Saturday, December 01, 2007

Silenced in order to find this beautiful gem of connection

If I let my face do what it wants to do, my bottom lip pushes forward in front of the top, chin down, eyes to the floor -- I'm a little kid, so sad, except I'm at the Nob Hill Theatre, wondering if there’s anything I can gain from this experience of standing against the wall that's most comfortable, now that I'm sick of walking in circles. I should leave, that's what I keep saying, but everything has gone so low -- when I arrived I was brash and ready to have fun, now I keep saying I'll leave after I walk around one more time, one more time and I'll leave, one more time.

But I'm still here. I can't ban myself from another sex space, then I'll have nowhere to go. Maybe if I walk around and sing along to this song I'll feel better, "you're as COLD as ice" -- that's what I say to the cute guy with curly hair who I motioned into a booth right when I arrived, but he wasn't feeling it. That was fine, except that no one is feeling it, I mean me. I feel a little better once I'm singing, right into the eyes of the guy with curly hair who won't look at me after that. What's so awful about these places is the way that silence is enforced even when it's not enforced -- even when I'm still the only one smiling or saying hello, even though I'm refusing to sink to the level of masculine realness, that level I know so well. It took me years of turning tricks to learn it, by the end I could just slip right in they didn't even know. Sometimes I didn't even know. That's what I'm trying to unlearn -- even if I'm refusing to pass, I'm still respecting the codes of behavior that I abhor. I mean I'm participating. Sometimes I wonder whether, if I entered a sexual space that radiated with transgression and satisfaction, I wonder if I'd know what to do.

Finally I get outside, but then I'm standing up a few steps in an entryway just a few doors away, thinking that now I'm actually horny I want to make something of it I want to feel something, anything but this desperation. Two guys with shaved heads walk by and look up at me, the way I meet their eyes is not what they're looking for, I'm almost worried they're going to come back and attack me. But then this cute preppy boy walks by, meets my eyes with everything that's possible, should I go back to the theater I guess I should go back. It takes me a minute, but then I'm back and he's heading out the door again, maybe he's fast or maybe he's looking for me, I give him a huge smile and rub his soft wool sweater, I say do you want to go into a room? He says where are you from?

I never understand that question, sometimes it's about the accent people think I have, other times it's my aesthetic, at the moment I think it's something about how forward I'm being, out here in the street even not yet in the theater. I say I'm from the East Coast, except right then I'm thinking maybe he meant do I live here? I say do you want to go downstairs into a booth, and he looks surprised again or maybe he's sizing me up, he says: yeah. I do. There's something toppish about the way he says that, even though he's not working some tired masculinity I like his big eyes.

Downstairs I'm feeling silly already -- always a good sign -- I say which is your favorite booth? He doesn't respond, I open my arms in the direction of one contestant and we go inside, such a different experience of letting my face do what it wants, soon he's grabbing my hair to pull my head in the right direction, for a moment I think oh no, don't mess up my hair but then I'm loving it, this is after I get him to make out and that's always another dimension. Here we are in this tiny room with so much heat and passion, the best part is that when I respond to his aggressive gestures I go in both directions -- giving in, then giving it. Like I'm hitting his head a little bit against the stall wall, is this okay? What's so great is that even when it's serious it's not serious and it's serious.

He wants me to come, I don't want to come until he does, he says that will be a while. I can wait. He wants to know where I'm staying, no I live here -- three blocks away. Alone? Yes. No roommates? No roommates.

Then we're on our way, I say we should take a cab -- I mean it's really eight blocks. But it turns out he has a car, so that's our way and he does what 90% of guys do when I say my name’s Mattilda, some version of what's your REAL name? He says: is that the name your mother gave you?

I'm so used to this that it doesn't phase me in any particular direction really, of course I'm aware how silly it is that people have so much trouble with a name, a chosen name, the way certain types of queerness stay in certain places we can live in our worlds and try to forget about the others it never works because we’re worse in some ways too. Then there’s this guy who’s making me so hot, nothing feels uncomfortable that's a rarity with the in-between conversations, he wants to know what I write -- how convenient that my review is just out in the Guardian, my review about cruising and gay male sexual culture even. He's telling me about all the different cruisy bathrooms downtown except that he hasn't been downtown in a while -- do you know the shopping bag trick at Macy's, when one guy steps into a shopping bag and the other guy can suck his dick, no one will notice. Then he reaches under the exterior gate at the corner store to pull out a bunch of copies of the Guardian for me, I can't reach because I'm worried I'll hurt myself but I don't say that -- he has a better strategy, down lower..

He likes my view, he says this is a real San Francisco apartment like in Vertigo, he's a actor who grew up in the Bay Area, he's 37. Thirty-seven’s a sexy age, maybe just ‘cause he’s sexy. He's looking at my reworked Abercrombie artwork in the bathroom -- slogans like I'm So Glad I'm So White, Colonialism Is So Cool, We Own You, We Love Killing Iraqis -- he says did you make these? Are you doing something more with these -- you should really do something more with these, don't you think? He tells me what he thinks about each one -- that one's great, that one's funny, that one's just hot. I hope we get together again.

I thought I was going to eat something right when I got inside but now we're making out again, from one sofa to the other, now he's all about sucking my dick before it was the other way around. I like the tension when his dick gets close to my asshole but I can tell that he's not going to try to fuck me, I'm sensing that he knows how to respect boundaries -- my boundaries his boundaries, boundaries in general. Then it's my dick against his asshole, I'm tempted to see what he wants inside but I'm worried then I'll come too fast I want to wait. Spitting in his face and he loves it, actually he does this thing where his eyes get bigger then roll back I think I do that too. I'm smacking his face a little, looking in his eyes to see whether it's what he likes until one smack too hard he holds my hand against his face I kiss his cheek, sorry. Sorry. I kiss him again.

So much energy I have for all this physical contact, oh I wish I could keep this high this high that will be low tomorrow. We’re on the bed, this is when I'm totally exhausted but crazed too I think we're both exhausted, trying to find the right positions I'm a lot taller so the 69 thing is a bit confusing, soon his head is hanging off the bed I’m pumping his face. What I like best is that what he does to me is what he wants me to do to him, I love that mutuality so rare, so hot I’m at that point when I need to come or I'll never come, so different from the beginning when I could've come any moment, oh now it's his throat his throat except he wants it on his face, a little bit disappointing except probably my orgasm will be better, oh wow that's a lot of come on his face, plus the extra that goes way over. Then it's him all over me and he says can you get me a towel. I want to lie on top of him first, but then I notice there's come all over his eyes, I think of trying to lick it off but it's a lot, so I jump up for the softest towel he says thanks, I'm kissing him from the side until he goes to the bathroom to wash up. I wipe my come off the floor -- I say it went all the way over your head, he says it's good to be an overachiever. It's after 3 a.m. when he leaves, and he calls me Mattilda -- that's a good sign.

The next day, can we skip the next day? I'm trying not to take a nap because maybe taking naps is keeping me up later, so I get in bed but try to stay awake, it's kind of nice until I get up and realize that I'm somewhere between feeling worse and feeling better -- oh, wait -- that's means I'm feeling the same. Luckily, Aaron calls to distract me from my brain drain, he wants to know if I'm on drugs. Because I'm laughing so much -- no, darling, I'm just laughing at how exhausted I am -- it helps me deal He's trying to tell me a story but I can tell it's going to take three hours and then it will be past my 2 a.m. phone deadline, if I stay on after 2 a.m. then I'm too wired. I'm trying to keep Aaron focused, I say otherwise you'll just tell me one tangent after the other, then you won't let me get off the phone and you'll start insulting me.

Well, that's when our conversation gets dramatic, Aaron can't believe I'm saying he insults me, he wants an example. But this is an example -- he's putting me on trial for my own feelings, halfway into every sentence he cuts me off with another confrontation. The real problem is that he's always drinking when we talk, his logic doesn't make sense -- it's circular and adversarial and I can't deal, I mean I can’t even give him an example of what he says that feel dismissive, it's the whole pattern that always gets less and less rational but somehow wedded to a faith in logic even if it's a logical.

Aaron says you don't understand how I grew up, Dutch Calvinist -- you would understand if you came home with me the Eastern Michigan for Christmas. Aaron, I'm not going to Eastern Michigan for Christmas, I'm not going anywhere for Christmas. Aaron says you wouldn't like me if I wasn't drinking, I'm only drinking so that I can keep up with you. I say Aaron, that's exactly what I mean -- you're playing a logic game, you're trying to implicate me in the exact decisions that I'm trying to critique.

But wait -- did I tell you how exhausted I am? I mean, it's hard enough to think at all but now I have to sound super-clear I mean I don't sound clear at all so Aaron keeps challenging me. I say let me tell you a little bit how I grew up -- my father made everything into an argument, the more it was about nothing then the more he liked to argue, I mean just picture him teaching me how to play chess when I was six and then fighting me like he would fall apart if he lost. I mean, I was six years old -- was he really threatened by my skills at chess? Everything was about power, and I can't deal with arguing like that anymore, arguing about nothing.

Aaron says that I can understand, I wish you'd told me that before. I say I don't think I've thought of it that way before. Aaron says it's like when I call Derek, and I always know that at some point he's going to get so drunk that all he can do is play songs on his stereo and sing along, and I never know how to get off the phone. I say exactly, that's exactly how I feel.

Aaron says I remember one time when we went to a movie in Seattle, and on the bus on the way back you were telling me this story about when you did that porn video and the safe word was blue -- they didn't tell you anything that was going on, spray-painted your shirt and dragged you through gravel but you didn't use the safe word until they were trying to make you eat dog food, and you said blue -- I'm vegan! And you were telling this story at full volume on the bus -- I can't be like that, not everyone can be like Mattilda. I say I don't want my friends to be like me, actually the thing that annoys me more than anything else is when people imitate me. Aaron says but you wouldn't like me if I was sober, I wouldn't be able to entertain you. I say Aaron, I'm not interested in being entertained – I’m telling you that I'm not interested in talking to you when you're drunk, and you're telling me that I wouldn't like you if you were sober.

Aaron says can you tell me something that I insulted you about -- the only thing I can think of is when I told you to talk to your grandmothers, that you would regret it if you cut off contact. I say you're right, I was describing my emotional reality and you wanted to argue with me, I'm not interested in arguing about my feelings. You get all parental, and I'm not interested in having that dynamic with anyone, in either direction -- I'm trying to express my emotional reality, and you get all maudlin and want to fight about it and then I don't feel safe talking about anything relating to incest or even my father's death, I haven't talked about that with you because I don't feel safe.

There are more circles, then I guess Aaron agrees to call me when he’s sober, just to try it, and when we get off it’s 2:30 a.m. and sure enough I'm wired -- it's the worst kind of wired, because it's just exhaustion inside-out. I guess I fall asleep, then I'm awake and the neighbors are moaning and groaning -- it never feels like their sex is what wakes me, but it always seems to occur right after I wake up -- am I turning them all and when I turn over in my sleep? I'm hoping it doesn't get louder, sometimes it doesn't get louder it's the high-pitched oh oh oh oh oh oh oh ohohohohoho oh oh oh oh oh oh oh ohohohohoho OH OHOHO OH OHHHHHH OHHHHH OH ohoho oh ohhhhhh ohhhhh ohhhhh oh ohoho oh ohhhhhh ohhhhh oh oh oh oh oh OHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH. Oh. Oh. Oh. Oh. Oh. Oh. Oh. Oh. Oh. Oh. Oh. Oh. Oh. Oh. Oh. Oh. Oh. Oh. Oh. Oh. OHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH.

Do you see how that can be distracting? I'm screaming into a pillow but that doesn't really make me feel better. Eventually he's grunting and then they're done and I'm trying to get somewhere calm in my head, instead I just keep wanting to scream it's like I can still hear her moaning, oh oh oh oh OH.

My mind is racing through emotion, thinking about how there's nowhere else except public sex venues where I feel so silenced, I mean nowhere else where I continue going. Silenced in order to find this beautiful gem of connection and how awful that is, I'm crying a bit underneath the eye mask I should probably switch to another one, I'm not going to be able to sleep anyway. I take the eye mask off I look at the clock -- I can't believe it's 8:57 a.m., 8:57 they really do have sex like that at 8 a.m. I feel so awful, there's nothing I can do but sob, facing away from the light it's too bright I’m sobbing. I guess I need to eat something I don't want to eat I need to eat I can't deal with all this light. I take the phone in the back of my apartment where it's darker, over by the dresser now I'm shaking I don't know what to do I'm shaking, calling Chris but when his voicemail answers I can't speak ‘cause I'm shaking too much, my whole upper body in spasm -- I'm trying to sound calm but I can't make the words work, I want Chris to tell me it's okay to go in the kitchen. I call his home phone and leave another message, can you please call me and tell me it's okay to go in the kitchen?

Eventually I make it to the kitchen through all this horrible light -- I need blinds that actually block out the sun, why is there all this sun it's like it's poking holes in my forehead. I'm heating up a grain, but then I realize maybe I need proteins so I'm heating split peas in another pot except I can't imagine eating any of it, it looks so disgusting. How do I know it's just not going to make everything worse? I call Chris again and this time he answers, he's always up early he says breathe, and then he's breathing. Right, breathe -- I'm trying to breathe. I'm saying I can't believe how bright it is, how do people do it and then I'm shaking again so my teeth are chattering I have to bend over I can't make words, I say what's going on? What's going on? Only the plants like this sun, it's only for the plants. Chris says it's something old coming up, I say it doesn't feel old. Chris says then it's something new, it's a release. A release, right, a release. I can't deal with all this light and shaking, what is going on?

Oh, the eucalyptus oil on the table -- I'm smelling the eucalyptus, oh yes eucalyptus, oh, and I'm laughing -- who needs drugs when you can feel like this? It does feel kind of childlike an innocence I'm trying to find something pretty -- oh, pink -- I like pink. Chris has to go to work and I find a dark sheet to put over the window in the kitchen that doesn't have blinds, I guess I can eat this food. Actually the split peas taste amazing, mmm these split peas are so good. I'm not so sure about the grains -- ever since I got an acupuncture allergy desensitization for grains, they haven't tasted so good although I'm worried that maybe grains calm my head more and without them I can't sleep. Maybe this is the allergy desensitization. There's always something to think about, I mean something that maybe makes everything worse when I'm just trying to get better, the only other times I've had panic attacks like this have been incest flashbacks and I'm wondering if this has something to do with that terrible conversation with Aaron, I mean it felt okay but really I was too exhausted, trying to keep my brain on when I could barely function, so that I could argue about my feelings. And of course I've been doing all this writing about childhood, this place of sadness no space except sadness isn't space. I was trying not to scream in bed, and then I was shaking.


grantatee said...

oh gosh mattilda-- your panic attack sounds horrible! i am glad that you were able to reach out to chris to get some support/ relief.

& i was excited to read about your sexual connection- it sounded fun, and im glad that he appreciated your bathroom art (i like it too!!), and that he used your REAL name.

and that conversation with aaron- i was really touched by your clarity within yourself and how you shared that in a non argumentative way.

thinking of you,
lots of love,

mattilda bernstein sycamore said...

Darling, yes indeed -- I'm glad Chris answered! And yes, that sex was hot hot hot, dammit -- I hope it happens again...

I'm so glad you like my art -- and my name my name my name!

And oh my, that conversation with Aaron -- I'm glad I sound clear, although I'm not sure that I felt that way -- maybe that's one of the joys of writing, or so I hope...

Love love love --

gina said...


i feel that way too in my sad face. i love that line "i'm a little kid, so sad, except i'm at the nob hill theatre."

i love that the guy who wasn't feeling it _really was_ COLD as ICE! he didn't even have to sing along!

i knew i had so much to learn from fags but i didn't know the tricks would come in shopping bags! i love you!

maybe doing something like staying up talking when we know it's too late and not good for us IS like incest in the way that it crosses our boundaries and makes us ignore parts of ourselves in order to go on and get through. and then we're left with how we feel after. and maybe it is bringing up something old in a certain way or releasing something new like we can't do that anymore. this gives me some insight into my own boundaries in daily interactions.

* thank you mattilda *

and i love chris and his wise support. i'm glad you called him and i'm glad you made it through with such success and bravery. feeling everything, as always, and sharing it all so beautifully with all of us.

i love you.


mattilda bernstein sycamore said...

Gina, darling --

Yes, I'm trying to go with the sad face when I'm feeling it, just let it all out... And truly, that bitch did not need to sing along, next time maybe I'll bring the kind of ice packs you can freeze in glory holes, surprise!

And definitely, ignoring things like the fact that I was so fucking exhausted I shouldn't have been talking about anything except the weather or listening to a funny story, I like funny stories when I'm exhausted!

And yes, bringing something old and releasing something new, or bringing up something new and releasing something old -- I like that! I mean, maybe not in the moment, but maybe in the moment. I mean a different moment.

Thanks for all your wise words and support!

Love --