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  • i live in an 107 year old house in berkeley, just above telegraph. its positioning between neighboring houses and placement under the large maple tree out front makes the house naturally dark and cold. each room is charmed with a crystal doorknob and a missing fire alarm. the wood floors are cold and creak especially loud at night, the times when you deliberately try to sneak around quietly. it's a large house, large enough for eight college students and a neighborhood cat to live without having to step on each others toes, but it becomes a mansion when academic breaks begin.
    its a 20 minute walk from the painting studio on campus, but i dont mind. the fog of paint thinner and turpentine eventually wears off by Derby.
    i walk through the front door as its creak echoes loudly through the empty house. if i didn't turn the lights on earlier in the day, the house is dark when i get back.
    i keep the lights off.
    yellow street lamps and blue light from the neighbors tv find their way through the large side windows, and subtly illuminate the lines of the wood grain. it's spring break, and it's quiet.
    the heater is located by the back patio where vines and weeds have now claimed rightful ownership, and the fear of what may be living inside the dusty machine keeps the thermostat untouched. Showers have lost their association with the practice of cleanliness, and have become more of a necessity to stay warm. i flick on the living room light, which now only has two working bulbs. it takes a while for the room to seem warm, and i find my slippers that i left by the couch this morning. that was a really good idea. the thought of shedding my clothes and accepting those seconds of sharp cold before walking into the shower keeps me from leaving the couch.
    i turn on the tv just to hear sound.
    i stay on the couch for a while longer. on my camera, i stare at the picture i took of my painting before i left the studio. its in progress. i keep staring.
    i walk into the bathroom from the kitchen to look in the mirror, and decide. i keep the bathroom light off and pull up the blinds. i take off my paint covered clothes and turn on the radio for sound. Volume 20. when the roommates are home its 12. The ground is always coldest in the bathroom, and i shift waiting for the water to get hot. i can see one of the neighbors string of christmas lights on their patio and smile. i painted christmas lights three days ago i say, and smile. the first seconds of hot water over my head are the best seconds in the day. probably because i dont think.
    i keep the lights off as the dark cold room fights with the warm water i'm standing under, creating the perfect collision. i shift as i begin to notice the pain throughout my body. 13 hours always keeps my right hand cramped and feet sore. and i arch my back to feel my spine and muscles. my skin is getting tighter and i feel the thickness in my hips. i think i should exercise more, or should i just drink more coffee. i laugh loudly and smile as i think about something i saw on tv. i think about my interactions today, did i talk to anyone?
    yeah, i saw my friend mike passing by on college avenue and we talked about printmaking.
    good. i hate those days when i dont have a single conversation.
    i stretch my hands against the glass walls of the shower, and stare at the blue light on the radio. i try not to think about my paintings, now isn't the time for that, but i do anyways. i get excited when i picture their completion and in a show for people to see. the effort and time is worth it i tell myself.
    i use the walls of the shower to push myself up and arch my feet, stretching and shifting with the music. i stand as the water runs over every curve of my head and i pretend im in a hot tub. i hope these paintings get me into yale. the nozzle is now as far left as it will go, i guess this is as hot as it will get. i dont need to wash my hair now, i'll do it later. i'll shave later too. tomorrow i'll be in the studio again, no one will see my legs. i turn off the water and realize i left my towel upstairs. i walk naked through the house to get it, and consider that the kitchen light makes me visible to the neighboring house. oh well. i wonder what marina abramovic feels and thinks about. walking up the dark staircase i begin to feel my bodily presence in the house, a luxury given to being nude.
    maybe that's what she thinks about.
    but i could never do performance art.
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