes panic
and the illusion that I can’t breathe.

I grunt a little in effort to shrug my shoulders and move my neck.
I can’t remember anything else until I start to wiggle myself out.
I try to stay submerged
but I am able to move, so I do what is comfortable.
I try to test my limits
but I never want to be too uncomfortable
just enough to make me feel like there’s room for progression.
So I move my head
and I press up against the rocks with my arms and legs.
I rest for a second,
and I push up again
in small increments
using my exposed legs for leverage.
My head is pushed back against the floor
as my pelvis rises and falls,
arching my back to free myself,
and I shimmy my shoulders.
I turn onto my right side and push the rocks off of my hair.
Over and over, I push them off with my right hand.

I don’t feel urgency;
I feel tired.

I sit up to see myself,
embarrassed and shy
because the camera is in my face.
I look like a leopard.
I’m surprised by the impressions the rocks made in my skin
because it didn’t register that there was that much weight on me.
I’m covered in goose bumps again
like my body knows to react
because I don’t have anything to distract myself.
I was present for two hours,
and I felt my body
which seems like enough work—
Like I couldn’t possibly have enough space in my head to think about anything else,
otherwise it wouldn’t have happened
because I would have masked it
with disruptive thoughts.

I think I needed an excuse to escape
but I was disappointed
because once I stood up
I felt like I was walking in again.