Monday, April 02, 2007

Kind of exciting, rain pounding on the roof

(Here's my friend Killer, reading my blog...)

First of all, the make/shift reading at Bluestockings:
It’s almost disorienting doing a reading for something other than Nobody Passes, but fun too -- especially since I’m reading my column in the magazine which is about visiting my father, very intense both reading it in front of an audience in a performative and vulnerable way, trying to channel how the peace feels and not just sounds + watching people react emotionally, a few people crying and many others close to tears. I’m the final reader, after Tara Betts reading her poetry, T Cooper’s intense piece about Iraq and violence (and Hamlet + historical texts, complete with slides), Felicia Luna Lemus giving a preview of her new novel, Like Son. It’s very literary for a magazine launch, and the crowd is engaged but somewhat quiet as Tara points out. But very emotional after my reading, that’s for sure. Jessica Hoffmann, one of the editors/founders of make/shift, brings it all together with great intros and challenges to corporate media/capitalist motives. Interesting questions about our inspirations as writers, one for Felicia from my friend Gina who wants to know if she writes about what she’s afraid of or what reflects her life (Gina’s asking specifically about monogamy, Felicia says she writes aboutwhat she’s afraid of and what reflects her life, more broadly than Gina’s more specific question). Gina also asks me about writing such vulnerable work, reading it publicly, and I say that’s what makes me feel safer, more present. Afterwards, a bunch of us crowd around a table at delicious Angelica’s Kitchen, several conversations at once and Jessica’s clearly jetlagged from LA travel but the dinner is fun too in a slightly disorienting way.

On the subway, Carrie and I have a great conversation about relationships and trust and dating people inside or outside our social circles and picking people up at bars (Carrie) versus public sexual environments (me). Long subway rides are so much more fun when you’re with someone else. Which reminds me of later, when I’m talking about a weird New York habit I have of never wanting to look at the subway map in public, I mean on the train, because then -- why is that? I’m thinking it’s some weird New York attitude thing, but later I realize oh, it’s actually for safety. Because often on the subway there are so many people looking at me like I don’t belong there and I’m worried that if I look like I don’t know where I’m going, then people will really think I don’t belong there-- always the threat of violence and it’s interesting how I’ve buried that fear.

The next day, a hilarious encounter in Carrie’s neighborhood, Ditmus Park. This woman comes up to me on the street, she says what do you call that look? I say I don’t know. She says oh, it’s an original look? I say yeah, I guess so. She says I like that, more people should have an original look-- everyone should have an original look, and people should just deal with it. I say you’re right. She says but the problem is that people can’t deal with it, that’s the problem.

A thought on sex and sexuality, I mean my sex and sexuality. I’m thinking about the other night, when I went to that bar in the East Village, the Phoenix, after trying to cruise Stuyvesant Park but no one was there, I mean no one was cruising. It was kind of a flashback, since I don’t go to bars anymore and I don’t live in New York, but more the flashback was looking at a certain type of person -- this calculated masculinity to slightly camouflage a fashion-y look ( too queeny!), anyway finding myself attracted to these types which just leads to a dead end of feeling exhausted by insipid conversation or grossed out by the people I’m attracted to or wanting drugs or alcohol to deal with a bar and my vulnerability + that’s what people do in bars, right? Anyway, then I went to the Blue Door porn theater and had sex with guys who I wasn’t exactly attracted to, I mean it was fun and I was engaged but in a different way than with someone I’m craving. I wonder about that pattern -- sex in the places that I like, but not necessarily with the people I’m most attracted to versus that feeling of alienation and desperation from those gay consumer spaces of coyness overshadowing potential. Of course I believe in expanding attraction and not limiting it, but sometimes it’s confusing to figure out what is expansive and what is limiting.

And now to Philadelphia, where I’m staying with my brilliant friend Killer/Emily Nepon. We’ve had so many great conversations, first about the fact that my Philadelphia reading takes place on Passover, and the history of Passover as a holiday specifically resisting assimilation, making connections between slavery in different spaces and places, articulating that as long as anyone is enslaved, no one can be free or something more profound than that simplification. To be honest, I’ve never seen Passover as anything but a justification for assimilation, so it’s fascinating to learn of a more radical tradition, so much more to say about my own assimilation as a Jew and all of the layers from my parents’ violence hidden by their “success” which I think is unfortunately a common story in assimilated Jewish families to so much more but now I’m crashing from all the lovely conversations -- also about activism and fame, the ways people react to life experience, creating a sexual life that mirrors and enhances your political life, desire and when it is and isn’t what you want it to be, ideas of mentorship and learning and activist histories, so much more but now my eyes are glazing over as they say, we’ve just had a tremendous thunderstorm here, kind of exciting rain pounding on the roof.

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