Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Lostmissing #35



Lostmissing is a public art project -- I’d love it if you’d participate.

And here's what lostmissing #35 says:

A few days later someone came up to me, one of your old roommates from around when we first met and she said she couldn’t believe you were in nursing school, you’d make a good nurse. A good nurse. That interrupted the narrative arc I was building here. I don’t feel calm anymore.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Pink Saturday: party or police state?

Okay, so I actually kind of like Pink Saturday, the night before pride when the Castro gets blocked off to traffic and people wander around getting smashed and dancing to terrible music blasted from sound stages in the street. I like it because it’s more honest than any other pride event -- no one’s pretending to do anything but wander the streets getting smashed, walking back and forth in a never-ending international gay suburbanite runway gawkfest. In all of its disastrousness, it is kind of fun to watch.

Over the last few years, Pink Saturday has gotten younger and younger, probably because San Francisco has never been a great place for queer youth, since there’s nowhere for queer youth to go. Except on Pink Saturday, when the bars are turned inside out so that the street is where it’s happening and inside just feels like a bad view. Oh, and the other thing about Pink Saturday is that it’s probably the only day of the year when dykes outnumber fags in the Castro, since the Dyke March ends right at Castro and Market and that’s usually where the main stage is placed. So there’s this crazy intersection between every dyke in the Bay Area and beyond, queer youth of all races flooding in from the suburbs, and the usual gay tourists and yuppies.

I like to sit in front of Harvest Market, eating vegan soup and watching the crowds, gasping at the outfits, and cruising the fashion masculinity fags I wish I wasn’t attracted to. Over the last few years, this has been a tradition I’ve shared with my friend Hilary, who is usually visiting from LA, but now she’s just moved here -- in fact, this year we actually decided to call it a tradition, and made a plan for 9:30 pm in our usual spot.

I decide not to take the underground to the Castro, since it’s always so crowded on pride, but then I regret my decision since the bus is so slow. It looks like Market Street is blocked off earlier than usual, since the bus is taking about 10 minutes per block, so I get out just after Church Street and sure enough there are all sorts of people sprawled out in the middle of Market and it kind of feels festive. I walk towards the barricades, and can’t figure out why exactly they go all the way across the sidewalk -- usually there’s a place where the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence harass people for “donations,” but only several blocks up. This time some guy in an orange security t-shirt starts yelling at me from behind the barricades that this isn’t an entrance, I have to stand in line over there, and he points to the other side of the street where there are hundreds of people crammed together, trying to get in. I say oh, I’m just going to Harvest Market, right over there, but he yells at me that I have to stand in line, so then there I am, in line with hundreds of suburbanites and teenagers, and suburbanite teenagers.

One of the Sisters is standing on the median in the middle of Market yelling through a bullhorn that we all need to stand in line, and I yell: why don’t you just open the fucking barricades? Then the blonde woman next to me, red-faced with booze, turns to me and says: do you think we should rush the line? I say not a bad idea, but people would probably get hurt, and she looks surprised and sad for a second, decides against that idea.

Get this: the security staff yells at us that we need to form separate lines for “men” and “women”-- I kid you not! Binary gender lines at a queer event in San Francisco, organized by a bunch of queens who dress as nuns. The security staff is frisking people and making people throw away water bottles, asking us if we have any drugs or sharp objects -- wait, I thought this was a public street, I didn’t realize we were visiting our friends in the tank at 850 Bryant.

As far as I can tell, pretty much everyone who’s working security is straight, and aggressive, and way behind the security line are the Sisters, standing with their donation buckets and acting like they don’t notice the screaming hordes. My turn and the security guard pulls my bag out of my hand and tells me I have to get rid of my water bottle. My water bottle is one of those overpriced metal things that I carry around so that I don’t have to waste plastic everywhere -- I don’t want to just throw it away, so I’m arguing with him and he says I’m not even supposed to let you bring your bag in, you’ll have to get in the back of the line, so finally I just throw the bottle to the side, in this pile of discarded plastic bottles, and then I walk through the financial checkpoint so enraged that my eyes are almost closed and it’s a good thing no one says anything to me because otherwise I would just rip them to shreds.

Over at Harvest Market, there’s no sign of Hilary and I’m worried that I’ve missed her because now I’m 45 minutes late. But no, turns out she got stopped at another checkpoint and they made her go home to return her backpack. Are you kidding? What the hell is going on? When did Pink Saturday turn into a police state? Not just security at the gates, but roaming around inside are dozens of uniformed SFPD officers. And probably a few hundred of the security monitors in orange shirts, almost all of them straight black men. Did the Sisters consciously make this racialized choice, or did they hire an outside contractor to do their dirty work? Triple Canopy? Dimecorp? Xe/Blackwater? Or, perhaps a local favorite like Bechtel Corporation.

You can’t even piss on any of the side streets, because then you have to go through another checkpoint. I go into a restaurant to use the bathroom and they stop me, I say I don’t mind buying something, but apparently that’s still not okay. The waitress points me in the direction of port-a-potties, and there they are with maybe 85 people in line.

Back at Harvest, the owner is working the register and I figure maybe he’ll have some insight, I say when did they decide to move the barricades so far back? He says I guess this year. I say what the hell is the point of all this security? He says oh I’ve seen it much worse -- he’s probably talking about Halloween, when roaming straights show up with baseball bats and a few years ago the police decided to shut the whole neighborhood down instead of letting anyone in. I say what do you mean, nothing has ever happened on Pink Saturday! He says it’s to keep away the outsiders. I say what the hell are you talking about -- 95% of these people aren’t from San Francisco!

At least Hilary and I can be angry together. For some reason the cops keep coming over and staring at people’s ginger ale bottles, telling people they can’t be drinking that in public. This is ginger ale! But, guess what -- you’re not allowed to drink anything that’s not in a plastic cup -- even if you’re sitting on the benches provided by Harvest Market, drinking something that you bought inside.

This is crazy. Earlier someone pointed out the huge disco ball hanging in the middle of 16th and Market, but somehow I didn’t notice that it was suspended by an enormous crane. Who the hell paid for that? I go closer. Oh, no -- it’s sponsored by some new vodka called Blue Angel -- I guess it’s like those U.S. Navy fighter jets that terrorize US skies to get people all excited about blowing up Iraqi or Afghani civilians -- drink Blue Angel, and double your pleasure -- get bombed, while you’re doing the bombing!

I forgot to mention that one of the other things I like about Pink Saturday is that it doesn’t usually have any of the corporate sponsorship -- at least not for the last several years. Way back I remember maybe it was sponsored by Budweiser, and was an official SF Pride event, but I never remember security checkpoints on all sides for blocks around, and right in front of us is a huge booth dispensing Popchips -- “Never Fried or Baked -- Love. Without the Handles.” You can even get your picture taken in a free photo booth -- as long as you’re holding a bag of Popchips. No doubt to use in their promotional materials. But can I guzzle my Blue Angel at the same time as I’m chomping on chips? Pop!

Then there’s a huge video screen suspended from the corner in front of the giant disco ball, Hilary and I are watching it to try to figure out what it’s advertising but we’re not sure. The dance stage, sponsored by corporate gay dance radio, starts playing Michael Jackson -- everywhere in the world, they’re probably playing Michael Jackson right now in one kind of corporate-crazed ritual or another. And then we spot the Budweiser truck parked on the corner -- oh, no! Sure enough, walking further we discover a huge booth, just like the ones at Pride, selling overpriced beer and cocktails and bottled water. Oh, that’s why they had us confiscate our bottles -- so that they could make more money-- they don’t even do that at pride!

What are the Sisters doing with all this money, I mean all the money that doesn’t go to Budweiser or Blue Angel or Red Bull, sponsor of the tables in front of the Budweiser booth, decorated with the Sisters insignia and featuring maybe 20 bartenders pouring drinks. And, of course, across from the Budweiser booth is an enormous booth selling Polish sausage and ribs -- this all explains why most of the neighborhood businesses look relatively abandoned. Supposedly the profits go to nonprofits -- I love that phrase, so let’s repeat it: the profits go to nonprofits. I love nonprofits that enforce a security state, how comforting!

But there’s more -- just as Hilary and I are trying to make our way through the crowds to get to one of the exit checkpoints, we spot a few friends, and guess what? This year, the Dyke March got stopped at 17th and Sanchez, stopped by the line of straight male security guards who demanded that all the dykes walk single-file through the frisking station. That’s right -- on the one day of the year when dykes actually flood the Castro, it’s important to make sure there’s extra security! Outsourced security, no doubt.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Track six

There’s that morning moment, before eating, track six and I’m looking out at the light onto buildings and for the first time I can see exactly which window panes are warped, track six open up my hips the sky not that smoggy sky outside but this one right here I can open up my arms and just hope this is how I’m feeling today. I’m cleaning the cutting board and I actually like cleaning the cutting board, chopping beets and brussel sprouts and wait this is fun this is fun this can be fun!

Let me try that again with my hips -- oh, no -- track seven! Okay, rewind. I don’t want to tell you what it’s called because electronic musicians choose such cheesy names for such beautiful beats, I would call it When I Notice Which Window Panes Are Warped, but okay it’s called Fly Hawaii -- see what I mean? Someone should hire me to write song titles, please hire me.

Okay, I’ll admit that that sky is already lost, now it’s the sinus clog from last night at Blow Buddies, the smoke coming in from outside mostly pot smoke I always think I’m going to leave faster. The beginning was the best part -- when it was so crowded that people were gathering in those groups of desire so often lacking these days, later I was talking to someone about the music you see talking about music is one of my favorite things I said these are good beats, ’96, you don’t hear these beats much these days, I mean the song’s kind of cheesy but I like these beats. Turned out he produces music, also likes the songs that knock you down.

Back outside into a heat wave night, how could it have gotten so warm just my body or the air too, and today my sinuses really don’t seem worse than they would be from the smog I can see outside powder blue sky fading into tan the air is still and I’ll keep thinking about track six.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Two paragraphs earlier

I’m in that place between complete exhaustion and a little bit of energy, I guess I should appreciate this space, especially since an hour or two ago I was going to write: will there ever be a time when I’m not so exhausted? I still don’t know. Maybe in a few minutes, maybe never again. Here it is, the exhaustion, and I don’t know where this sentence goes. I mean where I am in this sentence.

Here I am: I left the house early today, I mean before 5 pm to get some bloodwork done and then I was in Union Square watching the tourists but not as many as I expected, barely a hint of the Gay Tourist Onslaught, even. Maybe they were already in the Castro, or maybe they arrive later, after work. On the way home, I stopped to get a prescription for thyroid hormone, for my new strategy of dissolving one pill in a tincture bottle of water and taking a few drops a day, so that I’ll be taking something like a hundredth of a pill each time almost like homeopathy. A doctor suggested this strategy a while back, he thought the hormone would just wire and drain me otherwise, and sure enough that is what the smallest dose did, so I might as well try a hundredth of the smallest dose, right?

They need a half-hour, so I come back home and accidentally watch the trailer for an MTV pilot from someone’s blog and then it’s too late to get the prescription but I kind of have energy, maybe that’s why people watch tacky TV but you already know it doesn’t last long because soon enough I’m two paragraphs earlier in that place between complete exhaustion and something else or just complete exhaustion again and I’m waiting.

Bending toward oblivion: My interview with Martin Duberman in the San Francisco Bay Guardian

Here it is...

And feel free to tell me what you think...

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Uncovering Feminism: Emma Bee Bernstein and a few questions about suicide

Okay, so I’m looking through the Seal Press catalog for the second time, just to see if I’ve missed anything interesting, and what calls my attention is the bio of one of the editors of a book called Girldrive: Criss-Crossing America, Redefining Feminism, and I can’t necessarily tell whether the interviews will be challenging and provocative or dull and fawning -- but what I do notice is the bio for co-editor Emma Bee Bernstein -- right after her name we see the years marking her life, 1985-2008. But nothing telling us how she died. So I know it must not be what is generally considered a tragic accident (car/plane crash) or a noble battle (cancer), and I go online to find out how she died at age 23.

Suicide. But I can’t figure out why. All the available accounts -- her parents, her coeditor, her parents’ friends -- point to a particular narrative where here she was, something like a child prodigy born into a New York family of artists and writers, publishing interviews at age 12, drawn to dreaming and strident visions, traveling cross-country after finishing college at the cloistered University of Chicago to work on this new project about feminism and the future with her camera as accessory to her vision, filled with so much hope and possibility and yet overwhelmed by a monster, a monster of depression that she finally succumbed to.

I’m suspicious of this narrative. She killed herself inside the Peggy Guggenheim collection in Venice, Italy, where she was working in a prestigious internship program. What did this final gesture mean to her? Did she leave a note? What was this depression about? Where are the cracks in the story, and why does everyone insist on sealing them up after her death? If her death means anything, can’t it at least mean that her life becomes revealed in all its complications? Would she have wanted that?

I also don’t believe in this vision of depression as a monster that challenges the hopefulness of a feminist visionary. We live in a horrible world where violence covers violence covers violence and here we are wrapped in it, no matter what. Feminism, or any intense analysis, means that you see all of the horror, you uncover all the layers, and yes you try to figure out a way to challenge the violence but you rarely succeed and you keep trying. You keep trying but sometimes it’s not hopeful, you are not hopeful and you try to act with hope anyway but really what is hope if you’re still surrounded by violence, this world, your role in it?

My question is this: how do we know that Emma Bee Bernstein didn’t kill herself because of her feminism, not in spite of it, and what would it mean to think about this gesture, in all of its sadness and yearning, as something she wanted us to pay attention to, not to cover up like an aberration?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The next book?!?!

Okay, so I printed out the first draft of my new manuscript -- the one that starts with visiting my father before he died and then it goes into trying to regain a sense of hope in my own sexuality, the overwhelming the everyday, relationships that end, the end of my hopes for San Francisco, and childhood -- maybe in that order, but really I don’t know. The part about my father is the tightest -- the rest is just everything that I’ve written over the last 2 1/2 to 3 years, most of it on this blog -- I’ve kept it all in one document because I didn’t want to direct what exactly I wrote about, because I’m not exactly sure what this book will be, right?

So I printed it all out, and guess what? It’s 411,000 words, which is about 1100 manuscript pages -- don’t worry, I printed it out singlespaced and double-sided, so it’s maybe about 300 sheets of paper, but that’ll be a lot of turning of the pages, oh no for my hands! Just to give you a sense of how much 411,000 words is, So Many Ways to Sleep Badly is about 90,000 words, and Pulling Taffy is about 50,000 or so…

First I have to get it bound, and then I can start looking through it -- I’m kind of excited, but I’m not excited about the pain. A lot of it will be easy to cut cut cut, or least I’m hoping. And then a lot of what I want I’ve barely even started writing -- especially the parts about childhood. I’m not even sure this is one manuscript, but it’s funny how I used to write so little, and now I have so much -- this next book will be quite an adventure!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Liniment

There’s something seductive about the repetition of something you weren’t trying to repeat -- like the word something, right? No, I’ll give you more information. I’m in the bathroom, putting on more Posumon -- I know it’s more, it’s just that I don’t know that it’s more, right after more. I mean I’ve already put more on, and I don’t realize it until I’m washing my hands, and I remember oh, I just washed my hands. And now my fingertips kind of hurt, dry skin from too much soap, water. Soap, water.

Should I put on more Posumon -- it does freshen my sinuses, no not my sinuses but the feeling around them -- my sinuses are cracking from the dancing, the dancing that made me kind of high for a few minutes, pushing through my head like a board, board head into that bright hello, runway, literally runway in my house music hallway but now it’s my head pushing through me. At the Nob Hill Theatre, when he says he likes the way I smell he doesn’t mean the Posumon he’s talking about my armpits. I know, because he says I like the way you smell right after his nose lifts from, yes, my armpits. I am a detective, but I’m not that kind of detective.

Everyone sweats. Everyone smells. But not everyone puts on medicated liniment 37 times in one day, one hour, one moment just waiting for the next menthol cinnamon eucalyptus cassia moment no wait that’s the toothpicks what’s in the liniment please more liniment, please more just don’t dry out my hands.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

When revolution was right around the corner from the corner store...

Yes yes a delicious interview on Against the Grain about Smash the Church, Smash the State: The Early Years of Gay Liberation, the new book edited by Tommi Avicolli Mecca -- the juicy conversation features Tommi, and contributor Paola Bacchetta.

To be continued

Okay, I’m just going to make some notes because it’s the beginning of the day and I don’t quite have energy but I have ideas and I want to put all those ideas down in some form just so that I remember them and usually I would do this in a list with a pen but last night was it last night I was doing that and it destroyed my right hand and I don’t want to destroy my right hand so early in the day but now that I think about it it might already be destroyed so okay I don’t want to destroy it more.

So much happened in my sleep no it was not good sleep but so much happened so to me that means that this might be a good remedy -- the new homeopathic remedy, that is -- it’s called China, and I don’t know what that means. I’m guessing something to do with porcelain, but really I have no idea. I do remember I took it at some point before, but I can’t remember if it was a good fit but even if it wasn’t a good fit then it could be a good fit now.

Okay, the disadvantage of doing this instead of writing a list is that I’m writing too much, I mean I’m spending too much time and I’m going to run out of energy and forget everything I wanted to mention. The other disadvantage is that I keep having to go back and make corrections, because the voice software doesn’t always write the right thing, although now that I’m talking about the voice software it’s doing much better -- oops, not now -- you didn’t see that, but I did, oh no!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Better

The problem with getting a cold is that I don’t feel that different than usual. I mean I feel much worse, but that doesn’t feel different. I read my interview with Martin Duberman again, make a few changes and print it out, get back in bed. I think about going outside, but I don’t go outside, and I don’t care about going outside, really. Fresh air sounds nice, but too cold for my cold. I run water for another bath, so I can get back in bed. I make another change in the interview. I eat more. I think about the things that I can’t do. If I didn’t have a cold, maybe I would try anyway. Maybe this cold is helping me. I get back in the bath: this bath is too hot, I can feel my body leaving my body. My farts are making bubbles in the water -- I wouldn’t write about farts if I didn’t have a cold. I look at my leg, or what used to be my leg. I lean back anyway, until I feel the opposite of a headache no the opposite direction -- like it’s going inside instead of out. Maybe I didn’t put enough eucalyptus oil in this bath. When I get out, my hands are bright red, but they’re still cold. Although not as cold. Should I drink water, more ginger tea, eat more food? More goldenseal, or is that what made me so cold? Should I check my mail, in case the new homeopathic remedy arrived? I just can’t deal with more mail for my neighbor, I still get all of her mail, even magazines that she must’ve renewed with the wrong address -- I get everything: bills, garden catalogs, health newsletters, even her social security. More sneezing, but at least my body doesn’t make as much. I guess the good thing about a cold is that when it goes away I’ll feel better.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Counting sheep

But just when I’m in the middle of the story -- or not even the middle, but the middle of the beginning -- that’s when I have the worst night of sleep in a while, I mean there’s always the worst night of sleep in a while so maybe this is the worst night of sleep in more than a while, or the worst while in the night of sleep wait that doesn’t make sense and it’s all because of the night I’m just waking up from! But first there’s the problem, the problem is when I first wake up, then I’m lying in bed and trying every strategy to fall back asleep for what I’m certain must be hours -- I even try counting sheep, something that has probably never worked for anyone outside of a cartoon and when I visualize the sheep I visualize Brokeback Mountain since maybe that’s the last time I’ve seen sheep, the sheep were the only good thing about that movie, who knew that a movie about a straight guy raping another straight guy could become the gay assimilationist love story -- anything can happen with scenery so vivid! I count up to 50 and I get bored.

Maybe the problem is that I’m trying not to let my eyes go up in my head because the feldenkrais practitioner says maybe that’s what causes my sinus headaches except I think it’s also what lets you sleep, and eventually I get out of bed, which is what makes it the worst night in a while, because I never get out of bed, but this time I pull off the eye mask and look at the time and I can’t believe it’s only 9 a.m. that means I slept for way shorter than I thought I mean usually when I can’t sleep and I pull off the eye mask it’s at least 11 a.m. but at least since its earlier the light is softer and I take six amino acids, I mean six capsules that contain maybe 20 different amino acids, and then I get back in bed and I’m actually calmer and eventually I’m standing on the counter in some store trying to make a purchase there are so many people in line I have to stand on the counter. I’m holding my box of Entenmann’s donuts like it’s a bag -- you see, once you eat the first two you can make that part of the box into a handle, it’s easy because of the plastic window there are still six donuts left and I’m holding the box like a bag so they know I’ve already paid for the donuts, I just need to buy this lemon-lime soda and a box of Chiclets, the Green kind.

When you say citrus, people think oranges, right? And then they might think grapefruit. That’s why you have to say lemon-lime, when you’re talking about this soda. I’m only buying these things so that they trust me for the interview, which is supposed to happen before the chase that goes all the way from here and up the whole state even though the cops could have apprehended them before the chase they all want to get in on the movie deal. But what is Hollywood doing invading my dreams, just when I stopped reading a book because I couldn’t deal with Hollywood, I mean Hollywood in all these stories I usually like those stories where people throw in some random reference you’re not necessarily supposed to get but here with all these references in a row it just felt suffocating. And now in my dreams -- first Steven Spielberg, then Brokeback Mountain, and now I’m standing on the counter trying to buy Chiclets -- you can tell I’m at the beach because I’m not wearing any shoes.

But this is what I realize -- I’m walking through the basement of my parents’ house, telling someone yes, that room that looks like a library is my father’s office -- he’s a psychiatrist -- and then this other room is also his office. But then I notice that in the basement are also all these collective artists’ apartments -- it’s amazing just walking through and looking at all the vintage sofas and clashing dreams on the walls and I wonder whether it was always this way, and whether these people are renting from my parents and that’s when I wake up and realize maybe my eyes are hurting because I’m allergic to this eye mask I mean something in the detergent so I switch to another eye mask but then I’m awake so I’m angry.

At least I found my glasses -- they were lying on the bookshelf in the corner, just like that -- professorly. I only need them at times like this, when I’m trying to decide whether to lie on the fire escape in the sun while my food is cooking and if so then I wouldn’t want to put my contacts on yet but maybe it’s already too late for the fire escape, I mean too late for the angle of the sun at this time of the year so let me take more amino acids just.

But here’s the problem, or one of the problems. I just realized wait, I’m supposed to be working on the next book, so I rushed over to the bookshelf to look for those manuscripts I printed out a while back, and then I noticed oh no, it’s not divided in the way I thought it was -- so first there are several hundred pages that were supposed to be my next book, but then I didn’t like them because they felt like a continuation of the last book and then also there was the mess in the middle where the voice activation software wasn’t making any sense and that part was just too awful to even try to decode, but now I realize that the part I think of as the beginning of the next book is actually at the end of this other manuscript I mean it’s all blended together. Maybe that’s not a problem. I just have to print out something else, there’s always something else to print out.

On the fire escape: there’s some public event going on, and they’re blasting Whitney Houston, is that really Whitney Houston? Didn’t they take her away, because of all the drug problems? And then the roar of a crowd -- wait, is that a baseball game? It is Sunday afternoon, but please tell me there’s no way those stadium speakers could reach this far. No, it’s Civic Center, but too early for gay pride -- is it a protest? What kind of protest would play Whitney Houston?

When I interview Martin Duberman, he doesn’t answer my question about the last two sentences of his new book: “I keep hoping for a place to land, a sustainable community. The dream, improbable though it is, persists.” I want to know what makes this dream so elusive. At the Nob Hill Theatre, I realize there actually are people around because I hear a really loud burp and then two guys come out of one of the booths with a green light on, I mean they all have the green lights on and that’s why I thought no one was around -- I had sex with one of these guys before, and he runs away like he ran away with me I mean from me and the other one asks me if I’m German. We end up chatting and yes, he does say is that the name your mother gave you, face red with booze but there’s something about his spongy fingertips or the way he’s telling me his boyfriend just broke up with him today, after a year and a half and he knew it was going to happen because the boyfriend said let’s meet at the Thai Noodle Café but they never meet around here they meet at the boyfriend’s house because he has a nice place, a two-bedroom in the Inner Richmond, and then someone comes down to tell us to put money into a booth and he says let’s go outside while I smoke a cigarette.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Voyeurs only

Just when I think I’ve figured out the solution for keeping the smoke out of my apartment, I wake up surrounded by it. My nostrils can barely open, and it’s like someone flattened my forehead while I was sleeping. I look in the mirror, but luckily my forehead looks the same as usual. But, oh no -- why did I get that hairline trim at the barbershop down the street? He took out the clippers so fast I couldn’t even say scissors only. At least they got rid of that part that of my hair that hangs over the ear when it gets too long and I hate it, that’s all I wanted to remove but instead he took out the clippers.

At least the sideburns look perfect, and probably it’ll look fine when I style it again but for now it’s hinting at ‘80s and I don’t mind ‘70s or ‘40s, but not ‘80s -- not ‘80s right now! Andee’s right -- I get upset about the tiniest thing with my hair, no one else notices -- but here I am again, getting upset. But back to the solution for keeping the smoke out of my apartment, which isn’t the solution anymore, because I look out my bathroom window and yes, the hallway window on the sixth floor is still open -- the trick is to open it enough to let the smoke out, but not too much so that someone closes it. But right -- that’s not the trick anymore, or maybe it’s the trick, but not the solution -- oh, the solution, where’s the solution?

Here’s the part where I have to decide whether to write about last night, which is in my head, or last weekend, which isn’t in my head as much but there are more moments that felt like revelation. Of course, what isn’t a revelation is just as interesting to everyone else, if only because it exposes the search for a revelation, which is almost the same thing as a revelation, right?

At least I didn’t wake up because of the smoke, instead there was sex with Steven Spielberg and then the good part is that I could put my room at the Holiday Inn on his tab, but even better maybe I could add the cab all the way through downtown Oakland looking for the Whole Foods because I’m visiting my mother on the side of a highway, always on the side of the highway in the DC suburbs but this time the Oakland although I better ask him first so he doesn’t think I’m exploiting him.

I mean I guess the room at the Holiday Inn is more important than the cab -- nine days, that’s a lot of money, but somehow in the moment it feels like paying for Whole Foods is more necessary. And what the hell is Steven Spielberg doing in my dreams -- I haven’t seen any of his movies since The Color Purple, I mean when it first came out. The sex was okay, I didn’t know it was him until afterwards. I even had to think about how to spell his name -- “ph” or “v,” and I even got the “ie” reversed but the voice software got it right immediately -- the voice software knows all about celebrities, even though it doesn’t like it when I say fuck, no matter how many times I train it it still what’s to say fark, I mean is fark a fucking word?

Oh, no -- I’m looking in the mirror again -- the way the side is cut is exactly the way I wanted it with my old hairstyle, so that the spikes in the back would stand out more, but now I want it to blend, softness on the sides, please softness! But back to last night, or the day that leads to night yes still day and for some reason I decide to write a new description for my cruise site profiles -- oh, I know -- it’s after I come back from the barber shop and I’m all excited from the social interaction, the person who started the store lives on my corner and he’s seen me around the neighborhood, is he flirting or just friendly? I even do that thing where I decide maybe he’s straight, even though he says something about the glass dildo shop next door, when I say maybe the tourists don’t know what it is -- he says that’s one thing we all have in common: sex, the bigger the better.

Anyway, at first I look through the profiles on craigslist because I’m not banned anymore, but then I get exhausted so it’s later when I’m writing a new description, when I’m still exhausted but why am I writing this, again? Oh, I know -- because I banned myself from those sites until I created a new profile, I mean not profile but profile text, because I wanted to say exactly what I’m looking for, whatever that is. But anyway -- writing the text kind of puts me in a good mood, even though it’s too long and then I have to fuck my hands up -- the voice software wants to say “thought,” as if it doesn’t know how much fucking isn’t about thinking at all!

But wait -- I’m in a good mood, I mean I was in a good mood, which is maybe worse once I crash but Randy calls and asks if I’m going out-- just like that, as if I go out! Then I start thinking about the place I want to go, except for the smoke -- just so I could go somewhere and socialize or flirt or whatever, and then I get exhausted again, because I’ve already decided I can’t go there. You know what it is -- it makes my ears stick out too much -- it’s not really a hairline trim, I saw when he took out the clippers and started going up further, I said hairline trim it’s on the blackboard menu! But now I’m obsessing about my hair, and I wanted to get that hairline trim so I wouldn’t obsess about my hair.

So I feel awful, and I’m writing the profile anyway, but the profile makes me feel less awful, even when I post an ad on craigslist because it’s taking too long for the new profile text to be approved, and anyway nothing ever happens for me on those cruise sites. Here’s the thing -- I’m trying to figure out some way to have sex where I don’t end up feeling the pressures of compulsory masculinity, and online is really the worst place for that. That’s what was so great about last Saturday, when I went to that weird thing at Yerba Buena -- it was great, because I was an item as me, I mean in all of my flaming glory -- don’t get me wrong, I’m certain that many of these styley fags cruising me were probably as vapid or pompous as it gets, but at least they weren’t looking for the answer in hey dude, what’s up?

Oh, no -- am I allergic to the B12 supplement? Because now I’m getting that scratchy thing in my throat. But oh, the profile, I mean posting on craigslist -- I guess I might as well just tell you what it said:

I love walking up the hill late at night when the air gets fresh and then I can look down at all the lights and the sky, yes you can look down at the sky…

Sometimes I’m not sure exactly what I’m looking for, but who is? Like, do I want someone to talk to, do I want a hug, do I want to read a book, do I want to go over your house and dance to strange electronic bleeps and clanks and that bass yes that bass or do I want your come down my throat? Maybe all of the above! Anyway, I’m fun and smart and flamboyant although strangely butch sexually who knows where that comes from and I laugh a lot even when I’m feeling awful and I love making out and public sex and looking at graffiti and watching the angles of light over buildings and hugging and sucking cock and biting your neck and intimate conversations with people I don’t know and sex with friends although I’ve never actually succeeded at that one but maybe one of these days, right?

Oh, and I like big eyes and big smiles and big hair and shaved heads and thriftstore glamour and punk or preppy or whatever look you’re working and spit in my face and sitting in your lap and holding hands and laughter and public spectacles and funny adventures and jumping on the bed and long deep intimate sweet hugs, are you ready?

Oh, wait -- that first part was the original headline but it was too long so really the headline said: late at night when the air gets fresh, but with a capital L because I just don’t like capital letters after colons. Okay, my hair does look better after I style it -- even though this is day four without washing my hair, or maybe because this is day four -- wait: Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday -- yes, day four, and I always capitalize the names of days. I’m trying to wait as long as possible to shampoo my hair, so that I don’t have to stress out so much about oh no, why is it so dry -- is all falling out?
So I actually get a few responses to my ad right away. We all know that the ad they like the best is the one where it’s just a photo of your cock and it says something clever like suck my cock-- that one will get me like 30 responses in 15 minutes, but if I say something real than forget it. But this time two people respond right away-- the first one says very cute and sound like a barrel of fun!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And the second one says you sound like fun.....;=)) Lots of fun.

So we’re getting somewhere here with the fun, I ask for more info and the first one says I’m 59 and I’m in San Jose, here are some pictures just so you know you’re not missing anything. And the second one says he’s not comfortable being gay in public, which isn’t going to work too well. There’s another one is nice, but he’s lying about his age too much -- I wonder if there will ever be a time when people who are 21 said they’re 50, just to get some action, but the funny part is that I even feel better after these limited interactions. Then I go to the Nob Hill Theatre, which is one of the places I didn’t want to go but it’s also the one without smoke so then I’m there, in a good mood staring at one of the video screens that says VOYEURS ONLY and I’m wondering if you can have voyeurs if no one’s around.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Roots

Why do I always hear the phone ring, when it’s not ringing? The sound of piss into water against porcelain, does that really sound like the phone ringing? The sound of plastic shower curtain rings against the metal pole -- yes those are rings, but ringing? The sound of the water in the shower, or is it the wind against the window pane, through the shower curtain and into the water -- is that the phone ringing?

My ears. Outside, it’s one of those nights when I’m worried about disaster, any disaster. Like what happens if some drunk driver slides off the road and into me, against the wall of this building, any building? Maybe I shouldn’t be walking around at 2 am, even though everyone’s looking me in the eyes and it’s kind of festive. What if this metal sewer cover is the next one that will blow off, right as I’m walking over? Like the one just down the street that ended up causing 30-foot high flames and what if I were walking over there right then? What if this car is about to run me over? Here’s the hospital: this is where people go to die, I mean not to die. What is this box outside -- maybe it’s where they put the bodies.

The worse I feel, the more I’m scared of disaster. Because I don’t want this to be permanent. Or, if it is, I don’t want it to be worse. Something about this kind of worrying makes me feel guilty. Because these kinds of accidents happen all the time, but they haven’t happened to me, and I still feel this awful. But wait -- why do I feel guilty?

I think I need to get back to the roots of all of this, those roots in a childhood without safety those roots I’m not sure I want to ground me but they are the roots, right? And roots are for grounding.

I keep walking, past the hospital where I turned because I didn’t want to walk too far but now I think maybe another block, but no just a half a block and I hope this woman doesn’t think I’m following her back downhill -- I’m just trying to get home before I crash.

It actually works, second night in a row of not walking too far and now I feel so much calmer.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Lostmissing #34



Lostmissing is a public art project -- I’d love it if you’d participate.

And here's what lostmissing #34 says:

If I had more energy maybe I’d show up for one of your weekend afternoons in the park dressed in layers of mourning, head-to-toe black lace complete with a gorgeous embroidered veil, and out of a fuchsia rolling suitcase I’d remove seven huge three-dimensional letters made of glass and lay them out on the ground in front of you. Through the glass you would see the grass, but also the reflection of the sky and maybe your eyes -- G-O-O-D-B-Y-E -- and then I would take a tiny metal hammer with an enamel surface covered in elaborate flowers and smash each letter, one at a time the grass the sky your eyes the sky the grass the sky the sky, and then when I was done I would take out a tiny pink vacuum cleaner to remove every glass shard even the tiniest remnant and then I’d walk slowly down or up the hill through the crowd whichever felt more dramatic in head-to-toe black lace with my fuchsia rolling suitcase.

Of course, if I had more energy maybe I wouldn’t think about you at all, not even when wondering what kind of vacuum I could find that would be so small, and cordless, and that I could be certain would remove any traces of the glass, so as not to hurt anyone, and of course you would be the person I would ask such a crazy question. And you would say: here’s what you should get. Or: that’s a crazy question.

Once I asked you whether chickpeas would ever lose their shape and you said no, you’d have to put them in a blender. I didn’t realize that would be one of the last questions I’d get to ask. But I just cooked chickpeas for seven hours and they lost their shape, a small victory.

Sometimes I feel better when I don’t think about you, and sometimes I feel better when I think about you, because maybe that will mean that eventually I won’t think about you, and sometimes I actually don’t think about you. The other night I went to some huge public event and I thought maybe this is the time -- I saw so many people from so many different parts of my life even our life and it was kind of fun, I almost thought it would be okay to see you too but then I worried that would mean I wasn’t really expressing myself. So then I thought about the glass letters again, everyone smashes windows. Right now I actually feel calm.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Palate


Sometimes when you’re really tired you notice things in a different way a different way than what it’s hard to think of not being tired, especially while staring at a single piece of quinoa on the shiny black background of a postcard, illuminated by the ceiling light reflecting off all that shiny black. Should I eat it?

No, after staring at it for so long, pristine against the softness of cardstock, somehow it doesn’t seem right for my palate. You can use words like palate when you’re tired, I mean really tired.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Helped

I’m not supposed to look at my email before I leave the house, but there’s that little window that opens up that shows the five most recent messages, why do I stare at those names with some kind of fear in my chest, am I feeling more anxious lately? I should make a plan to go to the reading with someone, tomorrow’s reading, I haven’t called anyone yet because I haven’t felt like calling anyone. I call Jen, Katia, and then I figure I might as well call Donna back to give her the recipe for chickpeas and change our feldenkrais appointment, and then the doctor’s office to make a follow-up appointment since they didn’t call me back, and then the homeopath to tell her no, nothing different has happened, I just feel much worse, and I think it might be because of taking the thyroid medication just twice, one dose on the first day and a quarter on the second. I don’t say: when I speak in the way that I’m feeling, people get worried.

The laundry arrives, I lean down to smell it, just to make sure that it isn’t filled with toxic chemicals and oh no, why did I get so close? Fabric softener right into my nose and rushing to inhale eucalyptus oil doesn’t help I already have that crunching in my sinuses. I hate that I have this privilege that’s kind of a necessity for me, I can afford to send my laundry to a place where they supposedly don’t use any chemical products, and then the laundry arrives and it’s like a blast of the end of the world, right here in this unbleached cotton bag.

I guess I’m not supposed to notice. I try not to notice -- I really try. Sometimes the odor is much fainter, I try not to notice there’s a rash below my eyes right where the freshly-laundered eye mask hugs my face. Freshly-laundered because it gets moist while I’m sleeping and if I don’t wash it frequently then I’ll get a different kind of rash. I try not to notice when my pants smell more like fabric softener than my shirts, maybe the fumes won’t reach my nose. I try not to notice when the fumes reach my nose anyway.

I can’t believe that this horrible toxic product isn’t illegal -- I can’t believe that they keep telling me they don’t use fabric softener, not even in any of their machines, and obviously that’s a lie or they’re sending the laundry somewhere else and this time it’s so bad that I’m going to have to ask them to wash these clothes again, please wash these clothes again, please.

Maybe a shower will help -- in the shower, I’m fantasizing about my own laundry machine which means fantasizing about some kind of apartment that I own, since there isn’t even enough water in this building to run a shower, and sure enough, just as I’m thinking this, the hot water stops running and then it turns to cold, and then it gets hot again but there’s no pressure and when I get out of the shower I turn the news on again, Free Speech Radio News, a worker-owned collective, and today’s first news stories were about Peruvian cops murdering indigenous protesters in the Amazon to make way for oil and gas development, and horrifying conditions in camps for Somalian refugees, and now they’re talking about gay marriage in New York state and I don’t want to hear anything about gay marriage ever again.

There was a time when I actually liked critiquing the hypocrisy of the gay marriage agenda, but now I don’t want to talk about marriage ever again -- I just want it to go away. Yet even on this progressive radio program that I listen to almost every day, the program that gives great in-depth coverage of US colonialism here and abroad, here on this progressive radio program there’s nothing but fawning support for gay assimilation -- marriage, military inclusion, hate crimes legislation, whatever -- they just throw it down with no critique whatsoever so when they say “the question of marriage equality is coming down to a few key lawmakers,” it sounds like they’re reading from a pro-marriage press release. What the hell is “marriage equality,” other than a scam by certain “nonprofits” to feed an endless machine for more more more money, what do they say every time they lose they say we need more more more money -- we lost once we lost twice we lost three times give us more more more money and we’ll try the same strategies of exclusion, the same strategies of presenting a sanitized, straight-friendly version of gay identity that silences anyone on the margins, we know these strategies will eventually work because eventually there won’t be any margins left, we’ll make sure of that!

And, of course, what do they say when they win? More more money we need more more money! Meanwhile, Free Speech Radio News wants me to know that “Brendon Fay wants his six-year-old Civil Marriage Trail Project to become irrelevant” -- luckily I’ve never heard of this project before, but searching for it on the web I do find that yes, they are invoking the Underground Railroad that helped bring slaves to Canada “where they found the freedom and equality denied in the U.S.”

Get it? Freedom Trail = Civil Marriage Trail. Freedom = Marriage. Wait, the movement to help gay people to go abroad to get married is a continuation of the movement to help slaves to escape servitude? Of course, I should never be surprised by the willingness of marriage advocates to appropriate civil rights discourse for their own gain, but still -- I’m surprised!

Yes, apparently the Civil Marriage Trail Project was founded to assist same-sex couples in New York to travel (underground?) to Canada, and more recently Massachusetts and Connecticut, to finally receive state support for legally becoming each other’s property. Well, not quite the Freedom Trail, but, according to Fay, some people are “too ill, too frail, or too disabled… or maybe those who are too poor, or who can’t afford to take the time off from work” to make the trip to Stamford or Toronto -- but, guess what, if civil marriage passes in New York, these poor disabled couples will finally be able to wed in their home state! Apparently this will solve all the problems related to poverty, illness, or disability -- now these lovely couples will have… marriage! Yes, marriage will help you to get a personal home attendant. Marriage will help pay your bills. Marriage will help give you enough healthy food to eat. Forget about providing basic resources, what we need is -- I know -- marriage marriage marriage! Say that again: marriage marriage marriage! More money for marriage! More money for marriage to help people with more money!

Fay wants to add that, apparently, a legal marriage helps you to immediately “get in track for legalization for immigrant purposes.” What track, exactly, is this? That’s right -- no need to change laws relating to immigration, just let more people get married! Need a new hat? Get married. Need a home? Get married. Need a job? Get married. Is that ICE at your door? Put down that gun, officer -- I’m married!

And how does this progressive newscast end? I know -- by telling us, without any critique whatsoever, that, if this bill to legalize gay marriage in New York passes, the state will “gain $210 million annually through increased wedding activities.” No critique of the same consumerism that drives all of the exploitative tentacles of government/corporate profiteering that Free Speech Radio News is always busy challenging. Sorry, if it’s gay, it’s okay -- just get married!

But wait -- before I get married, I need to get out of the house to get to the office supply store before it closes -- all of my pens have run out of ink, except for the ones that hurt my hands. So I rush outside and luckily the bus is just pulling up and I get to the store with plenty of time, although they have no answer as to why my pens run out of ink within a week or two, and I’m constantly having to return to fund the plastics industry, but then I’m home and even though I just ate something a few seconds or minutes ago I’m already hypoglycemic, maybe I should try some of these nuts -- macadamia nuts? I try one, my eyes get a little glazed but it’s not that bad so I try another, and then a third, and then I’m eating something else and I start to get that scratchiness in my throat -- I used to just think of it as a swallowing allergy, I can’t stop swallowing, but then my sister said something about hives in her throat and I thought oh, maybe these are hives, and then my nose starts running and I drink some water, but now it’s not just an itch in my throat it’s a pain, and then it’s like there’s something stuck on the roof of my mouth, some kind of skin, but there weren’t any skins on these macadamia nuts-- this is my skin, turned into something sandy.

I call Rose to thank her for the birthday gift, she wants to know if I’ve tried anything, she means any drugs. I say well, I did actually try something new, a thyroid medication, but it didn’t help. She says do you have a thyroid condition? I say I guess so, I’m slightly hypothyroid but the medication didn’t help -- I guess I’ll go back to the doctor, but I’m not that hopeful. Rose says: you need to go back, they’ll give you something that’ll help. I say I am going back, but I’m not that hopeful. Rose says: I don’t know of any thyroid problem that hasn’t been helped.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Hopefully I can escape

Of course there are different kinds of waking up exhausted. Today I wake up feeling okay, which might be the first sign. The first sign of what?

So then I’m cooking and I just feel so agitated, when will this be ready? I mean it hasn’t been that long, but already I’m gritting my teeth and then when I eat it just feels like I’m not really eating, just putting something in my mouth, is this food? I eat more, and then I’m annoyed at the music no not the music I’m just annoyed. And then I realize oh no, this is that type of exhaustion where my eyes kind of close and the only thing I can do is get back in bed, even though I just slept 11 hours I need to get back in bed right away or I’m not going to be able to function.

I love this bed, under the covers and I’m hugging the pillow but then I’m wired again I try to fight it but eventually I pull the eye mask off: oh, this is a good view, a good view of my apartment. I can see all four windows and the sun. I get up for more eating, then I’m in the shower and why does my hair get so dry in the shower, I mean as soon as there’s water on it it’s dry, shampoo makes it worse and I start worrying about the hair that clogs the drain, what if all my hair is falling out and clogging the drain and I don’t care about the drain but what will I do about my hair? More conditioner but my hair still feels brittle in some parts -- I’m getting ready to go outside for a walk in the sun, but maybe instead I should try that henna treatment -- my hair is more important than the sun, right?

I can’t find the directions for the henna treatment I mean I don’t have any directions because I bought it in bulk, something like three scoops in a cup of boiling water but how big were the scoops? I try 3 tablespoons, but it doesn’t seem thick enough. Another tablespoon, but now it’s gritty. I rub it into my hair anyway -- it feels cooling but it looks like it’s drying my hair out. Wait, what if I put green clay in my hair -- maybe the bulk labels were wrong and this is green clay! I rush back into the shower, wash this gritty green substance off and put on more conditioner and then I try to wrap a pillowcase around my head to keep it warm because warm is supposed to help and a towel feels like too much weight but actually the pillowcase feels awkward too I don’t want to hurt my neck so I try a hat.

The conditioner feels cooling too -- maybe I should soak my feet in vinegar again now and then I can cool myself in both directions. The light outside is getting softer, this is my favorite time of the day, the time before the day ends. I know I’m probably worrying more about my hair because I feel so awful, can’t I at least rely on my hair? Tonight there’s some kind of free late-night thing at Yerba Buena -- it’s a museum, so I’m pretty sure there won’t be any smoke, right? Although of course they’re serving liquor, because people need liquor to do anything at night, and I’m sure there will be a whole lineup of chain-smokers right by the door. But Yerba Buena is pretty big, so hopefully I can escape.

Really

Friday, June 05, 2009

Wait, I know they pulled up all those weeds and raked the glass so that I can find the cats more easily, but are they going to plant something?


Deborah, after 23 years

New options

After the book launch, the book launch that’s fun and inspiring and kind of uplifting and relaxing, after the book launch I crash I’m trying to put thoughts together but my head is blank I keep saying I don’t know how I just became so exhausted. Except that I always get exhausted from things like this. And I’m not sure how it’s always surprising. Except it is.

Back at home I’m reading a book and I just start crying in the middle of the sentence I don’t think it’s about the sentence it’s just that I’m in the middle of the sentence and I’m crying because I’m so exhausted and now my whole body hurts and this was from something that actually felt relaxing. I mean it makes more sense when something stressful happens, maybe the only stressful thing that happened was that I didn’t get up enough, I mean I kept thinking I should get up but then I didn’t because I didn’t want to interrupt but I should’ve gotten up more I should’ve gotten up maybe I would be okay if I got up more.

This new hole of exhaustion and pain, I think it started right after I took that thyroid medication, just one dose one day and a quarter dose the next day but I kind of think it drained my body so much that now I can’t function. Which makes me glad I’m not taking it, except that I haven’t thought of any exciting new options. Or even any new options.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Patterns

Sometimes I want to identify patterns, stop them before they arrive again. There are no patterns. There is no stopping them.

Like today, I was thinking okay, whenever I get in a new relationship I’ll just sit down and say listen, if anything goes wrong do we have a commitment to try to work it through? But then I realized wait, Derek and I had that commitment for over a decade and a half, and look what happened. Did Evan and I have that commitment? Would it have mattered? I’m sorry, but I’m unable to -- beep -- engage with you -- beep -- right now. Beep. I think about you all the time -- beep -- and I’m filled with -- beep -- love. Please replace battery.

Jennifer likes to say: I’m detaching without love. That’s her read on the double A thing. Because you’re supposed to detach with love. Maybe I should ask her about that -- I wonder if she has more reads: I’m looking for that scathing critique of the whole 12-step dogma from someone who’s spent a lot of time inside -- there must be a book or a movie somewhere, right?

I just finished the manuscript for Why Are Faggots So Afraid of Faggots, I mean yesterday I finished it and I wanted to feel excited I mean I did feel excited that I was finished, but I didn’t feel excited. I mean I’m excited about the book, but I’m not excited. Do you know what I mean? I just feel so exhausted that I can’t really feel excited.

I’ve learned how to do things while I’m exhausted, how to get things done, how to act with hope when I feel hopeless. Or maybe that’s not hope it’s just acting. Maybe I think that’s for me but it’s for someone else. Maybe I’m for someone else. When I’m this exhausted I just feel like there’s a wall between me and the world, the air is thicker no not the air the air is clear it’s the feeling of the air. Even the sun on the fire escape feels oppressive shadowing my eyes I have to squint it doesn’t feel like light just bright.

I’m always this exhausted. There’s this wall between me and the world, or if it’s not between me and the world it’s between the world and me or else it’s surrounding both of us, all of us, until we’re all this exhausted. But we’re not. I’m this exhausted. For a moment I can fly, but that’s just a moment.

I want to celebrate, even though I’m exhausted, except it just sounds too exhausting. Lately I feel like when I do more than I usually do, like the other day when I went to the sea lions and then dinner and then City Lights -- three destinations in one day, that’s a lot for me, and I started to get kind of wired like oh, this is okay, this is fun, I could do this, maybe I should do this. And then the next day it’s like I fell into a hole. That’s the day when I finished the manuscript. It’s hard to get excited when you’re in a hole, even if you’ve just finished the manuscript. Patterns, I’m looking for patterns.