Monday, December 31, 2012

The twins look

Then we’re getting ready for Quest, or not getting ready really just waiting until it's late enough, and I get a trick, which turns into another trick, which turns into $350 and somehow I don't even think about throwing my purse on top of all the other bags like usual, tonight we are taking a taxi home, that's for sure, but then when we're getting ready to go I look in my purse and there's nothing there. I mean there's my face powder, my keys, and nothing else. I’m so angry, and no one seems to understand. Listen, I say, I just sold my ass for that money, these fucking bitches think they can talk about you like your trash, and then steal all your fucking money, what is wrong with this town? And then when we get home I'm still angry so I decide to make a flyer and hand it out next week and Abby thinks I'm joking but honey, I'm going to make the flyer, and then we'll hand it out next week, okay?

Kinko's glamour and then we actually do hand out the flyer, right at closing so we can give it to everyone. No one knows what to do. They just look at me like I'm joking. I am joking. Sort of. I mean I'm joking that I think they're actually going to care.

But I have to update you about our photo booth pictures, right? I don't even know where I stopped last time, but I guess the best place to start is with pregnant twins. Abby and I are trying and trying to think of the best outfit for the fucking White Party, who are they kidding, throwing a White Party at Avalon? And at first I’m thinking matching bloody wedding dresses, but even though we have like 15 wedding dresses from Dollar-a-Pound it turns out they're all so small around the waist that we would have to wear them as necklaces. Or bracelets. And honey, as you know, we are skinny girls. Just the wrong type of girls, I guess. In case you didn't know.

So then I think what else indicates purity like pregnancy, so Abby and I head over to Woolworth’s and get the ugliest possible matching nightgowns, bouncing balls to enliven our figure, curly reddish-brown wigs and even matching size 14 women's Keds – I knew Woolworth's was the answer, we barely even spend $20 each, thanks to low prices and a little bit of label changing.

We smear a little lipstick on, I mean a lot of lipstick, add some bags under our eyes with eye shadow and then we are off. It's kind of intense that everyone at Avalon wants to punch our babies — I mean literally three different guys who we don't even know, winding their arms around like we are just walking punching bags, modeling the quintessential fatherly behavior I guess. In the photo booth we are trying to show off the baby-in-waiting, but mostly you just get to see us laughing, oh well.

And what are these ones from? I'm wearing the gorgeous floor-length polyester floral dress, and I'm doing that new thing where I spike my hair and pull the top up into a point, kind of like an antenna, and then I make the front into a triangle. Oh — this is when Abby cut her hair really short and bleached it, we look pretty messy.

Then there are the ones from the Children's Museum — yes, the children need them. I've got my hair down on my forehead almost into triangles like argyle matching my tights, and Abby actually looks kind of tough and manly. But don't tell her I said that. My spit curls go almost all the way down to my mouth, hello.

Then there's the photo where I've arranged my silver clips into diagonal lines, plus big red flower earrings and honey, you won't believe it, I'm shirtless with the quilted floor-length skirt and a target painted on my chest with lipstick. Abby is going intellectual with glasses and a frilly nightgown.

But yes, look at these, another twins event when we take all this thick black rubber tubing that I found on the street, and wrap it around our necks and honey that shit is heavy but it sure does look good, like we’re modeling runaway space couture and don't forget the matching pink terrycloth dresses. For some reason Abby looks like she's going to bite my eyebrows off and I have the clips attached to my ears this time, pointing out to the world. Everyone thinks that's painful, which adds to the allure.

Next, Abby's makeup starts to get dramatic, after she learns the eyebrow thing from Madison, although truth be told I like the messy look better. Abby’s wearing my fluorescent pink dog collar. I know you can't see fluorescent pink in a black-and-white photo, but I'm just saying. Abby's hair looks flawless, how did she get that wig arranged into the cutest curls and we're chewing on opposite sides of a pair of eyeglasses, sisters indeed, those weird crystalline blue glasses without lenses that sometimes I wear for extra wackiness. And then the photo booth breaks again.


Sunday, December 30, 2012

Waiting until the water washes away

Oh, but I didn't tell you about our new friends in the neighborhood who follow us around. We’ll leave the house and hear: It's the gays! And then all these kids will show up —I mean little kids, the ringleader can't be much older than 10. Of course she’s a tomboy, and I want to say look in the mirror, honey but instead I just smile and wave. So then she comes right up to us with her greasy face and says yuck, gays, you're going to burn in hell.

And then this whole group of kids follows us almost all the way to Maverick Square, carrying sticks like we're going to be scared and I just make sure to always smile the whole time like this is the most hilarious and joyful thing I've ever experienced but lately it seems like Abby can't bring herself to leave the house without a bump of coke and I hope these kids aren't the reason.

Speaking of addiction drama, JoAnne’s back at her mother's house, trying to kick, and it's awful. I tell her she needs vitamins, but she says she doesn't have any money, and her mother won't buy her any. So I go over to Bread & Circus and borrow the largest container of Rainbow Light multivitamins, a bunch of Emergen-C packets, B-complex, digestive enzymes, and a few other things that look like they might be helpful, from reading the labels, even though I don't know exactly what they are. And then a 36-ounce container of Bragg’s liquid amino acids, since JoAnne loves those liquid amino acids. And then when I'm walking out the door after spending $35 but I have probably $150 of supplements in my bag, that's when I get that rush like yes, I love Boston, and just when I'm wondering how the hell I'm going to get to the post office I realize there's a UPS right across the street, so I throw everything in a box with a couple metallic bows they have for sale and it's all on its way.      

            Speaking of bows, it turns out that Abby's birthday happens at the best possible time, because it rains in the morning and then the sun comes out around 5 and it's barely even hot, Abby and I are rushing to get on the T so we can arrive at the beach by sunset and the best part is that when we get there there's no one around, pretty much just the two of us in the wind. Abby digs her hands in the sand and spells out a huge HO, yes honey we're hookers on a cheap vacation and Abby takes off her jeans and runs into the water in her boxers or wait, those are my boxers and then afterwards we sit out on the beach in the setting sun with all the colors I haven't seen in a long time, waiting until the water washes away the letters.


Saturday, December 29, 2012

How to live

The next day, Melissa wants to cook a big meal and invite people over, but who should we invite? I call Sean, of course, even though I don't know if she'll like anything we make. Do I have any other friends? Melissa and I go to Bread & Circus to get groceries, and then we’re sitting down and having a snack from the salad bar and Melissa says you know, you seem calmer here. Really, I say. And Melissa says really. And I say I don't feel calmer. But then I'm thinking about it on the T, and I realize that there are things I do here that I would never have done in San Francisco, like go to the park and sit by myself and look at the water. Or just spend time alone or with Abby in the house, and maybe that's what Melissa means. Maybe I'm not so manic. Maybe sometimes my head feels clearer. Maybe it makes sense that I'm here.

When we get home I decide to call Juniper and Sage at the last minute — Sage is working but Juniper says he'll come over, and then I figure I'll call Daniel, even though I haven't heard from him after the other night, did I tell you about the other night? I was at Quest and it was early, but I was getting ready to leave to catch the T, and just as I was walking down the stairs this boy came running up to me and said: You aren't leaving, are you?

And I said yeah, I have to catch the T, and he said will you dance with me for one song so I said sure, went back up with him after I’d said goodbye to everyone and ended up dancing to five or six songs until I needed water so I asked him if he wanted to come downstairs with me and then we ended up making out for a half-hour or 45 minutes like there was no one else around, just the textures of skin and tongue and teeth and hair and oh, it was so hot, I think it reawakened something in me, like maybe I can finally go up to the boys who I think are hot although I guess I did sit right next to him when I arrived and said hi, but then I thought he was straight, since he was with a straight woman, but it turns out that she told him to go up to me, said I was the hottest boy there and the best dancer. It was his birthday. I told him it felt like my birthday too.

 But anyway, Daniel’s not there — I wonder if I'll ever hear from him again. But then the funniest part is that Aki calls from Providence and asks if I want to go out — not tonight, I say, but do you want to come over for dinner? Dinner, she says, like it's a really strange question but she's excited. So then we actually end up with six of us although there are only five chairs — oh, wait, there's the one in Abby’s room, perfect.

Melissa makes this elaborate miso soup where you cook the broth a few hours ahead of time with daikon radish and tofu and shiitake mushrooms and seaweed and tamari, and then at the last minute you add scallions and the miso, and then we make a big stirfry and brown rice, and Aki says this is kind of like Japanese food. Sean looks kind of grossed out, but she doesn't say anything, and Abby and Juniper love it. Juniper’s ready to smoke pot right afterwards, so she takes out her bowl but it turns out she's the only one who wants any, and then we sit around and gossip about everyone we hate, and honey there's a lot of gossip. Then Sean and Abby decide to go out with Aki, who tries to convince me and Melissa to join them. Melissa’s all for it, but I say I'm tired, even though the truth is that I just don't want to end up doing drugs around Melissa and today’s Saturday so it's hard to imagine going to Quest without drugs, right? Maybe the Loft — yeah, right, that always works.

And then it turns out Sean called Karla, and she shows up coked out of her mind. Somehow everyone fits into her tiny sports car, and Melissa and I wave goodbye like everyone's going on a journey. We sit down and I'm kind of worried that she's going to say that she doesn't understand my life at all, but actually she says: I like your friends. Really, I say, because I'm not so sure I like them. And she said yeah, it's nice to see you here, I can tell you're learning.

And I ask her what she thinks I'm learning. And she says: How to live. And I remember that's one of the things I love about her, that she can see things so clearly, that she can appreciate all different worlds because she's never belonged anywhere, and that's one of the things we have in common. Then the next day she's getting ready to go to the airport and she says: I just don't know what I'm going to do when I see my father again. What do you mean, I say, don't you still live with him? And she says yes, but that's how I feel, that's how I feel every day. And I tell her she needs to get out, she needs to get away and she says I know, I know you're right, but I'm having trouble figuring out how. And then we hug goodbye, and I don't feel sad until she leaves and I'm sitting in the apartment thinking about what the hell I'm going to do today, I guess it's Sunday, right, Sunday, so Avalon is later but what about the next nine hours?

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Wait, I was just about to post something else but then my brain closed…

So now I will just remind you that most of the writing I'm posting here these days is for my next novel, Sketchtasy, which takes place in Boston in 1995 – remember when I said I was going to remind you of that, the fictional fact or the time and place and space or both and all and here you go, this is the reminder, before more…

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Getting somewhere

I thought maybe I was never going to hear from Melissa again, but it turns out she's just been busy with activism, in jail a few times and dealing with all the legal stuff but now she's going to be in Boston on the way to her brother’s graduation in upstate New York, I guess it's the part of New York that's closer to Boston than New York City so she's coming to stay for a few nights on the way. I'm kind of nervous, because my life is so different now, what will it be like to see Melissa? But then she's here and suddenly we’re talking in that deep way that doesn't happen for me in Boston. Melissa’s telling me how everyone in ACT UP is getting desperate now, there are these two guys who moved to San Francisco from Orlando and they've scared pretty much everyone out of the group, now it's just their friends and Melissa I guess and they’re totally irrational, Melissa says, they don't want to prepare for anything, they just want to act, and half of the things they suggest don't make any sense, really, and I understand they're so angry because everyone's dying and they're worried they’re going to die soon too, but we’re all angry, right?

And I talk about how I read somewhere that 40% of gay men will be positive by the time they’re 35, and how here in Boston no one even talks about AIDS except to tell you who to stay away from, and Melissa asks me what I think about the theory that HIV started with the hepatitis vaccine, that it was all a government plot, and suddenly I'm scared in that way that feels like I'm going to have an incest flashback, suddenly everything feels dark. Then I realize it's 3:45 am so we’re getting ready for bed but actually I'm still scared but I don't say anything. I'm trying to figure out how to say that I don't want Melissa to sleep in bed with me this time, that even though I never told her before it always made me so tense when she stayed over in San Francisco. I always wanted to feel relaxed and share space and intimacy and even touch, but every time I used to freeze in bed, something about her smell but I didn't want to say anything because that would just sound misogynist, right?

But then I realized that it was my mother, I mean that's what Melissa reminded me of, not in the literal sense I mean she's nothing like my mother except physically, yes, with her pale skin and freckles and curly hair she does kind of look like my mother but that's not what I mean, something deeper like memory and brokenness, an inability to speak or breathe and that's kind of how I feel now, trying to say what I want to say before bed. And finally I managed to say you know, I'm really scared to say this, I want you to know that it's not about you it's about me, it's about my memories, it's about how they're stored in my body and I don't know what to do exactly but would you mind staying in the other room?

And Melissa looks a little sad, but it's not sad in the way I thought. She doesn't look sad like I'm excluding her, actually she only looks sad for a moment and then she's angry in that way that makes her mouth and eyes move around in a way that looks like they're trying to get off of her face, she’s angry at my parents and what they've done. She holds out her hand in a shy gesture and then we hug for a while and when we're done I say what about your parents, how are you doing with that? And she says I think I'm getting somewhere, I joined a group. And then we get my sleeping bag and some sheets and pillows and arrange them in the other room, and I leave a note for Abby since it's after four but I guess she's still on the block.


Saturday, December 22, 2012

It shirts me more than you grow

But can you believe Heavy-handed Wendy isn't working? Of course the pizza is delicious, but afterwards Abby says she has a stomach ache. I have a stomach ache too, but I always have a stomach ache.

Sean meets us at Luxor. You look fierce, she says to Abby — full face and jeans.

Casual, I say.

Don't worry — I've got the wig and heels in my purse, Abby says. Mattilda made me take the T.

I did not make you take the T.

Okay, you didn't make me. Sean?

I open my purse, and Sean drops three vials inside. I hand her $50. How’d you get such a good deal?

I found Michael's source.

Who is it?

Can't tell.


You first.

All at once.

I'm shifting on a lonely pea.

Fishing you’d hum back at me.

And it shirts me more than you grow.

So much more than it blows.

All at once.

Who's getting the first round?

How about the only one who's over 21?

Bitch, please — how about the only one who's living off her parents.

I am not living off my parents. So what are you drinking?

Oh, this is a first.

I didn't say I was buying.

Abby turns 21 in two weeks.

Wow — she'll finally be able to get into bars.

And that's the line that does it — we’re all in hysterics, together at last, heading to the bathroom for some cat food. Oh, yes, I say looking in the mirror, eyes rolling back. Oh, yes. Soon enough we’re sitting in those cushy chairs with two Long Island iced teas and a Stoli madras, staring at the TV screens with our mouths hanging open.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Falling into a kind of balance

Now there's the other song I hate on this album, Derrick Carter with Cajmere’s beats saying I ain’t fucked all week. I ain’t fucked all week. I ain’t fucked all week. I guess Cajmere’s trying to prove that he’s a real man or something – you know, with all those faggots making house music about brighter days or something, he really has to make sure to stand out, right? But still that rattling claptrap in front of and behind the vocals until the beats take over except here comes another clever chorus and Abby says it first: I’m a horny motherfucker. And the album says it. And Abby says it.

And I say yeah, right – I don't even like sex most of the time. Do you want to go to Bertucci's?

I don't have any money. I'm getting ready for the block.

It's on me. He gave me a 110-dollar tip

No wonder you thought it was hot.

Then we'll go to Luxor. Call Sean to see if she can get K. I'll take a shower.

How much do you want?

I don't know. Maybe 40.

You are fierce.

Consider it an early birthday gift.

When I get out of the shower, Abby’s staring at a little mound of coke on her mirror. She says: Sean can get us a gram of K for 50.

Really? Tell her I'll give her a quarter then.

She already requested that as a service fee.

Of course she did.

This is all the coke I have left — do you want half?


I notice Abby is using my razor blade, the big one you use to scrape paint off a window, with a fluorescent pink handle. I mean that's what I originally used it for, back in San Francisco. I guess I'm good at saving things.

Maybe I should get fucked more often — I actually feel kind of great. But here's what's pathetic: I'm already starting to think about whether that guy is going to call back. Even though I know he's not going to. Is it a problem that my best sex happened with a trick? I mean I still feel like my skin is vibrating. Maybe I don't need any coke, but then Abby passes me the dollar bill and yes, it's a great day at the office.

But what happened to the music? Oh, Abby paused it.

Do you mind if I turn the music back on?

Oh, I didn't realize it was off.

Are you getting fierce with me?

If anyone's fierce, it’s you in that blue robe.

You better work.

You better work that blue robe.

Do you know what?

You’re fierce in that blue robe.

No, you’re fierce in those panties.

Mind if I pour myself another cocktail with all this fierceness?

Sure, honey, but save some room for Heavy-handed Wendy.

Oh, I love that bitch.

I love you, bitch.

Don't say it like that.

Like what?

Like that, bitch, or you’ll make me blush.

I'm already blushing.

Should be, with all that noise you were making in your room.

Could you hear me?

Only when I stuck my ear to the door.

That, bitch, is fierce.

Want another cocktail?

Sure. Oh, honey — I love this song.

It sounds like church bells in an elevator.

Yes, you're right, yes. This coke is good. Did you get it from Evan?


Evan Aubergine, of the legendary rotten eggplant smell.

That bitch – her coke makes me shit.

You make me shit.

Let's do it together sometime.

But really – where’d you get this coke?

From a trick.

Better save that trick’s number.

Don't worry — I've got it memorized.

How much does he charge?

You mean how much did I charge.

No, really.

I mean really. That's how he paid me. I'm going to call him again tonight. Here's your cocktail.

Oh, right — thank you. I don't even know if I want a cocktail. I think I'll make carrot juice — carrot juice and cocktails!

No one can deny your fierceness with that carrot juice, Miss One. Don't worry — I'll drink your cocktail.

I'm dancing in the kitchen, grinding up my carrots, and it's starting to get dark, which is perfect. Now we can leave the house, and it's like a new day. When my juice is ready, I sit down with Abby and she makes a face.

What? Like you haven't seen anyone drink carrot juice before.

Only you, Mattilda. Everyone knows you're special.

And just then “U Got Me Up” comes on, and right when the vocal moves into the shakedown, we’re both on our own checkered linoleum dance floor, drinks in hand, and Abby wants to know if she should call a cab.

We’re taking the T.

Are you serious?

I'm serious.

Well then we better leave soon, because otherwise I'm going to crash, and then I'll never leave the house again.

Okay, let me get ready.

I've heard that one before.

You got me up.

No, bitch, you got me up.

Then we’re dancing close until we’re grinding but not in that overemphasized sexual dance floor way that always looks tired, it's more like we’re just leaning on one another, falling into a kind of balance, we should do this more often.


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

A gorgeous prepublication blurb for The End of San Francisco from Daphne Gottlieb!

We hear so much about coming-of-age narratives that we seldom think about going-of-agethe shutting down and closure, the making sense of where we've been. Written with grace, reserve, and the honest tremblings that come when things matter, Mattilda shows us that the End of San Francisco is really the beginning of joy.

Daphne Gottlieb, author of 15 Ways to Stay Alive

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Looking for golf balls

But wait — I didn't tell you about our new after-after-hours, after the Loft closes and no one's inviting us over their house, what do you mean 6 am is late — we're just getting started. We can only drive over the Mass Ave Bridge so many times, or actually I could go over and over and over and over and over, but Sean starts to get bitchy so I know we need to get somewhere to do some K and Sean says what about the MIT Café, it's open 24 hours.

The MIT Café — are you kidding? Well, I guess that is just on the other side of the Mass Ave. Bridge. We park the car next to some ‘60s cement fortress-prison-type building, but sure enough there are arrows pointing us in the right direction and my head is in just the right place of leaning back, eyes closing and opening to think this is the perfect adventure. And then when we got there, it actually looks like a café, I can get chamomile tea and everything. Or, wait — should I get peppermint? Or licorice – oh, licorice. The person helping me doesn't even look at me like I'm crazy, maybe the MIT Café is the place for us. Should I get a bagel?

A bagel, Abby says, so I get one, but then I can't really figure out what to do with it. I mean I'm not hungry, and I know no one else is. Sean heads to the bathroom, and when she gets back my tea is almost cool enough to drink, and Sean isn't complaining anymore. Abby has her eyes closed, and she's mumbling something. I look around – who are all these people, up this late I mean early? Sean says they're studying, but should I go to the bathroom?

Definitely, Sean says, it’s very white. She hands me the vial, and I walk into the hallway. The bathroom is huge — six or seven stalls, and maybe 10 old-fashioned urinals that go all the way to the floor, right up against one another without dividers. No one's around. I do a bump and stare in the mirror for a while, then I have that feeling like I have to piss but I can't piss, no I have to piss, no I can't, but I stand at the urinal anyway, holding my dick, putting my hands under my balls, rubbing my chest, oh the ecstasy is back, yes I can almost hear the music, and then someone comes in, I look over. He stands four urinals away, but still I'm hoping that he's going to start jerking off. Nothing happens, I mean I hear him piss and that’s all. Then he leaves, and I start rubbing myself again, oh this is so good. I'll just close my eyes and think about some guy standing here holding me from behind, no wait that wouldn't help me to piss, let me turn the water on, just listen to the water.

Sean comes back in the bathroom and I'm still standing at the urinal. Mattilda, she says, how long has it been? Oh — I zip up my pants.

I love it here.

In the bathroom?

Oh, the bathroom. Let's hold hands.


Just try it.

Oh, you're right.


I'm glad you brought us here.

Where's Abby?

            Oh — Abby.

            Do you want another bump?

            I thought you'd never ask.

            Sean goes into a stall and I stand looking at my huge pupils. My turn and I do it right at the sink, no one's around. When we get back in the hall, it's like a different place. I'm giving runway funway stunway and Sean says work.

            We get back into the café, and what's this music? Sean, it’s the Smiths — they’re playing the Smiths.

            I never realized the Smiths were so cheerful.

            Abby still has her eyes closed. I touch her hand — Are you okay?

            Mmm, she says. Thank you.

Thank you.

I taste my chamomile tea. Oh, so warm. I love how warm this is. Does anyone want to try?

I don't like chamomile.

Should I get peppermint? I'll get peppermint.

You know what's amazing about this café? No one is staring at us. They're all transfixed by boardgames and hummous and conversations that are blending with the music so I can’t understand. Wait, their lips are moving, but there's no sound. I look closer and I realize they're all on K, everyone at the MIT is on K. I look at Sean, and she nods her head.

Did you notice?

Yes, Mattilda, yes.

Are you sure?


How do you know?

Mattilda, remember, I brought us here.

Oh, Sean – thank you, Sean. Thank you.

Yes, there are the next few days of recovering, or okay the next few days of drugs and then it's Wednesday again, my day off, time for therapy, and I'm trying to explain the crash from ecstasy to Barry, where all that joy just fades away and I'm left crumbled, maybe it's worse because I realize that joy can’t happen without the drugs I mean not that type of joy, it's just not a sensation your body can make. Sometimes I can fix it before bed with K or pot or sleeping pills but then there's always the next day.

Barry says he thinks it would be easier without the drugs, and I just feel so angry because he doesn't understand that there's nothing for me in Boston, nothing except these drugs and I kind of want to walk out right then and never come back but then he says we only have a little bit of time for hypnosis, so I lie back on the chair and suddenly I'm thinking about Jason from childhood, lying on his Star Wars sheets, kissing and hugging, touching each other's genitals, running through the field in his backyard, looking for golf balls. Did this really happen? I mean I know we ran through the field in the backyard, looking for golf balls. I haven't thought about Jason in years, I don't think I've seen him since second grade.

            Somehow therapy makes me want to smoke again, the only addiction I've quit, I mean except coffee, and that was back in San Francisco. For the first few weeks, whenever I was craving coffee, I would do a bump of coke, and that really helped.           


Sunday, December 16, 2012

Brighter days

I need a cocktail, Abby says when we get inside, and I say there's Stoli in the freezer. Do you want some, Abby asks.

I've had that unopened bottle of Stoli since we moved in— I hardly drink at all at home because it's boring, but I guess if there's a time for cocktails that's now. I make two screwdrivers and hear Abby snorting a line in her room. Do you want any, she says, her voice already different.

No, I say, I have to take the car to the repair shop. Or maybe it's too late. Yeah, I guess so. Are you okay?

I'm okay now, she says, and suddenly I feel so sad that I don’t know how to speak. Abby comes into the dining room and wiggles her tongue, shakes her hips and puts the mirror on the table with way too much white powder. I snort a line, and oh, yes, let the day begin.

I put on "Brighter Days." Honey, usually I don't like the vocal diva drama, but this is different, it's Cajmere. Featuring Dajae, whoever that is, some woman with an amazing voice telling us "I need a place to run and hide, relax a while and dream of…" — yes, honey, brighter days. Brighter days, indeed. I love these clanking beats rotating into the vocals shaking with the booming bass, maybe we should move to Chicago. Abby, should we move to Chicago?

I sit down with the cocktails, and Abby lights a cigarette and looks at me in that way that means we’re here in this mood together, and I say what are we going to do for your birthday?

Mattilda, the same thing we do every day.

Should we go to P-town?

Mattilda, we are not going to make it to P-town.

Okay, what about Revere?

Revere. We can make it to Revere. Yes, let's go to Revere. For sunset.

Oh, that's perfect — almost feels like my birthday.

You didn't tell me about your birthday.

I'll tell you next time.

Mattilda, you have a page.

Oh, okay — should I call it?

Mattilda, that's up to you.

The way this song takes a cheesy narrative about feeling so blue, that's what she keeps saying, feeling so blue and then bringing it into something transcendent, that's what I'm feeling, that's this cocktail, that’s this conversation right now, that's our relationship, I mean we’re not talking about anything but somehow my mind is zooming into past and present and future at once, sipping my cocktail that's too strong suddenly I feel spectacular and I don't want to turn at trick right now.

But sure, I could use the money— I guess I'll call. He answers on one ring, I say hey, this is Tyler.

You have a sexy voice.

Thank you.

Do you take incalls?


Where are you?

East Boston.

East Boston? We're practically neighbors. I'm in Chelsea.

Great – when do you want to meet?

I could be there in 15 minutes.

146 Webster, do you know where that is?

By Maverick Square?

Exactly – I charge 150 an hour.

I'll be there in 15 –I'm looking forward to it.

That was too easy. He didn't even ask any question. I get off the phone and Abby’s already doing another line, she hardly even shakes with the burn anymore. She just looks at me when she's done and it's her eyes that are on fire, she wants to know if I think he'll really show up.

I don't know – he said 15 minutes, is Chelsea that close?

Here's your map.

Oh, it’s the next neighborhood over, or maybe it's not a neighborhood. Is Chelsea a part of Boston, or a separate town?

I don't know. You're the one who's good at geography. Do you want another line?


Oh, yes – feel it, feel it, that's what the music is telling me now — oh, yes, hold that note and shake it, break it, make it into everything that I need, greed, feed it to me, read.

Abby, I hope this doesn't ruin my mood. He did tell me I have a nice voice.

You do have a nice voice. Tyler. I guess I better go hide and do my makeup.

Maybe I'll change my pants. Oh, wait — this is the version of “Brighter Days” that I like — let's dance. Abby, I love this song! Wait, was that a knock? Abby, was that a knock already?

I rush to the living room, look outside and sure enough, some guy in a brown jacket who looks awfully cute, at least for a trick. I mean he's under 40. I open the door. Tyler, he says, and holds out his hand like we just met in the board room or at the golf course or know, where do you guys like this meet? The game, right, the game — we met at the game, score! Of course he squeezes my hand way too tightly.

He looks around, but there's nothing to look at in the living room so he says: Do you live alone?

I have a roommate.

Are we alone right now?

Definitely –do you want to go to the bedroom? It's in the back.

I like this music, what do you call it?

Hard clanky knock-you-down house.

What do you mean?

House music.

Where do you go to hear this kind of music?

In Boston? The Loft on Saturdays. Axis in the back of Avalon on Sundays. Paradise on Thursdays.

Do you ever go to Chaps?


How come? You’re awfully attractive — I bet you would be a big hit there.

I don't think so — too preppy.

What do you mean?

I'm not sure where this conversation is going, so I kiss him on the lips and he meets me right away, grabs the back of my head and pushes his tongue all the way back. He tastes like cherry, no not cherry — what is it? Liquor, cherry liquor.

He lets go, and starts to pull off my shirt. Wow, so white, he says. Like marble.

He’s wearing a lot of layers, considering it's the middle of summer — one of those brown work jackets, a blue button-down work shirt, wife-beater, Dickie’s, work boots -- actually he's kind of dressed like some of the fags in San Francisco, or maybe like the guys some of the fags in San Francisco are imitating.

Hairy chest, tan line right around the wife-beater and his dick is already hard, he pushes me onto the bed: Is this okay?

I'm worried I'm not going to get hard because of the coke, but as soon as he starts grinding against me I realize that won't be a problem. Heavy, he says, squeezing my dick. Heavy? You feel so good, he says.

He’s rubbing me all over — damn, this does feel good. When I look him in the eyes again I realize he's actually really cute, not just kind of cute like I thought before. What do you want to do, he says, so I start licking one of his nipples, over to the armpit, that chalky taste of deodorant, down the side of his chest to his dick, into my mouth and he says whoa, you're really good at that, whoa, holds my head like he wants to make sure I don't go anywhere.

I'm not going anywhere. He's pumping my face and I'm wondering why it can't always be like this — sex, sex work, my life, the music, Boston, all this energy, where’s this energy coming from, no not the drugs I mean I guess there's the drugs too but there’s also this energy, safety, a hug, I mean how can someone's dick in my mouth feel like a hug but also there’s the feeling in my head, everywhere and nowhere, the weather, what, I even like the hot weather with this guy pumping my face yes the feeling of his hands on my head until I'm starting to choke and right then he pulls my head up to his, licks my lips, says that's some of the best head I've ever had, you really know how to treat a guy.

 They all say that, I mean the nice ones, and now he's rubbing my thighs, damn, and then he’s behind me, holding my dick, precome on his finger and he sticks it in my mouth, kind of sweet I mean the taste but maybe he's sweet too. I want to treat you good, he says, and I know he means what I'm not feeling, but maybe it'll be okay, I like the way his dick curves upward and he says don't worry, I'll go slow, another thing they all say, even though none of them mean it, and I reach over for a condom, hand it to him, get some lube, White Silk, and the craziest part is that his dick goes right in without it hurting at all and he's moaning and he pushes me onto my stomach, starts to pump too fast, ouch, so I grab his arms from behind and he collapses on top of me, yes I like the smell of his sweat, maybe baby lotion, aspirin, Tide detergent, or maybe that's the deodorant, cherries again.

Hold me, I say, and he does, now just moving his dick slowly and I grab his ass so he can’t pull back too far and he's saying yeah, yeah, and pretty soon I'm saying yeah, yeah, and the percolator song is on, whatever a percolator is, I guess that thing for coffee, right, gurbling into those uneven bubbling beats and damn, how is this working so well, maybe the coke, just a little, maybe not that little, those were big lines, or the cocktail,  or something about how turned on I am and now he's got his arms around me, squeezing so hard my back cracks and I start laughing and he says what, what?

And: are you okay? Like he's actually concerned.

Yeah, I say, yeah, and then he grabs my head and sticks his tongue down my throat again and we’re pressing tongues against one another like we're both trying to get to the other side and wow, he's still fucking me, usually I can’t take it this long and now it's that song I always fast-forward past, the one where suddenly it's some straight guy talking about whoop that pussy, whoop that pussy which is kind of funny, now that I think about it, considering the situation, but I hope this guy doesn't notice, no he doesn't notice, probably wouldn't matter if he did notice, he might be straight anyway, gross don't think about that, there he goes again saying yeah, yeah, yeah, fucking me faster, yeah, yeah, yeah, hands on my hips and I move them to my inner thighs, he's jerking my dick but I'm going to come so I pull his hands away, he says what?

Don't do that, or I'll come.

He makes this noise that I can't place, air going into the back of his throat and then coming back out, right into my ear and he’s panting, maybe he just came because he's jerking me really fast and then there's my come so fast I don't even feel it until I open my eyes and look down at the puddle of white and yellow on the bed and just like that he pulls out, hardly hurts and when I lie down on my back he has the condom in his hands: What should I do with this?

There’s a little bit of shit on the condom when he puts it in my hand and that smell, I drop it to the floor and he's already pulling up his pants, counting out 20s. He hands me 260, a 110-dollar tip. Thank you, he says, that was great, can I see you again? He's already putting on his jacket.

Definitely. I stand up to kiss him, he meets my lips but I can't tell if he wants to.

I'll let myself out.

Okay, I say, even though I'm a little worried he's going to run into Abby, but I just lie back and close my eyes anyway, then open them and look at all the dots of paint on the ceiling, the indentations, the different textures of plaster or whatever, maybe some water damage, a few brown and green and black specks, I close my eyes again and my mouth is hanging open, eyelashes flickering really fast and then once I put on my robe and go into the kitchen I see that all the doors are closed. I go in the bathroom to wash up, and Abby comes out: How was it?

It was hot, I say, and Abby laughs and says aren't they always?

No, I'm serious.


Friday, December 14, 2012

A magnificent prepublication blurb for The End of San Francisco form T Cooper!

Bring on The End of San Francisco! And Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore, whose new book has reinvented memoir without the predictable gloss of passive resolution. This book is undeniably brave and new, and the internal energy churning at its core is like nothing you've seen, heard or read before. I swear.

--T Cooper, author of Real Man Adventures


Thursday, December 13, 2012

Maybe if we pretend this isn't happening

Oh, but right, I didn't mention: every time we go anywhere, everyone stares. I mean everyone. At the laundromat it's mostly the kids who talk and point and laugh, until finally one of them comes up to us and says: Are you from Boston? Like it's some faraway place, maybe somewhere around the Bermuda triangle.
These kids have heavy East Boston accents, almost like Southie but maybe a little more nasal. I'm starting to like these neighborhood accents, even if they often come attached to awful people. And sure, I could point out to these clueless kids that hello, East Boston is really just a neighborhood in Boston, okay? It's not like it's its own town or anything. But instead I just nod my head — sure, we’re from Boston.
This kid looks impressed. And then she actually tells us her name, Mary. I say I’m Mattilda, and I hold out my hand but she says no, Mary.
No, I say – my name’s Mattilda. Ew, she says — that's a girl's name. And then all the kids rush out of the laundromat like we're giving them cooties. Truth be told, we are using the hot cycle on the washing machines, just to make sure we don't have crabs again, but what were all those kids doing in the laundromat anyway? Isn't there somewhere better to hang out?
Abby and I go back to doing laundry and then standing outside where it's not quite so sweltering, pretending everyone isn't looking at us. Latinos in one direction, Italians in the other — another segregated Boston neighborhood but I guess everyone's united about us: we don't belong. Although it's the Italians who get aggressive. Like those drunks in the square, waving their fists and yelling something involving a lot of fuck, and maybe some faggot – but wait, they’re kind of queening it up — oh, I get it, they think they're making fun of us.
Then we’re on Maverick just off of the square and someone starts yelling hey, hey from behind us, but we’re not going to fall for that one. Then a bottle flies right over our heads, hit someone’s wall and smashes on the sidewalk just a few feet in front of us. Maybe if we pretend this isn't happening, it isn't happening. Some women opens her door and looks out at us like we’re the problem. I look her right in the eyes, and she closes her door. Then some guy with greasy hair comes out of his house up ahead rubbing his eyes like he can't believe what he's saying, and then he just starts screaming what the fuck, what the fuck, what the fuck are you doing in my neighborhood?
Actually it's our neighborhood too, I say, and he says what, what did you just say? What?
I say we live here too. Honey.
And he spits on the ground like he'll choke otherwise, then rushes back inside and you can hear him going up the stairs in heavy shoes. We keep walking, and just after we pass his house there’s a really loud noise behind us, kind of makes me jump inside and I'm still trying to act like I don't notice but Abby’s already turned. Mattilda, she says, that was a cinderblock. I'm looking at her and she’s biting her lip and we’re both holding onto the laundry cart and pushing from different sides because otherwise it starts to collapse. This is ridiculous, I say, but then I can tell she's about to cry so I reach over to touch her hand even though I know maybe that's not the safest thing. But what is the safest thing? It's not like anyone hasn't noticed that we’re queens. So we push the laundry cart the rest of the way just like that, with my clammy hand on top of Abby’s sweaty hand, frosted blue fingernails on top of fuck-me fuchsia. At one point Abby starts to shake like she's going to cry, just before we get to our doorway, so I stop pushing and look over at her. Her face is all pink, glassy eyes and just a hint of dark eyeliner contrasting her reddish blonde curls and freckles and I noticed the light is really beautiful right now.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

A brick

I know what you're thinking: East Boston, where the hell is that? Honey, it's right by the airport. In fact, if you walk down our street a while you can actually get right next to the runways. No, honey – not that kind of runway: there’s a fence around it.

But we’re just a few blocks from Maverick Square on the Blue Line so it's only a few minutes to glorious Government Center and really it's not actually far from everything except for that tunnel, yes that tunnel does make it seem like another world. Unfortunately, you can only call one cab company, and they take forever. We'll see what happens when my car breaks down.

            Maverick Square is kind of cute in an old town sort of way, even though they have a Store 24 that closes at Midnight. We go down there to do laundry, which is kind of a hassle but then we get to walk around the square and look at all the cop cars, why are there always so many cop cars? I get an idea, so I start taking photos of all the cop cars, and after I get the photos back I go to Kinko's and print out “IF ONLY THE CAMERA WERE A BRICK,” white on black with my mesmerizing QuarkXPress skills, cut-and-paste and then I want to do a little wheatpasting adventure but Sean and Abby are scared.

            Actually, it's funny how hard it is to get Sean to come down here, with all her talking about how much she loves the Blue Line now it's nothing but shade shade shade. But anyway, finally I get them to agree to look out while I tape the posters to the cop cars, and that's kind of fun. Not as fun as wheatpasting, but still.

Did I mention it's hot out now, disgustingly hot but I'm trying to get rid of my acne so I figure I need to sit out in the sun a little bit every day, so I put fresh lemon juice on my face even though it burns and then walk down to the new park with too-fresh grass by the water. It's kind of nice, and there's never anyone there, maybe because of that horrible rotting fish smell, but that's kind of going away now. I guess there's going to be a water taxi, which sounds kind of strange because who would want to take a water taxi to East Boston?

Anyway, when I get home I put fresh cucumber on my face and that feels cooling for a moment. But it doesn't seem to matter whether we keep the windows open or close, it's hot as hell in the apartment no matter what, except sometimes at night. It does cool down more at night here than in DC, or it did cool down for a while, but now I'm not sure.


Monday, December 10, 2012

Home sweet home

Did I tell you? Abby and I found our own place – a three-bedroom in East Boston for only $625. I don't know how we convince this guy that even though neither of us has a discernible job, we’re reliable enough for a one-year lease — or, okay, I do know — we just pretend that Abby is still working at Glad Day and make sure Sean answers the phone to vouch for her. And then, of course, there's my highly successful freelance graphic design career. Too bad I can hardly get QuarkXPress to do anything more than white letters on a black background, but of course our new landlord doesn't need to know the details, right?

            Truthfully, I think you just liked us and wanted to give us the place. He said he was just like us at our age, and I didn't even realize this guy was gay until he said that. Kind of scared me to think of how someone kind of like us could become a middle-aged realtor with swept-back hair and a lumberjack body living on old money row on Commonwealth, but anyway we got the place and it's gorgeous. It's the ground floor in a really old building on the side of the hill and all the floors kind of slant diagonally.

I take the master bedroom with a whole wall of closets, and Abby chooses the super-skinny room at the front because it's darker, so she gets the hallway closet too, and then we have a whole extra room for my desk and books and boxes and Abby's makeup table. I guess it's my makeup table, I mean it goes with the dresser set, got it in Providence before long I left for $55, can you believe that? It's got orange drawers with a white countertop, and yes we have office carpet in the bedrooms but there’s lovely black-and-white checkered linoleum in the kitchen and dining room, and even a living room up front with hardwood floors. Although that room is completely empty at the moment, waiting for, waiting for — something. For now we keep the shutters shut, but they only cover the bottom part of the windows so the light still comes in

            Did I tell you about the little rubber plant I got at Home Depot when I was getting spray paint for the radiator? Yes, I've decided not to paint my bedroom this time since the off-white isn't so awful, but I'm going to paint the radiator fluorescent pink and silver. But the plant — I put it on the kitchen counter, and already I feel excited like we've moved in. I mean we moved in a month ago, but I can finally feel it.

            And yes, in the dining room that is a table from Au Bon Pain. Honey, I’ve bought plenty of salads at Urban Pain to deserve a nice black metal patio table, right? Sure, it was a bit tricky to get in the car, especially driving through the tunnel at 3 am with the trunk open, but honey it was worth it. So worth it that we went right back and grabbed two chairs – figured we better do it right away, because my car is making some scraping sound on the asphalt now so I don't think it's going to last much longer, and it's not like we were going to take those chairs on the T, right?