Monday, June 30, 2008

Whether it's better to want something I don't have or to want something I don't have

It's amazing to me that the new blinds are still toxic, I mean they're not even new anymore I've had them for at least two months, right? Still when I pull them down it's like wet paint. Not as bad as when I first got them, and I would wake up with my face sealed shut, walk into the kitchen to cook and find myself staring at this thing, what am I doing what is this? Oh, that's a pot. I'm cooking.

Still I wake up in the middle of the night with serious sinus pain, although I guess that could be the 800 forest fires that are burning in northern California, Chris says the air is so polluted it just gets stuck, what we really need is rain to clear the air. But it doesn't really rain at this time of year. Although Chris says we’re supposed to have some thunderstorms.

I guess that's what I smell in the middle of the night -- I keep thinking it's the tandoori ovens, what are they cooking in the middle of the night? But I guess it's much larger areas of burning wood, further away but it still gets stuck in my throat, dry and caustic.

I'm trying to decide whether I should go to the Nob Hill Theatre. I haven't been to any of my sex venues for a few months, which means that pretty much I haven't had sex, and I can’t decide whether I feel better or worse. Whether it's better to want something I don't have or to want something I don't have when I'm surrounded by that wanting. I mean other people, wanting.

Instead I keep getting stuck on the internet, I don't even know what kind of wanting that is. Wanting new arms, I guess, a body that doesn't hurt just from sitting, something to maybe rescue me from this position, any other position! So maybe it's better to go to the Nob Hill Theatre.

A few things I notice about the aftermath of pride...

There are way more queers of color in San Francisco -- yay!

Competing sound systems with awful dance music, but if you sit in between them it actually sounds okay...

So many straight couples walking around holding hands! Just in case -- well, you know.

Friday, June 27, 2008

The center of San Francisco

Sometimes phone sex is the best because you have complete control over your orgasm, or almost complete control and sometimes that makes the high so much better like you almost lose control even though you have control and that makes it so much more startling. And sometimes I say silly things after I come, you know before my brain has kicked back in.

Is phone sex public sex?

The guy on the other line says no, it's public utility sex. Well, that's a good response!

Then I get philosophical: I say well I was thinking about all the spaces where I have sex, most of which are public sex spaces, and I was thinking that it's all become physically unsatisfying, emotionally draining, and culturally pointless.

Then I say: I should write that down -- if I can be clear about exactly what I'm feeling, then maybe I can figure out how to find something else. My phone sex partner says what are you writing it down for? I say that's what I do, I'm a writer. He says what are you writing?

I say well, the current project I'm working on begins with visiting my father before he died. I hadn't spoken to him since confronting him about sexually abusing me as a kid, 11 years before, and that's when I cut off ties unless he could acknowledge the abuse. He never did, but I decided to visit him anyway.

And then this project continues with trying to regain a sense of hope in my own sexuality, and the legacy of the abuse in the overwhelm of the everyday, and then maybe it ends with childhood, or something like that. My phone sex partners says: are you on drugs?

No I'm not on drugs -- I don't even do drugs, I mean I did plenty of drugs a long time ago, but I haven't done a single thing in eight years -- why do you think I'm on drugs, because I'm being emotionally revealing?

He says because your voice changes a lot, from soft and low to faster and then low again.

I like when a phone sex conversation becomes something else, but it's funny that he doesn't want me to know when he was born -- I say in the 1950s, right? So yes, in the 1950s, on the Upper West Side in New York, near Columbia, but he won't tell me his background, which I'm curious about because I'm interested in the history of different neighborhoods in different decades, and especially different neighborhoods in Manhattan. He moved to San Francisco in 1969, I say what do you think is better and what you think is worse?

He says it's not as free and not as fun and it's much more corporate. Everybody's networking all the time. It used to be that there was a sense of San Francisco as in the cultural forefront -- the whole rock scene -- this was a center of it, the Mamas and the Papas and Jefferson Airplane and Santana. KQED had an auction and they had all this neat stuff from local artists and antique dealers and that was when they had started a one-hour news program because of the newspaper strike. And San Francisco was a financial headquarter city.

I say a financial headquarter city -- was that a good thing? He says yeah, but now it's not the same it doesn't even have the liberal ideas that are supposed to be so prevalent but that's just a myth so what is San Francisco the center of anymore?

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Laugh right into his eyes

Of course, when I'm not looking for sex at all, I mean I'm way too tired I've already walked too far I need to get back home -- of course that's when not just one but two incredibly hot people stop me on the street. The first one has a cute Marilyn Monroe piercing, you know like a beauty mark -- what do you you call that one? Anyway, she's got gorgeous lips and a do-rag over her head, probably she wears wigs a lot is what I'm guessing. She says you have a beautiful face. I say so do you! She says well then let's freak. I say I'm exhausted, I have to go to bed. She says I'll suck your cock in the hallway and she grabs for my crotch so I step back. I say no, I have to go to bed, but I’ll give you a hug. So we hug -- she kisses me on the cheek so I kiss her neck. She’s hot, but a bit too spun I'm not sure what would happen.

Then, just around the corner, there's this gorgeous boy may be in his early 20s with long curly hair working ‘70s realness with white jeans, he says where are you going? I say I'm going home. He says what were you up to tonight? I say nothing much, just walking around, what about you? He says I went to Aunt Charlie's. I say what’s tonight? Tuesday. How was it? It wasn't very fun.

He’s on the way to smoke pot at a friend’s house, I say maybe we should... He says exchange numbers? I say yeah. So he takes out his phone, gets my name and number. He says you like to be called Mattilda, so I guess your name is Matt, but he's just saying it to himself and he writes Mattilda in his phone anyway so it doesn't feel too annoying. I say what about your number, and I write it on my hand, laugh right into his eyes and then it's back to walking back.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Down with legitimacy

I know, I know -- you've been thinking wait, Mattilda's been awfully quiet on this whole marriage thing -- so, sure, you're wondering, and yes, I've got another op-ed -- this one might be my favorite, in today's San Francisco Bay Guardian... of course, feel free to share your thoughts!

Like that white would taste like skin

The worst part of my day is that space in between sleep and sleep, waking up to piss I try to stay calm but sure enough I start thinking about the blinds and whether they’re poisoning me that's why I feel so awful even if I sleep I still feel awful. Then I start thinking about everything I couldn't do when I was awake, like find a thyroid doctor and then I can try the medication but what if it just makes things worse it takes a while to find the right dose and if it’s too much then I'll just get wired and exhausted I can imagine it 10 times worse than this. Layna Berman says hypothyroid makes you suicidal, hyperthyroid makes you homicidal -- you'll know because you'll be sitting with a friend and you'll start thinking: why are you breathing so loud? Do you have something to say are you going to say it? And why are you doing that thing with your hands?

Already I'm so edgy, like the slightest thing sends me from a vague calm to catastrophe, a short walk could mean a slight clearing or deep dark hopelessness inside bodily collapse. I need exercise, but I can't exercise. I need exercise, but I can't exercise. I need exercise, but I can't exercise!

So it's not working, what I'm doing is not working, I keep working at what I'm doing. Hoping that something will work. Not hoping. Hoping.

So every night late at night in bed it's really morning I'm trying to get back to sleep and I start thinking okay, I just have to try eating fish and then I even picture it, I can go to that restaurant in the Marina where they even had a fish on the menu that sounded great, a ginger miso dressing with greens and quinoa and oh, I didn't realize the fish part. Still I picture myself going to the counter and ordering and breathing deeply, thinking okay this is just something I'm trying this doesn't mean I'm a horrible person I'm just desperate I need to try just once just to see if that helps. Then the fish arrives on the table I smile and say thanks and try to pay attention to the greens and the quinoa maybe I'll press my fork against the fish to take a bite but oh the smell and my whole body clenches up.

So no, maybe I'll go with someone who likes to eat fish and they’ll order their food while I order mine, it'll all be planned out ahead of time I'll just try a bite. I'll just try. I'll just.

This feeling in my chest like I can't breathe like everything that's me might not be me any more I guess it's the kind of deep sadness that's worse than sadness because what if the root of the sadness or not the root the cause, what if the cause is still what my body needs? Is that something I can deal with?

So then I go back to the idea of eggs, yes there are a few farms that are actually free range where they don't keep the chickens in cages or chop off their beaks, where they don't slaughter the animals later they just grow vegetables. Grant even gets free eggs sometimes when one of the eggs in a carton is broken so they can't sell that carton. Maybe that would be okay. I mean I've thought about it for long enough and probably it would be fine, I just can't imagine biting into that particular texture I guess I imagine it hard-boiled that's the way I ate eggs as a kid it just seems like that white would taste like skin.

Meanwhile it's like I leave the house for 15 minutes and I'm already hypoglycemic, allergic to everything, totally on edge, I'm in pain from sitting or moving or not moving or talking on the phone or anything really, I mean I'm not getting better I'm not getting better I'm not getting better so it's time to try something new, maybe the thyroid medication.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Please please remind me if I ever again think it's a good idea to use the terrible tools of the present to create the sex of the past...

It's over, honey -- the past is over! I should've taken Chris's advice, as she was heading down from Buena Vista – it’s so crowded, he said -- 30 or 40 people, and five more heading up as I'm leaving!

I guess that's one good thing about the heat wave. But I'd already posted an ad on craigslist to get something started at Lafayette Park, and all these guys had sent me hot photos. Sure, if climbing to the top of Buena Vista didn't destroy me, not always my body but definitely my mind once the hypoglycemia hits -- sure, then I would've gone right to that proven hotspot, Chris said this guy just started pulling down his pants right on the path, this was maybe three minutes after Chris arrived and the guy was passionate too and he wanted to kiss!

But not me -- I'm over at Lafayette, I can't believe it's so hot there's no air I mean I can smell the trees but it just smells suffocating. I'm walking up the hill and there’s some guy staring down, not a good sign is what I'm thinking, and when I get up to him and I see that he's wearing sunglasses, a white button-down shirt, and business slacks, at midnight on a Friday in Lafayette Park. No, not a good sign -- especially when he starts following me and I speed up and then he speeds up and I look back and say no thank you, but he's still following me. And I go all the way around the perimeter, even down the hill and then up through the trees and when I get back to the top he's ready to follow me again. He's got this weird angry energy and I almost worried that he's going to stab me, that's just hypoglycemia speaking but why am I already hypoglycemic? I sit on the bench to rest, some guy’s crouching in the shadows and I think maybe, but then the other guy’s back with his sunglasses so I have to get up and at this point there's someone else following me, this big guy with a maudlin expression that alternates to false hope when I'm in vision. I mean he knows it's false but it's something he practiced long ago maybe a worked or maybe it never worked he keeps trying we all do that. He’s stumbling from booze, reaching his hand over to touch me his mouth hanging open, papi he says a cross between a whine and a lullaby. I smile no, no thanks, no.

Then literally it's him from one direction and Sunglasses from the other and when I'm escaping downhill my whole body hurts, I can't even imagine what would have happened if I'd gone to Buena Vista, just five blocks to the bus and I'm a wreck I mean really I don't have enough energy for cruising it's just arrive and then crash. I mean I'm looking for something between those two inevitabilities, right now it's just the bus I mean the bus after the crash and at least it's not crowded. When I get off there's that guy who likes to talk about my style, why does he think my name is Greg oh he's saying Red! I guess because I'm wearing a magenta shirt but it's dark out now. Then he wants to know if I know Siobhan, he always wants to know if I know Siobhan but he doesn't know her name he says the girl who dresses like you with a boyfriend who wears a dress. He's right that we're both always turned out, I mean that's how we deal. He says people get angry out here when it's like this. He means the weather, and he's right -- on the East Coast it's awful, here at least it hopefully won't last.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

No arguing yet

The best part about meeting someone new who you're going to have sex with is the point right before it happens, right when you go from not sure that there's anything sexual maybe it's a different kind of connection maybe he just likes talking with you to when you first touch, just casually at first and then he starts stripping, standing up on the sofa with his cock in his hand, foreskin a dark band around paler skin and he's got that grin, the only thing you're wondering about is the sticky sweet rancid smell of all of his skin you're wondering how to suggest a shower, yes let's take a shower and you go upstairs for advice but what's going on, all of these people are gathered in the family room the sun is bright, who are all these people?

Just as you're about to say I can't believe I'm up so late, you realize it's only 2 or 3 a.m. in the house he now share with your sister and there are all these dogs gathered against the wall, wait is that one -- you can't remember the name, it can't be Lassie, your neighbors’ dog from years and years ago, the neighbors you barely ever saw but the dog came over all the time until maybe they taught it human boundaries. You say that can't be, because then she has to be 30, and this older guy from the corner who must be the neighbor says exactly, 30 and six days, and then you're having so much fun petting the dog, sweet dog with so much soft fur you can't believe she's 30 and then she starts biting you, gently at first and then more so it hurts you step back and say no. No. No.

You're worried you'll scare the other dogs but they all still seem happy, tongues out bobbing up and down by the fireplace and when you wake up at first the best thing is that you finally fell into something so calming, then you realize maybe it's one of the first dreams that takes place in the house where you grew up, but you're not terrified. There's some fear about the guy downstairs, something less than gentle about his grin that makes you go upstairs for advice in the first place, something that could lead to a certain kind of violence but it's manageable, not the violence of your father in that same space, the downstairs that years later terrified you even in waking hours.

Maybe it's time to get up, but you keep your eyes closed just in case and you're in your grandmother's kitchen -- you and your father and mother and sister and grandmother, she's just gotten out of the hospital, sitting on her chair talking about what she needs to cook and you're thinking what, you're going to cook when you just got out of the hospital, broken hip and it's hard for you to stand? But there's something calming about this dream too, like for once you're all together but there's no arguing, no arguing yet.

Friday, June 20, 2008

That's Revolting! review in Montréal...

It's short but sweet, from the "Three Dollar Bill" column in Hour, a weekly paper in Montréal:

If reading this column isn't enough, pick up this book! Newly revised and expanded, the compilation features a ton of edgy essays by such former TDB interviewees as Sarah Schulman and Patrick Califia, who in his essay Legalized Sodomy Is Political Foreplay observes of ENDA's exclusion of trans-people, "The surest sign of being a shit is the drive to make other people live in it."

Thursday, June 19, 2008

It's not bad when I'm laughing

There must be something to say about this need to collapse even when. Even when it gets me nowhere but the next collapse.

There must be something to say about 13 hours in bed that I thought maybe gave me something, something I needed, except that in-between period when I was planning out I don't know how many essays on childhood and privilege and abuse and desire and longing, planning them out detail by detail in bed when I was trying to sleep no stop, stop planning. Sleep.

Stop. There must be something to say about sleep. There must be something.

Maybe I'll talk about this music, the way the metal guitar blends with soft vocal static drum static melody building into fence shaking then everything at once I think it's the guitar that makes it sad. I don't generally like guitar.

No, it's all sad -- the tinny keyboard blending into some kind of wind behind the voice, the stretching blending scratching bending I used to listen to music like this all the time because it felt like what I felt like. Different kinds of things, but mostly they felt like this. Now it's different: I like music to take me out of how I'm feeling, yes give me the beat maybe I can become that.

I don't like it when I get so worn out -- all I did was cook, go out to get a haircut, go to Haight Street to look for music, come back home, listen to the music and this was the best this sadness. Somewhere on Haight Street I crashed, actually that always happens on Haight Street, even though I stopped to get fresh spring rolls the only thing on the menu that I can eat without MSG I almost ate the sauce but then I didn't.

I don't know what I'm allergic to today, the way the right side of my tongue feels raw maybe it was one of my supplements. I call Gina and wait, there was something I wanted to say, something I wanted, something -- Gina says you're laughing because it's so bad. But I like laughing, it's not bad when I'm laughing.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

One of those nights, one of those days -- but wait...

Okay, so there's a bad night of sleep -- that's every night, right? But then there's a really really really bad night of sleep, oh no help oh no! Maybe it starts because I do a few things after I'm already too exhausted to do anything, and then I hate myself just for being awake I mean staying awake why didn't I start getting ready when I first got so tired? And then I finally get in bed I'm completely wired. Eventually I fall asleep but when I wake up I feel like I've hardly been asleep at all. I mean because it's only been a few hours, and that's the really terrible part, just lying there and lying there and then turning to the other side, and then the other side, and then the other side, and then the other side, and then the other side, and then the other side and this goes on for hours until I get to that point where I keep thinking why can’t I fall asleep, and then I realize I was asleep and that just goes on and on until I get up.

So then my digestion doesn't work, I'm drinking kudzu to calm my stomach then Tums and the main problem is that I promised Eric I would go to her event, I really shouldn't go but I promised and the funny thing is that once I get there I'm fine. I mean sometimes I get to an event and I feel like I'm fine, but I'm not, but this time I'm actually just fine, kind of excited to see people and chat with people I don't yet know that they know my work and it's funny because I'm actually one of the last people there. And then I walk around the corner to catch the bus, the air was fine until this corner which is right by the highway just burning rubber and diesel fumes I sit on the fire hydrant because there's no bus stop. But wait -- is that really the 27, coming right towards me, right towards me and my fire hydrant dwelling? Yes oh yes -- I even get home before I crash.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

From the distance, right next to me

I used to be very deliberate about my birthday -- I would think: what is the one thing I want today? And then I would find it. For the last two years, mostly I’ve assumed that I'm going to visit the sea lions at Pier 39, I guess because the sea lions make me feel like a little kid and I never felt that way growing up I mean I never felt like it was safe. I pretty much thought I was an adult by the time I was five or six, and I was kind of treated that way except that I had no power. Or, no power to change the circumstances of my life.

Anyway, this year I'm so exhausted as my birthday is approaching that mostly I think about whether I want to invite anyone to go with me, and then at the very last minute I decide sure, but by that point no one's available and I'm okay with that, because I wasn't sure that I would have the energy to be around anyone anyway. Anyone but Chris, since he's the friend I've known the longest and I don't generally feel like I have to act like I have energy or anything. With a group it's harder, because I have to think about the dynamics of everyone involved and the way that all relates to me. Especially on my birthday, when I guess it's about me.

In general I like hanging out with people one-on-one better anyway, in a group I see all the ways people conform and it kind of startles me. Or I get bored because I'm hearing the same stories that I already know, delivered with less intimacy. Or I get so exhausted from the energy than I get from a group, because there's energy also it's just that afterwards it usually drains me.

Anyway, Chris and I go to Pier 39, which is one of the worst places on earth with all the tourists and the tacky trinket shops and the chain store rundown mall ambience, and this year there are all these high school-age kids all dressed up, even the bad kids with dyed hair and piercings in suits and I'm wondering what's going on, is it prom? Chris doesn't know, but he wants to get a piece of fudge, so we’re in this store that smells like sugar in a really dense and overwhelming way it's almost enough to make me hypoglycemic. But then we’re through the mall and over to the sea lions, Chris says something about how it smells like rotting fish, and I say that's what you say every year and he says well we have a tradition, that's part of my tradition. Which is true, except it's not part of my tradition, but I don't say that because we're supposed to be having fun.

Then we get out to the sea lions and everything’s different because all the tacky tourists are focused on the sea lions it's like we’re all in this together I mean some of the tourists still stare wide-eyed at me when they don't think I notice, but then they go back to the sea lions and everyone's laughing and talking and pointing and it's kind of fun. I like watching the huge sea lions the best, and the babies, and then this year there are all these individual sea lions on faraway docks, the ones where boats still go and I like watching them too because maybe they're more like me than the ones jumping on top of one another and pushing each other into the water. Chris says something about how that one is bleeding, how that little one has been scratching the whole time, how they all sneeze so much and you don't think we could catch anything?

I say something about how I like watching them stretch, and Chris says I hate the way you anthropomorphize them. I guess that kind of shuts me down, then I just feel sad when I'm watching the sea lions, still kind of like a little kid I guess but mostly just sad except that I'm aware of it and I'm trying to focus on the things that make me happy, did I do that as a kid?

I sit and eat for a while, and then I feel better and I'm ready to go but Chris says you don't want to go to the gift shop? So then we go to the gift shop, I like looking at the children's books and the stuffed animals but everything’s made in China; I adopt one of the animals at the marine mammal center for my sister as a birthday gift, I've done that before since her birthday is right after mine. Chris likes pointing things out but then he says: that was as much fun as a hangover. I can't tell whether he's just in a bad mood, or whether he's deliberately trying to provoke me.

We were talking about going to this restaurant in the Marina so we're trying to find the bus but we don't really know the lines around here and Chris is getting angry because it's close to her bedtime and I've walked too far so I'm exhausted, I say we don't have to go to the restaurant let's just catch this bus and I sit down on the ground to wait for it. Someone’s smoking a cigarillo scented like fruit except it's still tobacco, which is almost worse, so we walk a block further and then we're silent until the bus arrives, and it's filled with various types of daytime drunks, Chris says it's crowded I say yeah it's packed. Chris says well it's not packed, but it's crowded.

Kind of like my father is what I'm thinking, no maybe I think that later right now I notice that it's hard to speak it's like I'm on drugs I'm floating and Chris is talking from the distance but he's right next to me I don't want to look at him because then he'll notice I can't see him so I just answer with short sentences: you're right. Uh huh. Definitely. No, not really.

We get to Union Square and I guess the good thing is that I'm not pretending that I'm happy, Chris walks me to the bus stop and I'm just looking down and she says I'm sorry I didn't want to go to the restaurant. I say I don't care about the restaurant, I just don't like it when you get grumpy -- it shut me down and I couldn't speak. She says I wasn't grumpy -- maybe I was annoyed but I wasn't grumpy -- I thought I did a good job of letting it go. I say I don't care whether you were grumpy or whether you were annoyed, what I'm saying is that it shut me down and I couldn't speak.

Chris has this flustered look like he's angry and frustrated and trying to hold it in, I don't know if he's angry at me or himself but this happened last year on my birthday too, except there were other people there and I told him to go home, get some rest and go home and we can go to dinner on another night. Just before she been complaining about her birthday, when Brian insisted on getting in a fight with her right after I left. I say I don't care if you get angry -- you can get angry at the tourists or the bus or Pier 39 or the world, I don't care if you start screaming and yelling it doesn't bother me at all -- I just don't want you to be angry at me, or if you are angry at me then it's fine just to say I'm angry, and we can talk about it, or you can even say I'm angry, but I don't want to talk about it, but otherwise I'll just hold your anger and then I can't speak.

Chris says I don't feel like I was angry.

But the good thing is that I brought it up right away, this is the kind of thing that I have the tendency to think about for six months before saying anything and then I'm holding it that whole time. I say I'm glad that I could say something, and I wish Chris could say me too, but she’s still angry. The bus is coming so we hug goodbye and I don't expect her hug to be so present, I love you. I love you. But I still feel distant. And sad. And worn out. I guess if I'd thought about it ahead of time, I would have said that for my birthday I just want one day where everything feels easy.

Monday, June 16, 2008


In this message from my mother, she's totally frantic, close to tears because someone called her from the blinds place and told her they hadn't received the full payment and they were going to take her to collections. She says I totally lost it with that woman over the phone and now I need you to call me, I'm beside myself because I know I paid for the first half because I have the canceled check here and I've never been sent to collections in my life I always pay everything on time and if this happens it'll ruin my credit and there will be serious consequences for all of us -- I know I sent you a check for the second half but I can't find that canceled check and I don't know what to do.

This is one of those moments when I wish I didn't ask my mother for anything, for a few minutes I'm already planning how to get out of it, this situation that brings me financial assistance but not safety. Maybe it makes things worse just having to deal with my mother and I should get rid of all my things and leave San Francisco and find somewhere really cheap to live and try to be okay. At first I think of calling my mother right back, but then I realize I’m frantic too so maybe I should wait but probably I should call anyway or I'll just think about it too much.

I call, my mother doesn't answer so I leave a message: I have the check right here, they were supposed to pick it up when they installed the blinds but the installer ran out so fast I didn't have a chance to give it to him and then I called the store to ask where to send it but they didn't call back so I figured I'd wait to give it to them when they came back to fix some things. I don't mention that the blinds don't block out all the light, that the installer cracked one of my windows, and that even though the blinds help somewhat with the light they're totally toxic and it's poisoning me. I don't mention that it's ridiculous to get so upset just because someone threatens to send you to collections, I mean that happens all the time to most of us.

I call Rose in the hospital to see how she's doing, she answers the phone but her voice sounds tinny, she says I'm having a blood transfusion. Oh, I say, I was just calling to see how you're doing, but I'll call back later. When I get off the phone I feel scared for her frailty, I don't want her to die or lose her ability to do the work she wants since she fell in her bedroom and broke her hip. Even if she's the most annoying person to talk to, always insisting on her absolute knowledge of everything she knows nothing about. Except when she's having a blood transfusion.

My mother calls: I'm so glad you called me back but now I can't even think I'm under a lot of stress just a lot of stress and I can't even think. I say that's from Rose. She says you're right, that's from Rose but it's also from you and from Allison. I say what part of it is coming from me? She says let me think -- well, first of all, you never followed through on disability.

My mother, with the 4 1/2 million dollars, wants me to apply for disability. She gives me the number again, some 1-800 nonprofit that's always closed for the day when I get around to calling. What else, I say. I can’t even think, she says. I'm glad you called but I can’t even think.

I say well, what you stress me out about is when you're always asking me to cut back on my healthcare, every month there's a new crisis and I've told you over and over again that what I'm looking for is financial security, which is different than access to money it's not the same thing. Growing up, there was always money but it was just used to control us -- it never felt like safety it was just the way Dad used power. We never got the message to relax, things are taken care of, there was always this fictitious crisis and it was all lies.

My mother says he didn't use money to control everyone. I say well I don't know about everyone, but you, me, and Allison. My mother says that's everyone. We always paid to send you to the best schools. I say well that was about you, not us -- we never asked for that. My mother says you're right, you never asked for it. I say that was about attainment, not security or safety.

My mother says well I know he used money to control me, but I don't think it was that way with you and Allison. I say it was that way with everyone, he would argue about the smallest items, like if I needed money to take a cab home from a bar on the weekend because I would be drunk, he would say that we didn't have the money for a cab. And I knew we had that money -- it was obvious. My mother says I don't remember that. I say well you're probably blocking it out, because it would happen every weekend in the family room and we'd be screaming, or he'd be screaming at me and I'd be acting like I was totally calm but inside I was screaming and I don't remember where you were, maybe you were in your room trying to pretend it wasn't happening.

My mother says that's possible. I say well it happened all the time, and sometimes maybe you weren't around, like when Dad and I would go out and he would tell me about the college accounts, but he didn't want you to know because -- and I know you don't necessarily agree with this, but there was a misogynist dynamic in your relationship. My mother says oh definitely that's true, I've never said that's not true. I say well that's good to hear.

My mother says but there wasn't always money, there wasn't a lot of money until much later, after you kids weren't in school. No, I say, maybe there wasn't money when he was still a resident but definitely by the time I was six or seven there was plenty of money. There was always plenty of money. It was his mythology that there wasn't any money. My mother says but he was always worried about losing patients, in private practice he never knew if he was going to be able to keep pace with expenses. I say that's what he told you, but it was a lie. I knew there was money, even as a little kid I knew there was money and later we would argue about it because he would say we were middle class and I would say no, you’re rich. My mother says: and then what was his response? I say well he would start screaming, because that was his response to everything. Eventually he agreed that we were upper middle class. But it was obvious. We would go to the Philips house, remember that? And it seemed like they were poor. My mother says you're right. I say but they both had stable jobs, and they owned their house, and both kids had their own room, and the Philips had two broken-down cars but they were struggling, that’s middle class.

My mother says you're right that we had a lot of expenses, and maybe you don't know this, but Dad was always worried about being the sole provider -- some men take a lot of pride in that role, but he never wanted it to be that way, and once I got my LCSW he was hoping that I could contribute to the family, but that was unfortunately never the case. Maybe you don't believe this, but I loved him. I say I believe that. She says he was the love of my life -- I wouldn't expect such a difficult person to be the love of my life, he was severely difficult but also extraordinary. He was extremely sensitive and he couldn't tolerate feedback or criticism. I say that was obvious.

My mother says he was difficult to be around, it was difficult for him and it was difficult for me and it was difficult for all of us. I thought about leaving him for a long time. I say I remember that, because you are always arguing, and I wanted you to leave him. My mother says maybe you don't know this, but the people I consulted at the time said that there was a chance that I would have lost you kids, you had more fun with him and given the choice it would have been absolutely bloody. I was never good at fun, and I was worried that you would choose to stay with him. By the time I was about 51, I decided I was going to stay with him, the reality was that it wasn't going to work out if I got a divorce.

I say how old are you now? 62. I say then you decided to stay with him right after I confronted you about sexually abusing me. She says yes, that sounds about right and I'm not sure what it was but after I decided to stay with him he trusted me more. I say he trusted you because you decided to stay with him after I confronted him about sexually abusing me. She says I don't think so, but you could be right -- it wasn't the reason, but he could have thought so.

My mother says well now I'm worn out and I think I'm going to go drink my beer, I'm so grateful that you called me back -- you couldn't imagine the feeling I was so anxious they were going to take me to collections. Thank you for a very enlightening conversation.

Here I am... (thanks, Kevin)

Sunday, June 15, 2008

On air

So Many Ways to Sleep Badly, off to the printer!

It's true -- everything is done, and it's all off to the printer -- yay!!!!!! I hope that makes my sleep better... And no more hurting my hands, at least not with that particular task -- although between marriage and That's Revolting! and So Many Ways I've just turned into a permanent publicity machine, but I'm actually seeing results so that's exciting!

Just in case you're anxious to see the book, you can pre-order it at a discount directly from City Lights and be one of the first to get a copy...

I've got a few words in the San Francisco Chronicle...

Or, well, kind of my words -- at the end of this article, "How gays' attitudes toward marriage evolved." I guess my attitudes, um... haven't evolved...

Friday, June 13, 2008

What's shifting now

I've always recognized the hopelessness of the strictures required in order to find satisfaction in public sexual environments, yet I also found some kind of hope or solace in the gestures of intimacy leading to something that felt like splendor. In some ways it helped that I had little in common with the people who frequent those places except these lips, this tongue, these hands, those eyes, oh this embrace those legs that cock his sweat the texture of his ears his teeth the roof of his mouth that stubble these arms yes these arms yes. In some ways it felt hopeful that I could find so much beauty with people who might shun me in another realm, people who I might shun. There's something about the things you can see with that sudden intimacy, the shift of breath and perspective. Sure, I always searched for what could be more -- I never accepted the limitations but I was always aware that they existed. In dramatic and desperate ways, but still that embrace maybe it was worth it.

Even with sex work, even with those tricks where I'd start and think oh no, how am I going to do it? And then when I would really go there, deep into the physical connection I mean it could become something splendid, something we would savor and share and then it was over. Sure, in the worst cases he might go back to his job figuring out how to deport more undocumented immigrants or how to help multinational corporations plunder indigenous resources, so yes the limitations were obvious, yes there could be something grotesque about my job serving his needs, but still the way something in me could shift, that's what I'm wondering about.

What’s shifted now is that I'm not sure any of it is worth the sadness, the distance, the desperation, the yearning for something else, the lack of potential it all just builds into a loneliness that starts to feel like me. It's harder to find that burst of energy from sudden connection, or sometimes it's so quick between giving up until yes, oh this, yes and then so soon again it’s why, what was the point

Thursday, June 12, 2008

What's performance and what's play

Yesterday I had this sudden realization that maybe one of the things that allowed me to feel satisfied on some level for so long in public sex spaces, in spite of the compulsory masculinity, the hyper-objectification, the lack of respect, the shame, the rejection of self-care, the absence of responsibility, the drugged-out obliteration, the deification of the grossest aspects of straight male personality traits, and the racist, ageist and body fascist hierarchies -- I had this sudden realization that maybe being a hooker for so long helped me to deal in public sex spaces. When I was a hooker I was already used to performing a certain kind of masculinity, an uncomplicated emotional facade, a clean-cut normalcy, and a certain kind of detachment even in the midst of physical passion: how do I get him off? What time is it? Will we be done soon?

In fact, after 12 years of supporting myself as a whore, I might add that I was familiar with many of the particulars of the gay worlds, norms and responses that most of my creative and political work has always sought to undo. Once I shifted my clothes into something nondescript and potentially masculine, I didn't even have to think about changing into someone else -- I mean I still felt the same things, experienced the world in the same way, it's just that my responses shifted. It wasn't even an act really, it was a role that became routine.

What I learned was how to shift into this role without shifting too much out of myself, a skill that also served me in the general world of gay sexual culture. Before I was a whore, it never occurred to me that I could pass as anything approaching masculine, that I could get so good at it that tricks would sometimes ask whether I was gay, just by subtle shifts in intonation and expression. It's funny, because when I first became a whore I did it because I didn't want to conform to standard models of job behavior, but after advertising “punk boy” as a hooker for several years, that stopped working and I tried borrowing someone's preppy clothes and wearing a ski cap to cover my day-glo hair -- it's just a thing, I would say -- I don't even take off my hat when I take a shower. And it worked -- it confused me, but it did work. Later I got bored of the hair anyway, so it was just the clothes that I had to change. Don't get me wrong: nothing was just about it.

In New York is where I got really good at the performance -- so good that it slipped into my other sexual worlds and I noticed and I thought about it, but still the sex I had outside of work gave me the charges I was looking for. Although, looking back, maybe part of that was just because it wasn't work. Although I was still working. That’s the confusing part, especially now, when I haven't turned a trick in a few years but I still have the skills I just don't want to use them. It's too exhausting to shut myself off in that particular way, I mean performing masculine realness as part of some consensual scene is so much different than passing in order to be that thing that's assumed and consumed. So much different than the masculinity that happens anyway in the midst of sex when I get all aggressive but it's something deeper and joyful and fun it's about feeling not consenting to be silenced.

So now, in the sexual spaces where so much shutting off is required, I find myself exhausted just from being there. So exhausted that I can hardly function. And then I can't figure out what's desire and what's loneliness and what's performance and what's play. I can't even figure out what I want.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Oh, no-- my allergies are back...


That's what my head feels like.

Why Are Faggots so Afraid of Faggots?: An update

The short version is that I'm way behind! So if you sent me a submission, and I haven't yet replied, that means I'm still considering it...

I'm also still looking for submissions in the following areas:

ability/disability, body fascism, gym culture

race, racialized desire, racism in gay/queer cultures

perspectives from outside the US

perspectives from rural areas, small towns and cities not generally seen as gay/queer destination hotspots

faggotry in prison

aging, ageism, older-younger relationships

Sexual safety and risk-taking, HIV, health status

public sexual cultures

Pasted below is the original call -- if you're
thinking of writing something in one of the above areas, feel free to send me a query.

flaming challenges to masculinity, objectification and the desire to conform


As back rooms are shut down to make way for wedding vows, and gay sexual culture becomes little more than straight-acting dudes hangin’ out, where are the possibilities for a defiant faggotry that challenges the assimilationist norms of a world that wants us dead?

Masculine ideals have long reigned supreme in male sexual spaces, from the locker room to the tea room, the bars to the back alleys to the beaches. But is there something more brutal and dehumanizing about the calculated hyperobjectification of the internet? How do we confront the limits of transaction sexuality, where scorn becomes “just a preference,” lack of respect is assumed, and lying is a given? How can we create something splendid and intimate from that universe of shaking and moaning and nervous glances turned inward now groaning?

I'm especially interested in essays about community-building experiments, public sexual cultures, faggots not socialized or presenting as male, cruising, HIV, consumerism, transfaggotry, polyamory, feminism, sexual safety and risk-taking, norms for faggots outside of the US, and gender transgression (of course). I'm looking for essays that expose hierarchies of gender, age, race, nationality, class, body type, ability, sexuality and other identity categories instead of imposing fascistic definitions based on beauty myth consumer norms. That's right, honey -- I'm talking about interventions that are dangerous and lovely, just like you.

Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore is the editor, most recently, of Nobody Passes: Rejecting the Rules of Gender and Conformity (Seal/Avalon, 2007) and an expanded second edition of That’s Revolting! Queer Strategies for Resisting Assimilation (Soft Skull 2008). Her second novel, So Many Ways to Sleep Badly, will be published by City Lights in S October 2008. For more on Mattilda, visit

The basics:

*Submit non-fiction essays of up to 6,000 words. All submissions must be typed and double-spaced, and sent by post (no email submissions, but feel free to contact me with queries, Please include a short bio.

*Deadline is May 15, 2008.

*Send submissions to:
Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore
537 Jones Street, #3152
San Francisco, CA 94102

A review of That's Revolting! in the Indypendent

Here it is...

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Almost like a startled bird

Taking the bus to the BART to go to Steamworks I'm suddenly all wired, even though it's early in the day -- I have to go early, otherwise the BART will close and I'll get stuck. Where did all this energy come from? I guess it's not just about the sex but the expansion of possibility, like that guy at the front of the bus -- maybe I should go home with him, he keeps looking back. Of course there are still limitations -- the special Pride rainbow flags are already out on Market Street, and there are tourists trying discreetly to snap photos of me.

On the BART, more options for fantasy: the way this guy jiggles his legs back and forth, all the way on the other side of the car from me but still; someone's talking about beach balls; this other guy keeps pulling up his pants, which means they keep falling down. But I'm tired already.

Still I'm thinking about the sex clubs I can go to when I'm traveling, it's always better when you're traveling. Except when it's awful; then it's still awful. I kind of feel like I'm traveling tonight, I mean Berkeley feels far enough.

I get to Steamworks just after 9 p.m., which means I have about 2 1/2 hours, probably good to have a time limit. For the first time I notice the ceiling -- old wooden beams and it's kind of gorgeous in that rotting industrial way, I wonder what this building was originally. But it doesn't take long for me to feel exhausted and sad, thinking why am I here I mean I haven't had sex in three weeks but I don't feel horny at all -- should I come anyway? I watch two guys fuck on the other side of a plastic wall but it's too dark to see the details and I'm just trying to feel turned on. Outside, the darkness might feel like something interesting, here it just annoys me like public sex without the public, something to stumble into and you don't quite know what's going on.

The music is horrible -- disco and top-40 and ‘80s sped up to a house beat -- "I Feel Love" then "Heart of Glass" then "Don't Want No Short Dick Man." Actually that one comes first but I didn't want to say it.

I walk around again, and again, and then someone’s sucking my dick but I'm not into it -- I like that he smiles at me first, though. I go for this other guy and then we're in a room until he puts a condom on and tries to fuck me but there's no lube, I say we need lube. He says I'm going to take a shower.

I hug someone else, this tall guy with glasses who was cruising me earlier but I wasn't sure so now I'm trying and it's okay, except for his stale alcohol breath. Eventually he says: I was trying to get into it. Does he mean the place, or me?

I'm walking around again, then sitting down and eating, then walking around -- maybe I like looking at people with clothes on better, here it's just white towel homogeneity although the crowd itself is definitely more racially diverse than any gay crowd I've seen in San Francisco. I'm trying to think about why I'm not turned on, maybe it's too early at night or I'm too hypoglycemic or I'm just exhausted or I don't have a libido anymore or everything feels strange and suburban or whatever, I'm just not turned on.

Now the music is some kind of fake-‘80s electro-pop with some nasally vocal, I'm washing my hands in the bathroom because I touched my foot after stepping on several condoms, and I say I hate this music, can't they just turn it off, and then I just start laughing oh that's what I need I need to laugh why isn't anyone laughing I mean no one ever laughs in places like this. Some guy is staring at me like he's trying to figure out whether I'm crazy and I say it again: can't they just turn this music off?

Back in the porn area I'm laughing some more, this one guy says is it because of the credibility? I don't know, I say, I guess I'm just laughing. I try to imagine what this place would be like if everything was comfortable and soft and bright and flamboyant and hilarious, I mean we could be sitting on plastic-covered red velvet sofas instead of this chain mesh bench, watching Pink Narcissus instead of some tired wrestling video, gazing up at a spectacle of light and color in a room filled with gorgeous foliage and flowers and artwork covering every surface instead of nothing but black walls and metal booths and a sad resignation.

I think I've reached my limit, my limit with these places now they just make me feel shut off instead of turned on. I decide to try the steamroom but then I don't because I'm scared of the Pine-Sol so I walk around again and then I try it anyway. Oh the steamroom is the answer, this bear-type guy is rubbing all the sweat on my chest sure everything smells like Pine-Sol but it's like his hands are part of my sensation of myself until he keeps trying to get me to come even though I push his hand away, his head away he forces it back. I never understand that -- no one wants to come when they’re trying not to. I put his hands back on my chest, down to my belly until I'm too hot and then I try the cold shower, earlier I was thinking it would be nice to take a hot shower because at least here they don't run out of hot water but now it's all about the cold.

Walking around I feel closer to the ground, 11:15 I should come before I leave and I'd like to do it somewhere public where people can actually see so I sit back in the video area, look up at some buff, pale leather-type in a cage with a hole ripped in the back of his underwear and FUCK HOLE written on his ass next to some guy sitting on a dildo in his bedroom next to that guy who's been jerking off the whole time I've been here it's some sort of endurance exercise. And the guy who wondered about credibility earlier is next to me I let my towel fall back so it's just me with a hard-on and he's rubbing my chest like the guy in the steamroom while I'm jerking and there's someone on the other side of me who acts like none of this is going on until I come and suddenly he thrusts his head diagonally downwards, almost like a startled bird is what I think.

Monday, June 09, 2008

All that sheltering emptiness

I always liked hotel lobbies, the chandeliers and so much ceiling I'd yawn like I was oblivious really I was trying not to go in the wrong direction. If I made a mistake then the key was to act like it was the funniest thing, oh I'm so relaxed! I developed fantasies about what the receptionist did and did not know, fantasies that might involve mischief if our eyes met in a certain way -- I wanted something like understanding, I'm not sure I would have called it that.

This particular hotel was the Hyatt or one of those chains, right on Central Park and the lobby wasn't on the ground level -- more exclusive that way, the place was fancier than I'd expected. The mirrors sparkled and everything looked freshly-designed -- camel, auburn, amber -- a little different from the standard beige. I imagined the views were spectacular since the hotel was right on Central Park but tricks always have their curtains drawn, they don't want anyone to see anything not even the trees. This guy had the features of someone very popular in the ‘80s, swept-back hair and still a walled muscularity, disdain in his eyes he wanted to give me a massage, sure. He rubbed the hotel lotion into my back, something awful and floral-scented -- strong hands I always needed a massage.

Of course then he was grinding on top of me, dick teasing my asshole -- this was no surprise. Then his dick slid in, so easy and dangerous this was also familiar. I allowed a few thrusts so I could relax, then I said oh I need you to put on a condom. I was thinking about the lotion, what good would the condom do with lotion -- maybe I should get a washcloth. His dick remained in my ass, so different when it slides in smoothly like foreplay instead of that desperation, push push push. I started to push myself upright, he was heavy on top of me, still thrusting as I struggled to get onto my knees I'll admit it was hot then he slammed me down on the bed. Oh. This is what's happening: his weight on my back he's holding me down I'm not sure I can get him off me.

I assessed the situation -- maybe I was distant I mean I thought about screaming but what would that do -- hotel security, they have ways of dealing with situations but nothing that would help me. Maybe no one would arrive at all, bruises or blood and more rage directed my way. At least I wasn't in pain, my asshole was relaxed I was still hard he was fucking me faster I didn't want him to come in my ass, that was the important thing. Come on my face, I said -- pull out and come on my face, I want your come on my face I want to eat your come. I wasn’t sure if he was listening but then he did pull out and I rolled onto my back, he straddled me with shit on his dick in my face, jerking fast and moaning I could feel his come in between my chin and neck I closed my eyes.

The bathroom was always where I’d go to breathe; in the shower I was shaking, soft towel, just hurry up I need cocktails. Studying myself in the mirror before opening the door, do my eyes look okay? Back to the trick, he had his clothes on he wasn’t smiling or frowning I wondered how often he did this. He handed me 250 in three crisp bills, I smiled and said thanks, I was glad for the money I wanted to think it was worth it.

Back into the elevator, it opened automatically at the lobby so the staff could pretend not to stare in, then downstairs to the ground level past those spotless mirrors, glass doors and then I was outside. Walking fast through the wind like everything and nothing mattered I wanted safety; I hailed a cab.

If I say that cocktails cleared my head, then you know that all my analysis failed me: I didn't want to use the word rape. I didn't tell anyone, I felt stupid; I thought it was my fault. Yes, there was force; no, he didn't pull out when I asked him to -- but otherwise how was this trick different from every other guy who just slid it in? Every guy who assumed that if his dick was near my asshole and I was enjoying the proximity, that gentle tease, the security of arousal -- then forget about words, my consent had arrived. Consent to get fucked. Consent to get fucked without a condom.

New York is a lonely place, it was a lonely place for me eight years ago. I felt stupid because I couldn't use language to help -- I was nervous that my friends would think I was someone to worry about. I thought maybe this was a trauma to push aside, with bigger issues in the picture, from a childhood of my father splitting me open to the overwhelm of the everyday. If consent was already assumed in the public sexual cultures where I searched for beauty amid the ruthlessness of objectification without appreciation, then what about the rooms where I swallowed cock for cash? I didn't want to call it rape because it felt so commonplace. Except for the shaking afterwards, desperation mixed with a determination to escape.

(My column in the current issue of make/shift)

Sunday, June 08, 2008

And one more blurb for So Many Ways -- the blurbs are now complete!

Mattilda's brilliance makes stream-of-consciousness a lifestyle, a state-of-consciousness. This is an entire lived life's worth of heartshaking honesty, arch observation, searing vulnerabilty and craving and seeking, all in one breathtakingly poetic (and hilarious) book. Life is hard, I'm in tears, Mattilda's book is simultaneously the cause and the comfort.
-- Michelle Tea

Friday, June 06, 2008

Wow -- two more great blurbs for So Many Ways...

In 1955, City Lights published Allen Ginsberg’s Howl, an attack on the conformity and the alienation of that era. Now here’s another great paean to a counterculture of hustlers, junkies and visionary angels to wash the taste of the Bush years out of our mouths. Instead of incantation, it is a hooker’s pillowbook that describes a community of physical uproar and activism based on doubt. What a tonic this books is—that people fuck with such conviction and attention to detail! It’s like a treasure map of a San Francisco with orgasms instead of doubloons. Mattilda, which bathrooms at State do you mean? The map is the body, volcanic, weary, sick, fragile and tough.
-- Robert Glück, author of Denny Smith

Like the best writers that have come before -- Wojnarowicz, Lou Reed, Burroughs -- Sycamore has boiled life and times down to a resin that you could almost grind, cut up and snort. There is no one else on this planet that could write this book. Dare I say it's a classic? Yes, and I dare you to read it.
-- Jake Shears of Scissor Sisters

The launch, yay for the launch!

Just briefly, the launch was amazing... First of all, it was packed! Always a good start... And, there was an interesting and wide-ranging crowd -- we had a great discussion, and it felt so smooth and inspiring, afterwards I felt tired but also calm and present in my body in a little child sort of way, it helped that Grant and Chris came back to my apartment for a short while and we all got tired together, I enjoyed that.

I would write more, but now I'm much more tired -- I'll be back...

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

I couldn't make this up...

That's right -- "Weenies, Paninis and Saketinis" -- will it ever end?

On carbon trading: a quote read by Gina Carducci from the waiting room at Callen-Lorde Clinic in New York, “reading this stupid paper”

The MTA (Metropolitan Transit Authority) hopes eventually to quantify the amount of pollution they remove from the air through mass transit, put a value on it, and sell it to a company that's a high polluter. By paying the MTA, the company would legally be allowed to pollute.

Um, I'm not sure what made me think that the MTA doesn't actually remove pollution...

Look at this tiny carrot, I love this tiny carrot!

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Today I woke up and I knew exactly what song I needed to play

Yes, "Lady Sings the Blues."

One of those days...

Don't forget the book launch this Thursday, 6 p.m., San Francisco Main Library

Okay, I'm preparing my introduction, thinking about the essay by Ferd Eggan, who unfortunately died of AIDS between writing his piece and the publication of the book -- his story, which is called "Dykes and Fags Want Everything," goes all the way from the civil rights movement in 1960s South Carolina to the Stonewall Riots in New York to acid-drenched 1969 San Francisco to a Gay Liberation Front commune in Chicago to the Québec independence movement to Cuba to the AIDS crisis to ACT UP to years of burying friends and lovers to a critique of assimilation that declares: "we should re-examine our own desires and acknowledge that we've settled for too little."

Indeed, we have settled for too little.

Here's the info on the launch:

That's Revolting!: Radical queer activism -- past, present, and future.
Thursday, June 5, 6pm
San Francisco Main Library
Latino/Hispanic Meeting Room (downstairs)
100 Larkin Street
(415) 557-4566
Co-sponsored by the National Queer Arts Festival.

Join Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore to celebrate the arrival of the expanded second edition of That's Revolting! Queer Strategies for Resisting Assimilation, with a dangerous and illuminating discussion featuring Carol Queen, Bo Brown, Ralowe T. Ampu, Tommi Avicolli Mecca, Eric Stanley and Gina de Vries.

Has the nightmare of gay marriage sandblasted the dreams of ‘70s gay liberation revolutionaries? Has the feverish potential of queer sexual splendor been annihilated by the consumerist frenzy of assimilationist gay culture? Is there hope for radical queer troublemaking in the hyper-gentrified monoculture of current-day San Francisco? Bring your questions, ideas, plots and dreams. And remember, this will be the first opportunity to purchase the new edition of That's Revolting!, with five new essays covering everything from blowing up buildings in the 1970s to stripping naked to fight global AIDS.

Monday, June 02, 2008

All of my exhaustion into the street for the cars to run over

It's one of those days when I can barely function at all, I mean really I can barely function. But the radio show turns out amazing -- there are four hosts and me, in the studio of the Clear Channel-owned station. There are a bunch of stations in the building -- this one is called Green 960, it's the "progressive" one where the tech person says she's sorry to give me water in a Dr. Phil mug, but they're aspiring to be green. It's so touching that right-wing mega-corporations are now "green."

I arrive really early, which gives me time to sit at the CalTrain station across the street beforehand, which is actually bright and sunny and filled with air and kind of calming. I should always arrive early.

The person on the show before me is a life coach who helped this one gay man to find the right relationship. When it's my turn, I realize that it's actually much better to do a show in the studio than on the phone -- usually I prefer the phone, because I'm such a mess but in person I can really exude friendliness, and modulate my voice a lot more. I can also sense more clearly how the show is supposed to run -- since this is commercial radio, I know that I'm supposed to deliver soundbites.

All the hosts seem quite confused by anti-assimilationist queer politics, although one host says the book was a challenging read, which sounds pretty engaged. I can't tell how much of their confusion is an act and how much is genuine. They're also very confused by my gender -- two of the hosts call me "Matt" the whole time, one goes back and forth, and one of them sticks to Mattilda. But I don't really care, it just shows where they're coming from -- actually, from beginning to end, especially when one host says dismissively, you really just sound like you need some love, even though everything I've been saying has been so filled with energy and excitement and I think that's so clear, her comment just sounds isolated. She also says she thinks I was born 30 years too late, which might be true.

There are a few callers -- one of them is so flustered that he starts arguing with me about whether marriage confers hospital visitation rights -- even though he's trying to challenge my critique of marriage, it's like he's asking me to make the pro-marriage argument. The host who thinks I need some love, and offers me a hug which I accept enthusiastically but never receive, I notice that when I say that marriage is a system of property relations that originally involved control over property that included women and slaves -- she kind of nods her head like you can't argue with that.

I thought it would be stressful to stay energetic, but actually it all just flows and I'm so present there in that room that all the dismissive comments feel like just another texture helping with my flow, is that strange? Afterwards I'm filled with a sexual charge and my body doesn't hurt like usual, I mean like usually happens after an interview.

Outside I'm in this part of South of Market that still actually has warehouses and it's kind of beautiful just past dusk with the glow of neon signs and all the fresh air, even with the highway entrances so nearby. Waiting for the bus I'm exhausted again, wondering if I should take a cab but then I decide to meditate instead, I'll focus on throwing all of my exhaustion into the street for the cars to run over, that red door across the street is the door to somewhere filled with light and energy, yes it's better out here than in my apartment, here with all this air.

Meditation actually ends up making me more tired, but now I'm relaxed about it, yawning these huge yawns until the bus actually arrives, and then on the bus I’m thinking about the speed of the motorcoach taking me away from fatigue, and when we get to the top of the hill where I get off I'll just be calm and clear and fresh. When we get there I'm still tired, but it's still okay.