Saturday, February 27, 2010

Shifting

One day, maybe I’ll feel better. Can we mark that day on the calendar, please? I mean, not just one day of feeling better, but the day when it all moves. What day is that, again?

Sometimes I wonder why I even try to feel better, if all that ends up happening is that I feel worse. Sometimes I feel better, but then I feel worse. Today I went out and got a cream from the acupuncturist that you rub around your arteries and it absorbs into the blood and I was worried about this cream because it contains so many ingredients, including preservatives and synthetic fragrance, but actually it doesn’t smell too strong at all, and when I rubbed it into the arteries I felt a slight burst of energy and then I thought okay, maybe this will help.

I’m always looking for what will help. I’m always looking, like now when I look outside and the sun is out after rain and the light is astonishing, the clouds pink, white and blue more than grey, shifting slightly to the left, East I guess, and the buildings are shadowing one another, even the shadow on the Federal Building, where does that shadow come from? But the clouds, puffy and slow, shifting so slightly.

Friday, February 26, 2010

For such a short time

Something happened. I know: a piece of my manuscript, spiral-bound, fell off the desk and pulled both headsets, wrapped around the stack of DVDs, with a set of earring backs on top, or actually a set of studs labeled “fashion earrings,” the cheapest ones from Walgreens because I needed the backs. All of this fell onto the floor, and then I realized that, buried at the bottom of the stack of DVDs, was a set of 10 HP recovery disks. In case you were wondering.

But I wanted to tell you that I finished the writing for The End of San Francisco, I mean the first version of the writing, since the manuscript won’t be ready till the end of the year or so. But the part I was just writing -- about Gay Shame and my relationships through and around Gay Shame, and of course my relationship to San Francisco, and the end, but not exactly the end. I finished that part, which isn’t the end of the book, but the last part I needed to write before focusing entirely on the editing. Because the rest I’ve already written. That last part was difficult to write, I was trying so hard to be clear.

The editing is a big task -- I’m editing each section separately, and already I’m on version two or three of several sections. With some of them I think oh, this is so tight already, but then I read it again and think what the hell is this? With the other sections I think what is this crazy sprawling mess, but then I read it again and think oh, this is so good, but somehow I have to cut 200 pages to 40 or so. I mean just for that section, since remember the whole thing is over 1200 pages. So then I read that section again and realize oh, of course, that’s what I need to cut, and there it goes: draft three, it’s fun.

I’m hoping for more of these oh, of course moments, as many of these oh, of course moments as possible. Please more of these moments, so I can forget how horrible I actually feel. I mean so I don’t feel so horrible. I can only forget for such a short time.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

When I'll ever have energy again

Even my dreams are stomach dreams: arguing with my sister and mother and the brutality of childhood, tension splitting me apart until my mother takes me aside and asks if I want to help her figure out if she has enough money, enough money for this trip and then I’m at the bus stop with my mother, Abby walks by and maybe she hears my mother saying Matthew, does she know? I haven’t seen Abbey in at least a year, maybe more, and then we’re eating dinner, no actually it’s lunch in the way that childhood still exists but I can’t figure out anything to eat, my mother asks why I chose this restaurant, I chose it because there’s nowhere I can eat. Maybe a turkey sandwich and I’m wondering if I can hide it somewhere -- that’s what I ate when I had to eat as a kid, because there was no fat in the sliced turkey breast, I mean when I couldn’t stuff it into napkins and throw it away in the bathroom, that’s what I’m thinking as I wake up with the menu in my head, I don’t eat turkey, no not the menu just the tension oh wait that’s still there.

Waking up and no I’m not ready so I turn to the side for just a little more relaxation, but no that just means my stomach expands into my chest, is this what was happening the whole 11 hours of something like sleep, why I wake up in so much sadness, a board across my head and then there’s that pot smoke when I step outside onto the fire escape, even the sun doesn’t feel comforting it just feels like something to hurt my eyes, forehead, more tension.

The only good thing about all this stomach pain is that it’s forced me not to drink water in the middle of the night, I mean when I wake up to piss, because then it immediately gets worse. Is that a good thing? Maybe like the piece of bread in the toaster when I walk into the kitchen, left there last night because I didn’t need it. I used to get up in the middle of the night so wired I had to eat toast, that was awful -- another habit I somehow got rid of, does this mean there’s such a thing as progress? Meanwhile, there are dogs barking in this music, or no those dogs are barking outside but now they’re in these beats and I’m wondering when I’ll ever have energy again, I mean when I’ll ever have energy that isn’t just an illusion before the crash.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Get hitched or get ditched -- a short piece I wrote for The Skinny in Edinburgh...

Here's how it starts:
My mother, a straight white woman in her early sixties, recently moved to a newly gentrified area of Washington, DC. The formerly black neighbourhood is filled with young white professionals, and my mother’s building is heavily populated by wealthy gay men. Not surprisingly, the busy pavement is a popular spot for canvassers. The other day, my mother encountered a smiling gay man enquiring, “Are you interested in gay rights?” When she stopped, he asked her to support gay marriage with a financial contribution. My mother told him she believed gay people should have the same rights as straight people – hospital visitation, tax breaks, inheritance rights, healthcare, and the rest – but she didn’t think this should only happen through marriage. The canvasser explained that marriage would help gay people to become part of the mainstream. My mother asked: what about gay people who aren’t mainstream?
And here's the rest.

Learn is back!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Our closest moment together

Kelvline and I had a lot of conversations about the Wall Street Journal, about Gay Shame, and about our relationship. Some of these conversations went further than others. One of the best ones started when I said: I don’t have any other relationships that are so incredibly giving, but also so uncomfortable -- I want to feel confident that if I call you when I'm feeling stressed out, I'll feel better afterwards, not disconnected and hopeless. I want to be able to hang out with you for a day and not feel completely exhausted and drained afterwards. Kelvline: I don't have that kind of relationship with anyone, I don't even want that. Me: that's the problem, because you have what you want from our relationship, and I don't. Kelvline: I need to know that there’s space for my personality in our relationship, that it's an accepted thing that I'm oblivious and I have a constant need to start shit. Me: my only way to deal with that is to disengage, and I don't want to constantly disengage from someone I love, the person who I've spent the most time with over the last three years -- we've both invested so much energy working on our relationship, I can't deal with you constantly attacking me all the time.

Kelvline: I guess that makes me feel threatened, that if I don't meet those terms then our relationship is over. Me: what terms? Kelvline: I feel like you're making an ultimatum. I get so frustrated with the things I say about how I'm feeling when what's really bothering me is something different that I can’t even figure out how to talk about. And I notice that I develop new ways to process going down the street every day because I forget the old ways, and maybe I need to be supported in that. Except that if I sensed support, then I wouldn't accept it or I wouldn't know what it was and I guess I feel better if I always think that no matter how sunny or beautiful a day, something awful is going to happen -- otherwise I'll be shocked that someone's acting in a racist way, or that there's a cop on my corner. And I guess I need to project this frustration, and make you frustrated, so that I don't have to feel so alone.

Before I went to visit my father, before the Wall Street Journal, and before all these conversations, Kelvline spotted the signs announcing the new Museum of the African Diaspora; she wondered about the white passersby clutching purses and briefcases tighter as they passed what could be double trouble: a black male with an Afro, outside a construction site labeled “African Diaspora.” When it opened, Kelvline asked me if I wanted to go. They didn’t have a free day, so we walked past two black male security guards to pay the white middle-aged fag in retail.

The Museum of the African Diaspora was a project of Willie Brown, San Francisco’s former Mayor, a black man who famously declared that if you couldn’t afford to live in San Francisco, then you should leave. After ridding San Francisco of as many black people as possible, he decided to create a museum in their honor. The museum was dubbed the MoAD, in imitation of more established institutions like the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, or SFMOMA, which was just around the corner; but it looked like the entire MoAD, building materials and all, probably cost less than one or two paintings in the MOMA, where they didn’t have any security guards at the entrance. Maybe because they weren’t expecting black people.

Gazing up from the ‘70s bathroom tile in the MoAD lobby, we saw the themes of the museum elaborated on the walls, like a diorama at the aquarium: Origins, Movement, Adaptation, Transformation. The place felt like a cross between a rec center, an airport lounge, and a preschool -- gray carpet, indeterminate hues of green or blue paint on the walls, and exhibits that looked like something Bank of America would display in the lobby and you’d say oh, that’s nice -- can I check my balance?

Since Kelvline and I were the only visitors in the museum, we were outnumbered at least three-to-one by security guards. At one point an upscale Asian woman came out of an office to scold two members of the all-black security staff, since they had accidentally allowed Kelvline and me to enter the administrative section. One of the guards was so friendly, though, that she almost seemed like a docent. She told us where to start: it’s a Celebration Circle, she said. We entered a circular room with some cheesy video describing all the important things in life: Family, Church, Births, Weddings, Death. Since many of the people in the video were not overtly black, we were treated to an inspiring message at the end: We All Come from Africa.

On our way out, the friendly security guard asked if we liked the museum: I sensed that she felt a certain kind of pride, and I was too stunned not to tell her yes; I even smiled. Kelvline didn’t respond. Downstairs, the white fag wanted to know if we liked the museum. I smiled. Kelvline showed me the hotel next door, the glittering St. Regis, where rooms started at $529, and the penthouse condominium was rumored to be on the market for $30 million. The museum was built into a back corner of the hotel, since that was part of the deal Willie Brown brokered with the St. Regis -- you get 50 stories of luxury on city-owned land, as long as you allow us to open this dump. The hotel lobby looked like a posh nightclub, with high high ceilings and huge beige curtains dividing lounge areas where big men with swept-back hair, wearing suits with shoulder pads, relaxed on European leather sofas alongside women with tasteful blond highlights and low-cut evening dresses, sipping cocktails.

Kelvline and I walked around the corner to the bus stop; I couldn’t stop thinking about that security guard asking me if I liked the museum, she sounded so excited. I found myself staring at the entrance to Neiman Marcus, wondering about all the ways to actively participate in white supremacy, and Kelvline asked if I was okay. I couldn’t say anything: that’s when I started sobbing, really sobbing, thinking about the audacity of Willie Brown for brokering another corporate giveaway, then sheltering it with promotional materials that talked about this pioneering institution, the first of its kind in the world. Kelvline was sitting next to me, and I knew it was ironic that I was the one breaking down, but maybe this was our closest moment together.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Stuck

I wanted every relationship to build towards the intimacy I felt with Derek, that soft place of shelter in our eyes. Especially once he started lying about everything, disappearing into addiction. Still, we managed to save a place for each other every Sunday, for the three or four hours where our schedules intersected and I could feel that place in my body where I knew safety. At least, when I wasn’t worried our relationship was going to fall apart.

The interview I gave with the Wall Street Journal was about the end of San Francisco as a place where marginalized queers could try to figure out a way to cope. I was talking about Polk Street, one of the last remaining public spaces for homeless youth, hustlers, trans women, street queens, drug addicts, seniors on disability, and new immigrants, but fast becoming a hot destination for fashionistas and office drones to sip green apple martinis. The Wall Street Journal didn’t exactly talk about this form of ethnic cleansing; they decided Gay Shame was fighting for the neighborhood’s “gritty ambience.” But the article did reveal that Larkin Street Youth Services hired out the kids in their shelter to plant palm trees in front of the architecture firm spearheading the gentrification, at the preposterous rate of six dollars a day. And, they reprinted the Wanted poster we made for the head of that architecture firm.

My apartment overlooked Polk Street, and whenever I walked around I could see it disappearing: the closure of the gay porn shop there since the ‘60s, after the landlord refused to renew the lease; beat cops on the hustling block; the old man’s bar transformed into a rocker-chic hotspot; two hustler bars renovated into sleek lounges; the last hustler bar torn down to make way for a church. But it was hard to figure out what Gay Shame could do -- we wheatpasted that Wanted poster, a map of the gentrification, and several other scathing informational flyers. We made a zine, and distributed it to people on the street -- before the Wall Street Journal, we even managed to land a sympathetic article in the San Francisco Chronicle. We held a meeting in the neighborhood, hoping to draw people who would want to join us, but the truth was that we probably would have had to hold 100 meetings in that neighborhood in order to inspire an action that felt even vaguely homegrown.

While some of us were hookers, some of us were runaways, and some of us did drugs, none of us was turning tricks on the street to get a room for the night, hustling for a shot of speed, or asking for spare change outside the liquor store; we all belonged, in some form or another, to a counterculture that meant we could politicize the world around us, especially when it let us down. If we held one of our typical protests, we were certain to draw our usual crowd of Mission scenesters decked out in ragged extravagance; we worried that the spectacle we would bring to the neighborhood wouldn’t be that different from the gentrification we wanted to challenge. Or, that was my critique, anyway. That’s where I got stuck.

Friday, February 19, 2010

The hostility underneath

I want to say that at some point, Kelvline, Darryl, and I started talking about the ways in which Gay Shame was becoming a conversation between the three of us -- people would look to us for ideas, motivation, inspiration -- we were the ones that held it together. But actually I’m not sure if the three of us ever talked about this dynamic directly. One-on-one, for sure, but never as a group. I felt like Gay Shame was stuck -- the only new people we attracted were college graduates who had just moved to San Francisco, and grad students who were studying us; they would get bored, or the semester would end. Everyone else had already decided Gay Shame didn’t belong to them: we were too cool or not cool enough, too angry or jaded or crazy or intellectual or stupid or frivolous or serious, too slow or impulsive or cliquish or political or young or messy or artsy or ridiculous. Our alienation felt creative and our politics remained rigorous, but our activities became sporadic -- we would come up with grand ideas, but without a critical mass it felt harder to take risks, and risks had always been our strong point.

I wondered if we should end Gay Shame with a grand finale, and brainstorm new interventions. But I didn’t want to suggest bringing the group to a close just because it had ceased to inspire me; I asked Kelvline and Darryl what they thought. They almost seemed frightened by my suggestion; the group as it currently existed had become more a part of their identities than mine. I remained dedicated because I believed in these friendships that had emerged through our activism together: maybe that was enough inspiration.

Before I went to visit my father, I told Kelvline that I wanted our relationship to get deeper, more relaxed -- her purposeful craziness felt like a cover for unaccountability; I didn’t like arguing with her all the time. Our conversation went in circles; every time it felt like we were getting somewhere, she would say: actually, that’s not what I meant. And then, a few weeks later, she told me I was using the Wall Street Journal for my own advantage. She acted as if there was a crisis in Gay Shame, all these unnamed people who didn’t trust me but they couldn’t say anything: she was speaking for them, a noble act, because of our closeness. What about all the people who had left Gay Shame because of Kelvline’s disruptions? Could there be anyone worse to confront me about an alleged departure from process? Darryl had already told me the article felt like an advertisement for someone with my legal name -- Kelvline’s misreading of that interpretation still made me wonder if she was channeling the hostility underneath.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

To deal with

Benjamin and I were trying to get Kelvline to make more sense more often; Kelvline and I were trying to get Benjamin to let go of abstraction and come down to earth. I don’t know what they were trying to get me to do, but I do think they wanted a witness, a witness to their struggles as black fags trying to exist in white counterculture, to exist in racist San Francisco, to exist but also to create, to create and communicate, to communicate with one another. I know that when the three of us entered a room, we were probably the loudest combination of personalities ever to combine in such a small space.

When Benjamin and Kelvline had a falling out, they each called me. Kelvline said: I was talking to Benjamin and she’s just not interested in connecting with me in the ways that we always have. I used to feel like Benjamin and I could have these conversations about race and identity and living in the world. I felt like we had this closeness because we’ve experienced trauma and alienation in similar ways and now she’s telling me that never happened, she said: I’m not interested in that, you’re making assumptions -- I was just interested in your artistic process. Then Benjamin called, and said: it was like a break-up conversation, he expressed the need for certain things from me, and I expressed a disinterest in those things. It became much more dramatic than it needed to be. I don’t want to be another person who thinks Kelvline’s too difficult to deal with.

Later, Benjamin and I had our own falling out; in a way, this made Kelvline and I closer: we bonded over everything Benjamin couldn’t or wouldn’t do. But I also didn’t want to become another person who thought Kelvline was too difficult to deal with. I watched the ways other people related to her at Gay Shame meetings, when she would start screaming about the new Tarantino movie or some blockbuster video game or the current rapper she was obsessed with, or when she would yell at a new person in the room for some unintelligible reason, scaring that person away for good. Or, when we would go wheatpasting, and Kelvline would volunteer as lookout, but instead of keeping a discreet distance she would start rapping and jumping up in the air and screaming at the top of her lungs.

Kelvline’s behavior didn’t phase Darryl; she would just nod her head and move on. It was harder for me because Kelvline and I spent so much time together, but also because I wanted our relationship to become deeper, softer, more nurturing. I wanted to stay emotionally engaged, but often this meant that the dynamic between us became kind of parental: Kelvline would say something completely ridiculous to provoke me and I would try to stay calm but eventually crack. Direct action, veganism, queeniness, sex work, and an outsider queer identity were new to Kelvline, but they were part of my core identity; maybe it was inevitable that there would be some kind of power differential. I had lived my whole life avoiding parental figures, and I certainly wasn’t interested in becoming one: even mentorship seemed suspicious to me. But some of the best Gay Shame propaganda existed in that tension between my calculated satire and Kelvline’s swinging off the earth: when it worked, there was a wicked glee in the resulting flyers, press releases, and posters usually forged in small group meetings in my apartment. But if the process was as important as the product, the dynamic that emerged between the two of us could hardly have invited participation from anyone who couldn’t interrupt.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Support

I wanted this to feel like home, hope, an embrace, safety, but sometimes it seemed like the only way Kelvline could experience comfort was to make everyone else feel discomfort. Even walking down the street together was stressful for her, she would glimpse the limitations of other people’s interpretations and this would make her deranged. She noticed that people smiled at me, and this enraged her. She was used to people reacting to her as the stereotypical black male aggressor, and she worried that alongside my white queeniness her masculinity became emphasized. Or, that people might perceive her as just another black person helping some white girl. She would dress more flamboyantly, trying to invoke my queeniness in order to see if people would react to her like me. But this didn’t change her masculine demeanor; people looked at her like she was confused.

Of course, people looked at me like I was confused too. But I’d spent years developing a kind of ease that made it appear like anything could happen and I would just walk on. While Kelvline avoided looking at anyone directly, I greeted people on the street as if I knew them; I reacted to shady comments as if they were applause. It was hard for Kelvline to ignore people’s reactions, but it was harder for her to be ignored, and often that’s what happened when she went out with me; I think this disturbed her as much of anything else. She would get all frantic and start yelling like she was some imagined frat boy in a porn video, screaming on the street corner about pussy, PUSS-Y! I… NEED… PUSSY! Usually it moved in a gayer direction: yeah, you want that manramming boyjuice pussy-pounding tit-stomper, don’t you? It could be kind of funny at first, but then she would go on and on as if she really was some misogynist sex-crazed zombie, and you couldn’t get her to stop. She needed whatever attention would come her way, and maybe the seamlessness I was trying to enact made her more desperate.

Really I was so exhausted that it was hard for me to walk the six blocks to get groceries; usually I had to stop and sit down on the way, or eat a snack because I was getting hypoglycemic. I needed a break, but when I started to say something Kelvline’s eyes would glaze over and she would rap at me, an onslaught of someone else's lyrics at full volume and I wondered if she was trading one embodied aggression for another, and why it was directed at me.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

But even in this day and age, sometimes it just works, I mean it just works out (and then afterwards, when I'm trying to get this picture in focus...

... some friendly straightboy comes up and asks me if I want him to take a picture of me -- to mark the occasion, he says -- why yes of course!!!)

(My hair's a bit messed up, but it was worth it!)



Constant

Kelvline acknowledged this place of crisis in my body; she wanted to help, it felt crucial to her. She would come over my house once a week, and we would get groceries, do laundry, go to the post office; she would chop vegetables and type for me. I would buy groceries for her, pay for memory cards for her music, buy dinner or offer to pay for other things that she needed, so there was a financial dimension, but it wasn’t defined as a response to her assistance. I offered to pay her directly, but she didn’t want our relationship to be monetized; I respected that.

Really what I gave most in return was attention. Every week, Kelvline and I would spend hours and hours talking through the crises that emerged in her life, whether it was about the queen in her building who gave her class shade, even though or especially because they were both black fags living in subsidized housing; the fictitious white profile Kelvline created on chat sites to cruise the guys who would never pay attention to her otherwise; whether it was possible for her to perform in public without becoming another fetish object for white scenesters; the undercover cops outside her window; the way white people fidgeted on the street like she was going to attack them; the way black people on the bus talked about her like she was trash; whether video games were the key to unlocking mass consciousness; rap; the Mission; growing up in a white suburb of Southern California; the white childhood friend who tried to kiss her, but she pushed him away and now she was trying to track him down on some military base, maybe they would become gay lovers; her ex-boyfriend; racialized desire; objectification; consumerism; pubic lice; SSI; whether it was possible to cook and get out of the house too, and the drama in her kitchen when everyone would try to interfere.

We were both obsessed in our own ways with music and graffiti and public space and trying to figure out a sexuality that didn’t just feel like loss, but mostly we connected out of a shared alienation that we had learned to politicize. Or a shared alienation that I had learned to politicize, a strategy Kelvline was in the process of developing. The relative newness of this type of imagining for Kelvline often made her judgmental in that way that usually happens at points of activist emergence, as if there was only one true path to the purely radical engagement. I mean, I remember when I thought anyone who wasn’t vegan was a disaster, right? Or, when I thought I was a horrible person because I’d eaten a piece of chewing gum that might have contained sugar processed with animal bones.

I would talk with Kelvline about everything in my life too, but in a different way -- I rarely asked for help beyond the physical tasks that overwhelmed me. Sometimes it was fun to brainstorm a particularly wacky word choice, but when I did ask for emotional support, I wasn’t even sure that Kelvline noticed; I would hear the keyboard clicking in the background: how could she listen to me if she was on MySpace, or cruising gay.com? But her intervention in the daily tasks of my life felt so generous that it overrode my reservations about other aspects of our friendship. I thought that maybe it balanced itself out when she would help me chop vegetables, so I could cook without hurting myself as much, and in return I would help her think things through, so that everything she did wasn’t so contradictory. Not that either of us planned it that way, just that it was what happened.

Sometimes on those Mondays we spent together I would get frantic too because there was so much I wanted to get done, but still I was trying to appear outwardly calm, to make sure Kelvline knew I felt grateful, even when she made it so hard to actually feel calm. Actually we spent every Saturday together too, after the Gay Shame meeting, and then often another few times for smaller group meetings, wheatpasting, or stenciling. Our friendship became a primary relationship; we weren’t just committed to a queer politic of challenging the violence of the status quo and creating alternatives, we were committed to one another.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Tricky, tricky, tricky...

"This test will not identify acute immediate food allergies. Therefore, if you have immediate food allergies please continue to AVOID that food even though it may appear on the green list."

Intolerance inspiration

So, actually, the allergy test results ended up making me feel inspired. I guess because there’s something I have to work on -- 60 foods to avoid, plus a bunch of other things, and maybe it will help, who knows. The allergies are divided into severe intolerance, moderate intolerance, and mild intolerance -- the two severe intolerances that came up are saccharine and fluoride. Now, saccharine will be no problem to avoid -- as a teenager, I used to swallow pack after pack of Trident, literally I could eat 18 pieces in under an hour, no problem. But I don’t think I’ve been around saccharine in years. Fluoride is a bigger challenge -- I always avoid fluoride whenever possible, since it’s an industrial toxin, but all the water in California is fluoridated due to that scam that it prevents cavities. And I drink so much water every day that it’s kind of stunning. But, I don’t know if I mentioned before that often the disastrous nighttime burping/bloating drama starts right after drinking water, could it be the fluoride? I was wondering that before. I think there’s only one kind of water filter that takes out fluoride, and that’s a reverse osmosis system, which is a bit complicated and very expensive, but I’m going to look into it.

Okay, now for the moderate intolerances -- rhizopus nigricans, which is a mold, but I’m not sure what kind exactly -- I’ll have to look that up. Then aspirin, gentamicin (an antibiotic), and naproxen (Alleve) -- those will be easy. And the foods on the moderate intolerance list: blueberries, which I just ate this morning, and oh were they delicious, bye blueberries! -- brussel sprouts, which I suspected might be an issue but I was also eating today, yum -- lemon, which I used to drink in my water all day but I cut it out about six months ago because I was suspicious -- malt -- millet, oh no, one of my favorite grains! -- soy, which I don’t eat much of anyway, but still it’s all over the place, especially for vegans -- summer squash, strawberry, swiss chard, tapioca, turnip -- and, get this one -- veal!

It’s interesting the associations that come up with some of these items. Because, while I certainly haven’t even veal in over 20 years, when I was a kid I loved to order it at restaurants because it was expensive and allegedly delicate and I thought it made me sophisticated. It took me a while to understand exactly what it was, and when I did understand I kept asking really, baby cows, really? Or is a calf a different kind of animal? It became the first meat that I eliminated. But still, 20 years later and I’m allergic -- fascinating!

Naproxen totally makes sense because I used to stuff it down my throat as a teenager when I always had these crazy headaches and the doctor told me it was the Maserati of painkillers, then it was prescription only, and then in the mild intolerance category are also ibuprofen, which I use to keep in bowls so I could stuff it down my throat, yay for more pills! I mean that’s what I used to think. Plus four other antibiotics-- antibiotics always make me sick, but they make a lot of people sick. The list includes tetracycline, which is what the dermatologist prescribed me for something like five years, oh no! Like it was nothing -- let me just poke you in the face and then give you pills that will destroy your intestinal bacteria, your liver, your digestion -- oh, do you need a stronger prescription? I didn’t even have any acne really, until I started taking those pills.

Okay, then in the mild intolerance category are also a bunch of food additives like blue #2 indigo carmine -- sounds beautiful -- and then there’s benzoic acid, aspartame, polysorbate 80, potassium nitrite, red #40 allura red, and sorbic acid -- I’ll have to figure all those out, but I don’t really eat foods with additives -- it might be harder in shampoo and conditioner and stuff like that. Then we’ve got a few more molds -- botrytis and epicoccum nigrum -- but everyone should stay away from mold, right? Remember: that’s one of the reasons I might be fleeing San Francisco. Oh, and some really scary environmental chemicals like benzene, ethylene glycol, formaldehyde, nickel sulfate, and phenol. That doesn’t sound too mild. But, this is how tests are a bit crazy -- I’m not officially allergic to MSG, which makes me feel like I’m coming down from acid -- I guess maybe that’s what is supposed to feel like, or maybe I’ve successfully avoided it for so long that it doesn’t show up as reactive. Same thing with corn, which makes my eyes roll back in my head and my jaw lock, and wheat, which makes me feel like my whole face is bruised the next day.

Oh, and I love that I’m allergic to serotonin -- plus caffeic acid and coumarin -- I’m not sure what coumarin is exactly, but caffeic acid must relate to caffeine, right? I always stay away from her. Meanwhile, okay, get ready for a long list of foods in the mild intolerance category: anchovy, baker’s yeast, beef, broccoli, buckwheat, cabbage, caraway, catfish, cauliflower, cayenne pepper, celery, chamomile, chickpea, chicken, cinnamon, clove, codfish, coriander, egg yolk, fructose, garlic, herring, honeydew melon, hops, kidney bean, leek, lima bean, mango, mint, mustard, nutmeg, pecan, pheasant, pork, romaine lettuce, safflower, sesame, sheep’s milk, snapper, tomato, tuna, turmeric, walnut, white potato. Some of these makes sense because they’re foods I ate all the time as a kid, but not since, like white potato, romaine lettuce, safflower, herring, and all the meats -- but it’s also fascinating that chicken, beef, and pork show up now, the thing to do with these mild intolerances is to avoid them for a little while but you can only imagine what might happen if I started eating chicken, beef, or pork, if I’m already intolerant after avoiding them for 18 years, right? Not that I was thinking about chicken, beef, or pork -- it’s hard enough to try fish -- but it’s nice evidence to throw at the next healthcare practitioner who says meat meat meat.

I’ll certainly miss celery, which I put in my beans every day, and broccoli, one of my favorites -- I was just thinking how funny it is that in the morning I end up creating names for my broccoli: the brox, broxolandia, broxolini -- but shhh. Millet will be especially hard, since it’s on the moderate intolerance list, and also buckwheat, but anyway -- enough of this summary, now I have to get to work figuring it all out, yay I’m excited! Really.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Results

Okay, so I keep neglecting to write at the beginning of the day, and then by the end of the day I can only sit in front of the computer screen trying to get my thoughts out, I mean I can do something that doesn’t require the kind of focus for actual writing, like promotional text for my movie or answering emails or even the dangerous run of online cruising, yes that’s the danger because I turn on the computer to try to say something but when I can’t I end up in the tube of distraction, hoping for a burst of some kind of energy but only ending up in more pain. Right now I’m getting ready to run outside and go to the doctor for allergy test results. I’m a little worried I’ll be allergic to everything, or that the information won’t match the way I feel, or that there won’t be enough information, but anyway I’m on my way.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Santa Fe: Okay, here’s where I ask for information, yes information…

Am I completely crazy for thinking of moving to Santa Fe? I mean, I know I’m completely crazy, but is Santa Fe a good idea? Of course, I’ll have a better sense once I actually visit (in April, I think), but right now I’m researching -- yes, this is a research project and I want your ideas ideas ideas too, please share…

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

A new day

Oh, no -- now it’s every night, this digestive pain, or whatever it is, first just as I’m getting ready to get in bed, so instead I use a hot water bottle and walk around my apartment for an extra hour to try to expel all the burping or make the burping into gas, gas is more comfortable, at least when I’m alone, it doesn’t keep me up. Back in bed, maybe now I’ll be okay, until it’s some horrible hour in the morning and my whole belly is expanding, ouch, too much pain to lie down so I’m back in the kitchen heating up more water for the hot water bottle. Somehow I break the shade pulling it down, isn’t that what the shade is supposed to do?

Here I am on the sofa, hot water bottle on my belly until it isn’t hot anymore and then back into the kitchen for more hot water, more time on the sofa with eye mask to cover the fact that I’m still awake, maybe I can trick myself, until finally the bloating sort of goes away, the pain is still there but my belly feels closer to calm and then I’m back in bed until the time when I usually get up and my face hurts, eyes dried, nose clogged, I’m stumbling in confusion except for the sunlight on the fire escape but then the clouds move in. I make it outside just before dark; walking uphill I feel better, clearer, almost energetic but soon enough I’m tired, back inside for more allergies, allergies and pain, allergies and pain and exhaustion, a new day.

Monday, February 08, 2010

And then I was looking up at this building...


Imagination and regret

I was going to write something about sadness and attraction and the guy from last night at the Nob Hill Theatre, the one who said: I think I’m going to walk around. That was nothing unusual -- I said do whatever you want, he was sweet enough but I was irritated because obviously he wasn’t going to find someone as hot as me, but now I realize what he wanted was more intimacy. I wasn’t really attracted to him in that way, so when he kissed at the beginning and I tasted liquor I pulled away. Should I really be having sex with people who I don’t want to kiss? I don’t know the answer to that question, but I do know that I hate all the sexual spaces I go to, really really hate them except for those moments when everything transcends, but even those moments happen so fast that it’s almost like they didn’t happen, never will happen again, don’t matter anyway.

We left the video booth without a hug, that’s what I regret. Was I annoyed because he didn’t fuck my face until he came, his orgasm the prize I was awaiting? As if he didn’t matter, just that thrust into my throat: what these spaces make us. But I can’t even write, I’m so tired -- or not tired, destroyed. I can only focus on something for five minutes and then it’s like my head pulls into my head. My head hurts, all this pulling. Maybe sometime I’ll think of an amazing new way to describe how terrible I feel, and then I won’t feel so terrible. Sometimes this actually happens, but right now I’m just trying to remember to breathe, breathe while I’m writing, in between words, words that are hard to keep, to keep, to keep words.

I want to go to sexual spaces where people actually appreciate me, where I can appreciate what they appreciate, where I can appreciate. I have a sense of where those places are, tiny glimpses here and there, usually with smoke that makes my head hurt but my head already hurts, right? I feel hopeless, and that’s one of the reasons I need to leave, but leaving sounds so tiring, I can’t even finish this sentence.

I mean leaving San Francisco, not just the sexual spaces that mostly feel like regret. I can feel myself getting ready, looking around my apartment and wondering if I should get rid of all my books. I always regret it when I get rid of books, but still that’s what I’m thinking. If I move to Santa Fe, I’ll probably move again. I study the map, trying to imagine it.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

That place of tension

I shouldn’t let myself on the computer when I’m exhausted, because then I start thinking oh, I know -- since I don’t have any energy at all, why don’t I respond to all my email messages, just so I don’t have to respond to them later. Then I stop breathing and do it as fast as I can and then I have even less energy and I start to get sad, no I was already sad but now I start to get sadder, it enters through my sinuses, my forehead like a board, ouch, but why don’t I cruise craigslist just to see if something will give me energy -- that always works, right? I’ll respond to a few postings and see if anyone responds to me. That’s just perfect for more pain in my arms -- I might as well look on the horrible cruising sites that have never given me anything -- okay, still nothing there. Should I look some more?

But wait -- I’m cooking, I forgot about cooking -- now I have to chop vegetables. And my groceries are all on the floor, better throw them into the refrigerator before they rot, all four bags, now my back hurts so much, in between the shoulder blades, that place of tension, but I better write this before I get into bed because afterwards I’ll feel too exhausted to write, brain blocked, now there’s more pain in my shoulders, arms, chest, jaw.

A coat in my arms

Sometimes the tiniest thing can set me off, like walking over to the tailor to get the lining replaced on one of my favorite coats, maybe it is my favorite and I’ve already gotten the lining patched so many times that that won’t work anymore, I mean it’s shredded. But ouch, holding the coat hurts my arms, the way the fabric rests on my biceps and everything gets tight and then it turns out I bought the wrong fabric, the tailor says I should’ve asked first and he’s right. But I didn’t want to walk the coat over twice, I thought I was preventing more pain but now I have to walk back to my house, and go to a different fabric store, and spend more money on fabric, and what will I do with the fabric I already bought? And then I have to walk back to the tailor, I mean on that day in the future when all this is done.

But the worst part is that when I get home I feel like I’m done, done for the day and my day has only just started. Sometimes I really don’t understand sleep, and then other times I really really don’t understand sleep, I mean when I looked at the clock at the beginning of the day I registered that I’d spent 11 hours in bed, oh it was time to get up and not like I thought -- the middle of the night, way too early but I’ll look anyway. So then I thought maybe I was okay, maybe I would go to the gym and try the pool again, now I’ve tried it five times and last time I did have this moment where I realized oh, you relax into the water, don’t push, just glide. I’m trying to start slowly, not doing any strokes yet, just floating and kicking, that’s hard enough, I end up hurting myself anyway and then sitting in the steam room which feels relaxing and then afterwards I feel calm but drained until I’m just drained, which happens pretty soon but now I’m already drained and all I did is walk up the block with a coat in my arms, oh my arms, time to get back in bed.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

An embodied future

Actually, Kelvline was echoing something that Darryl had said to me, but Darryl’s focus was on the way in which the Wall Street Journal created a fictional character using my legal name, not necessarily an indictment of my participation. But later, in the middle of another dead-end conversation about our relationship, Kelvline went off about how Darryl and I must hate each other. I was certain that Kelvline was just desperate to change the subject -- it had never entered my mind to hate Darryl. But I realized there were times when Darryl and I said things to Kelvline that we didn’t say to each other, shady comments thrown here and there. You remember what I said about that type of communication, right? So I suggested to Darryl that we sit down and talk about all our resentments, no matter how petty, just to let them out.

I know I have a certain model for relationships, one based in those first conversations about incest and accountability, sexual striving and loss, hopelessness and rage and other unwavering queer dreams. This was the model that said: first you reveal everything, and then when you can’t think of anything else to reveal you go deeper. And: we must create our own ways of living and loving and taking care of one another. And: it’s us against the world.

That relationship model was one of the reasons I came back to San Francisco, but then the relationships weren’t there. It’s possible that even the model had burned down in some landlord-induced fire in the Mission, insurance money and new condos. Still there was Derek, emerging from his alcoholism but not from a certain kind of secrecy that meant the safety I treasured often felt elusive. In a way, my friendship with Darryl came the closest to mirroring the beginnings of those foundational relationships, if only because of those first conversations where Darryl and I bonded by sharing our complicated histories, an act of intimacy through disclosure. In public she was shy, distant even, but underneath she wielded a political analysis so scathing; this was another bond between us, but perhaps also a wall: maybe neither of us could ever back away from the critique. Maybe those first late-night conversations where we commiserated over the shock of immediate threats to our shared visions made us feel closer than we actually were.

When Darryl and I got together to talk about our resentments, hers centered around class: she saw my confidence, my ability to walk into a room and carry it, as a manifestation of privilege. While I grew up believing I was evil, believing that I deserved to die, and these were lessons taught to me underneath the mask of my parents’ privilege, it’s also true that I always knew I was smart: at least my parents gave me that. I was the obviously-traumatized child retreating into the relative safety of books -- but I could hardly speak to anyone before I realized the trap of my parents’ privilege, the violence they were enacting, and the lies I was forced to maintain in order to survive. I only started to become confident in the ways Darryl has experienced when I realized that I would always exist outside of the norms presented to me as reality, when I decided to throw that all in the trash.

Even though Darryl and I bonded through a shared experience of the violence of academia, and even though Darryl was as critical of that world as anyone I knew, she was still making a place for herself inside it. Part of this was about a lack of options for maintaining some kind of queer splendor in a world that doesn’t allow you that space. Unlike me, if her life collapsed in a world of pain, she could not attempt to rely on the privileges of her perpetrators in order to endure their harm.

One of the things that scares me the most about academia is the way that it can make anything abstract; I can read a theoretical work about everything that allegedly means something to me, and it just makes me feel dead. I go to that disembodied place where I went to survive my parents. When I heard Darryl utilizing that language it made me feel distant from her too. Even if she would still offer scathing critiques, like when she would question anyone who’d spent decades in academia and still called themselves working class, using the cachet of outsider to maintain insider status.

I felt frustrated by my relationships: they would get to a certain point of political or intellectual intimacy, emotional too but then I was always trying to get to the next level -- I wanted that safety so much that it was hard to feel satisfied with anything else. A physical feeling of closeness, not just the intellectual. I recognized the push-pull of intimacy, but when I felt the other person was doing most of the pulling away, eventually I would give up. I wouldn’t give up on the relationship, but I would give up thinking that it would go further. I was already retreating more into my head, as my pain and exhaustion overwhelmed the everydayness of the everyday and I started worrying that soon an embodied future would feel like a dream of the past.