The Cayman Islands
Christmas Break, 2015
and other real realizations
life on loop
This year over my winter break my family and I went to the Cayman Islands for a week.
tooooo r- iz- uhm
We were people
Who traveled for ‘pleasure’
We did not tour the island
We never left the hotel
We sat on the beach
I had one piña colada and it was delicious
I did try paddle surfing in the ocean, complementary activity at the hotel.
To state the obvious: When my family and I arrived at the hotel in the Cayman Islands, we were greeted by welcoming faces and tropical juice drinks that were pink and slightly alcoholic. The otherwise friendly staff joked about our attire—we’d bundled for the cold weather that we left—while we sweat our sticky white tourist asses off.
Overwhelmed by the beautiful beach bodies that strutted through the golden lobby of luxury, we wanted to go up to our hotel rooms to freshen up for lunch and then sit on the beach—obviously. But first we were brought to a seating area with fish-themed furniture, led by a cheerful woman who wanted to give us some information about our stay. She served us the hotel’s traditional rum punch, gave us our room keys, and convinced my dad that he never wanted to leave the Cayman Islands.
His name is Thomas Seiler
He is 56 years old
5’ 5” short
He has two siblings—A younger brother and sister (Aunt Jill and Uncle Pat)
My dad grew up in Rahway, New Jersey
When he was in high school he did wrestling
He said he starved himself to get into a lower weight
His dad’s nickname was Harp
Harp owned a bar
Harp died while he was driving his wife in a car, he just died over the wheel
He had a blood clot that went to his heart and killed him
My dad was 19 years old when his dad died
My dad took over the bar because his mom made him
My dad says he never drank when he was younger
I think my dad is an alcoholic now
My dad is a financial advisor
My dad makes a lot of money
My dad works a lot
My dad’s personality is intense, and it stresses me out.
In the Cayman Islands, my dad started his day with a run along the ocean at 6:30 a.m. After his run, he would find one of the beach boys to help him claim his seats on the beach—front row, ocean side. After that he would go get some breakfast at the buffet, which was open and complementary from 7–10 a.m. He would then return to the beach, go to the poolside bar, and get himself some sort of champagne juice drink. He would drink it slowly while he stood on the beach and savored the moment—that perfect moment, his time off of work, his time to enjoy his family. He would stand next to his lounge chair with his champagne juice and look out at the horizon as if he owned the beach.
My mom, my brother Jake, and I would mosey down to the beach between 11 and 12; we were completely un-phased by my dad’s early arrival and excitement about the seats he retrieved, and when we “finally” arrived to the best seats on the beach, my dad was always anxious and unsettled and told us that we missed out on the best breakfast.
My dad was hungry. He was always hungry when we got down to the beach and it always annoyed me. My dad makes a big deal about food, and it makes me feel itchy from the insides. He puts this pressure on everyone he is with when it comes to food. He’ll order something and then order other things off the menu ‘cause he wants to try them. Then he insists that everyone tries it ‘cause it’s “the best in the world.” I often say no, thanks. Because honestly I just don’t want a mini beef burger in my belly right now. But then it never ends, it’s this constant pushing and pressuring and it makes me cringe and sort of want to cry. I don’t want the damn burger! I just want to eat what I ordered. My mom notices and understands my dad’s persistence—she’s a professional since she’s been dealing with him since they were teenagers in high school. She shuts him down for me by saying, “Jesus Christ, Tommy! She doesn’t want it. Leave her alone for God sake.” But both my mom and I know that he’ll be pushing something else in the next five minutes. My dad: always pushing hard.
In the Cayman Islands, my family went out to dinner every night somewhere in the hotel. Every night at dinner played out the same way.
Dinners went something like this:
My mom, dad, and I would split a bottle of wine, or two. My brother didn’t get to drink because he is only 18, although sometimes he would get a sip of something if my parents were feeling sweet. We would all look at the menu, and my mom would ask everyone, “What are you gonna get?” No matter what I said I was going to get, my mom always would respond by saying, “That’s it?” Then I would say, yes. My whole family always makes me feel like what I order to eat isn’t enough—just because I don’t like to stuff my face like they do at every meal, with an appetizer dish, main dish, a side dish, a bite of someone else’s dish, and a dessert dish, maybe even a dish after dinner.
I just want my dish.
The conversations at dinner revolved around the same topics.
Topics at Dinner Time:
- My dad’s youth of starving himself and how hard he had it when he was growing up
- Where my brother would go to college next year—Alabama or South Carolina
- What purse my mom wanted to buy from Chanel
- What my brother wanted to order online from Brooks Brothers
- My dad’s plan to buy property on the Cayman Islands to do his financial advising and make more money—the grand scheme
- Many unnecessary lectures from my dad about either:
a)Following your dreams!
c)Staying fit and healthy!
d)Trying new foods!
Here we are at this beautiful hotel in the Cayman Islands for “pleasure.” The Cayman Islands thrives off of tourism; I noticed when we arrived construction workers building to make the island look more…modern…more appealing, or something like that. There were just a few shopping areas, which consisted of beachwear, scuba gear, and maybe a nail salon. My mom thought it was “very cute.” This was a vacation that
I was supposed to enjoy? we were all supposed to enjoy.
Here we are at a delicious restaurant! We sit outside, close to the beach, as the warm air wraps around our white bodies.
Here is my family, and here am I—I am the outsider.
When their conversations started, I clocked out. I could care less about everything that came out of their mouths—comfortable consumers.
Conversations concerned: money, food, Jake’s college
(Repeat repeat repeat on repeat)
We are at dinner, and my dad is drunk and says the word faggot loud enough for the whole restaurant to hear.
I walk to the bathroom because I need to get away from my dad. I can’t look at him.
My mom tells me I can’t get mad at my dad because “he doesn’t know any better.”
Here we are at the very “special” New Years Eve Party, and I am so drunk off free champagne that I am able to have fun with my dad.
My dad and I, both drunk at the New Years Eve beach party, and he is so proud of me but doesn’t actually know why.
I decide to flirt with some random guy at the bar.
I start to dance with the random guy on the dance floor.
I make out with the random guy in front of my family.
I get in a fight with a random woman and flip her off.
I tell my mom that my dream is to take down the fashion industry; she listens but doesn’t get it cause her questions don’t correlate correctly.
I am upset.
I am falling over in the sand.
Here we are in the hotel room after the beach party because according to my mom “the party is over.”
Here we are in the hotel room when I throw a hanger at my mom.
Here we are in the hotel room when my mom is screaming she is worried about me.
Here we are in the hotel room when my dad doesn’t say anything back to my mom.
Here we are and I am sobbing on the bathroom floor and I hear my mom yelling at me to stick my fingers down my throat.
Here we are in the Cayman Islands and I am once again getting too drunk to cope with my family, my dad.
Here I am hiccupping in my sleep.
Here is my mom sleeping next to me.
Here is my brother in the bed next to mine.
Here is my dad in the other room sleeping alone.
What is otherness? Define it.
The next morning I apologized to my mom for the way I behaved.
1. This is not an apologizing manner.
2. If you have a drinking problem, let’s take care of it.
I don’t have a drinking problem, I just didn’t eat enough at dinner.
3. That’s my other problem with you: you don’t eat enough.
My dad makes me feel like an outsider in the Cayman Islands.
His bold bad behaviors make me shut down and shiver.
My dad is the typical tourist, he is the one who made me do paddle surfing—mandatory fun.
My mom calls me out on my “problems” in the Cayman Islands.
Her blunt statements are said and heard—then they disappear.
My mom only makes statements but never gives me the time to explain the reason why: dad.
I want to do a lot of things because I am 21, I am young.
I am all over the place and thrive off of doing a wide range of activities, jobs, and collaborations.
I don’t see myself doing just one job when I graduate, and that is very hard for my dad to understand. These dreams are all “good ideas,” my dad says with his shit faced smile and a few too many laughs.
He’s not going to get it. He wants me to be a CEO of some sort—and I don’t.
He wants me to start my own company of t-shirts or something—and I don’t.
My brother wants to be a lawyer.
My mom tries to understand me. I can see I amuse her with my ideas. She smiles, and when I think she gets it, she doesn’t.
I smile back real big about to cry.
Can they hear me?
I’m the drunken daughter whose dreams are to take down the fashion industry; to sustain something! I want to deconstruct and reconstruct existing garments. I want to have people wear the same clothing until they are rags, and then I want to install the rags—hang the threads, the tears, the fibers—as a piece that comments on how horrible fast fashion is, asks, “Why are big business still making clothing, when we have enough?” Fashion needs to slow down—I need to slow down. I want to be a body art teacher (maybe on the side). I want to make a yurt or yurts, maybe in the city, maybe somewhere else—spaces for people to come and freak out and tear up textiles. I want others to attack fabrics, let out a release of inner tensions—like when you rip a pair of stockings with your bare hands and it makes that incredible ripping sound. I want other people to experience this freedom of freak-out from fibers. I want to make some more zines, use a ton of alliteration, and pretend to be a poet. I want to rework my project that I started last semester, inside the outs, a series of photos, writings, outfits, drawings, and a film—all inspired by crooked spines and seahorse sex. I want to work more on this project with friends who want to perform the spinal seahorse contortions that I have written out: some scores that lead to another release, spinal releases, spasms, and sexual screams. I want these performers to wear the strange wearables that I have created—‘outfits.’ I want them to feel the inner tensions that exist in my body that I feel when I am with my family, have a tantrum—maybe I’ve had too many—but is it them or is it me? I want them to feel the imperfections that exist within the “outfits” they are wearing because of how I created them: I fingered and tickled the fibers—paw pet pull pierce slash scratch stretch stitch stab and pick pick pick. Picking is pleasurable for me. I get yelled at for picking by my mom and dad—it’s gross, it’s weird, I’m weird. These strange wearables that I created are a discovery of the beauties that exist on the inside of fabrics, all those inner fibers; these strange wearables are my own mad excursion of deconstructing my own mentality. I make these clothes with contortion.
A score to perform from my project, inside the outs:
The Courtship Dance:
And skins shed
Static and stuck in their moving motions
And her dry skins crust over.
The bodies—steamed and spiced, sexy and snakelike,
Oh how they feast upon each other!
Gnaw and paw
Press on her cheeks
Tickle her tummy
Tongue at her fine feline face
Fondle and finger
Starve for fornication
A break in the back
A back bend
Watch them writhe in joy
A real Realization of Repetition:
That is what I do to my body—
I am on repeat repeat repeat on repeat.
I deconstruct and reconstruct my body—it’s this ongoing battle of picking at myself.
Eating not eating eating
Then drinking drinking sipping
and not eating
My dad and I are both outsiders. I see it. I see through him, and it makes it hard to look at him. I can’t do it for too long because I feel uneasy. I know we are alike. He sees through me, too. He looks at me long, and I can feel it. He doesn’t hear the things I say aloud. He doesn’t hear my dreams, my thoughts, or my beliefs—because when I try to explain, he shuts me down. He sees through me but blocks me out with his own battles—his own ideas, dreams, thoughts, beliefs. He has to feel like the insider even though he’s not. He makes me the outsider every time.
My dad, he sees through me.
My mom, she can see through my dad and me.
My brother, he can make us all laugh.
WHO IS AN INSIDER? Give an example.
Things are picked and pawed at in my family, and then forgotten.