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 No one, of course, points out that the traditional nuclear family—gay, straight, trans, queer, whatever, is tacky, outdated, and oppressive.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.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Simple and gorgeous

Let’s change every day to April Fools’ Day, okay? The news will be so much better. Sometimes when I miss you, it’s helpful to remember that we never met. What’s it called when you start every conversation in your head for a few minutes before you call, not just the details of the conversation but even the hello part? “Hi Paul, it’s Mattilda.” Or, “Hi Paul, it’s Mattilda.”

          Someone once told me to watch my language, and look what happened. Can you watch my language for a few minutes, I’m going to the store. But I think I figured out the problem with all my problems. The naturopath said something about how your body is always on alert, but that’s not my problem, it’s the next step past that. My body has been on alert for so long that now it’s so difficult to turn on at the right times. Meanwhile, my body goes into fight or flight while I’m eating, I think that’s what happens when my brain suddenly starts racing and I can’t focus on what’s actually going on, this process of nourishment. But I don’t need to fight this food, I need to eat it. I don’t need to flee, I need to digest. How to get my body to realize this. The story of my life: when I’m sleeping, my brain races around to plan out an entire essay. But then when I get up I can’t think.

          It seems to me that asparagus can be bitter, or sweet, but never bittersweet.

“To defend oneself against a fear is simply to insure that one will, one day, be conquered by it.” James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time. I can’t believe Vice Magazine still exists. One of my computers just changed its time, and now I’m not sure which one’s right. Should I check the clock? I just checked the clock. Do we all just sit here waiting, what are we waiting for?


          The 111-T is the latest heavy-duty high-pressure cementing unit designed and manufactured by BJ Service, Inc. The 300 hp truck engine also transmits power to a high pressure 4 ½” x 8” triplex pump (reciprocating ram type) through a torque converter located between the engine and main transmission. Another 4 ½” x 8” duplex pump is driven by a 172 hp industrial engine, and the combined horsepower of the two engines can be utilized to drive the triplex pump when excessive pressures are encountered. Postcard by TriColor Multiprint Corp., Hollywood, 27, Calif.

Feminism beyond the category of woman is a feminism many of us have been imagining for a long time, but unfortunately this doesn’t mean the other feminism doesn’t still dominate. Sometimes this domination takes place in surprising ways, like when the category of woman opens up to include people like me. While I do think this is testament to a lot of work by a lot of people that the category of woman can sometimes shift to include a variety of bodies, I still think feminism needs to shift away from a reliance on this category. But what does feminism beyond the category of woman mean? It means hope.

          It’s so hard to avoid clichés in writing a descriptive blurb. Of course, a descriptive blurb is its own cliché. When you feel so alone that you think about moving to places where you felt even more alone. But then the sun comes out. What’s the cure for nostalgia? Truth.

          I’ve never liked her music, except for True Blue when I slow-danced with Robyn Novick at the school dance. Or, okay, maybe I liked Papa Don’t Preach, but anyway, why has Madonna been in my dreams for the last several nights? Last night her daughter was trying to do push-ups, she collapsed after three and just kept going, didn’t want to drink any water even though Madonna told her water was the secret to her success. Then Madonna sent her daughter away with a friend she didn’t know, so that she could try on all her outfits for the Grammys, even though didn’t the Grammys already happen?

          Sitting in a park in the sun I’m thinking this must be one of the most beautiful things in the world until I realize this is a park in the historically black neighborhood, and everyone in the park is white. Unfortunately, I feel terrible about 300% of the time. The rest of the time, I feel great. I’m getting confused, because first I was told to save the screen. And then I was told to capture it. I keep thinking someone’s calling me, but it’s another solicitation for donations. Thinking about writing a book called I CAN’T EVEN THINK. Which means I’m actually trying to edit the book I’m actually writing. Except I guess I need to lie down again. It’s hard to call healthcare practitioners when I feel this awful. Maybe the sun will come out, and then I can lie in the sun instead of trying not to lie down in here. I can’t believe someone called Twitter a safe space. I can’t believe someone called anywhere a safe space. Maybe I’m getting somewhere. The sound of the saw outside, maybe there are birds, my eyes are so dry. Oh, there’s my breath. Let’s go in that direction. One day something will happen that will make me think nothing happened. Wait, I think that’s the sun. Is that the sun? I wonder what would happen if I did what I was trying to do when I sat down at the computer. Sometimes I think writing is about taking a really long time to do something that should be really easy. But anyway, there’s good news—I figured out how to change the beginning of this one chapter in my new novel, Sketchtasy, and now I can go on. CORRECT USAGE: A Funeral Home for the Upwardly Mobile.

          When someone says maybe the universe is trying to tell you something, I know I need another universe. Don’t call me sex-positive, but I think my whole body feels better just because I got fucked last night. And I wasn’t planning it. I was walking through the park looking for something else, but someone was looking for me, and then we were in the bushes. First I was thinking what am I doing getting fucked here, where there’s really no cover. Then I was thinking: what am I doing with my knees in the dirt, ass up in the air, and what if the cops come by right now? Then I was thinking how on earth does this feel so good, I mean I could just keep going but I better come before it starts to hurt. Then I was thinking maybe I should have gone longer, just to see how long it would have stayed pleasurable. But my knees were starting to hurt, that’s right — that’s why I stopped.

Only afterwards did I think of the real question: why is it a crime to do something so simple and gorgeous?

The other day I was surprised by someone who mentioned how a friend had to call the cops all the time because there were people shooting up behind his building. I was surprised because of the idea that they had to call the cops: I’m not usually around people who think this way. Especially when the idea was that they had to call the cops because someone was shooting drugs. When people say they have to call the cops because their landlord raised the rent, maybe I will start believing in the cops.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Even the gestures of intimacy

Did I mention I’m against the law? The problem with the sentence is that it’s always words. Thoughts on a new day: wouldn’t it be great if I didn’t have to go anywhere? And, why does my hair always look so good before I put my contacts on? Do I put my contacts on, or in? If someone had told me 15 years ago that people would be on their phones all day, but would never answer them, I would have been mystified. Maybe I still am. Today’s cooking tip: if you don’t turn the stove on, nothing will boil. Although it’s important to always use sturdy pots, because that way if you leave the house for several hours and forget to turn something off, when you come back, it will only be burnt at the bottom. I’m trying to get enough energy to go outside and lie in the sun. Writing that sentence made me so sad. Do I have enough energy to call someone? What happened — why am I such a mess? One day I will succeed at naming all the forms of exhaustion, but before that day comes I would like to feel better. What did I ever do before to erase and re-record press three?

          One day maybe I’ll figure out what separates the days when I wake up feeling awful from the days when I wake up feeling okay, but then feel awful an hour later, but before that day I would like to feel better. One day I’d like to live in an apartment where I can turn the heat on and off. At least right now I can turn it off. That’s what’s most important. A gray shirt that says LOVE PINK is not really doing it for me. Unfortunately I live in a world where it’s unrealistic even to dream that one day there won’t be any more fabric softener. Yes, sometimes while I’m in the hallway locking the door to my apartment I think: did I remember the keys? There must be another word for another word.

          If I think long enough about this sentence, maybe it will become something other than what it is. If this sentence become something other than what it is, maybe I can think about something else. If I’m not thinking about this sentence, then I’m thinking about something else. Watch this sentence for me, okay? Too much time to think is a myth, but I’m not sure who started it. Maybe I should do the dishes.

          I remember when faggots kissed hello. On the lips. We had so much to fear and so we feared nothing, I mean we feared one another but we feared fear more. Kissing one another on the lips, this was joyous and commonplace, a legacy we were inheriting, sometimes from people we hated and sometimes from people we dated, sometimes that queen on the street that you can’t believe, and sometimes the one you grieve, this doesn’t have to rhyme, what I’m saying is that we kissed because we had to. We had to know that we could kiss like this, just a simple greeting but something splendid and transgressive even when mundane, this was what it felt like. Yes, there were the ones who turned their cheeks, and we thought they were shady unless they explained this by mentioning a cold sore, one just starting or one in the past, whichever way we hoped we were taking care. We didn’t know we were the last generation to do this, to kiss on the lips all the time, people you knew and didn’t want to know, the ones you loved and the ones you didn’t even like that much, even the ones with bad breath, too much garlic was never a problem, we kissed anyway. We kissed the living and the dying, knowing that the dying are part of the living and we wanted to keep them with us.

Maybe this was a dream, I mean it wasn’t a dream, but maybe it is now. Now we’re more afraid, afraid of one another, more afraid, so even the gestures of intimacy have disappeared.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Here's what happens when I wrote something a month ago, and now it's here

I just got a royalty check for $69.08. Do you think if I ask them to round it up to $69.69, they would object? I know that 69 is not officially a round number, but just look at it — something needs to be done about that definition. What happens when your old passwords take over from your new passwords? Is there a password for this? A password is not the same thing as a pass. I don’t know because I looked it up in the dictionary. Suddenly someone appears, words or no words, this will be a sentence. No, if this is a sentence, then there must be words. But what about the sentence without words? Still looking for the right language.

I’m starting to be able to feel my breathing in more dimensions, I almost said three, but it feels like four. I guess I mean directions: forward and back, side to side, up and down — maybe that’s three, maybe that’s six, but whatever it is I’m feeling more and this is a good sign, I think. It’s hard to recognize good signs, because so often they end up not being that good. I’m not sure if that’s an error of recognition, a displacement of signals, or a simple reading mistake. The difference is mostly inference. But what’s the difference between error of recognition, and recognition of error? Inference versus interference? Sometimes I open two search engines at once, and then I’m lost. I just got a voicemail that said: be sure to put your breakable and sharp objects outside in a box marked blind.

When I wake up thinking about the liberal imagination suffocating everything imaginable, I wonder what this means about me. I’m suffocating, that’s for sure, but what about my own imagination? What about living here in Seattle, so surrounded by middle-class dreams I mean there is hardly anything else. When I described Seattle as middle class in orientation, someone who recently moved here asked me to say what I mean. She said oh, you mean American. Both are problems. Are there solutions? That’s what I’m trying to figure out.

One thing that’s harder here is to have interactions with a wide variety of people, I mean just when walking down the street. Because the people walking down the street are not that varied. And then, of course, there’s the problem that most people walking down the street don’t interact. That’s one of the things I mean by middle-class: act like you’re in the suburbs, even though you’re in the city. This is Seattle. I knew this when I moved here. It bothers me more when I’m doing worse. When I’m doing better, I can sense the other possibilities more. But what if Seattle is one of the things that keeps me feeling worse?

Saturday, May 10, 2014

“Sometimes there is a great emptiness, like shaking a box nothing is inside of; sometimes the box becomes warm”—Amina Cain, Creature

I guess there’s a rule that all public bathrooms must be dank and decrepit. But, if this is a rule, why is it not broken more often? Now that my view is gone, I can’t stop staring at the black mold growing on the outside of the frame of the new building across the street, my new view. Actually, the view I had before this building got to the second floor was the new view, since they tore down the beautiful old house across the street so they could build this new building. I kind of want to take pictures of the black mold, so that when they have a mold problem I can say look, it’s the builder’s fault. I guess this must be what the frame of every new building in Seattle looks like.

When you’ve felt so horrible for so long, it’s hard to imagine what the effects of aging might be. What’s it called when you feel like you’re on the phone with someone, but really you’re just sitting alone, looking at your datebook during your morning meal? What’s it called when smart, politically-engaged people suddenly start speaking in abstract theoretical jargon? Oh, I know: academia. On the street, someone says: don’t do anything illegal in that outfit, okay? A handwritten sign saying SAVE OUR PARK—but from what? Probably they mean drugs, but I wish they meant dog shit. SAVE OUR PARK FROM DOG SHIT. SAVE OUR PARK FROM DOG OWNERS. Yes, probably a good idea to put my face directly into the mattress to see if it still smells like the chemicals I’m allergic to. Speaking of allergies, the sun is out. I know I’m supposed to be excited. I could be excited. I used to be excited. I was excited. I’m not excited yet.

Thursday, May 08, 2014


I’m not sure what this means, but suddenly people are using umbrellas in Seattle. There was so much to say when I was in bed. Maybe I should go back there. Maybe it’s worth saying something about that feeling after craniosacral, when suddenly it was like someone else was in the room. I mean I could sense the pulsing of the light, but in a different way. Not a way that was attacking me. Let me try again: this feeling like suddenly I was connected, connected to something other than trying to push through in order to arrive, in order to feel anything except the feeling that everything is too much. Then I sat in the waiting room, and I felt that calm like a high something familiar from the past, but also in my body right here, this is what I want. When I got outside it was kind of startling how bright, a very slow walk home, tiring, but that moment when my breath suddenly got larger, that’s what I mean, when it was like suddenly my body wasn’t working against me, everything could open, was opening. Opening: that’s what I’m trying to get to.

Suddenly I’m thinking about all the guys I met years ago in backrooms in New York when I was a hooker, and then if we had a conversation afterwards they would ask what do you do, and then when I told them they were shocked. Unfortunately, gay culture has only become more hypocritical since then.

It’s not a good feeling when you’re sitting on the toilet and it starts to overflow. This is not a metaphor. Since I might be running late, I better check the bus schedule again, and then write about it. Okay, I’m about to leave the house, so I better check the weather again. Okay, I checked the bus schedule again. Obviously, I better change into green socks before leaving. We make art from our neuroses, do but do we make neuroses from our art? In this dream, I’m looking at the paint job in the park, and it’s the clumpiest thing I’ve ever seen, but then I realize all of the protruding parts at the bottom, they’re swans.

There’s something about the smell of the shiitake mushrooms cooking with the quinoa in vegetable stock that makes me think this might be a good day, which probably means I’m feeling a bit delusional. The best thing about the rain is the fresh air. I open the window, and there’s a gust of fabric softener hell—this is my bedroom, what I’m sleeping with, this headache. Okay, I’ll open the other window. If we lived in a better world, fabric softener would be abolished from the face of the earth, but instead we’re still dealing with the meltdown at Fukushima. But, wait—there’s a computer on the phone with me, making a special offer on air duct cleaning. There are no air ducts in my apartment—I’m so glad I picked up the phone. Indecision is definitely a sign of indecision. Still not sure what it means when I say how are you to someone on the street and she says: I’m blessed.