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dinner at Tao etc.

The doctor was on the contemporary acquisitions committee at the MOMA etc. and had invited me to dinner at Tao.


The doctor is allergic to some ingredient, and explains it to the waiter in detail, before ordering off-menu scallops for both of us to share. 

Could we get an extra plate with that, I add quickly to the waiter. I do not want to swap spit with the doctor at this dinner. 

What I expected to be a somewhat chilled-out tête-à-tête rapidly escalates into a round of intrusive, amateur psychoanalysis / performance coaching. I saw Jamian's show at [whatever place]. She's really producing. You should be painting that much. Why aren't you painting as much as Jamian. 

Yeah but she's like mirroring the production style of capitalism, I say. The words roll out quickly but feel tiring to say. Internally I'm sighing, externally I'm probably wan and under-engaged in the conversation. The doctor is a bit hyped, like he's on an adrenaline rush, like a football coach. At least she's working, he says. You need a shot in the arm! He looks at me, white hair smoothly combed, eyebrows arced high, as he mimics jabbing himself in the left deltoid with a syringe. Immediately my mind jumps to the stories of Mary Boone jacking up Basquiat on heroin and keeping him in a basement to make paintings, like the girl from Rumplestiltskin. I know from context that he's referring to B12 or SSRIs or whatever, but I feel acutely threatened. I also feel a greater sense of trust and intimacy with the waiter than with my dinner companion. The waiter looks me in the eyes as if wondering if I'm okay, as if ascertaining whether a child has been kidnapped.

I stay for the duration of dinner. He ends up asking me about my family. My childhood was fine. But as we are talking, I start weeping- not sobbing from acute despair, just not really being able to stop crying, from some sort of displacement, a deep sense of tiredness, isolation.


The last time we had talked, it had been at an opening for a film director who had made some Holy Mountain-esque films and recently branched out into visually decadent still life photographs of flowers. I had been talking a lot about the guy I had been dating, briefly, at that moment in time. He as a very hot trader from Millennium, about 6' 1", who was probably dating me because I was similar to his ex, who was also a ballet dancer / Pilates teacher with an interest in interior design. You really have a type, don't you, I said. Yeah, he says, I almost didn't tell you because I didn't want to weird you out. The first time I met the trader, I had been rehearsing at the UWS Community Center and showed up to see the nun's paintings (Hilma af Klimt), at the Guggenheim, sweaty, in leggings and athletic shorts, carrying a large yellow bag with clothes and snacks. He was annoyed by my casual look and mentioned it several times again in the future. Several dates later, I took him to the Whitney Biennial, where he also vocalized dissatisfaction with the clothes I as wearing. We happened to see Calvin from LA there, said hello, then left to get some seafood at the kind of romantic-y cafe / bar Wayward Son by the river. He ordered a bowl of olives and asked if I would be annoyed if he ate the olives with his bare hands.

Yeah probably to be honest, but do you what you want. 

Do you think you're a worrier, he says. You're kind of a stress case. 

I mean it's New York, I say. It's not f*cking Connecticut. (He was from Connecticut). Your hands have been all over these door handles, subway turnstiles ... I wave vaguely in the direction of New York, toward the window, as he continues to eat the olives with his bare hands and as I foresake the olives entirely. We change the subject and talk about soft shell crab, and jobs we had as teenagers (bell hop, lifeguard). I scrape the last ketchup off the plate with a french fry. We leave. I talk to him a bit about the doctor and about people's expectations of me. He tells a lengthy joke about a fisherman and his wife. The fisherman likes to fish, and he likes to go home and fuck his wife. The fisherman's business grows more, and he becomes more successful- eventually he sells his profitable fishing business entirely, and retires early with a lot of money. With his money, the fisherman buys a new fishing boat so he can still fish- he goes out every morning fishing, and he comes home at night and fucks his wife. The trader is telling the story to bridge some commonality between his life as a hedgie and my life as, essentially, a craftswoman, and to bring up the topic of sex as a salve after the lengthy debate regarding olive hygiene, and his ongoing disapproval of my fashion choices. At this point, it was becoming clear that sex was the only thing we had in common. Things ended that evening.


Weeks later, as I sat on a park bench in Midtown East, as I would do somewhat often (at the time, we worked a few blocks away from each other), eating popcorn shrimp out of the box by holding the shrimp box above my mouth and shaking the shrimp out directly into my mouth, I would sometimes visualize what it would be like if he happened to walk by - his hair smooth, cheeks smoothly shaven, silky business-guy pants swishing in the crisp autumn air, quilted down jacket keeping his heart warm in a posh, upper east side kind of way, me sitting with my knees splayed out like a boy, my bleached hair frizzy. He would probably compliment me in some charming way, and in the next breath mention that my outfit is terrible. 

Quite a bit later on, the doctor asks me about the hedge fund guy. I say its over, didn't last long. 

Really? he says, I thought you were in love with the guy. 

No, I say, he was just super hot. 

A+HRRA award summer 2023

The Summer 2023 Arts + Human Rights Research Award will be open to submissions this summer (approx. 14:51 UTC June 21 2023 - 06:50 UTC September 23rd 2023). The topic of the Summer 2023 A+HRRA is AI, Computer Logic, and Human Rights. 


th_Eroses, an arts publication, is awarding $100 for a work of artistic / literary research that addresses or concerns human rights in conjunction with this season's topic, AI, Computer Logic, and Human Rights. The term 'research' here is intended to indicate the process of creation, exploration, and discovery, rather than the compiling of archival facts and/or materials, although the compiling of archival facts and/or materials may be a part of the process of exploration and discovery, or a part of the process of shaping the path or direction of discovery. This is intended to be an open-ended premise, to support the range of work that may occur in artists' and writers' unique processes. 


From the UN: 


"What Are Human Rights? Human rights are rights inherent to all human beings, regardless of race, sex, nationality, ethnicity, language, religion, or any other status. Human rights include the right to life and liberty, freedom from slavery and torture, freedom of opinion and expression, the right to work and education, and many more. Everyone is entitled to these rights, without discrimination."


Successful submissions may, but are not required to, focus on investigative, process-based exploration and material discovery. Successful submissions may couple rigorous (or subjective) analysis with documentation of investigative, process-based exploration and discovery. Submissions do not need to be factual; forms of literary fiction, subjective expression, abstraction, choreography, and/or non-narrative presentations will be considered as well. Submissions in all languages and media are welcomed. 


The goal of this award is to amplify artistic voices that inquisitively and critically approach the pressing issues of our time, to create a habitat where a unique form of creative journalism can thrive, and to provide th_Eroses readers with artistic / literary insights into key issues.


Please note: If your work is submitted and selected for the award, you consent to the publication of your submitted work by th_Eroses now and in the future. Not all submissions will win the award; there may be one submission chosen, or multiple submissions, or none of the submissions. Selected submissions will receive an email of acceptance and next steps. 


Please submit work to with "Entry: Arts + Human Rights Research Award" in the subject line.

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