Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Look, look at the new pink leaves!


Legacy

I’m lying in bed, getting more and more exhausted. Which wouldn’t be a problem, if I hadn’t been in bed already for 12 hours. Time to get up? Time to get up? Time to get up?

At least the weather is back to normal -- or, normal for me, anyway -- cool and foggy -- but my sinuses are stuck somewhere else. Or, maybe that is normal, for me. There was a lot I wanted to write about earlier, but now I can’t remember. No, I can remember, it’s just that the thoughts aren’t connecting. Maybe that means I don’t remember. I do remember all the pain when I was in bed, especially in my biceps, how can there be so much tension in my biceps? But now that’s dissipated -- let’s talk about it later.

Here comes the sun, which means I’m on the fire escape, breathing in all this energy, the wind clearing my head. But only until I get back inside.

Delusion time: I’m in my head, planning out everything I’m going to write. But then I’m out of my head, no I’m still in my head but everything else is too hard to put into words, to pull out and give you, give me. I just got up, but I’m ready to go back to bed. Even though it didn’t help -- what makes me think it will help this time?

The sun was helping, until it starting to feel too hot, and then I got exhausted again, but I still thought maybe I could write, I mean write more than this, but I guess not right now. I don’t feel like going on a walk, but I guess I’ll go on a walk. I’ve been pretty successful lately at going on two walks per day, so I want to keep up the trend. Maybe first I’ll lie down and listen to a feldenkrais CD from the series about mouth and jaw, that one was really helpful yesterday when my arms were hurting so much and then I would try to take a break from doing things with my arms, but then I would end up editing or looking through the catalog of my grandmother’s art because my mother wants to donate all the works in the university collection that are still in her name, for a tax deduction, but I guess I get to choose the ones I still want in my name. I actually want them to stay in the collection, but I have a fantasy that eventually I’ll have a big show for my grandmother, or I’ll get a museum to have a retrospective, or something like that. I don’t know if that will really happen, but I figure it’s better to keep at least some of my favorite paintings under my control, just to have some influence. Influence with the university, to do the things she would’ve wanted. Small things, like ensuring that everything that’s on display is illuminated with track lighting. That’s actually in the contract, the contract that doesn’t say much.

They told her they were going to create a permanent wing in their new museum for her art. That’s definitely not in the contract. The art is in its own area, but in a conference center. It looks beautiful, in between meeting rooms where are all the art in the university’s collection is displayed, and they’re displaying it well, but who goes to see it? I guess I’m going to have a conversation with them, finally -- since now my mother thinks it’s a good idea. She sold most of my grandmother's art, even some of the paintings I set aside, maybe even the most important ones, to me I mean -- they actually weren’t the ones she liked. She sold everything at auction, for pretty much nothing. I guess the point of the university collection is to keep my grandmother’s legacy safe, but I’m not so sure.

I guess I was able to write more than I thought -- it did feel relaxing, but now my arms are hurting again, I guess it’s something about the position I’m sitting in. Okay, time to lie down.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Normal, for me

I’m lying in bed, getting more and more exhausted. Which wouldn’t be a problem, if I hadn’t been in bed already for 12 hours. Time to get up? Time to get up? Time to get up?

At least the weather is back to normal -- or, normal for me, anyway -- cool and foggy -- but my sinuses are stuck somewhere else. Or, maybe that is normal, for me. There was a lot I wanted to write about earlier, but now I can’t remember. No, I can remember, it’s just that the thoughts aren’t connecting. Maybe that means I don’t remember. I do remember all the pain when I was in bed, especially in my biceps, how can there be so much tension in my biceps? But now that’s dissipated -- let’s talk about it later.

Here comes the sun, which means I’m on the fire escape, breathing in all this energy, the wind clearing my head. But only until I get back inside.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

My film is showing tomorrow in Austin, Texas!

That’s right -- All That Sheltering Emptiness, the film I made with Gina Carducci, is showing tomorrow, and here are the details:

HOMOSCOPE: Third Annual International Queer Film & Arts Festival
Sunday, August 29, 2010
Doors at 8pm, films at 8:30
United States Art Authority
2906 Fruth St (29th & Guadulupe)
Austin, TX 78705
(512) 480-9562

And, a reminder about the film:

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

“THE BRAVEST FILM OF THE YEAR”
-- Barbara Hammer

Here I am on Wild Wild Left Radio...

Wild, indeed -- so wild that it went way past the one-hour mark -- and that’s when I really got exhausted and now my body hurts, oh no -- but a fun conversation nonetheless…
Listen to internet radio with Diane G on Blog Talk Radio

Thursday, August 26, 2010

"You make writing sound like a direct action protest" -- I just found this interview in Curve!

Of course I remember when Julia Bloch interviewed me, but I hadn't yet seen the published text -- I think before it was only viewable by Curve subscribers, but now you can read it here...

This seagull looks a bit lost...

Listen to me tomorrow, live on Wild Wild Left Radio

Wait -- it’s already Thursday -- that means that tomorrow at 3 pm Pacific Time/6 pm East Coast time I’ll be live for a whole hour on the podcast Wild Wild Left Radio -- you can even join me on the broadcast, by calling (646) 929-1264.

Here’s what they say about the show:

From the boxes we all put one another in, to the issues people "decide" are important, to the description of "acceptable" behaviors... the only way to bend the spoon is to realize there is no spoon. When you read or listen to Mattilda, you are invited directly to a place where there is no you, and no her, there is only surviving a world of shattered glass pasts, the hugs that put the Earth back on her axis, the sweet relief of an orgasm, and always, always the air we all breathe.

We will be discussing her books, gentrification, gay marriage, anarchy, sex workers, tricks, gross consumerism, or anything the fuck else she feels like talking about.

Come let your mind be bent... or blown!


And:

Controversy? We face it. Cutting Edge? We step over it. Revolutions start with information, and The Wild Wild Left Radio brings you the best in information and op/eds from a position that others on the Left fear to tread.


Sounds good to me -- listen here, and feel free to call in if you want to say something sassy...

Other ways to adjust

It’s almost like a formula: I’m sitting in bed, no not sitting in bed -- lying in bed. I’m lying in bed, wondering whether I’m ready to get up, and thinking that maybe the bloating is getting slightly better, I mean it still continues all night long, but something doesn’t feel as disruptive. And then I get up, and it feels like right then my whole belly puffs out and I feel awful, why did I get up so early? I can never figure out what time is the best time to get up -- today I got up a little earlier, only 11 hours in bed, which sounds like plenty, right? Wrong.

Or, when I was in bed, that’s right -- just a few minutes ago, and I was thinking: at least I haven’t had a sinus catastrophe, I mean my sinuses don’t feel good, but it hasn’t gotten to the point where the pain above my eyes drains everything. And then I get up, and that part of my head is so congested that I almost can’t see.

I’m not sure why I thought it was humid the other day, because this is dry heat, very dry. I guess it was because the mold got worse -- I thought dry heat was supposed to make the mold go away, right? I guess today the mold isn’t so overwhelming, actually I don’t notice it, but maybe it’s because my nostrils are so clogged. No, I do notice all the pollution from the tandoori grills in the neighborhood, does anyone talk about that? I thought it was maybe just me with my hypersensitivities-- they couldn’t really use that much charcoal, right? It’s probably the car exhaust that coats my bathroom walls with soot.

But then I was walking down the block with all the Pakistani and Indian restaurants, and in front of one of them was a huge pile of freshly-delivered charcoal. I mean huge. Taller than me -- 6 or 7 feet high, and then maybe 20 feet wide -- huge bags of it like mulch for the garden.

Yesterday I was thinking maybe this dry heat is okay, maybe it’ll be okay in the Southwest -- because it was 100 degrees here, which never never happens in San Francisco -- so never that Randy didn’t believe it, even though we were looking at the website that shows 30 different readings at once, from all the different neighborhoods, but she said we can’t believe in the media, so she then she checked the corporate weather site. In San Francisco there’s always a huge range in the temperature, so on the site with the 30 different readings, when it was 100 South of Market it was still 84 at the beach. But anyway, I was thinking about the dry heat in the Southwest, and maybe it wouldn’t be so bad, but then we went outside in the evening sun, oh my -- get me in the shade. And the problem with Santa Fe is that there won’t really be that much shade, hardly any at all because the buildings are so short so you’ll be walking down the street in the bright bright sun. I mean here, even at noon if you walk close to the buildings they shield you, but there at noon, oh my!

At least this heat wave gets me to order a pair of sandals -- that way I can be prepared, right? I’ve started trying out my bigger sun hats, but one of the problems with a hat is that even if it shields your face from the sun is still makes you warmer, right? I realized oh, that’s why people wear those hats that are mesh, but then so many of those are polyester and that can’t be comfortable in the heat either, right? Maybe sandals will help.

Although I’m not sure this dry heat is the best thing for my sinuses -- I mean, it seemed like the worst thing, really. I remember that from my trip to Santa Fe, actually. Maybe you get used to it? It would seem strange to go there to escape the mold, and then to use a humidifier. But probably there are other ways to adjust.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A good mood?

Okay, I can tell that today it’s going to be hot, because it’s not even 11 am and I’m sweating on the fire escape. I’ve even taken off my socks, so I’m just sitting in the sun in boxers and nothing else. When I start to worry that I’m getting burnt, and start to cover my legs or arms, that’s when I really start to sweat. How hot is it going to be? I guess it’s okay, because the rest of the summer has been so cool and refreshing.

It must be humid out too, because the mold in my apartment is worse than ever, I wake up into some horrible headache that makes looking at the sun, or in the direction of the sun, kind of painful. I’m sure it also relates to the cigarette Philip Huang lit inside the health clinic where the reading took place the other day -- I know. Sure, it was part of his character, but really? I should’ve left right at that moment, but I wanted to see the rest of Philip’s performance -- this was the first time we’d performed together, but why a cigarette why? Anyway, I escaped right afterwards, but I’m sure the headaches I’ve been getting the last few days relate to the smoke exposure. And now, the heat! And pollution! And mold! Oh my -- the question is: how on earth am I in a good mood?

Monday, August 23, 2010

I do love this warning...

Your shadow on the wall

Sit with your back to the sun and watch your shadow on the wall. When you inhale, the shadow expands. Somehow this can be comforting.

I can’t figure out what the hell makes the bloating better or worse. For a few days it felt better, not better like it went away or anything -- it still went on for at least 15 hours, but it felt less stuck. I started thinking maybe this new probiotics supplement I’m taking was helping, in a subtle way. But then last night suddenly it was worse, way worse. Even though, when I went on my walk before bed I succeeded in walking slowly, the way I felt, exploring the fatigue that somehow didn’t feel exhausted but clear and calm. And the calm continued when I got back -- I thought maybe tonight, tonight I’ll actually sleep well.

Then the bloating started, just as I was getting ready for bed, but I got a hot water bottle and stayed calm anyway. Then as soon as I got in bed I was wired, and the bloating continued all night, which it always does, but it was way more extreme. So now I’m trying to figure it out. Maybe because I ate some beans with vegetables in them that weren’t yet cooked for a while. Or, something about black-eyed peas? Or what grain was I eating yesterday? Whole oats -- maybe it was the whole oats?

Anyway, I’m back out on the fire escape. Something about the combination of sun on my skin and eating means that my mind is racing in all these different directions: maybe I’ll do a whole series of prose poems like the one I wrote for the Persistent Voices reading -- maybe it will be a series of queer works, a history through the interaction of these texts through me. Maybe I’ll interview that publisher, and that author, and that other author I was thinking about.

It’s almost like I’m not there on the fire escape at all, but somewhere in my head, as soon as I start eating. Even just with the sun, once it starts to wire me. I pause for a moment, and look out at the buildings, the way the softer light has become harsher, the fog has cleared and it feels kind of hot, even though it’s probably no warmer than 65. If I move to the Southwest then I wonder if there will be too much sun.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Enriching women's lives, oh my!

Nuclear contamination, oh no...

Here’s the truth, at least for today: I want to move to Santa Fe. I can see myself living there, even if I’m not sure whether I’ll be disastrously lonely, or how I’ll get around, or whether the summer will be unbearable, or whether my allergies will be worse there than here, still there are people there who I can see myself building something with, at least a few, and when I think about stepping outside in the morning into all that air, my head clears even from here. But then there’s all the nuclear contamination, thousands of tons of nuclear waste buried less than 10 miles from the main water supply. One of the problems with that kind of pollution is that I wouldn’t notice, I mean I wouldn’t notice right away. So then I think no, I shouldn’t move there, because what if I like it, and I want to stay, in spite of the nuclear contamination?

And what about the Cerro Grande fire of 2000, where 7000 acres of Los Alamos Nuclear Laboratory land burned to the ground, causing who knows how much nuclear pollution of the air, soil, and groundwater. I keep trying to research everything, to know the specifics, but then I’ll start reading something online and I get too exhausted. Reading online is always exhausting, but I think it also overwhelms me. What could be more overwhelming than nuclear contamination? Especially when the whole town seems to act like it’s no problem, and meanwhile I think what’s happening is that in about a year the city will be diverting the water much closer to Los Alamos Nuclear Laboratory, increasing the risks for everyone. Okay, I won’t make any decisions yet, that’s for sure.

Friday, August 20, 2010

No way -- texting, on the fire escape!



Awful, again

I leave the house thinking I’ll go to the Nob Hill Theatre if I feel like I have enough energy to walk there, then I’m walking up the hill thinking no, I definitely don’t have enough energy, but then I walk there anyway. See, here I am downstairs again, walking around in circles and these two guys emerge from somewhere, I guess a booth, what makes them so hot to me? Something about youth and health and even something terrible like normalcy, but it doesn’t matter because they’re just going into another booth. Some other guy walks by who looks sort of hot -- I like his haircut, wavy bangs, I touch his chest and he actually cringes. Wow.

I know -- people don’t usually touch each other in spaces like these where everything is about distance until you get into a booth and then it’s a different kind of distance. Later, I’m trying to get into the booth next to some Abercrombie tweaker mess who’s turning me on for all the wrong reasons -- the booth is locked, even though there’s no one in it, so I asked the guy who’s been looking into the other booth why he thinks that is, and he looks at me like how could I possibly start speaking?

This might be the worst time in a while, especially when this other guy who I think is hot comes over to wait for the bathroom but he won’t even look at me, he looks past me in masculine rage. It hasn’t been like this in a while, usually it’s just guys who I’m not attracted to and I try to figure out whether maybe something’s possible anyway. Today I’ve spotted at least five guys I’m craving, but no one will even acknowledge me because of something that separates me because of my queeniness or something. Maybe the lack of normalcy too, but queeniness is what they hate the most about me in these spaces, I’m pretty sure about that. Even though I don’t feel like I look that queenie in this particular moment. Where can I go to have sex with people who can actually deal, sex with people, sex? I can’t believe I’m stuck in this horrible place again.

Eventually I leave, and it’s probably only been a little over a half hour, but I feel destroyed and hypoglycemic but I don’t want eat because I’m trying to stop eating two hours before bed, and I guess the good news is that I do fall asleep. Without eating. Wake up the next day feeling awful again, but not as awful as I felt when I left the Nob Hill Theatre.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Somehow this is beautiful to me...

Something else

It’s really quiet at this time of the day, 9:55 am and I can hear the space heater whirring. When Donna said maybe you didn’t want to allow your body to experience pleasure, I thought enough with that New Age garbage, but now I’m thinking about it, maybe there was an element of that in this holding pattern. When I was a little kid I liked to eat everything-- sausage and cheesecake and candy and who knows what else -- everything I later realized I couldn’t eat, when I realized I couldn’t eat. I mean when I became anorexic. So I guess there was a denial of pleasure in that way.

But then I think about the feeling in my head when eat those sour balls, crunching on candy after candy in the classroom is that same feeling with my chin up in the air, eyes rolling back. Escape from my body. And now, in the bathroom, I wonder about this tucking of my pelvis forward, what happens when I let it go is that I can breathe more but then I feel that thing down there, stomach, I want to tuck that back in. That’s definitely from the period of anorexia, I was always pulling my belt tighter, trying to push everything in.

But if eating the food made me leave my body, and deciding not to eat made me own my body but leave too, when did I feel pleasure in my body? I’m not sure if I learned that as a kid. I do remember playing with my feet, that was fun but my parents always said don’t play with your feet, they’re dirty. When I put my foot in my lap now and touch my toes I do get a little kid feeling, not that dark hopelessness from childhood that I know so well but that light in my eyes.

Still, my eyes do roll back for that too. In a softer way. Same thing when I touch my fingers -- it calms me and I close my eyes, head pulling back up into the sky.

There’s the feeling when I start to have sex, when I’m in a public sex space going from one to another and then I get that charge like I’m everywhere at once, I haven’t experienced that in while and I’m not sure when it will happen again. I wonder what my eyes do then. It’s confusing to think about these patterns, but kind of exciting too.

Actually what Donna asked was to notice when I speed up, what does my body do then? Then I stop breathing, definitely. And the rest of this pattern: any one thing can start it, but the rest happens too, that’s what she said, and I think she’s right. So, does that mean that when I stop breathing because I’m excited, the same thing happens as when I stop breathing because I’m scared? Or, when my eyes roll back from pleasure, it’s similar to the way my eyes roll back in a stressful situation? I have no idea.

See, there: I just noticed that I stop breathing. What happens when I take a breath? Then I feel tired. That’s the other part: this need to keep pushing, in order to do anything at all. I do mean anything. It’s easier to relax in my house, but still when I get ready for a task I guess it’s the same thing: either I suddenly get wired, and then I actually think I have energy, or I stop breathing and push anyway. I mean either way I stop breathing. I guess the point is to notice, and then you can start again, right?

Dolphins can kill themselves by deciding to stop breathing. Was that what I was trying to do as a kid? I did want to disappear, but I wanted to disappear so that I could go on living. I wanted to crawl through walls like the mice in our house, without the traps that my father put out for them. Later, when I wanted to appear, I don’t think I started breathing more. I just sped up. Somewhere there’s something in the middle, no maybe it’s not the middle but something else.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

I'm reading on Thursday!

I'm reading for Persistent Voices, an anthology of poetry by writers who died of AIDS -- I created a new poem using phrases from the work of the 45 poets included -- the event should be exciting, here are the details:

Persistent Voices: Poets reading and performing works by poets lost to AIDS
curated by Kirk Read
Thursday August 19, 2010
Magnet, 4122 18th St. near Castro in San Francisco
8pm

This event was inspired by the anthology "Persistent Voices: Poetry by Writers Lost to AIDS," edited by Philip Clark and David Groff. The book collects a wealth of poetry and captures the era in which it was written. In these poems there is urgency, lyricism, rage, humor and gossip. Co-editor Philip Clark will be joining us and books will be available that night. There will be readings of the poems as well as some brand new pieces of writing inspired by the writers in the anthology.

Featured readers include: Judy Grahn, Kevin Killian on Steve Abbott, Jaime Cortez, Kirk Read, Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore, Thandiwe Thomas, Philip Huang on Paul Monette, Philip Clark

Huge bushes of magenta

But wait -- finally, an acupuncture treatment that doesn’t drain me, just leaves me calm. While I’m lying on the table I do sink into something close to sleep, and then I’m thinking please don’t come in now, don’t come in now to take out the needles, because then I’ll be a mess. But then the darkness starts to clear, and at first I’m worrying that I’m doing that on purpose, so I let that go, but then it’s still clearing, and right then the acupuncturist comes in to take out the needles, perfect.

Outside and yes, the smell of eucalyptus trees and you can hear that rattle sound but the parrots make. On the bus, I’m staring out at the bougainvillea, remembering when I first moved to San Francisco and probably that’s what I saw growing in the middle of the highway, huge bushes of magenta, but I thought they were azaleas. The light over the Marin headlands in the distance, when you can tell why this part of town is such valuable real estate, I mean not just the real estate but that view. It’s funny how in some ads they say of view of Alcatraz, instead of a view of the bay and all that’s around it.

In Chinatown the bus gets packed, I think in the future I’ll take the other route back, because now I’m exhausted. But then off into the sunshine, and back home there’s still time on the fire escape and I feel kind of energetic actually, until I’m tired again and my sinuses hurt, but I still feel better than I did before acupuncture so that’s progress.

Monday, August 16, 2010

What's supposed to happen

Donna, the feldenkrais practitioner, suggest that I think about the times when I speed up, what is my pattern then? Chest up, pelvis forward, chin up, jaw locked, eyes into my head, shallow breathing. Something like that. Any one part and stimulate the rest, that’s what she thinks. Like now, I just noticed that yes, my eyes were going up into my head, breathing stopped, chest up. With feldenkrais the key is the awareness, once you notice what you’re doing then you can stop. You don’t tell yourself to stop, actually you do it more, that’s the idea, and then your body learns.

So lately I’ve started to think that I do that whenever I eat, eyes up into my head, and Donna asked if it was something about not wanting to allow myself pleasure, a pattern from when I was anorexic as a kid.but no -- that’s not what anorexia was about for me. It was about taking control of my body back from my parents. And actually, it was pleasurable not to eat, that’s when I had the most energy. Then I would eat something, and I would crash.

And yes, every meal at the dinner table was just tension and rage, a fight for them to keep control, of course I stopped breathing. I don’t know if I ever breathed fully, the first 18 years of my life. But it’s interesting now, to see that this pattern of my eyes into my head, it’s very similar with either stress or pleasure. When I’m really relaxed, it seems to happen. When I’m allergic to something. When I’m tired. When I’m thinking.

And I stop breathing when I’m writing, when I’m editing, when I’m in a hurry, when I’m enjoying a conversation, when I’m intellectually stimulated, when I’m angry, when I’m stressed out, when I’m doing my hair. It’s not the exact same response, but it’s similar -- what does this mean? I don’t want to get too neurotic about it, because then that gives me more pain, and what I’m trying to do is get to a place of less pain, right? The key is just to notice, to notice and not try to change anything. Like when I’m washing the dishes, and I notice that I tuck my whole body in -- I used to press everything forward against the counter, which is kind of the reverse, what exactly are my eyes doing? I’m not sure. That’s another hard thing, because once I start thinking about it, then I think my eyes are always kind of doing that, but there are different levels and I can’t quite feel them yet.

Oh, right -- when I smile at someone on the street I think I do that too, because suddenly I don’t see them. And, when I sit on the fire escape in the sun, that pleasurable feeling. Eyes closed, into my head, right?

On the elevator, I tuck my body in, head back and up. Walking on the street, there are two ways that my eyes go back -- down, when I walk slow; up, when I walk faster. Somehow this starts to be fun, the awareness, even when I get confused and I can’t figure anything out and I have a headache, okay stop, stop paying attention. And then I’m kind of smiling -- it’s Sunday, so there isn’t as much pollution and I can walk further even though I thought I was more exhausted than usual.

But here I am thinking again, eyes go back. Isn’t that what’s supposed to happen? I have no idea.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

My formations, and their undoing

Okay, so I’ve been working on my new book, The End of San Francisco, for a while now. Remember when I printed everything out, and it was 1200 pages? I’ve never written that much in my life, oh my! I didn’t call it a manuscript, I called it the material -- it was more or less everything I’d written over the last years, starting with the writing I did when I visited my father before he died. I need the basic structure that I wanted, so then I separated everything into thematic sections, some of them very tight, like the part about visiting my father, which was already more or less the way it would end up. Don’t get me wrong -- I’m still editing it, over and over, but it started out about 20 pages, and it’ll probably end that about that too. But then there were some sections that were 200 pages -- like the one about trying to regain a sense of hope in my own sexuality -- so, with that one, and some of the others, I kept editing and editing until it felt closer to what I want. I think that section’s about 40 pages now, and I’m still cutting.

I’ve done about four edits for each section, maybe three for the two sections I wrote at the end, when they knew exactly what I wanted, and so last week I thought okay, let me just put it all together, and see how long it is now. I was pretty sure it would still be way too long, but maybe it was time to call it the manuscript. So, I put it all together, and guess what? It was actually under 300 pages! I couldn’t believe it, really.

So now I have a manuscript. I just need to edit it another 10 times, and then it will be ready. I love editing, but the frustrating thing is that I can only go through about 10 or 20 pages per day -- less sometimes. It’s printed out single-spaced, so that each page is really two pages, so that helps my hands. But still, I’m always getting to the point where I’m excited and I can feel the arc and I’m slashing here and gasping there, and right then I realize it’s time, time to stop, because my arms chest shoulders wrists hands jaw feet are hurting, or something like that.

There’s one section that I was reading through again today, about going to The Cock in New York after visiting my father, and that section is pretty much everything I ever wanted to write about the possibilities of public sex. And the walls. And about New York, and what it was and never was, for me at least, and what is and will never be. This section is so gorgeous, and I love the way my run-on sentences just keep running, today I was adding periods here and they are for breath but still.

But oh no -- I think I need to edit that section out. It’s also about San Francisco, or getting ready to go back to San Francisco, but I don’t think it fits with the book as a whole -- too much about New York, maybe 30 pages in a row or something, and yes the book is about New York but in the way that it formed me and this is about something else. I mean, it is one of the best things I’ve written about the perils and potentials of public sex, but it’s too sprawling. And, since it’s about New York, it risks making it seem like when I’m talking about the end of San Francisco I’m just talking about San Francisco. When actually I’m talking about these queer dreams of escape and accountability and intimacy that builds into more dreams of collective political action of relationships that hold of emotion that creates space. I mean, it’s about my formations, and their undoing. So I think this particular part, which is called The Drill, will have to end up somewhere else. Or, at least that’s what I’m thinking now.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Lostmissing at the end of the world, or the edge of San Francisco anyway (thanks to the assistance of the fantastic Ms. Coleman)!!!













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

Worse

Sometimes sleep can be so delusional, dreams at the end that left me with this feeling that I could move through everything, everything could move through me, I could move. Or, even before that, when I was awake and wired, trying to fall back asleep, I still thought, with my mind racing, that maybe I was getting better, maybe the bloating wasn’t as bad, still going on all night but not to such an extreme that it feels disruptive, I mean that’s what I was thinking when I was awake and wired, trying to fall back asleep. But then I’m awake, and the bloating’s worse. And I feel awful, like I haven’t slept at all. Or no: I know I’ve slept, because of this headache, this headache from sleep.

My grandmother wants to know if I’ve seen the doctor. No, I haven’t seen the doctor, what’s the point of seeing the doctor? The last doctor I saw said to take medication for heartburn, and I don’t have heartburn. No, that wasn’t the last doctor -- I went to the doctor a few weeks ago, and she didn’t have any ideas at all. So I gave her some ideas -- tests that we looked up and then she supposedly ordered the kits, but I think it’s been almost 3 weeks and I keep calling, but I don’t get any real response, and then I keep calling.

Then there’s the acupuncturist, who thinks I should keep taking the herbs, even though they make the bloating worse. Because everything makes it worse, she says, so you don’t actually know what’s causing it. In a way that’s true, but it’s also true that the herbs make the bloating worse, and actually the time when I felt the worst was when I tried that first formula, the one that dried me out and maybe me constipated and edgy, that’s when my brain started getting wired in the middle of the night again. She thought I should keep taking that formula too. This one doesn’t hurt me as much, but does that really mean is helping? What’s next?

Last night in bed, in bed when I was wired, I did think that maybe the acupuncture was helping, helping at least to give me more energy in my head, energy to edit my new book and do radio interviews and work on the Lostmissing book but actually that’s the same energy I always have, energy that’s only in my head, I can channel it for a little while and then I just feel worse. Like today.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

When I get the next request

Here’s the crazy thing that happens -- behind the scenes, as they say. I get a call from Tell Me More, that NPR program, asking me if I’m available to go on the air to talk about the Prop 8 decision. Here’s the problem: they want me to go into the studio at 7:45 am the next day. Luckily, they catch me at a good time, a day when I actually don’t feel awful. But then I think wait, what on earth did I just agree to?

Here’s the thing: I’ve been trying for so long to interject an anti-assimilationist perspective into these national debates on gay marriage, gays in the military, etc. And sure, here and there I make some progress, but of course we know that the larger debate almost never includes a radical queer perspective. Let’s say there are a few dozen of us who make some inroads here and there, but overall it’s the same thing -- either gay assimilationists waxing on and on about their amazing progress, or Christian fundamentalists talking about how gay marriage marks the end of Western civilization (don’t we wish?).

So that’s why I agree to go into the studio at 7:45 am. I’m thinking: let me try this, let me try and see if it works. With my new schedule, right? I mean, I can’t even remember the last time I left the house that early. Oh, wait -- on one of my book tours, because the train leaving from San Francisco left around then. That was horrible -- I hardly slept at all, and then I felt like I was strung out on drugs. Maybe this time, with my new schedule, it won’t destroy me to such an extent that it throws me off that much. For a week or two. Maybe I can return home, and get back in bed, and be kind of okay.

I’m so glad it’s foggy out, foggy and freezing, and there’s a cab, as I got up way too early but only once, at 5 am but not at 1 am and 1:30 and 2, etc. thinking: did I miss it? Did I miss it? I even leave the house on time, jump in a cab and get there early, and I still feel coherent, my brain is working fine. My digestion does the same thing it always does when I get up too early -- I have to rush to the bathroom several times to shit before I go on air. It’s nerves, too, but then the show starts and it goes well, and then my digestion kind of feels okay. Or not so jittery, at least.

Outside it’s too bright -- even though it’s still foggy, there’s this haziness to the sun, But I brought sunglasses. The bus comes right away. I get back home, and get in bed, and when I get up again I don’t feel that awful. Sure, my head feels distant, flattened, but also I have all this extra energy there too, extra energy that maybe doesn’t mean I’m not exhausted but at least I still have energy. The next day I’m in more pain, and I’m more exhausted, but at least I didn’t wake up wired in the middle of the night. The next two nights I do. But still I want to think it didn’t throw me off too much, to think that I can do it again. I guess we’ll see when I get the next request.

Monday, August 09, 2010

This pattern

There must be something I can do about this pattern, this pattern on a good day. On a good day, where I wake up feeling like I can do so much, before. Before I eat, that is.

I almost start thinking that fasting for a day would be a good idea, until my hypoglycemia switches into the frantic part, that part just before a crash, and it’s only been a little over an hour since I got up. So then I eat.

My food does look pretty today. I’m trying to eat slower, to notice exactly how my body is reacting. Like, when my eyes roll into my head, which food is causing that?

It’s hard to tell, because first it’s one thing, and then it’s the other. Now I’ve had one meal, though, and I still feel okay. One meal that just leads to the next, and then the next, and then the next, at this time of day where basically I have to eat constantly for several hours in order to function at all. See, it’s only been five or 10 minutes since I stopped eating, and already I’m getting that frantic feeling in my head that means I need more, just to stay grounded. There’s a part of me that just wants to go with that frantic feeling, but I know that only leads to disaster.

But wait -- maybe my eyes are always rolling into the back of my head -- when I relax, it feels that way too. Maybe it’s not an allergy at all. Or, maybe it’s an allergy to everything. The feldenkrais practitioner notices that when I get scared of a certain movement I do that too. Like I’m dissociating, she says. But also when I’m trying to concentrate. And, when I’m relaxed.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Gay marriage: progression or digression? -- On NPR, today!

I'm on NPR's nationally-broadcast Tell Me More again today, in conversation about the Prop 8 decision -- of course, tell me what you think...

A Fine Romance: Lieutenant Dan Choi and Democracy Now's Amy Goodman

I never thought I would start crying while listening to an interview with Lieutenant Dan Choi, the Iraq war veteran who recently received notice of his honorable discharge from the US military for publicly acknowledging he’s gay. But here I am, crying. I’m watching Democracy Now, and during a break in the conversation the show is broadcasting images of Dan Choi at various actions in favor of the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.

Universal Soldier,” Buffy Sainte-Marie’s classic antiwar song, plays in the background. While Sainte-Marie sings, “And he knows he shouldn't kill/ And he knows he always will kill/ You'll for me my friend and me for you,” Dan Choi is pictured in full uniform saluting a crowd at the National Equality March, removing tape from his lips to declare:
We love our country, even when our country refuses to acknowledge our love. But we continue to defend it, and we continue to protect it, because love is worth it. Love is worth it! ...But when we’re telling the truth about our love, our country slaps us in the face and orders us, “Don’t ask,” and orders us, “Don’t tell.” Well, I am telling you that the era and the time for asking is over. I am not asking anymore! I am telling! I am telling! I am telling…because in the face of injustice and the face of discrimination, patience is not a plan. In the face of discrimination, silence is not a strategy.

I’m crying because here is one of the most widely broadcast antiwar news programs in the country, camouflaging Dan Choi’s pro-war rhetoric beneath the lyrics of St. Marie’s Vietnam-era anthem. Dan Choi’s Equality March speech is elaborate in its rhetoric and pageantry, yet in the end it asks us to believe that the vicious wars of US imperialism are for “love.” Democracy Now welcomes this rhetoric into antiwar struggles, simultaneously hiding the pro-war stance and aggrandizing it. This is completely contradictory. You can’t fight against war by arguing that gay soldiers should be able to gun down Iraqis openly.

When Choi tells us that “in the face of injustice… patience is not a plan. In the face of discrimination, silence is not a strategy,” what does this mean about his silence regarding the unjust wars the US is continuing to wage in Iraq and Afghanistan, and his involvement?

Dan Choi declares on the August 4 Democracy Now broadcast, “We all know that America’s promises are not manifest yet, so long as gay or transgender people are getting kicked out of their workplaces, fired for telling the truth or expressing who they are.” No kidding -- and America’s promises are not manifest yet (except, perhaps, the “promise” of manifest destiny), as long as the US continues to bomb at least two countries into obliteration, and fund who knows how many other atrocious wars around the world.

But Dan Choi tells a very compelling coming-out story:
I came back from Iraq. And many times when I was sitting in the barricade areas within the compound or in my Humvee, I thought to myself, when am I going to get along with my life, get along with the truth, reconcile who I really am from what I’ve been pretending to be? And many times I would spend alone in Iraq, many nights I would be very contemplative. I came back from Iraq, and I decided that it’s not worth it. I could have died at any moment in the area that I was, in the Triangle of Death. Why should I be afraid of the truth of who I am?

Do you see what he’s saying? While in Iraq participating in the slaughter of innocent civilians in a war for oil, he had the chance to contemplate his closeted sexuality, and when he came back to the US he decided that remaining silent about his gay desires wasn’t worth it. How many Iraqis died in order for him to express the “truth of who I am.” What about the truth of the war? His biggest worry seems to be this: “I’ve wanted to go back to Iraq and to Afghanistan, but then I thought, if I die in Afghanistan or Iraq, then would my boyfriend be notified?” Did you hear that? He’s not worried about dying in an atrocious war, or killing innocent civilians, but about whether his boyfriend will be notified.

Amy Goodman, rightfully renowned for routinely exposing the viciousness of US imperialism, can only ask: “Dan Choi, what was your mother’s reaction?” Really -- is Dan Choi’s mother’s reaction to his coming out really the most important story here?

In its eagerness to jump on the bandwagon in support of the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, the antiwar left becomes complicit with US wars. These reporters can’t get past their joy at finding a gay struggle to support, in order to step back and realize, wait: maybe this particular gay struggle is contrary to everything I supposedly represent. That’s the nightmare of assimilation we’re living in -- add “gay” to any reactionary goal, and the liberals will jump on the bandwagon, but the founding values of gay liberation -- fighting police brutality; challenging US imperialism; ending oppressive institutions like marriage and the military and organized religion; and creating personal autonomy for sexual merrymaking outside of conventional norms -- nope, we rarely hear anything about those queer values.

So, let’s get back to talking about the right to openly serve in the US military. The closest Democracy Now gets to talking about the war in this particular segment comes when Goodman asks, right at the very end of the interview: “Dan Choi, if the law was changed and you were able to return to Iraq or Afghanistan, how would you feel about the war then?”

Choi responds:
Well, my feelings on the war and my responsibility to speak out against unjust wars and illegal wars and immoral wars, that certainly wouldn’t change. But, as a soldier, there are certain responsibilities, particularly in war. You put all of the politics of why you’re there aside, and you focus on accomplishing the mission in the most moral and the most, I think, effective way, so that you can get yourself, as well as your soldiers—and your soldiers first—alive back home.

Aha -- but what unjust and illegal and immoral wars does he mean? Apparently not the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Or, perhaps he’s ready to speak out? We won’t find out on Democracy Now. Amy Goodman offers no follow-up question. Even when Choi contradicts himself in the next sentence, and says “you put all of the politics of why you’re there aside, and you focus on accomplishing the mission.” Oh, right -- politics aside, get the bombs ready!

The end of Buffy Sainte-Marie’s "Universal Soldier” goes like this:
He's the universal soldier
And he really is the blame
His orders comes from
far away no more.

They come from him.
And you and me.
And brothers can't you see.
This is not the way we put an end to war.

We should all pay closer attention to this particular message: complicity is not the way we put an end to war, indeed.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

A gentrified conversation about gentrification

Somehow he has a different white throw to cover each area where we have sex, or at least it seems that way -- maybe not on the chair, but definitely on the white sofa, and in the white bed. Afterwards, we’re talking about San Francisco and the Mission and gentrification and I can’t decide whether it’s more exhausting to talk to someone who understands, but not really, or to talk to someone who doesn’t understand at all. Actually it gives me a headache just to think about it -- maybe I’ll come up with specific examples later. Or wait, he keeps saying something about how there are still undeveloped areas of San Francisco, unlike New York. Because he lived in New York too; that’s another thing we’re talking about. Where, I say. Those undeveloped areas? South Beach, South of Market, Bay View. He says something about how the character of these places is going to change dramatically, and I say dramatically for the worse, and he says probably you’re right, but I’m not sure whether he’s thinking of the displacement or just what the new buildings will be like.

Or, something about how he bought a house with his boyfriend and the house has some modifier, something I’m supposed to know like it’s a whatever-house, probably the architect’s name, and I think of saying what’s a whatever-house, but then I wait too long and then I guess I’m doing that thing where I act like I know whatever annoying thing that I don’t actually know, and that’s this particular type of bougie conversation. Something about an Eames chair, things he acquired from doing interior decorating on the side. Or maybe not interior decorating, set-up for something or other?

It’s the bougieness of this kind of conversation about displacement, the way the terms of what we talk about are already gentrified and I don’t want to be part of that. Maybe that’s the difference between us. His landlord just bought him out at his apartment, where he lived for 14 years -- a huge two-bedroom in the heart of the most gentrified part of the Mission, where he still only paid $800. Now he has a thousand-dollar Tenderloin studio that's nice but tiny, he’s excited he can put the bed in the closet but I always wonder about people with nothing in their apartment, where do they keep it all? I mean, people who seem to have money. For him it’s in the house outside the city with his long-term boyfriend who maybe isn’t his boyfriend anymore and they never believed in monogamy but then somehow they were monogamous for 6 ½ years. Partner is probably the word he uses -- his partner is 20 years older and now they’re growing apart.

So then he’s mourning the loss of some of the things I also feel loss about, or no we never actually talk about exactly what he’s mourning, or what I’ve lost. Because, he’ll say something about an Eames chair, and then I say something about how everything in New York is an industry, he moved there when I first moved here, or a few years before, he lived there from ’89 to ’91 I think he says. When downtown was still downtown. He doesn’t say that: he says New York, when New York was still New York. No, he doesn’t say that either, but it’s what he means, what we both understand. Just before the end of all that, if there ever was a before. We do agree on the date, as if New York can just be this thing that happened downtown. I say: now it’s just a place to sell what it used to be.

Wait, I remember -- I say something about how San Francisco is my foundational place, he says for him too. The early-‘90s in the Mission, even, and for a moment I wonder if I knew him then but then I realize he moved there in ’94, probably right after I left. I wonder what it meant to him, he must say something, something that makes me not want to share what it meant to me. He’s leaving now. Maybe that’s another part of the disconnect -- the Mission means nothing to me now, except. I mean, nothing now, but everything then. Then for him is still now, or yesterday.

He does say: he’s embarrassed by the reasons he doesn’t find the Tenderloin comfortable. Everyone out on the street, which is kind of what I like. But no, also the desperation, and he says he’s very intuitive, it’s hard for him. That you can’t walk around the corner to everything you might need; I wonder what he needs. It’s not a village, that’s what he says -- he likes South of Market better, although I can’t imagine why. He likes the flatness. Highways and yuppie lofts, that’s South of Market to me. Not that there aren’t trendy places here, but not in the same density. Maybe it’s the relating that makes this conversation hard also, that makes me wonder what it means to connect, what is connecting, how hard it is to find.