Saturday, July 31, 2010

And pain...

Look at these flowers!

This does look beautiful, today...

A plutonium plume

One of those days when I wake up thinking okay, maybe this is the day, the day when I feel better. I turn on the music and my body feels different on the floor when I start to dance, lighter.

But you already know about these days. Today what happens is that I eat. I know: that happens every day. Sometimes I wish it didn’t.

No, I just wish it wouldn’t make me feel so awful. Immediately my head is clogged, energy gone, outside into the pollution I’m walking and walking is okay but then I get back inside and I’m exhausted again.

No, I was exhausted the whole time, but then it got better. And then it got worse again. Everything felt so clear before, that was the most confusing part. Especially when I was in bed, my head racing in between sleep, that delusion. But then when I woke up, and everything still felt manageable. I learn about the plutonium plume that’s approaching the Santa Fe water supply from Los Alamos, it will arrive sometime in the near future and what does that mean, exactly? Besides that the water will be contaminated by plutonium.

More research, that’s what I need to do. More research, and I hardly feel like I can do anything at all. Except for a few minutes after feldenkrais, when I get home and I think: I should have sex now, when I’m actually feeling like it. Then I start to crash. And then I eat again.

Friday, July 30, 2010

All the light

Okay, so I’m lying in bed in the middle of the night, awake from getting up to piss and now there’s all this bloating, better turn back to the right side and I’m thinking well, at least now it comes out -- I mean I’m burping, it’s not stuck. And then, guess what? Within a few minutes, it is stuck, I mean I can’t continue lying down, I sit up so that I can release all this pain, back to lying down, rubbing my belly, sitting up, lying down, this isn’t working.

I guess the good thing about going to bed earlier is that when I wake up in the middle of the night, it’s really the middle of the night. I mean it’s dark. I take off the eye mask, even though I’m thinking no, I shouldn’t take off the eye mask. But it’s irritating my eyes. Maybe I shouldn’t put it on so early, but I want to block out all the light. All the light.

Eventually I fall back asleep. Eventually I wake up. I take the new herbs from the acupuncturist, the ones that are supposed to focus on digestion. I don’t know why the last one didn’t focus on digestion. They just made everything worse. No, not everything -- they made me wired and drained, way more exhausted. I take the new herbs. Very bitter, but at least they don’t give me that edginess. Actually, I think they make me feel sad. Sad is better than edgy. Maybe I already felt sad.

But now my throat is dry, I can’t remember how many times I’ve said not to give me anything that will make my throat dry, because I already have to drink so much water and I think that’s part of what makes my digestion so useless. But anyway, the herbs dry out my throat. I think I better cancel my membership at the gym, I’m not going to get back to the pool before I leave. But canceling my membership at the gym makes me feel sad too. Hopefully they’ll be somewhere with a chlorine-free pool in Santa Fe, I mean if I move to Santa Fe.

My jaw is hurting more and more, actually my pain has gotten worse again over the last few weeks, maybe because of the bloating or because my sleep got worse, or because I’ve been editing more, but anyway my arms especially. Today I’m going to the dentist, and sitting in that chair always makes everything worse. It’s sunny out now, maybe I’ll go sit on the fire escape.

The fire escape doesn’t help. I go outside -- no obvious tourists around, rare for this time of year. I walk too far. Everything hurts more.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

That instinctual nervousness

This is something I forgot, or forget, maybe I forget every time, after I’m inside. How, walking up to the Nob Hill Theatre, I actually think about what people are thinking. I mean, I worry, a little. I scan the street ahead of me just to see, walk inside quickly like I’m not thinking of anything really, and maybe I’m not, but I am. It’s funny, right? I mean, I’ve been to this place at least a hundred times, and places like this so many more. Still that instinctual nervousness. Not as much as going to a bar or a club, but still.

I wish I could say there’s no shame, but first everything was shame, right? Childhood and all that was around it. And then, nothing was shame. Or at least that was the goal: I got close.

But then: all these years of time in these spaces, time in these sexual cultures that lack almost everything I’ve dreamed of, all these years surrounded by everyone else’s shame and maybe now. Like, online and I do think: I wonder if my friends will recognize this ad. Because it’s stupid, lowest common denominator, the only kind of ad that works on craigslist, and yes I am embarrassed. Mostly I’m embarrassed by this culture that surrounds me, but I haven’t figured out how to get entirely away, probably I never will.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

What desire feels like, again

It must’ve been a few weeks ago when I woke up from a dream, coming in my sheets. I mean I woke up just as I was coming. It was a dream about my father. In this dream he was trying to force his dick into my throat, pushing harder and harder while grabbing the back of my head and choking me, my throat burning with the tension it was like I was me now but his dick had grown with me, so it was just as large proportionally as when I was a kid but not as terrifying. There was fear, fear that I might choke or that my throat might rip if I couldn’t get away but before there was fear there was desire or maybe there was fear and then there was desire and then fear again, but even when there was fear it wasn’t like the terror when I was a kid it was just fear. And I’m not sure if my father came before giving up, no he did come. He didn’t give up, he must have come in my throat and I can’t remember that but then afterwards I stood up and I was jerking off and I looked my father in the eyes and said put your hand under my balls and he looked surprised by my desire and sudden control and that’s when I came in my sheets.

I realize this is part of a series of dreams, dreams where there’s some element of me as me now in a sexual scenario with my father. Sometimes he tricks me in some way by getting rid of everyone else so we’re alone but there’s some way that I maintain a sort of control. Sometimes I chase him into the bathroom. Sometimes I decide I’m going to have sex with him, just so I can see what his dick looks like, and then I wake up and think oh good, he’s dead so I can’t make that decision.

In this dream I don’t have that control except for the rush of desire at the end, a rush of desire I can remember now and then all these dreams become part of my lived experience in some way that relates to the fact that lately I barely have sex at all. I mean I’m horny for like five minutes, and then it’s over. Or, I cruise online, and then I just get depressed. I hooked up with someone from craigslist a few weeks ago, right? Or was it a month?

The other day I tried again -- it’s always worse when they say they want someone sweet, when they say that’s the most important thing, and then in this case this guy even compliments my hot pink socks in the picture and I think they would go with his hot pink tie, I mean if they were hot pink but actually they look red to me. But anyway we make plans, but then an old friend of his calls, that’s what he says and I say that’s okay, friends are more important than cruising online, right? He says we should get together another time, and then of course he doesn’t respond again.

So I go to the Nob Hill Theatre. I haven’t been there in over a month. I think about it, but then it just seems like whatever might happen there won’t be what I want to happen, so why even go? It’s true that my libido is almost entirely situational, I can see someone and get that rush but then when I don’t see them anymore I don’t care. Or, I do care, but I don’t have that rush.

Now the Nob Hill Theatre charges five dollars for the video booths, so I ask if that means they don’t yell at us to put money in the machine. There are more people there than I expected, although I’m not sure what I expected, since I rarely go there this early. Now they actually close at 12:30 am on weekdays, instead of 2:30 am, but I guess now I go to bed at 10 anyway.

The good news is that I go in the booth with some guy and I suck his cock, no wait first I suck his cock through the glory hole and then I ask if he wants to come in my booth, and then he does, grabs the back of my head just like I want and comes fast down my throat so I hardly even notice, I mean I don’t taste it first, and then he says you’re so hot, thank you. He says that’s something I’ll remember, and then I get that other rush, the one that’s better than the rush of desire, the one that says I’m here, this is me, I am all of this. The one that makes me feel invincible, at least until I stay a few minutes too long, jerking off to the porn and the guy in the booth next to me until I see his face when he looks through the hole, too many edges and the porn stops know the porn is still going on but I can hardly even remember what desire feels like, again.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A soft aqua hue

Here I am, editing the section about Chris (Derek) in The End of San Francisco. It’s a hard part to edit -- I’m trying to cut it to the absolute core, not explain anything, so you feel the loss but you don’t quite know why it’s happened. That’s still how I feel. That’s why it’s hard to edit, all this feeling and I’m stuck again. In some ways I can’t believe I still haven’t run into him -- once I think I saw him from the back when I was on the train, and he was standing outside of an AA meeting. It’s hard to say whether I’m any more ready to run into him now than I was at the beginning. Almost two years ago, right? I still feel stuck.

But I’m starting to get excited about moving, meeting new people in a new town. The boxes from my grandmother’s house finally arrived, and now I have all this art -- although I’m not unpacking most of it, since I’m moving so soon. In my new apartment, there will be so much art -- art everywhere. I guess there already is art everywhere in this apartment, but there will be even more -- much more.

I did open one box and take out the painting that’s on the top, and then I put one small oil painting on the wall, a tiny one, maybe 12 x 8, from the ‘60s -- when I was at my grandmother’s house, I read a review of one of her shows from that period. I liked what the reviewer said about her white lines, apparently she was known for her white lines. I should look for that review, although I don’t know where I would look because I know I don’t have it here. I think it was in the Washington Star, which at the time was one of two dailies in DC, it went out of business some time in my childhood, before the right-wing Washington Times became the second paper in our nation’s clampdown capital.

This painting is somehow gray and filled with color in between and beneath the white lines and sometimes pushing over them too, the textures of the paint and the diagonals like a net, wrapping up and guiding your eyes in all directions. Or maybe not a net, because actually your eyes always end up moving up to the left, I counterclockwise circle. I also have these small tables that my grandmother collaged and I never noticed the way the light layers their surfaces too, maybe because I never saw them in this light. At the largest table, a white one that almost looks marbleized I’ve placed a painted pale blue wooden chair that I sat on outside when I was there at her house. Even if the chair isn’t comfortable, it almost looks like it was made for the table, the white paint and wood peeking from underneath a soft aqua hue.

I do love the way all these things make me feel, little and suddenly filled with light. When I look closely I can feel my fingertips more, a sense of play, sadness too but somehow a hopeful kind.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

I don't know what exactly to say about this, except...

This other place

Here comes the rollercoaster, starting, of course, with the bottom. In this case, I’m in bed, exhausted but edgy -- acupuncture made me edgy, it started right after the treatment last night and now I’m so annoyed, annoyed because does anything ever help? Annoyed because the acupuncturist described the herbal formula, and it seemed like there were four herbs for pain, two for digestion, even though digestion is what I need to focus on, second focus is this overwhelming exhaustion, and pain after that -- pain is the third priority, and I thought I made that clear. Annoyed because I feel like I could sleep longer, but I’ll just feel terrible anyway -- it’s 10 am, my new wake-up time, shouldn’t I just get up?

In the kitchen, I figure now is the time to take the first dose of the Chinese herbs. Somehow this bitter liquid tastes delicious and my head clears, wait maybe this is the answer. Before I felt like I couldn’t possibly do anything, now I feel like I’m finally getting somewhere. I go out on the fire escape in the dense fog -- it’s freezing and I love this air, maybe San Francisco is the place to go to escape global warming. At least right now. Back inside, I eat my berries and do some editing, maybe today will be okay.

But then: I eat the rest of my food. Everything makes me feel awful: the kale, the beets, the beans, the teff -- all of it. My sinuses are clogged with pain, probably from the residue of the moxa smoke in the acupuncture office. The gastroenterologist calls to confirm my appointment for tomorrow, and even though I thought I was going to cancel that appointment because what is he going to offer me anyway, I keep it. I’m just too tired to say that actually I need to reschedule. I try to call the movers who are delivering stuff from my grandmother’s house, but I guess I wrote the number down wrong.

I wish I could fast, but I would get way too hypoglycemic; it would be awful. When I drank the acupuncture herbs, I thought of all the things I would get done today -- everything suddenly felt easy. Now it all feels hopeless again. Why does it matter that I get up early, when I go outside and I feel terrible. Immediately. I’m walking up the hill in the freezing cold, and even though it’s so windy the air feels gross and polluted. Then I’m wired again, trying to use the wired to get up the hill, maybe at least I can walk further, but then I’m exhausted again. This is new: it’s the herbs, or the acupuncture, or both, that are making me so edgy. Up and down, up and down. I’m on the phone, and I’m so exhausted I can’t even think of what to talk about, then I talk about editing, and afterwards I’m wired again. For a second it feels good, but then I’m just edgy -- the acupuncturist said try these herbs for a week, you need a least a week to see if they’re going to help. I guess it’s possible that I’ll start out edgy, and then everything will calm, but at the moment I just feel angry. I can’t deal with something bringing me out of my balance, even if my balance doesn’t feel balanced at all, until I’m in this other place.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

More here

Today I feel like I can’t possibly leave the house. Wait, I felt like that yesterday. Then I went to meet Randy at Aardvark, and I ended up finding three books I didn’t even remember I was looking for. Then we watched a movie at Randy’s temporary house; Randy cooked some rice with radishes and I avoided a hypoglycemic demise.

But now I feel so much more exhausted. Is that possible? I guess I have an appointment with the ear doctor, to take out all that wax again. That sounds exhausting. Should I go on a walk? I don’t want to go on a walk. Although maybe this will be one of those days when a walk makes me feel better, not just drained.

Last night at Randy’s, I noticed this shampoo in the shower and I knew it didn’t really say Anal Stress, but that’s what it looked like. Should I market that product? But really it’s because my contacts aren’t strong enough -- although, when I put on the stronger ones, my vision starts to blur and I hate that. It reminds me of childhood, before I wore contacts, when I would get up close to the mirror until two eyes became one eye and I would just stay there, as long as possible, anywhere not to be where I was.

Wherever I am now, I want to stay here. Or not here exactly, not here where I feel so awful, but still I want to be more here, not less.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Dreaming backwards

I wake up feeling unbearably sad. No, first I wake up thinking oh, I slept a lot. Two days in a row -- maybe today will be a good day. I look at the clock: just before 10 am, perfect. But am I ready to get up? I feel like I could sleep more, but it seems depressing to stay in bed for longer than 12 hours.

I go out on the fire escape. That’s where I realize I feel awful. Because it’s gorgeous out, the sun is so soft. But I don’t even want to keep my eyes open. I try doing the thing where you look really slowly in one direction, noticing the things that draw your attention but not narrowing your gaze, allowing everything to stay soft, turning very slowly, and then in the other direction, back to the center. That does clear my head, and the sun feels great on my body, except then my hands start getting red, I cover them.

Back inside and I’m sitting at the kitchen table, music on, ready to do a little bit of editing. I start, but I can’t focus. Should I get back in bed? Wait: I already got back in bed. It worked for a minute, but now I feel unbearably sad. Maybe I’ll read, instead of editing. I’m reading Enchantment and Exploitation, a history of the mountains and the people in the area near Santa Fe. This introductory part is about the native peoples and their relationship to the land. It does calm me, but when I stop reading I feel sad again, in that way that feels like I’m dreaming backwards. Like I slept the wrong way: rest left my body instead of coming in. A hole in my head where dreams left me too open, open to this dark sadness that feels all-encompassing.

I guess I’ll eat something, and see if that helps. Even if it rarely does. Or, it does help, but not enough. And: it helps, but it also hurts. But wait -- all this air, all this air on the fire escape, thank you for this air! And the sun, always tricky at this time of day just before noon, but still, the sun, the sun on my skin, thank you. And actually these mung beans taste much better than yesterday. And the quinoa -- I guess it was a good idea to soak it overnight, and then cook it for an hour instead of 20 minutes -- there’s something about the energetics of the first bite that feels so different, does that make sense? I mean it feels like something healing. Maybe I’ll do that with all my grains, I’ll soak them overnight just to see. I mean, sometimes they don’t taste as good that way, soggy or watery, but maybe it will help anyway.

But now I know about that section of The End of San Francisco I was reading earlier, I know exactly what to do with it -- delete! Okay, I guess I’ll try some more editing, and see if my hands can deal. Editing does make me feel so much better, the concentration draws me out of everything else. Except for my hands, my arms, oh no. But still -- I figured out that section. It’s kind of intense, editing this book called The End of San Francisco, while trying to figure out where I’m going to move at the same time. I mean, that’s not in this book at all -- this book is about my political, cultural, social, sexual, and emotional formations and where they’ve failed me, where I’ve failed: everything that has made and unmade me. And then this question of where to go, that comes much later -- in the book, I’m still here.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Look, something for us...

Other escapes

I wonder if it’s a formula: whenever I feel kind of okay when I get up in the morning, once I step outside I feel awful. I mean right away: I walk half a block, and I feel like I might fall over. Maybe when I feel kind of okay I shouldn’t go outside. Because on other days, sometimes, when I wake up feeling awful, I can go outside and feel fine, at least for a short walk.

Before, when I was feeling better, I thought I had it all figured out -- my move, that is. Why not move to Santa Fe? If it’s too hot in the summer, I’ll move to Seattle. But what about the mold in Seattle? I don’t know. And the darkness, so much darkness? I don’t know. And the middle class sameness of so much in that town, from architecture to art, and even to scheming and dreaming? There’s nothing I can do about that. I like Seattle because it feels easy, I always feel calmer, I know some great people there.

But anyway, first I need to move somewhere dry, to see if it helps. Even though, whenever my sinuses get dry, pretty much everything else feels worse. I’d like to say there must be some balance, but maybe there’s no balance. First I need to figure out this digestive problem, that’s the most crucial thing right now. The most crucial thing, and I can’t figure it out at all.

What else was I thinking when I felt better? I had all these ideas. Now I can’t remember any of them.

Oh, okay -- the fire escape helps: all this sun and air. Although then of course I’m worried that I’m getting burnt. There will be plenty of fun in Santa Fe. Maybe too much. And the air will be amazing -- all of the time it will be amazing, I think. Although I’m sure I’ll worry even more about getting sunburnt. There will be no fire escapes, but hopefully other escapes. I’ll sit in the sun on my front steps, or on the back patio. A balcony would be gorgeous, but there are hardly even any apartments in the center of town with two stories. I kept looking for them.

There goes my digestion again -- I just ate something; everything hurts. No, not everything -- just my stomach, I guess. This time it’s stomach, instead of intestines. Or, wait -- I guess it’s both. I’m already hypoglycemic again, time to eat more.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Wherever the need was greatest

Where else could I live where I could go out on the fire escape at 10 am in July, and need to wear a hat, scarf, and mittens to keep warm? Oh, how I will miss this July weather. I’m not sure if I can really live somewhere where it’s 90 in the summer, but I guess I’ll see. I’m at an impasse: I’m running out of ways to write about how horrible I feel. I know -- I reach that impasse all the time, but still somehow I end up finding more ways to feel horrible. Like now, when the bloating gets even worse once I start eating, instead of better. Or, before that, all this allergy tension in my face. I’m not sure if there’s a point to getting up earlier, since I’m feeling worse. I’m feeling worse because the bloating ruins my sleep, not because I’m going to bed earlier, but when will the bloating end? It’s becoming intractable.

But let me talk about these delicious split peas. I ran out of fresh basil, so I figured I’d try fennel and dill instead, with carrots, a red onion, two kinds of mushrooms, black pepper, four bay leaves, and sea salt -- and wow, the split peas are amazing. Like a secret recipe. A secret recipe that makes me sick, unfortunately.

Outside, they’ve taken away three bus stops -- is that what all that drilling was for? Are they going to put them back, or is this the new punishment for the neighborhood, law enforcement’s answer to too many people smoking crack. I’ve said for a long time that actually they need to install a second bus stop on each block, so people can smoke crack in that bus stop, and then people can wait for the bus in the other one, but I guess no one took my suggestion. Meanwhile, where will everyone sit? Will they keep removing the bus stops until there are none left, none left in this high-density neighborhood with plenty of old people and people with disabilities and families with young kids and people with AIDS and people worn out from too much working and not enough health care -- not to mention everyone else who wants to sit, who might need to get out of the rain, we need more bus stops, not fewer.

I guess it’s possible that they’ll replace the old bus stops with the fancier new ones appearing in the tourist district, but somehow I doubt it. The bus stops down the hill have been gone a while. And the crack smoke remains. It’s like some horrible article in the Examiner that I accidentally read on the bus. Whenever I read the Examiner, I’m always stunned that we have this right-wing paper right here, complete with its fair share of gossipy pop-culture to make it seem innocuous. This particular article described the alleged efforts of Tenderloin neighbors to fight against the opening of a community-based drugstore, because they thought it would bring more crime to the neighborhood. That’s right -- the article invoked the spectre of people getting mugged as soon as they walked outside with their prescriptions, and legions of people standing outside selling pills. The potential drugstore owner spoke of wanting to open the pharmacy so that people in the neighborhood would have a place to get their AIDS meds -- he said he wanted to open his business where ever the need was greatest. Of course, he also wants to make money off of this need, but I wondered if these supposed neighbors opposing the drugstore were sponsored by any of the Walgreens located just outside of the neighborhood, on all four sides. Those Walgreens would never bring crime to the neighborhood, right? Or bus stops.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Layers of living

Even though I’m not sure where I’m moving, I’ve decided to start getting ready. I mean, my plan is to move in October, wherever I end up going, so that means I have about three months, and three months isn’t that long to get ready -- or it doesn’t feel that long, anyway. Today someone is coming to pick up my larger sofa -- I figured that would be the hardest thing to get out of my apartment, since it has to go down seven flights of stairs, and I’m certainly not taking it with me. I need more space anyway, since I’m getting a bunch of stuff from my grandmother’s house, and I’m not sure where exactly it will fit.

I made a sign for the sofa, and put it in the lobby, and sure enough someone called me right away, all excited -- excited enough to take all five flyers, I’m guessing. It is a nice sofa, and free! And I won’t need those flyers, as long as he shows up. He was supposed to be there 10 minutes ago, but he’s moving today, so I’m sure that’s hectic. He’ll probably be here in a few minutes.

When I walk around the neighborhood, I’m starting to think about what it would look like without all these buildings, especially the ones I like the most, and the way the light frames them. I’m wondering what it will look like without so much graffiti to study, graffiti and decay and layers of living. I guess I’m thinking about Santa Fe, although I need to do more research. I’ve never done so much research for a move before, but then maybe I’ve never needed to.

It’s getting warm here, so the air is more polluted. I won’t miss the pollution. Although warm here is like a chilly day anywhere else, during this heat wave across the country. Oh, no -- it’s 90 degrees right now in Santa Fe -- and that’s 90 degrees at an altitude of 7000 feet, which probably makes it feel much hotter. How will I deal in 90 degrees? Right -- I need to keep looking for a shorts, shorts and tank tops. And sandals.

Today on Democracy Now someone was talking about the politics of Arizona, the right-wing takeover and all of its manifestations, from anti-immigrant hysteria to gun-crazed politicians to selling off the state Capitol to a private business-owner and then renting it back. And the way this right-wing drive is spreading across the country. Today in Utah, an anonymous source released a list of names of allegedly undocumented people in the state, all of them Latino -- the source demanded that the state immediately start deportation proceedings. New Mexico is right next to Arizona and Utah, and I don’t have a clear sense of the politics there, exactly. I know Santa Fe is the liberal bubble, but what about everything else?

Although pretty much every liberal town is some sort of bubble, you can go 100 miles from San Francisco and find places that are as conservative as anywhere else. What am I looking for? I’m looking for somewhere with fresh air, somewhere where I can breathe in more ways than just the air, somewhere where I don’t have to think about San Francisco, where I can feel stronger in my body and maybe that will help me to feel everything else. I mean everything else besides the overwhelm and exhaustion I feel all the time here. Now it’s down to 89.9 in Santa Fe -- does that sound better? I guess in the worst case scenario I can move there in October, and leave in June, right? Not that that would really work out.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

A good idea

I know I shouldn’t have looked at the auction online, the auction of my grandmother’s paintings. I knew it would depress me, looking at her life’s work selling for nothing. I mean, it would be okay if people who appreciated it would be going to the auction to get something for cheap, but who goes to an art auction, really? Just rich people, right? Art speculators, probably.

Then I search for other sites about my grandmother, and I find this one that’s someone’s collection of nine paintings, with descriptions of each one, and that’s when I really start crying. Because here’s someone who actually cares about her work, probably knew her at least in some way -- under one painting, there’s an anecdote about how some famous New York art dealer who told her that if she painted 40 more paintings like this one, he would make her famous. And she replied: I have no intention of painting 40 more paintings like this one. That’s the story I’m sure she enjoyed telling.

I don’t know why I care how much people pay for my grandmother’s artwork, except, I guess, because she would care. Or, because, in the commodified world of the art market, it means that the collectors would care too. They would display it, keep it in good condition. One of the first paintings I see in the auction is so elaborate and skillful that it stuns me for a second, to see that it’ll probably sell for a few hundred dollars -- I guess this is what happened when my sister started looking, she was on the phone with me and she said oh, that one’s gorgeous -- maybe I should get that one.

Which is funny, because we did have the option of claiming any of these paintings, theoretically at least. It didn’t seem like there would be anywhere to store them, but now my mother found some place that only charges $40 per month, for the 37 paintings that she and my sister and I are keeping, other than the ones that are in our houses. I only have one painting in my apartment, and another one on the way -- but I have a bunch of framed collages and a paperwork, plus dozens more unframed ones on the way. Crayon drawings, too.

When my sister was looking online, she saw one painting that was from the period I was looking for, it sounded kind of like the one my mother was keeping, and when I couldn’t find any from that period for myself, I was at least grateful that she was putting one in storage. I put aside maybe 15 paintings too, but most of them weren’t the ones I really wanted. I couldn’t find those, so I was choosing others to represent different periods of her work. I told my mother that really there were only two I needed to keep, and one was that one. But then, at the last minute, my mother took out most of the ones she was keeping, and put them up for sale, which makes me sad too because I based what I chose on what she already had, I mean if she had one really good one from a certain period that I was fine with that. It’s not like I’ll be putting these paintings up anywhere, anytime soon, but still I want to know that someone in our family is keeping them. Our family. It’s funny that I look at it that way.

I wanted to talk to the museum, the museum that isn’t quite a museum, where they have several hundred of my grandmother’s works, the permanent collection at the University of Maryland. I wanted to talk to them back when I was on the East Coast, but my mother didn’t want me to. She was nervous about how they were going to respond to her request to donate more of the work. I wanted to talk to them about their plans, their plans for the artwork, but then my mother got all frantic and upset so I said forget it. She brought it up again recently, in the way these things often work with her, now she thought it would be a good idea, a good idea if I still wanted to talk to them. I can’t decide.

I miss you, learn...

Oh, I'm so glad they cleared out all those weeds so we could enjoy this vista!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

I like this garden...


I’m not really sure what makes me think of calling my grandmother, the one who’s dead, I mean it seems like I think more about calling her now than before. Sometimes it’s obvious, like I’m calling the other grandmother, and then I think: oh. But other times it just feels like it comes out of nowhere.

And then I’m looking through my datebook to find someone’s number, someone in Santa Fe who I’m told might know about nuclear contamination, and there are all these numbers for my grandmother in various hospital rooms. My other grandfather too, who also died, did I ever write about that? Yesterday I woke up thinking I wish I could go live at my grandmother’s house, for a few months this fall, since I don’t know where I’m moving yet. I thought it might be nice to live in her house all alone, watch fall and winter with all those trees around. Most of her stuff would be gone, since my mother is selling it at an auction this weekend, but still I thought it might feel calming. Even the part about being alone, I thought that might feel calming too.

But it’s not an option -- my mother is already getting ready to sell the house, someone came over the other day, from New York, even though the house isn’t ready yet. Ready to show, I mean. I guess the realtor knew this person, an artist who loved the studio, moving to Baltimore with her husband because he got a job doing scientific research at Hopkins. But they weren’t sure if the house was big enough, if they decided to have kids.

I never know what people mean by that, the things they think that kids need. I guess there is only one bedroom upstairs besides the master bedroom, but it’s literally right next door, separated by a bathroom -- that would be perfect for the first kid, right? Maybe a yard, people think kids need a big yard. I never liked our yard that much, I would have preferred to live in the city, with no yard, oh how many times I dreamed about that. No, I didn’t really dream about that exactly, I just dreamed about getting away.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Berries, here come the berries...

For now

Sometimes I have absolutely no idea what makes me feel better or worse. Absolutely no idea. Like today, when I don’t necessarily sleep better -- maybe I even sleep worse -- and I wake up with a horrible cramp in my belly, of course, but somehow I don’t feel as awful as the last few days. I actually feel like something has lifted a bit in my head, I mean I still have a sinus headache but I don’t feel so weighed down that even making a phone call, any phone call, feels like a challenge.

Sometimes tiny little things help, like on the phone asking for health advice and this practitioner says something about how it takes time, for some people things change fast but it doesn’t seem like it’ll be that way for you, remember to be patient. Of course that’s a cliché, but somehow today it feels comforting. Because I’ve made all these dramatic changes recently, and mostly I feel worse, but that’s also something that happens before you feel better, right?

It’s hard not to feel overwhelmed when I feel so overwhelmed. Let me think about some of the things that I’ve changed. My sleep schedule is the most dramatic one -- I’ve been going to bed at 10 or 11 pm for the last month and a half or so, and that hasn’t happened since junior high I don’t think. I’m able to stop eating two hours before bed on most nights, and I don’t get so hypoglycemic that I can’t sleep at all -- for the last five or 10 years I think I’ve eaten almost right before bed, just because that’s been the only way I can sleep, so that’s a big change too. I’m finally drinking non-fluoridated water. And, I cut out all the supplements I’ve been taking that contain magnesium stearate or stearic acid, which I just learned are hydrogenated oils, and we all know how well my body deals with even a healthy oils, I mean I can barely deal at all. Oh -- and, four months ago I cut out all the foods that came up in my allergy test.

All these big changes, and I feel worse. Except today, maybe. I mean I still feel exhausted. Right now actually I can sense that I’m crashing, the sinus headache is getting worse, I have to lie down. And this is before acupuncture, which usually drains me. That’s why I haven’t gone for a treatment in a while. Today I’m hoping that it doesn’t drain me. I know I’m crashing, but even just a few hours where my head felt more open feels like an accomplishment, I’ll take that for now.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Look who's here again!

A sensitivity

Okay, so it does help to go on a walk, even when I’m so tired that when I drop a bar of soap in the shower, it just seems like a catastrophe to bend down and pick it up. And then I drop it again.

I’m trying to go on at least two walks per day, because I think it helps my sleep, although unfortunately that does nothing to help me feel rested. I’m feeling worse and worse, more and more exhausted, so exhausted that a quick phone call to the bank destroys me. I’m trying to find out about this account I have where there’s no money, I mean it’s linked to another account where I do have money but I can’t remember my passcode and then they ask me questions that I don’t know the answer to, and then it’s like my whole day is ruined, I’m so drained. I just want to know the interest rate on that account -- I’m trying to find the best place to deposit the first installment of the money that’s coming from my grandmother, but I can’t even figure out how to use my own bank account.

Anyway, it does help to go on a walk. Since I don’t have any energy, I walk slower. That helps too. By the end, I feel better. At least a little bit. It’s good to take a break, a break from my apartment. A break from so much eating, I mean the beginning of my day is just one meal after the other, just to try to function, but then there’s the bloating and I can’t function, but I’m still hypoglycemic so I need to eat more.

I almost have a breakdown because the lentils are still hard, are these the ones that never get soft? There was one batch like that -- I cooked them for eight or nine hours and they were still hard. I thought I got rid of them, but maybe they just went to the back of the cabinet and reemerged. I soak a new batch, just in case, but then the ones I’m cooking actually do start to get soft, and then I’m annoyed because what will I do with these other ones that are soaking, I can’t cook lentils two days in a row or I might start to develop a sensitivity to them. I mean an allergy. I already have a sensitivity: I’m sensitive to everything.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

The stretching mat

Lying in bed I think: maybe today. Maybe today I’ll feel better, because I basically slept without interruption -- that’s rare. Maybe things are going in the right direction. But then I get up, and there’s the pain in my gut, since everything has been clenching all night I guess and I feel awful, worse than yesterday actually. I don’t even want to go outside -- my sinuses are a mess, and I’m so tired I feel like crying.

I have an appointment with a new acupuncturist, but I don’t even want to go. It’ll just make me more tired. She’ll tell me I should eat red meat. The smell from the moxa in her office will give me a horrible headache, and I’ll leave feeling like someone hit me in the head.

I check my voicemail -- here the acupuncturist is on the phone, she made a scheduling error and can I come in at 11 am instead of 3 pm? It’s after noon now. Or, she says, 2 pm. Probably I could get there by 2 pm but it sounds awful to rush, I don’t want to rush when I feel this terrible already. But what will I do if I don’t go to acupuncture? I don’t have the energy to do anything, really. So maybe I should go.

Okay -- the acupuncturist thinks we should reschedule too. I look in the paper for a movie, maybe a movie will make me feel better, at least until my body hurts. No movies. Time for a shower. But ,oh no -- there still isn’t any hot water, I mean there’s just a trickle -- that’s what happened a half-hour ago, so I thought I’d give it some time, but apparently time hasn’t helped.

What am I going to do? I need to get out of the house, because my hands and arms hurt too much, there’s nothing to do here without my hands and arms. Dammit -- here comes that swallowing allergy-- stop, stop swallowing, it’s hurting my throat! Back to the stretching mat.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

And, even worse...

Now the voice activation software refuses to type "Mattilda," and insists that my name is "Matilda" -- oh, technology!

Who the hell is Barbara Mauser?

Every time I say "fibromyalgia," the voice activation software wants to write Barbara Mauser Barbara Mauser Barbara Mauser, oh no...


New strategy: when I get exhausted, don’t fight it, just lie down, lie down on the stretching mat and feel my breath, feel my breath in the different parts of my belly, stomach, chest. Then, when I get up I’m calmer. But then I’m exhausted again.

I’m used to thinking that the sun is always coming from the west, so when I’m walking around at noon it’s kind of confusing to figure out in which direction the buildings will block the sun, or how close I should stand to the buildings, or whether my hat really blocks the sun from my face or if it does seem that way. Today the sun isn’t out, or not really but I’m still worried I might get burnt because there is a glare, but then it’s even harder to figure out whether the buildings are blocking anything.

Up at the top of the hill, the buildings do look different at this time of day. I’ve never noticed that pathway with plants on all sides, one of the weird alleys on Nob Hill that almost look like parks, I’ll have to come back and walk that way another day because today I’m trying to get to the square, the square by the cathedral, just because I usually go there late at night but when I walked outside the bus was coming so I jumped on.

In a way, it feels more confusing when I’m so tired, and there’s so much daylight. I sit in my apartment squinting at the world outside, wondering what I should do, except really I can’t do much because I’m too exhausted, so then I wonder what I should do inside, but then everything starts to give me pain and then I just wonder.

No, cruising craigslist isn’t the answer. Sure, it gives me something that feels like energy for a moment, that feeling in my crotch, but then I stop for a moment and I crash; that isn’t energy. But what is? Maybe I’ll go back out on the fire escape, before the sun goes down too low to reach me up here, the way the buildings provide that kind of shelter. Wait -- it’s cold out here.

Actually, what got me off craigslist was when I checked my email and saw a message from the guy I had sex with the other day, thanking me for a fun time, he really needed that release and my blowjob was amazing-- and I thought of writing: anytime! But then I realized that actually sucking his cock sounded awful, not his cock in particular but just sucking cock. I don’t even know what I want from sex anymore -- it was fun with him, especially right after he came in my mouth and then I got that charge, that charge that meant I could do anything, but after I came I just felt like why?

Maybe I should never come, ever again. Somehow I don’t think that’s a solution. And I know you’ll think this is funny, but after I swallowed this guy’s come, yes my stomach got way more bloated, another hazard. Although not as bad as the new digestive enzymes -- I took them once, late at night when everything was starting to feel awful, and then it got way way worse. But then I thought wait, maybe I took them too late, maybe that was the problem, so then the next day I took them early, and the same thing happened. So much for those enzymes.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Of course I can't resist this kind of portrait...


It’s so hard to predict the good day, a good day, I mean a day when I feel better. Sometimes I wake up and I almost feel fine, then I walk outside and I’m obliterated. Today I wake up feeling awful, or not awful really just not sure, not sure that I don’t feel awful. My head is clogged with allergy madness, but I will admit that I like the light at 9:45 am, out here on the fire escape where I can tell that today it’s going to be warm but it’s not so warm yet. I can sit out here and feel the way the wind touches me, feel the wind, feel me. And then I feel better, stepping back inside.

A walk just after noon, and it’s hard to figure out in which direction my hat doesn't block the sun, I guess it’s when I’m facing away, or walking downhill, which isn’t what I would have expected. I’m exhausted again, stopping to look in a gallery that’s opened on crack row -- I never want to look when it’s open, I mean I don’t want to give them any attention, but since it’s closed right now I’m peering in through the gate and one of my neighbors stops to talk to me, someone in my building who’s moving out, leaving San Francisco it turns out and I’m curious why. It’s because he graduated, that’s what he says. He doesn’t say what exactly he graduated from.

He always looks me in the eyes in a curious and maybe excited way, except when he’s with someone who’s straight, and then often he pretends he doesn’t notice me -- that’s how I know he’s not sure. What exactly he’s not sure about, I’m not sure either. Suddenly he’ll emphasize some kind of straight mannerism, hey man. Then there’s that other guy in my building, the one who always seems so curious about me, in the elevator, asking so many questions. Then one time I saw him on the bus and I said hi. He didn’t say anything. I said hi again. He turned away. Now I don’t even like seeing him.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Communal possibilities

Stop turning everything up to high -- it always burns, and it’s hard on my body to constantly scrape charred remnants of food from the bottom of all the pots. I stopped worrying so much about getting sunburnt on the fire escape, I mean I still worry but not so much. Except today, today it really does look like my arms are getting a bit red, right? My grandmother leave a message: I’m calling to see if you’re feeling better, you sounded really exhausted the other day.

Should I call her back, to tell her I’m worse? I was excited about today, today when I don’t have any specific plans except to make a few phone calls, a relaxing day, until all that interrupted sleep and now I’m feeling blasted away again. I used to think that Antonia Juhasz, journalist and activist exposing big oil, was the same person as Alexandra Juhasz, writer and AIDS activist who was also one of the producers of The Owls. Gina couldn’t believe my last sentence of the review, where I said it did leave me with a sense that intergenerational, cross-identity conversations about gender and politics might allow for communal possibilities.

Why can’t you believe it? Because you said community. No, I said communal possibilities. That’s close enough -- Mattilda, I can’t believe it!

Maybe I need to be clearer -- I don’t believe in community as this thing that people join, that shiny happy sweatshop-produced rainbow flag normalcy nowhere-zone. I don’t believe there is such a thing as a gay community, or a queer community. I do believe in the communal possibilities of shared intimacy, trust, accountability, negotiation, analysis, explosion, and transformation. I do believe in community-building, but I try to avoid using the word community to describe something vague because it’s become so polluted, so often just camouflage for more violence.

Oh, no -- that same pot is burning, again! I mean I smelled it, but I thought it was just the remnants from yesterday. Why is all the water evaporating? Am I cooking the vegetables longer than usual? It’s the steamer pot -- I guess I’ll need to get a new one. I want to go back on the fire escape, but my legs do look a little red -- maybe it’s time to turn on the news.

During one of my sections of interrupted sleep, I was thinking about a new organizing project, something to join -- I was going through the options, the options in my head. Now I can’t even imagine sitting through a meeting, how much it would hurt my body. I’m leaving San Francisco because I want to feel hopeful again, hopeful about the possibilities for community-building, for activist troublemaking, for relationships that don’t just lead to dead ends. I’m talking to Jory about my recent interviews, I listen to myself and think: how can I sound so clear, so on -- I wish I felt that way all the time. Jory says something about the 30s, and how it’s different from being in your 20s -- things aren’t so clear. But that doesn’t make me uncomfortable at all -- what I mean is that I wish I had that much energy all the time.

I listen to myself in these interviews and think: I need a new organizing project, a new way to use this analysis. But then I feel so tired, how can I even search? My grandmother wants to know if some of this is depression -- of course some of this is depression! But I’m depressed because I’m so exhausted, and sure that leads to feeling exhausted because I’m depressed, and really I have no idea whether I’ll feel more energy in a different place, especially when I don’t even know where I’m going. I know that something lifts when I leave San Francisco and all my faded dreams, but how much, and for how long? Will I just trade one loneliness for another?

Friday, July 02, 2010

One of my favorite neighbors -- she likes it if you reach your hands through the fence to pet her...


There must be some way to live underwater, right? To breathe like bubbles, tea with the sea anemones, an ocean of tears -- no, just an ocean -- maybe I’m a mermaid, swimming around in a Hazmat suit, warning the dolphins about the approaching oil, because dolphins don’t have a sense of smell, and then we can swim further and further out until there’s nowhere left and then I guess we won’t be left either.

It’s amazing the ocean has lasted this long, with everything that humans dump into it. I think it was Antonia Juhasz who said on Democracy Now, “there’s an oil spill like that in Nigeria every day.” I think she said Colombia too. Every day. Maybe not a mermaid, then. I haven’t even made it to the pool at the posh gym since I’ve been back -- I’ve barely even thought about it, except the three times someone asked me -- twice my mother, once Randy. I haven’t had enough energy, so yes, that means I have less energy than before.

It’s this bloating thing -- just when I’m thinking maybe it’s getting better, I mean it still goes on all night but it doesn’t seem quite as disruptive, right? Someone’s knocking at the door -- oh, no, it’s the water delivery guy, showing up at 7 am, because yesterday the elevator was broken and I guess he’s coming here before his shift so he can bring the water up, I’m pulling my robe over my head, please stop. I mean day. He asks me if I’m alright. He’s always on speed, or something like speed, so he’s not looking for me to answer and I’m just thinking I have to cancel this, I have to cancel this water delivery if he’s going to wake me up, I mean this will ruin my life. I’ll have to find somewhere else.

And then I’m back in bed, at the Sea Colony, no first I’m just in bed thinking don’t let it ruin my life, don’t let it, I can fall back asleep, it’s okay, because just before the knock at my door was when I was awake but drifting, just about to drift into that space that will save me and then finally. No, there’s someone at the door, but then finally, finally there’s the dream that’s weird enough to make me think okay, I did fall asleep, and then I hear people moving around upstairs, maybe later than usual, but it’s still before 10 am so I close my eyes again and think about the beach, which must have something to do with the dream, I was living at the Sea Colony, that place I went with my parents as a kid, where we had a beach condo, that place that felt like freedom as all colonies must feel for someone.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Yes, it does look cute, but no, darling, don't sit there!


I hate it when I tell someone I’m exhausted, and they say: but you’re always tired, right? In this case, it’s my grandmother, who wishes I could find a doctor who would help me. I tell her I don’t have much hope in doctors, and at least she says: I can see why.

She thinks maybe I need more stimulation -- no, I need to feel better. I mean, what happens when I do something stimulating is that I crash so hard and then it’s not worth it, really it’s not worth it. Probably that’s why I feel so awful today -- the last few days I was shooting my new film with Gina, and we had our screening, and now I feel like I can’t do anything at all. Because of this bloating, and my sleep, my lack of rest, when will it end?

Meanwhile, I’m waiting for this guy to come over from craigslist, the same one I was chatting with last week or the week before, whenever that was, the one who lives a block away, did he get lost in the shower? I’m not waiting for him while I’m on the phone with my grandmother -- it’s already the next day, the next day and I think maybe I have a libido, until I’m waiting.

Oh, a new email: “sorry, i got a nasty sunburn on my face at pride and it's decided to start peeling today. so gross.” What does that mean? I’m not even horny anymore -- if I ever was horny. There are 15 emails from this guy in my inbox -- and way more on that stupid cruise site -- that’s right, this isn’t from craigslist, it’s from somewhere even worse. I already feel like I need to go back to bed.