Thursday, January 31, 2008

We haven't had much sun here recently, but it was shining bright and then I looked outside and all of the sudden it was barely above the buildings...



But then I realized oh, that's just a reflection.

Sometimes it happens so fast

My brain, filled with so many ideas, and then suddenly it's just a headache. I can spread it out in different directions if I close my eyes and let my jaw hang loose no wait, it's still a headache I can follow it into jaw, neck, chest, shoulder, forearm, wrist, hip pain, ouch. I want to be horny, just because I was horny earlier. I want to go on a walk, just because I've been in the house a while. Somehow I think the only thing I'm going to succeed at doing is to lie down, and maybe that's okay.

My new houseplant (thanks, Grant!)

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Three feet by three feet

Wow the air outside is so cool and crisp it's amazing until I'm inside and it's freezing, I have to turn the heat on then it only takes five minutes and my voice is already different, hoarser and I can hear it echoing. I keep putting saline in my eyes, but my contacts stay dried out but you already know the worst part, it only takes 20 minutes or so and then I'm just so sad. I'm not sad about anything -- I know it's just the heat drying out my sinuses, but that doesn't help the sadness go away.

I've decided I should have more sex in bed, because you can relax more. Otherwise I'm on my knees or standing too much and that's okay for a while but I think it wears out my body faster. Not that it takes much.

But also in these places where it's physical without emotion I find myself striving more, like I don't move away from positions I know are uncomfortable because where else would I go? At the Nob Hill Theatre, you only have about three feet by three feet and at Blow Buddies it can get more spacious but pretty soon you've got a crowd. I mean a crowd is what I want, but I also want space. Sometimes a crowd can feel like space and that's what's so beautiful, but also I need the literal room to lie back and relax and take things slowly and not worry that if I move away for a moment everything will be gone.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Some thoughts on sexual safety and risk-taking in the era of the internet

One of the things I like about Randy is that right away we’re having this conversation about sex and risk, I guess that's something that can happen when you meet at a sex club, I mean something that can happen on the rare occasion when you actually talk. And then talk again. So Randy's talking about this guy he had sex with a few times, they'd both tested negative and they decided to fuck without a condom and then one time Randy was talking about hooking up in Buena Vista Park or somewhere like that and the guy was kind of shocked, he said: well then I guess I should get tested.

Like that was the deciding factor -- I mean, you decide to fuck someone you've just met without a condom, but then you’re only worried about risk when you find out he's having sex with someone else? Or sex with someone else in public?

I assume that Randy was fucking the other guy, but it turns out that Randy was the one getting fucked. See -- we all have our different definitions of risk. I don't think it's particularly risky to fuck someone without a condom, but I do think it's risky to get fucked without a condom. This guy didn't think it was risky to fuck someone without a condom, until he knew that he was having sex in public. And Randy -- well, I don't know what he thinks is risky, yet.

There was a time when I would fuck paying tricks without a condom, because it was easier to stay hard. In my nonpaid sex life around the same time, I kept finding myself getting fucked without a condom, even though it wasn't something I wanted to happen. Basically it happened because, over and over again, someone would assume that just because his dick was teasing my asshole that meant I'd consented to get fucked, and to get fucked without a condom. This is what sex without talking has become, and no one has mastered the art and perils and disdain of sex without talking more wholly and unquestioningly then gay men in public sex environments, which is mostly where I've had sex.

Anyway, around this time -- 1999 in New York -- I remember going to some kind of workshop at Gay Men's Health Crisis in New York, and I really believed that I was having a crisis because I kept getting fucked without a condom, even if I always asked for a condom after a minute or two it had become so much easier to start without. I’d decided it was worth it to avoid that struggle with pain upon insertion. And the guy facilitating the workshop told me that he thought I had things under control because I knew what my risks were and I was minimizing them, and I thought wait, but that's not what I'm saying.

A few years later I decided that I didn't want to fuck anyone without a condom -- I wasn't worried about the risk to me, I mean I'm aware that this is considered high-risk behavior on most safer sex templates, it's just that to me the far far riskier act is getting fucked without a condom. Everyone has their own definitions, and my definition of safer sex is to empower people to do whatever it takes to keep themselves and their sex partners ravenous with desire and as free from harm as possible. My decision not to fuck anyone without a condom was about other people's safety. I didn't want to foster the culture of barebacking that seemed to surround me. So, even though I knew I was negative and therefore not putting someone as literal risk, I didn't want to participate in the glamorization or the tacit acceptance of barebacking as the model for anonymous or semi-anonymous sex.

Randy says he used to be neurotic about safety, what got him started on the bareback path was when he started cruising manhunt, and it just seemed like everyone was doing it so he thought well maybe I should relax. I ask him whether guys come in his ass, and he says sometimes, and I want to know whether it feels like an acceptable risk. He says well I'm totally paranoid about health, and I'm always worried about STDs but it doesn't seem like I can do anything. I say well, with STDs, you really can't prevent exposure unless you don't have any oral or anal sex, since a condom doesn't necessarily protect you, but the good thing is that you can treat an STD with antibiotics and then it's gone. With HIV, a condom gives you a huge degree of protection, and even deciding not to let anyone come in your ass dramatically lowers your risk, but of course it's about what makes you feel safer.

Can you tell that I'm trying to make some sort of intervention, but I don't know what to do other than to encourage Randy to speak as openly as possible? I don't know him well at all, and I don't know if we’ll have sex again because I'm not sure if he wants to, but I feel sad that I can't offer him the protection I want him to have. We talk about growing up and always thinking that we would die of AIDS, that's just the way it was, and how even when we've been totally safe, we still think wait a minute, what about that one time when someone came in my mouth and then I realized that two weeks before I'd bitten my cheek and what if there was still a remnant of an sore and maybe that's why I'm having night sweats?

I was in ACT UP in the early ‘90s when I was 19, 20, and safer sex was deified and mandated. I knew a fair number of people who died of AIDS, but most of them were 10 or 20 or 30 years older except there was Billy, who lit candles in my bathtub when we had sex and it was so romantic, and why can't I remember the name of that queen who came over for a roommate interview and wanted to do touch healing on everyone? Daisy, right? But I've known more people in my immediate circle who seroconverted from 2001 to 2003 than in the ‘90s. I mention this because I do think something changed in the mid-‘90s, not just the introduction of drugs that actually worked for many people, but an expanded level of nihilism and objectification and I think a lot of this has to do with the internet and the abandonment of any model for idealized sexual community outside of long-term committed partnership.

When I went out with Jeremy, this was in 2001, 2002, he really really wanted to fuck me I mean this was his dominant attraction and I was in love with him and I also wanted him to fuck me but it was so difficult, I couldn't relax. I was allergic to the preservative in the lube or the latex and polyurethane condoms always broke, and anyway it was easier without a condom and hotter too and so we both got tested and turned out negative and then we decided he could fuck me without a condom as long as we both agreed that we wouldn't have sex with anyone else without a condom. And he wouldn't come in my ass. It's funny because that's what made me stop getting fucked without a condom -- it was about Jeremy's safety, not mine.

After Jeremy and I broke up, I decided I wouldn't get fucked without a condom at all, this was after my oldest friend seroconverted. He'd always been fastidious about safety -- when we were sleeping together in the early ‘90s, he’d even take out finger cots it's his finger was going near your ass, just in case he had a paper cut. I guess that was a different time than now when everyone to slide it in without asking, or we were creating a different culture we had confidence in our dreams. To be honest, I probably haven't gotten fucked more than two or three times since 2003, and I've been okay with that because I have enough health problems without HIV. And, there are plenty of other choices in my sexual toolbox.

But then I'm sitting on this guy's lap and his dick is up against my ass and I can tell where it's ready to go and I'm ready too, so so ready but I remember my promise to myself and I angle away. I'll admit that my one of my biggest fantasies is that someone pushes me against a wall or better a tree or gets me on my knees in the dirt and fucks me without a condom and comes in my ass, just like the rape scene in Todd Haynes’s Poison modeled on Genet. I didn't have this fantasy before barebacking became so normalized, but now the fantasy feels okay and actually kind of fun or funny because I’m committed to never letting it happen. I know all about slippery slopes. Randy is telling me about this friend of his who hasn't had sex in five years but she really likes to talk about it, she likes to talk about barebacking now that Randy introduced her to the term although she gets scared when he tells her about his experiences. She says: I'm worried about you.

I say: straight people always say that, and it's so annoying. But this is my intellect taking over from feelings, because the truth is that I'm worried too -- I'm worried about Randy and I'm worried about myself and I'm worried about everyone in the sexual worlds I inhabit. And maybe that's a good thing.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Everyone else brought one

It's funny -- I just remembered that people carry umbrellas, I mean that's how they keep themselves from getting wet in the rain. Seems pretty self-explanatory, but the other night when I was thinking of going out and it was pouring, I was imagining everyone arriving with hoodies over their heads or hats as protection, so I figured everyone's hair would be messed up and how would that work out? I mean I neglected to think about umbrellas, because I can't carry one, it's been out of the question for six or seven years now.

Okay, so I'm having a bulk foods emergency, almost out of grains but I can't carry anything and then at the last minute I decide to rush outside and jump in a cab and grab what I need and jump in another cab. Every lovely Whole Foods customer looks at me like they've never seen a human.

Anyway, what I really forgot to bring was my baby, because it turns out that everyone else brought one. People stop their carts in the middle of the aisles and compare the shapes and sizes of their toddlers, then they look at you like you're crazy when you try to get by.

I am crazy, because I left the house without food, I mean you'd think I could eat something at Whole Foods, but all the prepared food makes me sick so I'm not even going to risk it -- luckily I get home in 45 minutes total, that's pretty amazing now I just have to hope that the pain doesn't get worse.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Waiting

Sometimes I forget that everyone doesn't walk out the door and think, first thing, is the air comfort or poison? Lately it's more and more poison and less comfort until late at night when there are fewer cars and fewer people so that makes more air, yes I love the air even if I'm sitting at the bus stop for no reason -- I was about to go on a walk, but then I realized I was too tired so wait I guess that's a reason. I'm listening to the rain pounding on the roof of the bus shelter as the bus speeds by, the driver doesn't even stop to see if I'm waiting.

One of the things that I'm sad about today...

Hi Heather --

Unfortunately I'm having a chronic pain emergency --
luckily I can still write, because I use voice
activation software, but turning the pages of a book
gives me shooting pains up and down my arms, so I'm
going to have to take a month off from reading. Then
things should hopefully get better.

I was really looking forward to reviewing Beyond
(Straight and Gay) Marriage for AlterNet, but
unfortunately, given my pain catastrophe, I wouldn't
be able to do it until the end of March (instead of
the February 9 deadline we agreed upon). Of course I
understand this may be way too late, but do let me
know either way. In any case, I look forward to
working with you in the future!

Thanks so much, and my apologies --
mattilda

Friday, January 25, 2008

Rain rain rain rain rain



It's pouring outside, but I need to get out before dark anyway -- or sort of before dark, since it's already pretty dark. Anyway, I'm excited about the fresh air but then I get outside and the air doesn't smell fresh at all, I can't believe it. I guess it's rush hour, the air never smell fresh at rush hour, but then I'm walking further so that maybe I'll get past the traffic and that kind of works although then I smell charcoal or something, where is that coming from? Oh, they have a grill set up outside Great American -- I guess the good thing about rush hour is that the bus comes right away to rescue me, even though I just missed a bus. I hate it when I start to feel all these little muscles and tendons in my chest that I didn't know existed, because I only feel them when they're all in pain. The bus is like a steamroom it's so hot, although once I decide to relax it’s kind of comforting since I know I'm getting off in just a few stops, and this little girl keeps reaching over slightly to pet the fake fur at the bottom of my coat.

More thoughts on craigslist: I'm thinking about how that guy looked nothing like his picture he just wanted come down his throat I mean he could barely say hello or even touch or look at me or the other guy except to grab our cocks, and then when the interaction was too human or connected he ran away. That's what craigslist usually is: running away, even when you're together.

Back at home, I have to turn the heat on again because it's so cold, even with the oven and the space heater on, and the other day I blew the fuse in my apartment with two space heaters at once, luckily the building manager went down to the basement and replaced it right away, but I can't rely on that again. It's sad because the moist air outside actually helps my sinuses -- it's been about a week without a sinus catastrophe -- but now I can feel everything drying up into knots. There’s a club I was thinking of going to later, people don't usually smoke in that space. But I'm worried about the smoke machine. And, I'm worried that people will be smoking because it's raining outside.

Of course the voice activation software is deserting me right now when I need it most, when I can't do any editing because that means turning pages and I can't review the book that I was going to write an essay about for AlterNet because going back to look for quotes is even worse for my hands, my poor hands all twisted in knots except that's how I describe my sinuses. Really my sinuses feel like knots, my hands more like machinery not turning like it should or when it starts to turn it hurts and then I don't want to turn and then everything hurts more. Or I don't do anything, and everything hurts more. Or I do something wrong, and everything hurts more. Or I do something right, and everything hurts more. Do you see how frustrating this can get?

Meanwhile, I have all the windows open in my apartment so they don't fog up a while I'm cooking because I'm worried about the mold, especially now that I found out the person across from me moved out of this apartment because there was mold covering the walls by the window, those walls were replaced before I moved in, except for small parts that were just painted over and you can see the bubbles where the mold used to be. Over by the stove, there are new bubbles, I can tell their new because they're softer and I don't know what to do to stop the mold from coming through. More pain? That was supposed to say more paint -- sometimes I guess the software reads between the lines.

For some reason I put flax oil on my food, I mean lately I've digested it okay but not until later at night. Right now it makes my head cloud over, slam in my throat even though flax oil is supposed to be drying and I just feel so edgy, wired and angry except at the same time it's like if I just close my eyes I could fall right to sleep. I can't believe the doctor from the holistic clinic finally called to answer my questions, except all of his answers are just more supplements that aren't going to work for me. At least he recommends a book about thyroid health, although I can't believe I also ordered a book called The Coconut Diet. The doctor recommended that one too, but then I looked at it online and it looked like some low-carb diet atrocity, except it was a dollar used in hardback and the doctor said it had good tips for what foods to eat to help your thyroid. Oh, I know -- Coconut oil. But I can't digest coconut oil -- well just eat more!

I can't believe I'm going to have that awful book in my house, how to lose weight while eating the foods you love or some disgusting scam like that that speaks against everything I believe about health. I wonder if the new homeopathic remedy is making me feel edgy, I got it in the mail right when I returned from my walk and I took it right away, it's supposed to help my thyroid and sleep but right now I just want to hit someone. It's amazing how much a little bit of sun can do for me, and then when the sun goes away for a few days I sink immediately into gloom. Even though I'm rooting for the rain -- rain rain rain rain rain please rain -- I just don't want another drought, that would make it all worse for everyone.

Wait -- fun from craigslist -- who knew?





He liked joking while we were having sex, because after the other guy left I kept saying shh, no whispering -- the other guy wanted both of us to come in his mouth, and we were ready to oblige, but I don't think he liked that we were getting along, it was supposed to be about him, but by the time he'd arrived we'd already sucked each others' dicks and made out we were naked and hard what more could he want?

But anyway, he left and this guy was about to come, he said just let me know when you're ready but I was taking much longer so I sped up for him but not too much and then there was a lot of come and we were joking and I liked the art in the bathroom but it was from Urban Outfitters. We talked about Alaska. He called me cutie.

And he liked my name.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

As soon as they get soft they become rags

When I bite my cheek, it makes this awful tearing sound and then I'm worried about blood again -- I can't go to the Nob Hill Theatre if I'm worried about an open wound in my mouth, we all know there's nothing to do there if I'm not sucking cock. Something pokes my thigh, ouch, I reach down to see what it is and the whole bottom seam of my boxers rips right off -- that always happens, as soon as they get soft they become rags.

Luckily this time I don't bite my cheek too deep, although Chris says he could hear it over the phone if you put a tissue in there you can see if there’s blood. I try it -- gross, the tissue tastes awful, I mean it doesn't taste awful it feels awful somehow it's dry and abrasive and invasive all at the same time, just this tiny tissue. There's a little bit of yellow -- that could just be something on my teeth, right? But on the other side where maybe the dentist poked me, I don't know, over there it's still swollen it's been swollen for over a week why does it take so long for everything in my body to heal?

It's so cold in my apartment that I decide to open up the oven and sit right next to it -- kind of like a campfire, I think, and it's nice because my legs are underneath that's where I always get too warm like at night when I'm hugging the pillow I start sweating and I get a rash. There's that feeling in my neck, suddenly I feel it because I was thinking about lying down last night it was so annoying -- lately I've decided that when I start to panic and think something's there I can brush the hairs on my adam’s apple gently with my fingertips just to remind myself oh, it's just skin. Although right now that's making everything feel more awkward, I keep rearranging my clothes even though my clothes aren't moving there's something inside my neck that is.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

I'm not there

About a quarter of the way through I'm Not There, I'm thinking about how wasteful and horrifying commercial film can be, especially film of the art-house variety like this where every accessory is so precise the period detail immaculate the architecture under and overwhelming the lighting expansive the Hollywood hairdos on stars playing stars playing stars and I'm sure if you look up at the sky there's something there too. But you don't look up at the sky, you look out at the screen.

To be sure, there are hairdos in the audience too, and Todd Haynes is always obsessed with the period it's just that in his early movies affect didn't get in the way of effect, or not as much anyway although I hated the noir part of Poison. But the rest was too stunning to breathe, and we already know that Safe blew my mind into my mind. Velvet Goldmine was just a music video to me, I mean I liked the makeup but that was about all -- and Far from Heaven just felt like a more comfortable remake of Safe, with black people added as props and some weird directorial internalized homophobia.

So a third of the way through I'm Not There, I'm thinking of writing some manifesto about the end of film how horrible and wasteful and pointless and gorgeous, sure, but why? And I'm sure someone has already written that manifesto, over and over, and I just have to find it and write it again. But then we get to the town of Riddle, Missouri, a town we've already been told is just a myth and sure enough it looks like a myth it's where it's Halloween all the time and everyone's on stage. This is the end of Riddle, the children and adults gathered in costumes falling apart on a dirt road in front of setpiece Western buildings, they're fleeing. The end of Riddle means the end of the dream the end of immaculate period detail because it's all blending together between circus and rubber masks from the drugstore and pioneer days and the end of the line the end of.

Then the camera takes us to a pagoda, maybe it's not a pagoda it's whatever a pagoda would be in Western style. And there's a white guy in white face who starts to sing as everyone gathers around, oh. It's that splendid moment when everything and nothing comes together like that place in a performance that gives you everything and then nothing else matters you're there. Did I mention this movie is about Bob Dylan? I don't know or care anything about Bob Dylan, although the part when he’s a star spouting nonsense that occasionally sounds interesting but rarely profound past folk into a white room where everyone’s the gallery they want to be the art they’re just dead living. That part is brilliant and sad and it's all gorgeous -- every single show, every single scene -- and the way the imagery from the Vietnam War intrudes but also it's just wallpaper, silly Hollywood romances and spats are given more attention I'm thinking about whether art that cost millions of dollars to make is always doomed to talk about stars or talk with stars, but luckily the ease of the multiple narratives is breaking up into something more explosive, a tarantula crawling over white into war over collapse but the end feels too tidy, back to the beginning, the hobo lifestyle the flowers in fields. It's character number five who plays Bob Dylan but doesn't play Bob Dylan, replacing character number one who was an 11-year-old black kid acting like an old hobo, and now we have Richard Gere as the old hobo trying to be a hero but ending up a hobo once again.

Too simple, I want the brokenness back but at least I have that Riddle I kind of want to watch the movie again just to get back to the place where the layering of images opens my eyes to the sudden potential of emotion I guess that's the possibility.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Psychosomatic

Another day when my lovely hot shower turns into nothing but a trickle, I really mean a trickle I hate this trickle I mean I hate whoever’s making this happen I hate the shower I hate this building and then I'm freezing. At least I already went outside to get earring backs, struggling to experience daylight but there wasn't really any left, too cloudy and it was already 5:15 p.m. although I felt kind of proud of walking 12 blocks.

The best part of my conversation with my sister is when she’s talking about her new therapist, he's an analyst like our father was except he's an LCSW like my sister and my mother instead of a psychiatrist, I guess you can become a psychoanalyst anyway if you go through the five-year program, after your graduate degree, that is. Lauren says he's interesting, because he says things like I feel sad.

Just hearing that and I have tears in my eyes, the headset angled away from my mouth so my sister doesn't hear but then I feel strange doing that so I say: just hearing that made me cry. She says I know, but I’m not sure if she heard me -- maybe she thought I said just hearing that would make me cry.

But I'm glad I called Lauren back, last night we were talking and she said a few things that sounded like my father, like she used the word psychosomatic which he always used to mean you were making things up or creating your own problems, and even though the Lauren clarified that she meant when your brain in your body are connected, like the word is supposed to mean, I still felt like she was saying all my problems were in my head. Later I said I felt manic, and Lauren asked if I meant clinically manic, which is something my father said once -- exactly that, he said maybe you should take lithium. And I use the word manic all the time, my sister has never had a problem understanding me before.

Anyway, that's all kinds of triggers me to think of the way my father used psychoanalytic language to control people in our family, like he was always calling my mother a psychotic if she got angry, which is actually the same thing he said to me when I confronted him about sexually abusing me. He was a psychiatrist, so he knew what he was saying, right? I mean, I’d created this whole document about what I remembered and how it had hurt me and how I was feeling, and I knew he wasn't going to let me speak, that he would get enraged so I just said I know you raped me you molested me you sexually abused me, and unless you can come to terms with it then our relationship is over. I said this all an even tone, and he said: you're psychotic.

You see, when anyone else was using a word that was within the psychoanalytic vocabulary, you had to be absolutely precise or my father would tear you to shreds, let's see could use any word in any way that he wanted. I know that when my sister uses the word psychosomatic, she doesn't mean it like my father, and when she asked the question about manic, well she probably doesn't even know that I had that conversation with my father because it was over the phone. But it still triggers me and makes me feel shut down and silenced, and that's what I called her back to tell her.

And I don't want to be psychoanalyzed unless I'm in psychoanalysis. Of course I grew up with the language and the method and it's part of the way that I see the world, part of my critical engagement even, but also there's so much that I had to unlearn, like the notion that tearing apart your closest friends just meant that you loved them, that you were giving them respect. That one goes all the way back to when our parents would argue, I mean they were constantly arguing and my sister and I would get upset because we wanted them to get along, but they said don't worry, we argue because we love each other. Which is another reason I call Lauren back, the second time, after Lauren asks me: is this what friends do?

I hope so. The second time, I'm responding to when Lauren said you don't have to worry that I’m going to yell at you. Because I’d left her a message after I was triggered, when she was asleep, and she wanted me to try and speak in the moment instead. But the problem with getting triggered is that when you're triggered you can't sleep. I mean speak -- that was what our parents would call a Freudian slip.

But at first I told Lauren that I didn't actually worry that people would yell at me, that was something I’ve dealt with and my fears were deeper and earlier on from before the rage started. Except, actually there wasn't a time before the rage started. And, I do worry that people will yell at me. And, more often, I worry the reverse -- that if I say something in the wrong way it will destroy someone, they won't be able to handle it. And then I'll obsess about the tiniest thing for six months before bringing it up, just so I can say it in a way that a person can immediately accept it and then everything was okay. Except that everything is not okay, because I've done so much work, I've been on edge for six months about some tiny thing and really I need to say things closer to the moment so that I don't get so drained.

Some of this comes from childhood and some of it comes from more recently, like when I first moved back to San Francisco and Chris was drinking so much and lying about everything and holding back emotionally and he would freak out about the tiniest critique and I got really scared, because he was my oldest friend, and the person I felt the safest with, and I didn't want to lose him. So I got hyper-cautious, and then I did the same thing when I went out with Jeremy, because he couldn't deal with processing, any processing at all.

So now I'm trying to unlearn those habits, and that's why I called my sister right back. I like what she says about her therapist, it makes me wonder if I want a therapist who would say: I feel sad. Or: I'm trying to relate to you, but you seem really distant.

I decide to take another shower, this one's hot and I'm relaxing but then all the lights go off, I guess it's because I had the space heater plugged on in the bathroom. I was a little worried about that, because in a horror movie someone would pick it up and throw it in the shower and then I'd be electrocuted. At least that doesn't happen. I stay in the shower in the dark, it's so different this way I mean suddenly the water sounds so loud I feel dizzy. But warm. Except now I can smell the mold. For a while, I thought the mold in my apartment was getting better, because I realized that sometimes when I thought I smelled mold it was actually fried eggs and fish from downstairs. That's kind of a disgusting smell, but not a drain on my health.

Anyway, I get lucky because the building manager is around and he fixes the fuse down in the basement, I guess I shouldn't have all my lights on at once or something, definitely not two space heaters going at the same time I forgot about the one in the kitchen. I don't turn the radiator on because it gives me sinus headache blowback, I prefer the slight irritation from gas leaking from the stove while they're worse than that is probably the windows closed and all this mold although at least my body feels warm again and soft.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Until you remember

After errands I'm trying to think of something to do that won't hurt my hands, now that I've missed all the movies I wanted to see and it's too early to go to Blow Buddies. Then I can't decide what to do, so I'm trying to stay here and do nothing, but before you know it I'm checking email or reading the newspaper or scanning through that essay again and then everything is burning, this is the worst it's been because I've been editing my novel, what a nightmare.

I can only spend so much time with the stuffed animals, and then my hand’s back on the computer mouse, the arrow keys, I better stop before I get to that point again where there's too much burning. Then I remember oh, I have a few movies here, I can watch Todd Haynes’s Safe and maybe that will be comforting, since it's about a woman who becomes allergic to the world, everything really, item by item, starting with her husband. It's brilliant on so many levels, but one of those levels is that the woman, played by Julianne Moore, is hardly a sympathetic character -- she's a super-rich housewife living in Southern California who freaks out when a sofa set of the wrong color is delivered for one small corner of her expansive living room. But as she slowly starts to fall apart, the camera lingering over all this space around her that gives nothing like comfort, even while critiquing everything that she stands for it's still impossible not to see the hopelessness of her situation.

I have a particular relationship to this movie because, the first time I saw it, I remember Chris or maybe it was Zee saying: that'll be you in a few years. And that's the problem with watching it, because I'm watching Julianne Moore and seeing things that could happen to me, like when she suddenly can't breathe at a baby shower with all her friends and their permed hair. And especially when she's writing a letter to someone who runs a support group for people with environmental illness, and her husband comes into the bedroom and says what are you doing, and she stares at him and at first you think she doesn't know whether to reveal what she's actually writing, but then she says: where am I? Because she suddenly doesn't know.

That's where I'm sobbing with Julianne, I realize I stopped at this exact point the last time I tried to watch this movie. But it's just a movie -- I should be able to get to the end, right? Now they're talking about how sometimes people can have seizures and then Julianne Moore is getting conventional allergy tests where they prick your arms all over the place and then you see a close-up of all the red welts arranged on her forearms and it's that exact sensation that keeps triggering me, the repetition of mold on the red cabbage or beans stuck in the drain, something that makes me cringe I press stop on the mouse but then the image is frozen on my computer screen I don't know what to do until I realize okay, I can press eject on the DVD drive. At first that doesn't work and I'm panicking, but then out comes the DVD, it's okay.

I head out for Blow Buddies, the Geary bus is coming so I jump on it but then I'm confused because it doesn't really take me that much closer, I'm not ready to be around all these people. At Market I catch a cab, but then I think wait, did I leave the beans boiling on the stove? Sometimes I think I've done that, and I'm just being neurotic, but this time I really think I'm right. I tell the cab to take me home, back to my apartment there's the pot of beans, boiling. What a mess. I mean it could have been a mess, I'm glad I came back, maybe it's time to get ready for bed but instead I run outside and catch another cab.

At first I think I should just leave, I mean after I get there, but then the music changes and I get wacky, running away from the poppers with exaggerated expressions, waving to people who looks dazed, and then I'm in an alcove with this cute short guy with facial hair that could be the leather look or it could be scenester fashion or I guess it could be both, anyway he's pushing me down on his dick, you already know it doesn't take much pushing. Then he's trying to slam this other guy's dick in my mouth with his and I'm thinking that doesn't really work, this isn't a porn video, but I'm attracted to his pushing anyway and eventually get kind of does work -- I get it, their dicks go it into my cheek more than straight back, but I hope this isn't hurting my jaw I mean I'm sure it is a my hands feel fine, that's a good sign. Eventually I'm standing up into the second guy's arms kissing his neck and hugging him and I've got my hands on the back of the first guy's head he sucking my dick that's when I get the rush like I could be anywhere I could do anything, we alternate positions for a while we’re all super-present in something that's all of us.

Then when I come all over the first guy he gets all toppish and angry like he’s scared of come and immediately I’m so exhausted like why was I doing any of that? At home I'm angry at myself for staying up too late, is just so hard to tell when I'm really really exhausted and shouldn't go out because I'm always exhausted, except sometimes I feel better when I go out.

I'm telling Chris about trying to watch Safe again, I'm talking about the scene where Julianne Moore says where am I? And then those red marks on her arms and how they triggered some kind of flashback I mean something about repeated marks on skin or something caught in the drain or mold on cabbage and then I don't want to get dramatic, but actually I'm wondering: where am I? I mean I know I’m in my kitchen, but I'm trying to tell Chris what those marks remind me of, I can't say it I put my head in my hands I'm scared of looking right at him I mean looking out at anyone.

Then my body's shaking, I'm sobbing, Chris has his hand on my leg that feels sweet I'm reaching my hand over for his I still can't say anything. Then I'm sobbing more, I say can you come over here? Chris moves his chair over, I say I'll write it down -- I mean it's not a memory, it's just something I'm thinking, okay? Chris nods his head but I can't write anything, I close my eyes again, I really want to say it aloud just to say it I say it reminds me of something rotting, something dead. Then I'm staring straight ahead, can I say it do you think I can say it I can say it, maybe I can say it. Then I'm conscious that I mumbling and then I'm staring straight ahead again.

People.

I get that feeling like okay, now the world will end but also that feeling like okay, now the world will end but at least I'm okay. Really I'm thinking babies, faces smashed and decomposing, but somehow people is easier to say. Then I say: don't tell anyone, okay?

Which is funny, because immediately I think: who would Chris tell? And: my father is dead. And: I'm going to write about it on my blog later on.

I hate the way that everything can suddenly get scarier, that I want to feel safe but it never works, that my mother could at least make me feel financially safe but she hasn't, that my father’s dead but I'm still a little kid saying don't tell anyone, they put that in your head so well that you can’t even remember what they didn't want you to tell. Until you remember, but it's all warped images bent around feelings twisted tangled knotted rotting memory isn't the word for memory.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Safety

Sometimes I think I hear gunshots, and sometimes it's definitely gunshots, dah dah dah-dah dah, punctuating the air maybe I mean puncture it sounds like it's right here this time makes me glad that I live on the seventh floor and more hopeless too since I'm so far away and so close. Some people get scared in this neighborhood where I feel most comfortable, even though the gunshots sounded so close the screaming sounds much farther away and then sirens even more distant but quickly right here I can see the flashing reflecting on the building just below the hotel sign, it used to say Hotel Verona or maybe Verona Hotel since it doesn't look like there's enough room below hotel for another word. Oh, there's the ambulance, right there I guess that's two blocks away I can only see as far as the roof of the ambulance and here come more cops I guess.

Before I moved back to San Francisco I went to visit Andee in Berlin, that's when I first realized I was so sensitive to smoke or when I first became so sensitive because everyone smoked everywhere and first I was sick for two weeks from the plane and then I got bronchitis. I tried to go to as many movies as possible because no one could smoke there. I watched some independent film that took place in San Francisco and the main character was living at the Hotel Verona with gorgeous woodwork in the lobby but bleak rooms with fluorescent lights and worn-out office carpet except the neon light came in from outside and the streetscape views added excitement. The movie invokes a supposedly violent and edgy gay SM world with train tracks and warehouses, really it looks more like Berlin than San Francisco and the main character is German he's researching some AIDS conspiracy and someone gets murdered at a sex club maybe even through crucifixion but still it’s San Francisco and I thought okay, I can live there. I mean I'm ready. Even if I have to live at the Hotel Verona.

When I hear gunshots in my neighborhood, I wonder if the violence is deliberate or random, I mean all violence is deliberate and all violence is random. Of course I worry sometimes that it might hit me, although I still worry more about getting hit by a car. Then there's the violence of all these notes going up in the lobby of my building: don't let anyone inside unless you know they live here, don't prop this door open after 6 p.m., don't buzz anyone in unless they're your visitor. Because everyone’s scared of people smoking crack on the roof. Or sleeping there. I mean I guarantee that on just about every Tenderloin roof, there's someone sleeping or there's someone smoking crack or maybe someone’s smoking crack and then they’re sleeping, and that seems much safer for everyone.

Friday, January 18, 2008

La La Land

The stuffed animals from my mother finally arrive. Henry the hippo is my favorite because I can hold him in my arms and then I get this funny smile like I'm little again, except this time with hope. Or, I can lean my chin onto Henry's snout and pout with him. He's still awfully soft, it's impressive he's lasted so long since he was one of those cheap stuffed animals from the Ocean City boardwalk or somewhere like that, I can't remember if I won him.

What is it about a stuffed animal that can hold so much innocence? Even when undoubtedly made in a sweatshop there’s something that can radiate hope. Of course it's not the physical object, although about a year ago I saw these incredibly cute animals at the Made in Australia store and I got so excited because maybe they weren't made in sweatshops, and still the person working there instead know, they're made in China. Otherwise they'd be too expensive, the smallest one would be thirty dollars.

I was angry at this notion of whose expenses mattered, like stuffed animals were an important commodity that needed to be disposably cheap -- I'd pay thirty dollars, I said. Can you imagine -- how could thirty dollars be too expensive for a lifetime of memories?



I think Henry was ten dollars, that's what I'm remembering, I mean unless I won him at some game -- maybe ski ball, I was good at ski ball. That would have been in Rehoboth instead of Ocean City, usually we went to Rehoboth because it was closer no actually Rehoboth and Ocean City were the same distance but my parents thought Ocean City was tacky. And there was too much traffic.

Rehoboth was smaller and cutesier, other nights my sister and I stayed at home at the Sea Colony and listened to the ocean rise and fall while her parents went to restaurants with names like The Back Porch and The Blue Moon. And later on a newer one, La La Land. My father said we couldn't go with them, there were too many fairies. Eventually we were allowed to join them on occasion, but we still couldn't go to The Blue Moon because they had a bar.

Senior year of high school, beach week we went to Dewey Beach, which was right between Bethany, where the Sea Colony was, and Rehoboth, which obnoxious high school kids called Rehomo. Apparently our house was on the wrong side of Dewey, the gay side, it was maybe nine women and me and I was sharing a bed with the two women who were considered slutty, one of them was always trying to make out with me she would climb on top of me and the other one liked to party as much as I did so we always got along. She wanted this gray sweatshirt I wore, I traded it to her for a vintage green plaid shirt that was made of some kind of cotton that stayed shiny but smooth. Really it was too big, and later I regretted it.

This kid asked me why I wore such tight shorts if I wasn't gay, he was probably only a year younger than me but I thought of him as a kid because he was so annoying. Before then I hadn't realized that my shorts could be considered tight, I just wanted to squeeze into the smallest size possible because even though I wasn't anorexic anymore I still wanted my body to disappear then everything would be easier.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Dreaming with color and texture and form

I'm lounging with my sister and some guy in this dark abandoned lot where somehow everything is soft and spongy, you can just lie back and enjoy the ruined buildings leading to the sky. This is where I remember Jesus Christ Made Seattle Under Pressure, which is a trick for understanding the order of the downtown Seattle streets, although there are two of each letter except maybe J, are there two of J? So it's still hard to remember whether Marion comes before Madison, and things like that. I have trouble enough remembering whether Pike comes before Pine, I mean which one is West, no wait Pike and Pine run West-East, which is also hard to remember because the whole time I lived in Seattle I thought Broadway went West-East, but really it's North-South but all the maps show it horizontal and I guess I forgot to look at the compass in the corner or, you know what, I don't think I thought in terms of North-South East-West until I moved to New York, there it finally made sense because of the Manhattan grid.

These are the kinds of things I think when I'm in bed, maybe trying to sleep or maybe trying to get up its funny because the waking thoughts about directions in Seattle blend in with the more impossible lounging, and I feel like I'm awake the whole time -- every time I get to the point in the dream where I can really relax, then my shoulder starts to hurt so I have to turn to the other side. Usually I say that pain doesn't wake me up it’s my brain, a different kind of pain, but now I guess pain wakes me up. Except that I don't notice I'm in pain until I'm awake.

Meanwhile, I keep having to rearrange the covers because I get so sweaty, I mean my comforter’s super-light, but still I have to pull it above my feet and wrap it around my head so that air gets in between my legs also. Otherwise I'm way too warm, I mean it's not warm in my apartment I never turn the heat on or it destroys my sinuses. When I get up to cook, I have to put three sweatshirts on. It's my worst sinus day in a while, looking out at the sky I can hardly feel anything except all that tension above my eyes, I'm trying not to use the neti pot for a few days because now the inside of my nose is drying out I think that makes things worse.

Rose sends me some of her collages, I mean I requested a few and she had them matted on silver mats inside silver frames, they sparkle. I've always loved her art because as a kid she taught me to dream with color and texture and form, like when she took us to that store I think it was called the button factory or maybe that's just what Rose called it, where they had buttons in huge bins and you could pick whatever you wanted. They had other stuff too, like metal plates and broken computer parts and cardboard rollers and weirder things that you had to create a purpose for, I mean the purpose was whatever you wanted it to be that's what made it special.

But, a few decades later, things are different between me and my grandmother I wasn't sure if looking at her art would just make me sad or sorrowful or claustrophobic like she'd invaded my space. But so far it's kind of exciting, except somehow this one handmade paperwork started to scare me when I woke up in the morning, something disturbing about the blurriness of the form in center as viewed from my bed. I thought I'd found the perfect space above my file cabinets but maybe it just needs to go somewhere else.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The key is just to act like my body is one piece and the center moves everything

Lately I've started counting the blocks I walk in a day, because I'm worried I don't walk enough, although sometimes just a few blocks is too much. So it's complicated. At the dentist, I'm thinking that I'm making all this progress because I can sit in this uncomfortable chair, with my neck at an awkward angle, and I can sense all the different places that are starting to tense up, but I'm still not feeling too much pain. Until I get home, and just sitting in the chair in my kitchen I can feel all the tendons winding around me. Tendons shouldn't wind around, they should go from place to place ouch what is all this burning?

Oh, no -- there's that ghost again -- the guy in the building behind mine, he really looks like a ghost this time, illuminated in white light when I turn my head is he using special effects? I feel like a ghost, no ghosts don't feel physical pain only emotional. Such a delicate balance, I mean a delicate imbalance.

If I close my eyes, my mouth opens gently chin floating leftward head above eyes crunched back of the neck a wall of tension no it's more like a ditch. Bruised shoulders down to chest twisted forearms stiff wrists burning. Around to hands really burning it's like wrists in lap around hips into spine is one extended ache like I'm sitting inside a tire floating in water, legs below chest up above I’m trying to get my legs out but my back and hands are stuck inside pressing against the circle of rubber it hurts.

At the dentist I always have to wait at least a half hour, this woman’s talking forever to one of the receptionists: how old are you, you look like you're just out of high school but you’re 23 and you have a six-month-old kid how did you keep that body, how long have you lived here, I go to trade shows in Atlanta we sell physicians’ clothing how did you like Atlanta? This little kid comes in and says hi, I'm surprised because usually kids are afraid of me or they just stare I say how are you doing? She says I had a big hole in my tooth and it was distracting me, all through class I would play with it and sometimes the teacher had to repeat things for me, well only twice -- 3 times -- but it was distracting I think it'll be better now. A younger kid comes in with a blue balloon, she says rooster -- the older one says how do you think they did that? I was thinking the same thing, but then I realize it's a glove and the pointy parts are the fingers. Oh, that's smart -- says the older kid, and then they go around the corner to talk to the mother -- what I like is that the mother doesn't come over to try and take charge of the situation, she lets the kids explore.

When I'm dancing, the key is just to act like my body is one piece and the center moves everything I'm swaying in the breeze I am the breeze just concentrate on small movements close your eyes and feel it all rolling back and forth. The only way to do this out at a club would be to ignore everyone and maybe hide in the corner, except sometimes the faster movements and eyes linking with eyes held me to get to that softer place of graceful stumbling a twirl around off-balance leading into bliss. Here I can start soft and not give in to the frantic part that I love, I'm practicing -- trying not to get to the point of pain even though that's where I'm starting sometimes pain can give way to a sudden comfort even if that gives way to pain it's still comfort.

As long as my eyes don't give way to exhaustion locking out my brain dragging me under fatigue that ends up crushing me I can't get through all that weight. Although tonight somehow I end up with a gentle alertness.

Someone threw some twine down for that shoe, but they forgot to unwind it...

Monday, January 14, 2008

A safer place

Thinking more about that video, I realize the expression on my face where I look disassociated, that's the expression they wanted me to make. The problem is that now, knowing that I hated it and I was kind of freaked out but trying to remain nonchalant afterwards -- with 15 years distance I can't tell what's acting and what's the way I really felt and that's scary. I mean I look too convincing

I guess I got kind of excited about finding that video after all these years because I'd forgotten how disturbing it was, but also because I don't have many visual records of that time -- just a few photos, certainly no video. So I want more and that's what I have and really it's worse than nothing, I can't even watch more than two minutes total -- I wouldn't mind throwing it in a fire although it would just melt and smell awful, actually it probably wouldn't even melt.

Meanwhile, the guy from the building behind mine is waving his laser pointer all over my apartment, to try to get my attention. He's the tweaker who will stand for hours in his window jerking off and staring up at me, but then if I wave or if I look in his direction he turns out the lights. Sometimes I catch him bending down on the floor to look diagonally upwards so he can see me sitting in my kitchen. For a while I thought it was kind of funny, but then I had this dream where I opened my fire escape window and he was standing out there naked peering in my window, it kind of freaked me out because in the morning when I opened that same window I was a little worried she'd be out there. Then I remembered wait, that was a dream.

Since then it's kind of spooky when I look out at him standing in the semi-darkness jerking his semi-hard dick and trying to look semi-detached. But here he goes again with a laser pointer, red dots flying across my walls. When I look over again the TV’s on in the background but he’s stepped into the shadows.

But back to that porn video, I was trying to remember if I did it when I was 19 or 20, I think I did it before I became a whore and my hair was still in the vaguely goth bob, so probably 19. I remember when Laurie and I moved to San Francisco just before our 19th birthdays or maybe it was a few days after mine and right before hers, and we had this dream that we'd support ourselves doing phone sex, I think I'd read an article in Spin our somewhere that you could make $45 an hour, we couldn't believe how easy it would be.

The trouble was that really you got eight dollars an hour if you worked nonstop, which is what Laurie did, and for anyone who couldn't pull off slutty woman realness for that long, which was the case for me -- I ended up working for a few lines and making maybe $50 max per week. Sometimes I was Gabriel for Dial a Daddy and I had one regular who was from Germany, he liked me to poke needles into his balls and make him bleed. Other times I was Gabrielle, and I worked for Lola's Line. Eventually Laurie got a data entry job at a computer company in Berkeley and I got GA and food stamps, our rent was only $200 a month each, so with $360 GA and $80 food stamps, plus a ton of shoplifting and a few other scams, I could actually kind of support myself. Oh, right -- I was also the Bay Times delivery boy, but that's a whole other story.

I think it was a little later when I did that first porn video, maybe when I worked at Clothes Contact where the owner basically just wanted us to get rid of everything so we could basically charge whatever we wanted. Clothes Contact was the lowest end of the owners for vintage clothing stores, so everything was by the pound -- I can't remember if it was five or ten dollars per pound, but people would come up with maybe 10 pounds and we'd say how ‘bout $15? That was kind of fun.

But now I realize that the outfit I wore for the video consisted of clothes that I already had when I moved to San Francisco, so maybe it was before Laurie and I move to the Mission and I started working at Clothes Contact, I worked there for four or five months and then the owner wanted to meet me, he took me to the warehouse filled with piles and piles of old velvet curtains in burgundies and red, that was the velvet I wanted but he only sent the browns and army greens and mustards over to the store. After he met me I got fired, that was the second job that I lost because of the way I looked, even though people would come in just to look at me. Although there might have been money disappearing from the register too, things like that happen when you only pay your employees six dollars an hour.

Anyway, sometime around then I did that porn video. It wasn't because I liked porn or I thought it would be hot, I just needed the money. They made me dye my purple-and-green hair black but I wasn't going to use permanent dye, that would be so hard to get out. The temporary dye didn't work, so I wore a bandanna.

One of my costars said he was bisexual, he did the whole thing where he was jerking off to straight porn in between sets. I'm not sure why being bisexual would mean that you need straight porn in order to get hard, but I guess that was part of his act. He was short and stocky and trying to act tough, these days I'd probably find him hot but in those days I just thought he was the enemy. Sucking his dick didn't give me any pleasure. The only guy I liked was the cameraperson, he ended up having to fluff me at the end because I couldn't come, you had to come before they paid you and then when I walked outside it was so bright I was already brushing it all off, pushing it back to some safer place for me to remember later.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

The scariest part

Oh no, here it is -- that overwhelming sadness that enters directly through my sinuses, courtesy of synthetic smoke this time. It's just so dramatic -- first I'm on the fire escape and the sun’s getting me wired I'm thinking maybe this time I'm okay. Until I'm inside at the kitchen table, head in my hands thinking how can anything be possible?

I put on this new liniment for tendon pain, but oh no it warms my skin instead of cooling it, suddenly my shirt is pulling my body into extra tension, all the sensitive places are burning I have to wash it off and put on the usual but then my body’s in shock I thought it was warm outside but it's freezing. Now it seems funny that I thought I was getting sunburnt, seven floors up on my viewing station. Down here I'm dodging everyone's smoke, looking at hands from halfway up the block, trying to spot the poison ahead of time. But it's so easy to camouflage, just when I think I've made it past there’s suddenly that cloud of smoke I'm in it.

Gina comes over and oh no, I'm allergic to her new conditioner too. I'm a prisoner in my own apartment, eyes grinding into knots. Time to boil some more eucalyptus, yes more eucalyptus why does it only last for three four minutes I need the long-lasting variety but wait that would be some synthetic catastrophe. I have enough catastrophes already -- here in my head, here in my bed -- but let's put everything into perspective: the first time I woke up in the middle of the night oh no it was like my face was broken, headache extending all the way around my head are there sinuses up there in the skull somewhere? Let's just say yes yes yes yes yes I wasn't awake for long.

See, there's always a bright side, I'm on the right side it’s just hard here without some kind of protection I mean that extra-special forcefield has gotta be around here somewhere, right I'll keep looking.

Oh, no -- it's definitely not in this porn video. The one I did when I was 19, the only question they asked me was would I bottom, soon they were dragging me through gravel, spray-painting my shirt, tying my hands behind my back, I was so shocked I didn't have time to use the safe word -- blue -- until they wanted me to eat dog food. Blue, I said -- I'm vegan.

I've told that story so many times, just that one part it's a good punchline, right? But the truth is that for years I didn't want to see anything about that video it was scary I felt shut down. But recently I developed a curiosity, maybe now it would be funny. I ordered it, that's even me on the cover. I start to watch it, there’s this dazed perplexed look on my face like I don't know what's going on, I mean I'm acting but I think I'm also scared and I don't want to do too much because then the guys who are supposedly abusing me will think I'm into it and then they'll get more aggressive.

This is too much -- I skip to the last scene, where I can tell they’re jerking me off I want to see what that was like. But oh no that's me before I was fully inhabiting my body I mean I was learning but here you can’t tell I'm just pale pale skin because I never went out in the sun I was scared I mean I was scared of the sun but in this video I can tell I'm not totally there it makes me feel gross. I mean now. I didn't even remember they’d fucked me with a dildo, pretending to wash lice out of my hair it would be funny except for the expression on my face I'm looking up to see what's going on oh no that's me, a different me I don't really want to remember, at least not in this visceral way a document of discomfort. Fifteen years ago I guess that was a while. I'm writhing on the ground maybe they're saying look at the camera or maybe I'm trying to pretend there’s pleasure I don't know how. I think that's the scariest part.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Simple desires

I'm getting ready to go to the Nob Hill Theatre, a little bit earlier than usual but not early enough that the theater clientele will be downstairs like that last time, that was a bit unnerving like I was supposed to turn a trick or something. I'm fixing the back of my hair so that the individual pieces are sticking out behind my ears so you can see them from the front, of course I'm wondering why I'm fixing my hair when no one will appreciate it anyway, but I always wonder that. Then I realize that I don't want to go to the Nob Hill Theatre, I hate the Nob Hill Theatre -- but I should go somewhere, my hands are a disaster and it's hard to do anything around here without my hands. I think of going to one of those ‘70s revival clubs, this is the one that started the trend and usually there isn't any smoke and at least the guys will be hotter than the Nob Hill Theatre. Now I'm really fixing my hair, but then I get all edgy and nervous because I can't decide, what if smoke filters in from outside or if someone's smoking in the back, that happened once.

Are the black beans irritating my digestion, or am I just getting nervous? Whatever it is means I have to shit three times -- this is nerves, it always happens. I mean it's always happens before I go out. Right now I wish I could call someone to go with me, but it's 1 a.m. and what if I need to leave right away anyway? I'm getting all self-conscious about the yellow sweater with blue shirt, I mean I'm bored of it -- so I change into the green sweater with pink shirt, that works better. I still can't decide whether I really want to go over there, but I put on my coat and two scarves because it's freezing and mittens and then I'm out the door and downstairs, literally shivering it's so cold, walking downhill towards the bar but maybe I'll just walk up to the door and keep going like I just happen to be wandering around on the drug-dealing block I mean I live on the drug dealing block too, just not that one. I'm trying to remember if this anxiety about going out ever went away, like what about when I went out four times a week -- it must’ve been better then, right?

I can't remember. I get to the door and there are a few people smoking outside, but what I didn't remember is that the door is actually sturdy and it closes tight, then there's even a curtain when you get inside and there’s Jacob, I forgot that Jacob did the door -- there's nothing like a hug right away to make me feel better. Then I'm inside and it's packed, I forgot that I actually like this bar -- the red lighting and the mirrors, everyone's more festive than I remembered and then I'm back at the dance floor, oh right the dance floor. I almost forgot about the dance floor, I take off my layers and put them at a table that says reserved -- who knew that they had reserved tables at an old-school Tenderloin gay bar, must be for some straight scenesters.

You know that I've always hated disco, but I guess it's something about how all these bars that cultivate sluttiness are invoking the ‘70s that makes it somehow more tolerable, at least once I'm there. Don't get me wrong – I’d take the layered knock-you-down swing song seduction of hard house or the broken twisted fuckedupness of experimental electro or the steady pounding of nonstop techno or preferably all of this together – or just any hint of this over disco any moment of my waking breaking beating heartache, but I guess I have to take what I can get. So there's disco, I'm on the dance floor but it's carpet -- it's hard to get into dancing on carpet but what's great is that it's so packed, I mean the dance floor at Aunt Charlie's is tiny so that's no surprise but wait -- I was trying this experiment of not mentioning the names of the bars where I'm going, just describing them, but forget about that for now I just said Aunt Charlie's.

I scan the whole crowd and no one’s smoking, the place still smells stuffy and like there was a fire somewhere but I can deal with that until, oh no -- the smoke machine. This one doesn't even bother making the smoke white or gray, it's brownish and I'm rushing to the back, into the bathroom where it's cooler and there's air. Which is kind of funny, because it's the bathroom, but I'll take air where ever I can get it. This is when I should leave, you know that.

Maybe you also know that I don't leave, that instead I go back on the dance floor once the synthetic smoke has dissipated but that just means that the poison has spread out, there's this hot guy cruising me but I can't tell if he's cruising me, and actually I don't find him that hot right now. Maybe it's the beer he's holding on the dance floor or maybe I can feel his nerves mixing with mine or maybe I'm not looking for sex just yes, the passion of dancing, body up against all these others until I’m screaming along to the words of the songs I don't know and I can tell some of these queens think I'm crazy, they always think I'm crazy and probably it's true, especially since they're drunk and I'm just -- well, crazy, I guess.

Anyway I get to the point when I'm loving it, even the sponginess of the soggy carpet dance floor, you can sink in a little bit. This DJ doesn't mix, just breaks the songs up, but I knew to expect that and when Grace Jones comes on at the end no way that's when I'm really screaming WARM yes warm yes yes warm LEATHERETTE and now the other crazy queens are screaming with me WARM and now the guy I was trying to cruise has stopped LEATHERETTE trying to get away from me, we’re actually playing dancing games until the bar’s closing WARM he wonders why we’re the last ones to walk out the door LEATHERETTE then outside in the maze of smokers some guy’s yelling at me that I'm dangerous, not because of my body because of my mind.

I'll take that. I go over to the guy I was cruising, it's his hair that first caught my attention -- spiky in the back pressed down in the front I guess not that different from mine in some ways except the back of his is more like a mohawk and he doesn't have curls. I like that I don't feel any fear, that's what dancing gives me I'm kissing this guy on the lips, then biting his neck then stepping back and he's asking me if his hair looks dry, maybe he means mine does. His does too, I mean it looks good and it looks dry, I'm biting the other side of his neck he likes that but he's already said something about how he'll see me soon, whether that means tomorrow or in six months I'm guessing he doesn't know I might know go out for six months he means he doesn't want to go home with me. I actually don't really want sex right now, I mean I’d take it if he offered, but I feel high enough really it's time to go home and wash the smoke machine off me try to take care of myself so that I don't fall into another three weeks of talkshow horror, this is what fibromyalgia looks like -- Oprah found the right doctor, though.

I was going to start by telling you how sad I feel today -- sinus sadness, not again! Not after the nightmare of last time was just abating. I want to say that I’d do anything just to avoid another sinus catastrophe. Except that I'm also tempted to go to that bar with a backroom that only happens once a month, that's tonight. Especially since right now I can't do anything with my hands -- I mean I've done too much today, can't do any more. My hands over someone's face neck back would feel different, different if it weren't for the smoke machine in that bar too, I already know about that one. Although it's on the ground floor, maybe it doesn't go into the basement, the basement where someone's usually smoking pot or trying to light a cigarette. No, I probably won't go there. I wish I lived in a different world, in a body where simple desires didn't take such a dramatic toll.

Friday, January 11, 2008

My neck

I'm trying a new strategy for the times when I'm lying in bed wired in the middle of the night -- it's just a break, right a break? Kind of like a nap is a break from being awake, I just need a break from sleep. Although naps usually destroy my life.

Anyway, the good news about waking up in the middle of the night from some strange sweats is that I realize oh, it's not actually hot in here -- once I pull the covers off, the air is cool and refreshing. But why this tension in my neck? It's like something is stuck there, arranged wrong, knotted up and suffocating me. Usually I think of it as an incest memory, my father squeezing my neck shut, but now it's become so constant that I'm wondering if it has something to do with the elevated thyroid antibodies -- the thyroid is right there, too. If it’s memories, I just want them to come up so that when I lie down I don't always have to feel like I'm being strangled. Or even now, sitting up, once I think about it I realize the tension is still there, just beneath my vocal chords, a bit deeper than my Adam's apple. I can almost feel it in an oval shape, maybe it is the gland. Of course it could be both a body memory and antibodies attacking my thyroid gland. Or the thyroid antibodies are triggering the memory. Or the other way around. I can think about this kind of thing forever, wrapping the layers around one another around me.

But also I'm arranging and rearranging the covers so that they close the gap in my eye mask but don't surround my nose so that I end up breathing recirculated air. Then I need to make sure the covers are protecting but not touching my neck. It's kind of complicated. I guess the good thing about the night sweats is that eventually I'm distracted and then I'm asleep again.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Revitalizing the neighborhood

Long ago I actually liked Gus Van Sant’s movies. In high school, I got all excited about Drugstore Cowboy -- Kelly Lynch's swagger and Matt Dillon's eyebrows, sure -- but mostly that counterculture allure that'll never again be so tantalizing. Pills, yes, pills -- I wanted to float above myself and dream my way into drugstore heists too. I got especially excited when William Burroughs threw down a cameo as a junkie priest -- that was before I knew he'd killed his wife.

By the time My Own Private Idaho came out, with River Phoenix and Keanu Reeves, I’d graduated high school so I had a bit more critical engagement -- I refused to see it until years later, after I’d already turned my share of tricks -- of course I recognized the trick’s worldview in the depiction of the wayward boys, but it was a relatively benevolent glamorization, mostly it was just kind of silly. Elephant, which reenacted a Columbine-style high school massacre, jaded art fag style, was the movie that made me promise never again to see a Gus Van Sant movie. Right after the movie, a woman came up to me and said, “Who do you think shot the second guy, was it his friend or a third gun? It looked like he was shot from behind. That’s really intriguing.” Intriguing.

Sure, the lighting varied from scene to scene, focus faded in and out while time ran in circles, and if this sounds like a distant assessment when the movie was about murder, well that's how it was made -- to make you think: who cares. And: teenagers are so stupid! What scintillating cultural analysis.

But now I hear that Gus Van Sant is filming a biopic on the life of Harvey Milk, the gay world's Martin Luther King figure. Filming will take place in the legendary gay Castro district in San Francisco, former home to Milk's camera shop, from where he mounted a campaign to become the first openly gay elected official, a few years before getting gunned down by another member of the San Francisco city council (Board Of Supervisors).

Oh, but wait -- you'll love this -- Sean Penn will be playing Harvey Milk. That should be convincing.

But this is the best part, I really love this quote from Dan Jinks, one of the producers: "Our great hope is this will revitalize this district and make it a major tourist destination."

Who the fuck is this moron? Revitalize the Castro, where you're lucky if you can rent a flat for under $4000, or buy property for under a million? Make it a major tourist destination? Everyone who's ever set foot in the Castro knows that it's filled with tourists from around the world, who else do you think buys rainbow flag toilet paper and sock puppet briefs, or whatever trinkets they're selling at those cheerful underwear boutiques?

Oh, I know what Jinks means -- straight tourists. Prepare for the next wave of gentrification...

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Who needs straight homophobes when you've got The Advocate?

When I saw that the January 15, 2008 issue of The Advocate had an article at the end called “The Sissy Awards,” forgive me for hoping for just one moment that the gay newsmagazine of record might have briefly come to their senses in order to reward gender defiance of the nelly variety. Sorry, girls, according to The Advocate, the Sissy Awards are meant to recognize "those who show arrogant stupidity, dishonesty, or just a severe lack of spine."

That's right -- no need to reclaim language, let's just accept the validity of virulent homophobic stereotypes, i.e. that any swishy queen bringing fever to the powers-that-be is actually a vicious traitor to the nation. But The Advocate actually goes further, and remakes the sissy stereotype to include bigots of all persuasions. I kid you not.

A quick look at the Sissy Awards shows us that the Republicans are the "Sissy Political Party," because some of their representatives have been caught looking for gay sex. Apparently that makes them sissies, because they’re unable to live up to their right-wing ideals. The Advocate shares no thoughts on police entrapment. Nothing sissy about that.

The Advocate tells us that the “Sissy Extracurricular Activity of the Year” is sex in public bathrooms, not the homophobia of Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jim Naugle, who proposed spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on specially-designed public restrooms that would discourage amorous encounters. Oh -- and Fort Lauderdale is the "Sissy Vacation Destination" because the person in charge of the PA system at the airport was quoted as announcing, “A man who lies with another man as he would a woman is subject to death.” That's right -- the reading of lunatic passages from Leviticus is definitely sissy behavior.

Oh -- and "Sissy Grandpa" is none other than Dick Cheney, because he wouldn't answer questions about his daughter's new baby. Nope -- he doesn't make the list for helping to engineer a war for oil profits, that's what real men do. And everybody knows that real men aren't sissies. Unless they won't answer questions about their gay daughter's baby.

“Sissy Candy of the Year” Snickers, for the gay ad that ends up in a bashing . "Four-star Sissy?" General Peter Pace, who called homosexuality "immoral" while chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. "Sissy Internationale?" Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian president who claimed that there were no homosexuals in Iran.

Everybody knows that only sissies are homophobes, right? Thanks to The Advocate for clearing everything up.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Routine




This happens almost every day -- I'm taking a shower, there's finally enough hot water and I'm relaxing, this is where I feel the best except maybe late at night if I actually have energy and I'm outside in the cool fresh air. All this warm water around me is nice, but then I cross the line into hypoglycemia, it happens really fast and I kind of feel like I should get out of the shower, but I can't get out of the shower -- I mean it's comfortable, but also I kind of feel stuck, until suddenly there's no hot water anymore and then I'm just angry, drying myself off in the freezing bathroom.

I used to love hotel lobbies, walking in for a trick it was like I suddenly exited the rest of the world and it was just me in the lobby with all this space around me. When I went out with Jeremy, I always wanted to go to a hotel and take the elevator to the top floor to look at the view, some of the views in hotels are just startling and I never got a chance to take my time on my shorts stays, usually tricks would have the curtains drawn anyway. Somehow Jeremy and I never made it -- I mean we never made it to a hotel to look at the view.

One of the first times Grant and I got together, I suggested the hotel journey, something free and kind of surreal to do in the evening, why not? We went into the St. Francis, through the cocktail lounge in the front lobby, past the strange upscale boutiques selling overpriced trinkets, into the modern part in the back with the glass elevators, but I couldn't remember exactly where those elevators were. I felt exactly the opposite of the way I'd remembered, totally self-conscious and edgy and conspicuous. Maybe it was because I wasn't turning a trick, so I was dressed just like my normal self, or maybe part of the allure of hotel lobbies was that my destination was in place, I was a girl on a mission for two crisp hundred-dollar bills or that stack of twenties. But at the St. Francis with Grant it was different, I looked around all confused and thought: we need to get out of this horrible place immediately!

Everything is about routine -- I remember once, going to a hotel trick in New York at one of the hotels near the World Trade Center, maybe it was the Millennium Hilton, probably later it was damaged but this was 1999 or 2000, 1 a.m. or so and security stopped me, I knew the room number but not the name, I don't even think I knew the first name but I made one up -- I acted enraged, do you know the last name of everyone you meet? I wasn't going to let some security guard stop me from getting my $200, I called the trick on his cellphone and he called the front desk and I was allowed up.

Today I'm going to the Grand Hyatt to get pictures of the chandeliers in the lobby, to accompany my column in make/shift, and I'm actually kind of nervous, worried someone's going to stop me and accuse me of terrorism or something. Once I'm there it's all smooth, the chandeliers don't look like I remember, but when I take the photo it looks even better -- I was looking for something modern and surreal and it's perfect. Then I go to Borders to use the bathroom -- I'm pissing at the urinal, and some guy keeps just inhaling through his nose from one of the stalls, I know what that means. I go in the other stall, and the guy starts jerking off super fast so I can hear it -- or at least that's what it sounds like -- but the floors don't reflect and you can't see anything and I start getting paranoid that this guy's undercover and he’s trying to entrap me.

This is what I mean about routine -- when I was 14, 15, 16, 17, I went to bathrooms almost every day to cruise – I must have hooked up with hundreds and hundreds of guys that way, I was always worried about someone I know finding me, but never really about security. Then I notice the guys white sneakers with the San Francisco Giants sign in orange on the toe, right next to the stall wall, blue jeans down to the floor, chubby calves, some kind of orange plastic belt, maybe he's actually young. Oh, there’s a pen with a tissue wrapped around it, that's for me -- I unwrap it and it says what do you like?

But I'm still paranoid, so I think about it for a while, and write: I wasn't looking for anything. Which is kind of true, and anyway there's someone coming into this bathroom practically every 10 seconds, although probably this guy has a suggestion of where else to go, that's why he's asking me what I like. I wish I knew what he looked like, do undercover cops wear orange plastic belts? Eventually there's a conversation in the bathroom about how both of the stalls are taken, and so I flush, leave the stall, and there’s some smelly old guy with a walker who says that's an interesting coat, did someone make that especially for you? I say thanks, I found it at a used clothing store. He says to tell you the truth, it reminds me of a carpet -- he's trying to be shady, but I've heard that one before and it doesn't work on me -- I say you're right, all my favorite clothes kind of look like carpet, or sofas. He says well it is San Francisco.

I'm sitting in the magazine aisle, looking at the terrible gay magazines to see what books they review, or if they review books, and there's this skinny young guy with flushed skin, wearing a short-sleeved tie-dye shirt with a straw top hat, he looks over at a headline in the Advocate and says The Sissy Awards! I say I know, it doesn't make sense because it's a gay magazine. What I mean is that I can't believe the Advocate is giving out bad behavior awards and marking that behavior as sissy, but what this guy says is: you aren't gay, are you? I hold my hands up in an exaggerated state of shock: no, I mean how did you know, I mean you can't tell, can you?

He laughs, and asks if I can hand him the People, it's a special collector's edition about celebrities who have died too soon. A counterculture-looking employee walks by like he can't believe we’re sitting on the floor talking, and then this guy calls my attention to first Freddie Mercury, then the Kennedys, then some Australian guy who did something for the Discovery Channel and supposedly died in a freak accident where a sting ray jumped out of the ocean and cut him through the heart. I'm getting hypoglycemic, so I say goodbye and this guy holds out his hand, kind of sweet I think -- maybe I should socialize at Borders more often.


Saturday, January 05, 2008

Fresh cool moist air

It's getting crazy windy outside, the best part is that the air is so fresh in my apartment so of course I keep the windows in the bathroom and kitchen open when I go to bed. But that's when it gets really wild -- I can hear papers flying off my kitchen table, pens hitting the floor, did the globe just hit the chair? That's okay -- the air is great, but wait -- is it raining in my apartment? No, that must just be the rain hitting the windows, there are five floors above me there can't be a leak in the ceiling, don't get up, just enjoy this air.

I love when it's chilly enough in my apartment that I can hug the pillow and still feel cool, especially with the crazy wind outside, pounding the windows it's so loud I'm trying to make it relaxing but it's kind of hard to focus on my breath, my body on the mattress, thumbnails pressing on fingertips, anal sphincter exercises -- these things that keep me focused, I mean sleep shouldn't necessarily require focus but it does. I'm trying to make the wind blend in with the white noise generator, but it's so much louder and I keep thinking there's water pouring into my apartment.

I do fall asleep, wake up to piss and the wind is louder, rain pouring, it's hard not to get wired I'm pissing in a bottle like I do now so that I don't wake up too much, and oh no I didn't really just knock the bottle over like I'm always afraid I'm going to do but it's never happened, is that the sound of piss falling onto the floor? I pull off the eye mask and the bottom sheet is wet I pull it off the bed wow it's freezing in my apartment, gusts of wind blowing through. Literally gusts. I go in the kitchen, and sure enough there's water all over the floor, the wind has blown the kitchen cabinets open, even the philodendron has fallen from some of its climbing spaces on the wall. I go in the bathroom for towels, but you won't believe this -- the towels have blown out the window, they’re nowhere in sight. I get clean towels, wipe off the kitchen floor I'm glad it's linoleum. I get a replacement sheet for the bed, but actually it's too dusty I'm lying in bed at 8 a.m. I can't believe it's only 8 a.m., but the good news is that I still have a while to sleep, a whole night almost. Although how am I going to sleep with all this dust, now that I've closed the kitchen window the air isn't as fresh and half my bed is wet and I start to panic, I need to get to a point where I can just wake up and feel relaxed about it, like it’s a break but instead I start wondering how I'm going to face the day, whether I'll have to cancel all my plans. Until I start to have all of these complicated dreams, some of them are fun and some are stressful, but when I wake up I actually feel kind of energetic. I think it's hilarious that the towels in the bathroom flew out the window, I mean if you saw that in a movie you'd think it was slapstick.

The air is still so amazing, that's why I'm in a good mood my sinuses aren’t pounding like usual, sure there’s a tug in between my eyebrows but my head doesn't feel like it's filled with windowpanes or Windex it's actually kind of clear. It's funny, because people always say that dry climates are the best for people with chronic illnesses and I guess that's because there's no mold, but I just love this fresh cool moist air.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Sometimes everything works out and the air is like candy

I need to go somewhere to get away from this headache, outside I guess except outside is cold and windy and intermittently pouring, I can't believe I'm thinking of going to Blow Buddies again I mean I can believe it I just wish there were somewhere else without the risk of smoke exposure, actually last time at Blow Buddies destroyed my sinuses anyway, maybe it was the heat? It's funny, I just thought that I can't go to Blow Buddies because today I didn't do my hair, I just put a hat on and made a big curl, not that anyone at Blow Buddies is excited about my hair anyway. I guess I've been hornier lately, hornier and more desperate to find some kind of escape which is maybe the same thing and maybe something else.

I walk in the door at Blow Buddies and the guy at the coat checks says what are you doing here? He means what am I doing here on a Thursday, I say I don't know. He says to the other guy working: I bet he's going to hook up with the cute little shag boy.

So then I know who to look for. I can't find him, so I'm playing with some guys up above the glory holes, I mean I'm not that into them but whatever, the guy with the beard is smiling at me I like that. Then I'm walking to the side and there he is, this short guy with a shag and a plaid shirt, kind of mod, I grab him right away we're making out until he turns away, why do they turn away I guess it's something about wondering where your mouth has been, well honey it's being here with you! He tastes like smoke, I don't care he’s sucking my dick then I'm sucking his and then where is he going? I hug him from behind and say let's go in a little room and start moving him in that direction, kissing his neck he says what time is it? I say time to go in a little room, and I open the door, and then he’s sucking my dick, he's tiny actually like a pixie with a pointy chin. Then I'm sucking his dick, so big on his little body that's always hot I'm looking up until he pulls me up and then he's jerking my dick too fast, what is this thing where someone touches me for a second and I'm already ready to come -- I mean that was happening earlier, even with the guys I wasn't attracted to. Probably it's because there's so much less touch in my life, but sometimes I wonder if it's something about aging -- I always thought it took longer to come when you were older, but maybe I was wrong. Anyway, it turns out this guy is ready to come that's why he's jerking so fast I say where do you want it but at the same time I'm back on my knees and he comes right in my face, on my shirt wow that's hot I stand up ready to shoot right then he steps back and then I'm trying to kiss him but he’s turning away, I say it's your come! He says you're crazy. He has a cute giggle and his voice is queeny, I'm kissing his neck anyway, I say at least give me a hug, he hugs me from the side, I say that's not a hug!




Why do these girls always think I'm crazy? Back at the coat check, I say you were right, look at this, thanks for the heads up -- otherwise I wouldn't have known who to look for -- I point to the come on my shirt, the guy says it's not fair, why do all the hot guys get to have sex while I'm stuck here? I say you get to go and breaks, right? He says that's never done me any good. I thought I would make him happy my thanking him, but actually he looks drearier.

Outside it's raining and I love it, rain is so great when you’re not in a hurry, and it doesn't matter if all your clothes are wet because it's the end of the night and you're going home. I probably should get in a cab right away, because otherwise I won't get a cab, but I keep walking and then I was right there are no cabs so I just keep walking, slower so I don't hurt myself but I love the rain dripping down my face the fresh air. When I get back to my apartment, I even decide to go back downstairs without my hat, so that I can feel the rain more, but it's not really raining anymore although still the street is deserted the wind is gusting and the air is like candy if candy could only be like this.