Saturday, September 29, 2007

I can tell you're really sweet

The weirdest thing happens on the phone sex line, this guy says where are you? I say downtown. He says downtown -- you think the whole world is San Francisco, don’t you? I say no, I don’t think the whole world of San Francisco. He says you think the whole world is San Francisco, you came here to be gay didn’t you? I say I didn’t come here to be gay. He says why couldn’t you stay in the town where you were from and stick it out there?

What the hell is going on? It’s true that I didn’t come here to be gay, but I did come here to be queer -- I don’t think of that in time, though. This guy is screaming at me like he’s daring me to be a man, why couldn’t I be a man and stick it out. I change my tone of voice, switch to a shrieking lisp: bitch you want my load, ooh girl my load my sweet sweet honey load? You want my luscious load in your tight hole tight tight tight hole ooh girl you want my load, don’t you? He hangs up. I’m actually really worked up, why am I so worked up? I guess it’s all these stupid people on the stupid phone sex line and why am I on this line anyway, I hate this line -- I just don’t know where to go and have good sex, can’t there be somewhere to go?

I call the line again, and there he is! Hi sweetheart, he says. Sweetheart? This time he wants to fuck me, he wants to do it the way it’s supposed to be done -- first he gets me all warmed up, then fingers, then I’m begging him. But you sound like you’re on meth, he says -- are you on meth, you’re on meth aren’t you you’re on meth I can tell you’re on meth aren’t you. I say I’m not on anything. He says you’re drinking, you sound a little loopy, I can tell you’re drinking. I say I am a little loopy, but I’m not drinking. Our time on the free line runs out and I’m spared this guy’s ranting, then a few guys who like to hang up really quick when the tiniest thing is wrong like what you want or how you say hello and then this guy is back again, he says I like your voice, I can tell you’re really sweet -- you are really sweet, aren’t you? Then he gets disconnected.

There's something about Oprah

Me: In this culture, writers just aren’t valued. My mother: How can you say that? How can you say writers aren’t valued in this country? I would say that teachers aren’t valued. Me: you’re right -- teachers aren’t valued either. My mother: if you tell someone you’re a writer, they’re immediately impressed, but if you tell them you’re a teacher -- oh, no -- they’re not interested at all. Me: people might be impressed, but there’s no social value attached to being a writer like being a doctor or lawyer. My mother: well you’re right about that -- you don’t get paid and that isn’t fair -- but you could get a book on Oprah. Me: that’s never going to happen. My mother: how can you say that? Me: I’m never going to write something that will be consumable enough for Oprah.

My mother: you’ve probably heard of that book Middlesex. Me: yes. My mother: I never realized that people could be born with both… Me: Intersex? Tons of people are born intersex. My mother: Oprah did this whole series on sexuality and gender and I don’t even know the language -- transgender -- it was very sensitive. Me: you know I don’t watch TV, but I don’t imagine that I would’ve found it sensitive. My mother: I think you might, there’s something about Oprah.

I can't believe the voice software is failing me NOW...

Why now, when I have so much to write? Wait -- is it working now? What? It works on blogger, but not with Microsoft Word -- what the hell is going on? I can't believe this is version nine, and they still have these crazy errors -- the software keeps crashing my whole computer, why now? Well, right now it's working again -- on blogger at least... Okay, maybe I'll try writing something else...

I can relate to this bird

Like my hands are just rolling over

In the morning, I'm sitting on the edge of the bed looking at my legs, my legs, whose legs? Looking closer: hairs so blond, these legs have gotten kind of tan. I brush my hands from knee to thigh, knee to thigh. They still don't feel like my legs. Is this just the fog of morning, the fog in my head as the fog clears outside -- if it's going to be a foggy day I want it to stay foggy! Just outside, so then my head can be clear, I'm trying to be clear here -- are these my legs?

Of course I know these are my legs, what I'm wondering is whether I'm always this dissociated, why can't I feel my legs? I decide to come back to this problem, treat it as an exploration. I do a forward bend, come back to the bed. Still it's like my hands are just rolling over but I don't really feel much at all. Eventually I'm eating, what I notice while I'm sitting in the chair in the kitchen is suddenly this prickly feeling in my legs -- oh, eating actually helps! I'll have to remember that. After I've finished a few bites I run my hands over my legs again, yes these are my legs I mean now I can feel them they can feel but still I wonder how much.

Friday, September 28, 2007

My mother's hands

All this phlegm in my throat, is that what I get? Just phlegm in my throat -- actually the phlegm started when the sadness began to clear just a little bit, that's when I sat down at the computer I mean the sadness cleared a little bit just when I sat down! It doesn't always work that way.

It's hard to figure out whether this sadness, exhaustion, mind overwhelm is different than usual or just a particularly tiring day. But then I realize I'm thinking about cocktails, it would be nice to go back to Millennium where I ate with my mother and sit down for cocktails -- Love Potion Number 9 is what I got -- pomegranate juice, lemon and herbs in a martini glass but Love Potion Number 10 contains vodka, yes vodka! Just yesterday I was marveling about how I never think about cocktails anymore and then boom my mother visits and look at me now.

When my mother gets to the door she looks different -- hair longer and pulled back a little, and I guess she's not wearing makeup maybe that's the difference but also there's the aging process; all her freckles make her look distinctive, engaged. We go to the hardware store to look for dehumidifiers I can put in my cabinets to maybe help prevent mold, and on the way back it's hard to get a cab yes a cab because my mother's carrying things and she doesn't like to take buses. Not that I’m a big fan of buses either but we end up walking kind of far and then we're back at my house and the outside muscles on both of my legs feel so tense I must be holding myself differently. Or just the walk, the walk could be tiring.

Then we’re in my apartment, my mother's assessing what needs to be replaced: do you need both of the sofas, definitely new kitchen chairs, is there other furniture you need? I like both of those sofas because it's like a little living room, I'm not worried about these chairs, what I need to do something about it is the mold.

At Millennium, they must've misunderstood my message. I asked for a table in the coolest part of the restaurant because it's always so hot there, and they seat us right next to the kitchen. The food 's good but not that good -- Love Potion Number 9 is actually the best part, there are hot peppers hiding in the braised greens and the roasted beets have too much balsamic vinegar on them, my main course tastes kind of uniform without the usual sudden explosions of intrigue. My mother wants to talk about what kind of pharmaceutical medicine I can try to help my pain, what I can do to make a living even when I can hardly do anything -- even when she just inherited $4.5 million and I've already asked her for what I want, an account to pay my basic expenses so that then I can worry about trying to get better, doing the things that mean something to me. My mother wants to buy me things but not ensure my security, though we're not having that conversation yet, I mean we need to have it again, that account is something she could do so easily so easily she could help me maybe it would even help me trust her.

But anyway my mother's wondering if there’s pharmaceutical medicine I can try, pharmaceutical medicine that's never done anything for me except make things worse and then I have to get off the shit -- I mean when I was trying those sleeping pills and everything got so much worse, other than that I've just tried a pill here and there if it ruined my life overnight I knew it was time to stop. Different than mixing Xanax with a few cocktails, lines of coke maybe a little bit of K and pot to smooth it over and take it to the sky -- that's all in the past now, what I like to think at least.

But when I talk about incest, my mother doesn't seem scared -- maybe a little scared, but so am I -- I'm talking about that movie Truths and Transformations it was originally about gay marriage, then gay marriage and a gay man who came out when he was 60, then gay marriage and a gay man who came out when he was 60 and me. The commonality in our lives: abuse by our families. My mother doesn't flinch, I mean she disappears a little bit but not as much as in the past and this gives me something I don't know what and we go to Walgreens and get razors, contact lens solution, replacement heads for the electric toothbrush, a WaterPik -- her credit card doesn't go through because she just used it, I say soon enough you'll need to send a fingerprint through your cellphone.

Walking back to my apartment the air is so fresh my mother says that she's right the air is so fresh. She thinks they could do more work in the lobby of my building to make it more attractive, I say it's not that kind of building. She wants to know why I chose this building in particular, I say because it's exactly where I want to live, the apartment was five times nicer than anything else I looked at, the view is amazing. Back upstairs, she looks out the window and oh, she says -- you're right, the view.

I don't know anything about the world, that's what I'm thinking after I walk my mother downstairs and then I'm back upstairs again -- I don't know anything about the world except that it drains me, I mean I know how to hail a cab. I know how to use voice activation software. I know how to do feldenkrais instead of stretches, stretches push and push against the muscles feldenkrais continues the movement -- actually maybe I don't know how to do that so well. I still don't really know how to breathe, no not really. As a kid I had to hold it all in or risk everything. This didn't make me safer, just alive I didn't want to die there, no not yet. Not even with his hands around my neck maybe I could just go further up up no I didn't want to come down no not ever. Maybe if I stayed still, like something trying to blend into a leaf. Maybe I could disappear into the books.

Nothing worked. Eventually I learned to escape, different ways of risk until it all comes back full circle no I'm not that little kid with his hands around my neck no I'm not that broken toy can't keep winding me no I'm not the one my mother called for from the bathroom: can you get me a washcloth? Always something else in the bathroom, something besides a washcloth my father's hair from shaving cutting his own hair caking the floors and my mother's blood, my mother's blood where it was supposed to be this time of the month except why the washcloth, why me and the washcloth ? Why do you need another fucking washcloth, me?

Oh that bathtub was so small, that room and the metallic bloody odor lingering in my nostrils, pink tiles with gray, mold in the grout, I studied the mold in the grout, why. Years later in San Francisco when I first started remembering I had a friend who would sleep over a lot, sometimes I couldn't stand the way she smelled in bed I didn't know why I didn't want to say anything I didn't know what it was until much later -- that time of the month, my mother's blood she kind of looked like my mother too the freckles a similar complexion. I thought I was writing about safety, even just the financial kind right it’s a start, then I can focus on finding the rest. I want rest, yes I want rest but it always comes back to my nose pressed into the carpet all I knew was pain I was broken so much pain can they put it back together me? The burlap sack, where’s my head, that knife. My father's eyes, black pins. Bull’s-eye.

I don't know anything about the world except that my father died and never told me anything I wanted his logic so badly, I wanted him to fill in the blanks I wanted something simple like I'm sorry I want to help you now what can I do? Or even I love you, I love you I wish I hadn't ruined it all I wish I could've held you without so much violence my mother's hands no I don't know my mother's hands I don't know I don't know I don't know.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Don't tell anyone I said this

Don't tell anyone I said this, but when I wake up and the air has cleared, there's a beautiful chilly breeze and the fog is rolling in -- yes, a lovely San Francisco fall day, really the loveliest I'm loving it in spite of the sinus headache sadness, windows smashing downstairs from some sort of renovation, oh what I'm trying to say is that I actually get excited about my mother's visit, I want her to take care of me. It's hard to say that -- I don't want to feel excited except I also want to feel whatever I'm feeling, like just writing this has already exhausted me. I'm sitting here at the computer trying to remember that feeling of excitement, now it's more like nervousness I keep looking at the phone to see if anyone's calling but remember, the phone rings when someone's calling.

My mother calls, she’s at the computer store getting printer ink for me, I'm asking her to help with errands like this, the finances plus the logistics. She's worried she's getting the wrong kind, I can tell she's worn out from the plane but luckily the air is still so fresh I just need to remember to breathe.

Sticking to things

This is how hot it is outside: I'm staring at this fly that’s so still I wonder if it's been fossilized -- no, not fossilized -- what is it? Oh, I don't know -- burnt to death, I guess, but how does it stay balanced on the railing of the fire escape? Its eyes are so red, I wonder if my eyes are red too. Oh, there it goes -- onto my foot -- I shake my foot, there it goes again, further away this time.

I guess it's not too hot for the fly, but it's too hot for me -- I'm sitting with my back to the sun but still I'm sweating in nothing but boxers, have to preserve my subtle Northern California glow, even on the shoulders -- right? Whatever -- usually I can sit out here forever, but today 15 minutes is exhausting. I'm back inside where even the bathroom isn't chilly -- usually there's a whole other micro-climate going on there, since this is San Francisco, but today it's warm there too. The bottoms of my feet are sweating, sticking to things: hair, plant remains, glitter, red lint, gray lint, dirt, red onion skin, soot from outside I guess. Oh, wait -- there's way more on the right foot: tiny pieces of plastic from maybe a price tag hanger thing, bigger pieces of leaves, more of the grimy black stuff, something slightly gooey, a big bright piece of magenta glitter.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Not just houseplants on ledges...

Like my childhood like nothing is possible

Heat wave drama: even the breeze is warm. The good news is that this is when we're supposed to have heat waves -- September, right? All my heat-wave-friendly friends are getting excited, I'm sure -- just last week what we had a fall day, everyone was freaking out -- are you ready for the rain? Of course I'm ready for the rain -- we haven't had rain in six months, except for a few freakshow East Coast humidity thunderstorm moments. Yes, I'm ready for the rain!

I always wonder about these people -- why not move to Southern California, they have this weather all the time. Then I remember that right, people in San Francisco are not only here for the weather, which is a good thing, right? Anyway, I'm ready for the heat wave drama to end, especially since my mother is coming to visit this week and I've told her I can meet up at 5 p.m. but if it's this hot then who knows. Yes, my mother is coming to visit -- I know the pattern, I'll feel connected to her in certain ways and then when she leaves I’ll feel this unbearable sadness like my childhood like nothing is possible like I'll never feel good again in my life like why would I want to feel good in my life when this hopelessness is reality, luckily only the reality of my relationship with my mother I mean the hopelessness of it ever becoming something deep since she won't acknowledge anything or actually now she'll acknowledge some things like our family wasn't a great place to grow up, but not the deep deep issues like that web of sexual violence she and my father crafted, still surrounding me in these moments of hopelessness.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

I love this

Believing without knowing

I can't believe how long I'm waiting in the ear doctor's office, there's no clock so actually I can't believe and I don't know -- of course you can believe without knowing, just look at the way chewing gum becomes part of the sidewalk! Anyway, I'm sitting on this uncomfortable chair, eating very slowly while the guy next to me makes moaning or grunting sounds, whatever signifies disapproval I'm not even looking his way. At least I have time to eat, that's the important thing but what also feels important is this uncomfortable chair, which is especially uncomfortable after sitting in the theater last night, ouch ouch ouch ouch OUCH! It was the kind of place where you can’t get up because everything creaks, someone walked down the stairs to go to the bathroom and it was like another show -- I would've liked a show from that girl, the one I picked out in the lobby, a snide straight type on the emo side of preppy but no this wasn't a show just his green jacket from the back and the whole theater creaking my body too a mess.

So here I am at the ear doctor's office, my body a mess, the whole theater creaking no all the noise comes afterwards -- he tells me all the earrings are good for keeping the wax out, but then why all this pulling more pain in my body this time it's directed into these small holes but am I tensing everything else too? Outside, it's a hot day fading away -- I like the fading away part. Yes now my shoulders hurt too -- joining the hips as bruises, mostly I notice that several people are waiting to get their shoes shined, sitting on folding chairs in the shade and the bus comes right then I almost get on just because it's there but it's the wrong bus.

Look at these crazy clouds!

Monday, September 24, 2007

The fog of desire, a traffic signal out of whack

How to express anything when the brain fog surrounds me, help -- the brain fog! I mean I like the fog outside that clears my head, this is the one inside that drains drains drains -- maybe it drained all the hot water away, is that why there's no hot water today? Later, much later -- I clear the fog with the fog of desire, but why do I have to do it on craigslist? Salivating over cocks in underwear without text, cocks out of underwear looking for mouths, hopefully mine, but I'm only sending photos of myself with personality, okay -- yes, personality on craigslist. The one of me with all my curls in place and I'm biting into a piece of toast -- yes, in spite of the wheat allergy!

Maybe everyone on craigslist is allergic to wheat -- of course I should’ve just headed over to the Nob Hill Theatre, it's Saturday night and at least there'd be someone there, or at least I could walk in circles through that hallowed hallway but now it's 2:08 a.m., the video booths close at 2:30 so maybe I'd get there with five minutes to use the bathroom, blow my nose, walk around in an almost-circle except looping instead back up the stairs and out the door. Then walking home through all the drunk tourists and desperate addicts waiting for change. Writing this reminds me why I didn't leave -- because I'm exhausted, yes I'm exhausted again even if I briefly conjured a libido. In the background, there's some sort of traffic signal out of whack, chirping in threes.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Check out the new issue of Make/shift!!!

Yay -- I just got the second issue of Make/shift, the new feminist magazine where I'm the reviews editor (reviews editor for books and other printed matter for this issue, editor for all reviews starting with the next issue!) -- so make sure to read those reviews, and tell me what you think... I also have a regular column (called -- what else? -- Nobody Passes), as do Nomy Lamm, Randa Jarrar and Erin Aubry Kaplan... There's tons more brilliance, including an interview with INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence, a conversation about trans documentaries, an article about experimental filmmaker Su Friedrich, fiction by Miriam Gurba and more more more!

Oh -- did I mention that the magazine is printed on 100 percent postconsumer wastepaper with soy-based ink -- as all print publications should be, right?

How the hell are they going to keep an independent and innovative feminist magazine in print in this day and age of endless media consolidation? Well, if you have the means to support, you can always subscribe...

Okay, that's all for my plug -- now I better go read the thing!

Oh, but wait -- if you're in the Bay Area or LA (and like to fill in your calendar early), there are two upcoming launch parties:

Wednesday, October 10, 2007, 7:30 p.m.
Skylight Books
1818 N. Vermont Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90027

Hosted by the editorial and publishing collective, with readings by Stephanie Abraham, Myriam Gurba, Erin Aubry Kaplan, and Dean Spade.

Friday, October 19, 2007, 7:00 p.m.
Mama Buzz
2318 Telegraph, Oakland, CA

Hosted by the editorial and publishing collective, with readings by Irina Contreras, Myriam Gurba, Nomy Lamm, Kaya Oakes, Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, Julia Serano, and Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore.

Friday, September 21, 2007

If you look close it's all different antennas stuck together...

Nothing more sweet and symbolic

In the morning, there's so much air on the fire escape it's incredible -- the wind blowing everywhere, blowing away all the pollution in huge chilly gusts so fresh I can almost smell the ocean. Seasons are subtle in San Francisco, it's the fall air yes the fall air. But the next day I don't understand at all, suddenly I can smell all this mold in my apartment again but then I go on to the fire escape and it smells like mold there too, a different kind of mold than the usual type -- something familiar from a long time ago, what is it? But what is it doing in the air? Then it’s the smoke from the tandoori oven around the corner -- they must be doing something illegal, with all that smoke it fills my apartment -- not the smoke, I mean there's no visible smoke and my apartment’s not even facing it, just one window caddy-corner across the street but it's the aftermath of the smoke: the air is clogged. Although I'm in the back, I guess the wind blows this way or is someone in my building cooking with charcoal or kerosene?

The good news is that I'm watching the window with the two cats, though I haven't seen the orange one in a while -- right now it's the black-and-white one, then I notice another tail and yes it's another cat, turning around to the yawn in the sun and then no way -- two then four huge legs and there's a dog in the window too -- a huge dog like a German shepherd I mean I love cats, mostly I love cats but then there's nothing better or more sweet and symbolic than cats getting along with dogs, especially dogs 30 times their size, I mean it's hilarious. I'm trying to get a picture but they're all running around now and then when I give up and get ready to go back inside I notice there’s that tweaker who lives in the back apartment of the same building, naked in the window peering out at me.

Yay, red onions are back in season -- I love red onions!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

"The prostitute problem": sex work and self-determination

I have a conflicted relationship with The Bilerico Project, a group "LGBTQ" blog that includes a polyphony of nonprofit hacks and other members of the blogsoisie, as well as the periodic revelation (I am also a contributor). But I started sobbing when I read "The prostitute’s day in court,” one of The Bilerico Project founder Bil Browning's posts from the other day, and learned that residents from his neighborhood association attended a court hearing to ensure that a woman arrested multiple times for prostitution do jail time. These residents were successful, and the woman in question will now spend approximately 218 days in prison. Over seven months in prison. Can people think about that for a moment? What will that mean for this woman's life?

This issue is extremely personal to me. I supported myself for 12 years as a whore, and the practices, politics and cultures of sex work have been crucial to my understanding of and engagement with the world. Sex work has enabled me to structure my time and finances in order to move cross-country half a dozen times, live in half a dozen cities (and a dozen apartments), write two novels (both with sex work as a central theme), edit four anthologies (one about sex work), go on five book tours, help to start several activist groups, and become involved in innumerable direct action activist projects. Equally important, sex work has helped me, an incest survivor searching for home and hope, to negotiate the perilous intersections of sexuality, intimacy, lust, self-worth, longing and desperation with integrity and charm. Sex work has given me the space to envision radical queer alternatives to the violence of the status quo -- in relationships, activism, identity, desire and self-expression.

Has this been messy? Of course! Do I regret any of it? Well, sometimes... But the point is that everything I've learned over the last 15 years (or almost everything, anyway) comes from an active participation in radical outsider queer cultures that have always intersected, overlapped, and interwoven with sex work cultures -- from high-end dungeons to the quickie blow job in the car, Talk to a Model to "massage," streetwork to the kept boy/girl lifestyle.

And everywhere I've lived (but especially in New York and San Francisco), I've witnessed and struggled against the violence of pro-gentrification "neighborhood" associations that always see the annihilation of public sex and sex work cultures as paramount to the success of their urban removal projects. In New York, a group called "Residents in Distress" (RID) aggressively seeks to eliminate queer youth of color, hookers and other “undesirables” from sections of the West Village where these cultures have survived and thrived for decades. In my current neighborhood in San Francisco, a group of property owners and merchants calling themselves Lower Polk Neighbors (LPN), started by a pair of architects who opened their business/home on a notorious drug dealing/hustler block, across the street from a porn shop and virtually next-door to a homeless shelter, now decries the presence of -- gasp -- hustlers, hookers and drug dealers. What was one of their first things they did for the neighborhood? Shut down the needle exchange.

Neighborhood associations like RID and LPN don't actually care about the safety, health, or well-being of anyone except those owning or patronizing gentrification businesses or speculating in real estate. The violence in these neighborhoods is not coming from sex workers desperately trying to make a living in the public pageantry so familiar to the urban sensibility (and now so threatening to the suburban values of urban dwellers). The violence comes from groups like the Irvington, Indianapolis neighborhood association who find it more important to send a hooker to jail for seven months than to ascertain her needs.

To check out the comments responding to this post on The Bilerico Project, click here.

A review of Nelson Peery's Black Radical

I'm in the midst of writing a bunch of book reviews -- here's one just published in the San Francisco Bay Guardian.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Anything to get out of this space

When I focus on keeping my jaw relaxed it opens up emotion, anything to get out of this space of mind foreclosure like where everything could be blank there’s just a shutting down. I danced for eight minutes, eight minutes I enjoyed spinning falling flying with gravity I even enjoyed a few minutes after until this crash where if I shut my jaw everything's sadness except the middle of my back pulled tight ouch. I guess it's good that it's late because soon I'll be in bed though I don't like sadness in bed either.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Sinus = sadness

Why such a direct correlation, why oh why oh why? Of course I wonder if it's all because someone was smoking pot in that backroom and there was no ventilation, this is how sensitive my sinuses are, how sensitive my sinuses can make me: then I'm just sad about everything, I mean today it's okay on the fire escape, kind of -- actually, it's too hot, I can't deal with the sun -- why am I out here in the sun?

The way everything surrounds me, I mean I can hardly stand apart it's like everything blurs. Or it's me that's blurring, hard to see except the blurriness. Just waiting for the bus is too much, even with this beautiful breeze 6 p.m. not-yet-shadowy light. The bus is warm and stuffy, the way exhaustion makes it difficult to get anywhere, a little better once I've arrived because yes I've made it it's possible I'm one step closer to being home again, back in my apartment. Except once I'm there it's like I'm not quite there either, bruises inside my forehead.

Monday, September 17, 2007

This guy really doesn't like the dead ivy in the window

Remember? He was working at it a while ago, but now he's stepping all the way out onto the ledge...

Here there's more possibility

A back room, oh a back room -- yes, a back room! It's downstairs in the basement, very dark at first I can’t even tell if anyone's doing anything I'm waiting for the bathroom -- that's what I'm doing. There's a glory hole in the door, except it's too close to the corner wall jutting out to really get anything inside except maybe an umbrella, yes an umbrella -- does anyone have an umbrella? There's someone else waiting, we're talking about the hole -- he says it looks painful because it's jagged at the edges, but then I feel it and it's actually smooth.

After the bathroom, I'm trying to check out the three guys standing together in the corner on the other side, but they're working some kind of exclusivity thing so I sit on the bench next to the guy who was waiting with me, who's soon sucking my dick but he’s not very good at it -- teeth -- but he is good at grabbing my head while he's fucking my face, I'm on my knees now and he holds the top of my head from both sides and guides me, I like the support maybe my neck won't hurt afterwards even though afterwards is quite a long time away, really a long time I'm questioning my commitment though I like the way we're in the only well-lit area of the room so that everyone walking downstairs sees the spectacle of it all, the way he's holding my head I'm sweating yes his come really into my throat then I'm up grabbing his head making out furiously his bouncy lips I love love love this energy.

Then he's gone, I put my hand on the guy who used to be next to him -- this guy's nervous now, without the other guy to suck his dick he's standing up to go I stand up too, make my way to the center where there are new arrivals, is that my ex-boyfriend standing next to me? I smile really wide, but I can't tell because of the full facial hair, I've never seen him with full facial hair that's the look these days or at least at this club I'm not exactly feeling that look but what surprises me is that I kind of think it would be funny to have sex with Jeremy, that's my ex-boyfriend name, ex from maybe five years ago now, the only time I've seen him in the last few years was right outside my apartment he said how are you. I was wearing gym clothes, I said I can't believe I haven't seen you in so long and I'm wearing this. I don't think he'd noticed what I was wearing, he said how are you. I said I'm great, really great. That was all -- I felt horrible, I didn't feel great about anything I crashed and couldn't go to the gym, the gym that was hurting my body anyway instead of helping me feel better, even though I was just doing 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, maybe up to 20 minutes on the stationary bike to try to get some exercise but then I decided it was making everything worse.

Anyway, maybe this is Jeremy or maybe it's not -- I decide to grab the guy's head who's sucking maybe-Jeremy's cock, figuring that's engaged yet somewhat neutral gesture I'm not sure if maybe he thinks I’d think it was messy if we had sex in a back room after not talking for two years -- at the moment it feels like it would be hilarious, but maybe this is just a moment anyway the moment’s over because maybe-Jeremy moves away, maybe it wasn't him anyway then I'm sucking the guy's dick who was sucking Jeremy's dick -- no, his dick wasn't sucking Jeremy's dick, he was -- or wait, maybe they were making out, someone else was sucking this guy's no Jeremy's dick maybe both of them were getting sucked yes I think that's what it was. Grammar gets so complicated here in back rooms, yes I'm finally in a back room it feels like it's been forever, forever is the way I'm sucking this guy's dick, not as all-encompassing as the last guy because this guy’s dick is skinnier he's not slamming my head I'm rubbing his legs grabbing his ass really feeling it also feeling my performance. Not my performance like someone's watching, even though someone's probably watching, but my performance like how attentive I am to his arousal until really I need to stand, up into his arms he's kissing the guy next to him then he pulls away I'm kissing him his throat opens wide so much space I love this space then he's sucking my tongue in this is fun too -- so much making out, usually in back rooms guys are scared to kiss but maybe I'm just used to the Nob Hill Theatre, that's no back room just walking in circles, open the cubicle and maybe let something through.

Here it's the building of it all like when I grab the other guy 's head, the one who was kissing this guy before me -- grab his head so we can all make out, he's got the scenester facial hair full beard thing usually I'm not feeling that it reminds me of my father but now I just want the charge of all of us together, it's hard to make out with two people at once the entrances to spit tongues open mouths become confused so then I'm kissing one guy's neck, then the other. This one has to go, I say where you going? He says my friend’s waiting for me, he gave me the signal 10 minutes ago I'm making him wait. I grab his head again, he's more clean-cut than the rest that’s the look he's working or maybe not working then I'm kissing the guy with facial hair, grabbing his head I just love grabbing guys’ heads!

Then I'm too hot, I say I need to get some water -- this guy's going somewhere too -- where are you going? He shrugs his shoulders -- just around, he says -- I like that his voice is queeny even with the facial hair, I say I'll be back. Then I'm waiting for the bathroom again, it's taking a while I look in the hole and see there’s a whole group -- let me in, I say. Okay, one of them says -- then I'm in -- I need some water! It's a coke party, that's clear right away -- oh, water -- that's what one of them says, there's water in there. He points to the toilet. No thanks, I say -- I just need one of these cups -- looking around for which one looks least dirty. He says there's a burrito in there, he means the toilet -- I say I can't really digest burritos, maybe if there were steamed vegetables.

Oh, these shady queens -- I remember doing coke with these queens, not these queens exactly just queens like them -- mostly in New York -- I'd get too high they would chatter on about the most horrible things and all I could do was wait for the next bump, wait until it was time and then maybe I'd get 5 or 10 seconds of something like clarity maybe the opposite a blast of brightness then I'd have to try and talk again.

Back rooms were always the places that saved me from draining drugs and disembodied small talk, luckily I'm back in the back room, up against the back wall where there's this incredibly hot guy sucking my dick, he might be someone I met before -- short guy kind of stocky or maybe built I'm not sure but what I am sure about is that he's sucking my dick his mouth opens like that guy I was making out with, magical space I love that space until he chokes and then I love the choking that's good too he stands up I've got my hands all over his face, tongue licking the roof of his mouth yes I love it but then he says I can't and starts to go -- where are you going? Upstairs, he says -- do you want to eat my come, I say -- no reason for subtlety now, now when I'm finally ready since before I wasn't totally hard maybe because I'm hypoglycemic but anyway I ask him if he wants to eat my come, he says yes then he's down on his knees again sucking then grabbing my dick with his hand too but I pull his hand away, it's hotter without it then he's standing up again what is it that makes him the hottest one here for me -- it's so strange the way attraction works, something about the shape of his head, compact body short hair in my hands and the way he hugs me but then he's running upstairs.

These girls -- whatever for these girls and their guilt or their friends or boyfriends or whatever, someone else is sucking my dick now he's really slamming it I mean he's a pro he doesn't choke or anything but the slamming is kind of bothersome almost ouch. Someone's flickering the lights -- I don't know what that means -- the facial hair make-out guy is getting his dick sucked by another slammer I mean really a slammer -- usually you think about the guy getting sucked as the slammer but here in the back room glamour it's the aggressive cocksucker who's slamming. I'm wondering if I get that way -- better pay attention. Anyway, I'm making out with the facial hair guy, someone else has his fingers at my asshole sort of annoying but also sort of hot, the other slammer sucking my dick until my boyfriend's back, I lean over to whisper in his ear again, he's back on his knees, my hands under his neck he's pushing my hands really tight around his neck that’s hot too -- I mean I like that, someone else's hands on my neck like that wow I'm so close in his throat until -- is the really getting up again? I can't, he says Okay, I say, hugging him he reaches his hands up my shirt then he's running away again someone's down here to tell us we've gotta go, people are going I'm just laughing.

Some queen is snapping photos -- she says do you want to be in a photo. She’s shady I can tell -- the tone of voice -- and her friend is one of those types that can only do one thing -- slide upper lip into nose -- that half-grunt, even though he's working the casual masculinity gym-toned trophy image the attitude is all middle-class bitchiness, probably he doesn't know that. The photographer says it's for the German magazine Stern -- he wants a shot of my butt. Please, I say -- Stern is like Time. Then I'm making fun of him, clocking him with other mainstream German publications -- are you sure it's not for Der Speigel or Die Zeit? He doesn't know what to do, especially when the chair he's sitting on literally cracks in half -- that's the second person who's fallen all the way to the floor, the first one was some guy who fell down the stairs, I mean really fell so that when I was sucking that first guy's dick I took a break to say are you okay?

Upstairs, the bathroom burrito guy is giving me more shade, she says oh, where were you? What, I say -- did my hair get messed up? He says I think I see pubic hair. I say oh, you must be a stylist. He says I see a stylist. I say well maybe I saw you there.

I can play along, but it's just lowest common denominator , like she says are you new around here -- I haven't seen you out. I say that's because I don't go out. She says don't tell me you go out in the Castro! I say no, I just don't go out. She doesn't know what to do with that.

Anyway then I'm outside, walking home and I think of stopping at Frenchie’s to get sucked off because now I’m actually craving that orgasm-type thing but then outside Frenchie’s there are way too many hustler/drug dealer/addict types I'm getting exhausted then at home I end up jerking off on the phone sex line this guy makes gulping sounds with his lips while I'm coming -- annoying -- I'm up way too late, 5 a.m. that orgasm was terrible why did I think I needed it? Everything else was enlivening that crazed contact passing between bodies, one to the other oh the comfort and splendor why not more back rooms in San Francisco, I need more back rooms I mean maybe they'd solve that problem of how to have good sex again -- connected driven sex even if there is disconnect around me I just channel everything and stay there so present. Still I'd need to find a way to have good sex with people I actually know and like and maybe even love but good sex is a good start, right? Often I don't even feel like I get anything from desire just a longing for something more than longing, here there’s more possibility.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Trouble in Hartford, Connecticut...

There's a new blog out there sponsored by Queers without Borders. They say it's "a radical queer blog space that defies spatial, physical, religious, gender, political and all other imposed boundaries." Sounds like a good start to me... apparently anyone can join, and post their radical queer hearts and minds away, or not away -- just posts, the minds and hearts stay (did you catch how that rhymes?). But wait -- who will moderate?

Sounds like trouble...

Friday, September 14, 2007

They're fucking on top of me!

A message from Gina in New York: I'm calling because it's so gray and the air is so disgusting, I don't know if it's better to walk two blocks here on the street or two blocks underground, where there's no air at all -- but is there any air up here? Is there air over there -- are you breathing? I love you -- this could be my last breath, and I'm saying I love you, Mattilda.

A message from one of my closest friends: Stamps, euros, silver and gold -- So, are you good in trivia? Tonight, at 5 p.m. -- LIVE -- on 1640 AM Radio -- some lucky winner will receive ONE OUNCE of pure silver, so tune in tonight -- at 5 p.m. -- for the Collective Coach Show, with me your host -- Jack D’Angelis, your coach -- talking about Memories, Money and Your Life. 1640 AM, live radio -- we have a silver coin for you, tune in tonight at 5 p.m., 1640 AM radio, KBIA, the Light of San Francisco.

Another message from Gina: one more thing -- you know how there's nothing pretty here, so the things that look visually stimulating are things like the oil on the street in the water from the rain that's flowing into the sewage drain. I just had to stand there while I waited for the light and appreciate it.

Okay, so I wake up in the middle of the night with my face dried out like usual except also everything feels extra-stuffed, I mean it's really a lovely combination -- I can't breathe, but everything’s congested. Oh, no -- it's from someone else's laundry detergent -- I washed my comforter because I was trying to get rid of the dust, but now all I can smell is chemicals. Meanwhile, I'm trying not to get out of bed because then I won't be able to sleep, but then I can hear the guy next door grunting, oh no -- this means at least a half hour of high-pitched moans from his lover, which is fine at night but this is the morning, the horrible horrible morning! I'm trying to focus on the white noise generator, but it isn't working. I'm wired -- thinking about going next door and saying feel free to have loud sex as late as you want -- the louder the better -- but in the morning, oh no – can’t you at least go to the other side of the room, or try something muffled?

They're in a bunk bed, so it's like they're fucking on top of me -- I mean they're really fucking on top of me. What time is it, anyway? I pull off the eye mask and wow it's so bright in my apartment, these blinds don't do anything -- maybe that's why I wake up, not just because my head becomes an allergy catastrophe -- maybe it's the light -- what time is it? 8:30 a.m. -- they're having loud sex at 8:30 a.m, before going to work -- what a horrible world we live in!

I get up to heat up some food so I can fall back asleep, just leaning over to pull the container of millet out of the refrigerator gives me back spasms -- ouch -- it's going to be a great day.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

I've simplified my name!

From now on, it'll be...

Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore

That's right -- I'm letting go of the a.k.a., I mean I’ve really enjoyed the longer and perhaps more complicated “Mattilda a.k.a. Matt Bernstein Sycamore,” but really I hate being called Matt I mean really hate it, it feels like an affront really so I'm dropping that off -- the longer version was also getting way too confusing for bookstores and event announcements and flyers, people put the a.k.a. in the wrong place or just choose Mattilda or Bernstein depending on their priorities and not necessarily mine. Oh -- and alphabetization -- these days I could be under M, B, or S (the only one that's completely incorrect is B, but that's a different story). I guess I'll mention here that I'm not particularly fond of the Bernstein part of my name – it’s there as a marker of my Jewishness, since many people don't recognize me as Jewish -- sometimes not even myself! But that's another story too, this is just the announcement, right, the announcement before bed. The name has been simplified. Consider yourself notified...

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Everyone else's ledge

In the morning, I can feel the soot from the forest fires in my throat, a charred dryness in addition to the usual why-can't-I-breathe broken flatness -- at least I know where this comes from, before I just thought it was someone burning something in their kitchen. Doing my morning movements on the fire escape, I notice someone putting their plants back out onto the ledge outside their window. All I can see is hands with a red sleeve and the plants looking freshly-cared for, the red sleeve matches the red of the geranium until the screen is installed in the window, pushed down to keep it from falling out although I still like looking at the plants contrasting the white window ledge, this person must have painted the ledge too because everyone else's ledge looks dirty.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

A truly unique living opportunity

I'm showing Lance the gate they put up for that alley off Post, I mean it's a public alley in the Tenderloin but they put up this huge gate anyway – There’s a Zephyr Realty sign on the gate, is the gate for sale? At least we can undo the lock, I mean it's a sliding old-fashioned thing. Probably they can't lock us out because it is a public street, right? Anyway, we go right up to the house for sale, this tiny brick number, apparently it's A Rare Downtown Opportunity! That's right -- only $965,000, when studios are going for $400,000, well -- this turn-of-the-century brick carriage house represents a Truly Unique Living Opportunity! Somehow they've squished three bedrooms, 1 1/2 baths, a large kitchen and a large living room/dining room into the place, although browsing the website I'll admit the rooms look tiny. Really really tiny. But such character, that's right -- character!

A carriage house -- those were for horses, right? This one was built in 1907, right after everything burned down in the 1906 earthquake, but were there carriages then? The bricks are laid in a much more hand-made way than the larger buildings nearby, I think it probably predates them by 20 years or so... Help! I want a history lesson, yes a history lesson -- do you think realtors Kathryn and Tony Roberts (Isn't that cute? A married couple!) will deliver? I'll keep you posted...

Monday, September 03, 2007

The sound of waves

Lauren and I are sitting at the dining room table when there's an earthquake, I run to the archway between kitchen and dining room, a pillow over my head. Lauren stays in her chair, with her own pillow over her head. It lasts a long time and when it's done, the building is leaning in one direction but nothing seems terrible. The cats come running in, Lauren says pet the cats and I'm petting them -- a bright red calico one and one that’s so yellow it's almost fluorescent green, the art history textbook I was studying before is still on the table, but I'm thinking about whether it will be difficult to get down -- what floor are we on? That's right -- second floor, 224 East, and when I wake up I realize we were at the Sea Colony, the Delaware beach condo our parents bought when we were kids but we only went there for two weeks leading up to Labor Day and maybe Memorial Day weekend, the rest of the time it was rented out. I realize today’s Labor Day, but 224 East is Florence's apartment, the Sea Colony was 401. I don't think it would do too well in an earthquake, not a likely phenomenon in Delaware I don't imagine -- a hurricane would be the tragedy, but suddenly I'm missing that childhood balcony over the cement boardwalk in front of the ocean, the sound of the waves.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Something special

The way the beat bends bodies forward and back, hands up into flip twist around the floor just another platform so so so-so so so so-so so so so-so legs on the floor legs in the floor, hands into hands so many hands into bodies another floor just another platform so so so-so so so so-so so so so-so just another platform light around bodies into eyes stretching eyes stretching light stretching so so so-so so so so-so so so so-so eyes stretching up and forward and back, head falling into lap onto floor legs into air into bodies another platform just so so so-so so so so-so so so so-so so so so-so so so so-so so so so-so so so so-so so so so-so so so so-so-so-me-thing everything in the tumbling between shoulders and the air some-thing some-thing so so so-so so so so-so so so so-so something spe-cial…

Yes, that song, the one in my dream where the light is purple, green, red winding out of the dark into all these bodies, me, on the floor, giving it.

I wake up thinking I should start a club called Something Special, no that's a little too ravey wait I can't even get to a club, let alone throw one. I mean I can’t even dance for more than seven minutes in my house without hurting myself, sometimes even the seven minutes hurts I mean it usually hurts something, can't decide whether it's better to do it anyway.

I tried to go out the other night I guess that was last night, not dancing but cruising then I realized I was too tired to deal -- I'm trying to figure out new ways to find sex since the ways I rely on have become so unsatisfying, so then I think maybe I should go to a bar except that I've never been able to deal with cruising in bars. When I drank, I would read people and do runway, or just do runway, or look for lines, but cruising -- if the music was good, then I could dance, or if there was a backroom then that was perfection, but that other thing -- making small talk and then going home with someone who maybe seems interesting but not really, that one I've never been able to do. So few options, now I wonder if that's something I should learn.