I despised this carpet from the moment I stepped on it, almost 3 years ago. But I had no choice, don’t you get it? It was the only space available for my hope-nothing-hope transition.
I am Nađa, whose name was filtered by the passport control devices on several occasions, which, in its new version – Nada, has been serving me for the past years due to the untranslatable Serbian letter đ. Nadja is a Slavic female name, known in Arabic as Nadia, and in Russian Надія – in both languages meaning hope. However, in an international context, my new name Nada is translated as nothing in most cases. Hope becomes nothing in this migration, nothing to hope for becomes my life, and hoping for nothing my ultimate goal.
Today, I woke up sad as if everything drowned. But I had no choice, don’t you get it? I am thinking about the projects. What if the Crying Classroom takes place in my own room, outpouring the tears absorbed on this ugly carpet?
Who covers the whole flat with a carpet? I still have not met the owner of the flat so I can ask him. Still, I am squeezing my eye lobes on its surface while waiting for a change (of the carpet’s color at least). As it is becoming wet, the gray dots of its texture transform to a dark blue color. I start liking it more. Should I cry more? Should I cry a river? An ocean? A carpet?
Today, my tears are labeled with pressure. The pressure of this moment, partially yesterday, inevitably this evening, and always of tomorrow. The pressure dissolves my body, takes control of my actions, hurts my mind, and makes me sick. The pressure of you, of the screens, people, days, objects, him, definitely her, and myself.
I am sitting on the floor of my room imagining the person that will inhabit it after me. Will they try to untangle the complex history of this carpet as well?
Multiple joys, multiple relationships, multiplied jobs, multiplied dreams I speculated on, and multiplied realities I raced to be part of, were reduced and calmed in the very first days of this year, leaving just the adjective ‘multiple’ behind, in a quite different context.
one and two
I have eaten 6 mandarins in the last two days: two in the B3 department, while waiting for further instructions; one on the way to the Stätionare Aufnahme; two at the final destination in the C4’s waiting room; and one while waiting for the first drops of cortisol to enter my body, announced to produce a bitter taste in one’s mouth.
Entering the C4 building means seeing ‘these’ faces, and jumping from the question “why am I here?” that manifests my anger, and the injustice done by the higher forces, to a certain comfort, which always happens when one makes acquaintanceships within a context.
This bond is present in our eye contact, the little smiles drawn on the differently born, differently aged, and differently sick faces, and the codes of confirmation that we are belonging to this multiplied version of the life. The most obvious sign of bonding is nodding: either several nods followed by gently closed eyelids, or one, sharp and precise, that establishes the thought of a nodder in a form of a statement.
For these days, I’ve been wondering, but failed to ask in my broken German: which cities are the photographed on these photorealistic pictures hanging on the C4 walls?
Before I failed many questions in German, I failed to paint a photorealistic scene of the white horses running on the meadow during my bachelor studies, which was a huge disappointment for my whole surrounding back then. I gave up and bought myself a good camera since I could not find a reason good enough to compete with such a device. I am quite sure now that it was me in resistance, more likely than a lack of skill to depict the horses.
For a hyperactive, always on-run lady, for one that plans enormously while living in the future, that is in control of everything, for such folk, or anybody else, it is extremely hard to accept the fact that such a disease can enter their bodies and impede them in any sense. Can you fail a disease? Not in a sense of giving up life, but rather a failure that tricks the brain, so it thinks there is no disease at all.
Besides my C4 friends that share the infusion and waiting time with me for two days now, I have experienced some quite new, I dare to say interesting body sensations during the examinations. Different body parts of mine were electrified with the needle producing this strange effect of an inner massage, or the sensation of having your index finger directly in a power socket. Another needle, obviously bigger, pierced the particular point of my lower back, targeting the little gap between the vertebras of the spinal cord. The transparent liquid was sucked out from my back filling 2 little glass containers. This uncomfortable pain, more of a pressure feels like a tiny hand that tries to pass through the even smaller doors in my spine, and gets stuck for some minutes, leaving this feeling for some hours later – as if your whole back body opens, air comes inside through this tiny hole and you can breathe through the pain.
I had bought the expensive package of caffeine-free, deep-roasted coffee before coming to the C4 this morning, aiming to start my new, healthy life along with the journey with the Sick Body, after which dr. Fritsch said that coffee is the only way to suppress the headaches I have been having these days. After I am finished with my 6th mandarine, and the tests’ results are announced for this day I will head to the coffee place and purchase some deep-roasted, caffeine-enriched medicaments.
With such a condition, it is not about how it is at the moment, but what comes next and how will it affect you. For somebody that never lives in the Now, this could be a unique way to finally trust and dwell in that place, as the only safe space that gives you a moment to breathe and spares you from anxious thoughts and uncertainty of the following days.
Am I awarded here a tiny, barely visible bit? Spared the future rat race, running for everything I can be part of, of the omnipresent fear of missing out while diving into the complete uncertainty, that wipes you harshly with its heavy days of unpredictability. I am not the one in control at the moment, but I have full capacity, the Dragon voice, the unbeatable strength I always gain when out of control, and a new skill – getting a lot of rest.
Dear Now, my old friend, we are starting to bond. We might even make peace soon.
I have almost forgotten how it is to have a healthy right hand in these two months. On the morning of the third cortisol day, I can feel a bit more, again, with the 3rd injection of 500ml that drops slowly, entering my veins and making me trust my fingers again.
I have two generations on both sides of my chair: on the left one is a young woman whom I share the metal infusion holder with, I measured – it is approximately a meter between our chairs as if this pole with two bottles of cortisol cuts the distance between us; on the right side, I see peripherally an old lady in the red jumper, that has not moved that much since I entered the room, as if her eyes dived inwards, looking into a depth of her own inner body rather than I hospital walls that surround her.
On my third day, I cried all along the way here with pauses, different paces, rhythms, and amounts of outpourings, inside the three trains and two tram stations. I have eaten one, seventh mandarin that helps kill the bitterness in my mouth, and drank half of the black tea I prepared this morning, as it helps reduce the headaches. On my third day, I am crying with such an overwhelming mixture of pain and hope, thinking of this as a potential adventure, and multiplication that occurred as my partner in future crimes, rather than an enemy.
I trust in you Sick body. I have kissed your carrot-oil-smelling shoulders before each exam because I know that we are born for the great things – the great beauty of life among other greatness.
It is a Saturday – one of those that have no influence on the perception of the day, or the importance of the number or the name of it. As if it would make any difference to call it Tuesday instead. However, even though it does not change anything in my own day, I know that it is a Saturday because there is no photorealism hanging on the walls while sitting in the B4, Ebene 40. Just white. Pure whiteness.
I have never seen my young physical and emotional body in such pain, dear dr. Köbele, making hard each movement and thought of mine, with heavy mood swings followed by tears, no matter what the emotion is. Heaviest tears so far, split in two bodies, separated by a border, covering our faces: my own, and my beautiful mama’s.
Do you know how frightening it is to be called with the code ”urgent”? My legs froze today, and my heart blew up, breaking through the thin skin of my chest.
What is it?
2 x 15
Today I had two sessions closed in the strange metal body of that loud machine, two times half an hour inside of the capsule. Surrounded by the disturbing sounds coming from the walls of it, I had a chance to picture my brain cells dancing within the empty skull, bumping onto the walls of it and changing the rhythm according to the song played by the MR.
What is it, dr. Köbele?
“If we find it, you will have to receive a contrast medicine.” they said. My blood was mixed with the gadolinium contrast medium in the second session, which means that they had found it.
The second session made me think: this is the second round or the second encounter of a potentially big change. A big step backward, perhaps, or forwards, inevitably? For the second time, I received this terrible news, still not knowing what is it.
What makes my hands numb for so long? Doctor Köbele?
Thank you, Sick Body, for being so brave not to hide your most honest feelings and reactions. Thank you for hiking several kilometers and discovering all these beautiful hills today after being exposed to the capsule and contrasts, because you faced those white-coated, frozen, tale-like scenes, long trunks, thin grass coming out of the white carpet, tiny branches that in their extreme geometrical confusion created a puzzle. They looked the same as MR pictures of my brain, doctor – impossible to understand, with the complicated history and unexpected changes, even entity, in a way I understand it.
Lost & Found
Today I lost my earring, right before entering the capsule, and my left glove while running through the snowy hills. But I found the strength to support myself on this weird journey, producing powerful tears that burn my face and melt the snow.
…until you call me, I am not going to move anywhere.
Encountering a disease has ambivalent consequences. On one hand, it is a terror of potential disabilities, changes, and in its worst case permanent absence from the white leather, quite a comfortable sofa we are sitting in while receiving the news. On the other hand, it is an unexplainable blessing, a potentiality, a touch that burns our chest and lets us embrace the overwhelmedness.
Today I met dr. Köbele
I read all the magazines you have on the shelf, daily horoscopes for the past week, ate two Spekulatius cookies, and explored each corner of the waiting room until the voice of the nurse struggled to pronounce this long last name of mine.
And there I was, waiting for you to tell me, whatever you have to tell me.
Observing my body – my fingers paralyzed, my toes hurting, my body getting weaker each second, my daily life changing, my brain not working properly, tired, exhausted, disabled. Today, I finally took into consideration – I might be sick.
Today I liked your jokes, dr. Köbele. Your way of delivering, examining, and telling stories about possibilities and disabilities.
Dear dr. Köbele, today I felt weaker than ever, lonelier than ever, and far away from everything that gives me strength. But today I loved my body in one morning more than I had loved it in these 26 years and stared directly at the sun longer than I could have ever imagined it.
I walked down the street with a great burden on my chest and sun on my face. I let the tears outpour and slide down my cheeks. If gravity were to change its direction, the tears would climb up the sky, directly to the Sun.
Dear dr. Köbele, my tears burnt on the sun and no pain accompanied this great beauty.
Directly at the Sun
…I remembered the book I have read two times and that never left my mind – “Starring at the Sun” by Irvin David Yalom, an American existential psychiatrist and author of both fiction and nonfiction that shares a precious moment from the individual and group therapy with people who were afraid to look directly at the Sun.
Around 100 people saw my nude body in the last 3 weeks. More than 50 of them I kept seeing in different contexts. Around 20 of them felt uncomfortable seeing me dressed afterward. Less than 5 saw my tears while observing my body.
Second hour of the posing, my fully spaced-out brain sends the signals of a potential upcoming act of crying. It is a mixture of having experienced observation of my appearance, within a group, and the great beauty of a moment witnessed.
It is a cocktail of sadness I could not ever fully express, covering it with a lovely tornado that burned my chest. It is the vulnerability one develops while being literally naked, not only undressed.
…and then, like a live sculpture, I started weeping over my pale cheeks, with the tears sliding over my neck, covering my nipples, some dropping on the ground from these little hills, some kept following the body’s line, the ribs, most of them drying up around the hips, embracing the abdomen. And then I became a live sculpture of a nymph, a crying Muse.
University of Newcastle’s professor of architecture, Michael Chapman, had a speculative idea to build a machine with a social conscience – Crying Room.
Aiming to trigger a cathartic act of crying, the space is imagined to be filled with slices of onions for the crying stimulation. The room was described as humorous and surreal – an antidote for the troubling times.
Quoting Victor Hugo, professor Chapman’s entry for the Crying Room was conceptualized with the sentences: ”Those who do not weep, do not see.” (Les Misérables)
A modern form of a (crying) restaurant
By pulling on the handles from the crying room, the inhabitant initiates the guillotine action of the blades to slice the onions. Bellow the room the onion soup produced by The Crier is served to the community that gathers. Besides the onion action and comfortable chair, on the table, there is a bottle of whisky and a package of cigarettes.
The Crying room is portable and mobile, meant to be moved around the city on wheels – to wherever the need for weeping is.
”If you want to cry, go to the crying room”. Tackling mental health stigma in Spain’s capital, Madrid – welcome to La Lloreria (Crying room).
In 2019, 3,671 people died from suicide in Spain, the second most common cause of death after natural causes. One in 10 adolescents has been diagnosed with a mental health condition while 5.8% of the overall population suffers from anxiety, according to government data.
From the crying corner to the signed as ”enter and cry” or ”I also have anxiety” the Crying Room is symbolizing anxiety, its acceptance, and solution. Mental health is still seen as taboo and should be banished – the work emphasizes. Not just conceptual, but practical, La Lloreria has a corner with the number of people you can call when you are feeling down (e.g. psychologist).
“Instructions on How to Cry” by Julio Cortazar – text performed by the Crying Institute participant.
Instructions in English:
Putting the reasons for crying aside for the moment, we might concentrate on the correct way to cry, which, be it understood, means weeping that doesn’t turn into a big commotion nor proves an affront to the smile with its parallel and dull similarity. The average, everyday weeping consists of a general contraction of the face and a spasmodic sound accompanied by tears and mucus, this last toward the end since the cry ends at the point when one energetically blows one’s nose. In order to cry, steer the imagination toward yourself, and if this proves impossible owing to having contacted the habit of believing in the exterior world, think of a duck covered with ants or of those gulfs in the Strait of Magellan into which no one sails ever. Coming to the weeping itself, cover the face decorously, using both hands, palms inward. Children are to cry with the sleeve of the dress or shirt pressed against the face, preferably in a corner of the room. The average duration of the cry is three minutes.
Text: Julio Cortazar Performing the text: Nadja Kracunovic Language: Serbian The book: published by the library of the magazine ´´Gradina´´, Serbia *Given by an extraordinarily dear friend Outfit: Crying Insitute
In the little metal mirror in the corner of my table, I observed my crying face. The familiar picture splashed over it with the realization: I cry like my mother.
Single mother & only child crying act: little continuous sobs, fast-running tears from each corner of both eyes, the sharpened edges of our noses pulled up with an imaginary string, pear-shaped, while our mouths draw a weird semi-smile on our faces.