By Caren Beilin • 001: Fantasy
#2 – INVITATION TO LOVE: FRAGMENTED VIDEO DIARY
by artist JORGOS LOUKAKOS
A ballerina is diagnosed with PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome). Dancing before the audience, she is not doing ok. This sudden condition, causing heavy periods and forbidden weight gain, is ex-insouciance. She is 17.
Ballet is a profession of white, white.
That’s all: A filament pirouetting in the lightbulb of old ideas.
The young ballerina (still a high school student, though already a professional in a company two hours from her small town) had better find a different life path. She moves to Florida to study hydro-culture—growing things in water. No soil need be applied.
Removing soil from the growing, and growing even vegetables in tanks and trying to do it even in salt water. Salt is the new soil in the anthropussy. Salt is the new white soil.
This ex-ballerina, now nearly graduated, majors in hydro-culture with an eye on the soil-poor future, and goes into graduate work at Florida College in the same field, which is denoted a “growing field” but it’s easy.
Anyone can grow everything. In whatever, anything. Turns out.
You don’t need equipment or the government you could do it in a used bucket, and your tub. But that’s fieldmaking, making it all impossible with rarified methodologies and she protects her job. She is writing a fearsome dissertation.
She is a doctorate in hydroculturalism and goes around showing mutable children and prisoners how to grow carrots without soil and with disgusting water. She is faced with a paradox, she wants to endue post-fucked communities with the power to grow food, but she is out for professional credence, too. She can’t ever go back to Philly.
Anybody with PCOS has to be deliberate. If you have PCOS, altering your diet helps and being steady in your routines. Monitoring your hormonal composition. So I am extra-equipped, she thinks, to be organized.
She fantasizes illness into a portal towards a bonus.
It is hard to date.
She proves, in her book, that blood from a PCOS woman’s period neutralizes agriquatics no matter what kind of faecal gloam (or a leaden lake sandwich) they arrive through. She advises women with PCOS to not take their hormonal alterations any longer because extra estrogen causes disease and also because now you are all needed by everyone who is mutable and hungered.
She opens a PCOS blood bank and starts raking it up. She makes period blood (at least from PCOS sufferers) a goddamned gift and an ingredient and the miracle of the anthropussy, it turns out.
So it shocks even her when she is sitting with her new endocrinologist and suddenly says: “I don’t think I ever had PCOS.”
There are so many reasons at this point not to say that.
“I don’t think I’ve ever had PCOS, Dr. Indeer. When I was 17, my fallopian tube burst. I was haemorrhaging. I manage it with diet and meditation and turmeric and not dancing again but it’s been 15 years and I need help. Possibly surgery.”
The doctor seems to be listening.
He uses an ultrasound machine, her first.
“Your right fallopian tube is in two pieces, and each end has a beehive hairdo of a scar. It’s very surprising nobody caught this sooner.”
Then ‘surprise’ is not generic.
Dr. Indeer invites her to a cottage by a burbling glade. He says, “I’m kind of into you.”
She can’t help but share with Indeer the scam of her PCOS blood bank. There’s a lag in conversation, it makes her jolt with info. The tampon press. The Diva Well. Distributing it to the agriquatics companies in dehydrated baggies to be rehydrated in tanks of vegetables, their roots hairy and hanging, exposed and vestigial. She’s been writing the PCOS community huge checks. It’s not like their blood is not good.
Dr. Indeer isn’t happy. “Hormonal alteration is usually helpful for women.”
Indeer says he’s alarmed by her lies, too. He doesn’t like what he hears, but isn’t that the way certain men are even now? Yanking at and evaluating information.
Not asking many questions.
He hasn’t asked her anything about her pregnant fallopian tube.
Oh god, she thinks.
I shouldn’t have said anything about my scam, she thinks. There is no doctor/patient confidentiality out here, on a date—and what would be a lover?
A lover is just someone rimming abandonment.
Dr. Indeer says, “I could be your boyfriend or your doctor but not both. It’s not ethical even in the anthropussy. So before dessert you’ll pick.”
Dessert is an idiom in the anthropussy.
“You cannot ask a woman to get rid of a doctor who actually listens!” She’s using this complement as an excuse. He hasn’t listened that well, though he did confirm some stuff, finally, with the ultrasound. She feels ready to leave. She’ll swim. But he wants to give her a hormone shot. He wants to salt her with some estrogen he keeps around, he says, by his bedside with the lube, and then they can fuck in his big vinyl lightbulb.
“No, no, I’m done with that, even for sex. No extra estrogen please.”
Fine, but then he requests that she masturbate in front of him.
How disappointing, she was thinking in the anthropussy she was going to get at least one egalitarian cock, or I guess she was planning to swim home, reflective, maybe out on her back moon gazing and thinking and forgetting to count docks. But also it’s hard to masturbate in front of someone. She will have to fantasize.
He’s interrupting her fantasy. He keeps telling her to touch herself, which she is obviously doing.
Stupid doctor. God. They always are so dumb. Of course he wouldn’t know, but there is no other way for most women to come. In my fantasies, the scenarios change, who is there and what they take, order, and offer, but one thing is so immovable. I’m always in my parents’ bedroom, in that small town, the heavy mirror and dresser, and carpet worn from neurotic pacing. The air is rumpled from so much unnecessary handwringing. The window damp with castigation and the closed door, sometimes, like gazing at a steppe. My parents don’t appear thank god. I have tried to alter the fantasy, but fantasies are irreconcilable. What about pleasure or death can you move? No matter the work I’ve done, the good I’ve done for others now, with my scam, and for myself, all the lonely/happy swims, and the progress of my thinking, and writing, and being ok in a day by day style, my recovering insouciance crackling along the wire, I still have to go to that very predictable, germane, immovable room. Font of the anthropussy.
CAREN BEILIN writer
Caren Beilin is most recently the author of a memoir, SPAIN (Rescue Press, 2018), and a forthcoming book and podcast on women’s health, BLACKFISHING THE IUD (Wolfman Books, 2019). She teaches creative writing at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts in the Berkshires.
JORGOS LOUKAKOS artist
Jorgos Loukakos was born in Greece. Studied (Fine Arts & Photography) and worked in Athens, Amsterdam, Prague. Currently living in Berlin.
#2 INVITATION TO LOVE: FRAGMENTED VIDEO DIARY combines day-to-day autobiographical images in ways that convey a cinematic experience, leading the viewer to question what separates reality from fiction. Storylines and plots are suggested but never resolved. A fragmented video diary in which each “episode” is treated as a short abstract poem during the editing process.