Monday, May 31, 2010

At least I have these flowers...

Israeli troops open fire on Freedom Flotilla aid convoy

I don’t know why this shocks me so much, coming from the brutal Israeli military -- I knew they weren’t going to let the aid convoy in, that they would turn it away with force like they always do, but somehow I didn’t imagine they would open fire on hundreds of people on a ship carrying aid for the people of Gaza, shut off from the world by sickening Israeli policies. It’s my birthday, and I can’t stop sobbing. I don’t think I can deal with going to visit the sea lions like I usually do, at least not right now. I guess I’m up early enough for the protest at the Israeli consulate -- maybe I’ll try going there, even if those protests don’t usually feel empowering. I don’t know what else to do, at the moment. Last night was another horrible night of bloating that kept me up in pain, so I’m not really sure whether I should leave the house at all, I mean leave the house this early, or after I take a shower and get dressed, but if I can find someone to go with me, so that I don’t have to carry my bag, then I think I’ll try.

Rounded edges

It’s kind of strange that the only things I have from my grandmother’s house so far are a few plastic containers I took for food. I’m developing an affection for these blue lids, the rounded edges on otherwise square frames, the flatness of these containers in comparison to my others, somehow this feels comforting.

I do keep thinking of her, like when I call my other grandmother and I think oh, I’ll call Rose now. And then I get sad again.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Except, maybe

Oh, no -- all this pain again, this pain in my gut I have to get out of bed and then it hurts more, all this bloating and I guess one good thing about going to bed earlier is that when I wake up in the middle of the night it’s actually night. I mean it’s still dark, not so startling as the sun but what is startling is how this pain won’t go away, just moves around, is the hot water bottle making it better or worse? Definitely the ginger tea makes it worse, then I’m nauseous too and all this goes on until actually it is light, and I’m starting congee for tomorrow, not sure if I can lie down yet, still too much bloating, eventually I do lie down but then I need to get up and here I keep making all these changes, changes in diet and sleep schedule and whatever else I think might help, really whatever else I keep trying but then there are just more horrible health problems to overcome and I really don’t know, I don’t know I don’t know I don’t know I mean I do know about this pain. So emotional this pain in my gut the way it opens up into that overwhelming sadness the next day, will everything always lead here?

Except the sun, yes the sun gets me wired although then of course I’m immediately worrying if I’m getting burnt, bright noontime sun and it’s warmer too, four minutes in one direction and then three in the other and are my knees burnt or tan, I guess I should go inside. I wondered if there’s something that can just feel nurturing, just nurturing and maybe building and nourishing and right now I can’t really think of what that is. Except, maybe, writing.

A free tee with only a $150 purchase -- quick, we better hurry -- meet me at Post and Taylor, okay?

Yes, thank you...

On the street, this guy looks at me and yells wait, wait! He's a mess, so I'm not waiting, but I do look back as he yells: Pop art! And, day-glo! Plus, cartoon! And…

I’ll take that. Although I will admit I was waiting to hear him come up with the rest. Ideas?

Leaving my grandmother's house...


I’m getting more and more exhausted. I know I just got back from a long long trip, and when that happens I always feel awful, but I’ve passed the one-week mark and I told myself I wouldn’t think about how awful I feel for a least a week, for a least a week I wouldn’t think about that but now I’m thinking about it. And if there’s an arc then it’s definitely going down, I mean I’m feeling worse and worse.

So then I’m on the phone with my mother, she’s telling me about arranging all my grandmother’s art and artifacts for auction. I want to hear the details, but somehow the details just make me sad. Sad like I can’t speak, I mean I just get more and more exhausted and that adds to the more and more exhausted that I already feel, and eventually my mother calls me back, to ask if there’s anything else I wanted to talk about. She’s calling me back because I told her I didn’t like it when she asked me a question, but then changed the subject if I didn’t sound positive. Like when she asked me about my talk in Eugene, and I told her it was really draining, but she wanted to hear about how much energy it gave me. It didn’t give me energy -- I mean there were beautiful moments, like when someone said: That’s Revolting is what made me trans, I mean made me realize I was trans. Or, someone else who told me: you’re kind of my idol, and I want to follow in your footsteps, but I don’t exactly know how.

Those were beautiful moments that I didn’t even get a chance to tell my mother, because she changed the subject, and then I felt shut down. But now she’s asking me, not about that but about my grandmother, my grandmother’s house, and I guess it’s because of two things really -- one is the legacy of her art, her artwork, and the other is the childhood space her house holds in my heart -- and I sense the dismantling of both of those things. Even if it’s not literal, there’s literally the dismantling of her house, and her possessions, and all that loss builds up inside me. I don’t tell my mother that my immediate fantasy was that we could make my grandmother’s house into an art space, someone could live there for free and in exchange they would keep everything in order, and then people could go there for a month or six months or a year to make art. I mean, it was already set up for visual art, with such an extensive studio. It’s not the most convenient place, and it would take a lot of work to keep up the space, but still that was my fantasy. I let it go right away because I knew that idea wouldn’t make any sense to my mother -- it would have preserved this childhood space for me, and created space for other people, and that would have mattered but I’m not sure we could have done it anyway. Although I guess that’s what I would’ve tried to do. Maybe I’ll call my mother back, just to tell her.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Dude, let's go up to the roof and take some killer pics of us smoking cigarettes and drinking beers -- awesome!

How many years

It’s strange when I go on a walk at night now, and there are so many people out and everything’s still open -- kind of confusing until I remember wait, it’s not 2 am it’s 9 pm. But I kind of feel like 2 am in my head, ready for bed, and I can’t decide whether that’s a good thing but it’s not like there are all these amazing things going on late at night that I’ll be missing, I mean I’ve been looking for these amazing things for I don’t know how many years.

Honey, I can't remember if I already asked you, but what, what on earth is this?

A secret garden...

Friday, May 28, 2010


I don’t know about the strategy to close my eyes again, close my eyes because I’m not quite ready to get up, just a few more minutes then maybe I’ll be ready for that’s what I thought until. Until, wherever I am now. Somewhere between sleep and awake, a new day and last night and tomorrow, like they’re all in a circle around me but I’m somewhere in bed where I can almost read the sentences except they blur away from me, and I keep thinking maybe sleep, maybe this is more sleep except I don’t know if I want more sleep. I mean, if I go to bed at 10:45 pm, it’s kind of depressing to wake up much later than 11 am, right? I feel like I could just sleep all day, I mean except that actually I can’t sleep I’m just somewhere in between until there’s a slight opening and I choose it, just before noon, I guess that’s okay. Outside onto the fire escape and no, I don’t think I should sit out without a hat this early, even if the acupuncturist says you need the sun without a hat to regulate your pineal gland, sun through the eyes, directly through the eyes, I think it still works with the hat. But that’s what I’m thinking about afterwards, when I look in the mirror to see if I’m burning, seven minutes and 60 degrees but maybe it’s the music, the music again that brings me to that place, the music and sunshine and then I guess I’m taking out the map, the map of Santa Fe and thinking about where I might live, this area between two streets, a few blocks long and a few blocks wide, not that many houses there, but somehow looking at the map I feel like maybe I’m closer, closer to deciding.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

I know what they say about the sky in the Southwest, but wait -- look, look at this!


There’s something about I mean nothing like music in the morning when it fills my head, my cloudy head filled with sound and the thoughts these sounds bring me, manic thoughts of dancing in clubs and everything I need from the connection of all those bodies sweating in a room with these beats oh these beats and everything. So yes I’m dancing, but then of course something hurts and then I’m on the stretching mat, eyes closed in meditative breathing, where is my breath stuck, just observe, don’t try to change, it will change itself, and that’s where the music changes, bossy bass-heavy bounciness gives way to a spacy trill, babies in the distance, a hummingbird’s piano, and I remember when someone wrote about my writing about music, and said: I don’t go to punk shows anymore, so I love hearing it. No, reading is what she said, reading it, and of course I thought wait, I’m not writing about punk shows, but it’s the way that when you’re in the music when the music’s really in you it’s all the same the same the way you feel you feel these beats and then when the music fades out oh this arc I love the arc this album makes I mean you don’t think it’s an arc until that final song, when you realize, and as it fades out I hear sirens in the distance, kind of music until closer, and then maybe a seagull, and a car horn, and a much louder car horn, church bells, and then something that sounds like water, but it’s traffic.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A growing problem

I know -- with all this mold and digestive bloating, you were wondering about the pot smoke. Well, here it is, filling my entire apartment, even with all the windows open -- no need to wonder anymore! At least the air eventually clears it out enough for me to get in bed, but not in time for my sinuses -- oh no, my sinuses.

But here’s the thing about my walk: it clears my head. And I don’t even walk uphill, where the air is fresher. Just down the street, downhill a few blocks, where I get tempted to walk further, just to get further away, but then I know I’ll get too exhausted to get back, so I turn to the left, and then go back uphill. It’s so bright out at 2 pm that my eyes start watering and I have to squint.

But what is it that clears my head? Oh, it’s all these people! All these contrasts and this craziness -- somehow it fits under these skies and in this bright crumbling neighborhood. I’m pretty sure that in Santa Fe I’ll never walk out the door and see all these characters. I’ll probably miss this jumble so much that I’ll need to get back to a big city, but that doesn’t necessarily mean I still don’t need to leave.

Back in my building, now even the lobby smells like pot, but since my head is clearer it’s actually funny. I say to the tweaker in the elevator with me: is it the whole building, does the whole building smell like pot? And then he’s filled with tweaker synonyms: something does seem dank, a growing problem, someone needs to pull the weeds, yeah they got the good stuff. And when I get back in my apartment there’s more air too.

Monday, May 24, 2010


Forget what I said about not waking up in the middle of the night. Here I am, planning out every phone call I have to make tomorrow, I mean I’m thinking about each person and the beginning of our conversation: hi, it’s Mattilda -- how are you doing? You know -- because I really have to plan that part out, in case I forget. And then I’m thinking about moving to Santa Fe, I mean I’m planning out the logistics -- even though I haven’t decided to move there yet. Maybe this all started because my mother was asking about sending stuff from my grandmother’s, and am I ready yet, since we found out that UPS didn’t do home pick up anymore, at least not in Baltimore, so my mother is sending it with movers who are also bringing furniture to my sister in LA, but then I thought wait, what if I’m moving to Santa Fe? If I’m moving to Santa Fe, I should probably get things sent there, right?

Remember this is all in my head, in bed, in bed where I’m supposed to be dreaming but instead I’m thinking about whether I should plan some kind of going away spectacle here in San Francisco, what would that look like? Sometimes I think about a tour of all the places that have meant something to me, a nighttime tour with stories and rituals, but then that sounds too tiring, so I think about an event where I invite people to perform, but then that sounds draining too, so I think about doing nothing, but maybe I need some kind of closure, something that feels like a hug, an opening, an invitation.

Of course I don’t need to figure all this out at 7 am in bed when I’m trying to sleep, but somehow my brain doesn’t realize that, even if the rest of my body does, until eventually my brain gets the message too, and when I wake up I’m exhausted again, and of course there’s pain in my gut, all this pain and I’m starting to wonder if it’s caused by eating too late. For the last 10 years I’ve had to eat right before bed in order to fall asleep, because otherwise I get so hypoglycemic that I’m immediately wired, but could something be changing? I know that feldenkrais has helped me to let my belly go, to relax, but then it pulls back into its familiar place of tension. I’ve started eating only a grain before bed, or trying to eat an hour before, but not right before, but then I always worry that I’m going to get hypoglycemic and end up in that insomniac glare.

Meanwhile, there’s the sun on the fire escape -- maybe this sounds strange, but I never realized before that it’s actually cooler outside around Noon then it is later in the day -- is that why they’re always telling you to avoid the sun from 10-2, because really it doesn’t feel that warm and you don’t notice your burning until later? Or maybe that’s just here in San Francisco, with all this cool air blowing in, I love this cool air but I’ll admit it’s confusing after getting used to East Coast and Midwest and even Northwest humidity. Although I don’t quite understand humidity -- I mean, when there’s fog there’s humidity, right? Though usually it feels so fresh, except suddenly when it’s totally different and then I remember the East Coast again and that humidity, but how does this crazy humidity thing work, anyway? I mean there’s less mold in those humid humid places, maybe because it’s damp and warm. I better get inside, before the sun starts to burn again.

Sunday, May 23, 2010


Did I tell you about my new sleep schedule? I decided to let East Coast time trick me, so since I’ve been back on the West Coast I’ve been getting up at 11 am. That means going to bed at 11 too, which is earlier than any time I can remember since maybe seventh grade. I don’t know what I think about it yet -- it’s one of those things that every healthcare practitioner in the world recommends, but I’ve always been a late-night person, I mean it’s never been possible to go to bed much before 2 am -- usually, the more exhausted I get, the harder it is to fall asleep. I get wired.

But this does feel different -- now I get so tired so early, but not wired really, or maybe a little wired in bed but it does feel like maybe my sleep is deeper. I mean I still feel awful, but there’s the horrible bloating and the mold and all my traveling to think about too. I’m not sure how long this schedule will last, but I’ll try it and see.

It’s nice to see more of daylight, even though I get burnt so fast. Like today, 11 am on my fire escape and it’s absolutely freezing but I’m out there anyway trying to get my vitamin D and regulate my sleep with direct sunlight going into my eyes, six minutes and I actually get burnt. I mean, in Seattle and Chicago and Eugene I sat in the sun that felt warm, hot actually, and I didn’t get burnt at all -- makes me think that at some point I might have to move further North, although right now it’s Santa Fe that’s in the picture -- Santa Fe with this earlier schedule and I guess that means facing that dramatic sunshine in a more intense way. In Santa Fe, you’re so high up that the sun feels closer. I mean it is closer. If I move there, I’ll have to make a serious investment in sun hats and sunscreen, sandals and tank tops -- even if people say that it doesn’t really get that warm. I mean people who live there. Everyone else says it’s insanely hot, how will you deal? And I guess I won’t know until I’m there.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Back to the usual, I guess...

I know I always feel horrible get back from a trip, but that doesn’t make it any less overwhelming. I’m walking uphill, trying to figure out how far is too far. I’m so tired that I can’t imagine how this could be helpful. At least it clears the mold out of my sinuses, maybe. Except that it replaces the mold with car exhaust. Could anything be more annoying than the shower in my apartment, rotating between hot and nothing every 10 seconds? I think it’s the San Francisco water that dries out my hair, before this shower my hair felt like it was recovering, now it’s breaking off with just a little moisture. And every time I drink some of this water, here comes the bloating again -- yesterday it didn’t stop the entire day, I mean lately it always seems to explode while I’m in bed, but can’t I get a break, a break from the bloating? I don’t even know how much I like sitting on the fire escape anymore -- the view is beautiful, and I’m glad I have somewhere to sit in the sun, but it kind of feels like I’m sitting in a cage -- couldn’t I have just a little more room, maybe room for a chair and a plant or two? At least when I’m in my own apartment I can cry more while I listen to the news.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Any of it

Oh, no -- I’m doing drugs, drugs in my dreams but I guess if there’s a place in my life for doing drugs then my dreams are safest -- then I can crash, and I’m still in bed. First I’m with Ethan, we’re walking through the sun towards the water, we need to get to the water and it’s far, we’re driving far on this walk and the way the sun meets our eyes means we’re tired but alive in the way that drugs make you that journey, that journey towards the water and then I’m at a club, the coke in big flakes like glitter, I’m holding it in my pocket thinking when will I ever be here at just the right time for the music, exiting the bathroom and walking through that hallway with lights in the dark and I feel okay, maybe this time I’ll be okay, just a few more minutes on the dance floor before my sister picks me up and when I push through the doors it’s a hotel lobby and the music is so muted that I can barely hear it, when I look around there are all these big families at banquet tables getting ready for breakfast and a few club kids walking between the tables, what happened?

I look at my watch and the hands start spinning, on my cellphone it says 8 am but I went into the bathroom at 3:45 and outside I’m telling my sister: listen, I did coke. I’m holding the vial in my hand, plastic like the traveling containers I use for shampoo, and my sister says I’ll hold it for you. No, I say -- you don’t want to hold it, because then it will be too tempting, and when I wake up I think about waking up on the train at 6-something so I could get ready to get out at 8 and when I opened those blinds, no way. Like looking out my window when I woke up from a nap, and I thought: what the hell, what the hell is that? All this brightness and buildings, oh -- that’s my view, I’m in my apartment, this is crazy.

I want to mark my first impressions, my first impressions upon arriving back here, here with my heart in so many places. When I get to my block and step out of the car at some insane time in the morning, I look across the street, cars and people everywhere, the buildings, and I think wow, how could I ever live anywhere without all this going on? And then, the car exhaust: oh, it’s really polluted. When I the door to my apartment, I can’t believe all the contrast and colors -- this is amazing! My plants look great, growing everywhere. There’s so much going on in this apartment, my eyes moving around to take it all in, I almost can’t believe it.

And then: so much dust, how will I ever escape the dust? Randy just dusted for me, and it looks great but I can still smell dust everywhere, is it the books? In my next apartment, I will get cases with glass doors for my books, just to see if that helps. At least I don’t smell the mold -- maybe it’s gone away, I left the heat on the whole time I was gone, to see if that would help.

But then, when I get up from my nap, the first thing I think is: oh, the mold -- there it is, it’s everywhere. After feldenkrais, I hook up with someone on craigslist, and it’s actually fun, intimate, charged -- he tells me he likes my outfit, my body; the sex is actually hot. He’s so tall that I have to stand on my toes to kiss him, which isn’t something that usually happens, and then he does that thing that I usually do where he bends his knees to press his whole body against mine, and oh, that’s how this feels the other way like comfort. Afterwards we talk, and it’s not exactly connected but it’s not disconnected either. I mean he’s nice, and queeny, but his apartment looks empty even though he’s lived there for three years. I guess that’s the aesthetic most gay people aim for: white sheets, beige sofa, curtains drawn, porn on TV. I like the photos in the kitchen, though -- he says it’s kind of embarrassing, but I used to work in advertising for Banana Republic. Oh, I say -- and those were advertising photos. Right, he says, but I figured it was free art, something to put on my walls.

On the bedroom wall are two photos of some guy I don’t recognize who’s in a band, and then above them two photos by Marilyn Minter. He says people are starting to recognize her more, when I first heard about her no one seemed to know but now she’s getting kind of famous. I tell him I first heard about her when she had a show at SFMOMA and someone told me to go because of the enlarged and distorted pictures of my eyes on my wall and my cover photo for That’s Revolting with smeared makeup and I did love her work, especially when she remakes the photos with fingernail polish on metal.

Walking back home from Russian Hill, which way should I go? I mean, such a huge hill in either direction, I didn’t remember it was this far. Oh, no -- a raccoon staring at me, I’ll go the other way. One block up and people are standing in the middle of the street snapping photos, is it some kind of photo shoot? But wait -- that’s Lombard Street where it winds around for the tourists, how strange to live over here. I walk up, and up, and at every corner there’s one of those postcard views of bridge and bay and the air on the side of the hill, closer to the bay, is so much fresher. I keep thinking I should stop, and take a cab, I’m going to get too tired, I mean I’m already too tired, but then the cabs that pass me are full and when I get to California Street I figure I better balance my body by walking downhill too.

A few blocks further and the air gets clogged again, but then suddenly there are all these people, people everywhere and it’s kind of exciting, this is why I live here -- the Thai restaurant is packed, drunk people are trying to get cabs, a couple is sleeping next to the heating grate, bodies wrapped around one another. Onto my corner and I remember this was always my dream: to live somewhere like this, downtown where the buildings and people are falling apart and you look up at the lights that are everything you ever wanted. I mean my dream was always New York, but then I needed to get further away. I needed to get here. I got here. I found what I needed. I found what I didn’t need; I needed that too. And now, maybe I don’t need any of it, anymore.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Two upcoming New York screenings of All That Sheltering Emptiness!!!

That’s right -- my first film, All That Sheltering Emptiness, made in collaboration with Gina Carducci, is screening at two different festivals in New York in the next few weeks…

First, this Saturday at Migrating Forms --

Migrating Forms, Group Program 8
Saturday, May 22, 9:45 pm
Anthology Film Archives
32 2nd Avenue
New York, NY 10003
(212) 505-5181

And then, at NewFest: The New York LGBT Film Festival --

Sunday, June 6, 3 pm
SVA Cinema
333 W. 23rd Street
New York, New York

Oh -- and about the film:

All That Sheltering Emptiness is a meditation on elevators, hotel lobbies, hundred dollar bills, the bathroom, a cab, chandeliers, cocktails, the receptionist, arousal, and other routines in the life of a New York City callboy. Gorgeously hand-processed in full 16mm glory, All That Sheltering Emptiness explodes the typical narratives of desire, escape and intimacy to evoke something more honest.
16mm, color, optical sound, 7 min.

-- Barbara Hammer

Look, that shoe is still there, that shoe is still there for us!

Friday, May 14, 2010

All the tears I can get

Okay, so I admit I go to Volunteer Park for some sort of nostalgia: it’s where Andee and I used to go, late in the afternoon, shoes off and feet in the grass. It takes an hour to get there from where I’m staying, because the buses are so slow, and I know I shouldn’t be carrying my bag this much, but then I get to the bottom where you climb up the stairs and onto the driveway, up a hill and through clouds of gnats, into the trees and towards the bathrooms and even though the bathrooms are closed I’m still excited. I get to the main field – it looks the same: still too manicured but the way it curves down towards the city, it’s a warm day so the sun in the evening is still strong enough for me to worry about burning.

I take off my shoes. I look around. That’s the hard part. I mean, there were always lots of annoying people in Volunteer Park, but now they’re all straight. Except that over-tanned guy lying in his bikini. Everywhere else it’s just smiling upwardly mobile straight white people with kids, really smiling. I walk over to the other part: smiling straight white people without kids, I guess I’ll sit here. At first I thought some of them were queer, because of the fashion -- especially this one guy working the ‘70s gay clone look, but no – it’s just fashion. I sit there for a while – I watch the jockier ones play frisbee, and then the ones who are more nerdcore play some game where you try to get a heavy ball near another heavy ball, and then they all get together to drink, joke about the approaching summer, slang they don’t recognize, music, texting – I move back and forth from sun to shade and it’s calm but lonely. Sometimes gay people walk by, I hear them and look back. Maybe Andee will call me right now, from Berlin, and I’ll give her the update.

I wait until it gets too cold to wait, and then I walk to 15th Street because I need to get something to eat. There’s the bus, but it’s not moving: I check the schedule, it will be sitting there for the next half-hour. I keep walking, maybe I’ll go to the Thai restaurant where Andee and I used to go, even though it will probably make me sick now. No, I keep walking. Oh, the vegan restaurant I don’t like that much – okay. James calls, she says I was worried when you said you were going to Volunteer Park, because you said 15 years ago. It’s funny what you want to see when you’re traveling, what gives you a sense of place. James says something about how it’s still busy after dark, in the bushes, and even though that’s not what I was looking for, I think of going back.

The food is actually good: I’m going back to Volunteer Park. Suddenly I’m in a rush, trying to put my bag down as often as possible because my shoulders are hurting. Walking through the grass and I get to the other side and over to this group and you know when there’s someone who’s impossibly hot, so hot it hurts and he’s standing up from sucking someone’s cock, spits in the grass and then wait it doesn’t hurt because I’m holding him, kissing his neck and hoping the remnants of his cologne or deodorant don’t rub off on my clothes and when he says he wants to be alone he means alone with me, and then we’re over into another clearing and what I want is to make out but I can tell he’s not so into it, he says I need you to warm me up with your lips, and he pulls out his dick, pushes my head down, of course I can’t resist that invitation, now there’s a crowd and I’m focusing only on this guy, or on his cock, really really focusing because I want to give him everything he wants.

The thing that made him even hotter when he first stood up from sucking someone else off, hotter than his curls and those big eyes, hotter even than his lips was the way he said something, nothing much but the tone of his voice said he wasn’t afraid of being queeny, or at least that’s what I heard, queeny underneath the clean-cut preppy veneer of desire, but then when I’m sucking his dick he keeps saying man, as in man, I love your lips, man that’s great, yeah. Gay people are so strange, we switch places but I definitely don’t say man, I just moan. Although I always switch into some strange masculine demeanor, even in my floral print women’s cardigan, which actually doesn’t seem to frighten people as much like usual, I mean in this domain. But anyway, there’s me, and this guy, and maybe someone watching us, but from a distance, and when he stands up I grab his head, and that’s when we’re really really making out, what I want, even though he says he’s not really into kissing, that’s later, after he wants to see my ass, then his tongue, then his dick up against and he says do you want me to fuck you? And when I say it takes me a while to relax, he says it doesn’t seem like it would be a problem to me, and his confidence makes him even hotter; I wonder if maybe he’s right, maybe it’s just the fear.

Maybe it’s my imagination, but I think it’s when I say condom that he starts to have trouble staying hard, I mean he starts to talk about it. I’m a grower not a shower, he says, as if I was worried. Sometimes it’s difficult to be in a public sex space if you don’t feel invincible. Then he’s cold, really cold, so he’s going back to his car to warm up and I tell him I’ll go with him and he says I’m sure you would.

He was already cold, it’s not that he’s running away, or not just that he’s running away, and I say thanks, you’re really hot, and he says thanks, and then I’m alone again, where is everyone else? I could tell you about later, first the guy who was following me around, telling me I was so beautiful I could be his boyfriend, couldn’t he just see, just see this thing at my crotch that these spaces are all about. But at least he told me where everyone was, on the other side because of the cop over there, and then we walked over together, a conspiracy, and later the guy who was too nervous to be fun in the way I wanted but still I was walking with him afterwards, down the street to catch a cab, he kept looking back, more nerves, and then I did too, and should I ask that guy for a ride, the one getting into that car, impossibly cute again but maybe too cute, standoffish in that pompous prettyboy manner, but all this is in my head, the guy with me thinks maybe he was following us and it’s not until later when I wonder wait, maybe that was the guy from before. And then I’m in that space of hating myself for not saying hey, want to give us a ride, just in case, as if that was my fatal mistake, it could’ve been everything. Right. So then I’m sad again. It’s not until the next day when I finally cry, talking to a make/shift reviewer about a writer whose politics have developed since her confrontation with him years ago about his lack of awareness about female prisoners, she says she can’t believe how much he’s changed and that’s what brings on my tears, yes tears, more tears please they make me feel so much better. Luckily there’s the news, I haven’t listened to the news in a while so of course I’m sobbing, or not sobbing but crying periodically and that feels good too, I’ll take all the tears I can get.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

I'm giving a keynote in Eugene this Saturday!

I’m giving a keynote talk this Saturday at the Beyond Patriarchy conference at the University of Oregon in Eugene -- my talk will begin with a screening of my first short film, All That Sheltering Emptiness (made in collaboration with Gina Carducci) -- the talk as a whole is called Maybe What Openness Is About, and I’m excited about it!

Of course, it would be even more exciting to see you there…

Here are the details:

Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore’s keynote talk
Beyond Patriarchy Conference
Saturday, May 15, 5 pm
PLC 180
University of Oregon


So much sadness, surrounding me. No, it’s not surrounding me – it is me. First it’s here in my sinuses – I shouldn’t have taken that train, I mean I should’ve gotten off for a few days in the middle: an overnight train I can kind of deal with, but two nights destroys me. It’s just that I don’t know anyone in western Montana – next time I’ll have to find some kind of hotel with a kitchen.

Then there’s the sadness because of all I’ve done – Baltimore, DC, my mother. Even this new opening in our relationship – that brings more sadness too, because I’m scared of the engagement, endless sadness. I mean I’m so exhausted that I’m a little kid, looking to her for some kind of comfort – isn’t that dangerous? I mean, it’s okay when I’m walking down the street and I look up at the birds, so many birds chattering away and I can go right to that place of amazement. Then a car drives by, exhaust into my nostrils, and I’m wrecked again.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Wait -- did I show you this weird thing? It's my father's bar mitzvah scrapbook, from 1956, complete with a list of presents, excerpted below...

Back in my grandmother's studio...


Someplace to stay

Music is the key for this train, it brings me out of body breakdown and into party magic -- these beats and that view, yes these beats. I think maybe I’ll move to Santa Fe – what do I have to lose? Andee says I’ll get bored after six weeks, but boredom isn’t really one of my problems. Loneliness is a different story.

I’m looking forward to getting back to San Francisco, but what’s there for me except stability, or something like it. Stability and loneliness. Finally we can get off the train in Minneapolis, or the stop that’s in some office park halfway between Minneapolis and St. Paul, but yes this air oh this air and then I’m walking on the side of some industrial drive, walking in the grass with all this air and no way, there are rabbits just down the street, wild rabbits with big beady glazed eyes like maybe they’re eating something really strange but this air, and yes it’s this break from the train and the train that make me think: this is the beginning of the rest of my life. Until: the next day and I can’t believe there are 24 more hours, 26 actually – I told myself I should never do this train again, my sinuses are wrecked and I’m telling Gina to remind me next time – it’s easy, she says: 2 days is 2 much, right?

Until Glacier National Park and I’m in the observation car – some guy is giving an impromptu talk about avalanches versus skiing -- that’s the path of an avalanche, no one could see there, unless you were ready to die, and then you could have some fun on the way, he says, but only if you were ready to die. And the guy next to me wonders if I might know his brother, who lives in Portland – I guess maybe he’s trying to tell me his brother’s gay. Then suddenly then there are moose, elk, deer right by the train and everyone is talking to one another, pointing out discoveries just before sunset in the snowy mountains, right this is where I’ll stop, next time I’ll stop somewhere around here, I’ll find some place to stay and I’ll stop.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

My grandmother's room, from here...

And, lace!

A couple discreet pictures -- discreet, really really discreet I promise to be discreet!

From craigslist, where discretion is always assured, man:
Want a couple pictures of your butthole covered with cream? I'm looking for a clean guy to come over and suck my dick then flip over on your stomach and let me rub my cock on your asshole and shoot my load all over your hole and take a couple discreet pictures of your cum gooey hole.

The rules, again

Some people are so strange about the rules. Like this tweaker at the Crew Club, I pull him into an uninhabited room and maybe he’s into it until he notices there are no sheets on the bed, or the thing that’s like a bed but not quite a bed because they’re trying to act like this is a gym, what do they call this compartment? Maybe a changing room? Anyway, this tweaker says wait a minute, this isn’t your room, and I say you’re right, but it isn’t anyone else’s room either, and he looks at me like I’m totally crazy – we can’t do this, he says, this means that this room is available.

And then on the train, when I ask the conductor if we can get off here, Harpers Ferry, and he says no, and I say when’s the next time we can get off to get some air? And he says Cumberland, but that’s just for smokers, and I say I’ll get off anyway, and he says well mostly it’s just for smokers, you don’t need to smoke? And I say no, I just want some air, and he says well really it’s just for smokers, the fewer people that get off the better, and I say that’s okay, I’ll get off anyway.

Monday, May 10, 2010

The offer

I always say that getting up just a little bit earlier than the usual, I mean making myself get up, I always say that completely destroys me. But then it’s totally different when it happens, like today I only needed to get up to 1 pm, just an hour early, but of course that meant I was thinking about it all night, woke up at 11:30 am and couldn’t fall back asleep and I know that doesn’t sound so awful, until. Until. Until it is. So awful. I mean I’m rushing to the bathroom to shit, over and over, and then I can’t digest anything. At the train station with my mother I start feeling nauseous, like I’m going to vomit right there, back to the bathroom, back to the waiting area, back to the bathroom, I’m not sure I can get on this train. I mean I am going to get on this train, if I don’t get too nauseous, but I’m not sure it’s a good idea, and my mother says are you sure you don’t want to stay longer? I do, I mean I don’t, I mean I wish I could take a later train on a different day, but it would just be the same thing, or maybe not the same thing but something like it: I’m already here.

And then I remember I have TUMS in my bag, maybe TUMS will help, and actually they do, I don’t feel nauseous anymore, just sad and exhausted and overwhelmed but maybe now I can eat more, and my mother says I’ve really enjoyed this trip, every minute of it, and I appreciated last night’s conversation – it’s not an end, just a beginning, we’ll have more conversations. And then she says: if you need me to go to Chicago, I’ll go to Chicago, I can meet you there, and strangely that sounds comforting, not the idea but the offer.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Too much

I’ll have to tell you more of this conversation later on, the one that starts at my grandmother’s art exhibit, the permanent collection at the University of Maryland and the artwork looks beautiful, even if it’s housed in such a weird space, a conference center with a gallery kind of in the basement really, a few galleries in spaces that feel like hallways, I mean they are hallways but wider, track lighting that makes the artwork look good but a drop ceiling and shiny white basement floors, except the area that houses my grandmother’s work, which has a red carpet, but that’s because it’s right outside the conference rooms.

But anyway, afterwards we’re outside in front on these Southern-style lawn chairs in the brick median between conference center and hotel and I’m trying to tell my mother why it’s upset me so much that Rose died, because my mother says Rose had a full life, of course I know that, but what’s hard for me is what she meant to me as a kid, I’m mourning that loss now. I mean she hasn’t been supportive at all for 15 years, but I didn’t realize what that meant, and I start to cry when I’m about to say that I wish we could have talked about my art, I mean that she wouldn’t have refused to see me, to understand, because she was the one person in the family who could have, and I didn’t realize what that would have meant me, so that’s what I’m mourning now.

But I don’t get to say that, because our taxi arrives, so then it’s a few hours later and we’re at my mother’s apartment, and somehow it goes from my grandmother to my father, and my mother is saying: it was a huge mistake to stay in the house with Dad. I didn’t protect you and Allison, I didn’t protect myself – I didn’t feel competent. It would have been excruciatingly painful to leave him, I wouldn’t have been able to support you – I wouldn’t have been able to deal with the loneliness. It would have been a bloodbath between Dad and I, and I was always worried that he would get custody, and that I would be left with nothing. I always thought he would change – and he didn’t. I wish I could’ve been strong enough and resourceful enough, but I wasn’t.

When my mother says she should have left, she’s saying she should have left because of my father’s anger; she’s not acknowledging the rest, but still. But still I can’t believe she’s saying it was a mistake to stay; she’s never said that before. I always wanted her to leave. Now she says: I always felt that it was a mistake to stay.

Later, my mother says something about how my father was never affectionate, and I say that wasn’t the problem, the problem was that he sexually abused me, I mean that was the core, that he raped and molested and sexually abused me, and then I start to talk more, just a little bit, but my mother stops me and says something about how I told her she doesn’t have good boundaries, and she says: maybe you don’t realize this, but I’m a very good listener. Like she’s letting me talk too much. And then: something about how she would like to see me in therapy. As if I’m telling her because I think she’s my therapist. Something about how she doesn’t want to be the receptor for all of this. But I’m talking about incest because it’s about you, I say – I don’t have to talk about it right now, but I need you to know that it isn’t just about his anger, or his lack of affection, I can’t just let you leave it there without at least bringing up the sexual abuse, because otherwise I feel like I’m being silenced.

Before, my mother was encouraging me to cry, to cry about my grandmother, to let some of the sadness out – she was telling me she really respected me because I could show my emotions. But now, talking about incest I’m stuck again and she’s no longer encouraging me, I mean she wants me to stop, it’s too much for her to hear about, as if it wasn’t too much for me to endure. As if it still isn’t too much for me to endure.

But still I can hardly believe that she said she should have left. That was always my hope, my hope as a kid – I wanted to rescue her, even if she would never rescue me.

Everything and nothing to do with her

This is the worst day yet, I mean the day when I feel the worst. When I got here, in this hotel room, started to unwind, realized I’ve been in the same space with my mother for 10 days I think, and being in the same space with anyone would be hard, I need at least a few hours at the beginning of the day before I see anyone, just to feel like maybe I can function. So, when I got here, in this hotel room, late at night and it felt so calm. But then, while I was sleeping, the smoke detector started beeping, no beeping sounds too soft – it was emitting a high shriek every 30 seconds or so, maybe it was doing it before too but I didn’t notice, and I kept thinking I could fall back asleep anyway, but then I would hear that shriek and still I would try, and then I would hear that shriek, and then eventually I got up and called the front desk, and it took them 45 minutes to send someone up, or it took the person 45 minutes to get here, 45 minutes of trying not to wake up, but waking up, awake, 7 am or 7-something, and eventually someone arrived and took the thing off the wall and then I fell back asleep, but when I woke up I felt awful, and my mother hadn’t dropped off the food for me like we’d planned, we’d accidentally left a bag in the car and I didn’t have any food except a tiny bit of rice and some asparagus, I got back in bed.

Got up and I felt better but still no food, I heated up the rice and cooked the asparagus and that was okay but it barely did anything, this panic of hypoglycemic rage I mean that’s what happens, that’s why I eat all the time, I never let myself get to this point without food, I should’ve gone back with my mother to get that bag of groceries last night but I felt so tired, I wanted to rest. Eventually my mother comes over, she wants to talk about my plans with my grandmother but I can’t talk until I’ve eaten, she knows that. Still she wants to talk.

We unpack the groceries, my mother starts to chop an onion for me but she cuts herself. I give her a bandaid, I have some in my bag. It’s the way she looks at me, like I’m hurting her by not sitting down to talk, by the way that I feel that has nothing and everything to do with her, by trying to take care of myself, and I then I feel like a horrible person, a horrible person for not holding my mother and nurturing her and I know that sounds crazy but this is what happens, this always happens at some point when I see her and then I feel like I deserve to die, like childhood never ended, like I’ll never get away, like I can’t keep traveling, I need to cancel my talk in Oregon, I need to get on a plane and go back home, home that doesn’t feel like home anyway but I need to get back.