Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Fashion alert at Geary and Masonic

Sinking into such a wonderful soft bed, unaware that soon I'll have horrible dreams and in the dreams I'll be thinking I can't believe this is what's happening when I've actually succeed at falling asleep! Then I'm awake and I can’t even remember the details -- something about my parents, of course, not the worst kind of nightmares that terrify me, these are nightmares because of the stress. Then I'm on the bus, surrounded by someone's terrible perfume closing my nostrils even on this glorious foggy day. Who is the culprit -- is it the woman in front of me, Dior glasses with coffee brown overcoat and matching headband, or the woman next to me who left her keys somewhere, that's what she's telling the person on the phone, please don't forget to bring my keys. But she’s a little more on the alternative side, thriftstore cowboy shirt but I'm not sure about the rest of the outfit -- she's too close to scan the details.

Oh, wait -- that's not perfume, someone is wearing a whole scented candle, plum or grape or something -- maybe it is the woman next to me, but when she's getting ready to leave I realize actually she's more high-end than Miss Dior, quilted leather Chanel bag that looks like it might actually be real, her hair tied into a bun, skintight designer jeans and white-and-brown wingtip-hybrid things with heels that are delicate and sturdy, understated matte in the expensive shoe kind of way. She leaves, and there goes the scented candle, but the guy who takes her place smells like a mixture of smoke and soap, like the two are competing, smoke pulling in front of soap no soap takes the lead oh – a brutal fall -- smoke out ahead!

Meanwhile, this guy gets on who's aging gracefully, blue eyes that match his navy quilted hooded jacket, at first I clocked him for a fag because of the way he looked me in the eyes, or maybe just the eyes -- I like his eyes -- but I'm not sure about the baggy Levi's gas station attendant jeans -- you know, the ones that look like they were acid-washed with oil. He's got the Asics sneakers with orange crisscross on navy, I guess he's into navy, yes he’s the kind of guy who's into navy, although I can also see him working brown. Speaking of brown, it turns out that Miss Dior is carrying a Coach bag, the monogram one, brown and tan. But the true fashion alert occurs at Geary and Masonic: skaters in skinny jeans! Not the mod jeans skaters used to wear back in the day, but those terrible lycra zip-up things making the fashion casualty rounds these days -- skinny jeans with big floppy hair, Geary and Masonic, you heard it here first.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The Verona Hotel, or maybe it's Hotel Verona

There's something about the sky in the middle of the day, right before it gets startlingly gorgeous you know like when the fog rolls in and the sun is lower but before that it’s just anticipation or not anticipation really because you don't even know that you're waiting but you are waiting anyway. I don't know why I'm starting with the sky when what I'm feeling is so much lower I mean in my head and it's already nighttime, not nighttime when the sky is so blue it's almost brighter than day but just nighttime inside looking at a few scattered lights, no not scattered -- most of the lights are in the Federal Building actually or in that somewhat tall subsidized housing building where people seem to stay up later, plus the hotel sign in neon red with green wrapping around the top part, HOT, you know hot, don't tell -- that's the Verona Hotel I think, it's a residence hotel on a crack-heavy block but they have a very glamorous lobby with all of the original wood, I saw this movie when I was visiting Berlin at the end of 2000 before I moved back to San Francisco and this guy in the movie lived at the Verona Hotel, San Francisco in the movie was this dark and desperate place where guys got killed at leather sex parties and stuff like that I just thought it was hilarious this pathologized sensationalism, I mean magnified to include everything but still a vision of San Francisco through the eyes of Berlin I saw the Verona Hotel or actually I think it's the Hotel Verona, that desk in the front lobby, I thought okay, I'm moving back.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Stephen Duncombe, on dreams

Stephen Duncombe, author of Dream: Re-imagining Progressive Politics in an Age of Fantasy, on Against the Grain:

Look, our dreams aren't realizable, so don't get fooled by someone who says that they've been realized and don't get disenchanted if we don't realize them tomorrow or the next day or the next day... what they really are is something to move towards, something that we know is a dream. The problem with fantasy is... that it parades as reality. A dream is different. You wake up from a dream and you know you've had a dream. That's the type of ethical dreaming that I think the left has to do, we have to say we have these dreams, they're seemingly impossible dreams but we are going to move towards them and we're not gonna get disenchanted if we don't get there and we're also not going to get bamboozled by people who say we don't have to worry about that, we've achieved civil rights... These impossible dreams don't allow you to... become disenchanted and they don't allow you to have false fulfillment, they're always out there in front of you.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Advice for cooking whole oats when you accidentally forget to turn them off before you go to bed

Use a sturdy cooking pot, that way the oats will burn all the way through but the pot won't be damaged so you won't have to deal with any smoke. Actually, it's quite possible that the five bites at the very top, the only part of the concoction that isn't burnt to a crisp and too hard to even get a spoon into -- it's quite possible that those five bites will make a delicious treat, a chewy delicacy, how moist and supple this sweet sensation! Not that it's worth burning a whole pot of oats, but I might as well enjoy the bright side, okay, the bright side is these five bites, okay 4 1/2 and then I have to put the whole thing in the sink to soak all day.

Friday, May 25, 2007

A quick note on the glamour of fibromyalgia

Okay, lying in bed after taking the new dose of the homeopathic remedy, I think it just makes me more exhausted, until I get up and actually I feel kind of excited so I go out to take a walk, but guess what? It only takes a block before I can hardly function, it's like there are bruises surrounding my shoulder blades, my hips hurt every time I take a step, downhill is the worst it's like whiplash or something. I'm guessing this is because I changed the lightbulb in the kitchen earlier, because it almost feels like I've sprained the muscle in between my right thumb and pointer finger, which is exactly where I had to hold the light fixture -- I knew I'd hurt afterwards, why is it still always surprising when the pain arrives?

Meanwhile, I'm at Goodwill just to be somewhere, looking at this bowl that would be perfect for steamed vegetables in the morning, before I thought maybe I could tie a plastic bag to my belt buckle so that I didn't have to use my hands to carry something home, but now that sounds painful too. Walking back home, how can three blocks feel so far? But then I'm hypoglycemic, so I decide to walk further and look for one of those post office box places, maybe there's one at the copy shop? Walking towards Union Square, it's amazing how everything changes so quickly and suddenly I'm in Iowa or Concord or wherever German tourists walk around wearing cowboy hats and US flag bandannas (oh, that would be here I guess) or somewhere else very different from downtown San Francisco, except this is downtown San Francisco I mean this part of downtown is actually for these people. I don't really like this realization, not that it hasn't hit me before but usually I don't feel so catastrophic like I'm walking around in a movie after someone turned it off. Or actually I feel this way far too often, I guess that's the problem and they don't have mailboxes at the copy shop anyway, I circle around back to the place next to a residence hotel a block-and-a-half away from me, but that place is closed. Someone is smoking pot outside, I don't know how the smoke surrounds me for a whole block on the way back but somehow that's what happens.

Tricks and Treats, translated into Italian!

I don't know if this happens to you, but I always think I'm going to get something really great in the mail. Usually I get a bunch of credit card applications and bills, but today I opened up my mailbox to find copies of my first anthology, Tricks and Treats: Sex Workers Write About Their Clients (Haworth 2000), translated into Italian!

(And yes, that is me on the cover... -- I bet you didn't recognize me, did you?)

Here comes the fog, yay the fog! (I know you were wondering)


Thursday, May 24, 2007

NOW-NYC on opera, fine dining, and massage parlors

This afternoon on Free Speech Radio News, I heard that the New York City chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW-NYC) is pressuring newspaper, magazine and phone book publishers to turn down ads from "illegal" massage parlors (as opposed to all those legal ones), as part of NOW-NYC’s campaign against sex trafficking. Apparently, the Village Voice makes $80,000 a month from "adult" advertising, and the phone book makes many times that. Here's a quote from NOW-NYC president Sonia Ossorio:

How many of us have a subscription to New York Magazine? Isn't it supremely
ironic that in this magazine the front pages have opera listings and reviews for
the latest fine dining and on the back pages, “Hot Asian Honeys”?

I'm not quite sure of the contradiction here -- opera, fine dining, and massage parlors are all leisure activities for the wealthy, last time I checked.

I also don't know what pulling advertising will do about sex trafficking, other than make it go further underground. Furthermore, as part of anti-trafficking legislation, NOW supports felony enhancement for those convicted of trafficking, and stiffer penalties on those who "patronize illegal commercial sex" (that means people who hire hookers).

This is a short-sighted law-and-order approach that makes all sex workers, including victims of sex trafficking schemes, more vulnerable to harassment and exploitation. What we need is decriminalization of sex work, which would remove the necessity of secrecy and lessen the potential for violence. And we need an end to draconian immigration requirements that force people trying desperately to make a living or to escape dangerous circumstances in their home countries so anxious to get into the United States, so desperate that even if they escape direct harm by US law enforcement officials, they often end up the victims of other types of criminals.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

That desperate feeling like I'm ready to throw myself off the building and just glide down through that cushiony air as the revolution grasps me

I really wish that signing a contract with City Lights would mean that I didn't have to deal with everything else, I mean I wish I wasn't feeling so absolutely terrible, overwhelmed by the tiniest things, exhaustion surrounding me, my body so much more fragile than I thought it was while traveling I thought I was getting stronger but now I just feel pain.

I'm trying to get to the bank before they close, outside in the sun I don't know about this sun there are no buses coming and this is the time when there aren't any taxis either, actually a few taxis drive by but I'm too tired to get up. Eventually the Geary bus comes, then I'm on Van Ness and that bus comes too so I actually get to the bank, not sure if I'm relieved or not. The bank: I have to sound extra-annoyed in order to get anyone to do anything, the way privilege works. They're looking at me like what do you mean the account was supposed to be closed in February and someone has been making fraudulent charges? Yes, that's what I said -- fraudulent charges, February 5. The manager doesn't have a clue what to do, I'm supposed to fill out some papers to dispute the charges, maybe I can do it on the phone. She says at least you can laugh about it, some people can't take it they start crying.

Back at home, I'm on the phone with the bank, I mean I'm on hold with some terribly familiar movie classical music, maudlin violin crap on a loop or something -- the kind of music they give me that desperate feeling like I'm ready to throw myself off the building and just glide down through that cushiony air as the revolution grasps me in its Burberry arms and we run through the Irish countryside in the monsoon. Someone on the other side of that hold music who doesn't know what he's doing, a half hour of insisting on reversal of charges and all I get is a different number that I have to call tomorrow because they're already closed.

I really wish I didn't feel so bad, but you know that. The good news is that I get to the hair salon on time, this is a different day of course -- of course I can't get there the same evening, after the imperial guards tear off my Audrey Hepburn wig and buildings are collapsing due to the Siberian tornado season. Anyway, I get there on time -- getting my hair cut is like a social event at the right time of the day and then I'm on Haight Street thinking I should do something before going home except that I know I'm going to crash soon and then I crash on Market Street, staring out at the few remaining gorgeous and decrepit old buildings probably soon to be torn down for condos, more condos -- the end of San Francisco, that's what it may be.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

city lights city lights city lights city Lights City lights City Lights, yes I said CITY LIGHTS!!!!!

It's true...

I just signed a contract with City Lights for my new novel, So Many Ways to Sleep Badly!!!!! It'll be out in the fall/winter 2008 season.

For those who don't know, City Lights is the publisher famous for bringing Allen Ginsberg and other beats to the attention of the world, as well as for publishing countless literary and political instigators from Rebecca Brown to Subcommandante Marcos. When I first moved to San Francisco in the early ‘90s, I had a secret dream of one day publishing a book with City Lights, one of those dreams you don't share with anyone because you know it will never come true but you hold it somewhere anyway.

I guess I don't have to hold it any longer...

More phone sex ads, yes!

Thanks to several of you, I've heard about various print ads that feature the horny humpy hotties from the phone sex bus shelter ad outside my house -- this one comes from the San Francisco Bay Guardian (thanks to Grant). Grant hypothesizes that they may be wearing American Apparel underwear, but has that particular marketing scam reached these gays? It's possible that the advertising company wanted something without a label, for fear of libel as they always say but who knows. What's become clear to me, however, is that the one on the right has gotten way too many facials, and the one on the left practices smiling in the mirror every morning: hey dude, sup? Sup dude later man right-on. But what about the close-up, tell me what you think of the close-up...

Monday, May 21, 2007

The effect of porn on the gay male sexual imagination, but also maybe there's hope...

These are direct quotes from some of the Blow Buddies patrons. First guy, the one who likes to shove his dick down your throat and then, just when you're making adjustments, he pulls it out and walks away. He was probably in the military at some point because he has impossibly bad hair, the kind that someone cuts with a cigarette in one hand and a cocktail in the other, where is the scissors? This guy says: you look like a guy with a big cock.

What does a guy with a big cock look like? I better go to the bathroom and look in the mirror, take some notes for the folks back home. Okay, here's a line of pure brilliance from the guy with a scowl ingrained into his face, I know you're asking which one but there's something about his eyes and the graying of his hairline that's sexy. But apparently it’s not a creative streak, he says: yeah, suck that big cock, you like that don't you -- you're a faggot, aren't you a faggot, faggot, he's a faggot—oh, yeah!

Okay, but the most ridiculous line comes from the short guy with the stubble and a shaved head, I love rubbing his head that's one of my favorite things to do. He says: thanks for the facial, man. He means the come on his face. At first I think he's being shady, but then I realize he’s serious: the facial, man, thanks. Thanks for the facial, man.

But I almost forgot to tell you about Hillary Clinton, she's in one of the little cubicles with a round window like a porthole except there's no glass, there are other windows lower where you can stick various objects: hot dogs and donuts and inner tubes and garden hoses, that kind of stuff. Hillary Clinton is wearing a baseball cap, backwards of course, and a Polo shirt like this really is 1985 or something and she still believes in her husband. But anyway, Hillary Clinton is getting her cock sucked, the thing that's hot about it is the way she grabs the guy’s head and pushes it all the way down at a disastrous angle, holds him there even as he struggles against that grip. Oh, that grip!

I keep coming back for glimpses of Hillary, why yes of course I'm a sucker for militaristic, hypocritical, opportunistic, pioneering, chauvinistic, entrepreneurial, jingoistic, capitalistic stand-by-your-man-because-your-man-might-get-you-something-eventually-but-he's-not-here-right-now-is-he types, or wait is that Bill on his knees with the frosted swept-back hair now falling in his face? But enough of democracy. Don't get me wrong -- while I may fall madly to my knees, mouth gaping open for all that power and violence spasming into my throat, I certainly will not vote for it, okay?

Anyway, back to Blow Buddies, this is why I'm there: just after that first time on my knees, I mean the first time tonight, all that extra saliva in my mouth and I'm up again walking in circles through the artificially dark halls of men madly projecting lack of creativity, I mean masculinity at any cost because that's what gets them action but the point is that it no longer matters, I get to this place where I’m suddenly so present. It doesn't make sense, really, but I'm laughing and grabbing guys just to kiss them on the neck, then I'm devouring this one guy’s ear, such a strange firm and rubbery concoction, tongue tasting the different hills and valleys and he's hugging me, I mean maybe I’m mostly hugging him but whatever it feels good and starts a trend because it all ends with that guy who likes facial products, I'm rubbing his head nestled just at my chin, the few sentences we exchange afterwards are not exactly going anywhere that resembles connection but that's okay too or no, it's not okay but it's okay.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Just you for that moment just you in that space

Staring at the beautiful orange sheets, the way the orange is my space in between the green and pink walls, all of these colors surrounding me. I want to focus on these soft colors instead of how awful I feel, I'm trying this new strategy of teaching myself not to get up in the middle of the night to piss so that I can sleep through and not get all wired, it's 12:30 p.m. now so I guess it actually worked last night except that it feels so awful. I get up to go to the bathroom, get back in bed -- yes, this soft bed, these soft sheets, pretty soon it's 2:45 I can't believe it's 2:45 and I still feel so awful.

Why has music deserted me, or why have I deserted music? Luckily today I’m remembering Adult, the first album even if it became too trendy to hear after a while now it's back to comfort me, those gorgeously alienating minimal ‘80s synthesizer beats, but most important the vocal:

Human wreck
Human wreck
Human wreck
Human human human wreck
Human human human wreck
Human human human wreck
Human human human wreck
I am -- a human wreck
you are -- a human wreck
I am -- a human wreck
you are -- a human wreck

How can I possibly resist such a gorgeous realism, or the tinny high-note ouchiness giving way to:

You don't even know
how I feel-ah
You don't even know
how I feel-ah
You don't even know
how I feel-ah
You don't even know
how I feel-ah

Then degenerating into a computer voice, it's all getting to the point where it's too much for the morning I'm already thinking about dancing moving my body in a different way getting wired, why not bring it a little further I pull out something from the hard clanky techno-side-of-house section of my cd rack, Robert Armani – lots of tracks I recognize like lots of Frankie Bones, we love Ms. Bones but this early in the morning?

The mix starts -- oh, it's too speedy, records played extra fast for the raver crowd although this is dark raver where the music stops but there's still something twisting cracking breaking in the background your head and still that feeling in your legs, dance. Oh, for those moments when you walk into the club and that song is only for you, oh how did the dj know, how on earth for that moment when sound and vision, lights and distance in your eyes that vision like a curtain parts and just you for that moment just you in that space eyes into the back of mind upwards soft crackly movement everywhere yes everywhere yes everything yes anything just for that moment, oh.

Of course, all of those dancing memories flooding me, new outfits in my head just for the entrance because sometimes the entrance is the only good part and then after that it's all downhill so you have to be prepared. Yes, I do want to go out -- I don't want to be so scared that just one person will be smoking and that will ruin my life. It didn't used to be that way. I need to eat something, my rice isn't ready yet so I make rice noodles to go with these beans on the new blue plate from Goodwill I love this blue plate sometimes I'm so easy to please. Beans with noodles is actually delicious, why doesn't anyone tell you that?

Except then I have to rush to shit, nothing terribly unusual until I notice the water from the toilet is pouring into the hall.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Maybe chivalry is still alive in San Francisco...

For those who don't know the story of the bus in San Francisco, you get on the back to get on for free, but these days some passengers are like cops, yelling driver! Driver! Someone's getting on the back! But this is a different story: I'm getting on the back just as someone is getting off -- she steps back on the bus to let me enter. Now that is matters.

Now also blogging on bilerico

I've been asked to add my blogging experience to bilerico, a queer blog (or "LGBT," as it says on the masthead -- change that!). Bilerico started in Indiana, got super-popular, and then expanded to include the "flyover states," just before asking me to be part of their national expansion. The new editor, Alex Blaze, has been reading my blog for a while, and pitched me by saying that he wanted bilerico to be about "more than martinis, Madonna and marriage."

I couldn't exactly say no to that.

I just posted some questions about hate crimes legislation -- I think these questions may cause a little controversy over at bilerico. Feel free to join in on the conversation...

Good news on the sofa frontier

Goodwill: I know it's completely fruitless, but I always look at the furniture, just in case. One of those big puffy brown ‘80s sectional sofas, just two sections: $120. A tiny formica dresser that leans in one direction: $110. But wait -- what is that gorgeous floral loveseat stuffed in the middle, no price tag? I ask one of the employees, she says oh I could give you that for $20.99. $20.99? -- are you kidding? It's one of those rare moments when I'm getting the queen-to-queen discount -- another moment when yes, maybe there is hope.Soon enough, Grant is over my house with a dolly to help me and I haven't even measured to see if the sofa fits in my windowsill so that I can create a mini-living room area with two floral sofas facing one another.

I don't even know if it fits into the elevator, or if Grant can wheel it over without someone else's assistance, but sure enough we get it to my front door, up the front stairs, into the elevator and then I'm certain that it’s way too big and I'll have to keep it away from the wall, making the room smaller, but then guess what? No, you won't believe it! It's the exact right size, curves right into the space where the bay window begins – it’s even comfortable!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

A quick tour of some of the worst San Francisco gentrification atrocities

I don't know why they hold my mail hostage way in hell over by the Embarcadero, but the good news is that I leave early enough that I'm not even in a rush, I can study all of the gentrification condo atrocities that have cropped up at the very tip of South of Market where there used to be just warehouses, car repair shops and empty lots. Now there are glass towers competing for the best view of the highway -- okay, I'm sure you can see the bay and all that glitter that's around it too, as long as your windows don't reflect everything back into the corners of your eyes, ouch!

(This one might be offices, but the rest are definitely condos)

(40 stories, of course this one is called The Infinity)

Afterwards I'm waiting for the bus at the corner of 5th and Harrison, right by Blow Buddies, which sounds kind of fun at the moment except that they're not open this early in the week. And they probably wouldn't let me in anyway right now, given their compulsory masculinity dress code.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

I don't think this is what the pigeons are really saying, do you?

Jeremy Scahill and the privatization of war

Of course, just about every detail about the US war on Iraq is horrifying and overwhelming, but the first time I watched this, I started sobbing. Which is impressive, considering Jeremy Scahill's dispassionate delivery geared towards convincing the monsters in Congress, and even a presentation that doesn't necessarily question the war, just the way it is being maintained. Nevertheless, the focus is chilling: according to Scahill, author of Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army, there are tens of thousands of hired mercenaries in Iraq, operating without any legal oversight. Although it appears that most US troops (and especially those in command) operate without any concern for "laws," the development of private armies accountable only to the tyranny of profits, without even the pretension of a duty to anything else, is chilling.

Watching this Congressional testimony from May 10 for a third or fourth time, I will admit that I began to wonder why we don't have RadioTube for audio clips instead of just YouTube for video -- it's only somewhat fascinating to study Scahill's face or the cut of his suit jacket, while watching different people’s hands taking notes, shoes and pants and skirts walking in and out. It is worth noting, however, that Scahill mentions that only two private contractors in Iraq have been subject to criminal prosecution, one for stabbing a coworker and the other for possession of child pornography images on his computer (a greater crime than shooting children, it seems). Meanwhile, Free Speech Radio News reported Monday that:

"...the US military has announced it will restrict soldiers’ access to YouTube, MySpace, and nearly a dozen other Web sites that allow users to upload and access media. A memo issued last week says the move is meant to reduce demand on the military’s bandwith and protect information—it calls use of the sites a "significant operational security challenge." In April, the military barred soldiers from posting to blogs or sending personal e-mail messages, without first clearing the content with a superior officer."

It appears that anything that may affirm the humanity of a US soldier (or cause him/her to question the war) must be banished so that the soldier remains nothing but a killing machine. Free Speech Radio News also interviewed Army specialist Agustin Aguayo, who was sentenced to more than six months in a US military prison for going AWOL after being denied conscientious objector status, he describes early misgivings about joining the military after learning a chant that went: "Left, right, left, right, kill. Left, right, left, right, you know I will."

Saturday, May 12, 2007

ANNA KARENINA in big letters

I'm lying in bed trying to fall back asleep, I mean I just slept deeply for probably several hours but now is the danger zone when my brain is wired I'm planning out so many projects at once but also turning to the side to grasp the body pillow, poking my fingers with my nails to bring this calm feeling to my head because I'm stimulating the nerve endings, breathing deeply, humming on exhale then breathing in only when I have to, anal sphincter exercises that sort of calm me, all of these tricks I have to try to fall back asleep and they’re not working. Of course I start worrying that everything is going to get awful again, that I'm not going to be able to function, but I really wish I didn't have to get up to piss because that's what woke me up and why can't I just ignore that urge, especially now when I might never again have a good night of sleep or even a not-so-good night where I still feel kind of okay the next day, but then I’m waking up again so that means I actually fell asleep and I don't feel so bad, not as bad as yesterday at least.

It's Chris's 40th birthday, I'm on my way to meet her and Zee for dinner at Burma Superstar and I'm actually running on time which is kind of exciting. The thing I like about going out during the day is that I feel extra-conspicuous, especially today with my red, orange, and navy plaid chenille pants contrasting with the green and blue ‘60s sofa-pattern coat and pink floral print scarf. There's still a lot of glass on the ground at the bus stop, and I'm glad that I didn't run in between buses to catch one and risk getting squashed between the buses or hit by one two three cars, instead I missed both buses but I can see another one coming. It's that time of day, rush hour they say. There's someone super-cute looking down at me from the other side of the bus shelter, I mean I'm sitting and he's standing and we're both looking out for the bus but he's also looking back at me or maybe my food but actually I think me and I smile and say hi! I feel calm out here in the fog and then the bus comes, I have to put my food away and grab my bag and try to enter the bus with glamour because I like making glamorous entrances, right?

On the bus, the cute boy is sitting down in one of the seats I hate the most, in the middle of the bus where two cars are connected by some rubber thing at the bottom that makes all this noise and there are no windows, but fuck it the seat across from him is open so I sit right down and we exchange shy smiles. Then the sun is coming out, it's getting slightly warm I say oh no, maybe I have to take off the layers. Then we start talking about the weather, I think we both like it foggy and cool which is nice, at some point he says are you doing any readings this summer? Oh, he knows who I am -- that's fun, I don't know how -- we end up talking about writing, which is always a good way to connect especially when we know people in common, he just won a contest which got him a scholarship, that's exciting! Turns out he saw me speak at USF, that's right now I can remember him asking the professor a question right afterwards, maybe about a paper.

Then we talk about music and going dancing, which is funny because he lives in the Inner Richmond which is also where I lived years ago when I went out all the time in San Francisco, I mean I went out all the time later than that too but years ago I remember waiting late-late at night for the Geary bus I hated it. Or trying to spot it from my window on Geary before leaving, then always rushing out and just missing it, nightmare. But it's fun talking about music, too, we like some of the same things and I don't have any idea where to go to hear djs I like, he's going to send me ideas that's lovely. So we exchange info and I'm saying something about living in the Inner Richmond 15 years ago which is crazy really, the 15 years part I love that I can have that sense of my own history like I'm going to meet Chris because it's his 40th birthday and we met 15 years ago, he even came over my house when I lived on Geary. And Zee who was my first boyfriend, 1993 when we were both 19.

But my bus friend, Stephen is his name, he says it must've been fun to live in San Francisco in the early ‘90s. I say it was incredible in a lot of ways, I mean that's when I really found radical queer outsider culture I wouldn't give it up for anything, but in a lot of ways it wasn't fun because it was hard I mean everyone was so desperate. I don't have time to explain that we were lonely and strung out and escaping so much violence and trying to deal with the world around us and people dying and giving up and trying not to give up, I mean I don't have time to explain because there’s the bus, I mean here's my stop and then I'm on my way through the fog because it's always foggy out here the air is so fresh, to the restaurant.

Then I'm exactly on time to meet Chris and Zee, wait I almost forgot to talk about the drunk guy periodically yelling at me to be quiet, no talking on the bus, saying various unintelligible drunk things in that red-faced I-hate-queens/you-fucking-faggot-bitch universal homophobia tone, almost ruining my fun conversation in the middle of the bus but luckily not interrupting too much since we ignored him.

Anyway, the food at Burma Superstar is more delicious than I remember and it's not sweltering like usual in the restaurant because we've arrived super-early to avoid the hour-long wait and somehow the food doesn't even fuck up my digestion or at least not right away. It's fun spending time with Chris just when she's turning 40 and when I say something about my house on Geary, she remembers the iron gate we somehow had in the middle of the apartment, she thinks we tried to take it down but that's impossible -- no, she says, you wanted to take it with you. And Zee who wasn't in San Francisco yet when I lived on Geary remembers pictures I took in front of the gate and sent him after we'd met in DC, his mother said he's so handsome, why does he have to do that to himself? It was a high-goth-with-a-twist photo shoot, complete with wool flare sailor trousers, shimmer black shirt with a big round silver pendant, green and purple goth bob curled underneath a piece of lace. I like these memories, in some ways it makes me feel safer to have this history, I guess it's also that there have been 15 years without my parents that's almost as much time as with them -- keep going, keep going!

After dinner, we go to Green Apple Books because no trip to the Inner Richmond is complete without Green Apple Books although pretty soon I'm crashing from all the dust in the bookstore and my fatigue kicking in, earlier when I found a few extra pellets of the higher-dose homeopathic remedy I was so hopeful that it would save me, I mean it did give me an energy boost that combined with a fun bus conversation and sweet dinner to keep me buzzing for a few hours but now I'm in the bookstore staring at ANNA KARENINA in big letters with Leo Tolstoy and for a minute I'm actually thinking oh, did Anna Karenina write a new book?

Friday, May 11, 2007

Sleep, that is, but not the good kind

I almost forgot about this dream:

I'm at my grandmother's house in Baltimore and she's just died -- I'm filled with this inconsolable grief that vibrates through the whole house like an extra dimension, where is all of this unexpected grief coming from? I want to see the body, the body's not there, I want to see the body. People are already fingering her objects, jewelry, art and when I walk into the hall, there is my father walking up the stairs -- I know what that is, that's a ghost -- I poke at the apparition to see my finger go through but it doesn't, I try again but it doesn't work and then I'm seized by this terrible panic that my father is just as alive while he's dead and this panic wakes me up from something I've just fallen back into -- sleep, that is, but not the good kind.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Fog, the healing vapors of Mary Jane, and cornstarch

It's foggy and cool outside, so I can finally breathe! I'm walking by the pot club that's across the street from my old apartment, outside there’s a big whitish guy wearing one of those hooded sweatshirts that are kind of popular in a hip-hop context right now -- a bright-colored print that's kind of pretty. He's yelling at this smaller guy wearing a dark winter coat with the hood pulled over his head, a black guy maybe homeless or on the verge -- the bigger, trendier guy is saying: if you don't have your medical card, get the FUCK off my block. The smaller guy is saying something quietly to him, maybe he's saying I've never been in a fight or it's possible that he says I've never had any bud, but I think it's something about fighting. The big guy walks closer to him, get the FUCK off MY block, GET THE FUCK OFF MY BLOCK, GET THE FUCK OFF MY BLOCK, literally chasing him down the street.

Oh, the healing vapors of Mary Jane! Back at home, a great message from Gina, for a moment can we just pretend that she's not flying out to Atlanta for a gay wedding? Here's what she says: I'm up too late but I'm trying to pack for this lovely trip -- I'm probably not going to have any sex but I'm bringing stuff just in case because we do have slut night planned and so what I'm wondering is -- I'm checking my bag so I don't have to deal with it at security, but what I'm wondering is: are they going to go through my bag? It's always hard to decide how many dicks to bring, because you don't know who you're fucking so you don't know what they want so then you have to bring all these dicks. But just for hanging out, I'm bringing this cute little soft-pack thing, and you have to put cornstarch on it or else it's too sticky -- and so, I'm bringing extra cornstarch -- so I have a ziploc with the soft-pack dick with cornstarch on it and then a another ziploc with this white powder, which is just cornstarch, but I'm wondering: are they going to think I'm a terrorist? Usually before I go out of town I stay up all night the night before, but this is the night before the night before and I'm trying to clear my head but it's the same thing I don't know how it's helping.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Buena Vista: dark silhouettes against a slightly lighter sky

The RSI support group is really fun actually, even though I'm in the hospital it doesn't feel like a hospital once I start talking -- Lee, the facilitator, asks me simple questions and then boom I'm just talking and talking it’s so smooth, almost like a prepared lecture but more intimate. Of course, I've been talking about all of these things for a while -- pain and surviving abuse and fibromyalgia and exhaustion and the way everything ties together -- so I have a lot to say, I like the way people interrupt with their own connections and it feels very intimate the way we're sharing our struggles with pain and also abuse I feel more connected.

Afterwards, I'm right near Buena Vista Park and there's still a heat wave so I can't really resist climbing up -- it's only a few blocks away, but first I have to climb this steep hill yes I think the steps are helping. Up at the top I'm still at the bottom really, I mean I already have a glittering view of the city but this is still less than halfway up, just one of the entrances to the park so I'm sitting on the bench to rest for a few minutes, don't want to hurt my body or at least I'm hoping not to. Looking down at these mansion-type houses that look like movie sets. Then I'm in the park, always surprised at first at how dark it is on the path between trees. I get to the viewing bench without too much huffing and puffing, I sit down again and stare at the lights of the city. Then the most beautiful part really is when I get to the top, or not the exact top but the place where the cruising occurs, the way the lights of the city appear between trees I love that.

And there are actually people cruising -- pretty exciting considering how the internet has disappeared this kind of play in San Francisco at least, walking to the end of the strip I turn between trees and there’s one guy choking while this other guy’s really slamming his face I mean grabbing his head and just holding on. Pretty soon there are a bunch of guys around and someone's sucking my dick, way too soon I'm ready to come already so why not, I think. The guy is sweet and says thank you, then I'm back on the viewing bench eating food and maybe this is the best part, when I'm feeling connected to the park and to these guys walking between trees not as friendly as me but I can bring on some affection by repeated gestures -- the smile, the caress, the jokes, the laughter, the holding of hands -- things people don't do much here but that's what I'm bringing.

Later, I mean too much later -- when I've done the circuit way too many times and still I'm there looking for something more charged -- I mean, I've already gone back and forth between euphoria and disaster so many times. All it takes is a gesture of sweetness and then I'm loving the potential of bonding through gestures like this ritual is connecting us but then some snide grimace or someone who can't deal with a third person in the mix -- not even as a spectator -- and then I'm back to annoyance, my food is gone but still I'm walking in circles.

Eventually the same guy sucks me off again, which is kind of funny since usually I'm the one doing the sucking -- but anyway, he sucks me off and then I'm walking back to the viewing bench and there’s the scene of two guys who are probably boyfriends, matching outfits, acting like they're in a porn video with this other guy -- I mean they’re both sticking out their tongues and licking his nipples, one nipple each they’re framing him. I want to get a picture of this silliness, but I haven't figured out how to silence my shutter. Next time. Christopher Russell took this gorgeous series of photos with a hidden camera in Buena Vista Park and it will soon be published in a book called Landscape (I can't wait!), I remember thinking that some of the sex he captured looked so stagy, but I guess that's because that's the way these faggots do it.

Back on the bench, I'm exhausted and kind of sticky actually because it's so warm this global warming drama is ridiculous -- usually there's more air up in the park than down in the rest of the city, but tonight there's nothing circulating. Eventually I get down and my body hurts but maybe not too much really, I'm trying to appreciate the park -- looking up at the gorgeous trees, their dark silhouettes against a slightly lighter sky with stars in the distance.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Why the hell is it still so fucking hot out? Or in my apartment, at least...

(wait , somehow the moon already got much higher )
I can't believe how hot it is, it's 1:34 a.m. and I'm sitting at the computer sweating. This isn't supposed to happen in San Francisco, I mean it's not supposed to get this hot -- and at night! It's always supposed to be freezing at night. Four hours ago I had something very clear that I wanted to write here, then Andee, one of my closest friends, called and we ended up talking for 3 1/2 hours. Our conversations always follow a hilarious pattern -- we talk for about an hour and then I have to go, but then Andee keeps talking and then the conversation gets really interesting and engaged so I keep talking and then I'm pretty excited, I mean our conversations always go all over the place, from the past to people we can't stand and then Andee always wants to talk about when we used to drink cocktails no sometimes I bring it up too but she always wants me to drink cocktails now too -- forget that! -- then we're on to our critiques of the world and maybe back to people we can't stand, but this time with our critiques of the world and this sounds very vague but at the moment it's really way too hot for me to write much else, I hate sweating while I'm writing. It's already after 9 a.m. in London where Andee lives, that's why she had to go to bed -- we've both always been late-night girls, but now Andee takes it to extremes -- sometimes she even gets up in the morning! I'm looking out at the moon and it's super-low and bright yellow, Andee says we had that moon here tonight too, but now it's daylight.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Deborah Jean Palfrey's Fantasy-Sex-Me Red Lipstick

Too tired to write much right now, just returned from a "blog house party" during the broadcast of the 20/20 episode about Deborah Jean Palfrey, the alleged Washington, DC Madam --I didn't know much about the case before, and 20/20 really gave me little more although it was fun to talk about what was missing (and the outfits!) + the conversation was hilarious-- probably would have been fun to blog there too but of course I need my voice activation software and who knows what it would be typing among the crowd (something like bleachDonna I don't such me Maria on the for in code can send Arendt Center and collation, if you get the idea) . The festivities are recorded at

Friday, May 04, 2007

Safety that I want now a sense of closure

Outside on the fire escape -- I like this space, place to myself with all of this air although I wouldn't mind a few trees, maybe a redwood or two rising up above all of these buildings. But at least I can see those crazy mountains in the distance, the different types of clouds, the softness of all the fading colors of the buildings. But right now I'm actually facing away from all of that, towards the wall next to my apartment. Here is where I'm suddenly thinking about my father, that he'll never acknowledge anything because now he's dead and that's final, I wish somehow it wasn't I remember that moment when I touched his skin in that hospital bed in what we called the family room, what they still called the family room -- what they still call it I guess, present tense even though the house is sold and my mother moves in a month I think.

But back to my father in that hospital bed, touching his skin and even a tear making its way out of his eye I used to be so afraid of those eyes, huge and dark they swallowed me. Here his eyes are sadder and maybe that’s part of the softness I'm looking for, there I mean in that room, the family room, that softness there and I really wish he could have said something so small like I love you, something small like that and maybe sometimes I could treasure that even if it were still fraught with all of the violence surrounding its simplicity never possible.

Instead I was the one who said I love you, I was the one who cried and cried and he responded with maybe a few tears. He listened, and I was grateful for that at least. This was a time when I was surprised by the strength I was able to show through vulnerability that he will never know I guess, vulnerability even in a space that offered me nothing even remotely resembling safety, nothing like that ever really in all of the years that I inhabited it. I remember my father giving me math problems in that room, I liked math problems when I was really little and even maybe approaching my teenage years when we’d play chess and my father would truly fight to win, he’d get so angry it was horrible.

I want to think about whether there was ever any safety in that room, in that house there must have been moments I can't remember. But what strange salvation am I looking for? Maybe it's safety that I want now a sense of closure that can never be. I can only think of his skin, his eyes, and it's all gone.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Discuss chronic pain on Monday, May 7

I'm the special guest at the San Francisco RSI (Repetitive Stress Injury) Support Group meeting this
Monday, May 7, 7:00 - 9:00 p.m

(My talk/discussion is from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m., then from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. the participants brainstorm practical solutions to health issues)

Here's the description:
Mattilda a.k.a. Matt Bernstein Sycamore, in conversation about writing, technological society, sexual trauma and the personal politics of living with RSI and fibromyalgia.

Davies Campus, California Pacific Medical Center
Castro and Duboce Streets (6 blocks north of Market)
Room B 2 & 3 - North tower, near the cafeteria.

All are welcome, should be fun -- I must say that I HATE hospitals, so if you're in the mood to keep me company...

LAPD fires tear gas and rubber bullets at non-violent May Day protesters

Here's a good radio report on Flashpoints:

The cops even attacked a Fox News reporter and cameraperson, their coverage (surprisingly okay, considering it's Fox news):

More video footage from Fox and Telemundo:

And from indymedia:

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

These moments when there is so much possibility for connection and also so little

Okay, here's the most overwhelming thing about being back in San Francisco, in my apartment -- waking up in the morning, walking into the kitchen and facing the mold -- this dusky smell in the air, every day is not so bad but today it's just surrounding me. It's not mold that you can see -- it's in the walls, from when there was a terrible leak that I could hear dripping down from above and when the repair-person opened up the compartment connecting to the pipes everything was just rust, he had a particle mask on and I looked inside at one point to see how terrible it was, it looked terrible because of the rust and rotten pipes but actually no visible mold, that's in the walls and I'm sure there's a way to test for it but every morning I just get overwhelmed thinking about it, sinuses crinkling into headache is it from the thinking or the mold? Mold is terrible, it can ruin your life -- I escaped the mold in my other apartment, but now there’s mold in this apartment too. I'm worried that if I ever get around to getting someone to cite the building, then they'll make me move out while they supposedly fix it for six months or whatever and I haven't even finished moving in yet, it’s been so much work even to get to this point.

Then there's laundry, when I was traveling almost everywhere had laundry in the building and I didn't have that much at a time, washing the same traveling outfits it didn't overwhelm me. Now I have to go down the street, which doesn't sound that bad except that I have to carry everything through my door and then into the elevator and then down the stairs and through the gate and down the street and to the laundromat and then I have to put everything in the machines and go back to my apartment and come back to the laundromat and take everything out and put it in the dryer than go back to my apartment and go back out to the laundromat and take everything out and fold it and bring it back to my apartment. All of the pain, that's what's overwhelming. Getting groceries -- when I was traveling, someone usually helped me, or I'd jump in a cab with just a day or two’s worth -- now that I'm back that sounds extravagant. Theoretically I may be getting money from my father's death, I mean my mother may be establishing some sort of account that pays my basic expenses on a monthly basis -- I mean that’s something I'm working on, supposedly it's something that's happening but it's hard to trust it until it actually occurs. Even then, it may be hard to trust it. Of course it's my parents’ violence that got me to the place where I am now, wondering if I should skip eating greens today because it hurts to chop them, whether I should do laundry or attempt groceries or skip both of them until tomorrow, maybe I'll feel better tomorrow. Using my parents’ money to try to recover from their violence, it's something I'm hoping to do but right now I'm just trying to deal I guess.

Luckily, I realize it's May Day and there's a boycott of all purchases in solidarity with the immigrant rights mobilizations, so now I won't worry about groceries or laundry because I'm not supposed to buy anything anyway. Instead I decide to catch the end of the demo, I'm walking over there but I can't walk all the way without everything hurting so I sit down at a bus stop. The person sitting next to me looks over and says what do you call that style? It's funny because someone asked me that in New York too. I say it's just my own look, I don't really think there's a name for it -- I like contrasting colors and patterns and old lady sweaters, there’s a certain clubbiness mixed with maybe a punk sensibility or something like that. She says oh I see, I just wanted to make sure that I knew what it's called, I like to be in the know about fashion, I got this whole outfit for under $80 -- I see what you're working, actually it all goes together except for the stripes, next time think about a pink shirt. No, really -- think about it -- the yellow belt doesn't go but it brings out all of the other colors, a pink shirt would really tie it all together.

Then she's telling me about her boyfriend of 13 years, she’s always looked for a guy who could hold her whole foot in his hand and this was the first guy like that, he's a bit younger she taught him how to take care of himself but he’s too arrogant and so she had to leave although she can't live without him it's been a year it's hard. I say 13 years is a long time. Someone comes over to talk to her, she hands him a crack rock in exchange for a few dollars and says someone gave me this, I don't know if it's good. To me, she says I stopped smoking crack for -- let me see -- 1992 to 2000, then 2000 to 2003 I smoked and then I stopped again and it's been since July, that nine months I've been using again.

You can see the effects of long-term crack use for sure -- all of her mannerisms are jerky and her stories start in one place and then skip the middle and go somewhere entirely different but she continues like I've heard the whole thing. I like her, though -- when she asks where I live, she knows the exact building -- Sam used to live there, the building with those old windows, 11 floors, that's a nice building.

I guess I'm staying here for this conversation because I'm trying to be more present in my interactions on the street to see what can develop from them -- then she's telling me about this bitch that crossed her and stole her wig while she was sleeping and they were in the penthouse of that fancy hotel on Geary and Taylor with this white guy who had a lot of money but then she stole her hair piece and she couldn't go back up because the guy didn't know what was going on and then she went back to her apartment and they'd changed the locks even though she'd been paying rent, it was that bitch who crossed her, she thought they were friends, you never know who's your friend although I miss him, I really do.

This is where I can tell not much more is going to develop, I'm also ready to go to the demo even though it's probably even closer to being over now, I say goodbye and this woman holds out her hand and we exchange names, as I'm crossing the street she yells out we should do Starbucks some time. What, I say? Starbucks, she says -- we should do coffee. Okay, I say. It's these moments when there is so much possibility for connection and also so little, that's what I'm thinking as I arrive at the protest, which is basically over now, there are a hundred or 200 people watching the stage. I sit in the grass and listen to the final speakers, a little kid stares at me and I make faces with her, then there's music as the sun is coming out and people start to leave and then there's more space between me and the closest person in front of me, I notice that all of the vendors have tons of water left and the organizers are loading the port-a-potties onto a truck.