This week we are publishing a selection of articles by AUP Creative Writing students who attended literary events in the city. The third piece Lina Bergamini who went to an edition of Shakespeare and Company’s ‘The Art of Criticism’ by Juliet Jacques, author of the memoir, Trans.
Acceptance of Oneself
My mom doesn’t like Andy Warhol. Upon walking into the entryway of her parents Connecticut beach-house, which smelled of the chicken in the oven, and potatoes on the stove, he would look down his pale nose at my mother, with her brown bangs and thick glasses, and say “You’re still here?” bottle of wine in one hand and stuffing crisp hair behind his ear. Or that is how I imagined it; when we were in MOMA and she told me why she didn’t like Andy Warhol. She never liked that bleached hair look my generation loves, told me he was scary looking. He wouldn’t have been carrying a bottle of wine; my mom’s friends would have brought a bottle of wine to a dinner party, not my grandparents friends, and my grandmother might not have made roast chicken, she only made that for me, as a child, because it is my favorite. My mom always brags to her hippy friends; her house was the only one, in the suburb she grew up, that had a vegetable garden in the front. But she also confesses she learned when she was young not to talk to the socialite-girls she went to high school with about how liberal her parents were. Now, her friends are homeopaths and artists who adore the stories of her childhood.
She smiles, when people “come out” in movies, explaining, “I always think of my father, with his British accent, saying ‘of course you are, darling, everyone is!’ when I see that in movies” Once, my mom came into my room, sat on my couch, and announced, “I have come to the conclusion you are not a lesbian.” I was around 13. She was right; I am not a lesbian. She didn’t want me to grow up in a world where it was assumed I was strait. I learned pretty young not to talk to my friends at school about my parents views. I say, “My parents are artists” and let you imagine fabulous things. But I agree with the ideology. I try to live by it. But I don’t flaunt it, if I flaunt it its not something I have accepted; if I have to talk about it, it would seem less true. I learned to talk without saying anything, and it makes me bad at writing essays, it is something I have to practice to overcome. If you get me drunk, like really drunk, I might tell you I think everyone is bisexual; I surprised a boyfriend with that one once. I have kissed girls. I am attracted to men. Women are beautiful. I admire them for their beauty, but there is a sort of self-consciousness I have to overcome with men.
I went to see a transgender speaker. I was late. I never actually saw the speaker. I walked into Shakespeare and Company, and immediately heard the low murmur of a British voice, which sounded male. He was speaking about the memoir, about the confusion of writing a character that is also oneself, and putting oneself into the spotlight. Following it’s growing murmur, I found myself at the bottom of the stairs where a man with a large beard blocked my way. He looked at me like I was some tourist “I’m sorry, the upstairs is actually closed this evening,” I am good at fitting into the masses, but the masses don’t fit into the group. I said I was there for the event, and he motioned for me to sit on the stairs. The British voice could have been male. I sat, on the stairs that revealed wood from beneath warn paint. Later, the British voice, who is female, spoke of the importance of herself in her writing. In front of me was the back cover of a book adorned with a large picture of Andy Warhol’s face.