Saturday, February 27, 2016

Listen to my reading at The Furnace reading series in Seattle!!!

What a wonderful night this was—and, now, thanks to Hollow Earth Radio, there's a recording online!!!

A taste:
On a good day, I write in sentences. On a bad day, I write in thoughts. You know when you’re dreaming, and past and present blend together in a way that makes it feel like maybe you can imagine a future? And then you wake up. Dreaming is not quite escape, not quite thinking, not quite feeling, or is it? Because sometimes I feel so much more hopeful when I’m asleep, like this is the day when everything changes, I mean once I wake up, or maybe I’m already awake, but not quite, because it’s that possibility of living in two times or experiences at once, but in the same body, the one that lets me down as soon as I get out of bed.

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

My review of DO I SOUND GAY?...

Do I Sound Gay? is so enamored of the assimilationist narrative of gay culture that it never asks the questions that really matter—not “are we happy with our gay voices?,” but are we happy with gay culture, and its narrow emphasis on acquiring straight privilege at any cost? In the end, Thorpe learns to accept his gay voice, while challenging none of the structural issues behind his initial discomfort. This is the true voice of gay culture.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

The problem with language

The problem with words is that they are only words. And then you forget them anyway. The problem with forgetting words is that then you use the wrong language. The problem with the wrong language is that then there are no words.

Who decided that language would be permanent? I’m searching for a way out, which is also a way in.

The problem with language is that so many people don’t use the wrong words. The problem with the wrong words is that there aren’t enough of them. If we were all stuck without words then there would be more language.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Four readings in the next few weeks!!!

How exciting—I’ll be participating in four amazing readings in the next few weeks!!! Here are the details…

First, tomorrow, I’ll be reading at Seattle Lit Crawl for the first time (hopefully the first of many!)—the reading starts at 7 p.m. sharp, in the gorgeous lobby of the Sorrento Hotel, and here are the details…

The Cabinet of Curiosities: Flashers
Thursday, October 22, 7 p.m.
Sorrento Hotel
900 Madison St.
Seattle, WA 98104

Flash fiction about things that make us go “hmmm.” Hosted by Rebekah Anderson and Lars Garvey Laing-Peterson, with Kevin Emerson, Suzanne Morrison, and Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore

Here’s the Facebook invite:

And, next Thursday, I’ll be at the Tacoma Art Museum to read a piece I wrote in response to their epic show Art AIDS America—the event includes free admission to the show, and is my first-ever reading in Tacoma!!! Here are the details…

Gay City and GSBA present an evening with Art AIDS America
Tacoma Art Museum
1701 Pacific Ave
Tacoma, Washington 98402
5:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m. (I’m guessing the readings will start at 6)

With readings by Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore, Greg Brisendine, Smitty Buckler, Tara Hardy, Garfield Hillson, Dorothy Frances Kent, Joshua Koets, and Cole Arden Peake

Art AIDS America is a groundbreaking exhibition at the Tacoma Art Museum that underscores the deep and unforgettable presence of HIV in American art. It introduces and explores the whole spectrum of artistic responses to AIDS, from the politically outspoken to the quietly mournful, surveying works from the early 1980s to the present.

Gay City and GSBA proudly present a special evening with 8 queer writers who have seen and responded to this powerful exhibition with new works.

There is no charge for this event, including a special chance to view the Art AIDS America exhibition. Refreshments will be provided.

Please RSVP to Howard Kwong: howard@gaycity

And, the Facebook invite:

And then, November starts off with the Seattle reading for Great Weather for Media, 4 p.m. at Hugo House on November 1. I’ll be reading a preview from my next novel, Sketchtasy. Here are the details…

Great Weather for Media at Hugo House
Sunday, November 1, 4 p.m.
Hugo House
1634 11th Avenue
Seattle, WA 98122

Celebrate the publication of great weather for MEDIA’s latest anthology "Before Passing" with an amazing lineup...

Featuring contributors and special guests: Toni La Ree Bennett, Will Gibson, Thomas Hanchett, David Lawton, Richard Loranger, Mary Mackey, Jane Ormerod, and Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore

"Before Passing" is an exhilarating collection of contemporary poetry and short fiction by established and emerging writers from across the United States and beyond.

A great event page on the Hugo House site:

And, the Facebook invite:

And, last, I will be in conversation with Andrea Kleine for the Seattle launch of her debut novel, Calf, at Elliott Bay Book Company on November 2. Andrea and I have never met, but it turns out that we both escaped the horrors of Washington, DC to make our way in the world as mesmerizing artistes, hooray! Andrea’s book, which takes place in DC at the dawn of the ‘80s, is filled with so many details from my childhood that this adds another haunting dimension to an already haunting book—I know we are going to have a great conversation! Here are the details…

Andrea Kleine with Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore
Elliott Bay Book Company
Monday, November 2, 7 p.m.
1521 10th Avenue
Seattle, WA 98112

Writer and performance artist Andrea Kleine’s debut novel, Calf (Soft Skull Press), was inspired by John Hinckley, Jr.’s 1981 assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan and by the murder of her close childhood friend that same year.  Made up of dual narratives and told over the course of one year, her account is a fictionalized account of these two converging events. "Dread stalks every page, and the result is unsettling, scary, and often brilliant. For readers looking for a sharp, twisted narrative, this is a keeper." —Publishers Weekly

And, the Facebook invite...


Thursday, September 17, 2015

Imagining more

News of an upcoming show of David Wojnarowicz’s work at the new downtown Whitney prison I mean showroom I mean coffin I mean mausoleum I mean museum has filled me with more disgust than anything else. When I first discovered  Wojnarowicz’s work it was right after his death of AIDS in 1992—I was 19, escaping childhood and everything I was supposed to be, gasping and grasping at the possibilities of living fully in a world I knew wanted me to die or disappear. Reading Wojnarowicz I immediately felt my rage and desire in print for the first time, lust and loss as a part of everyday experience, the way it’s everything at once—you don’t get to choose unless you choose everything.

I remember the Wojnarowicz retrospective at the New Museum in 1998—I was so excited to finally see this work that meant so much to me, the actual work, not just photocopies on my walls. But walking around that show all I could think was that Wojnarowicz was dead, and the work in this rarified context was dead too. What will the new Whitney show add to the mummification of lived experience?

Surely, as an institution that literally sits on the ground where Wojnarowicz once cruised for sex and sensibility, the Whitney must be planning a few surprises. Perhaps they’ve unearthed  remains of Wojnarowicz’s seminal influence in the excavated ground—come stains in the debris? Maybe, with all the technology they have available, they will be able to exhibit before-and-after pictures of David’s semen—look at this come, so happy on the wall before HIV, and then later you can see the mourning in grey streaks. Maybe in honor of the show, the Whitney will convert its main gallery into an installation of trucks once filled with rotting carcasses, in honor of the meatpacking trucks where gay men used to fuck with abandon, formerly located directly in view of where the Whitney now stands. Perhaps then we will all be able to smell the death, and imagine more.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Two upcoming readings in Seattle!

First, TOMORROW, Thursday, June 11, as part of Capitol Hill Art Walk, I will be reading at 7:30 pm with CA Conrad and Sarah Galvin (with Jaimee Garbacik as MC) at Ingersoll Gender Center (in the basement of Gay City/Kaladi Brothers, 1216 Pine Street)—what could be a better combination of deliciousness—come early for art reception and refreshments, then get ready for a gender explosion and literary brilliance (or is it a literary explosion and gender brilliance?)—all or nothing, bring it on, everything at once, we are ready!!!
And, in a few weeks, I’ll be reading at the Hugo House Pride reading, with Sarah Galvin, Matthew Schnirman, and Anastacia Tolbert—another fantastic combination, maybe even an antidote to that thing that happens in the following weekend?!?!!! We all need antidotes… Here are the details for that one:

Hugo House Pride Reading
with Sarah Galvin, Matthew Schnirman, and Anastacia Tolbert, and Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore
Wednesday, June 24, 7 pm
Hugo House
1634 11th Ave
Seattle, WA 98122

Here’s the Facebook invite if you like that sort of thing...

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Closet Archives

I’m going through my closet to see if there’s anything I should get rid of—of course there are those three coats at the end that I only ever wore for turning tricks, passably masculine in the way that’s the only way for tricks, or 99 percent of gay men, but that’s another story. In every pocket of these three coats, there are Maxx condoms and little packets of ID lube. But the treasure is definitely a yellowed strip of paper ripped from the back page of the Village Voice from December 30, 1997. On top of ads for PARK SLOPE FLEA MARKET, WILD STRIPPER GRAMS, Wireless Telephone Inc., LEE’s Transvestite Boutique, and several missed connections, I’ve written the number for the night’s business transaction, a penthouse on East 39th. Of course, over the years, I would have used and then discarded hundreds or even thousands of pieces of paper just like this, but this is one of the few that will end up in the archives.

Tuesday, May 05, 2015


It’s bad enough when the New York Times editorial, “The Quest for Transgender Equality”—WAIT, I CAN’T SAY ANYTHING MORE, I’M ALREADY VOMITING AT THAT TITLE. But when the New York Times starts its list of “heartening stories” of transgender inclusion with the tale of a CIA analyst transitioning on the job, and NOW I’M CHOKING ON MY VOMIT.

But, IT GETS BETTER because this brave CIA analyst receives an Ann Taylor gift certificate from her colleagues instead of a pink slip—NOW I’M READY TO SHIT IN RED, WHITE AND BLUE. (Of course, Ann Taylor offers the perfect outfit when you have blood on your hands.)

And then we hear about “thousands” of transgender troops who “serve in anguish because the military bans openly transgender people from joining the service”—LET THE ANGUISH GROW AND GET OUT BEFORE YOU KILL AGAIN.

(Of , course, this statistic about thousands of transgender troops is no doubt brought to us by the propaganda machine funded by our first openly transgender robber baroness billionaire, Jennifer Pritzker, go team!)

So “the military bans openly transgender people from joining the service”— GREAT, LET’S NOT END UP AS TOOLS OF IMPERIALISM LIKE THE GAYS.

But I’m most haunted by a sentence near the end of the editorial, where it says that a handful of senior Department of Defense officials “have become convinced that lifting the ban would unlock the service members’ unfulfilled potential.” Unfulfilled potential. Unfulfilled potential. They mean the potential to kill, right? Because that’s what the military does. GET EVERYONE OUT OF THE MILITARY BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE—THAT’S THE ONLY REAL POTENTIAL.

There are good points in the New York Times editorial, but in the end it just becomes militaristic gibberish about how to “formally integrate transgender troops.” WILL TRANSGENDER TROOPS BE ABLE TO FIGHT ON THE BATTLEFIELD LIKE REAL MEN I MEAN WOMEN I MEAN MEN, tune in on Fox News I mean read about it in the New York Times or listen live on NPR, it’s all the same horrible coverage. WILL TRANS TROOPS BE RELEGATED TO GUARDING DRONE BASES IN NEVADA, WHERE NO ONE WILL EVER SEE THEIR TRUE COLORS, tune in at 11!

The right to kill is not a right. It’s not all right. I am so sick of the way militarism invades everything. I’m disgusted at how quickly a so-called transgender movement that mimics the worst mistakes of the gay movement has sprung up. THE WORST MISTAKES. And then we have so-called straight allies desperate to prove their open-mindedness by supporting the grossest counterproductive violent garbage disguised as “progress.” Any so-called social justice movement that points to military service as an achievement is not a social justice movement. Enough. Enough with this charade, this charade that keeps killing people. Over and over and over and over. Enough.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

How will we overcome this?

It’s hard to imagine anything more grotesque than the spectacle of the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington DC singing “We Will Marry Free” to the tune of “We Shall Overcome” outside the Supreme Court yesterday, while the Injustices debated the fate of state bans on gay marriage inside. Meanwhile, in Baltimore (40 miles away), thousands of troops amassed to prevent people from protesting another vicious police murder of a black man who is alleged only to have looked a police officer in the eye before running away. The appropriation of black struggle by gay powerbrokers as a cute accessory to assimilationist violence is old news, but “We will marry free-ee-ee-ee-ee” still left me speechless. “We will marry free TODAY,” the Gay Men’s Chorus sang triumphantly while waving the corporate logo of gay imperialism (yes, the HRC flag) in classic blue-and-yellow, red-and-white—and, now, rainbow background with white equal sign (perhaps the most symbolic one yet). How will we overcome this?

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

My review of Visions and Revisions: Coming of Age in the Age of AIDS, by Dale Peck, for the San Francisco Chronicle...

I tried to squeeze as much as I could into 300 words...
Dale Peck’s “Visions and Revisions: Coming of Age in the Age of AIDS” is many things at once: elegy, cultural analysis, personal history, sexual diary and meditation on the meaning of art, community and self... [B]y placing himself within the upwardly mobile narrative of gay assimilation, Peck delivers some of his most nuanced analysis. Watching HBO’s “Angels in America” in 2003, a decade after seeing its original theater incarnation, he struggles to recognize his own experience, wondering “if the language I spoke now was my own, or a kind of colonial imposition."

Thursday, March 26, 2015

What could be tackier than the traditional nuclear family?

When I was a hooker living in New York in the late-nineties, I made a weekly pilgrimage to the offices of NEXT Magazine to pay for my ad (in cash, of course). At the time, the office was on Varick Street right by the Holland Tunnel, with some of the worst pollution in New York City, and after surviving the car exhaust I would take the elevator up to a windowless office with ‘70s wood-paneling (and maybe even brown carpet?) to hand over my cash before escaping back into the world. At the time, NEXT was in fierce competition with HX, the other glossy & vacuous weekly gay magazine filled with full-page ads for the latest muscleboy hotspots. NEXT owned the printing press (or at least it was in the same building), so eventually that’s the club mag that prevailed (I also went to the office of HX to pay for my ads, but that’s another story). Anyway, I never imagined NEXT would publish anything other than crass consumerism (let alone a critique of the gay consumerist mindset!), so it’s nice to see this short and clear opinion piece by NEXT Associate Editor featuring quotes from Yasmin Nair and myself (and, of course, announcing our new line of g-strings for Dolce & Gabbana). To more anti-assimilationist analysis in surprising spaces, please!!!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Synthetic thoughts

So I was asked to comment on the Dolce & Gabbana “synthetic babies” scandal, and my first instinct, after looking it up, was to think: who cares? It’s like the battle of the self-hating gays, right? Dolce and Gabbana say babies should come from the traditional family (Jesus and Mary? Jesus and God?) not fertilization, or something, and then we get one of the most synthetic gays on the planet, Elton John, saying MY BABIES ARE REAL. (Cue Ellen DeGeneres, Ricky Martin, Madonna, blah blah blah). Everyone’s going to throw their $50,000 Dolce & Gabbana dresses into the sea, or something. What does George Michael say? Can we get a comment from John Travolta?

No one, of course, points out that the fashion industry (like every other industry) is not based on any “values,” but on maximizing profits through mass exploitation (duh). (I love the comments from fashionistas saying “I would never wear Dolce & Gabbana, their clothes are tacky anyway”—as if all fashion isn’t tacky). No one, of course, points out that the traditional nuclear family—gay, straight, trans, queer, whatever, is tacky, outdated, and oppressive. It’s a failed project. Let it go.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

The Oscars

The thing about celebrities is I don’t care. Or, the thing about words on the page is that sometimes they are not the same words you imagined off the page. And: they are the same words, but they don’t look the same, which is not the same thing as meaning but almost. Liking less vs. Hating more. I was going to say that the only thing I dislike more than Hollywood is the United States government. Then I realized they might be the same thing.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Surprise! I'm reading tomorrow at the University of Washington Bothell

Yes, it's true—I’m reading tomorrow at the UW Bothell. The wonderful Sarah Dowling is teaching The End of San Francisco in a class called Writers’ Research, so this will be a perfect opportunity to read from and discuss the book in all its glory—it’s a public event, so do feel free to invite the world… 

Here’s the lovely announcement the school made for the event:

The singular and brilliant MATTILDA BERNSTEIN SYCAMORE will grace UW Bothell with her presence on February 19th, at 6 pm, in DISC 162 for a reading from her book The End of San Francisco. The End of San Francisco is a genre-bending memoir about the myriad ways in which people fail each other. Touching upon queer activism, AIDS, sex work, ACT-UP, and the hopes of the 90s, the book asks what it means to be left in the wake of gentrification, loss, and the failures of politics. The End of San Francisco is the winner of a 2014 Lambda Literary Award.

Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore is the author of two novels, So Many Ways to Sleep Badly (2008) and Pulling Taffy (2003) and the editor of a number of anthologies: Why are Faggots so Afraid of Faggots: Flaming Challenges to Masculinity, Objectification and the Desire to Conform (2012), Nobody Passes: Rejecting the Rules of Gender and Conformity (2008), That's Revolting: Queer Strategies for Resisting Assimilation (2005; 2008); Dangerous Families: Queer Writing on Surviving; and Tricks and Treats: Sex Workers Write about their Clients.

And, here’s the Facebook invite...

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

My review of HBO's Looking in The New Inquiry!!!

A smart editor at The New Inquiry asked me to review HBO's Looking. The hardest part was watching this advertisement for a gentrified San Francisco masquerading as a portrait of contemporary gay life, but I came up with a few things to say..."By acting like displacement isn’t happening, Looking plays an active role in cultural erasure—it’s a tourist brochure for a gentrified San Francisco, an advertising campaign with bodies as billboards. In this day and age, when the portrayal of gay lives is hardly more threatening than a trip to Pottery Barn, Looking makes sure that no hint of a queer alternative slips through the cracks in the glaze."

Saturday, February 07, 2015


When someone asks WHAT’S YOUR REAL NAME, you might be in the wrong place. When four different people ask WHAT’S YOUR REAL NAME, you’re definitely in the wrong place.

Then there’s the queen who says are you a boy or a girl—just KIDDING!!! People at gay bars have really evolved.

This queen was dating someone who had my haircut, he was 25 and she thought he really liked her, but then he said she was too feminine. And short. I am short, she says.

She doesn’t like it when people say how old are you, what a ridiculous question. Then she says: How old are you?

She had sex with this guy who's a barback, but she didn’t like it when he said he usually likes to fuck several guys in a row. They were at a bathhouse.

Every gay bar is an accidental comedy routine. The best comedy routine is the one that takes itself seriously

Sunday, December 28, 2014


Is it safe to wear red and green yet? Some people talk to their kids like they talk to their dogs, and some people talk to their dogs like they talk to their kids. When a dog is wearing a bandanna, does this mean it’s trying to cover up its hair, or is it an anarchist?

People with off-leash dogs, dogs with off-leash people. But there’s one place in my mouth where something always gets stuck, and I’m not talking about language. One thing about language is that sometimes it hurts. Or, it doesn’t hurt, and then you do. I can't tell if this dog is wearing argyle ironically. But I was trying to tell you about this place in my mouth where food gets stuck, how it hurts when I try to get the food out, I can poke with a toothpick or floss but sometimes I pull out too much pain, this is a metaphor, my rotting flesh.
Confession: the only good metaphor is a dead metaphor. One problem with meeting new people is that they don’t call you back and then you have to meet new people. But am I still a good person if I put the dishes away when they’re not quite dry?
Ouch—I lifted out the drain strainer, and it cut me. But I’m almost not late to therapy. I hope my therapist isn’t going to ask me to listen to his feelings. When I was a kid, I made up happy lyrics for sad songs. This is called denial.

Saturday, December 13, 2014


Someone just said this about David Lynch: “He’s extremely generous with what he’s willing to show about himself.” That’s generosity? Help! There’s a dog in the park wearing a Burberry coat, but how do I know if it’s real? This dog does have its nose up in the air, but I think it’s looking for squirrels. Is the Burberry plaid really necessary? Sometimes I wonder whose life this is, oh mine. 100% of historians agree that they don’t agree with 100% of historians.

Friday, December 12, 2014

All you need

But just as I leave the house, when I’m walking through Tashkent, the little park of dirt and dogshit, someone comes rushing up to me and says I hope this doesn’t sound weird, but I saw you on the bus the other day, and I really liked the way you dress. No, that doesn’t sound weird at all. He looks like the awkward best friend from one of those movies in the ‘80s except he was probably born in the ‘90s, in a month he’s flying to Bangkok to travel through Southeast Asia because he doesn’t know what he’s going to do.

And then, as I’m getting closer to the real park, Volunteer, don’t ask how it got that name because it’s not pretty, I mean the park is pretty but not the story of his name in honor of the volunteers in the Spanish-American War when the US solidifying its role in the imperialism, but just as I’m getting closer to the park I hear someone saying hell-lo! I look over, a woman with curly gray hair in a sleek silver car, slowing down to stop the car behind her, and I think she’s going to ask for directions, but instead she says YOU. LOOK. FABULOUS.

And then I get a rush through my body, this is what I’m looking for, this feeling of feeling what’s going on inside, me, and then at the end of the walk, when I’m getting closer to home, tired now, looking in at the yoga boutique to see a black tank top with shiny copper lettering that says, wait, I can’t remember, one of those yoga slogans, fill in the blank, next to tie-dye print hotpants, and a blue sweatshirt reading LOVE IS ALL YOU NEED, because really all you need is this sweatshirt. And I could get really sad, and ask: when someone commits suicide because they cannot exist in the world as it is, is this a hate crime? I mean I do get really sad.

Still, I’m looking for love, and finding presence. No, I’m looking for presence, and finding presence.

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Loss prevention

As protests erupt across the country for Eric Garner, I watch a white guy tackle a black guy to the ground outside my local co-op. Holds him down on the cement and handcuffs him. He tells me this is “loss prevention.” But whose loss? I’m told that the policy of the co-op is only to confront people in “extreme” cases, like when more than $20 is at stake, maybe a bottle of liquor, this manager tells me. So the unionized cooperative grocery store thinks it’s okay to tackle someone to the ground for stealing a bottle of liquor? Whose loss is being prevented? Why is the co-op selling liquor anyway? Sounds like a loss of integrity. I know co-op members voted to sell liquor, but did they know they were also voting to tackle people to the ground and send them to jail for petty theft? Throwing someone in jail for stealing from the co-op doesn’t sound to me like the values of a co-op.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Days when all the thoughts stay in my head, and is this supposed to be relaxing? All the layers of remembering, and which one matters the most? I keep dropping things behind my stove. What I mean is that I want you to find me.   

Thursday, November 20, 2014

My review of Dispatches Against Displacement in the San Francisco Chronicle...

The rhetoric of displacement is that progress can be made only by allowing gentrification to proceed unabated. “Dispatches Against Displacement” demands a paradigm shift that reimagines permanent housing as a communal necessity rather than a luxury only attainable for a few. In a city under the wrecking ball of yet another speculative frenzy, this book is a crucial intervention.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Did someone say Veterans Day?

Periodic request for an end to war experts on antiwar programs. Periodic reminder that war experts will never bring us peace. Periodic reminder that whenever someone says “our brave soldiers,” they support war. Periodic reminder that whenever someone says that the military is “keeping us safe,” this means more people will die.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014


It’s so relaxing to sit in the park in the sun, noticing the cool air on my face and listening to the gentle sound of the leaf blowers. There’s this place in my heart that I call my heart, is that what it is, mine? So often I think of something so important that I need to write it down right away, but then when I finally have a chance I just don’t have the energy anymore. Maybe this is my heart, beating, a real estate listing, rain-soaked, illegible. I spend half my time in Seattle trying to leave, I mean half my time in my head, trying to live. The other day I realized that awareness practice I learned where you try to sense into your center, your core, and you ask what’s meaningful, I’m still answering from my head. If my head isn’t my heart then I’m in trouble. I mean I’m in trouble. If leaving is a kind of living, then maybe thinking about leaving is living too. Sometimes I don’t know what will feel better

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Oh, look—a surprise interview for the Capitol Hill Seattle blog (with a cute photo)...

For me, I’m not interested in writing in the kind of linear mentality that most writing adheres to. Or the kind of narrative — that sort of tidying up — where everything has to come to some kind of closure. So, for me, I write against closure, I write against linear clarity. And then in that sense, finding some other kind of truth.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

This city that is and isn't

I love it when the weather forecast says chance of rain, and it’s already raining. I want to throw something out the window, and watch it grow. First I think maybe the end of these dandelion greens, but there are no seeds. Then I realize oh, my life here so far. Have I learned anything?

When I was a kid, I had a cactus that hurt me, so I threw it out the window. By the end of the summer, this cactus had multiplied all over the garden, and this gave me hope. Kind of like when I was younger, and I cut a worm into pieces, and then there were two worms, maybe even three. Except then I realized that worm was dead. I had killed it. I didn’t want to kill anything ever again. I stepped over anthills, and when I could I watched the ants build entire cities, wondering what I looked like to them.

This city that is and isn’t a city, but I guess that’s what every city is becoming now, a destination to imagine what imagination might be like, except for the lack.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Recognition of the gasp

Sometimes I write something, and then I have to think about it more. Sometimes I think about something, and then I have to write about it more. There is so much potential joy in the dynamic between writing and thinking, thinking and dreaming, dreaming and fear, fear and loss, loss and writing. I thought of changing joy to something else, but I think I do mean joy. Isn’t this the point of writing, the gasp of recognition, the recognition of the gasp?

Saturday, October 04, 2014


         So I went to this movie I knew would be awful, just so I could critique it, but then it was so boring I couldn’t even stay. Meanwhile, the sun came out, the fruit flies have taken over my apartment, and there’s a tweaker couple arguing downstairs on a discarded sofa. The highlight of the movie was when I danced to Chopin in the hallway for 20 minutes, because I couldn’t bring myself to go back into the theater. But then I missed the tearjerker ending—it’s a gay movie all the critics love so of course one of the main characters has to die.

         Outside my window, this tweaker has now set up a whole living room complete with lamp and end table, and now she keeps folding and unfolding her clothes. I know that feeling. In the old days, the gay character had to die at the end for the movie to be made, but now I guess it’s for the reviews.


But how did they get the money to make this movie? All these fancy actors, maybe they didn’t notice the script was so bad because they were so proud to represent two older gay men, a married couple. I guess this movie teaches us that the liberal imagination is no imagination at all. In this way death might be the only logical ending. Downstairs, now this tweaker is changing into heels. No, they’re too small. Cute, though—polka-dotted.

This movie starts with feet in a bed, and classical music, it’s a situation comedy I mean drama but none of the situations make any sense because the script is so bad. Did I mention the script? No, don’t torture me.

Soft-focus, a gay wedding, everyone is so happy, everyone is so so happy, everyone is so so so happy. The music teacher loses his job because it’s a Catholic school. So they have to sell their co-op for a million dollars to move in somewhere cheaper, which doesn’t make sense because there isn’t anywhere cheaper, and wouldn’t they realize this after living in New York for more than 40 years? Are you crying yet?

Now the guy who was yelling at the tweaker on the sofa is back with their dog so he can yell at her some more. Wait, how did a music teacher and a retired painter buy a million-dollar co-op five years ago, anyway? Don’t ask any questions, this is about older gay men, it’s groundbreaking.

“I still believe in Jesus Christ as my Savior, but I think I’d like to pray on my own.” This is an actual quote from the movie, the music teacher is reading the priest. Anyway, I went to the movie because I found out the neighbors of this gay couple are gay cops who like to party a lot. They also like Game of Thrones. While this movie is busy normalizing God and police brutality, notice how cute those cops are, okay? I wonder how they afford their million-dollar co-op. The narrative of gay assimilation just gets scarier, more and more normalized under the conventions of other conventions. But somehow in the last few minutes this tweaker has managed to change into a whole different outfit, including a beautiful scarf over her shoulders, and those heels. Now she’s the one yelling.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

A new direction

Oh, no—I just read a review of one of those books everyone who thinks they’re everyone is reading. Of course, it “signals a new direction in American fiction.” Must be the wrong direction. Can you give me directions? I’m looking for THE NEW DIRECTION IN AMERICAN FICTION. Yes, right over there by the drone factory. Yes, my next book will be called THE NEW DIRECTION IN AMERICAN FICTION. I got a big advance. This book will be 1776 pages glued together by sperm. The follow-up to THE NEW DIRECTION IN AMERICAN FICTION will be called BIG ADVANCE, and it will be EVEN BIGGER. Did I mention I saw my next-door neighbors in the park the other day? I think they were preparing for a birthday party. They looked right at me, so I waved. They turned around. Wait, did you say that President Obama just gave a speech on THE NEW DIRECTION IN AMERICAN FICTION? Pretty soon I’m gonna need an agent for my agent.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Oh, how exciting– one of my favorite pieces, "A Desire for History," looks lovely over at Berfrois!!!

We kissed hello because we had to. We had to know that we could kiss like this, a simple greeting but something splendid and transgressive even when mundane, or that’s what it felt like for me when I moved to San Francisco in 1992, and I was 19. This kiss didn’t necessarily feel like a radical act, it was just something you did if you were a faggot, whether in suit and tie or broadcasting the pageantry of outsider imagination. Was this something that united us? I wouldn’t have said so then, but maybe I’m saying it now.

Friday, August 08, 2014

When you grow up in the dominant colonial power in the world, maybe it’s impossible not to sometimes find yourself thinking colonial thoughts...

For example, last night, when I heard about thousands of people stranded on a mountain in Iraq without food or water, I thought why isn’t the US intervening to help these people? Somehow, in spite of the obvious lessons past and present, I found myself thinking that this might be one place where US military intervention could be useful. Thankfully, I woke up today to Phyllis Bennis’s brilliant analysis on Democracy Now to bring me back to my senses.


Sunday, July 20, 2014

The structure of a new building

I can’t believe there’s really an organization called the Family Equality Council. And, Cynthia Nixon wants me to support it! Now, if Richard Nixon asked me to support the Family Equality Council, that would be something to think about. Meanwhile, I just realized that fecal rhymes with equal. Wait: someone invented the word shampoo. What were they thinking? Every time there’s another stunning report on climate change, I’m stunned that people still need these reports. Oh, no—an entire fabric softener factory just blew into my apartment—I can’t believe people still use that shit. Sorry, when I said hip retro diner, I meant gross gentrification atrocity. I’m wondering if the United Colors of Benetton are still united, after all these years. Suddenly I’m thinking about the kid who always ate glue during sixth grade art class. I wonder what happened to her. Funny how you can go to a school where 40% of the kids are Jewish, and the worst insult can still be to call someone a JAP. Somehow I grew up not thinking JAP as an insult had anything to do with being Jewish, even though I knew it meant Jewish American Princess. Is this a novel? One day you will read it, and ask the same question. These days, of course, we call our novels essays.        

There must be a word for the word everyone is trying not to use.

Sometimes we wait so long that we’re no longer waiting, and sometimes we wait so long that we’re dead. The difference between satire and what’s going on in the world is that the goal of satire is to illuminate hypocrisy.

I like to pretend that when people are staring directly at me from outside, they can’t see me at all. I’m pretty sure that’s true, right? Sometimes I’m suddenly shocked by hierarchies of language, for example: Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.

Chancellor of Vice. Chancellor of Mice. Chancellor of Lice. Lice Chancellor. Watch out, world—I’m having an old-school outfit moment, and cutting the sleeves off this sweater I bought for two dollars at a garage sale and it fit so well, but it wasn’t the sort of thing I would wear. Except now, I’m looking for stripes, contrasting with stripes, contrasting with stripes, contrasting with stripes, so this will be perfect. Earlier I saw someone working gray on gray on gray for the first time, I mean for the first time when it actually worked. I wanted to stop him to say something, but of course he did the usual stare at me and then turn away.

          It used to be that whenever I saw someone wearing sunglasses in the rain, I thought: what’s up with that diva? Now I’m that diva. Migraine realness—oh, the glamour of it all. It’s not a good moment when I’m thinking about all the things I’ve had to turn down because of how awful I feel, so let’s skip that moment. I must admit that I get a bit confused whenever I hear that a political process is getting “too political.” I love it when a child taking medical cannabis oil for seizures, when asked what it tastes like, replies: Charlotte’s Web. Oh, this must be the part of the construction process where they pave the road after digging it up after paving it after digging it up. I hope they do this a few more times—I really like the sound of that machine grinding into the asphalt. Once, I met someone who wanted to be on jury duty. Remember: the best way to do everything on your to-do list is not to make a to-do list. Well, that was quick: here’s the new construction vehicle already, lifting something kind of wood with black mold that matches the black mold on the frame of this new building. This new thing is going to the fifth floor I guess. Don’t worry, I always check the bus schedule when I’m running late.

          It’s probably significant that my only reference point for these suddenly more embodied states after various healthcare practitioners is to say that it feels like I’m high. Also, there’s the crash, of course, but it’s not as bad. I mean, I come out of it faster. Or, maybe I’m living in the crash—there’s that too.       But where in my head is that essay I was writing while I was sleeping—it felt so eloquent and present then, but now I don’t even know what it was about. Still can’t help studying the black mold on the frame of the building across the street—that is black mold, right? I mean it’s black streaks on exposed wood, and then on the second floor it spreads out into bigger areas a few feet across. I guess at some point they will cover that with something, so before then I will take photos, in case anyone ever needs them.

          Oh, there goes my energy. And I haven’t even gone on my morning walk yet. Maybe there’s a song about the uncovered wood at a construction site that sits out in the rain and rots, and then they use it to make a building. Of course, I’m not an expert on black mold—maybe that’s just called seasoning. Maybe black mold is good for the structure of a new building, helps it to grow, organically. I wonder if this black mold is Leed-certified.

Oh, good—they’re spraying toxic chemicals on the carpet in the hallway again, so they can call it clean. Maybe I will have a picnic in the hallway, once there are enough toxic chemicals in the carpet. Oh, I get it—whenever the carpet outgasses chemicals, they have to spray more in to keep it fresh. There’s a new Goodwill in my neighborhood, and half of the customers are drunk. The other half are smashed. I’m just sitting on this chair because I can’t get up. One problem with having two computers is that when I turn one off the other’s still on.

          I don’t know why there are so many joggers in Seattle. I’ve never lived anywhere before with so many joggers. I love parsley. That’s it, right now. Maybe I’m thinking about all the ways not to get back in bed. Oh, that breath of fresh air, it really is a breath—maybe I should take off my sweatshirt, I’m sweating. If the point of a sweatshirt is to sweat, maybe that explains why I only wear sweatshirts in the house. I don’t know why I refuse to call anything a hoodie. Cooking tip: if something is rotten, it might taste better when you cook it, but it will probably still be rotten. If I still made mix tapes, I would make a mix for what to listen to with the construction noise in the morning. It’s a good thing I’m not a night person anymore, otherwise my life would be ruined. An update from the windows of the yoga boutique: a match-clashing pink-and-white bikini top with a henna pattern pink-and-white miniskirt. This one’s on sale. Get it while you can. Otherwise you’ll have to settle for the shiny black capris with a soft gray crotch of sweatshirt material, $128. Something’s burning in my kitchen. One problem with cooking is there’s always more. Maybe it’s time for the news. One problem with thinking about somewhere you could never live again is when you’re not so sure you can live where you’re living. People who talk about being on the wrong side of history like that’s a bad thing must not have read a lot of history I’m trying to remember if there’s something I’m trying to remember.

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Without words

Faced with the latest US-supported Israeli obliteration of Gaza, I’m finding myself without words. As the bombs destroy homes and lives and land, I think of the patriotic fervor in the US last weekend, the red-white-and-blue blasts of complicity. The US celebrates its imperial anniversary by getting ready to deport thousands of migrant children, the ones who have survived the violence of a criminalized journey for hope. In Detroit, thousands of people are losing their water and I’m finding myself without words. Faced with tyranny, I do not believe in words and I do not not believe in words. I hope for hope, and I do not believe in hope. I do not know if I will ever believe.

Friday, July 04, 2014

The back burner

Cooking tip: if you can’t find the chopping knife, it might be in the sink. Cooking tip: always do the dishes before you decide you don’t have enough energy to do the dishes. Cooking tip: rotten vegetables are only good if you don’t eat them. Cooking tip: when something’s boiling over, it might help to turn the heat down.

Oh, good—the update on the best worst song you may never have heard of before. Traci Lords, Okey Dokey, off her highly acclaimed 1995 dance album 1000 Fires. The lyrics: “okey dokey doggie daddy, yummy yummy sugar mummy, okey dokey doggie daddy, yummy yummy sugar mummy”—you do see how Traci Lords was switching it up? Wait, did I mention that Traci Lords WINS AN OSCAR in that song? Worth listening for that moment alone. “I rarely transgress in a dream; I dream of the guilt that follows transgression.” Elisa Gabbert, The Self Unstable. “If information has replaced the story, what will replace information?” Speaking of information, when Gabbert chooses “the data” instead of experience, I do feel unstable.

If you’re going to tell me something, we should plan this together. Cooking tip: it’s true that rotten food is better when cooked, but whenever possible it’s better not to cook with rotten food. Somewhere between maybe and no way is a hard place to make a decision, I mean other than the obvious. So I’ve never figured out how to eat without thinking about something else. I try to focus on chewing and taste and texture but that only lasts for a few seconds and then I’m somewhere else. I know this is trauma, and I don’t know how to unlearn it.

“What is the use of a violent kind of delightfulness if there is no pleasure in not getting tired of it.” Gertrude Stein, Tender Buttons

This headline is clearly too good for words: “White House Issues New Guidelines on Sexual Assault.” Today’s cooking tip: always use high-quality sturdy pots—that way, if you leave something on for an extra 12 hours, you will burn your food, but not the house. “He wasn’t an android, he was my dad. But I thought he was a fucking android.” That’s the song I’m listening to now, David Holmes.

This guy in the elevator at the medical building says I like the way you let your cuffs hang long—I would be dressed nice too, but I just had a vasectomy. Oh, wait—was I supposed to be doing something today? This survey tells me I can make a difference. If I fill out this survey twice, will I make more of a difference? What is the difference between making a difference, and faking a difference? Faking inference is the new making, which is called making so often that making may now mean faking.

Meanwhile, I just lost all my energy. If that was energy. Periodic reminder that the only way to end sexual violence in the military is to end the military. As they start building the fifth story of the building across the street, I’m thinking about the woman who told me it would be four stories, because of the picture at the construction site. I think she bought a condo across the street on the fifth floor, she was worried about her view and there it goes, say goodbye if you’re in there. I might as well admit that I met her in the elevator of that building, I wanted to see what it looks like. It looks pretty good. I wouldn’t mind her view.

What rhymes with indifference? Oh, advertising. I was going to go on a walk to be out in the sun, but now it’s not sunny so I think I’ll make a doctor’s appointment. Now that the construction across the street stopped for a moment, I can hear this wonderful hold music.

Okay, I did that—now I will try to do something else on my list. Wait, now the construction is too loud to talk on the phone, what’s next? Oh, no—the author I was just going to read posted scary gay marriage propaganda, now I better choose a different book. “It is so rudimentary to be analyzed and see a fine substance strangely.” Gertrude Stein, Tender Buttons

I will always have an appreciation for graffiti on the window of some posh restaurant that reads SMASH THIS. I find it fascinating that, in conversations about a $15 minimum wage in Seattle, there is debate about whether a “small” business is one with less than 500 or less than 250 employees. Meanwhile, where is that picture of someone’s elbow and a huge camera with the headline Cleaning Up After.

When someone asks about my headache, I wonder: which one? I can’t decide whether it’s a good thing when I fall asleep on the stretching mat. Wait, am I awake now? It’s hard to tell. There’s a nice breeze outside.

I guess if I succeed at turning the computer off, that means I’m awake. Whoever created that phrase about leaving something on the back burner must not have been using the stove. But what is the difference between desire and helplessness? Trying to decide between helplessness and hopelessness. Trying to decide between desire and hopelessness. And why do they make fake plants that look half-dead? I have so many ups and downs on the internet every day, it’s almost like real life. You know you must be a child of the ‘80s when you’re trying to remember the brand name of the electric toothbrush and you think it might be Soloflex.

Saturday, June 28, 2014


So I wake up thinking about hashtags—warning: this might be a joke about a joke. Is that a hashtag in your pocket, or are you just happy not to see me? A hashtag walks into a bar. Or is a bank? How does a hashtag tell the difference? These are the questions we are faced with today.

Today’s cooking advice: turning on the wrong burner will probably not make your recipes more creative. A kohlrabi review: difficult to chop and it doesn’t taste that special, but in vegetable stock it’s the secret ingredient that changes your life. Help, the descriptive blurb is taking over my life. Maybe I should write a book called DESCRIPTIVE BLURB. Has anyone started a dating show called THE BEST ADVICE FROM THE MOVIE YOU NEVER WATCHED? And they’re opening up a gym down the street called Orange Theory. Does anyone understand this name? I guess Orange Crush was already taken. Orange Juice might make you thirsty. You don’t want to be thirsty while you’re working out. Maybe gym names are not supposed to make sense. Usually I guess they’re named after some guy who got really buff and now you go somewhere called Gold’s or David Barton or whatever, and don’t even think about it. Don’t even think about it: that’s an important important ingredient in gym culture. Maybe the most important ingredient. What are some other gym names? Crunch. That one makes sense. You definitely know what you’re doing if you’re going to 24 Hour Fitness, right? “You’re a woman of the ‘80s, you’re a Spa Lady.” That one made sense to me. But I was never allowed to go with my mother. Equinox. That’s one of the poshest. Retinal scanning instead of membership card when it first opened in New York 15 years ago.

Woke up thinking about Amina Cain’s Creature as a meditation on meditation, the distance of watching your own acts as they happen, the connection and disconnection between feeling and self-expression, the gaps between what we want and what we imagine. Meanwhile, whoever invented that atrocious smell described as cleaning the carpet, what do you think they were thinking? Indifference is the new difference. Whenever I hear the phrase killing it I want to run for cover. The trouble with being a writer is the trouble with being a writer. With all this killing it going on, what happens when you really?

Sometimes I feel like someone turned the lights off, even though it’s light out, maybe because it’s light out, but what do I mean if it’s the light that’s giving me a headache. My brain, that’s the light I mean, like my brain’s shut off no, it’s the distance between thinking and feeling, or feeling and being, being in bed, is that where I should be? If I close my eyes maybe I’m closing everything. Yes, I want to go get in bed, but maybe I’ll go for a walk, anyway. I thought today was the day when I didn’t feel so tired.

Every time I learn something about a sports team, I wish for no sports teams.

“I don’t know what truth looks like—I haven’t experienced it yet.” Amina Cain, Creature. And: “My challenge is to relax with another person in the way I relax when no one is there.” Thinking about the layering of desire inside violence inside calm inside work inside thought inside power inside powerlessness, and by layering I also mean the way the chapters overlap, voices in and outside of time, present and past and never-present and ever-present, maybe there is a play that becomes something other than play, something deeper in longing or violence. And then the relationships that people often do not call call relationships, at least not the relationships, between sisters and cousins and friends. In particular, friends, and how those relationships can last in different forms: “I think this is because the body still remembers the relationship, and most likely the bodies keep it alive in spite of the mind. The best thing would be to spend time with each other physically, but this is not always possible or appropriate.” The shifts in voice that build into and out of one another until suddenly we are in something almost like satire, with all-caps words like MY LIFE, except “My talent lies in gentleness, even if I am not a gentle person.” Is there always rejection inside dejection, I think that’s a question this book is asking. Husband and wife, and where this isn’t what it is, where this isn’t what it should be, where this should be what it isn’t, and where it is. Friends with physicality that might be desire even if it isn’t desire. A desire for softness. A desire for empathy. A desire for feeling, hearing, seeing, knowing, growing, flowing, I didn’t mean for this to rhyme. A desire for rhyme? The way one works with the other, the relationship becomes another organism.

          And then the last piece, where is it that I start crying? Before the question about whether the relationship will be forever, the question that gets in the way of the rest of my feeling because of course we know forever doesn’t happen, right? But this piece makes us question that. It’s a trope about a three-way relationship between the narrator and a married couple, something so easy to make go terribly wrong, but it doesn’t because this is the piece where everything comes together, that dynamic between feeling and trying to feel, exterior thought and interior action, suddenly everything opens up into a fluidity of comfort. A creature of us.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Don’t tell anyone, but I’m reading on Wednesday in Seattle at an event with “pride” in the title...

Yes, it’s called Write with Pride, and here’s what they say about it:

"Join us on Wednesday, June 25 at Gay City’s Calamus Auditorium for an evening of celebration as LGBTQ writers from across the community perform messages to our futures and to our pasts in a night of spoken and written words that share our hopes and reflect on how our hopes change. This will be a fantastic evening, as writers and voices from across the LGBTQ spectrum and across generations come together to celebrate looking back and looking forward with love, respect, hope, strength, and pride.

Write with Pride performers include Lambda Literary winner Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore, spoken word performer Roma Raye, Pride Foundation’s Gunner Scott, The Seattle Lesbian’s Sarah Toce, and more! This event is presented by Gay City Arts and hosted by Gay City and Old Growth Northwest’s Gay Romance Northwest initiative."

Sunday, June 22, 2014

My review of Martin Duberman's brilliant new book in the San Francisco Chronicle!!!

The myth of objective history is a cruel lie often used to silence marginalized voices and smooth over contradictory realities. Thankfully, in "Hold Tight Gently: Michael Callen, Essex Hemphill, and the Battlefield of AIDS," Martin Duberman resists both of these tendencies. Instead, he presents a meticulously researched, nuanced, empathic and insightful portrait of twoimportant artistic and political figures who came to prominence in the early years of the AIDS epidemic.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Sometimes I think I’m the only person who still goes outside thinking something magnificent and unexpected might happen

Today I walk towards the sun, stand at the bottom of the hill before the stairs to the street above the highway overlooking the skyline, and watch the shifting colors of the leaves blowing in the wind. Halfway down the stairs there’s a friendly dog, almost too friendly because he keeps jumping up and I didn’t realize English bulldogs actually jumped. But I liked English bulldogs even before I liked dogs, so it’s okay. Also, there’s the sun, so this is a different world, flowers growing in a field which isn’t really a field, just some rocks overlooking the highway. I discover a grassy hill I’ve never seen before, walking up the hill helps to realign my feet so they don’t hurt anymore, and when I get to the top I have to step over a railing to get back to the street. Then there are the usual gay couples who ignore me. Someone points in my direction, but actually he’s pointing at a condo. I decide to go back up that hill again, so I go down a different way, and I notice someone else wearing purple pants, but actually I’m not wearing purple pants. She smiles at me, and then goes back to texting. There’s that field of bluebells again, just past the hill I’m going to walk up, and when I look at the window of a building that looks redone I see that someone is looking out but not out, and then halfway up the hill I realize it’s not as pretty this time. Maybe it’s not as pretty because I’m already thinking about writing about it, halfway up or maybe two-thirds of the way the grass turns to mud and moss and then just mud and cigarette butts, and I keep almost stepping in dog shit. I guess if people are going to smoke somewhere, it might as well be here. Back on the street, I’m walking up the hill that usually seems overwhelming but now it doesn’t, except that now the sun isn’t out anymore and I’m cold. Suddenly I’m sad too, and when I get back to my block there’s some really loud noise, maybe the construction is going on late tonight. Actually it’s someone with a leaf blower, blowing allergies right into my face, and now my head hurts. There’s a container of dental floss on a chair in the lobby of my building, I do need floss but I don’t think I want someone else’s.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Imprisoned for the crime of being trans – free Jane Doe!

Does everyone know about the case of Jane Doe, a transgender teenager now in prison in Connecticut for over two months without any charge, held in solitary confinement for the crime of being trans? Unfortunately this case is not unusual. It’s the way the vicious prison system has been designed to work. What is unusual is the tremendous amount of support that Jane has received from an incredible group organizing on her behalf. And yet Jane is still in prison. Here’s a summary of the case, and what people can do to help, by Chase Strangio and Reina Gossett...

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Oh, look — HOOK-Online just published a lovely excerpt from The End of San Francisco — a full chapter, in fact, hooray!

Sure, here I am again walking through the artificially dark halls of men madly projecting masculinity at any cost because that’s what gets them action. But the point is that it no longer matters: suddenly I’m so present. It doesn’t make sense really, but I’m laughing and grabbing guys to kiss them on the neck, then I’m devouring this one guy’s ear, tongue tasting the hills and valleys and he’s hugging me or maybe I’m mostly hugging him but whatever it feels good and starts a trend because then there’s the guy with his head nestled at my chin, the few words we exchange are not exactly going anywhere that resembles connection but that’s okay too or no, it’s not okay, but it’s okay.

Sunday, June 08, 2014

The descriptive blurb

Today everything is over, before I’ve even left the house. Of course, this is a common occurrence. Sometimes I think of my life as before and after: before I got up, and after I went to bed. But what is this thing called universal human dignity, and where do I find it? Walking down the street as the sun is setting, and the skinny white drug child with pink hair across the street is saying something to me, I’m not sure what. Now she’s saying work it, girl—work it, girl—in a good way! Why doesn’t this happen more often? A block away, and I realize that at first she was probably saying cun-ty! It’s been so long since I’ve heard that, please bring it back, in a good way.

Update from the yoga boutique: a floor length green-and-white striped tank top dress for $68. That’s their best deal yet. Hurry on over before they bring back the namaste coffee mugs. I’m trying to remember what happens on opposite day. Someone once told me that integration and disintegration are opposites. There’s how I think I feel before I get out of bed, and then there’s how I feel after I get out of bed. What’s the opposite of a drone?

Success: I opened the window so this wasp would leave, and it did. How do I apply this in other areas? Editing is tricky: once I add something back in that needs to be there, I have to pare everything down so you don’t notice. And now for the dreaded descriptive blurb. Oops—that headline said Jim Crow but I read J.Crew. Is there a synonym for a synonym? One is uniform, and the other is the uniform. In my dream I was staying at two airbnb places in the same building—so close, actually, that they connected and I wondered if I made a mistake by overlapping my stays. One of them was in Eugene, and the other in Portland, and they were inside a huge new hotel in New York inside an older crumbling building and I was picking up gorgeous pieces of the old building like part of a gold dome, wondering if I could take these artifacts home with me. So I was falling in love with the first sentence of my new descriptive blurb, but then I realized the second half was almost the same as the first sentence of my blurb for So Many Ways to Sleep Badly. The ruins of everyday San Francisco had become the ruins of everyday interaction. Maybe I should use the same descriptive blurb for every book. Marketing is marketing, right? It doesn’t matter what you’re selling.
Don’t worry. It’s already about a late-night moment. Consensual identity theft. Identity trading. Identity index. Selective identity. It still feels kind of like it’s going to feel. Leaving the house is hard does not mean that staying in is easy. I don’t understand what happens when I suddenly get so hot I think I have a hat on. Also related to when I go outside and think I don’t. I always want my hair to look really good when I go in for a haircut, so that the hairstylist will know what to do. Sometimes we live in the city where everything is already lost, which doesn’t mean that we can’t lose more. Indifference is the new difference. You know you must be addicted to publishing when you spend hours working on a descriptive blurb and derive some sort of satisfaction from this project. Don’t get me wrong — I still think the descriptive blurb is a scam, it’s just that right now I’m a part of it. Okay, it’s sunny outside, but the descriptive blurb is keeping me inside. How do I break free? I did not just write craving for authentic experience. Okay, it’s definitely about the brutality of belonging, now I’m going outside for a walk in the sun if the sun will wait for me, please. Amazing how I can spend hours trying to make one marketing paragraph sound simple or ecstatic, expansive or comprehensive, or just basic and elastic. I still think I should use the same descriptive blurb for every book.

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Wait, did I mention that I just won a Lambda Literary Award for The End of San Francisco?!!!!

It's true—usually I don't get so nervous about these things, but last night I was following the progress of the ceremonies via Twitter, and it made me so edgy!!! Also, it meant a lot to me that the judges in the category of Transgender Nonfiction were thinking of transgender as a category that extends, bends, mends and transcends—I couldn't stop sobbing when I found out that I won the award. Thanks to all the judges, congratulations to all the other finalists and winners, and here's to more delight and excitement in the future!!!

Ashamed to play

Okay, so I turned on my computer, pulled up Google to search for something, but instead I saw Support a world where every athlete can be #ProudToPlay” just underneath the search bar, and clicked it in anticipation of something awful. But it’s even worse than I thought—it’s a covert ad for the World Cup at a time of unprecedented protests that threaten to derail the games. Protesters in Brazil are calling attention to the mass displacement and structural inequality caused by the construction of an unnecessary $500 million new stadium, facing repressive police state tactics in response. The “ProudtoPlay” video paints an entirely different picture, starting images of Brazilian beaches and cheering soccer fans, and a voiceover by Nelson Mandela, back from the dead to tell us that “Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does.” And then we are treated to gay athletes from around the world, mostly people of color, telling us how proud they are. “This is the biggest moment in sports. It’s our time to make a difference and show the world that every athlete can be proud,” says a white guy towards the end, and then we see Nelson Mandela again, telling us that “Sport can create hope where once there was only despair,” and then a rainbow soccer ball next to the YouTube logo. The official YouTube blog for the video tells us that “In celebration of the upcoming World Cup in Brazil and LGBT Pride month, we’re honoring the LGBT athletes, their supporters, as well as the YouTube Creators who stand up for diversity in sports and elsewhere—all of whom help create an equal and inclusive playing field for everyone.” Apparently an equal and inclusive playing field means spending $500 million on a new stadium in an impoverished neighborhood instead of putting that money towards schools, healthcare, housing, food, and other basic necessities Gay athletes and everyone else should be ashamed to play at any sporting event that causes massive displacement and serves as a showcase for corporate greed and real estate profiteering. Yet again, an allegedly pro-gay agenda is deployed as a covert advertising gimmick for multinational corporate whitewashing. When will this end?

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

A sense of place

When I hear people talking about the boundlessness of motherly love, I think about the bottomless pit of despair I feel when faced with the possibility of meaningful connection with my mother. Juxtaposed against the reality of decades of neglect and her inflated sense of care.

I ask a health practitioner about a particular herb, and he says he doesn’t think it would be right for me.  When I ask why, he says he doesn’t know much about this herb, but a few people he knew who tried it got cancer. I don’t know if it was the herb, he says, but they were healthy before. What do I do with this particular type of advice? Maybe I can broaden this question to ask about judgment versus insight. Later, he says he usually charges people for advice over the phone, but he hasn’t been charging me because nothing’s been working. But, he thought he would charge me this time, because sometimes that helps people to take things more seriously. Seriously? Then he decides to charge me for 20 minutes instead of a half-hour, because it’s a more balanced number—think about transcending the yin and yang, he says, getting to the next level.

Thinking about the body as a potential, but a potential for what? How come when something realizes its potential, it’s no longer potential? How many times a day do I go over to the computer to do something, and then end up doing something else, until I realize I was trying to do something, but what? Maybe this is the definition of belonging: staring at the computer screen trying to remember why I’m here.

Then there’s the other problem: staring at the computer screen when I should be getting ready to leave the house. Where something is happening, nothing is happening. And, where nothing is happening, something is happening. Is there still an in-between? I’m certain that ALL-THOUGH must be an acronym, although I’m not sure what for. Also, ALL-THOUGH might be the next literary movement. Now that I’ve discovered this, I’m going to leave the house. We’re always looking out for the moments when the micro becomes macro, but wouldn’t the moments when the macro becomes micro be harder to spot? I always think I’m going to leave the house with plenty of time.

I hate it when I realize that yesterday was the good day. Any sunny day in Seattle starts with the question: is it going to rain tomorrow? Wait, I have energy for ten minutes so I better use this energy to make sentences. That’s what I do when I have energy, right? Also, I could jump up and down, but really I need to eat. I hope this energy lasts past the eating, cross your fingers for me.

Maybe if I write about eating while I’m in the process, I can figure out where everything goes wrong. I mean I can figure out how to get somewhere else. The pumpkin seed milk is delicious, and I don’t notice immediate negative effects. But do you see how I’m always looking out for the negative? Because the negative is where eating always leave me. Okay, start with taste, right, I’m supposed to taste this. There’s a reason people talk about flavor. There’s a reason I cooked this food in a particular way, not just so that it wouldn’t make me sick, even though it always does. Chewing, I need to remember that too. Radish greens aren’t that great when you chew them, maybe I was wrong about radish greens. But I do love the subtle flavor of red spring onions. And these adzuki beans, what do they taste like?

Oh, texture — the gelatinous feeling of amaranth and teff, the crunch of burdock root, the creaminess of the adzuki beans. I do like these textures. The slight tartness of a radish among greens, the softer crunch of a string bean, a hint of parsley and those spring onions again. I think it’s helping me to write about eating while I’m eating, I can even feel my feet, this is a good sign. But if I wrote about eating every time I ate, I might not be able to do anything else.

But I haven’t yet fallen into the hellhole of dejection and intestinal bloating, let me take a few more bites. How do I describe the adzuki beans without relying on the ingredients I added? Like caramel and salt, and then the surprise texture of a mushroom. Here comes the sadness, should I stop before the sadness overwhelms? I used to feel like eating helped the sadness, but now more often it feels like it causes it. Okay, the energy is gone—I feel like I should lie down, but at least no horrible bloating. I will sit at the table to see what happens next.

Soaking my feet in vinegar is not as good as it was last time. Oh, I know— maybe I should do the same thing that just hurt my eyes, and it won’t hurt my eyes this time. One day maybe I’ll figure out why my building turns up the heat on the warmest days, and then turns it off entirely when it gets colder again. Once I had a sense of place and then I left it. I’m wondering if loss is a sense of place. I’m wondering if a sense of place is always a sense of loss. I’m wondering if a sense of place is always lost.