Skeleton Flesh Person Ivanna Berrios, pictured sleepy and happy below, felt nervous the entire time making this and even more nervous after finishing . This zine is dedicated to people who feel evil, bad, and small but try to like themselves anyway. People who canâ€™t get over other people not because of love but because of guilt. People who feel heavy with that guilt. People with other people who lighten the heaviness with happiness. She divided the zine into three parts: one for the heaviness, one for the lightness, one for her. It felt good
“Break often, not like porcelain but like waves”- scherezade siobhan Sometimes when I think about the cost of being soft, it feels tremendously high. It feels like anything I do in order to build soul callouses will be useless anyway, yet existing as a raw nerve is terrifying. I never know what will chafe, what will irritate, what will tear, and what will eventually mend. My mom cleaned my cut in the bathroom and the pus was a mucus yellow. It’s smell seemed to pulsate from the open skin. We talked about how nice my cousins girlfriend was, casually chatting while she dabbed at the wound and carefully dressed it with suture tape. When she had found me a couple of days earlier dripping she had screamed, but now in the humming light of the bathroom the process was very matter of fact. You should’ve gotten stitches, she said. Often, when the light is filtering in through the dust on my windows in the morning, I think about weddings and tears, but you could hardly call it thinking. It’s more like existing in a temporary daze of emotion. Certain images and scenarios trap me frozen in an abstract ecstasy, like saying goodbye to my cousins girlfriend at the airport or watching my abuelita make a new years toast. I can’t even begin to fathom how alive I am, with everything around me moving and breathing and feeding into all my experiences. Sometimes, everything feels important. Sometimes, I am glad that I am malleable. Other times the sting of a bumblebee feels like a bludgeon. The paper cuts become epidermis wounds that my mom said should’ve gotten stitches. My mom also said that if you blow in the face of a newborn baby, it can get flustered and begin to choke. I’ve always hated how childlike I was, how impotent and floundering, and I’m filled with resentment because it feels like I could maybe force myself to grow up. I don’t, because I’m scared of losing the daze and the wonder I feel when I look at horizons and so I’m left gasping at the very gusts that lift my spirits. I wish I broke like waves but I break like porcelain. How can anyone control how they break? If I could collapse into tides of release and love I would, but I contract into myself tense as ceramic, a bowl waiting to be nudged off the shelf. I don’t believe I’ve ever had my soul to myself. Giving out bites, sometimes plates, sometimes entire meals from the buffet of my being, giving myself. I have never been my own. I have always needed someone: symbiosis. I act the part of both emotional carcass and buzzard. Perhaps if I was encased in an exoskeleton of rationality, of cynicism or maybe numbness, I would find peace. I would stop needing others and stop letting myself be needed and stop chafing and tearing and would be able to sit in the bathroom and clean my own wound and chat with myself and the sound of my voice would be enough of a conversation. I wouldn’t have a wound. I could protect myself, even from myself. I think though that I would lose the porousness of my heart. So much enters, even things I wish I could filter out. Most of the time though it is love and love and endless love and awe and it is just as though I have squeezed out the joy of small things into one drop of nectar that falls onto my tongue. I feel like I have to choose one state of being. Everybody probably just balances the two, sensitive and insensitive, to suit their needs, but I have committed myself to committing to one or the other. Most of the time people probably break like waves. I don’t even know if its in my capacity to choose. All I know is that I break like porcelain but the fall is breathtaking, the view is unforgettable.
PART I : SKELETON summer in Peekskill with you, 4 years with you as one of my closest friends
what we should have done was stopped once we realized we didnâ€™t want to.
Very Very Very Secret Confession I feel the guilt like nausea at the back of my throat and I see your face in front of me I want to take it and say “I was bad.” Despite all my disinterest and even hatred and general dismissals and mockery and everything and all my empty I want to be tender with you and say “I’m sorry. I will never not be sorry. You were above all, my best friend.”
PART II : FLESH first night with you, 6 months with you as one of my best friends
Christmas gift, 2016
First Date After months of sharing our lives we finally went on a date. I’ll never forget the neon lights of little vietnam where we walked against the wind I could’ve cried I was so happy. I did cry! In Rosa’s pizzeria surrounded by sticky notes I felt like everyone I’d ever been kind to was giving me a hug, I felt like a little kid in a warm embrace. I read the pastel colors of prayers and wishes and smiley faces and I loved you so much. It was such a pure moment, holding your hand in the sticky note room thinking about the gentle hearts of pizza lovers and how afraid I was to want to be with someone so badly. With you, in a street of neon wetness and blustering cold, I felt my heart ache a little. I never thought I’d be happy again so soon, happy in the way you made me, in love in that way that makes my soul feel like helium. Everything felt like it had soft edges and sometimes I would just look at you and wonder how I could love someone so much. You make me so happy. You are so good to me and for me and I hope you keep me warm for a long time.
Vulnerability You cried in the shower. I let you brush my hair. You told me a story. Everything was like little whispers and glimpses. I stretched my legs across your lap and enunciated every ugly word. You put your head on my chest and recited everything without a single tear and just a couple of shrugs. I asked you to zip up my dress. You asked me how your outfit looked. I washed your curls and you organized my makeup. I showed you everything, told you everything, blossomed for you into a waterfall. You hid sorrow, except for sometimes.
Opposite: you amazed me even after only two weeks, even only as my friend. You were just amazing. I had to write about it
Bones You make me feel like a bird with hollow bones. I feel lightness within me and I feel solid within me I can finally feel the bones themselves existing inside me, my support system, you, My freedom, you My love is you and my love is yours and you rid the skeletons in the closet of their weight
“Soppy” by Phillipa Rice
NO MORE SKELETONS JUST SKIN LIFE YOU ME
No more ghosts ghouls guilt
PART III : PERSON 18 years with you and youâ€™re still getting used to yourself
This is where I stop defining my body in terms of the people who have touched it.
Self Portrait, Sharpie
Generations Mi Abuelita’s fish died today. She loves to care for things; her apartment is full of plants and food and grandchildren. She wrote her dead little fish a poem about how she should’ve taken better care of it and teared up as she read it. Mi Mama was yelled at today, by me. She loves to micromanage, always telling me exactly how to dress for the temperature, asking exactly what I’m eating, and making sure she can control the details. She says she only wants to take better care of me and hung up the phone. Y yo, I looked in the mirror today and felt shame. I love to trace my faults, building a puzzle of my jagged pieces and pointing out the fissures. After, I promised I would take better care of myself and then didn’t do it. Women who care too much can never care enough in their eyes. Women who love with ferocity always feel like they are falling short. My grandma cries at everything and my mom cries at everything and I cry at everything, three generations of crying. Yet at the same time, these women who came before me are so strong, and when I feel small for being how I am I remember it is in my ancestry, it is who I am and it is the sign of a big heart.
Fire Woman, Gel Pen and Sharpie
WOMEN WHO REMIND ME
TO JUST BE
WOMEN WHO REMIND ME
Homesick My skin and bones and hair is American. My tongue is American and it’s forgotten how to not be. But my blood is not American. My blood is of rapists and spirits, the condor and mountains, blood of colonizers and whiteness and of the Amazon too. I feel homesick for something that has never been mine and never will be, yet still is a part of me. It mocks me, a mirage of an inheritance, a ghost of a claim, a dream I wake up almost remembering. I wish I could do more than just taste it and yearn, I wish I could Be It. My tongue garbles through my native language, the first language I learned, and I feel like a fraud. Peru, my heart hurts to think of you. My Mother’s breastmilk fed me the longing that is passed through generations, the feeling that you are never home, the nostalgia that is the birthright of immigrant children. I miss you Peru, I missed you from the moment I came into the world, and my parents and grandparents and aunts and uncles never let me forget that I should miss you, and I hated them for that because none of the white kids at school seemed to have this heartache. Although everything of mine may be American (I forced it to be that way), my blood is not, will never be, cannot be, for if and when it does I will surely cease to be me. I grew up surrounded by bittersweet sadness and I wanted to yell: why can’t you just like it here? Why can’t you just be more American? Why did you infect me with this disease of homesickness? Playing ballads that sounded like laments, cultural celebrations that felt tragic, songs that spoke about the Incas and Ayacucho and the colors and the flag and la costa, la selva, la sierra. I grew up constantly reminded of all the beauty we had left behind. Late into the night we would put on las marinaras and and my grandpa would wail along and my whole Being felt alien in this country and I had to reject my own alienness to survive. To deny my homesickness I had to deny Peru as my home, yet the homesickness never left but the denial stayed and sunk its roots and tattooed itself across my face and named itself Assimilation. If I show that I am homesick the white people will just tell me to go home. If I talk about Peru who will understand? And after all this, after denying my own Mother, I still miss her and so come crawling back like the prodigal son, head bowed and limbs shaking, begging. I drag Assimilation with me, Assimilation, who I used to be so proud of, Assimilation which feels like a Scarlet Letter whenever I try to speak Spanish and my accent reveals that I have forgotten it. I am unrecognizable.
Trickle Down Model “I am thirsty” Have a drop “I am starving” Have a bite “I am dying” Have a coffin
Hands My dad’s hands cracked in the winter from the cold and bled while he shoveled the snow. My dads hands were dusty from fixing our driveway himself because we couldn’t afford to hire someone, and slimy from fixing our sink because we couldn’t afford to hire someone again. My dads hands were burned from the hot oil that sometimes splattered when he cooked. My dads back was sore from lifting all the heavy things that needed lifting and his legs hurt from training for his quarter marathon that he was participating in because he likes accomplishing goals. My dad’s hair was always combed from getting up early to make sure he looked groomed for work, and my dad’s clothes were always ironed and his eyes always sagged with exhaustion and love. My dads hands were always smudged with love. My dad’s heart was always tired with love. So when I see my dad sleeping, I smile.
Cognitive Dissonance, aka, I am the Biggest Hypocrite, aka, the Self Hating Manic Pixie words straight guys have called me to my face: militant bitch rude Why am I always less fun when I refuse to stand for it? Why must I make the room uncomfortable? aggressive hoe mean things straight guys have told me to do, to my face: please apologize relax calm down Why is it so scary when I’m blunt? Why should you feel threatened by my open mouth and sharp tongue? shut up can you be less harsh The two categories of most of my interactions with straight guys: those that want to have sex with me those that hate me those who wanted to have sex with me, then hated me Once in class a guy told me i tried too hard. I told him he was pathetic and that he made unnecessary comments about me that I would never give thought to and that he was probably insecure. Things like that just roll off my rude, bitchy, aggressive tongue. For the rest of class he sat quietly and eventually said I hurt his feelings. I asked him, “what did you expect?” but all the guys nearby looked at me like I was the cruelest girl in the world so I gagged up an apology and there was a collective sigh of relief from everyone but me. Another time a guy asked me “why are wearing heels” because I wanted to wear heels to school and I asked “why do you care?”
He put up his hands and backed away as though I’d barked at him. I’m always either too crazy and intimidating, or just crazy enough to be interesting. Just depends on your taste. Depends on whether you like sour candy or if you’ve seen that movie with that girl who’s just so vitriolic but its tragic scary sexy. This isn’t supposed to be a bitter celebration of how much of a feminist I am, or maybe it is, it’s irrelevant to me. This is about who I am and my personality. This is about my temper. About my scowl. About the way I snap at people who even slightly bother me. About my intolerance. It’s just about me and about straight men who either love or hate me because they’ve never met a girl this sullen, its just so new, so scary and compelling. words straight guys have called me to my face: ethereal sweet charming Why thank you so much, I really do try my hardest to be those things for you, and I mean it silly exciting caring things straight guys have asked me to do, to my face: kiss me don’t leave me tell me your name and i’ll tell you my real name and I won’t leave you even if I want to, no I would never, I’ll even try to stay after you want me gone. sing for me hold me The two categories of most of my interactions with straight guys: those that want to have sex with me those that hate me those who wanted to have sex with me, then hated me
Once at a friends house I was kissing a boy and I said something I don’t even remember, something stupid, we were drunk, something strange. He said I was the most complicated person he’d ever met, like an onion with never-ending layers, there was always more. I kissed his nose and cheek and cheek and then again a million times over and we laughed. Another time I was sitting on the lap of someone else and he said he’d never met a girl like me, he didn’t know what he meant but it was so fun. Both times I filled with pride over being a discovery, a little treasure, like a music box you find at an antique store, look, watch me dance. I’m always either too childish and immature, or just earnest enough to be endearing. Just depends on your taste. Depends on whether you like sickly sweet candy or if you’ve seen that movie with the girl who giggles like a baby and twirls for no fucking reason but it’s cute. This isn’t supposed to be an indulgent celebration of how adorable I am (or maybe it is, yuck). This is about who I am and my personality. This is about my softness. My smile. About the way I dramatically fling my arms around a boy who I want to fall in love with me when I could simply say hello. It’s just about me and about straight men who either love me or hate me because they’ve never met a girl this sensitive, its just so new, so bothersome and delightful. The best and worst thing about loving the manic pixie dream girl is that you never know what you’re gonna get. Is she gonna scream and shout and be cruel today, an Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind kinda manic pixie? Is she gonna be oh so spontaneous and cuddly with you, a 500 Days of Summer kinda manic pixie? Isn’t it exciting? Isn’t it great? Isn’t it pretty and mean? Aren’t I something? Aren’t I? I am just myself. It always feels like someone is trying to compliment that self or criticize that self. It always feels like someone is trying to love fuck, shush me, yell at me, adore me. Someone thinks I’m an annoying baby, someone thinks I’m cute, someone thinks I’m rude, someone think’s I’m “troubled.” I am not a novelty or a discovery or a bitch or a problem to be solved or kissed away or soothed or understood. Yet, I beg of you, through my flirtatious backward glance, follow me on this adventure. Yes! Discover me. And through my tear filled breakdown I mumble, yes, fix me. You can’t say I’m those things but I’ll secretly beg you to treat me like those things. I’ll do anything and everything for you, but the moment you ask me to, I’ll eat you alive. I’ll be what you want me to be, unless you tell me what I am now is wrong, and then I’ll gouge your eyes out. Paradoxical, manipulative, needy. Hungry for your affection or your flesh.
Funeral of Pinochet
Adios, General! Que el infierno te consume Hijo de puta Monstro
Writing About Gossip Girl At 4 AM Donâ€™t Tell Me Its A Dumb Show Because Its Helped Me Figure My Dumb Self Out
I can’t always be family/heavy love “Dios te salve maria, llena eras de gracia” My mom prays for me, my tias, abuelita, my dad kisses my forehead, my sister asks me to text her more I can’t always be a hearth, sometimes the spices fall flat on my tongue I can’t always be the laughter and the dancing My mom prays for me, tip toeing past my room while I sleep hollow, dreams hollow, my heritage still When the singing begins and I miss my moms calls, when all my words are sighs, I can’t always be family My mom prays for me, she prays I return, I pray that it works, I pray that I’m family It takes me and pulls the rug out from under me as I step up to kiss my uncle’s cheek or tentatively place my foot onto the dance floor It takes me and puts a muzzle on me as I’m about to speak Spanish, as I’m about to join the song It takes me, makes me still. I sit in my room. I hear the doorbell ringing, the cousins are over. I’m too busy and tired, too angry and frustrated. I opt out, and they ask for me always, where is she? We miss her. And I cry to myself and think of how we used to climb the trees in Hudson Park and then play dress up together. Very quietly, too quietly to be noticed, I slip downstairs and sit at the table. I don’t talk or move. I return to my room. I hear some whispers about how I used to be and I cry. I don’t wear my hair in braids anymore. I don’t beg for plain rice. I don’t rummage through my grandma’s jewelry, I don’t play soccer in the street with my cousins. “El Señor es con tigo, y bendita tu eres, entra todas las mujeres” I draw my strength from my blood. The prayers raise me to Him. I eat the food and I grow. I stretch my limbs as I climb the trees in Hudson park and I grow. I smell the perfume in my grandma’s apartment and I grow. I lean in close to the brightness that glows from the roots of my heart and I blossom. But that is only sometimes. Most often I take the food back to my room, forget the prayers, ask to stay home. It takes me and cloaks me, I don’t want to show them who I have stopped being,
so I don’t show them anything at all. I can’t always be family. Sometimes the love sits heavy in my stomach with nostalgia and fear and guilt. Sometimes the love never makes itself out of my mouth, and the heaviness weighs down my legs and I don’t bother dancing with my dad even when he asks 5 times, no my love for him is so heavy I can’t get up and I turn my head and he sees my jaw, not my stomach, not the love that sits and boils silently. I don’t know when my teeth started chattering at the idea of being affectionate, but now I grind them in my sleep. Heavy and nervous, quiet and alone, brimming and holy, I am immersed in my family but I can’t be a part of it, not really, not always. It takes me, this mental illness. It puts the weight on my love, the muzzle on my mouth, the cloak on my body, it pulls the rug out from underneath, it puts the earmuffs on me so that my family’s well wishes float past me, it dragged me away from them like dead weight, too tired to resist. “Regua por nostros, los pecadores, ahora en la hora de nuestra muerte. Amen.” One day I will rewrite this in Spanish with my tongue, slip it under the door in the form of an unassuming embrace, mold the apology in my hands as I help peel potatoes. “Ivanna, quieres ayudar con la comida?” One day I will stand in the kitchen while my relatives talk joyfully in voices as loud as shouts, my mom peeking out at me from under her curls as she cuts the vegetables. She is used to my sharp rejection, she is used to tip toeing past my room. No more prayers. “Si Mama. Por supuesto.”
Thank You for Being Tender This is a love letter to myself. Unabashedly. Thank you for your dimpled thighs with skin that yields when fingers squeeze. Thank you for the dirt under your nails. Thank you for your shoulder blades, thank you for your hip bones. Thank you for your electrified baby hairs that flutter. I love you for your eyes, your heart, the things that bleed and leak. You are clay, earth, water, flesh, malleable, wet, brown. You are clay and taste of honey. You are clay and you are ancient, there are songs inside your cells, there are mountains in your memory. Thank you for your octopus limbs. Thank you for climbing over sleeping men who love you and sneaking away to be alone. You are quiet and powerful and strong and steady. You are a chirping hummingbird. You are every imaginable juxtaposition. Thank you for tricking men into thinking you were special by being completely, entirely, transparently yourself. They weren’t used to it, or maybe they had never bothered seeing women as complex. Thank you for taking the “compliments” of how complicated you were with a passive smile and then turning to giggle mockingly under your breath. Thank you for being smarter. Brighter. Better. Thank you for your arrogance that seduces. Thank you for being imperfect and scared and anchoring your worth in how desperate men are to make themselves miserable for you. Its awful, but its you. Thank you for biting your lip when you’re flirting with the idea of being excited. You haven’t made your made up yet about bursting into a grin and you’re holding it back with your teeth. I love you for your bushy eyebrows that spill over their assigned borders and your petulant chin, stuck up at every imaginable thing except the things that can actually hurt you. Thank you for your daydreams and night dreams and daymares and nightmares. Thank you for living with one foot in what’s real and the other in what you wish was. The men who loved you, loved you fiercely and aggressively because they thought you didn’t and they wanted to make up for it. Thank you for accepting their devotion but never losing your secret vanity. Thank you for writing this and realizing that you have loved you for a long time, and are just now admitting it. Most of all, thank you for being tender. Thank you for being lifted and falling, tumbling and laughing, according to all the emotions that push and pull you. Thank you for your softness and open face. Thank you for being repulsively indulgent in vulnerability and for letting pain overwhelm but never destroy you. Thank you for your love and love and all your love and all the warmth you are.
YOU ARE CLAY AND TASTE OF HONEY. YOU ARE CLAY AND YOU ARE ANCIENT, THERE ARE SONGS INSIDE YOUR CELLS, THERE ARE MOUNTAINS IN YOUR MEMORY.
All writing and drawings by Ivanna Berrios (except for some jaja)
this is my diary! there is an even more private version, message me if u want it, otherwise this is still pretty emotionally revealing don't...
Published on May 10, 2017
this is my diary! there is an even more private version, message me if u want it, otherwise this is still pretty emotionally revealing don't...