Thursday, July 31, 2008

Everything would soften




You can paint the bathroom at the Nob Hill Theatre, but unfortunately you can't cover up the scorn. I mean, sure, I can smile at everyone, why not smile, right, smile! Everyone else only knows disdain, except for the cute guy who looks familiar or wait I think he just looks familiar from the Nob Hill Theatre. I rub his back, and at least he smiles. Then leaves.

But the good news is that I realize what would make it so much better, what would make it so much better is if we could all just hug one another, right -- that would be at least seven or eight hugs instead of just seven or eight laps around sadness mixed with anger covered by disgust and texting, yes of course texting there's almost nothing worse than a faggot looking at you like you're dirt because you're doing the same thing he's doing. Except a faggot looking at you like dirt because you're doing the same thing he's doing, and then he's texting.

So in a different world we'd hug each other to say hello, just hello, because this is a sex space, right, we’re here to express ourselves in the physical realm of affection. And in that same world everyone would respect this simple gesture of connection and everything would soften.

Clothes are drying, flowers in the window, a dog on the fire escape, and the door to your heart





Wednesday, July 30, 2008

On our own

It’s funny, because when I think about Derek in my head I think she, and usually when I talk about her I say she too, but now when I’m writing about her I find myself saying he. When I say she, it’s not about Derek’s gender performance or identity, which is both masculine and male-identified, it’s about my own affection towards her. It’s about respect. I don’t consistently think about anyone I’m friends with who happened to be assigned the label “male” at birth as “he,” that just seems like some tacky acquiescence to conventional gender norms. I mean sure, here and there I’ll throw in a he or two to mix things up, but she makes a lot more sense to me.

Then of course there’s the old-school queen side of things, the politic of decentering masculinity that might make me look in the direction of some butch trade and say who, her? That lady? Right. And Derek both appreciates and invokes the queen’s vernacular, when I met her I’m pretty sure I thought of her as a queen; I’m trying to remember if she was queenier then or if I just assumed that any fag I liked must be a queen, because that’s the way I wanted it. Maybe she wanted it that way too.

Generally I think Derek has just as deep a critique of the violence of compulsory masculinity as me. But from a different direction. He frequently hears the grossest femme-hating comments from guys who are trying to impress him, trying to bond on what they perceive as a common alliance through masculinity. Derek is disgusted by such gestures. He’s deeply critical of the idea that an allegiance to masculinity from someone socialized male can ever be nonviolent. But then, he does also embody conventional masculinity.

During a relatively recent conversation with Derek that didn’t get so contentious, I was trying to remember why we never hung out when he was drinking, or at least not very often, even when we first met 16 years ago, and Derek reminded me that even then I couldn’t deal with him when he was drunk. It was because he would turn into this aggressive, macho, inarticulate asshole -- at that point, I had barely figured out how to hang out with fags, but fags who were acting like jocks? Might as well hang out with straight guys.

But I wonder if a lot of our friendship has hedged on Derek’s simultaneous embodiment and rejection of masculinity. When we first met, I was quite aware of all the ways masculinity disgusted me, the ways in which I wanted it to disappear from the earth or maybe I could disappear and find another place. But I didn’t realize the ways it also turned me on, sexually at least, and I think part of that led to my initial attraction to Derek. But his politics were so scathing, his analysis so feverish, his embrace so loving and desperate; we both wanted to build a world we could live with, could live in; I mean we wanted to live, we were trying to get ready. Derek was six years older than me, which felt like a lot and also nothing; he’d lived on the streets as a teenager, and he’d acquired knowledge of outsider cultures that nourished and inspired me. He was one of the very few people who I really looked up to, my eyes open wide to possibility.

So maybe I overlooked the ways in which the masculinity he embodied would have pushed me away if it were anyone else. And lately I’ve been watching as this masculinity becomes more pronounced and I’m not sure what that means. Where it scares me the most is when Derek gets all fatalistic about the possibilities for change in self, like when he says: I don’t trust anyone. And he means: I will never trust anyone. And he means: that’s okay. That’s just the way it is.

Or when he says: I’m stoic. That’s just the way I am.

I wonder if this leads to a tension between us. I worry that our conversations become gendered -- I’m crying and he’s holding me. I’m trying to be more vulnerable, so that he’ll open up to me. I offer support, but he doesn’t want my help. I bring up the things that bother me, and he refuses to show emotion. Except anger. I try not to say anything that will get him upset; it doesn’t work.

He’s trying to overcome his anger, although sometimes it just seems like he’s trying not to express it. It’s still there. I can feel it. Why is it directed at me? He’s doing all this work on his own, wants to remind me of that; we’re all on our own.

I don’t want to be on my own.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Typos in the building -- what do you think?


Losing something big

Here's what Derek responds: hi Mattilda, this is Derek, returning your phone call from last night -- and, you know what, I think I need a couple weeks off, so we'll talk in a couple, in a few weeks, I'll give you a call in a week or two. And I'm not quite sure if I'm going to that retreat either -- there's a forest fire about 25 miles away, 26,000 acres, so I don't know if I want to be breathing that shit in. Plus I've got a lot going on. Anyhow, I hope you're doing okay and that's it, I'll give you a call in a week or two and we'll talk about when we talk. I won't comment on any of your, any of the stuff you said over the phone -- I'll wait to do that in person. Okay, bye.

I guess there's nothing bad about that message, although I can't help noticing that he doesn't say I love you at the end, which is usually how each of us says goodbye to the other. Not 100% of the time, but definitely 85%. And in a situation like this, it feels more important. I guess I'll wait a few weeks, and see what happens. I mean I know we’ll resolve something eventually, but still I feel like I'm losing something big.

Monday, July 28, 2008

I wish I could figure something out

Things are so different when I actually sleep kind of okay, or actually it's not so much the sleep as the fact that it's more or less interrupted for 10 hours or so. Maybe that sounds like a lot but it's definitely what I need. The main difference is that everything isn't so overwhelming. For five hours I actually feel motivated but not manic, energetic and calm. Outside it's warm but dry, which is how it's supposed to be when it's warm here. I still can't walk too far without feeling like I’ll fall apart, and when I get home my body is tense all over but I don't yet feel exhausted. Then around seven I suddenly crash, so hard that I'm lying on the stretching mat, doing the feldenkrais meditation-type movement where you visualize the marble rolling down the center of your body and then a bouncing ball going up and down inside your body and I pretty much fall asleep just like that, for a few minutes at least and when I stand up everything’s cloudy again. But at least I got that five hours, five hours of something different.

I don't understand what makes my head so filled with tension, pounding no just twisted and tangled eyes viewing confusion whatever it is its confusion but more allergy face closed congestion catastrophe I mean this is the same bed in the same room as yesterday. Sure the weather is thick and humid, maybe that's it. Or maybe it's just that sleep was more stressful this is where stressful sleep leads me. I just wish I could figure something out, some formula that would work and bring me to something like calm or rest yes rest on a regular basis.

I leave a voicemail for Derek: hi darling, we haven't talked in a while but I've been thinking about you and I already miss you. I don't understand the anger you were directing at me during our last conversation, and what you were saying felt scripted and formulaic and maybe it related to some hypothetical relationship but not ours. I guess I felt like you had this purposeful desire to prevent me from expressing myself or my emotions and I haven't seen that before -- I felt like you were snide and dismissive in a way that scared me. Maybe next Tuesday is too soon to get together, but let me know about your plans and when you're going on your meditation retreat, and maybe we should wait to meet after you get back, but just let me know what you're thinking. Call any time. Love you.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Kind of both

This guy grabs my dick like there's nothing else to me, I don't understand that kind of sex. I kiss his neck, even though I can't tell if I'm attracted to him -- it's always good to try and see. But then I'm kind of bored and maybe he's kind of bored, and then we're both definitely bored so that's enough. Oh, there's the one guy I am attracted to -- it's his big wavy hair and maybe somehow the green t-shirt but mostly it's because the look he's working relates to me in some way -- at Blow Buddies, most people are working old-school leather realness, post-circuit meltdown, or straight guy from the suburbs. I know I’ve mentioned that before but still I sink into something like apathy until there's that one guy so I hug him and he almost falls over, he says sorry I'm kind of drunk. I say that's okay. He says no, I mean I have to regain my balance, so then he’s stumbling away and I do the runway for a few minutes, glancing in the little rooms and there he is standing at a glory hole -- I guess that helps to regain your balance -- you can just lean against the wall, right -- and even if you fall, then you'll hit another wall. The guy in the room next to him is just staring at this guy's hard dick, why is he just staring? Then he leaves and I'm inside within seconds; he even holds the door for me.

Now I understand that kind of sex where there's nothing but someone's dick, and these glory holes aren't as uncomfortable as most I mean the wall almost supports my head. Maybe my neck won't even hurt afterwards. This guy likes to pull away from time to time and push his balls through cotton up against my face that's all right and then back to his dick I can tell he's getting close but then he does that thing where right when he's about to come he pulls away and buttons up without acknowledging me. I kind of expected that, but somehow it still catches me in that place of wanting more. I guess that's what it's supposed to do.

Looks like I won't have to see him walking around in circles for the next few hours because there he is checking out. I touch him and he gives me a look of complete disdain -- but the good part is that I don't let it phase me at all, I look him in the eyes with nothing but lust and it feels great. The next guy is someone who I'm not really attracted to, but I'm not unattracted to him either, which is true of most people here, and I like the way he holds my hand. We go in one of the booths it's like the entryway to the darkroom in my high school a round portal to block out the light. I'm ready for a hug, but he goes right down to suck -- it's not exactly what I want but I understand the methodology -- you better get it while you have the chance, right? That's what these places are all about, but in spite of his big lips and ability to take it all without moving, somehow his teeth are scratching scratching scratching me anyway. When he eventually stands up we're hugging and that's nice but I get tired like I'm ready for a nap and then I don't feel so present.

In the video room I'm realizing that the good thing about a place like this is that I can inhabit so many moods, no it's not a good thing yet because going into the maze I feel myself sinking into a hole but then I'm upstairs seducing this big Latino guy with fake diamond studs, not because I thought he was hot I mean he's hot enough but it was the way he cruised me that's when I noticed. I'm hugging him and grinding against him and it's funny because suddenly I have this charge like I can take control of any situation. But then I can't tell what he wants, so I say do you want me to suck your cock? He says oh, they already did that, a lot of that, which I think is hilarious: they already did that. They? He's one of the suburban straight guys, for sure.

So that's actually when I realize that the good thing about a place like this is that I can inhabit so many moods, right? But then I've been there too long, and a realization about moods can only last so long except now I actually want to come. Most of the crowd is the people who look like they've never left but there's this one guy with a harness on I mean I'm not necessarily attracted to harnesses but there's something about his big eyes. I'm standing against a wall in the dark, across from him against a wall in the dark and we’re staring at one another I mean doesn't harness mean you want someone to beckon you over I'm motioning with my eyes and chin but no motion from him, then with my hand but whatever for this scene, I'm over there sucking his dick and then everyone's around us so he wants to go upstairs or outside. I pick outside, right there's more air outside. We bump into someone who says this is like a maze, it's like a maze in here.

No, it is a maze. Outside with this new guy he’s sucking my dick and good it's finally everything, I mean everything is the exchange of our bodies moving into all these positions you wouldn't realize you could achieve standing up unless you’ve spent a lot of time in places like these. Like how am I grabbing his calves while he’s sucking my cock the back of his head while he’s pumping my face but especially I like my hand squeezing his ass and then I start to come and he pulls away but it’s fast enough that it doesn't ruin the thrust into the high where I'm hugging him and kissing his smoky lips and squeezing him tight and when he asks for my name he doesn't register any concern at the result and then I'm dancing to some song in the video room, what is this song I actually like it? Some disco song but they don't usually play disco here. I ask the guy who's in full ‘70s clone regalia, complete with a bushy mustache that’s so big it almost looks fake except he's the real thing, I mean he's probably had that mustache since the ‘70s. It's such a popular look for the uber-trendy faggots 30 years younger and I wonder what they think of guys like this one, probably just perfect and splendid when pictured in a tattered magazine weathered with age otherwise stay away. This guy comes closer, looks me in the eyes and his face almost the color of silly putty it's startling, where does he go during the day is what I'm wondering. Somehow he manages to get right next to me without moving his hand away from his Viagra’d cock and he says: I... like... orgy... videos.

I look up at the porn, some waxed specimen in a cage -- is this an orgy? The guy working coatcheck says he thinks this is a ‘90s song and he's probably right, that must be why I'm dancing. You gotta beat the clock you gotta beat the clock and I'm slow with technology so I probably wouldn't have looked it up online except that's what he suggests, sure enough it's 1998 but it's from a band from the ‘70s so I guess it's kind of both.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

But the air is finally dry, the sun goes down and it's gorgeous

Another warm day...

This space of loss

I shifted so suddenly into this space of loss; it's only been three days, but already I miss Derek. I keep wanting to call him and tell him things -- So Many Ways to Sleep Badly is already in the window at City Lights! Do you think this supplement is making me wired? I just read the BAR -- now I remember why I don't read the BAR: I end up knowing too much about everything that's awful about San Francisco and the gays and then I feel hopeless.

Instead of calling Derek, I look at the red velvet pillow on the sofa, and think: that's the pillow Derek leans against. I put some coleslaw on my plate, and I think: that's the coleslaw Derek made for me. I hear the lights humming and I think: that's because of that dimmer switch Derek installed. When will Derek be over again?

But when I think of calling him my stomach gets tight and I think about all of his rage. Gina wants to know the details, but we both have to go in a few minutes so I try to summarize but I just end up speaking twice as fast and then my whole body hurts and I feel sad again. I thought talking about it would make me feel better.

I start to plan a voicemail to leave for Derek after he's asleep, but then I get too tired because I haven't been sleeping so well, or actually I sleep okay for several hours but then I wake up and once I'm awake for a certain amount of time then it's like the sleep just reverses right out of me and then I'm sitting here thinking about loss.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Look at these gorgeous colors!

All that hatred

I'm thinking about all that hatred Derek directed my way and I guess I'm still in shock. I don't really understand. I still wonder what he wants from our friendship, that's one of the questions I didn't get to ask. I don't understand what I said that he could have interpreted as a dismissal. I mean, at one point he said: I think I've been a good friend. I said: of course you have, you've been an amazing friend! I don't understand why he looked at me with all that rage, looked at me like I wasn't worth anything except spite, looked at me kind of like that time when he was on the highest dose of psych meds and his pupils got all tiny and one time he said: wouldn't it be great to know how to gut an animal with your bare hands?

And this time he was looking at me.

I was trying to remember when the conversation happened, how long it's been I mean I know it was on Tuesday because we get together every Tuesday now that Derek goes to meditation on Sundays. But then I thought wait, Tuesday -- that was two days ago. Oh, it's only been two days.

My throat feels a bit raw because when I'm stressed I hold my chest up and out, Killer said that's where grief is stored -- and that makes sense. I haven't been able to feel the grief yet, I mean I felt it right away but I stopped myself from crying because Derek wasn't giving me that space. Sure, I could've taken it, but it felt hopeless. I caught myself thinking -- if you want me to be hold it all in, I'll hold it in. Which is terrible. Our relationships shouldn't be an endurance competition. It never has been. It's always been so nurturing.

I already miss Derek, and it's only been two days. When the phone rings, I wonder: maybe that's him. Even though he's not going to call. I'll be the one who calls first. Then I worry: what if it is him, and he says something awful. Then I wonder whether I want to call, if he's going to respond to me with so much rage. Maybe a letter would be better. Next week Derek is going away for a 10-day silent vipassana meditation, maybe I'll call and leave a message saying I don't want to talk until he gets back. Or maybe I should send a letter beforehand, a letter telling him how I feel again. Except, I guess, how I feel is what set him off. But I still need to tell him.

What did he say? Something about how he's been having conflicts with everyone he's close to and I was being manipulative because I -- because I told him things I felt resentful about, so I wouldn't feel resentful anymore? I don't understand what he thought I was trying to manipulate him into doing. Into feeling bad -- that's what he was saying, even though I don't have any interest in that. I actually thought he would listen, and then it would be okay. Maybe he felt bad anyway, and that made him angry. I keep trying to think: what did I do wrong? I can think of a few things that I would have phrased differently, like when I said maybe that's what you heard, but that's not what I meant. I could have said: maybe that's what I said, but that's not what I meant. I was going back and forth in my head just beforehand too, so I'm not actually sure which one I chose.

But those are small choices. Overall, I think I was totally respectful, I acted with an incredible amount of love and even generosity and I thought I was honoring his request to be more involved in my internal process I was trying to share. I wanted to share something we maybe don't have anymore, it's so intense that suddenly everything is on the brink. I know that's a lot to think after just two conversations, I know that we might resolve everything, I just don't feel so optimistic.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

And during the day...


Advance copies of So Many Ways are now available!!!!

Two months early -- who knew?

They're available exclusively from City Lights, and even at a 30% discount online -- yay!

Your issues

It probably doesn't feel like it's been a week, because it took me a while to write about the last part. But it's been a week. Derek is tense right away and I think about asking, except that I know, I mean I know he's tense because we're going to have another conversation. When he hugs me, it's not really a hug. I mean he pulls back. We talk briefly about things that matter, but don't matter to our relationship. Then I say what did you think about our last conversation?

Derek says I was really angry afterwards and I've been thinking about it all week and I'm still really angry. It felt like you were being manipulative. I've been having conflicts with everyone I'm close to and I felt like you were taking advantage of me. The things you were talking about -- my relationship with Alex, I mean that was 12 years ago. And my alcoholism -- we've talked about that before: I'm a different person and I've been doing a lot of work on myself. I feel like you played a part in all that and you should've pulled away and taken care of yourself, even if what you did do was one of the reasons I stopped drinking. You should've taken care of yourself. Those are your issues, and you have to let it go. It felt like you were dumping on me. I feel like we've never been good about talking about difficult things in our relationship, we've never been good about that but I feel like you were being manipulative.

I already feel like I'm losing Derek. He's so angry, a couple of times I can tell he's about to cry but then he covers it with more anger. I uncross my legs, probably I'm holding tension there. I lean my elbows on the table, so that I don't hold my body too upright. I breathe, keep breathing. Breathe.

I wait a minute after Derek has finished speaking. I say: thank you for telling me how you're feeling. I have a lot of questions about our relationship and how you see the world and how you see our relationship in the world, but I won't ask them now because that might be kind of distracting. Before we talked last week, I thought the hardest part for me would be telling you how I was feeling, because I’ve become so scared about critiquing you, but I thought I was being irrational and you would be able to listen. What I realized is that I wasn't being irrational, that actually you couldn't deal and I'm not sure that you can deal with any critique.

Derek interrupts me: those are your issues.

I say: yes, those are my issues, but they're also issues in our relationship, and that involves both of us.

Derek says: I don't have to be in this relationship.

I say: you're right, you don't have to be in this relationship. I didn't realize I was keeping you in a relationship, but what I'm trying to say is that last week all I wanted to do was to tell you how I was feeling, all I wanted was for you to listen. It didn't have to be adversarial.

Derek has this snide fake smile on his face like he doesn't believe me -- I've never seen that before. He's trying not to empathize with me and I could cry but I hold in because I know he doesn't want me to cry, he doesn't want to support me. He interrupts me again: you said everyone I dated has been stupid.

What? What are you talking about?

You did -- you said everyone I dated was stupid.

I think I said...

You did -- those were your exact words, you said stupid.

That's never even entered my mind. Obviously you heard me say something like that, but that's never even entered my mind. I think some of the people you’ve dated have been brilliant.

That snide fake smile again and he's totally enraged, I start to say something and he interrupts me: that's not your business. When I look him in the eyes, just to see what's going on, he looks at me like it's an endurance test, a staring contest and he's going to win. I look away. I can't even remember what I was going to say. When I look at him to see what's wrong, like you would look at a friend, he looks at me again like we’re in the military no he's in the military and we’re enemies -- he's not going to let any of those enemy thoughts in.

My stomach is a mess; I go to the bathroom, but I can't shit. When I come back out, Derek has opened the window to the fire escape and he’s staring out. I put the carrots and celery in my beans to cook, put some more food on a plate, sit back down at the table. Derek looks at me with all this rage that he's trying to keep in, I almost feel like he's going to hit me. I mean I know he's not going to hit me, but that's what it feels like. I say you're not listening to me. He says I don't feel like you're listening to me either. I say I can't talk to you. He stands up and pushes his chair back, picks up his bag, turns and walks away, out the door. I lock it.

After Derek leaves I'm shaking, I call Grant but I can't form sentences. I keep mumbling or talking really fast and I'm not breathing. It's because I didn't experience what I was feeling in the moment, I mean I held back because Derek didn't want to give me that space. He didn't want to help me feel safe. I haven't done that in a while -- held everything in like with my father -- and it feels horrible. I mean horrible. I mean I didn't even do it when I visited my father before he died, that's what felt so great -- even though nothing was safe, I was still able to express myself. And here I am with the friend I generally feel the most comfortable with, and I'm shutting myself off.

I keep repeating the things Derek said: those are your issues. Those are your issues. I don't have to be in this relationship. I don't have to be in this relationship. I don't have to be in this relationship. You're dumping on me. That's none of your business. You're dumping on me. That's none of your business. You said everyone I dated was stupid. I don't have to be in this relationship. I don't have to be in this relationship. Those are your issues. Those are your issues.

I kind of feel like I was talking with someone in a cult, he was speaking with all this AA language but it didn't really relate to our relationship. I mean I believe that you can take things that you learn from different healing modalities and apply them to the details of your life and that can be empowering, but this just felt formulaic, like he’d planned it out and he'd already decided he wasn't going to give me any space. I definitely think AA has helped Derek in certain ways, helped him not to drink and helped him to build a support system around that. Even though I offered so many times to be part of that support system, I mean direct help in crisis moments, he didn't want to be vulnerable like that around me I guess. So I'm glad he has AA -- he's definitely in a much better place than when he was drinking. But it really felt like he sat down with his sponsor and planned out what he wanted to say or even that his sponsor suggested some of these things, and then he just said them without thinking about the actual reality of our lives together. He even said: my sponsor remembered that we had a conversation about my relationship with Alex five years ago.

I said: I'm sure that's true, but the problem is that every time we have a conversation, you say it's too much to talk about right away and I say that's fine, take some time to think about it and get back to me. And you never get back to me -- I don't think you've gotten back to me once.

Those are your issues. And sure, if he wants me to I will own my feelings of abandonment when he went out with Alex and left me here -- yes, that was 12 years ago. Twelve years is a long time. Really I just wanted him to listen to how I was feeling, even if I think it's ridiculous it's what I feel and when I was talking about how it comes out, that's the part about the people he's dated: I said it made me think who is this stupid person, but then I realized that actually it wasn't about that relationship, it was about my feeling abandoned. Maybe I even wanted to say it so that I could let it go, but I guess now that I'm thinking about it more maybe I also want him to say that's not something he'll do it again. I know he's been working on those issues over the last few years, the way he gets totally tied up in a new relationship and so he's been resisting that pattern, but he's never talked about how that pattern has affected our relationship.

But if I can own that feeling of abandonment, even if I don't really think it's just about me, there's no way in hell that I can say that the fact that he was a disastrous irresponsible drunk on a bunch of psych meds that made him totally nihilistic and at the same time he was a compulsive liar about everything -- there's no way in hell that I can say those are my issues. And it's hard for me to imagine that by sharing my emotions I'm being manipulative. I mean, I actually have the opposite problem -- I hold everything in and Derek knows that. It makes me sick that he would accuse me of using these emotions that are so hard for me to articulate as some kind of twisted game.

Everything he said felt hyper-individualistic -- I'm doing my work; you need to let go of that; those are your issues; I don't have to be in this relationship. And he wouldn't let me speak, that's what I meant when I said you're not listening to me. It's hard for me to imagine that he really thought I wasn't listening, when I sat there so outwardly calm and allowed him to say anything he wanted without trying to cut him off -- I mean no, I didn't agree with him -- that's a different story. I didn't even get to say half of what I wanted to.

All his rage and the irony is that’s what his rage feels like when he's holding it all in, I mean when he's trying to hold it all in. I wonder if we’re in a committed relationship, I mean what the commitment means to him.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

What's okay

Somewhere in the conversation I ask Derek what he wants from our relationship, I mean because it used to be us against the world and then when I first got back to San Francisco he said he didn't want that anymore and so I started thinking about finding different people for different needs, but I wonder about the other model we used to share, the model that you just get more and more vulnerable with someone and then when you're more vulnerable than you ever imagined you just keep revealing more and the relationship gets deeper. That's still my ideal relationship.

Derek says well I definitely don't want us against the world, and I say I don't necessarily want that either, but what about the other part, about vulnerability, because sometimes I think you don't want that either, I mean you definitely didn't want that seven years ago so I'm wondering what you want now. Derek says I don't know, and I say well why don't you think about it and get back to me. That's what I always say when Derek says he hasn't thought about something, or something is too much, but he never gets back to me. We only have these conversations when I initiate them. A year ago, which was our last conversation about the five-year period when Derek was all strung-out, and he asked what he could do to make me feel safer, I said I'd like it if you would check in and ask me how I feel about are relationship, so I don't have to be the one who brings it up all the time. He hasn't asked me once.

I wanted to ask how he sees himself in relationship to the world, because I think we used to see ourselves in similar ways I mean I know that's how we expressed it -- the world was a horrible place and we were looking for people to hold onto, to feel like it was worth it. Worth it to go on, worth it to keep fighting, worth it to keep crafting ourselves into and out of delicate messes, worth it to challenge every aspect of ourselves, worth it to challenge every aspect of the world around us. I still see things in somewhat similar ways, I mean I have less hope for the idea of chosen family that was so important to us then, less hope because the people that were supposedly family have let me down so much and I start to believe what Benjamin said a while back: family is something so awful that it shouldn't be reclaimed.

But I do believe in challenging every aspect of ourselves, every aspect of the world around us, and building some kind of beauty and defiance in the ruins of ourselves and what we are trying to make. Even when I was talking to Derek about anger, I wasn't expressing my anger. I don't know if that's okay. I don't know what's okay.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Dealing

I say when I first moved back to San Francisco, and you were on all those psych meds and drinking all the time and lying about everything and you couldn't deal with any critique, that's where I got this pattern of thinking about everything for months until I could talk about it without an emotional attachment I mean I could say the same thing I just didn't feel like I was about to die. I mean I did that for five years, and the same thing was true with Jeremy and that was around the same time but that was just nine months. With you it went on longer, and now I do the same thing with everyone and I want to ask you to help me to feel more secure.

As soon as I start talking, I notice that Derek pulls back, inside himself and he gets all tense. I guess I didn't expect that -- I thought we could have this kind of conversation without tension and I say that but he says: those are your issues and you need to deal with them. I say yes, those are my issues but they're about my relationship with you and there are two people in that relationship and I'm trying to involve you in my process instead of figuring everything out in my head, you always say that’s what you want.

Then I say I feel ridiculous about this, because it happened so long ago, but I never really felt angry about it, and that's when Joanne died and I came back to San Francisco and I was staying with you and you were my support system and Alex and I had just started talking again since he didn't talk to me for over a year after we broke up and we then just randomly ran into one another and supposedly it was okay. And the three of us made plans to go to a bonfire in Corona Heights and I had to cancel at the last minute and you two went and I guess you were madly drawn to one another and had to have sex at that moment and then you ended up moving to Oregon together and leaving me and I didn't even want to be in San Francisco. This is where I start crying, but what really makes me sad is that Derek pulls away further, even moving his foot so that it isn't touching mine. What I want him to do when I cry is to hold me, that's always what I want. Instead I get that release but also it’s distance I'm not looking for distance. This is when Caleb says catharsis.

I say I'm talking about it now, because I didn't really feel angry at the time except right away -- I decided that I liked seeing you together and then we ended up in a three-way relationship, or not a three-way relationship but I ended up facilitating your relationship like whenever something would go wrong you would both call me. And I know it's been 10 years but I realize that it comes up in weird ways, so when you're talking about another relationship I feel annoyed and dismissive and I don't want to feel that way.

Derek says you need to let that go. I say I'm not interested in letting go, I'm trying to tell you how I'm feeling. Derek says why are you telling me all of this? I say I'm telling you because I don't want to hold these resentments inside and you've asked me to do that but then when I say something you can't deal. I say listen, mostly what I'm talking about is that five year period when you couldn't deal with any kind of critique and you were always lying about everything and right when I first saw you on the psych meds I said they change your personality, they make you more manic and more depressed, and then when you were drinking you were always lying about everything and I said right away: why are you always lying about everything? But you couldn't deal at all -- you would get enraged and then I would hold it all inside because I didn't want to lose you.

Derek says we've talked about this before and at that time I pulled away from everyone, I mean I thought about killing myself every day it was a terrible time and I know I was not present in our relationship and if there's anything I can do to help you feel better just let me know. I say thank you, I can definitely think of some things, but in the past that's something you’ve said you didn't want me to do so I'm trying to give you the opportunity to participate. Derek says why are you trying to make me feel bad? You should have pulled away; you should have taken care of yourself. I say I'm not trying to make you feel bad. Derek says I just listened to you for 10 minutes, and we've already talked about these things before, we've had two conversations about the same things. I have too much confrontation going on in my life right now and this is overwhelming.

Now he's angry and trying to hold it in, I'm angry and trying to let it out. I say do you want physical distance from me, I'm asking you because I don't. Derek says yes. I say I just wanted to make that clear, I think we can still have this conversation and hold one another and it doesn't have to be adversarial, but of course I'm going to respect your desire for distance.

I say you're right, we've had two conversations about some of the same things, but three conversations about a five-year period doesn't seem like a lot to me. Derek says maybe you're right, maybe we need to talk more, but I'm not feeling good about this, I'm not feeling good at all. I say I'm not feeling good either. Derek says I think I'm going to leave. I say do you want a hug? Derek says yes. We hug goodbye, and I feel some sort of sad resignation I'm not sure what's next.

I'm thinking about how, when we started talking, Derek said I feel really good about our relationship I feel like something shifted over the last six months and I feel closer to you I don't have much to say I feel really good. I feel good too, I mean I felt good I guess I thought that the hard part would be speaking, I thought my fears were rational and really Derek would be supportive and listen well and it would all be fine. He’d listen and then it would be okay. That's all I wanted. I always used to believe that talking made things better I mean that was something I learned with Derek something we learned a long time ago something I still believe. The truth is that Derek usually can't deal, I mean on my birthday all I said was: when you got all grumpy it shut me down. And he said: I wasn't grumpy, maybe I was a little bit annoyed. And I said okay, when you got annoyed it shut me down. And Derek said I thought I was doing a good job of not showing it. But never: I'm sorry I shut you down.

He wants me to say what I'm feeling in the moment, but when I say what I'm feeling in the moment he can't deal. Even when I said it annoys me when you look to your cell phone all the time while were hanging out, he couldn't even deal with that. And then when I think about something for a while before bringing it up, he can't deal it that either.

But the worst thing he said was you should have pulled away, you should've taken care of yourself. He meant I should have dropped him as a friend, which wasn't what I wanted. If I’d pulled away for five years, we wouldn't still be friends -- there's just no way. I mean it's never happened before. Derek probably wasn't thinking that, but I'm not sure.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

What went wrong

I'm trying to think about what went wrong with the conversation, I mean where it went wrong or why I mean I thought it was going to be a good conversation but it wasn't. Sure, there was that moment of release when I suddenly felt calm instead of shaking inside and maybe outside too and freezing, really freezing does emotional release make you freezing no that's nerves.

But usually I get sweaty when I'm nervous.

The release only lasted a moment, Derek said catharsis I think that's a good word. I asked him if that's what he was looking for. No. He kept saying this is too much, too much to think about he hadn't expected it but he always says that. That's why I suggested ahead of time that we have a conversation about our relationship, when we were actually getting along and not in a sudden emergency and he would have as much time to think about it ahead of time at me. But then it became an emergency anyway. And I don't know why.

Usually there's something so nurturing about our relationship on such a deep level and sure, part of that comes from knowing each other for 16 years, believing in some of the same dreams although maybe that's changing but still there's the history of yearning together. And so I said I feel confident about the longevity of our relationship, I feel safe in so many ways and I trust you on a deep level but still I don't feel secure.

I get so nervous about such tiny things, my whole body clenches I stop breathing I wait till the end of the conversation to say: do you think it would be better to meet at my house, because it's easier to the physically close? I mean because we can sit in my kitchen or on the sofas, but at your house it's me sitting on the chair while you're in bed unless I get in bed with you and that's only comfortable for so long. That was over the phone and he said sure but I was scared I don't like being scared all the time even when I'm not scared maybe I'm scared.

And when we were talking a week or two ago and I was saying that it used to be that direct action activism or my friends were the most important thing in my life, and maybe it would alternate back and forth, but over the last few years I feel like it's been my writing and in some ways that's because of disappointments with activism and friends and then I thought about you and our friendship and whether you were an exception. And I realize that actually you're the reason I've pulled back my expectations. Maybe I don't have the same dreams I mean I want the same things but maybe I don't dream.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Look!



So many hours

A message from Gina: Hi, I haven't gone to sleep yet -- I have this birthday barbecue to go to at 3 p.m., so I'm just not going to take a nap first I’m just going to go and then I'll go to bed after. I'm just calling to say hi, I know it's not a decent hour -- but guess what, you were right -- there is NO DECENT HOUR. That has been my problem in getting back to you all week. I fail every time because it's not a decent hour and you know what, you know why -- there's 24 of them and not one of them is decent! Who picked them? 24 -- you would think at least one out of 24 would be decent, and there isn't one, Mattilda -- there is not one! 1 a.m. 2 a.m. 3 a.m. 4 a.m. 5 a.m. 6 a.m. 7 a.m. 8 a.m. 9 a.m. -- these ones are terrible -- 10 a.m. 11 a.m. 12 p.m. 1 p.m. 2 p.m. 3 p.m. this is torture thinking about, isn't it -- 4 p.m. 5 p.m. 6 p.m. 7 p.m. 8 p.m. 9 p.m. 10 p.m. 11 p.m., okay? Don't you have a wide range of emotion when you think of these times -- this is probably total fucking hell for you, I probably shouldn't be talking about it, but I have really strong feelings about those hours, I almost want to write them down. Or take a survey about what people think about at each hour, so many hours.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Absolutely necessary

Okay, okay -- here's what I liked about it: it took just under 30 minutes from leaving the house to jumping in a cab to arriving at the hotel to getting in the elevator to opening his door to taking the money to pulling down my pants to pulling up my pants to washing up in the bathroom to going downstairs to walking home. He was sweet and queeny, he smiled in appreciation when I arrived and said that was fast! He looked familiar, I liked that feeling like maybe we'd met before and this was a reunion. The money was on the table, like I requested, and he even pointed it out so I could take it ahead of time. He said: I like your sleeves, and your hair -- do you get dressed up like this for all your late-night callers? And, at the end: did you get all your clothes in one store -- I like your look, I like all of it!

I liked when he said your fly is down, and I said I don't want anyone to think I'm a slut, and then I hugged him, even though it wasn't something he requested. I liked walking back, and seeing the two bright red Audis that didn't even look particularly luxurious, sitting on illuminated platforms on the sidewalk in front of the Clift Hotel. I liked laughing at that, and pointing and saying isn't that so tacky, I mean that's supposed to be a luxury hotel! And the guy I was talking to, standing in his suit with his cellphone, just stared at me like he'd never seen anything like it, I mean me. I liked that. I liked walking home, because that meant I went on three walks today and I'm trying to walk more and it always feels better later at night when my body isn't as much of a mess and there's less pollution even though now there's so much pollution all the time.

I didn't like the way the trick was so insistent about sucking my cock even though that's what we talked about ahead of time, and he bit me -- ouch -- and when I pulled back he looked at me like what's the matter? I didn't like coming so fast although I did like it because it was fast I didn't really like it. But the worst part was right afterwards when I felt sad, really sad, and even though I planned it so I would come because if I'm going to cruise for bad sex online I might as well just have bad sex and make money -- even though that was the plan, I felt sad after I came and that reminded me of one of my rules when I was actually a hooker, I mean I never liked to come unless it was absolutely necessary.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Full citizens?

I thought you were ready

At feldenkrais I learn that if I let my jaw relax, then my shoulder doesn't hurt as much, actually that's the key and it sounds simple but it's like a revelation. I think it's the same thing in bed, sometimes I can't fall asleep until suddenly I feel something give like my sphincter muscle and that's connected on the other end to my jaw so this is the awareness that's what feldenkrais is about. Of course I'm ready for the next step too, when sleep is nothing but a dream, right?

Donna thinks that when my father raped me, he approached from the left side, because everything on the left side of my body is more traumatized. She tries it out, I'm sitting on the table at the end of the session and she moves to the left, look at me. She's tapping her fingers on her knees almost like she's nervous at first I think why are you tapping your fingers but I think it's to gauge my reaction. I kind of feel scared, like something's going to happen. She says see how you lift your nose and your breathing gets constricted?

I say why don't you try the other side, because maybe I just feel scared and traumatized whenever I turn to the side. Donna moves over, and I look to the right and it's much easier, actually it's kind of relaxing. Donna says do you ever turn to the left, and I do because at home the only place someone can sit at my kitchen table is to the left, but then my chairs rotate so I always turn to face them. But at a movie theater, I usually sit on the right, right at the aisle, so that means I'm turned to the left while I'm watching the movie, and that doesn't seem to bother me. Donna says maybe because you're comfortable that the screen isn't going to move.

Then I realize it's also that I sit at the aisle so that I can get out easily, another impulse for safety that's more important than the direction I'm turning but generally actually at a movie I think I like to turn to the left. Or, no -- at the Red Vic it’s to the right -- whichever side is closer to the door. I'm thinking about the first movie I went to, Alice in Wonderland when I was maybe four, my father and I went to the theater in Wheaton which now seems strange because we never went to Wheaton unless we were going to Wheaton Gardens or to pick up my father's papers from Flora Paoli, the woman who typed them with all the cats, there were always new cats and years later we were allowed to adopt two.

But anyway the theater and I think my father was sitting to the right and Alice kept falling and falling I can remember mushrooms and maybe animals and her hair and at some point I started screaming I'm pretty sure it was my father's hands that scared me not the movie but maybe it was that place of shutting off and the dark and not so much my father's hands as that place almost like sleep I wanted to scream. No I might've been crying, not screaming I know I was scared but in any case we left -- my father said I thought you were ready for a movie but I guess you're too young.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Sudden awareness

I'm thinking about the last time I was in DC, my mother and I went to this Chinese restaurant in Georgetown that I guess must have said online that it had lots of vegan or vegetarian specialties or something and it was downstairs and kind of glamorous in that renovated-in-the-‘70s but untouched since then sort of way. I ordered big plates of steamed vegetables because I was worried about restaurant oil ruining my digestion for days like it often does. Afterwards, we were standing outside and my mother acted all nervous about the guys coming out of this bar a few doors down, actually she was nervous beforehand too -- she didn't want me to get out of the car right away. Just your standard drunk white jocks that are all over Georgetown, I wasn't really sure what my mother was nervous about. She said I don't like the way they look; she didn't want me to walk down the street alone, and I realized actually she was worried about me I said listen I deal with this all the time. She insisted on waiting for me to get a cab I thought it was kind of funny, I mean at 61 it was a bit late for her to have some sudden awareness about structural homophobia, especially considering that when I came out to her 15 years before she wanted me to see a therapist so I could change things, she knew just the one who would be the best choice, Charles Socarides the specialist in conversion therapy with the gay son, she didn't know about that son though.

Then, when I got bashed just blocks from this restaurant, 1993 I was making out with my boyfriend, no wait he wasn't my boyfriend yet we’d just met but this was one of the things that would make us closer. I mean when he took care of me. Two jocks came up said what are you doing I said kissing and went back to it. Then something into my eyes just pain directly into my eyes right outside the 24-hour restaurant where I used to go in high school, inside throwing water into my eyes that's where I saw the red I thought paint, they said take this outside. Cabs wouldn't stop but finally we got to the Georgetown University Hospital where they pumped saline directly into my eyes they said it was lucky I came soon otherwise I might have lost my vision.

Anyway, the next day after all that, the next day my mother said I wish you wouldn't be so overt.

It's funny the things people notice when they walk around with me and the attention I get, I mean I'm used to it -- positive and negative I'm still good at engaging, sometimes people I'm with notice things that don't even phase me or things I barely register or I notice things they don't notice but anyway sometimes it's confusing. Maybe that's what was happening with my mother, I actually didn't make the connection with the bashing just blocks away until now and I wonder if that's what she was thinking.

The irony is that there's a way in which an older person passing as straight, walking with a younger person flamingly queer, can actually make the queer person safer from bashers who don't want to thwart convention so brazenly. Kill the queer, sure, but her mother? I'm thinking about this right now, not because I felt in danger on that night in Georgetown, and certainly not because my mother made me feel safer, since that's something she's refused to do over and over. It only served her to get all panicky all the sudden, worried about my safety from drunk white jocks in Georgetown or black people along 14th Street it was only some way to shift attention away from her own violence, starting shortly after my birth and continuing into the present. I'm worried about you really means: help me to feel better about myself. Help me.

But to take this away from my mother for a moment, I'm wondering about this strategy of older straight people walking with queers to make us safer, not as a coincidence but as a conscious effort of intergenerational support. Of course this goes beyond walking to actually engaging to stop homophobic attacks, an engagement from straight people that I've never witnessed. And yet in some ways it would be so easy for them, barely even a risk in some places. Like my mother walking me to the corner, I mean not in this case when I didn't even request it, when it was just silly and self-centered, but what if she was just a random person walking down the street and someone said faggot I'm going to kill you and she turned and said: that's my son! I know it's not quite the image of homos bash back or even gay safety patrols, yet nonetheless I wonder about the possibilities of this type of solidarity.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Segregation

I'm thinking that when my mother says segregated, she really means black. Because that's what she said when she went to pick me up at the place where I was staying in DC during my last book tour -- she said she didn't feel safe, because the neighborhood was so segregated. Which was funny, because I was staying in a house with queers and straight people -- white, Latino, Asian -- and even the daughter of one of the dykes. Sure, the neighborhood was mostly black people, but DC is a majority black city, so I didn't think much of it. When my mother said she didn't feel safe, because the neighborhood was so segregated, I said what about the neighborhood where you live? At the time she was still living in the suburbs, in the house where I grew up, in a neighborhood where I don't think I ever saw a single person who wasn’t white. Unless they were one of my friends, coming over the house, their parents driving them from other neighborhoods that maybe were also segregated.

Not that we ever socialized with our neighbors, except maybe on Halloween when we were ringing doorbells asking for candy. Our lives were in the city, but we lived in the suburbs. My mother said you're right, that was a very segregated neighborhood, and I didn't feel safe there either. She said: if someone came up to the door, I would've thought one of two things: either you're here to rape me, or to kill me.

And this stunned me, because she'd lived there in privilege for 30 years. It was a choice. But she'd hated it.

At the time of this conversation, I pointed out to my mother that these were nice row houses where people lived, some of them for generations; many of them owned their houses, and entire neighborhoods like this were being torn down to make way for luxury condos like the one my mother and father had bought. Where she was about to move. I said: don't you think that's horrible? And she agreed: yes, it's horrible, it's not right. So I tried to make a leap, and said maybe when you move in, you should figure out a way to do something in the neighborhood to help the people who are being displaced, maybe you could volunteer somewhere and provide free social work services or something. I knew she wasn't going to change her mind and decide not to move there or anything, I knew that at best this would be some liberal guilt moment and at worst she'd end up fucking up people's lives and thinking she was helping them but I figured maybe she could do some small useful thing for someone. I don't know who that would really help, but there's some weird place inside me where I want my mother to have some kind of political awakening, even if that sounds preposterous.

My mother responded quickly: oh no I could never do that.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Just the other side of exhaustion

Two nights of terrible sleep in a row and this one's the worst -- probably half the time I'm in bed I'm completely awake, at first I'm relaxed about it, but then it becomes that endurance routine when I want to get up but if I get up then I'll have to eat and I don't want to get back into that pattern again. I'm thinking maybe I can't sleep because the homeopathic remedy stopped working these days they stop working so fast I need to find a thyroid doctor call Layna Berman to find out the rest of the supplements she recommends maybe find a therapist too much suppressed anger it's so warm in here with all this humidity, when will it go away? Eventually I can feel that point where the wired fades into a dark hole, this is what I would be feeling if I got up too but the good part is that then my body feels more relaxed like I'm sinking into the bed this happened last night and then I had beautiful calming dreams but now, every time I almost get there my ear starts itching or my shoulder hurts or the eye mask starts the retreating my face or I have to move the towel that covers the eye mask to block the rest of the light and then I'm wired again. Thinking no, just day in bed as long as possible, even if I get up at 5 p.m. then I'll just take a cab to feldenkrais or maybe I should call Donna and ask if she could come to me I'm not sure if I'm going to be able to go outside if I don't fall asleep again.

Eventually I get up, more or less at the usual time -- 2:40 p.m. At first I feel awful and sad like any trouble could send me to a permanent state of collapse, but strangely then I'm wired, probably just the other side of exhaustion but still he gets me to call the thyroid doctor and the receptionist is actually helpful, asking me all these questions she’ll consult the doctor to see if an appointment would make sense. Then I realize maybe today’s the time to find a primary care physician, since I have a list from the fancy holistic doctor that doesn't do primary care -- I haven't had a primary care doctor in years, and I can never get around to calling the people on the list but that's the kind of thing my mother likes to do, so I call her and she's excited, I guess also because I found an SSI lawyer to consult with, and left a message, probably they'll just tell me I'm not eligible but then at least my mother will stop asking. She tells me about going to Harlem, she says once with Dad we were walking through the park and I was really interested in seeing what it was like, I don't think he was as interested but this time I went with a friend and we ate at a restaurant, they specialized in Southern food and I'm not that familiar with Southern food -- it wouldn't be your kind of place, definitely not your kind of place -- and then we went to a Baptist service, I've never been to that kind of thing and it was just like I expected -- a lot of singing and a lot of energy and the orator had a great deal of emotion, I don't know what you would call him, I guess a minister, but what I didn't expect was that we were the only white people there, I didn't realize Harlem was so segregated.

Friday, July 11, 2008

On a hot day, the cats like to head outside...




That's it

But wait -- I actually succeed in hooking up with someone over the internet -- it's from craigslist, and by now we've actually exchanged so many emails saying nothing that I can't remember what his ad said, something about sucking cock, but then later we realized we both wanted to suck cock so that sounded even better and I liked his smile in the picture, so I told him that. But then he called me buddy. And then bud.

Oh well -- to tell you the truth, I don't even believe he's going to show up, but then 10 p.m. comes around and he's actually downstairs, then upstairs but he's out of breath -- there's an elevator, I already told him there was an elevator, actually there are two. He says I was scared of that elevator, and I won't immediately assume that’s class shade because if you're not used to old Tenderloin buildings then sure, the elevator could be scary.

He's nervous and I can't tell if I'm attracted to him, he says do you have the sofa facing that way just because of the view? I say yeah, because of the view, although also it's my faux living room, that's why the sofas face each other, but I don't tell him that part. The view is enough.

At first I think he doesn't look like his picture, but then I realize he has the same soft cute face he's just heavier and older so that shouldn't matter. It's just disorienting. I hug him and kiss his neck and then he's hugging me and kissing my neck and we start making out and I can tell he wants my tongue right away but I'm more comfortable just opening my mouth and kissing the sides of his lips, although then I guess him my tongue anyway his mouth tastes sort of sour. Soon he’s sucking my cock, and then I'm sucking his cock, and then we're on the bed together and I think about the fact that Chris just installed a dimmer switch and I said oh, that can be for the once every eight months that I have sex in my apartment and someone says oh, these lights are awfully bright -- the better to see you with, Little Red Riding Hood! That's who you're supposed to say that to, right?

Really the dimmer switch is because Chris has been reading all about sleep and they say dim your lights before bed, although this guy doesn't say anything about the light so I don't change it. Sucking is fun enough, the mutuality and momentary disappearance in either direction and eventually I come on his face because he wants to watch it, although he closes his eyes. He comes right after me, I go into the closet for a towel because he's kind of messy, and then he's in the bathroom for a while and I drink water, more water, I guess that was okay. I mean I feel okay. I mean it wasn’t that fun, but it wasn't bad either.

He's back in the living room, getting dressed, trying to make small talk -- telling me about some guy outside who was pretending to help him park his car. He says then the guy said to me: you didn't even say thanks! And I said isn't this a city, sometimes people are friendly and sometimes they aren’t. He lives in Marin. While he is talking to me, he's checking his iPhone, I only know it's an iPhone because it says that on his emails, I look over to see what it looks like -- it's flat and sleek and black and there are a lot of options and you choose what you want by moving your finger in a circle like with an iPod. I guess he's responding to a message. When he's done, he points to his cock making space in his jeans -- he says I wish I looked like this all the time, although you never know -- there was this straight guy who I pursued for years, and he had this huge bulge but when he finally said yes it only grew like an inch -- I was like: that's it?

Smiling like I'm amused, I'm already tired again.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

An attempt at intimacy but it just ends up making me sad again

Okay, so you might remember that I'm trying to regain a sense of hope in my own sexuality and no, it's not working , but what I've been trying lately is to engage every so often in these silly internet cruising sites and one of the things that keeps coming up is my name, somewhere in the cruising, it's Mattilda, and then, well then no longer are we talking about sucking cock or whatever now it's: what's your real name? Some faggots act like I'm totally giving them shade by not divulging my true masculinity my rough-and-tough Brokeback bravado my chest-pumping neck-bulging pancreas-pounding ramrod-raging DNA-as-destiny parental ownership trump card what's your real name, the name your parents gave you the name on your birth certificate is that what your mother calls you no really your real name really?

I wish I could say that this only happens on the internet, but no sometimes it happens after I have sex with someone and all the sudden it's like I smacked him in the face, probably should but that's a different story. Or, people will respond by giving themselves names they think are completely ridiculous, just to show me how ridiculous I am! The other night this happens with these art students -- art students, of all things -- one of them said I'm Courtney Love. Which, by the way, probably wasn't the name Courtney's mother gave her, either.

A name a name and name it's a fucking name, I mean right now I'm not even going to get into all of the other things these faggots can't deal with right now we’re just talking about my name, and sometimes they'll act totally befuddled like oh, isn't that a girl’s name? I swear -- there are faggots that actually say that shit, I mean most faggots actually, if they don't say it outright they say something else like is that the name your mother gave you? No, you moron, and she gave me a lot of other things I don't want either!

Let's get back to self-actualization for a moment, let's get back to queer possibilities of choosing our gender and sexual and social identities, or let’s go way back from there for a second and say bitch, this is the West Coast -- on the West Coast, we choose our names!

Don't get me wrong -- everyone should be able to choose their name, West Coast East Coast inside outside win some you lose some bring some gives some take some make some make it up, okay make it up! And yes, part of my name is about making people stop and think for a second, just a second, maybe a second? It's also about living in a world that I can stand. I mean shouldn't that be part of our cultural coming-of-age instead of driving and voting for pointless morons who want us dead and the legal right to alcoholism, it's just a small small gesture I mean a beautiful transformative glamorous and gorgeous, sassy and splendid and delicious and dangerous and vibrant and visionary gesture, so maybe it's no surprise that so many people can't deal.

But I still hate it, even when I act like it's nothing it's a sad let-down almost like when someone you're starting to know says something terrible and offensive and you realize oh. Oh, it's not gonna go any further. And it's gotten to the point on those cruising sites when I don't even want to get to what's your name, it's an attempt at intimacy but it just ends up making me sad again, sad like there's no point to this whole thing and in the limited world of those cruising sites there probably isn’t a point, probably I should leave and never come back but remember I'm investigating all the options I just wish they felt like possibilities like my name like when your eyes light up and there's more.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Names names names

You might notice that every now and then I change people's names on this blog, usually it's because someone requests it or no I guess that's only happened once. Maybe twice. Sometimes it just feels too immediate to talk about someone I've just met, and then maybe they'll read this and will they be offended? So then with some people I change their names right away.

But now I'm thinking about Chris, I've asked him several times whether he wants me to change his name and he said no, but I wonder if I worry about hurting him anyway, get so careful with my words and maybe it would be better if he was Craig. I could try it as an experiment, and see how it feels.

It's different with a novel, where I always give people the opportunity to change their names, but either way it's not out in the world for years. And it's fiction, which doesn't mean the events didn't happen, it just means that it's not depicted as truth. With this blog, it goes up pretty much right away, and it's more or less depicted as nonfiction. So it makes me think differently about this naming thing.

Even with So Many Ways to Sleep Badly, there was lots of naming drama. Two people who are central characters in the book got all upset about tiny things, like no I wasn't that drunk or yes I actually did care about school and it was annoying as hell because these people were intensely concerned with how I represented them in my fiction, but they had no interest in working on our actual relationships. None at all. And that was kind of the end. Of those relationships, I mean.

Then, at the very last minute, I ended up changing a bunch of people's names because I didn't feel like calling them to see what they thought -- mostly people who aren't in my life anymore, so did I really want to call them and ask them what they thought of the way I was representing them in my work? Then, after I changed those names, I changed several more, just slightly, maybe an extra letter at the end or in the middle. These were people who had already said that they weren't concerned about how I represented them, but I wanted to make an additional gesture anyway, just to clarify in a somewhat sassy way that the book is fiction, right, fiction!

Not that I really know what fiction is, anyway. I mean I always say that the difference between fiction and autobiography is that autobiography is all lies, so that's why I write fiction. But what does that say about this blog, or my next single-author book length work, which I think might be -- gasp -- nonfiction?

Monday, July 07, 2008

Maybe inside there's a place

Why now is what I'm thinking in the middle of the night bright bright bright night that pounding in the center of my head, tongue rearranged into face twisted okay not now just not now that waking a sip of water okay remember that did nothing just more movement between cheek and tongue and teeth no need to wake for a sip of water I was already awake that was the problem the sip of water a possible solution no longer. This grit between my teeth, did I use a different toothpaste could it be the new supplement I'm taking DHEA because it came out so low on my bloodwork just a low low dose in the morning and really it clears my head I've been very careful to pay attention for any highs or crashes I always pay attention not this pulling unless it's the lead. Is it the air the way it's gotten so damp and sticky like the East Coast except it's not so warm it just seems like it might be warm they're supposed to keep that humidity on the East Coast! Can pollution gets stuck in the air between my teeth like this all those forest fires, 1800 in Northern California they say some of them won't be out until winter that's a lot of burning to think about. Could it have gotten much worse here over the last two days now my sinuses it’s true that when I sat on my fire escape yesterday my eyes started burning but wait, oh wait, yes now it's calm.

When I get out of bed, at least there's help from my music all these fake car horns and skips and jumps and words rearranged into sounds rearranged into beats rearranged into some kind of falling down glamour is what I'm thinking I can maybe approximate a sampling body head swinging flinging type derange arrangement but wait not too much movement too soon for the shoulders ouch neck the other pain away from the center of my head more sensitive to movement. Maybe I can just think about the movement maybe inside there’s a place where turning flinging swinging around and around isn’t so dangerous.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Low-grade personal bullying -- a question from voicemail

(Paraphrased from voicemail): Do you realize that people are constantly responding to your critique of gay marriage with personal attacks -- your critique isn't personal like that and they don't really know much about you I mean at least I don't think most of them do but they get really personal, on some of these sites it goes on and on like someone on AlterNet who was calling you a slut and things like that?

I used to be a slut, but then I was a whore for so long, and now I'm just tired.

But Kayti’s right -- I'll take critique any day, night, or even morning, but what is up with all these personal attacks? I'll definitely take any response over no response, or wait -- is that true? I guess what's true is that I'm kind of used to it by now, sometimes it's even kind of amusing, but why oh why the low-grade personal bullying -- what do you think?

Friday, July 04, 2008

Someone lost these treasures...

Now, that's fog!

Shutting gay marriage down?

Walking uphill the other day I ran into a friend a block from my house and we had an interesting conversation about the book launch for That's Revolting!, which I thought was totally incredible because people were so engaged, and my friend said he was disturbed. Why disturbed? He said he wasn't sure about the strategy of shutting gay marriage down. Shutting gay marriage down? What on earth do you mean?

I think this happens a lot, where there's this reversal about who is doing the shutting down. There's no question in my mind that gay marriage proponents have systematically shut anti-marriage and anti-assimilationist queers out of the conversation. It's much easier for them to argue with Christian fundamentalists who think all gay people are gonna burn in hell. And it's a symbiotic relationship -- they both fund each other's organizations. I mean the fear of the gays fills fundamentalist coffers and the fear of the Bible thumpers funnels money into marriage fundamentalist gay organizations.

What was so amazing about the launch is that no one was backing down, no one said why yes, gay marriage is a beginning -- I hate that shit, when every queer who opposes marriage feels obliged to say that it's okay for people to want marriage, it's just that we need a broader movement also. But the problem is that the marriage movement has replaced the broader movement! I guess I always think it's contradictory when people say yes, but marriage is a beginning -- sure, it's a beginning, but it's the wrong beginning! There's this hesitancy for people to voice scathing critiques, and I think a lot of that has to do with this fear that my friend was talking about. That, somehow, if we articulate our opposition to marriage with all our passion and eloquence and glamour, then somehow we’re shutting other people out of the conversation. When, in fact, other people are certainly free to respond with passion and eloquence and glamour. Gay marriage proponents are the ones dominating media representations of what it means to be queer I mean gay I mean straightgay. They are the ones ensuring that the conversation remains a ridiculous one between foaming-at-the-mouth homophobes and the gays who just want the homophobes to accept them on homophobe’s terms -- we're just like you we’re just like you we’re just like you.

Oh -- so do you also think that all queers are gonna burn in Hell?

I just love that strategy -- convincing Christian fundamentalists to accept us on THEIR terms and now the gay marriage proponents even wants to decide what people look like and how they dress and how they represent themselves AT THEIR OWN WEDDINGS. I mean really -- it's not enough to embrace the dominant institution of straight privilege like it's the holy grail, you gotta buy into the whole package! Soon they're gonna make the gay wives show up with their bruises covered by Dermablend, right?

Gay marriage is a dead end. Sure, if we want cultural erasure, then it's a beginning. I believe in an oppositional culture that celebrates resistance, encourages defiance, and engages in complicated, critical conversations about accountability all the time. If that furthers the divide, bring it on! Wishy-washy pragmatism only furthers the people with the most power -- in this case, um, that means the (Christian) fundamentalists.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

It's nice to find beautiful, complicated, critical writing right before I get ready for bed...

Here it is.

Another few months

The best thing about the Nob Hill Theatre is the music -- I know I've said that before about pretty much every sex venue but here the music is just awful but it's hilarious, like this whiny maudlin emo power pop ballad -- I'm laughing around corners and telling one guy: this is a beautiful song! He doesn't say a thing. No one does. That's the problem with these places -- so much shutting off, just to stay engaged. I mean disengaged. The key is to leave when I'm still feeling good, probably now would be okay but then I go into one of the booths with a glory hole and there's this guy with soft pretty eyes staring up at me, so I take out my dick -- I figure I can work the glory hole for a moment or two and then beckon him over.

He's sucking my cock, and then jerking with his hands, why his hands -- it almost feels like he has lube on them but maybe he's just got slippery spit. Then he’s sucking again, he has this weird technique where it's his whole mouth at once -- I reach through the other glory hole to try to grab his neck but he's in a strange position so I can't figure it out, there's all this skin I guess his chest and I get that annoying feeling like I'm already going to come, even though I'm not really turned on, so I pull away.

I lean down to motion him over and wait, his asshole is pressed right into the glory hole. Oh, no -- it's that nightmare that Chris is always talking about, I never actually believed it was possible that someone could slide their ass into your cock and you could still think they were sucking it, but now that I think about it there are so many different techniques of sucking and wait, did that really just happen? Come over here, I say; come over here and I'll fuck you.

Shouldn't I be angry is what I'm thinking. Angry or disgusted? I'm not sure that I really want to fuck him, but that's what happens in places like this -- you want to take advantage of any opportunity, because soon you might not have any opportunity.

He comes over, he's bigger up close, I lean over to kiss his neck and he leans away, pulls down his pants. I put on a condom and it's green, I didn't realize it would be green, and then I'm fucking him for a moment but there’s that sensation like I'm going to come again so I pull away and he's already pulling up his pants, where are you going? I want it raw, he mumbles or maybe he's saying bare or bred or something clever and intellectual but somehow I'm still in a good mood, walking around and around again until actually there's someone I'm hot for, a blond guy with a shaved head, hair balding in the middle, kind of similar eyes to the other guy I'm thinking maybe it's those eyes I'm looking for. So clear. I watch him staring at the porn in the glass case, I mean the DVD covers giving you a sense of what you could be missing. And then I walk around the other way for discussion and hug him from behind, kiss him on the neck, and say wanna go in a booth?

No thanks, he says, and that's the highlight -- I mean, that I went right up to him and broke the rules by crossing the physical boundary and it doesn't really matter whether he says yes. That's the second time I should leave, right away before I get tired and hypoglycemic and stuck walking in square circles, which is what happens next, and then I don't think I need to come back here for at least another few months.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Maybe


If only it worked that way...

I wish I wasn't so fragile, I mean yesterday I danced for a few minutes in a crowd outdoors where people were smoking everywhere, smoking right near me, but still it was outdoors and now. Now. Now I can't think. My sinuses are pounding and I can't think. My sinuses are pounding and I just feel hopeless and sad and I'm trying to be okay with feeling tired, it just makes me more tired to fight it so I'm sitting on the sofa staring into space, staring into space and thinking it's okay. I mean I'm trying to think it's okay.

Then I decide to lie back on the other sofa, I can lean against the comforter and it still hurts my neck but maybe you noticed that I'm trying not to get into bed. Because it's kind of close to bedtime, but not yet not yet I mean if I get in bed I'll just get wired and then I won't be able to sleep and then tomorrow will be worse.

Sometimes I just don't know what it's like to feel anything else except overwhelm or what's that other feeling, the one where I can think and thinking means I'm okay, I'm okay while I'm thinking? Gina says the problem isn't that you're so fragile, it's just that people shouldn't be smoking everywhere. Oh, Gina -- if only it worked that way!

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

How I'm feeling


Brief interview with Terrain Dandridge of the New Jersey 4, shortly after her release from prison

(I had the chance to sit down briefly with Terrain Dandridge of the New Jersey 4 just two days after her surprising release from prison, after 673 days behind bars for daring to fight back against a homophobic attacker.)

Mattilda: First of all, congratulations on getting out of prison!

Terrain: Thank you.

Mattilda: And I know you were just released two days ago.

Terrain: Yes.

Mattilda: After two years behind bars, and then you flew cross-country to San Francisco, where you’ve never been before, and appeared at an event with your mother and the legendary Angela Davis.

Terrain: Yes.

Mattilda: So how are you feeling about all of that?

Terrain: Great! Great, and you know, once my mother told me that I was being released and I knew prior to that decision that she was coming out to California and I was excited for her. But she really was shaky about coming because I was there and she didn’t really want to leave the state. But I told her, “you’re a great mommy and you know, you need a break, so enjoy yourself.” But she told me, “you’re being released so now I can’t go to California.” And I’m saying, “you know, why don’t we both go? That would be a great experience for me.” Which it is. It really has been so far.

Mattilda: And how was the event last night with Angela Davis?

Terrain: Oh it was great. It was great, it was very beautiful. It was definitely a pleasure. Just all the support and all the love you could feel as soon as I walked in there. And Angela Davis speaking, it was very emotional. Very emotional.

Mattilda: And tell me about your continued struggle to free your three friends who are still behind bars for trying to defend themselves against a homophobic attack.

Terrain: [I will do] whatever is possible, given that I was lucky enough to leave the situation without a record, without anything behind me. Renata [Hill] just went down to Rikers and we are getting ready for her trial, her re-trial. So I’ll be there -- as soon as I get back I’m going to see her, and I’ll be back there every day for trial. Whatever it is that I can do here or in the city, because there isn’t much, they don’t do much in Jersey as far as for queers. So whatever anyone needs of my assistance, I’m there. All day.

Mattilda: And, since you’ve just come from inside, I’m wondering about your thoughts about the conditions inside and about the larger movement against prisons in general.

Terrain: One thing that I do know, once everyone got a chance to meet me and socialize with me [in prison], the first thing people would say to me off the bat was, “you don’t belong here.” And I’ve come across plenty of people in the prison system that are innocent or don’t belong there as well, but they don’t care. They’ll hold you until you are blue in the face. So, it’s really a messed up situation and I wish that some justice would come out of all of these situations.

Mattilda: And with all the violence impacted upon people who are inside prison, do you think that anyone belongs there?

Terrain: No. Not at all. Not at all. I mean, even in there, it’s funny because, it’s not so much violence between inmates, but I’ve been present in situations where the officers and sergeants and captains are beating up an inmate. And that’s ridiculous. I’ve come across someone who went to lock because they had a ticket or something and somebody came in there and raped them. It’s crazy. The cops are more criminals to me than who they are calling “criminals.”

(I also did some more in-depth interviews, which you'll hear more about...)

Click here for more information on the campaign to free the New Jersey 4. Or contact freenj4@yahoo.com