DARLinG Nº 2
This is the second DARLinG - if you want to catch up on what that means, click here!
First day of Class. I awake quite groggy. I woke several times through the night and I wasn’t able to fall into a deep sleep until an hour before my alarm went off. I am craving a cup of tea, but the number of times I hit the snooze won’t permit one before the all school assembly at 8:30. I rush to wash my face (which I am instructed to do by my roommate Pema) and then to dress into full kira.
On the way up the long hill to the Academic Block, I shuffle my feet to avoid twisting the under layers of my kira. I am unsuccessful. The slow pace of the Bhutanese walk is really quite something. While I feel it’s rhythm and want it to bring me peace, the inner New Yorker in me is screaming to make better time. I have to remind myself to relax, even though I am running late.
I look into the temple, the butter lamps which were placed yesterday in blessing and prayer for the suicide boy have all burned out. Across the road, the pole from which he hung himself is pointed out to me by my roommate. It’s a very small pole, like a newly planted tree that needs supports to hold itself up. The pole is serving as the support to a wire of some kind and I cannot fathom how anything hanging from it didn’t simply level it all the way to the ground. Even the dainty wire seems a threat to it’s stature. I find myself suspicious of the death being a suicide — and at this pace, I have ample time to observe the pole and run several questions through my mind about how it could possibly be possible.
The assembly is very long and in Dzongka. I can understand some parts where english is interjected, but for the most part, I soften my eyes and just listen to the sounds. It feels meditative. I try to pick out words that I know, but I find very few. From this I can only conclude that they are not announcing the variety of vegetables available at the market.
As Gordie, Steve and I exit the auditorium, Gordie begins to fold his carney when he turns to me and says “It is as if there are two forms of dress in Bhutan, formal and pj’s!” He is absolutely right.
I have written in my journal many times about the attire here in Bhutan. Over the holidays, of which there were many (see calendar here), the girls lounged about in the hostel in stuffed-animalesque fuzzy pants that, by American standards would only be suitable before the age of seven; nine if you were pushing it or had a birthday slumber party. The bed sheets are the same way - full of coupled-up romantic looking fairy-teddy-bears encompassed by a heart shaped wreath of roses and a perimeter of clustered colorful party balloons.
I think this one is simple — it is an example of cultural esthetic taste. I observe that color is used everywhere in Bhutan; from marbled wash buckets, plastic jelly slippers kiras, toilet paper (pink!) to phallic fertility symbols. Only in Bhutan have I ever seen a blue phallus displayed with pride on the side of a home. Bhutan is just unabashed at combining a multitude of colors that, as I experienced while purchasing my first kira in Paro, simply make American’s minds short circuit. From a color theory stand point, it sometimes pushes my buttons. But, however mild and modest, I see this as a form of astounding creativity and self-expression, which is awesome!
As for the cartoon features on garments… this also is to taste. I do not know if it is a bi-product of living at home and avoiding the opportunity to turn-on incest? That feels like an extreme statement, but, whether intended or not, the youthful nature of loungewear and bedding is quite infantilizing. When I integrate this with R. Kegan’s developmental theory (1992)combined with the fact that we know it is a collective; and thereby socialized mind, culture, you can see how little they are putting themselves at risk for developing into a stage of self-authorship. They avoid being sexualized, they avoid being different from one another, they are avoiding the developmental bridges altogether — because that is their culture. They are subject to it, and being subject to it is the culture of the culture.
In my mind, this infantilization is fascinating. As I feel myself judging, I relax into the vomit-comet of colors around me and try to understand why I a) hate color and b) feel like maturity is so valuable. It’s a quick draw conclusion, but clearly both must be emphasized in my culture - but how exactly?
In the culture of New York, black is cool — black is everything! Sexy, sweet, edgy, proper, naughty, and always reinventing itself. Every fall there is some new color that wants to “be the new black.” No other color has such a collected, decisive and business-like reputation. Black is coffee, holocaust, humor, harlem and all round Gotham. Sure, it might be slightly depressing and might keep the grit from showing — but black is my color, and damn I miss wearing black.
The double-back on this, it that all of those things kind of masculate (the opposite of emasculate; not a real word, not even a good fake word!) me. Something that has felt necessary to live well in the patriarchy and to appease my father who has no son. Of course, this isn’t something my father ever asked for. It was just the best way I know how to be a daughter — was to be more masculine. And as luck would have it, it was also a good way to secure a mate. Male dominated hobbies yield better ratios for meeting opportunities. When you are the only girl to talk to, you to have your pick of the litter. I always liked that about being on race track, loading a 9mm magazine, starting a business or sitting on my hands while I receive a lap dance at a strip club. Girlfriends have astounded my abilities to stay confident in these tasks and environments and the fact is, they feel better to me than giggling over a pink martini or painting my nails. Initially I tried these activities on for size to fit the “don’t be girly” bill, only to find that they suited me better than their feminine counter parts. This came as a surprise to me and piqued many thousands of hours of inner conversation about the nature of my own sexuality and gender. Those conversations — on-going and inconclusive for the time being.
As far as maturity, I was the youngest of two children by nearly six years. I got away with murder trying to be able to keep up with my sister. The culture of my nuclear family was such that I had to be on my best behavior in order to participate with the “grown-ups.” By nature this singled me out from my mother, father and sister and created the inner drive for me to constantly be wanting to seem, look and act and feel older than was normal for my age.
When I moved to New York at age 19, it was more of the same demands. I needed to move through the working world in confidence as a adult capable of adult “things,” decisions and meaning making. How else was I going to earn a respectable living?
I was also deeply pressured by my family to find a mate. They had all been married by the age of 20, so when I hit 21 and wasn’t yet hitched, I remember interpreting my mothers suggestion for “on-line dating” as a sign that she felt burdened caring for me in my “old age.” To fetch a catch I needed to seem like I could handle the demands of being in relationship. So I pulled up my big girl pants and always had my best, most mature, foot forward.
From an intercultural perspective, I can feel the immaturity here and I have disdain and disadvantage that the visual cues trigger my beliefs that way inclined. Although my judgements are subsided, I am trying very hard to attune to the subtlety of their maturity as it feels critical to developing my ability to appropriately empathize and my opportunity for relate-ability.
One more personal note: I havealways struggled to relate to girls and women. Doing so with an age range and maturity level and language barrier all breed insecurity. I feel overtly sensitive to trending carefully and, to some degree (although not culturally appropriate) keeping my distance. Relationships with women, for me, are a bit like an anorexic’s relationship to food. You may be healed from the behavior of not wanting to eat, but the triggers run deep when struck and the recovery road is long and laden.
Esthetics in cultures vary. The Buddha, unlike the Plato or Socrates, didn’t try to dictate the nature of beauty; mathematically or otherwise.
Socialized mind isn’t all bad, but those who are moving toward self-authorship are on the verge of alienation, at least for the time being, especially while the country is experiencing a huge, direct and extremely influential amount technology and external influence.
Gratitude. A List Poem.
For freedom in gender confrontation
Buzz words | Feeling old | Feeling green
Coffee, made black, made right, made blankly.
Identity | I dentity | ID entity | Ide Nitty — wash.
Fog, like silicone sand &
Fringes of my shadow