Bulging spandex pants.
Battle of the Bulge.
Bulge at the waist, at the crotch, at the site of the incision, at the intersection of old and new.
Bulging trepanation, so that the injured brain doesn't squeeze itself to death inside its own tight skull-pan.
Bulge of unknown material intruding into the comfortably ordinary.
Bulge of inflamed tissue looking for any way out, never mind what anatomy will allow.
I wake in the night with my life bulging out at seams that I have been pretending aren’t really there, or are mended, or don’t matter. Build me a seamless monument – my marching orders for years, and yet seams there will be. Seams and rifts and yearnings.
I see how women are made to serve as seam-makers, making the untenable tenable. I am the Bulging Witch these days, and I want to hit everyone, which is the opposite of what women are supposed to want. (What anyone is supposed to want.) All my seams are bulging, said the Caterpillar, dissolving into undifferentiated goop. All my seams are bulging, the golden ones, the dark ones, the ones joining heaven and earth, and the ones running down the legs of my still-winter tights. Butterfly? Who knows about butterfly?
My marriage-seams are bulging.
My studio-seams are bulging.
My if I want to see this in the world then I have to build it myself seams are bulging.
My I and all beings are primordially Buddha seams are bulging.
How it goes: some insight arises and it’s wickedly uncomfortable. I find a way to live into it and the heart opens a few more notches. Then some new level of seeing shows up and the work begins anew. How can I love those who turn on me, rather than face the forces that are in truth keeping them small?
Saint Shulamith Firestone, pray for me.
Bulging witches on your pyres and in your kitchens, pray for me.
Households torn asunder by bulging women, pray for me.
I wear cheetah-skin and stripes. I wear turquoise and battle-pants. I dig through piles of past performances and find five folded dollars in a handmade Tip Your Artist envelope. I burn old drawings. I dig through bulging stacks of unfinished ideas and spent gestures. I dig towards sunlight through clouds of dust and stale glitter. I become a bad citizen, giving new bulges spaces not to squeeze themselves to death.
In the basement, dahlia tubers are preparing to bulge. In the asparagus bed, Queen of the Night tulips are preparing to bulge. On the trees, leaf buds are bulging.
People still believe in the possibility of making new things. Some of these are stupid expensive spandex clothes or stupid expensive housepaint the color of a mouse’s back. Some of them, too, are the idea of melting two halves of a broken pair of glasses and squishing them together at the nose, into something newly, radically strong.
People still believe in preventing something new from arising if at all possible.
All bulges are suspect.
All desires must be vetted for appropriateness and proper credentials.
All possibilities must arise from correct lineages or be squashed.
Fuck all that.
Fuck that with big, squishy bulges.
I am leaving the stuffy space of these four walls. I am walking with a lion. I am kissing all the wrong people. None of my thoughts are decorous. In the middle of the night I growl back at the dog and bulge to fill the bed and the whole world with discontent and racking tears of release. Physical therapy dislodges painful feelings long stored in a tiny room at the intersection of my skull and neck. They will never fit there again. It’s possible I’ll never be able to be anything other than a witch ever again. Goodbye, pretty lady. Goodbye, careful thinker. Goodbye, quiet despair. We have stripes and spots and boots now, and we’ve given up on the project of getting people to wake up.
We’ve given up on the project of what people think, when they think, Wake up.
We’re going to wake up someday soon and not need ten hours in bed to recover from fourteen hours of wakefulness in a world with little room for bulging.
Bulging brain, Buddha’s ushnisha.
Bulging out of town, using plane tickets unofficially guaranteed to include emergency stops in Albuquerque, re-routings through Houston, and inexplicable weather-based delays.
Bulging to Bethlehem.
Bulging past spanx-sponsored body sculpting and decades-long projects of quiet eating disorders.
The ball bulges between gleaming teeth.
The bag bulges with treasure. One silk rosebud squirts out from between plastic handles.
The Internet bulges with outrage at the intersection of inaction and neurotic speed.
Bulges get bad press – anything squeezed that’s well-liked gets a different name. Pert. Ample. Abundant. Correctly positioned and non-threatening. I’d like to see a ninja force of truly fat, angry people taking up space in uncontained ways. The fat person on the plane with an incontrovertible license to take up two seats. I’d like to see more of this: tall, bright, angry, boisterous, dark, bright, tacky, loud. What else are anxiety and depression besides bulges squeezed down in the service of what should be, but isn’t?
Is this how you want your therapist to sound? What happens when those tasked with helping us find equilibrium decide that shit is indeed fucked up and bullshit? Then what? What if being pain-free isn’t a possibility anymore?
Last week my brother and I looked on while my mother met with the anesthesiologist who was about to facilitate her hip replacement. We asked and asked, and he answered and answered. In the end I asked whether one more question was OK, and he said, Sure. I said, Is there a scroll inside your pendant? And he said, It’s stylized. There can’t be a scroll in there, because it has to be able to go into the bathroom. I felt relief. Here was someone accompanying my mother into the OR who had thought about holiness and pain and the toilet and how sometimes it’s really hard to screw the plastic cap off a tube, even though that should be the easiest among the 10,000 steps. There are seams, he was saying, and while we might bulge at their edges, they keep some things sewn safely to one another, and other things safely apart.
Julie Püttgen is an artist, expressive arts therapist, and meditation teacher.
108 Names of Now