Monday, August 31, 2009

Probably not the best thing to watch while I'm eating

Looking down, I see two yellow-gloved hands reach out of a window to scrape layers and layers of pigeon shit off the ledge -- I hope there’s not a sudden gust of wind blowing upwards. But then there’s a third hand, pouring water, and before you know it you can see the cement instead of lumpy layers of white and gray. I’m not sure about the people on the next floor down, though, with all that moisture flowing.

Then the yellow-gloved hands move to the next window over, pouring water over soot and then scrubbing away the layers of almost-black revealing almost-white. The sooty water pours into someone’s beautiful gardenia bush down below, staining the flowers gray. I don’t think I like these green flageolet beans -- they smelled so delicious while they were cooking, but after four hours of simmering and a night to cool down I can still taste the skins.

Multiple chemical sensitivity

When I was on tour and someone asked: how long have you had MCS, and I don’t generally think in abbreviations except when I’m making a joke so I thought she said MS, as in multiple sclerosis, or MCS registered as MS, so I said no I don’t have MCS, I have fibromyalgia. But then I realized oh, multiple chemical sensitivity, well I guess I have that too.

And that’s what I’m thinking about now, now after surviving a bed of chemical allergies, a residue in the laundry, even though they always say they don’t use anything except one detergent that doesn’t have any scents -- where are these toxic scents coming from? I mean I guess they’re just lying, and then I keep sending my laundry to them anyway because it’s the only place that even advertises that they don’t use commercial detergents, fabric softener, other poisons, and I keep trying to think of ways these scents get in my laundry without someone putting them in the laundry machines, like maybe it’s a perfume someone is wearing, or an air freshener someone sprays, but the truth is that someone is using detergents that contain perfumes in the machines, I’m sure of that.

Especially when I’m lying in bed, surrounded by these fumes, every time I wake up it takes longer to fall back asleep because I notice that my nostrils are clogged my eyes dried out my face flattened and then my brain starts racing and if I angle myself towards the windows I can feel the fresh air entering my nostrils, except when I smell pot smoke, or the tandoori ovens. Eventually I fall back asleep, but then when I wake up there’s that knot in my forehead, sinus pain, and it’s like I’m hypersensitive to any scent -- you’d think that when you’re face feels sealed shut you would be less sensitive, not more, but unfortunately that’s not how it works. And then I guess I’m always hypersensitive so maybe this is hyper-hypersensitive, and I guess that’s what multiple chemical sensitivity means.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Checking in

They must’ve painted the outside of my building with chalk, it gets all over my feet when I go out on the fire escape, oh no I hope it’s not lead-based chalk. Probably it is, actually -- I can’t imagine they’ve painted the outside of this building since lead paint was banned. I guess I’ll have to remember to wash my feet more often.

This Rosen method/somatic experiencing practitioner I’ve started to see has encouraged me to think about these small places of pleasure, fingertips and vision and breath in chest, in between or overlaying the pain and discomfort I guess the point is to retrain your nervous system so that you don’t get stuck. So now when I’m on the fire escape, and I start to think oh no it’s getting too hot, I’m starting to sweat my jock itch is going to flare up, then I also focus on the way the light reflects off the quinoa-amaranth mixture I’m eating all shiny and glistening, or the air on my toes, or the way everything softens if I close my eyes and it is kind of soothing, this new pattern, so different than thinking relax, relax, relax, fighting your body instead of checking in.

So when I’m going up the escalator in this corporate store, surrounded by every toxic scent imaginable, I notice oh, I like the humming sound of the machinery kind of like my white noise generator, and then I do feel a strange calm that carry through the toxic scents with me until I get back outside.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

A different type of softness

You tickle yourself with a fork, metal caressing skin. This is not about eating, it’s about the way your body becomes embodied. Sure, you’re thinking about Buena Vista Park and your mouth but this is about your fingertips. Red when they’re warm, purple when they’re cold and you like both, which isn’t true for the rest of you, your body, but fingers or toes you appreciate when the skin feels like it’s reaching.

Fingertips on toes like a little kid, a little kid and this sky, a different sky, then you rarely looked up except to go inside. When your body wasn’t your body and that’s what you learned. Safety was a joke that someone else created to make you feel unsafe.

Longing: what all skin has in common with skin. Longing to hold. The lights are sparkling waves over hills in the distance and the buildings smooth into each other, more hills, closer. Maybe this is because of sweaty skin, but also because of the breath you might find in your chest, if you can get there, maybe on the way to Buena Vista Park, between the trees and your fingers.

Sweaty toes, even. This isn’t about your sofa, except for the way the light shines off, reflecting you. In bed you will try for a different type of softness, softer than fingertips softer than light softer than hills. For now you think about holding.

Friday, August 28, 2009

How outside is just inside looking

I’ve finally found an apartment, it’s a sublet with two other people in a huge industrial loft, it’s the first week in my cavernous empty room, walls connecting to walls and looking outside it’s like inside looking outside. I’m trying to sleep, but there’s something I’m allergic to -- it’s not mold, there’s no mold it’s so dry. I go in the other room, the common room with a big laundry machine in the middle and counters but nothing else; it’s bright with sunlight, even though there are no windows. My roommate comes in, she wants to know if everything is okay -- I’m allergic to something, I say, and I don’t know what it is. She says maybe it’s the chemicals he uses in his art, so I go in his room and in the middle is this huge centrifuge shaking, nothing else, this room is like my room so the windows face walls, the only light is the light between buildings and all the windows are closed, he’s in a corner in a painter’s uniform, shaking to the same rhythm as the centrifuge. I can’t smell the chemicals, but I can feel them -- I say I don’t mean to get in the way of your art, but would you mind opening the windows?

He looks over at one of the windows, and I see that it’s open a tiny crack. I go in the other room to talk to the roommate who I actually like, she says maybe we should go out, when was the last time you went out? Her room is huge and empty too, and she’s sitting in the far corner at a round table, talking on a big red secretary’s phone. Where would we go, I say. She thinks we should go to that underground club, the one that’s only open once a month in that brick building that they rent out to people but no one ever rents it out. I say do you think people will be smoking, I need to explain something to you -- I can’t even deal with the smoke that comes in from outside, and she says you’re right, there probably would be smoke coming in from outside -- let me post a tweet about something, because I need to get fucked, and then I see the screen of her cellphone, someone replies right away -- I say isn’t that the guy who wanted to kill you?

She says yes, but we only have a month, that’s not enough time, and then I look out her windows and I notice you can see the trees, greens and reds and yellows in the lowering sun and there’s a breeze blowing in. I wonder how she got that view, and how I’ve never noticed it, nothing but trees in the distance past everything that is burnt to the ground, the landscape.

But remember how outside is just inside looking outside, so then we’re on the subway and she’s in some kind of box contraption with the guy who’s fucking her and I’m watching just to make sure he doesn’t kill her. Then I remember she said he would need more than a month, and we won’t be here a month so I go outside with the guy I’m just getting to know, outside the subway car and it’s like he’s on one side of a wall and I’m on the other so I lean my head over to see with my lips and then his lips and we’re both holding onto the plywood wall but I realize I need more so I grab his head, more lips and tongue I realize this is what I’m looking for and then I wake up.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

My sinuses and sadness

When the therapist asks me how I am, I don’t know -- how am I? I’m laughing because on the way I forgot the door code, and someone else arrived who had also forgotten the code, and then we were laughing together because I thought there was a seven somewhere but the keypad only goes to five. But why am I still laughing? I don’t know, I don’t know how I’m feeling.

I want to say something about the other day when I saw the Rosen practitioner and I went to that place I’m trying to say it now and my head just closes like a wall, I mean now with this computer screen in front of me I have to push through it. Maybe I’m just exhausted, but the exhaustion came right as I was about to say that place, that place -- here it is again, like I can hardly keep my eyes open or if I do I have to squint, that place where I’m squinting my eyes like a little kid, squinting my eyes I’m so afraid and then there’s that other feeling like my head flies up in the air, drugs, this feeling is comfortable, in the other place I can’t speak to me my voice starts but there are no words no words for this place but then with the drugs I can just oh.

But then there’s another place, a place of waking up and I look around in the room and it’s like everything is dark, the lights are on but everything is dark my head split into my head and the room and something outside and nothing my head is nothing but tar -- the consistency, the color, the smell -- it’s all in there and I’m looking out into this tar, through the tar, seeing and feeling and stuck in this place, my room, this tar this squinting this endless squeezed shut blackout awake empty squashed brokenness this is a new day. A new day and where am I, my room, where am I, my head, my this, my what is this, my head.

I don’t know what’s drugs and what’s dissociation, what’s memory and what’s loss, what’s hope and what’s hopelessness. It’s all hopelessness, does that mean it’s all hope? I’m trying to say something about the drugs but then I just go there, a little kid I can’t speak because of something else not the drugs is what leads me to the drugs I mean the feeling of the drugs which makes me think maybe it’s not drugs it’s dissociation except drugs are dissociation and what about drugs and dissociation, drugs and dissociation and not knowing I’m a little kid not knowing anything except everything this pain and this floating, almost comfort, and then this blacked-out closed off awakeness, why do I always wake up? Why can’t I ever wake up?

But there’s that little kid, squinting, and the therapist says something about a boy, not a boy a kid, squinting and that’s me and I can’t say it, something about death. Something about dead babies. I’m squinting, am I squinting at the babies if I can just say it then it won’t feel so scary except I can’t say it. I keep saying maybe it’s just an idea, let me try it as a question, but then I can’t finish the question and I feel ridiculous, like I’m making this too large, this fear that they’ve killed someone, they’ve killed babies and I don’t know what’s me and what’s a metaphor, that’s the problem that’s what they steal from you and the therapist says you don’t need to rush, we have time, you can just experience the feelings and we can take time and that makes sense but still I want to say it, still I want to say it and I can’t and then our time is up. And I can’t decide whether I’m glad I didn’t say it, whether I’m glad that we have time, but they have a new tea in the lobby called relax, is that what it’s called? And I like looking at the plants, one of the therapists is a gardener so the plants are always healthy and the room feels calm even though there’s no air. Even though it’s incredibly overheated, 80° says the thermostat but I forgot to mention that this started with my sinuses, I was talking about my sinuses and how my sinuses leads directly to sadness it’s like one biological mechanism and the therapists wanted to know whether it was emotion stuck there but no I mean pollution, cigarette smoke, mold, all of these environmental hazards and that’s my weakest place and it just leads right to sadness but still she thinks I mean my emotional response is sadness, and maybe it is that too, but what I actually mean is that my physical response is sadness. Also I don’t like it when people say that it starts with the emotions, I mean unless it feels like it starts with the emotions -- growing up, if my father the psychiatrist said something was psychosomatic he meant it was all in your head, to stop thinking about it and it’ll go away. But it’s true that when I’m squinting my eyes like a little kid, a little kid maybe I’m even crawling and looking into the corners for what might be dead, me, and when I’m squinting it goes right to that place between my eyes, above my nose, my sinuses, my sinuses and sadness.

Monday, August 24, 2009

The aquarium

I hate these days when I wake up and look at the clock, oh it’s early, that’s good -- not early like still the middle of the night what most people call morning or early afternoon, but early like in the 1 pm to 2 pm area, but then I realize I feel terrible, I’ll just close my eyes for a few minutes so that I can wake up feeling okay, it’s important to get out of bed when at least I’m in a good mood, but then it’s an hour and a half later and I feel much worse. Why am I having this trouble breathing, I mean getting air through my nostrils-- I was noticing that before, and I guess the good thing is that that means this problem went away for a while but now I’m not sure why, I mean why it’s back and I did change the pillowcase last night, maybe it’s detergent residue in the pillowcase, detergent residue from the place that supposedly doesn’t use chemicals but then I get my laundry back. But no, I don’t think it’s the pillowcase, the scent is only a tiny tiny bit but maybe it is that tiny bit and then I get up and open the blinds and there’s the smell of smoke, the smell of smoke filling my apartment from my downstairs neighbors, the downstairs neighbors who smoke all the time now, not just pot smoke but cigarettes too so maybe that’s the problem, it did kind of go away for a few days.

Today is a day for Eats Tapes, these broken screeching whiny beats creaking into something your body I mean the first time I listened to this album I thought it might be the cheesiest techno sounds I’d ever heard like sounds from the wrong side of every synthesizer that tinny tapping rattle screech but wait, a toy horn I can never resist a toy horn like the first time you realize the way sound becomes the sky and then bounce, wait, bounce the wrong side of your body which is your body and that’s today. My favorite part is when the aquarium starts bubbling and that’s when I’m bouncing until I realize oh, did I hurt my right foot again, and oh, maybe my right hand hurts more and I need to cook before everything gets worse and I hate thinking about all these things, all these things every day like oh no, yesterday I did too much editing, too much means just enough to get my brain started but oh my hands, my sensitive hands, these hands I need for chopping vegetables, turning more pages, and did I mention the shooting pains in my belly as soon as I got out of bed? So at least I know it’s not because of the amino acids, the amino acids I haven’t taken yet today -- sometimes I worry my body is getting addicted to them, or maybe the artificial flavors they add to them are irritating my gut. But what isn’t? Old issues, new issues -- dancing will save me, I can’t dance. Let’s open the side window, the one I keep closed at night because it opens all the way like a door, a door you can climb into from the fire escape, but when it’s open it also clears everything out. Except the music, let’s turn the music up.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

A few thoughts on Bruno

I can’t remember the last time I woke up in the middle of the night laughing, several times, because of a movie -- I mean, maybe this related to the unfortunate fact that I was waking up, but anyway I have to say that Bruno is absolutely knock-you-down hilarious. Sure, I watched the first 20 minutes thinking I can’t believe this is happening -- Sacha Baron Cohen’s title character is the most atrocious queen you can imagine, fully inhabiting every racist, classist, fashion-obsessed, vapid, misogynist, sex-crazed gay stereotype. It’s jaw-dropping, uncomfortable, lavish, and scathing. But the true brilliance is when the movie moves from a critique of the fashion industry and the rabid consumerism of the gay imagination, to an evisceration of Hollywood dreams and straight homophobia.

There are so many completely unbelievable scenes in this movie that I can’t even start to describe them, for fear of taking too long, but one thing is certain -- without the fame and resources due to the success of Cohen’s previous film, Borat, there’s no way that he could have flown all over the world, created fake TV shows and infiltrated real ones, and enacted the craziest stunts imaginable, without a virtually limitless budget ($40 million, it seems, for a movie in which very few actors are paid). So, therefore, a limitless budget to critique the habits of those with a limitless budget. Limited, of course.

And, while Bruno savages and satirizes all the habits of the liberal elite, its critique of the relentless hypocrisy of homophobia centers much more on the behavior of working class men (particularly those in the South -- hello, have you been to northern California?). And while these scenes are both vicious and splendid, the movie certainly would be a stronger critique of homophobia if it also exposed the homophobia of the (class) privileged. But, within the suffocating confines of Hollywood excess, Bruno is probably the closest we’ll get.

Friday, August 21, 2009

The history of all this

Sleeping later, feeling worse -- it’s all because I’m waking up in the middle of the night again, now it’s my brain, since the abdominal pain isn’t there to surround me, so at least that’s progress. Context, that’s what editing this new book is giving me. First of all, seeing all these issues with Chris way back, even conversations about some of the things he said he was going to think about, because they were new, but then when I brought those issues up again, they were old issues, old issues he shouldn’t have to think about. It all makes me sad and angry again, sad and angry and wanting closure but there isn’t any.

But the other thing I’ve noticed is that I think my pain has become more manageable, even when it doesn’t feel manageable I’ve figured out ways to move through it. I mean the pain in my muscles, tendons, that all-over-body ache, not the newer cramping clenching burping in my belly. So maybe that’s progress too, even on this day when I feel like falling back into bed, I guess it helps to look at the history of all this.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Holding

Okay, so now I go to bed with my stomach clenching, in bed I’m thinking I should get up and get the hot water bottle except I’m tired and almost calm I want to fall asleep but I’m not going to fall asleep unless I get the hot water bottle, so then I get up, no wait I don’t get up I fall asleep, actually sleep through most of the night except then when I wake up I’m still in all this pain. I guess my stomach hasn’t stopped clenching all night so I just feel drained and sad from the exertion taking away rest, that’s when I get the hot water bottle, which at least helps make it easier to walk around and do things. One of these things is feldenkrais, which makes me more tired and less overwhelmed and yes I think this pain does come from learning to let my pelvis go instead of always holding it in, because then I keep going back to my habit and now my habit hurts. And maybe that’s the connection with water, when I drink water I clench my belly instead of letting my diaphragm push out, these gestures that in a way seem small but then there’s so much inside, inside me, so much holding, now so much holding and letting go and holding and I guess all this holding hurts.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Play

Here I am with this hot water bottle, this hot water bottle over my heart I like it there best, down lower it still hurts until it doesn’t hurt anymore, and then I can go back to sleep. I will call this yesterday, because I actually wake up feeling like something is new, maybe today will be okay I’m in the mood for the new therapist until the therapist cancels because she’s sick and then I’m in the mood not to go to the therapist. I’m getting to the point in editing The End of San Francisco where I find these incredible parts, this one is about Chris again, about this quest to regain a sense of hope in my own sexuality and his understanding and our history together and I can tell that The End of San Francisco will involve a lot of crying, I’m crying at this point where I’m sensing Chris’s understanding and support while also wondering about fractures between us and so I can sense this narrative where the fractures develop. In my head it happened all of a sudden, here on paper it’s something else.

Lately I’ve been mining my CD collection for music to suit my moods sometimes I can’t find it so I go back, today it’s Moby’s Play, the CD that catapulted him to mass corporate advertising appeal, so derivative of gospel and blues and spirituals of course that’s an old story and the complicated part is that the album is gorgeous, gorgeous and emotive and I was a fan of Moby’s dance floor build-to-the-sky glory tracks way beforehand but this is something entirely different, or not entirely different just more overtly personal.

I’m thinking about the way that every electronic musician likes to thank God, thank God for the music and I can’t think of any book I’ve ever opened that thanks God, I mean I’m sure it’s happened but with music it’s almost everywhere, maybe God is in the beats but not the words and I’m not sure when Moby became a Christian but he’s definitely a Christian on this album, the album when I stopped listening to him because it’s the one where suddenly he was on billboards for Apple, maybe music doesn’t threaten culture like books, the ideas more covert or interior unless the musician is also expressing the ideas outside of the music but then music is such an industry it can swallow that too. Of course we’re living in backlash time, backlash means backwards and every time I hear about another right-wing frenzy around this health care reform charade that only means more money for the insurance companies but even a hint of a supposed public option means it’s too much sometimes it just shocks me that this is the country where I’m living.

When does backlash time end, and when does it begin? This is what I’m listening to while I’m thinking about Chris, and it’s funny because tonight I’m meeting Zee, my boyfriend when we were 19, for the first time in maybe years I mean we’ve seen each other but we haven’t made plans. He’s coming over, and I remember when Moby’s Play came out and I was visiting San Francisco from New York, staying at Zee and Magdalena’s place in Berkeley and it really was a different world, softer and closer to interior-meets-exterior except it was hard to get anywhere, I remember walking forever to get groceries and then walking forever back.

And we listened to Moby’s Play in that house painted dark colors under and over old wood paneling where spirituality was something to explore and consume and people would stop by and we would all dance.

Monday, August 17, 2009

The lady in her element (thanks, Kevin)

This is how you know that writing might save me

Sadness, I don’t like waking up in sadness. Even if it is the right time, I mean the right time on the clock -- I fell asleep later, because of all that stomach pain, but at least it started before I got in bed. And then I mostly slept through the night, why this sadness, this sadness in my face oh no it’s my sinuses. Could it really be the residue from smoke drifting into a huge open museum, a museum where I was dancing yes dancing, dancing at the museum to avoid the smoke, this was a late-night event but then there was smoke.

Last time the dance floor was in a different room, a room without smoke. Just 15 minutes, 15 minutes of dancing and when we left it was like I was a different person, but then if it leads to this sinus sadness is it really worth it? I keep trying to find that place, that place without smoke, why is this so difficult?

Lately I’ve become more engaged in this search after finding one place, except then of course that place turned out to have a smoke machine, because if there’s no smoke coming in from outside, or in from someone’s lungs inside, then of course you have to have a smoke machine, right? Even if the walls are all white, so the smoke doesn’t really show up -- then you turn on the pink lights to make it really special.

Anyway, here I am, here I am in this sinus sadness, more pain too in my hands I’m trying to avoid doing things with my hands I mean I’m trying to take breaks between the different parts of cooking. Now I’m sitting at the kitchen table and I know I shouldn’t glance over at my manuscript, that means hands but maybe just a few paragraphs and then here I am in these paragraphs and a lot of this part of my editing involves crossing large sections out, but mostly moving pieces around so that I can figure out how I want to represent each section, each section of the narrative. A few of the sections are already intact, like the part about visiting my father before he died, the beginning, but then most of it I’m going to completely rearrange.

So, for example, I’m taking all the parts about my mother, and moving them into one document, so I can figure out what is crucial. Or, all the parts about dancing. Or, the parts about trying to regain a sense of hope in my own sexuality.

But then I’m reading this section that’s mostly about sex and searching, but it moves into my mother and pain and dreaming and the bus and wow, this is where I really feel the arc of the book and I end up reading way more than I thought, just to figure out where the arc of this particular section ends, but somehow when I’m done my body doesn’t hurt more. Actually, I feel clearer and looser and I realize this is the perfect music, I might have to listen to this CD for the rest of my life and I dance a little and then my sinuses hurt again but I don’t feel as sad, I notice there’s smoke coming in from downstairs and I wonder if that’s a bigger problem than the smoke coming in from outside the museum, I mean this problem happens every day.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

These little worlds





These fingers

My father died from pain in the gut, that’s what I wake up thinking. I mean that’s what I’m thinking after I wake up with all this pain again, at least it’s not in the middle of the night -- I’ve slept through the night so maybe today will be better, except for this pain.

My father’s cancer started in the gut, or no they never knew where it started but what started was pain in the gut, and all these tests, I can’t remember what they decided at first, and second, and third, before they decided it was cancer, terminal cancer, which means they didn’t test for that earlier on.

I’m not worried about cancer, I mean of course I’m worried about cancer but I’m not worried that I have cancer, except when I wake up thinking that’s where my father’s pain started, in the gut, but this feels more digestive, or it might be because through feldenkrais I’m learning how to let go of my pelvis, let my pelvis hang like a dress, pretend I have a tail and if I always hold my pelvis in then the tail stays locked between my legs.

I’ve finally figured it out, I mean how to let my pelvis go, but then I look in the mirror and I’m not sure that I like the way this makes my stomach hang too, those old body issues, but then there’s the issue of this pain, the feldenkrais practitioner says it’s from holding my pelvis in but what she really means is that it’s from letting go, and then pulling it back in from habit, since I’ve always held it in and before I didn’t have all this pain. I mean I’ve always had various digestive problems, but different ones. I guess if I keep letting go, then I can let go of this pain too, like now, after I’ve taken the amino acids so I know it’s not the amino acids that are causing this pain, but also there’s this way of paying attention to things like the feeling at the tips of my fingers, soft and cool, or my toes underneath socks, the wind blowing at my back on the fire escape.

Now I can’t talk on the phone on the fire escape because someone complained to the manager, four or five floors down I guess they don’t like the sound of my voice and I’m disappointed because I like talking on the phone at this time of the day, this time of the day in the sun but maybe now I can pay more attention to all the different colors of the brick wall next door, or the light shining on metal underneath the white paint or soot on top and somehow it looks like glitter, or just these fingers yes these fingers.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Rocko Bulldagger on Bruno, and the hypocrisy of GLAAD, HRC, the New York Times, and Barbara Walters...

Rocko writes:

In a statement from the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation: "Some people in the gay community will be as troubled as GLAAD is that the movie doesn't decrease homophobia, but decreases the public's comfort with gay people.” On what basis were we looking for this film to increase the public’s comfort with us? Thus GLAAD reveals exactly how un-ambitious they are about gay rights. Comfort is antithetical to progress, we do not learn and evolve by becoming more comfortable.

Witnesses

Luckily I’m past this moment: my childhood hippo in my arms on the sofa by the window with the blinds drawn and I’m leaning over to hug Henry, Henry the hippo, and I’m saying thank you, thank you for staying with me for all this time and I’m crying because of all this pain, all this pain in my stomach, intestines that woke me up and I just keep trying to get it all how it’s all air it’s all pain, maybe a hot water bottle maybe if I walk around no that hurts more maybe I need to shit no maybe I should drink water but maybe it was the water that brought me to this place, I mean that’s when I first felt this clenching in my gut around 8 pm, 12 hours ago no don’t look at the clock. I hate keeping track of these things I hate doing everything so consistently but then it’s something else, something else that hurts.

I’m past this moment, but the good part is when I start crying a little and then I think about the way emotional pain is stored too, in the gut, and then I can walk around a little more my stomach doesn’t hurt as much I’ve been up for two hours in the middle of the night, bright night sun streaming in through the blinds turn it off.

Lately I’ve been sleeping better, I mean maybe for four or five days, sleeping better and feeling more exhausted but also more relaxed so I appreciate the sleep even if I don’t feel rested. Or maybe this exhaustion is what rest feels like, rest that helps me to feel how exhausted I am. But then all this pain in the middle of the night and I think about the way pain is stored, it’s so hard to store energy or calm or help or even heart is hard except the pain, the pain is always stored. And when I was writing about that time between childhood and the world, that time when I wanted my body to go away, that time when eating was so hard and maybe this is that time again.

I mean not that time, because I eat all the time I mean I need to eat all the time or else I can’t function but maybe eating all the time means I can’t function too, do you see what I mean? It all wraps around me, my body, this body that I don’t want to go away but the pain, the pain is a different story. No the pain is this story, this story of pain and so when I’m talking to Henry, not quite talking but mumbling, mumbling like drugs or childhood and I’m saying thank you, thank you for being here, thank you Henry. There are other witnesses; there are no other witnesses. I am here, here with Henry who is here with me.

Later, after I sleep yes sleep thank you sleep I look over at Henry on the sofa: Henry looks scared, staring out at the sun in that awkward way I pull him up to my arms and oh Henry you’re so soft, I can’t believe you’ve stayed so soft after all these years, and then if I turn him around to face me he actually doesn’t look scared anymore, softer with the light behind him.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Verona Hotel

One of the things about working on this new book, The End of San Francisco, is that it means going through my writing from the last three years which means my life, and then I find these things like a conversation with Chris from over two years before the end, a conversation that I thought would lead somewhere else but instead -- well, lostmissing, you know the rest -- I was calling Chris “Derek” for a while, but maybe now that he’s gone I’ll call him Chris again -- anyway, here’s this excerpt from what I’m editing:

You're adorable is what this guy says to me when I kiss him, he's on the sling at Blow Buddies getting fucked by first one guy and then another. I don't know how many it's been, but I like watching his eyes bouncing forward and back. I came in when the guy with one of those hats was going at it -- Chris calls them emo hats, Ralowe says conductors caps, I think they’re something from the military. Anyway, the guy with the hat was fucking the frat boy in the sling and I started hugging him from behind, licking all that sweat on his cheek and eating his ear, what is it about ears with me? He was grabbing my dick, but I kept having to pull back because I was about to come, I hate the way that works now like it only takes 10 seconds or something.

Then he came in a condom and pulled away, said something like you better take your turn before it's too late, so I put on a condom and what is it about the friction that makes me come so soon, I'm not even turned on I hate it. Then I leaned on top of the guy and kissed him, that's when he says: you're adorable. He's adorable, almost-shaved head and pale Irish jock skin I mean maybe we’re adorable together. Anyway, then he says will you tag someone for me? At first I think he means fuck someone for him, but I realize he means pick someone to fuck him. There are a lot of guys standing around. I pick the skinny one and make sure he puts on a condom, my new boyfriend says thanks.

Then I end up watching maybe four more guys fuck the guy in the sling and it's hot, even when the guys aren't hot I'm watching my boyfriend's face he's getting totally delirious talking to people who aren't there, looking back behind him saying this is the way, it's hot this way, you're in a sling just anyone walks in. One guy is pounding him so hard that all the metal on the sling is shaking like it'll fall but it's made not to fall. No one is smiling except me, I'm totally grinning like I'm proud of my boyfriend, problem is that if it was my actual boyfriend I'd be shaking like that sling or no I’d stay still as the floor but inside like the metal on the sling bouncing up and down. But this guy's not my boyfriend so I'm kissing him and it doesn’t hurt, I say you're amazing -- I mean I could never do that.

He says just try not coming for three days, but three days is like nothing for me, my boyfriend has to go pick up his straight friend who he left at a techno club -- he's from the Bay Area, but he's moving to Portland in July because he thinks it'll be easier there to survive the energy collapse. I'm curious about whether he's fleeing out of paranoia or whether he's engaged in creating alternative energy options, but I only get a chance to give him another number to lose in his cellphone. But then the cabdriver tells me my haircut is adorable, she's got long blond hair and a pink bow, secretary glasses with rhinestones. I like that word: adorable.

Although adorable is not the word I would use for the two hours at Blow Buddies that I'm skipping, the good news is that I have this breakthrough about my relationship with Chris, I mean I realize that the reason I get so shut down when he gets angry is that I don't know how to deal with that kind of masculinity in someone I love, I mean usually I just discard people like that. But Chris is my closest friend, so when he gets angry like that I just turn into a little kid and I can't say anything.

Luckily we’re having a conversation, honestly I've been thinking about this for five years -- I know that's terrible, but that's how my brain works when I get scared I mean it just rolls and rolls and eventually gets somewhere but not before wearing me down, wearing me out, and wearing me outdoors when I should be indoors or inside when I should be outside or you know what I mean: it's not a good pattern. Chris says he's afraid to show that he's angry because he knows it shuts me down, but that's not the point -- I don't mind if you're angry, I just can't deal when it's this masculine rage. Chris says he notices that pattern, he doesn't want to be grumpy all the time but no I'm not talking about grumpy -- grumpy doesn't bother me at all, I just can't deal when it's directed at me.

The best part is when Chris starts to cry, is it weird to call that the best part? Here in my kitchen that's too bright now that I replaced the light bulb but I'm not about to change it again, maybe it's just too bright because all the walls are white and there's nothing on them yet. But Chris starts to cry when he says you're one of the only friends I have left and just like that I'm crying too, we're crying in my kitchen and I lean over to hug Chris but that doesn't work so I stand up and he stands up and I'm hugging him, my hand on the back of his neck to comfort him, he doesn't cry often. I like hugging him. I always like hugging him.

Chris wants to know how we became friends if I always steer myself away from that masculine behavior, I mean I'm attracted to it sexually but I know it’s violence so I stay away. I say I don't think it was a pronounced when I met you, I mean looking back I can see that you were masculine but at the time it was like we were engaged in the same project of questioning everything about our actions, and that type of unquestioning masculinity was the worst type of behavior in both our minds and you have the same critique now it's just that I think you also find comfort in that masculinity. Maybe comfort is the wrong word, maybe it's something more like fatalism.

Chris says you're right, I grew up in a family where that kind of masculine rage was the only way anything was expressed and I can't help it, it's in me I can't help it. I say I grew up with that kind of rage too, I mean maybe it wasn't actualized in the same way. I stop myself -- of course it was actualized. Chris says you don't have to qualify it, I know you did too. I say I just chose to deal with it in a different way, it's just not the way I express myself any more.

I'm wondering if I was more like that when I met Chris, maybe that was something else that connected us this inexplicable rage. I never really embodied masculinity, but moving away from misdirected anger was still a long process. I mean I used to tear apart the people I was closest too, I thought that was love of course that's an old, old story. Chris says he has to think about it some more, it's a new thought he has to think about it. I'm just glad that I'm finally able to speak.

There's something about the sky in the middle of the day, right before it gets startlingly gorgeous you know like when the fog rolls in and the sun is lower but before that it’s just anticipation or not anticipation really because you don't even know that you're waiting but you’re waiting anyway. I don't know why I'm starting with the sky when what I'm feeling is so much lower I mean in my head and it's already nighttime, not nighttime when the sky is so blue it's almost brighter than day but just nighttime inside looking at a few scattered lights, no not scattered -- most of the lights are in the Federal Building actually or in that somewhat tall subsidized housing building where people seem to stay up later, plus the hotel sign in neon red with green wrapping around the top part, HOT, you know hot, don't tell -- that's the Verona Hotel I think, it's a residence hotel on a crack-heavy block but they have a very glamorous lobby with all the original wood. I saw this movie when I was visiting Berlin at the end of 2000 before I moved back to San Francisco and this guy in the movie lived at the Verona Hotel, San Francisco in the movie was this dark and desperate place where guys got crucified at dangerous SM parties where they thought it was a scene but instead it was the end and I just thought it was hilarious this pathologized sensationalism, I mean magnified to include everything but still a vision of San Francisco through the eyes of Berlin I saw the Verona Hotel or actually I think it's the Hotel Verona, that desk in the front lobby, I thought okay, I'm moving back.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

This dark substance you stuff into tiny plastic tubes

In the dream that now I can only faintly remember, the dream in between or no not in between, after, finally after all of that horrible indigestion waking me up with an expansion of belly into chest that burping I can’t stop burping I mean I can’t stop trying to burp which hurts more and I have to move until finally I have to sit up too, ouch this burping ouch when did this burping start? All my indigestion used to come out as gas, which is terrible in public, but at night in my bed I much prefer gas to all this pain.

Anyway, after the burping does kind of become gas, and then there isn’t as much pain, there are these elaborate dreams where I’m escaping somewhere but not quite, the only part I remember right now is that somehow I’m naked on the streets of Germany, surrounded by cops, but then I realize maybe it’s legal to be naked so somehow I’m back inside the glass-walled shopping mall end-of-the-world bunker no wait now it’s some kind of collective house where we all live in one large room, they’re starting to tear out the walls and one of my roommates is beside herself, I say they have to tear out the walls, it’s the only way to get rid of the mold but she says: then where would we live? We’ve run out of food except for this dark substance you stuff into tiny plastic tubes, then press the mechanism at the top to get it into your throat, bitter and it’s not very filling but at some point I realize my head feels clear, at least I’m not allergic to this substance, and when I wake up I realize that it’s ink, ink we’re stuffing into pens and then pushing down our throats and at least I’m not allergic to words.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

New friends, old friends -- oh, and a reading in just a few hours!



Make/shift in San Francisco
Thursday, August 6, 2009, 7 p.m.
Modern Times Bookstore
888 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
FREE

Hosted by make/shift coeditors/copublishers Jessica Hoffmann and Daria Yudacufski, with readings by columnist and reviews editor Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore and contributors Hilary Goldberg, Lailan Huen, and Stephanie Yang.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

A map

Here is the entrance to our bike ride: a small parking lot, there’s always a Mercedes parked here, the same Mercedes, an old sedan in that color somewhere between green and brown the color of an assured sense of never failing. Except one time it’s actually for sale, for sale at a low price that assured sense and I try to convince my father.

The park, there must be something pretty about the park I just remember trying to stay on the bike path, not to hit anyone or get hit, not to fly off bridges. Maybe the trees, the trees and the light, the trees and the light and the air yes sometimes the air when we went fast or slow and I wasn’t just trying to catch up he wasn’t yelling at me to catch up or something, yelling at me for something, nothing and one time I fell, fell and hit my head and we went to the hospital and I needed stitches and after that I wore a helmet, we wore helmets, and then there wasn’t any air anymore. If there was air before, because now there was more sweat and I hated sweat almost as much as my father screaming. And we would stop at the field, the field where my father would yell at me to throw, throw like a boy, throw.

There were other people there, maybe even other people yelling, and oh that’s right the fall leaves sometimes the fall leaves, especially when they would close the street on special occasions but that was scary because we had to go through the open street to get to the closed street and all the cars on the way. Here’s my father, in a picture, Europe and his arm is around my mother, his body completely taut, shirt neither tight nor loose. He looks like what they said Jews look like, dark curly hair, thick beard, the nose, we can’t see his eyes because of the sunglasses, it’s a good thing we can’t see his eyes, except. Except his eyes.

He looks like what they say psychiatrists look like, dark curly hair, thick beard, his eyes we can’t see them but we are not his patients. He will see his patients. We will see his eyes.

But here’s a picture of my father, arm around my mother, this is rare that’s how you know it’s Europe, except wait -- 1985? Did we go to Europe in 1985? That sounds too early, except here I am on Lake Geneva at least I think this is Lake Geneva and it’s 1987. Lake Geneva would’ve been our second trip to Europe, even though I didn’t think we went to Europe until high school, high school started in 1987. I don’t know if these dates matter, but they matter in my head, like when I look at that picture where I’m standing in front of the tiled wall in Mexico, the one where I almost look tough, but then if we went to Europe in 1987 then maybe this isn’t Mexico at all. Mexico was supposed to be a test run, a test run to see if we could go to Europe.

Here’s my mother in the picture, her hair rising above the her head with those big curls, blonde, she’s the pale one, the one they always say I look like. It’s just our skin tone, blue or green eyes. They say my sister looks like my father, the olive skin, dark eyes. Of course my mother’s hair is bleached, she’s learned to look Jewish but not too Jewish, a different upbringing than my father. She is not a psychiatrist.

In the way that upward mobility works, my sister and I are almost a different class I mean not in the picture but in our heads, even our hair grows straight, my sister’s is wavy but you can barely tell, and we know there will never be a grandmother living in our house. In the way that our parents are fleeing their parents without fleeing, there will rarely even be a grandmother in our house. It’s strange that my mother is holding a map because she didn’t like maps but here she is with this map and my father’s arm around her, she’s kind of smiling, but why is his hand reaching around to grab her hand her hand looks caught? I mean doesn’t that seem awkward, his hand around her neck and then pulling her hand up his hand is holding tight no not holding this is a grip they’re posing for the camera and there’s my sister in the corner, smiling also oh wait they’re all smiling for me. That’s me, up ahead. Smile, smile for me.

I wonder if moving away from Jewishness was a part of this transition, this transition I’m mapping. As a kid it was something I could escape to, a history of resistance and longing -- if you take this picture of me from 1985, just before my bar mitzvah, I do fit, especially with the same glasses as my father, and the same straight barbershop line for my bangs as my sister. Except for all the fear, there’s almost nothing but fear except in this one picture, the one with my books behind me, a red sweater, there I look like a young intellectual with skin so pale I’m almost whiter than the walls behind me, paler than my mother’s skin because there are no freckles on my face. After my bar mitzvah, I rejected God, rejected God and my parents and I decided that if I was rejecting God, then what made me Jewish? I didn’t know enough about history to know that this was Jewish, a Jewish history, I just knew that my parents’ Jewishness was only about status camouflaging violence. So if you look at me on Lake Geneva, or in front of this tiled wall or an unidentified European window, chin up and eyes looking into the distance I don’t look like I belong to them at all.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Your eyelids, and cold hands

Sometimes you wake up there is no waking up you wake up anyway. You put on a CD that you never listen to, you may have never listened to this CD. This CD that tells you how you are supposed to feel, neither sad nor happy and the vocals are better as another instrument and this is how you feel. And then somehow you can breathe, or breathe more, yes there’s the air entering your nostrils a cool feeling, soft like a breeze a breeze in your nostrils there are your eyes, your eyes above your nostrils your eyelids, blink, light, through the windows when you can look at the buildings and see the sky or actually you’re looking out but not at the buildings or sky and this is how you wake up, cold hands in your lap.

You wonder about how anything can become an addiction, maybe that’s what it means to be human, the human experience. Like now, when that calm arrives you wonder if it’s just the amino acids, you just took the amino acids but remember the music, maybe the amino acids and the music, are you addicted to music? But what about the light, the sun, maybe you’re addicted to amino acids, the music, the light, and the sun. And your nostrils, the air in your nostrils, blink, that’s your eyelids, your eyelids and cold hands. Maybe you’re addicted to amino acids, the music, the light, the sun, your nostrils, the air, blink, that’s your eyelids, your eyelids, and cold hands.

You wonder if there was a time when you believed in sleep, believed that sleep would just be sleep. When you used to sleep forever, sleep with the lights on sleep with the sun streaming in the windows sleep with people talking sleep with construction sleep, except then you never felt rested either, different except not different like sleep. You believe in his bed, this bed and the pillows and your body and hope, this bed and the pillows and your body and hope in this bed in this sleep and then you wake up.

Lostmissing #41


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