Friday, April 29, 2011

Under a million

Well, I certainly don’t identify as gay or a man, but since I’m in Santa Fe and I can’t figure out how on earth to meet fags, I’m off to a gay men’s discussion group. The topic this week is whether you identify with all the elements included in the acronym LGBTQ, so I’m imagining that all these gay men are going to talk about how no, they don’t relate to the rest at all, and then I can talk about how I don’t relate to gay men. Usually the meeting is at a church, but it’s Easter Monday so the church is closed and the meeting is taking place at the Friendship House, the local sobriety center, which makes me nervous but not necessarily more nervous than a church. As I’m walking up, someone says uh oh from inside a parked car, I guess that’s a good sign. I turn and respond with my own uh oh, even though I can’t see who’s inside.

I’m about eight minutes late, and when I step inside the room everyone turns -- mostly gay men in their 50s and 60s, all pretty much blending into some version of normalcy at least on the outside -- some of them look at me like I’m an alien creature, and some look like they’re excited, I join the circle. We break up into two groups, and guess what? Everyone says they don’t understand why anyone would have a problem with lesbians, several of them have lesbian neighbors and lesbian best friends, but most say they don’t know much about the people represented by the other letters of the acronym. At first there seems to be a consensus that there aren’t divisions between gay men and lesbians in Santa Fe, that everyone hangs out together, which is certainly not my experience, and then someone else talks about how he thinks everyone hangs out in little groups, and the groups disband every five years, and then everyone has nothing. Someone else talks about going to dinner with four of his lesbian friends, all of them in their 50s, and everyone just talked about how lonely and alienated they felt, and why is everyone so lonely if everyone's looking?

I talk about how I relate much more to dykes and queers outside of conventional norms than gay men, who so often seem apolitical and obsessed with status and career, masculinity and consumerism, and then someone actually says something about how marriage has become the central issue, but he thinks that civil rights should come first. I swear I didn’t say a word about marriage beforehand. They all seem to agree, actually -- marriage doesn’t matter to them, but they do think that people should have hospital visitation rights. Apparently the local hospital, which is Catholic-run, has a terrible history when it comes to hospital visitation for same-sex couples or anyone not blood-related, but no clear policy. Everyone thinks this should change, but they see it as a civil right, not something relating to marriage, which of course flies against the grain of the mainstream gay movement. One guy says something about how he and his partner have spent all this money in two different states, and it has gotten them nothing.

I’m kind of fascinated by the conversation, my place inside and outside it -- I get a ride from someone who’s 62 and came out three years ago, he and his wife of 18 years got a divorce once he realized he was gay, and his spiritual teacher told him she had always known, gave him permission to change his life. He lives in El Dorado and he’s kind of a hermit -- I say there are lots of hermits in El Dorado, right? I ask him if he’s going to the group next week, would he mind picking me up? It’s a deal.

So then I go inside and I actually feel kind of excited -- wasn’t expecting to have any energy at all after the group, since I was already exhausted beforehand, but now I’m ready for a walk or maybe I’ll check to see if there are any sexual possibilities -- I’m on that cruise site where it’s pretty much always the same people, I send messages to the ones who say they reply to anyone, and then they don’t reply. Or just one person, in this case, and then there is someone with a pretty glamorous picture of his ass and that kind of gets me hot, why not, so I say I’m not usually a total top or anything, but your picture did get me excited, apparently he’s drunk at the gay bar, using his mobile application for the first time, telling me about his big shower, he unlocks his face picture, arms up behind his head framing a tan and slim, sculpted body, face a bit blurry but undeniably cute in that disastrously clean-cut sort of way. Lots more messages and I’m not sure it’s really going to happen, but then he gives me his room number at the La Fonda, a perfect walk and remember I wanted a walk, right?

So then I’m on my way, walking too fast and when I get there it doesn’t seem as fancy as I thought it would be, I walk around and around looking for his room number, just when I think I’ll never find it there’s a security guard to point me in the right direction but turns out I’m already there, just around the corner. I hear the shower running from the hallway. He opens the door, damn he’s hot, older and not such a perfect body and hotter too is what I’m thinking. I kiss him and he’s frantic in that drunk way, grabbing my dick and jerking way too fast, what are you doing? I just want to keep making out with his wild tongue, hands all over his head, but I guess I’ll go down for his cock so he stops pulling at mine, then at least I’ll get hard.

I pull off my jacket, get on my knees and immediately he’s grabbing my head and thrusting as hard as he can, I’ll take that, maybe he’ll come down my throat is what I’m thinking -- he’s moaning and saying yeah get it nice and wet-- no problem, and then he pulls me up, we’re pulling off our clothes and kind of laughing, I like that, as soon as I’m naked he grabs me from behind and pushes me onto the bed, kind of surprising since I thought he was the one who wanted to get fucked and here he is holding me from behind, that amazing feeling of safety and vulnerability I love, and then he shoves his dick into my ass just like that, in that way that makes me speechless because first of all I can’t believe it went in that easily, second that it doesn’t hurt, and third this is why I don’t let guys hold me from behind anymore, I angle away if someone's dick starts getting close to that place of possibility I mean that’s how I’ve stayed so safe over the last several years for the most part. But now I’m getting fucked, fast and hard and I’m trying to think fast too, when his dick slips out I turn around to suck his cock again, a good place to think although can I get parasites from eating my own shit, guess I’m already taking medication.

He says something about the shower, which is still running, steam coming out of the bathroom, but that just makes me think of dry skin and no place for a condom, so I say you can fuck me out of here, why don’t you put on a condom? Do you have one, he says? Yeah, and I take it out of one of my pockets, buried underneath shampoo and conditioner so I wouldn’t have to use the awful scented hotel products in case the shower really did happen. Do you have a lube? Yeah, I say, and the night is saved as I pull it out of the other pocket, inside two plastic bags because you know how that silicone stuff always gets over everything, I hand it to him, he rubs it on my ass and I take the opportunity to grab his head and taste his tongue again, he turns me around, angles me over the bed or no he turns me around and I angle myself over the bed, he shoves it in again like he’s never heard of foreplay but somehow it works, guess I’m at a different point or maybe it’s because he’s already been in my ass, whatever it is he’s fucking me hard, pulling it out and stuffing it back in like I’ve never really been able to take before, sometimes I have to slow him down and he says I want you face-down on the bed. I lie on my back because that sounds better, but the angle doesn’t work for his impatience, he says lean over the bed again and it’s hotter that way anyway, have to pull his hands away from my dick so I don’t come yet, I’m grabbing his balls, teasing his asshole with a finger, he pushes that away, which makes me wonder if his fetish isn’t to advertise bottoming then turn someone around and stick it in, doesn’t matter because it’s working out better anyway, I mean it does matter ethically the way he’s counting on my desire the way they all count on it when they stick it in without asking, without a condom, but actually I’m not thinking about that now I’m just thinking about it how good it feels, which is what he's saying and I’m so glad that I figured out a way to bring the condom into the scene or no I’m not thinking about any of this just about how good it feels and he says I’m going to come, I want to come inside you, and I reach back and make sure he didn’t pull off the condom, then he’s moaning and grabbing my chest just the way I like it, then pulling away, condom in his hand he goes to the bathroom.

I grab him from behind, kissing his neck while he’s washing up, I say is this okay because that’s the way I am, he says yeah come on me, I say turn around. I’m jerking off, aiming for his dick, I say hold my balls and he grabs too hard, softer I say and then I shoot right for the place just below his belly button, he says oh it’s a mess, turns off the shower, I grab his head for more kissing, ask for a washcloth.

Back in the other room, I ask him if he lives here. Yeah, in this hotel room, he says. Oh okay, I say. He says no, I live in LA but I’m looking for a place here -- my parents live here, but not too close to them. Where are you looking, I say. Somewhere outside of town, but not too far. Tesuque? I can’t afford that -- I’m thinking Hyde Park Road. It’s beautiful there, I say. How much are you looking to spend, I ask. Definitely under a million, he says.

I was going to help him by talking about cheap rentals, but now I’m thinking about what kind of person says that so casually: definitely under a million. I’m guessing we’re about the same age, even though his profile says nine years younger. Don’t get me wrong -- I do that all the time on craigslist, but for some reason I tell the truth on the cruise sites, maybe because it’s me with a face picture and everything and why lie even though everyone else is lying, even though everyone else expects you to lie, and this guy whose name is Matt grabs my pants like he’s going to put them on, notices the error, hands them to me. I say you can try them on if you want -- I like the dynamic between us, kind of aggressive and joking and cheerful too, and it reminds me of that kind of sex while drinking I mean the way he’s drinking and that’s where he gets this energy, I’m getting it from him.

Walking home it doesn’t nearly as cold as before, kind of fun taking that tiny wooden bridge over the so-called river, walking through the courtyard of the state buildings, by the time I get near my place I decide I’m going to take the alley even though it’s too dark at this time of night, I’ll just jump to the side if I hear a car, and when I get back home I figure I’ll send this guy a message, telling him that was hot and we should stay in touch, that’s what we said at the hotel but I might as well say it again, right? He’s already sent me a message: were u doing blow when we met? i heard u sniffing and just wondering. totally cool either way.

Oh, now he’s gotten to the point where he needs drugs, I know that point too, for a second I think about how it would be fun to spend more time with him getting coked out except really that would be hideous and horrible so I just say what I originally intended to say. Then I wait around too long to see if he responds, do the dishes, get ready for bed, look again, turn off the computer, and when I look again in the morning he’s already deleted his profile.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Two fantastic new blurbs for Why Are Faggots So Afraid of Faggots!!!

"Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore's coruscating eye and clear head is what queers need if we are to survive as anything other than a tamed branch of consumer society, based on assimilation, repression, and despair. These essays come like a plunge into a forest pool of revitalizing joy, honesty, and common sense. Read them. Now. No—not tomorrow. Now!"
--Samuel R. Delany, author of Times Square Red, Times Square Blue

"Mattilda has again provided us with a collection of urgent, intimate, powerful essays that upend the horrifying hyper-visible and invisibilizing bandwagon of today's pro-military, marriage-obsessed white gay politics. These essays excavate masculinity, unearthing the complex and pervasive structures that police and construct it and exposing the beautiful resilience of its self-avowed refusers and failures. These pieces telescope between analysis of the structures of gendered racialization that produce body norms and the daily physical and emotional traumas and toils of surviving and resisting, providing complex and badly needed ways to imagine and reimagine faggotry."
--Dean Spade, author of Normal Life: Administrative Violence, Critical Trans Politics and the Limits of Law



(The book will be out just in time for Valentine's Day 2012!)

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Like an extra dimension in the air

Oh my, this weather this weather this weather -- please, can we have this weather all the time? I’m sitting outside in the cloudy morning as it starts to rain, I mean like it rains here with the drops so spread out you can barely feel them, actually you can hear and smell the rain more than you hear it -- rain on the leaves, rain in the dirt and stones and asphalt -- but then I look at this one drop of rain glittering on my thigh and wait, that’s not rain -- it’s sleet, and right then it gets louder and I feel it more, little balls of hail yes that’s what it is now, hail, and just for the hail the sun comes out bright, a flash between the clouds but actually if I look just a few feet in the other direction the sky is bright blue, really bright blue. But then right where I am it gets dark again, and when the hail stops the birds get louder, so many different kinds of birds now chirping from all directions and I’m trying to think of how to describe this sound for people who haven’t heard all these layers of birds chirping and the wind, people like me until recently and yes the cars are louder but when there aren’t any cars it’s just the layers of chirping high and low, fast and slow, all together and separate like an extra dimension in the air, mostly you don’t see them just the sound from inside bushes and there’s another flash of sunny sky and then something in between, bright and dark at the same time.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Moist air

But what’s going on -- I actually feel better today! Is it something about the weather -- nothing could be more gorgeous and calming than a cloudy day in Santa Fe, except a cloudy day when there’s actually humidity in the air. Believe it or not, sometimes it’s cloudy here and the humidity is like 10% -- what is it now, let me check. 49% -- that’s like a world record, it even rained like 16 drops earlier on when I was walking home, no maybe 600 drops but no, not enough to get me or the ground even slightly moist. But anyway -- I love this moisture in the air, thank you!

And then, I kind of feel like suddenly I have all this time, because I’m not meeting my mother at 2 pm every day, hanging out until I’m ready to get ready for bed. So that makes me wonder about all that sadness and exhaustion, how much related to my mother, how much to that awful flagellation drug, and how much to my usual sadness and exhaustion? Because actually it feels like it lifted once she left, does that usually happen? I mean, I thought that usually I sink into a deep dark bottomless despair, that familiar childhood surrounding, but now that I think about it again I remember that when I left my grandmother’s house and my mother last time I saw her, got on the train to New York and immediately something lifted. So complicated figuring out these layers -- but anyway, today I feel better, not as overwhelmed or weighted down. Two walks that didn’t really drain me, cleared my head actually, staring at all those luscious clouds up high and everything growing down low, pulled some things out of the sidewalk to plants in my garden.

And, the pink drug isn’t wrecking me-- at least not yet, maybe this is the one, the one that helps. Maybe it’s helping? Too early to say, but at least I had a good day, hunting for all those Easter eggs on craigslist and no, I didn’t find a sex life or anything, but I’ll take a good day over bad sex anytime, maybe even over good sex. I guess good sex and a good day would be even better, but I’m not going to push it, I mean if there were somewhere to go to search for good sex, then I would push it, but for now I think I’ll go back outside and breathe in some more of that moist air.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

What year is this, again? Where am I living?

From the glamour of a craigslist post for a three-way:
We prefer 21-40 yo and you must have pics (we are discreet and we must make sure we do not know you as both of our jobs involve the public).

Let me repeat that, with emphasis added: "we MUST make sure that we DO NOT know you" Yes yes -- you certainly would not want to hook up with someone who you actually know, no no no no NO! “Both of our jobs involve the public,” and if the public knew that we hooked up with someone for a three-way, oh my oh my oh my oh MY our workplaces would be rife with conflict, our security replaced by impossible turmoil

I wonder where they work, should I ask? I mean I know they won’t tell me, but should I ask anyway?

A cloudy day, the altitude, and pink

My mother is leaving, and now I guess I go back to my normal life, whatever that is. I wonder if there’s ever a point where you can undo that original place of loss, abandonment, hopelessness, that’s what I’m thinking as I walk into the clouds, really what it feels like yesterday has been a cloudy day and my mother kept saying oh no, it’s going to rain. But it never rains, just a few drops and the clouds keep blowing. Although it was refreshing to feel the moisture in the air, almost like fog except that’s just because we’re so high up that the clouds are lower. My mother opens a bottle of carbonated water, and it explodes. That was yesterday. My mother opens a bottle of carbonated water, and it explodes. That was today.

Oh, right -- the altitude -- that’s what it must be. And then I’m walking through sadness almost tears, yes I want to mark this place in the parking lot of my mother’s hotel, childhood and everything that comes later we want it to help and does it ever help and maybe I’m glad she doesn’t call me from behind to say goodbye again and then I would turn around and she would see my eyes, I’m studying the plants in the driveway, what grows here and stepping into the street it’s this time of day into night that I love so much, no energy except this softness between me and the sky, the light, the air, and I’m thinking about this new medication, the first thing it says is WARNING: This medicine has rarely been associated with cancerous conditions in certain animals treated with it for long periods of time. But I also like the part where it says CONTACT YOUR DOCTOR IMMEDIATELY if you experience seizures. Oh, right -- hey seizure, hold on a moment, I need to call my doctor!

The pills are pink, which makes them seem grosser. I’m back home now, cruising the internet so that maybe I won’t feel so tired. Which makes me tired. I mean I was already tired. Now I’m more tired.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Bitter pills

Something interesting I’m noticing on this trip I mean visit is that my mother keeps complimenting me on my outfits -- the sparkly belt, the yellow corduroys, even my purple sun hat. Well, the sun hat she doesn’t exactly compliment, but she says something that indicates surprise in a positive way. It does feel genuine, like she’s paying attention to every detail. She’s that way in my apartment too, one of the few people that immediately notices the wall of memory: photos of Chrissie and JoAnne, an art piece JoAnne made about the two of us, a scrawled drawing Chrissie made when she was high, a silhouette drawing of my grandmother from the ‘50s, a photo of her father wearing some kind of apron and sandals. My mother comments on the art in different lighting, my furniture, houseplants, she thinks my apartment could be in some magazine. She even restrains herself from getting angry at the computer store when we wait forever, because she knows I hate it when she starts getting obnoxious. She doesn’t restrain herself as much at the consignment store, arguing over $10 in some game I don’t understand, or I do understand, and I hate it. We talk about money too, finances, my security, and it’s stressful the way she wants to give me less but not stressful in the way it used to be, since now I have the money from my grandmother, or most of it -- now I’m planning for the long-term, trying to make sure that it doesn’t all vanish and then I’m left trying to figure everything out again. I’m going to be okay -- if only I could figure out my health, then maybe I could, well, I don’t know yet.

I can’t remember if my mother was always so detail-oriented, I mean I don’t remember that, but of course I’m that way, so I guess it makes sense. Maybe she suppressed it with my father, fearing his rage or not fearing it so much as living with it all the time. Her own rage, suppressed. And, not suppressed -- I mean they argued all the time. But he was always the dominant one, his own obsession with detail.

Sitting in the waiting room while waiting for the optometrist, I can hardly even speak -- was I this exhausted before my mother arrived? Is this the after-effects of the medication, or part of what always happens when I see my mother? Both, I guess -- or, I’m not sure. Then I’m sitting in a dark room while waiting for the optometrist again, I mean I’ve done the tests with the assistant but the optometrist is taking his time to get here. It’s hard for me to do anything except close my eyes, although I guess I’ll need to open them when he arrives.

Somehow after that time in the dark room I feel a bit more energetic, my mother and I go to the gardening store, she wants to know if I’ll really plant all these things, but then later she doesn’t think I got enough. I wake up feeling not quite as awful as the last few days, I mean at least my whole belly isn’t clenching in pain. I guess the new medication is ready, turns out the doctor phoned it into a different pharmacy but no one called to let me know. Time for more clenching -- after I drop my mother off at the hotel, I decide to walk over to the other pharmacy, located just past one of the most hideous intersections in Santa Fe, Cerrillos and St. Francis, like two highways coming together, but actually at night it’s so much calmer, kind of surreal and I don’t smell all the car exhaust it kind of feels like an adventure, a practical task that I’m succeeding at doing. Even crossing St. Francis feels like an adventure. But when the pharmacist tells me how much the medication costs, I think I’ve heard her wrong -- I mean at first I think she says $2.11, since it’s only for three days, and that sounds fine, but I ask her to repeat the amount and she shows me on the computer: oh, $211.69, I didn’t bring that much money -- or, my insurance card, I guess the terrible insurance I have would at least be good for reducing this cost, right? The pharmacist says it will probably go down to 60 or 70 dollars, so I guess I’ll be back tomorrow.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Clouds illuminated in layers

This is what I mean: it’s that impossibly beautiful time of day just before the sun fades from view and I’m walking my mother back to her hotel. We’re walking down the alley as the sky fills with blues and purples, oranges and reds if you look in the other direction and I can feel that sadness coming on already because here we are sharing something so intimate. Then I’m pointing out the salad restaurant, the tile store, the bakery -- places my mother might want to go to. And I think maybe I should invite her to keep walking, I’m not so tired yet, but actually if we keep walking then I’m sure I’ll be exhausted soon, so we should stop beforehand, we’re already at her hotel it’s so close and she’s glad we’re there earlier this time, last night she couldn’t see anything it was so dark and I wonder if that’s because we’re here in this town where it gets this dark, even right outside a hotel. Although she lived in the suburbs for so long, and it must have gotten this dark there too, right? Maybe now see these to the city, walking outside her apartment I’m sure it’s always light.

She asks me if I want to come up for a drink, some water -- no thanks. She tells me she’s really enjoying this trip, time to go out by herself and time to see me, we hug goodbye and then I do something strange, touch her hand as I’m turning to go, what does this mean exactly, and when I turn the corner to see more of the sunset I see oh, here’s what we were looking at from my mother’s room the other day, Manhattan Avenue, these little houses that are businesses now, I’m walking down the deserted street, not unusual just deserted the way it is, turning to see that stunning sky, clouds illuminated in layers. I want to see those purple ones again but I don’t want to walk too far, already I’m too tired really, drained, exhausted but not worse than before I guess, before my mother arrived, still waiting for that doctor to call back, what is her problem?

Walking through the railyard as the sky gets dark, somehow I actually manage to catch both lights across Guadalupe and Cerrillos on my way home, marveling at the piles of trash or not trash just stuff in these three cars outside one old house, they always pile it up, I mean every seat but the driver’s covered, spilling onto the floor, up to the windshield, then I’m stepping into the pine needles because I like that feeling under my shoes, avoiding the dog shit, dried out at least, the way it gets here, past the two metal dog bowls on the corner, one for food and one for water -- just noticed those the other day, maybe for the dog that walks around on its own, growls at me even when I try to be friendly, and then here I am, back in my apartment where it seems strangely warm, I guess that’s the way it gets now that the weather is warmer, better open the windows more.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Maybe something else

Today I feel worse. Not because of my mother’s visit, which actually felt almost calming in the way I anticipated, kind of a tunnel, a time of errands and financial assistance, a few easier moments that always give way to the pain of loss in the distance, the pain that never ends but actually right now I’m feeling the pain in my gut again, why is it worse today? Waking up from a dream about this closeted dyke PE teacher from high school, and then I was thinking about all the closeted teachers and were any of them supportive, just one, a French teacher, and what about the principal, was he a closeted fag too and was that why he seemed to hate me and Erik so much? And then thinking about students, and even this one who became a playwright and her friendship with the dyke PE teacher that ended in scandal one year after I left, graduated I mean, all of this is in my head an investigation that somehow sounds empowering, but then when I get out of bed I realize oh, the pain, why is it worse?

Then I’m so tired I can’t even go on a walk. I mean I could go on a walk, I would like to go on a walk, but soon I’ll be walking to feldenkrais and that’s a mile away so I think I need to conserve my energy. But then I just feel worse, worse and worse, sitting here trying to get the bloating to go away, walking around, stepping outside, taking glutamine which is supposed to soothe everything but I think it makes me shit, maybe that’s kind of soothing but I’m just as exhausted, didn’t sleep that awfully I don’t think, probably I’m still worn out from those drugs, called the doctor’s office because they’re back today, tried to act super-friendly because it’s not the receptionist’s fault, just said simply: I’m still waiting for a prescription I can’t fill because it was called in wrong. Oh, she said, can I have someone call you back? Yes, definitely.

That was over two hours ago -- no one has called back yet, what is their problem? This medication was supposed to be urgent I thought, probably just more pain but maybe something else, right? Maybe something else? Maybe?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Inside-out

I don’t know how it works exactly, but you know when it happens and suddenly you’re struck with a very specific memory, I mean I’m washing the collard greens at the sink and then I see myself walking down my grandmother’s street, past all the big old mansions and a few strange, mostly smaller 1960s concoctions like my grandmother’s house, huge trees, down the hill and through the little old town of the neighborhood, over to Whole Foods, the only interaction with people. I know what it is: the emotion, that’s what brings on the memory. I was there after my grandmother died, just over a year ago, spending time in the house I didn’t even realize how much I would miss, I mean I realized it then. My mother arrives here today, and already I’m sad. The last time I saw her was at my grandmother’s house, now it’s someone else’s house, a young artist I guess, I hope he’s enjoying it. Sometimes I think of sending him a postcard: welcome.

My mother arrives here today, and already I’m sad. Actually, she’s probably here already, I haven’t checked my voicemail yet. I meet her around 2. I think I’m sad because of the medication, actually, the way it drains me of me. Yesterday and today, I woke up in that cloud of darkness, longing for something other than this cave, a heaviness, a sinking, emptiness surrounding everything, a drain. Ready to go to bed as soon as I’ve gotten out of bed, almost. But first I will see my mother, usually that ends up draining me too. I mean sometimes I end up enjoying the visit, I like interacting with her as this person who I don’t quite know, but then the reality sinks in and she’s my mother, the same emptiness and longing and Wheels said what do you do for yourself when you know you’re going to get to that place? I have no idea. Especially when I’m already so drained ahead of time. I guess there’s always my apartment, this place of light and color and space and contrast that holds me, the plants and art and papers to look at, space for the childhood feelings that never had space, I guess that’s what happens I just go back there to that feeling of absolute and total despair, the feeling that everything else is an illusion, the only reality the pin-cushion of hopelessness, the way I felt for my first 19 years so it’s always there somewhere inside. And then, inside-out, maybe that’s part of it too. Okay, I’ll go outside and sit in the sun with my sunhat, well no first I have to eat something and check my voicemail, then maybe some sun, a walk, a shower, work on a book review, a phone call or two, and then my mother. Will I really be able to do all of that? Mostly I just feel like getting back in bed.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Like a parasite, maybe

This is how tricky it all is: here I am, sitting in bed -- no, I’m not sitting, what am I talking about? Okay, here I am, lying in bed. Yes, what would I be doing sitting? No, you can see me now -- lying in bed, right?

Anyway, I’m awake earlier than usual, so the trick is to figure out whether this is too early -- sure, my head is racing, but how do I feel? I close my eyes: horrible. But my head won’t stop racing, should I get up anyway? Let me try again, turn to the other side -- ouch, what is that pain in my belly, usually hurts less on this side, oh well.

No, my head is still racing, or okay not my head but my brain, right? Turn to the other side, and wait, just when I think nothing’s going to change, I’m just going to lie here until eventually I got up, feeling worse, just around that moment I notice oh, something is shifting, suddenly my head feels soft, body sinking into the bed, and yes, sort of a dream, and then I wake feeling kind of excited, that’s what I needed, and then I notice that actually it’s cloudy, which makes me more excited, and when I open the front door it smells like rain, could it have rained, really rained -- I touch the dirt, no moisture really but maybe it doesn’t feel as dry, probably a tiny bit of rain and my head feels clearer because there’s still humidity in the air, which makes me think I should move to Seattle, oh all that soft moisture yes I want that moisture, but no not eight months of dark and permanent mold.

Inside, there’s a flower growing out of the flower on the bromeliad -- bright purple coming out of red and somehow it kind of scares me, I mean it’s a gorgeous color but just the way it pops out of one small point -- like a parasite, maybe, but let’s not go back to that subject, or at least not right now, okay?

Or, never mind: you want to hear about the new drug drama -- I go to CVS to get the prescription, but apparently it’s a drug that hasn’t come out yet, why would the doctor prescribe something that doesn’t exist? I figure I’ll call the other corporate chain -- yes, Walgreens, you guessed it -- but then I can’t remember the name of the drug, and I can’t find the lab work that recommended it, oh here it is, underneath a pile on my disastrous kitchen table: tinidazole.

So I call Walgreens and ask -- it only comes in a powder, 100 grams, and I’m only supposed to take 2 grams a day for three days-- is it a powder that you can dissolve in water? The pharmacist doesn’t know: no, this is for compounding, but maybe there’s a brand name, okay Tindamax, in 500 mg capsules or tablets, so I called CVS back, the pharmacist says yes that must be it, but we can’t fill the prescription because they spelled tinidazole wrong, and then when we called to ask they spelled it wrong again, and also specified 2 grams twice a day, but they said the doctor would call back in the morning.

But wait -- did I already mention that the nurse left me a message that the drug was unavailable, and that I needed to come in for a new stool test? That didn’t make any sense at all -- and, when I called the office the machine said they’ll be out on Wednesday and Thursday. For some reason I thought that yesterday was Tuesday, but now I realize that it was Monday, so maybe they are in the office today. But anyway I called the doctor, asked her to call in the prescription again, and here we are to today, a better day I think but here comes the sun and I’m exhausted again.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Questions, questions, questions

Another question that never fails to drain me -- not that it’s a bad question, I just don’t know the answer: how is Santa Fe? Or, maybe I know the answer, but it exhausts me, I’m exhausted. Or, another question that drains me: how is your health? That one I do know the answer to: terrible! I definitely feel worse. Even the one thing that I thought would immediately be better -- my sinuses -- that’s pretty much the same. Before I had a sinus headache because of the mold and the pollution, now I have a sinus headache because of the dryness and allergies -- different allergies than before, so the headache is a little different, but not better. Everything else is about the same, or worse. But I’m not going to make any pronouncements -- I do remember that I’m here to get better, so I’m still trying, trying to get better.

But how is Santa Fe? Well, it’s stunningly beautiful -- I love going on walks, the light is always spectacular, my apartment is incredible. Santa Fe is totally different than anywhere else I’ve lived -- smaller, more spread out -- people socialize in different ways, and it’s interesting to figure that out. But I do feel more isolated -- most people seem to live in their own little worlds, which is kind of okay because I guess I live in my own world too, but because of car culture and the way that everyone is so spread out, mostly these worlds seem separate from a direct engagement with my life. There’s no street culture except tourism, and whenever there’s a density of interaction it still feels like an island. Can’t really figure out how I’ll ever have a sex life that means something -- not that I had that figured out in San Francisco or anything, but here I can’t even find fags on the queer continuum, maybe I’ll have a craigslist hookup that feels vaguely connected, and then the guy will send me an email saying he’s never had sex with someone who’s turned tricks or done hard drugs, and should he be worried? Should he get tested for anything?

Okay, now I’m getting exhausted again -- see what I mean?

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Listen and learn

This is the kind of question that I hate, in this case coming from a doctor who I like: does anything feel better? No, I already told you that I feel much worse, why would you even ask me a question like that? I mean really – I wake up in the middle of the night with bloating so awful that I start to worry that my whole midsection might explode, and this goes on for hours – how could anything feel better?

And then she asks: what is your ideal weight? My weight – why are we talking about my weight? She’s responding to something I said at our initial intake, about how I was anorexic as a teenager, and maybe how this bloating makes me hate my body again, not quite the same depth of hatred but still a discomfort that makes me feel gross. And then, when I weighed myself, it was true that I weighed less than I’ve weighed in a while, which isn’t something that I feel for the most part, intestines and stomach expanding anyway, I worried that maybe I’m losing muscle mass, since I haven’t been able to exercise in the ways I’ve wanted to over the last 10 years or so.

But anyway, how does this translate into asking me about my weight. I don’t have an ideal weight -- in the short-term, I want to get rid of this bloating, and in the long-term I would love to be able to exercise more, but when the doctor asks me about my weight I just feel gross. Which I’m guessing is the exact opposite of her intention -- how do I communicate this to her?

At least when I tell her I can’t take the metronidazole any more, she says she’s glad I was able to get so much of it into my body. Now she’s brainstorming the next hideous pharmaceutical to swallow, and I guess all this pain is somehow supposed to help. When the doctor mentioned her concerns to the lab before I started on this drug protocol, the guy said something about how I would just have to muscle through it. Which is exactly what got me into all this pain in the first place -- the fibromyalgia pain over the last 10 years, I mean. When do they listen, and when do they learn -- these healthcare practitioners, I mean. And when do I listen, when do I learn?

Monday, April 11, 2011

Today

Today I’m way more exhausted, which makes me wonder what made me feel better yesterday -- I thought maybe this glamour drug was helping or something, but maybe it was just one of those days when suddenly I feel better, can’t tell why. Less drained, like I can do things, and they don’t quite wreck me. Today it wrecks me just to think about today.

Now, this is what they mean when they talk about that sky...







Saturday, April 09, 2011

All directions

The things people say in the realm of online cruising are so ridiculous, so instead let me tell you about the horrible painful intestinal bloating in my bed last night, my whole belly puffing out and waking me up, I can’t turn on either side because it hurts but I need to turn on one side to fall back asleep. No, let’s talk about something more innocuous, like the wind here in Santa Fe -- or wait, that’s not innocuous, all these allergies blowing into my head, eyes sticky and dried out at the same time. But this wind is amazing -- how can it continue for so long, in all directions, or maybe not all directions but that’s how it looks when you look at the trees, and the trees are what I’m looking at now, through the windows, little bits of green at the ends of their branches, shaking in all directions and it almost looks like it’s going to rain, will it rain again, please more rain I’m ready.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

A really nice shade of purple

But wait -- I almost forgot to tell you about the theater at Arcade News. Randy calls to find out when they’re open, and they say 24 hours, but really? I mean the theater theater, not the video booths, but anyway Sunday is gay night, which I guess means gay porn, since it’s not like there’s anyone there for, well, you know. But anyway, guess what? The theater is a bit disappointing. I was expecting someplace with ragged red carpet and gushy seats that you want to avoid, some kind of stage and antiquated details if nothing else, maybe a bit of faded 1970s flair, but no, guess what? 11 seats. Not really a theater, but a screening room. Black floors and walls. A place in the back for group action, I guess -- if there’s ever a group in this room, which seems hard to imagine. Oh, well -- back to the video booths, where there’s one queen who seems a bit more adventurous than the crowd last time, opening her door to jiggle her ass, naked, not quite my type, as they say, and then I catch her looking through some kind of hole in one of the booths to see into another, that sounds kind of fun, or not that fun, because I’m still sitting in my booth, watching straight porn because that’s pretty much all they have -- this one with a tall shirtless guy with an expensive chest, muscular but not puffy, approaching a giggling blonde blowing bubbles in a park, how old are you? 18. Are you sure? I am -- here’s my ID.

I keep waiting for the guy to take off the rest of his clothes, but first he’s pouring baby oil on the blonde’s ass, gyrating for the camera and okay I’m bored, where’s Randy, oh good coming out of that booth, not the one I thought she was in, she must have switched to the one next door, did you have sex with anyone? I guess so. Was it fun? I don’t know.

Now we’re back in the screening room, I mean the theater, just to see, still no one there, and when we head towards the rack of vintage paperbacks in the front with titles like Sex-Fiend Fireman and Chicago Sex Condo and even Sister Sailor, no way -- and what was the one about the Sheik? We’re browsing for gifts and some big brutish blonde guy with a shaved head walks in, tells the attendant it’s his first time, maybe we should wait a moment for my boyfriend, but no he’s just browsing every item of straight imagery in the room, eyes moving quickly pass anything gay. Oh, but then some guy walks in while the slutty one from inside is exiting, and they start a conversation excitedly in Spanish, doesn’t look like any shame, that’s cute. Even cuter -- we get a little purple plastic bag for our books, I mean usually I would just reject the bag immediately, no need for more waste, but this is a really nice shade of purple.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

The view from the street

Well, I don’t feel dramatically worse -- so that’s a good sign. Way better than I expected -- way better than the doctor expected too, I think. I guess when she talked to the lab, the guy there said I should just tough it out. What great advice! Exactly how I got this horrible place where I am now -- I mean that’s when the fibromyalgia pain started, at least. When I was writing a bike all the time in Provincetown, and I got this pain in my wrist but I just thought okay, it’s a new muscle. Until I couldn’t hold the handlebars anymore. Why do people insist on that stupid messaging?

And the doctor said something about how I could do much worse, could I? If there’s one thing I’ve learned from all of these trials and tribulations, all of these attempts to get better over the last 20 years, it’s that yes, I could always feel worse. Much worse.

Today I did wake up with horrible bloating, and I do think I’m getting more exhausted and sad since starting the medication, but it’s not worse than my usual worse, you know how it goes back and forth, and so hopefully it’s helping too and it’s funny, today I got up and went outside to sit out in the sun, and the car that Randy and I rented was gone, a big ugly minivan so that I would have enough room to not be in too much pain, but anyway I kind of missed that car. Sure, the way it blocked the view from the street, so I had a little more privacy -- I understand why everyone loves their walls in this town, because otherwise you’re just right there, people walk by and here I am in my boxers and sunhat, although I guess I haven’t seen anyone else in boxers and sun hat, rarely even anyone else out front in their yards, but I guess that will change when it gets warmer.

And of course I miss Randy and our adventures, driving around to find another gorgeous place, I mean all you have to do is drive a few minutes and then oh, let’s turn on that street, and then you’re right in the midst of some stunning view, red earth and quartz rocks crumbling into another desert landscape of dead trees and the strangest things growing and the mountains right there and look, just look -- more desert adventures, please.



Sunday, April 03, 2011

Hope it doesn't wash everything away

Okay, well the delicious medication didn’t make me immediately sick -- the most common side effect is relentless diarrhea, so common that the doctor even said that if the diarrhea was watery, I should stop, but if there was solid in it, I could continue. I know -- that does sound glamorous. But, no diarrhea yet -- please let’s keep it that way.

It’s strange how, when I wake up I feel like oh, I think I actually slept deeply, I mean I know I slept deeply or that’s how it feels, until I get up and oh no, the worst bloating in a while. It hurts so much that I have to get back in bed, with a hot water bottle that isn’t hot enough, but eventually the gas releases and then I can get up again, sit outside with the chirping birds -- more than ever I think, it’s just chirping on all sides and I start to feel calm in the sun, back inside to finish my cooking, and of course I crash once I start eating. What should I do now? Oh, take another bitter pill, hope it doesn’t wash everything away.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Familiar and unfamiliar

Friday with Dorothy. Sounds like something we’d cackle on the phone sometime sometime in the early-‘60s, but no, my dear -- it’s a social gathering here in Santa Fe, once a month at a hotel. Someone I met on one of the crew sites told me about it originally, he said 100 or 200 gay men attended each one -- really? Who were they?

So I went to see -- this was my second time, actually. The first time I went it was the bar in the gay retirement community, and the only conversation I ended up having went something like this:

Are you FROM Santa Fe?
Well, not originally, but I live here now.
You LIVE here?
Yeah, I just moved here a few months ago.
You’re HOT!

This guy was so smashed that he could hardly say much else, but at least the conversation went in a positive direction, right? I guess there was another conversation, but we won’t mention that one. Most of the people in attendance were white gay men, middle-aged or older, working country club casual or after-work button-down, with a few cowboys thrown in and at least one person working mid-‘90s over-perfumed tight-lycra-mesh clubwear. Oh, but I should mention that the people who throw the event kept saying we don’t USUALLY have it at a place like this, but they kept asking us -- Rainbow Vision was apparently a little too low class for Friday with Dorothy.

So I thought I would check out another one, to find out what USUALLY happens, but then last month I was too tired to go, and to tell you the truth this month I’m too tired also, but the good news is that Randy is visiting, so we’ve already made a plan to drive down there. This time it’s happening in an executive suite at the Hilton Buffalo Thunder, a huge resort and casino on one of the pueblos just to the north of Santa Fe.

At least the drive there is stunning -- the sun starting to set over the mountains, cliffs, all this gorgeous red and blue light and then we arrive at some kind of Vegas-style fake-adobe compound, Randy points out the glass flowers in the lobby -- better than silk flowers, I guess. Apparently Friday with Dorothy is taking place in three different suites -- the first one, with the big bar, seems kind of empty, the second one we passed right by, and then into the governor’s suite in the back, oh my. Yes, it’s packed with gay men, mostly in their 50s and older, swirling around in upscale casual style, but the room -- oh, my -- I have to tell you about the room. 30 foot ceilings at least, because the place is two floors, but the best part -- aside from the aquamarine-tiled upstairs bathroom suite, of course -- the best part is the view: a stunning sunset over the mountains, three different balconies to stand out on.

I can’t say that the conversations we have are that interesting, but they’re kind of interesting anyway. I mean it’s kind of interesting to talk to these gay men who I might not otherwise meet. A few older lesbians, too. Let’s see -- the first couple just bought a house in Palm Springs, they wintered there for the first time and now they’re on the way back to their place north of Louisville, 143 acres in southern Indiana. Yes, they do specify 143 acres, just in case I was wondering. One of them wants to know if I’m transitioning -- you know, because of my name. They’re with a friend who came out when he was 80 -- now he’s 92, a little hard of hearing, but he does remember my name later on, saying goodbye as Randy and I exit the lobby and he’s getting in the car, that’s sweet.

Let’s see -- what else? I guess the youngish guy who motions Randy and I to go upstairs and check out the spa, we’ll like it. Some kind of shade that we can’t quite figure out. He’s with a group of shady queens who we chat briefly with later, I guess no one really introduces themselves to us until I hold out my hand -- hi, I’m Mattilda. At this point we are in the hall, the four of them are Latino gay boys wearing clothes that look uncomfortably tight, the cologne I love and I guess they’re relatively close to our age maybe, although it’s kind of hard to tell here because even the youngish people are working looks so conventional that it makes them look older I think, more distant anyway. These queens are friendly enough in the hallway, but then when we see them later in the lobby they stare blankly past us like they don’t even notice. Randy says I guess they’re straight now.

Three guys who retired to El Dorado -- separately -- friends and neighbors, one of them lived in the Mission for 30 years beforehand, but he doesn’t seem too interested in anything we have to say, just in telling us things -- he says El Dorado is the white rez, that’s what the high school kids call it, and that makes me kind of curious.The three lesbians in the bedroom are friendly enough -- wealthy too, talking about the house they built behind the house they used to live in, the two units they own at Rainbow Vision, making a face as they say it, I guess this crowd doesn’t USUALLY go there, but I like something that one of them says about how it’s not about gay or lesbian, but about age. Talking about how we’re a different generation-- and we are. I keep thinking that we’ll find some radical older queers, but that doesn’t seem to be happening -- it’s kind of fun anyway, a certain kind of sociological experience I guess, but then we get home and of course I’m so tired. So tired and I start to think how will I ever find people here who I can relate to? Fags, I mean, since I’ve found other people but I definitely need more. Then of course in the middle of the night I’m wired, planning out my move, I mean my move away, whenever that happens, not that soon but still I’m planning, maybe before my book tour and not after, but where?

That’s why maybe I shouldn’t go to this kind of thing -- I want to explore all the options here, get a sense of what everything is like, and sure it’s interesting but disheartening too. I mean exciting that I’m doing things I would never do in San Francisco or anywhere else I’ve lived, actually -- I mean, really -- going to an event called Friday with Dorothy? At a casino in the mountains! Who ever dreamed? But then I end up wired and frantic in bed, again, and when I wake up I can barely function. Familiar territory, not what I’m looking for.

Sophisticated and cosmopolitan

Here I am, sitting with this tiny white pill. Actually it’s not that small -- for a pill, at least. A half a pill, since I split it down the line at the middle. A pill that will almost surely make me sick, even though it’s supposed to make me better. Maybe it will make me sick, and better. I guess that’s the idea.

Metronidazole. Doesn’t sound that bad -- kind of sophisticated and cosmopolitan, right? Better known by its brand name, Flagyl. Now, that sounds awful. In fact, I’ve never heard anything good about it, but this parasite test says it’s the only thing that will kill these tiny creatures in my gut, making me sick. I was going to write about the chill that went through my body when I took the pill out of the container, broke it in half, and held that half in my hand. I was going to write about sitting here and trying to figure out whether to take it. But then I just took it, ate some more food to help it digest, or whatever it does, and now I’m sitting here in the sun kind of warm, have to change into a tank top while I’m writing, I don’t know -- let’s just hope, let’s just hope it doesn’t make me too sick.