I am always thinking about the potential of violence. Every morning as I pick out my clothes, I wonder if this slip is too femme, or if this bra will make my non-existant tits too noticeable. When I make a skirt I always wonder if this fabric is too soft, or the trim too pink. And mostly I think about where I can a hide my knife.
It's so weird when older, rougher men stare at my legs and mini-skirt as I walk down the the steps into the subway, or swing my leg over the bike seat. What is he whispering to his wife? What does the contempt on her face mean?
I imagine what he says to his friends when I'm almost out ear shot.
I stay safe because I know how to fight. Because I choose to suggest in my walk, in my bearing, in my eyes: attack me and you'll pay for it. Even if you are saying: quiero matar eso joto, I want you to stop and think how you'll feel if this faggot beats you into submission.
The dreadful irony of this is simple and terrible. In trying to express my gender I have to recreate the fundamental erotics and insecurity of masculinist violence and militarism. In saying – Don't fuck with me, I'll hurt you – I have recreate everything that has hurt me. That's the atrocity of violence. It always reproduces.
Each time I curl my eyelashes, or pick out a dress, I think of my life ending: of whether or not I have to change clothes at the gym that day, whether or not I know the neighborhood I'll be in, whether or not someone's cousins at the party will try and hurt me... It is unavoidable. I am not imaging this violence. It has met me already, on the street, in my house, at the grocery store, at the gym. It has met me weekly for 30 years.
As I get older, as I am less pretty, the positive attention wanes. And so I try harder. I aspire. I climb a ladder of writing. I walk among the dead.
Even among the cadavers, I begin to be more and more marginal in the sexualized economies of belonging and power.
I still look fabulous. But it isn't the glitter that makes me shine. It's the beads of sweat. It's the stress of the obstinacy that gets me out of bed every morning to throw my body against the cage every day. I always come home exhausted; I cry myself to sleep: I doubt the bars will break before my body does, even if they are made out of words.
The title comes from the beginning of an essay in "Three steps on the ladder of writing by Helene Cixous, in which she talks about the position of the letter H, of it's existence as an aspiration, as a bridge between subjectivities – masculine and feminine and other. As a longing and descent into the underworld.