Wednesday, February 29, 2012

More great press from Portland -- Portland is going to be lovely!



Listen to an interview on KBOO's Old Mole Variety Hour...

And, check out a review in Willamette Week!

And, yes yes -- Portland is coming up next Monday, March 5, Powell's on Hawthorne, 7:30 pm -- did you want the Facebook invite? Here it is...

And, I'm at the University of Oregon in Eugene tomorrow, March 1, 8 pm in the Ben Linder Room at the EMU (student union)

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The reality is something else

Tomorrow I leave San Francisco, and what does that mean? It means: tomorrow I leave. I already left. I'm leaving again: tomorrow.

When someone who understands you on many levels says something so deeply misunderstanding: of course this happens all the time. In this case, this person said: I could show you areas of the Mission that are still dirty and neglected. Those weren’t the exact words, in looking away from the words then I've lost them now. It was a joke, anyway -- oh, maybe seedy, was that the word, I'm not sure. Because I know you're the seedy type -- said in a knowing and friendly way, I couldn't quite find the words to say that I'm not looking for something dirty or neglected or seedy, that doesn't help me, doesn't feel soothing, doesn't help me to grow or feel inspired I'm looking for cultures of resistance. I lament their loss. The loss of my hope in those cultures. Those cultures that are always a part of the gentrifying, the smoothing over, the removal of edges. The marketing of edges. The buying and selling of edges, of culture, of marketing, of dirt and neglect and seediness even in the midst of ending the possibilities of what can sometimes exist among the dirt and neglect and seediness, a kind of interaction across worlds, into and around identities, intimacy of contact and sometimes even conflict but especially the bond of not quite fitting in, anywhere, anywhere but maybe here, here that no longer exists and that's what I miss.

It must exist; it does exist; it doesn't exist for me. I talk about my hope in the politics and potentials of queer, genderqueer, trans and gender-defiant cultures that I am part of, and that is true, this hope in the potential. The reality is something else. Something that breaks my heart, the reality that the values we inspire, conspire -- of accountability, negotiation, intimacy in the gestures of the everyday, communal care, fluidity, embodied fantasy, flamboyance, challenge and engagement -- these values so often fail to exist in the actual worlds of these cultures that I say I'm inspired by. I'm not inspired by the cultures, not really -- my actual lived experience fails to meet the potential of what I dream of, cultivate, hope to create, and that is why I had to leave San Francisco.

There are many things I like about San Francisco, and probably more things that I hate, but there is almost nothing that I love. I'm looking for the time and space and place when my dreams and my work can meet a reality that holds me. It's already tomorrow: today I'm leaving, and I'm sad. I don't know if I'm sad because I'm leaving San Francisco, or just because I'm leaving, traveling again which makes me sad, or because my sinuses are a mess. I mean I know I'm sad because my sinuses are mess, dammit I can hear it in my voice and this is before I get on the train. On a cool moist day, even.

My sinuses are mess, because they were burning incense at the last event I did, a basement theater with no windows in a ridiculous gentrification space and I kept thinking they can't really be burning incense, can they? And then the next day, I didn't feel dramatically more awful than usual so I thought maybe, maybe I'll be okay. Of course it never works that way, now I'm getting ready for the overnight train and I'm not ready, not ready to leave or travel or do anything really except rest, at least I have a feldenkrais appointment before I leave but now I don't have a ride to the train or help getting my bags there -- oh, travel, what a mess. I don't even feel calling anyone to try to get help, where am I going? What's next? Why? Okay, I better get ready.

Monday, February 27, 2012

One day

I wanted to go on a walk before dark, but now it's dark. Now I will go on a walk after dark. Or, not yet. When I'm ready. Yes, I'm still at the computer. I was going to put the feldenkrais CD on, but then I thought wait, let me keep writing, this is relaxing, this writing, I need more of this, this relaxing. Just lean back in the chair, close my eyes a little, and keep writing. Breathe. Keep writing. This is practice. I'm practicing breathing. Relaxing. This is breathing: my chest. This is writing: my breathing.

Awareness: my head leaning up, maybe that is why my jaw hurts? Lower back pain: maybe I'll sit up. Scratchy throat: yes I need more water.

Yesterday I posted on craigslist for the first time in a while. It was that moment of horniness that needed to be met, just a moment and then I stayed on the computer for too long and nothing happened except more pain and eventually I jerked off on the phone sex line just listening to some guy's voice and leaving him a message. A connection request: that's what they call it. A connection bequest: one day we will give. A connection inquest: in quest. One day I will learn what it is that I need. Find: need. Need: find. One day.

Yes, my jaw still hurts: not a good time for sucking cock. Not that that's what I'm looking for now, here in these words, but it came up. Two feldenkrais appointments in a row before I leave, that sounds exciting. My jaw: speaking. These words: my jaw. Speaking need. What we will find. One day.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Writing

Wait -- what happened to writing? I wanted to write first, but then I got caught up doing everything else on the computer, everything else that I need to do when really I need to write, but first I was exhausted and frantic, probably stopped breathing and now my whole face hurts and I feel like I should just go to sleep right now, but first I need to do a feldenkrais lesson to try and leave some of this pain behind.

Writing is hard when I'm traveling, harder still when I'm on a book tour and trying to keep everything flowing -- trying to figure out where the hell I'm staying, and keep in touch with all the publicity, keep it going, I mean it's all going well but so much ends up happening online, right? Online where everything hurts me, or not everything because I get excited by a new article, yes, a new idea for promotion, another insight from a review, yes many insightful reviews this time, how exciting and that keeps me going.

But then I'm back on the computer, what happened? I was just going to do one thing, do one thing and then take a break, but then I thought wait, I better do that thing, and then take a break, and then that thing, and then yes, I'm there in that place where I'm not breathing, just trying to get it all done, trying to get it all done when really I wanted to write. I wanted to write, and now I am writing.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Maybe at some point

I was going to tell you how I'm feeling, but then I checked my email and started feeling something else -- that frantic excitement of publicity taking me out of the exhaustion in my head, body -- and then I came back, to the way I'm feeling: broken, overwhelmed, how am I doing this? Like yesterday when I was on the way to Sonoma with Randy, we started with so much extra time but maybe we were too relaxed and then we took a wrong turn and we only had the exact amount of time it was supposed to take, which wasn't enough because then we couldn’t stop so that I could stretch, go to the bathroom, relax and when we arrived into this auditorium actually packed, a queer studies class and I'm not sure if I've seen a queer studies class like this -- probably more than 150 people, some of them standing in back or sitting in the aisles.

I rushed to the bathroom to shit, as then back into the sweltering classroom and the funny thing is that as soon as I started my talk I felt great or okay not great, but calm, energized, excited, interested, glad that I was there talking to a roomful of mostly gender-normative straight women I would imagine, but a room definitely engaged with what I was saying, which felt fine and important to me. Randy said something like that afterwards, how it felt crucial and rare to talk to that audience.

Today is how many days later? That drive ruined my life. What was it that I almost felt like I was back to my normal exhaustion overwhelm? Anyway, now I'm back to the place of how can I get back to that normal exhaustion overwhelm? When do I get to rest for six months? Why doesn't rest ever work?

I can't believe how warm it is here -- or, maybe it's not that warm today, just sunny so that it feels warm in this apartment. But, in general, it's been warm, honey, warm. Good thing I'm getting my sun before Seattle, right? I'll be arriving at the perfect time -- maybe just three more months of rain and dark before a lovely summer, a chance to get ready for the approaching nine-month darkness. I think I'm looking forward to Seattle -- starting to, anyway. I just wish I didn't have to deal with all this travel first.

Oh, travel -- that first train, from Santa Fe to LA, ruined my life. I know I just said that about the drive to Sonoma and back, but that first train was the one that started this mess. In a few days, I'm taking another overnight train -- it's that recycled air that destroys me. Hopefully I'll at least sleep well like last time, and then maybe feel a little delusional that I'm okay, and maybe at some point I will be.

Friday, February 24, 2012

A great interview in the SF Weekly!

What does the title mean?
Gay culture has become obsessed with normalcy at any cost. There's so much denigration of anything that doesn't fit into the sort of white picket fence "We're just like you" message of the gay movement or the hypermasculine extreme consumerism and throwaway mentality of gay cruising. Camouflaged underneath all that is this really intense fear of anything that doesn't fit in, whether that be femininity or flamboyance or freakishness or an outsider sexuality or promiscuity or public sex, even just intimacy and love outside of dominant norms. And so I wanted to investigate where that fear between fags is coming from. How do we explore that, talk about it in all of its layers and contradictions, and how do we try to imagine something else?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

A great interview over at Kirkus Reviews...

As a tentative answer to the question of your title, I would humbly offer the possibility that masculinity is so much more rigid today than femininity is simply because feminism opened up our gender to a conversation, whereas masculinity just remained the norm. And the norm is always resistant to change.

It's interesting, because feminism is where all my politics start—the feminism of challenging power, not accessing power. The feminism of destroying all hierarchies. The feminism of radical dykes and outcasts and freaks and whores that I first encountered when I moved to San Francisco at the very end of my teenage years in the early-’90s.

Yes, I think that feminism has opened up more possibilities for gender, sexual, social and political self-determination. But, I think that, although gay liberation emerged from feminism in many ways—as a rejection of organized religion and the nuclear family, a rejection of police and state control over queer bodies and lives—now, there is a conscious rejection of feminism in most gay male cultures. To me, this is tragic and horrifying.

In some ways I think that gay liberation made it possible for straight people to be more fluid in their gender, sexual and social identities, while gay people are busy salivating over participatory patriarchy and Tiffany wedding bands. And so, part of what I want to do with this book is to bring a queer feminist analysis into gay culture. As an intervention.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Yes -- fantastic press for Why Are Faggots So Afraid of Faggots keeps rolling in...



A wonderful interview in PQ Monthly, Portland's brand-new queer paper...

A great review over at Lambda Literary...

And, a lovely piece in the East Bay Express, just in time for my event in Berkeley tonight...

Oh, wait -- did I mention this article in the San Francisco Foghorn, USF's student paper?

Here are the remaining events on my tour -- please spread the word...

Pegasus Books Downtown
Monday, February 20, 7:30 pm
2349 Shattuck Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94704-1552
(510) 649-1320
www.pegasusbookstore.com
with Horehound Stillpoint, Matthew D. Blanchard, and Jaime Cortez

Sonoma State University
Stevenson 1002
Thursday, February 23, Noon
Rohnert Park, CA

RADAR Book Club featuring Mx Justin Vivian Bond & Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore
Hosted by Michelle Tea
Saturday, February 25
Viracocha
998 Valencia St.
San Francisco, CA 94110
$15, Doors 2:30/ Show at 3
Limited seating. Advance tickets available
https://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/220670
Books available for sale courtesy of Modern Times

University of Oregon
Thursday, March 1, 7 pm
Eugene, OR

Powell's on Hawthorne
Monday, March 5, 7:30 pm
3723 SE Hawthorne Blvd.
Portland, OR 97214
(503) 228-4651
with Ezra RedEagle Whitman and River Willow Fagan
www.powells.com
http://www.facebook.com/events/238569422900064/

Olympia Timberland Library
Wednesday, March 7, 7:30 pm
313 8th Ave SE
Olympia, WA 98501
(360) 352-0595

Little Sisters
Wednesday, March 14, 7pm
1238 Davie Street
Vancouver, BC
(604) 669-1753
www.littlesisters.ca

Elliott Bay Book Company
Tuesday, March 20, 7 pm
1521 Tenth Avenue
Seattle WA 98122
(206) 624-6600
www.elliottbaybay.com
with Booh Edouardo

University of Washington
Monday, March 26, 6 pm
Allen Auditorium, North Allen Library
Seattle, WA

I love this interview with Kate Raphael of KPFA's Women's Magazine from a few weeks ago!

The interview starts just after the intro to the program

Try something indirect

Waking up with the most horrible intestinal pain, clenching deep sadness aching horror just pain pain pain and I'm wondering why today, why today? Maybe I shouldn't have rolled over onto my left side. Maybe I shouldn't have eaten that quinoa around 7:40 pm or whenever that was, that's when the bloating started but then it always starts around then, right? I mean it goes on all the time, but it gets worse at night, and sometimes it's like there's a button right before I get in bed, when suddenly it's horrible, again. Even if it wasn't bothering me at all beforehand.

Could it be from rubbing flax oil into my belly and chest like the naturopath suggested, so that I can try to get omega-3 fatty acids through my skin? Maybe I shouldn’t rub it that close to my digestive system. And, just the other day, two days ago, the treatment that was supposed to help -- strain/counterstrain visceral manipulation. Is that what’s causing this horrible pain, worse than it's been at any time on this trip, so far, so bad that I feel like I didn't sleep, can't figure out what will help until I try one of those feldenkrais tongue lessons -- try something indirect, tongue connects to sphincter, right, digestive system in between. Something clears -- now maybe I can walk or sit or stand without too much pain and I'm thinking about how last night Randy asked if I was looking forward to my reading. I was too tired to look forward to anything, which is so often the case and still so often overwhelming. Please don't ask me that question.

Should I get back in bed? But: bed is what brought me here. Maybe it's time for a walk in the chilly fog, maybe that will help, now that I can walk.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Again

There's a whole story I was planning to write, planning to write right now, but right now I don't think it's possible. Maybe it's possible to start, but my brain just fogged over and I don't know how to turn the defrost on -- I'm not a car, right? Good thing I'm not a car. I don't like cars.

When I woke up I thought yes, this is the day, you know how that works: this is the day when I finally feel human, alive, calm and ready to create. And then I ate, and crashed. Did some laundry. Now I'm sitting here, thinking about the story I was planning to write, planning to write right now I mean I was planning it out in my head, taking my time, thinking there's no rush, all of this happened several years ago and I didn't really write about it then so there's no rush now, right? Except that it's in my head -- I mean, it was in my head. Now I guess it's time to eat, again.

Friday, February 17, 2012

A sense of history

Maybe it's redundant to say that I feel a sense of history at the GLBT History Museum but, well, I feel a sense of history. I'm not talking about the exhibits, but the conversation we're having about the past, present, and future of public sex. Three different people saying that they want to talk about the elephant in the room, after my intro and the readings by Tommi Avicolli Mecca, Jaime Cortez, and Horehound Stillpoint: first it's the internet, then public sex for queer women, then AIDS. Interestingly, although all of these might be elephants in the room of this particular conversation, the internet, fear and hatred of femininity, AIDS, and race (an elephant no one declares in this particular conversation, perhaps because race comes up in the excerpts the contributors are reading) -- all of these are centerpieces of the book.

But, let me try to evoke this conversation better -- something about the histories of the people in the room, most of whom are fags in their 40s through 60s, some in their 20s and 30s too, a sizable genderqueer contingent, and the woman who speaks about hanging out in public sex spaces in Atlanta and the gay men there thinking maybe she's a little strange -- she is a faggot-identified femme, I believe that’s the term she uses and I'm using the pronoun “she” because that's the pronoun I imagine a faggot-identified femme would use, but of course I could be wrong. But I wanted to say something about how everyone is immediately so present, laughing, cheering, adding in their own comments way before the Q&A begins and I love that: we are in this together. I'm adding pieces to my intro from things I've glimpsed on the street on the way -- the rainbow lights illuminating the outside of the Diesel store, the clothing store that's replaced the gay bookstore. It's me and the audience: we are all in this conversation together, we are in this world, we are in these gay spaces that we crave and despise.

So great when you don't have to argue about gentrification or assimilation necessarily because everyone knows, everyone feels it, is angry and lost, hopeless but sometimes hopeful and this is one of those moments, maybe. Most of the men and queens and queers in this room are older than me, probably half by several decades and it makes me think about something Sarah Schulman said about how so many people she’s looked up to, many people a generation older than her, are dying now, or are already dead, and how she doesn't know who she can look up to anymore. The way experience is passed down through generations, and passed up -- that's the part that sometimes people forget: I've never looked for role models or mentors, I've only wanted peers and that's what it feels like in this room, somehow, in spite of our different histories, so that when the glamorous person with red curly hair and lipstick raises her hand to say she is a faggot-identified femme looking for public dyke cruising and many of the gay men in the audience laugh, but they are laughing with her, we are laughing with each other.

Some people are angry too, as we should be -- about the disappearance of cultures that matter, about the way the gay movement has become antithetical to gay liberation, about how public sex spaces are targeted in so many gay people are part of the targeting, they want these places closed so they can be removed from the imagination. One person says: everything can be private, but only for the people that matter. And, the way sex has become privatized through the internet, a private public, and Jaime says something about how many people write "no games" in their posts, and this means they actually want to hook up, or they think they want to hook up, but most people online are busy not hooking up and maybe that's the sex they are looking for, even if they don't want to admit it. And I think about how "no games" to me also indicates no fun, right? Because there is so rarely any fun in internet hookups, or even cruising spaces -- it's all supposed to be primal and distant. This is just in my head, maybe after, more ideas. Here at the GLBT History Museum we are trying to engage in a conversation that rarely happens -- I think that's why several people have come to multiple events, and some of the same people are commenting again, different comments: we need this conversation. We need more, and we are only given less.

And then I'm in a car, someone I just met giving me a ride home but we have a mutual friend, they lived near on neighboring communes in rural Tennessee and when he asks about Santa Fe I say something about how there’s a small queer world but there are no fags in that world, none, do you know what I mean? And he says something about how sometimes fags will be anywhere but queer worlds and dammit that is so true. I love insight like that, coming from someone you've just met. I want to map the way transmasculinity and/or a genderqueer analysis marks this conversation, but I'm not sure whether it's necessary for you to understand. In the backseat is Gina, one of my closest friends in all the world, Gina who flew out here for my book launch events and you see how that's another history -- a history of care and comfort and glittering intimacy in a broad atmosphere of disillusionment.

When I get home I look at the sky from my window, this purplish reddish sparkling mass just above the buildings, leading up to what you generally describe as darkness and I’m thinking about the possibilities of intergenerational conversations, the possibilities of faggotry outside of male socialization, I'm thinking about the possibilities in San Francisco that are so rarely actualized, I'm even going on a quick walk down the street so familiar yes there's something I love about this familiarity and cooler air blowing in at night even if the streets still smell like cigarette smoke, car exhaust, piss, vomit, pot smoke yet still fresher, fresher than before, no fabric softener laundry detergent smell at the moment but I don't think of that until I smell it again and for the first time in a while I think maybe I have energy after a reading. I mean I'm completely exhausted but not entirely drained. My body hurts but I don't feel like what the fuck did I just do, how on earth will I ever do that again, is it worth it, can it ever be worth it? Because I know that it is, tonight it is.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

This view, again

The ways desire is regimented in gay male sexual spaces, distance enforced, masculinity required, silence a given: I've been talking about this a lot since I've been on tour, but it's worse: I'm at the Nob Hill Theatre. Randy told me how they changed the downstairs so it's not just video booths, more like a sex club with a back room and you have to pay $10 to get in but then the video booths are free. The guy working there is actually friendly, can I call him a receptionist because he's behind a big counter? They even check your coats and scarves, kind of exciting and I'm downstairs and there are definitely guys there who I'm attracted to, first I have to go to the bathroom to shit -- yes, glamour comes first. And then I'm back in the hallways of longing and loss and yes, there are other words starting with lo that could go here but they never will, I've already realized that, no problem there exactly but the problem, you know, I already told you: the ways desire is regimented, distance enforced, masculinity required, silence a given and there is no space, none, none at all, for me here. Sure, I can dance in the empty back room, I could approach all the guys I'm attracted to -- mid-40s full seventies facial hair V-neck T-shirt hairy chest; tall skinny guy giving Milk, yes the movie, that's the one I'm really hot for and he’s the snottiest, no surprise -- those two are white, then there’s the Latino pretty boy who pushes you away before you even get to him, I guess he's the snottiest, actually, maybe there's a contest. There's always a contest. Then the mixed-race guy with a few facial piercings, can't tell what he's looking for, and the white indieish tweaker who keeps talking about how old everyone is here, he's the only one who will talk to me since, well, he's tweaking, right? Oh -- and, the bigger tall mainstream gay butchish Latino guy. Yes, I approach all these guys, but no luck, and then I’m there way too long and I get even bolder, using words, can you imagine, words? Do you want me to suck your dick? Thinking really, these guys are just walking around in circles, or standing looking grim, consciously and unconsciously -- and yes, it is grim here, there will never be anything fun, that word has been banished. Do you want to watch me jerk off? No luck there either -- there is no luck here, somehow the fact that the video booths are free makes people close the doors and keep them closed, so that there is even less possibility for interaction without the glory hole intermediary, can we really call that interaction? Distraction: sure, it can be fun, but then what? There is a whole open back room, and nothing happens there for the whole 10 1/2 years that I'm in that terrible place where I thought I would only be for a half hour max.

It's getting too late, I'm ready for bed -- I tell the tweaker that but he says it's only 9 pm. No, it's 11 -- I mean I know he's not going to go to bed, but I need to. Sometime I will ask myself: what are these people looking for? I've asked myself before. I will ask myself again. Sometime I will marvel at the fact that, aside from a glamorous and mischievous queeny demeanor and style marked by something other than what I'm supposed to be, you know, I'm actually somewhat conventional in the ways these people are looking. I lived too long in other people's desires to work the masculine realness these tired bitches require, or at least I can't go so far as to show up in khakis and a pea coat or black Sta-prest and a bomber jacket like I did for so long with my paying tricks. Not a bomber jacket -- what is that brand-name that can signify off-preppy gaystream, punk diffidence, indie angst, worker chic or just plain I'm-not-even-concerned-about-fashion even though I'm always there, somehow, just there -- you know, there are many. Brands: this world is made for that type, and yes eventually I'm outside yelling and sing-shrieking I’m one of those people everyone is trying not to notice and what am I yelling about exactly except, I don't know, trying to express the anguish and pain and exhaustion and overwhelm and over-it, over, over, and over over over over over it. All I know is that when I get to the bottom of the hill I'm talking quietly, repeating I hate my life I hate my life I hate my life, and then I'm ready to get Superglue to fix one of my earrings, and some computer ink for Randy, maybe a mousepad but they don't have one and then I'm at the next store buying water before heading up into the apartment where the sky is stunning, somehow the clouds are illuminated a deep blue and that's when I realize I love this view, again.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Effortlessness

Feldenkrais can be so amazing -- before I was stuck in doom and gloom, shitting non-stop in that way that happens when my sleep gets wildly interrupted again, why again, I thought I was getting to a better place but then my mind is racing and it feels too early to get up but maybe I'm wrong, maybe it isn't too early at all and I look at the clock and it's 4 am. Effortlessness: that's hard to pronounce. Harder to achieve when everything in my life is about effort, pushing through the doom and gloom to get to that place of stunning achievement -- last night at the launch it was packed, and remember how, before I started this tour I was worried that I would be doing readings, and there wouldn't be any faggots any audience and that would kind of prove the point of the book, right? So, even if it was packed, I might feel lonely.

But this audience was almost all faggots, all ages too and most of the people I didn't know, which is always kind of exciting, right? That the book is reaching people in the way that I want it to. A beautiful event and then I'm stuck in the aftermath of knocked-down sadness leading to the doom and gloom, sleep first but that didn't help. Until -- yes, feldenkrais. Yes, feldenkrais, please. That moment when he's holding my head at the end and I just fall right into rest, I wish I could figure out a trick for that in bed and afterwards he says that thing about effortlessness, so hard to pronounce but there it is, walking on the street letting the light flow over and into me and yes I'm tired but not destroyed, effortlessness until it's time to get ready for another event

Uphill...

Two more events for Why Are Faggots So Afraid of Faggots in San Francisco this week -- please spread the word...

City Lights Bookstore
Wednesday, February 15, 7 pm
261 Columbus Ave. at Broadway
San Francisco, CA
(415) 362-8193
www.citylights.com
with contributors Debanuj DasGupta, Harris Kornstein, Booh Edouardo and Gina de Vries

GLBT History Museum
A Panel on the Past, Present and Future of Public Sex
Celebrating the release of Why Are Faggots So Afraid of Faggots?
Thursday, February 16, 7 pm
4127 18th St.
San Francisco, CA 94114
(415) 621-1107
www.glbthistory.org/museum/
with contributors Jaime Cortez, Debanuj DasGupta, Tommi Avicolli Mecca, and Horehound Stillpoint – hosted and facilitated by Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore
$5-10 requested donation, no one turned away for lack of funds

Monday, February 13, 2012

A little press about tomorrow's book launch at the San Francisco Main Library -- from New Zealand!

Here you go...

The way the sand glistens

Randy and I drive to the beach for her birthday – ZipCar realness, okay? The most glamorous part is closed for construction so we park on the side of the road just past and oh, a beautiful sand staircase leading down the cliff to the ocean yes ocean rough today and pounding against the rocks and yes so much air finally air and the sand is moist on this moist day which makes it easier to walk on and one of those moments when you look up and how, how could we be in San Francisco really, with this cliff covered in red, yellow, green succulents and over there sage and other kinds of brush and then, second time to the beach after walking back up the cliff, time for bed is what I'm thinking but that happens so many times a day anyway and when is time for bed if bed doesn't provide what I'm looking for, rest, although it's getting better so let’s cross our fingers and hope for no more interrupted sleep.

A detour to the health food store in the Outer Sunset, Randy’s never been and I’m always in the mood for a health food store -- some cute collards, right? Randy gets tabouli that expires on 2-29, but she thinks maybe it was really 2-29-11, tasty. Back at the beach for a second go-around, a different beach not as pretty but still that same ocean and we walk all the way out to where the sand glistens and those big chunks of foam everywhere and the sun is setting but you can't see it because of the fog I love this fog even though my jaw always hurts when I go to the ocean in the cold, something about the moisture but still the way the sand glistens and I take a deep breath.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

A beautiful window display over at Books Inc in the Castro!

How you follow

Sometimes I walk outside, and I feel like I never left San Francisco. It doesn't feel bad or good, just familiar but more frantic, like my life has sped up and the things that give me energy -- press for the book, interviews -- still leave me in that fallen-down aftermath. To tell you the truth, I'm surprised at all the good press, but it doesn't stop me from feeling caved-in every day and so much to do, to keep it all going, to keep myself going.

Click file And then the events -- beautiful while they're happening, but then there's the aftermath -- no, not fallen-down, more broken-down. The exhaustion becomes that pain in my sinuses, between my shoulder blades, the way I wake up in the middle of the night thinking about an interview, one that just happened or one that might happen and I dread leaving, having to travel more, before rest I hope rest yes rest is what I'm after, even if this satisfaction comes from non-rest I mean I'm trying to rest but it doesn't quite work. Now I need to go back to the laundromat, to get my laundry out of the dryer -- it didn't seem as chemically horrifying as before -- it's the same laundromat, since I'm staying on the same block. The other night I walked right past this building, and I was almost at my old building before I remembered. The people who were in front and then behind me thought I was following them, or wait though they were behind me and then in front of me, right? That's how you follow.

Friday, February 10, 2012

A fun interview on Out in the Bay...

Here it is...

Practice with premise

I don't know how they do it, but some of these health food stores in San Francisco manage to have terrible produce. Not all of it, of course -- but, often, it's way worse than the produce in New Mexico. And, get this -- almost all the produce in New Mexico comes from California! And, even better -- they like to give you bunches of greens that are half the size here, for the same price.

I feel like I'm always rushing around here -- I guess that's big-city life, right? I enjoy the convenience, the way I can just walk out my door and soon I'll be somewhere, but the awful air still feels like an assault. My sinuses are a catastrophe; my voice is getting raspy, and I’ve only had one event so far. Another event today, I guess I should get ready.

The other night, I gave a talk for Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz's class at the California Institute for Integral Studies. Or, I thought it was going to be her class -- she asked me to talk about Nobody Passes, since she's teaching it, so that's what I prepared for, but then it turned out that most of the people there were instructors at the school, or people from outside -- the director of the school too, I guess. It was pretty interesting -- I gave a bit of an introduction to the book, and then I said well, since we are at the California Institute for Integral Studies, where I'm guessing part of the goal is to integrate practice with premise, I thought perhaps we could go around the room and each of us to talk about one way that we are passing today, the comfort and discomfort this is giving us, and what it would mean to let go of that passing.

This allowed for me to talk about how awful I feel, to talk about fibromyalgia and chronic pain and exhaustion and doing these events anyway, and then I thought people brought really interesting topics to the conversation -- intellectual, intimate, political, poetic. About class privilege, Southern hillbilly identity, aging and not having to pass as much as not hating this country, needing to pass as a grad student, flaunting wealth in order to protect oneself from bullying at school, being a psychologist and choosing when to share your own mental-health struggles, motherhood mythologies, existing in feminine spiritual spaces while seeing oneself in between categories of women, feminine, female. The violence of the male/female binary, passing as different racial categories but always getting to a place of not passing -- "the non-passing of non-passing, passing of passing" -- leaving people behind based on educational attainment and searching for connection, leaving locations behind, assumptions based on male presentation, refusing to pass as invisibly HIV-positive, the idea that passing lies in the eyes of the other, the psychiatric industry and its violence, gender analysis of passing that erases racial passing histories, passing as turning one's back on one's community, people who don't have the luxury of passing, colleagues of an African-American professor who want him to pass as anything but African-American, passing as human, hidden homophobia, racism, and classism; passing as male even though identifying as trans, or as a particular kind of male.

The best part is the way that this opened up the intimacy of the room. Then people wanted me to talk about Why Are Faggots So Afraid of Faggots, which brought on a lot of discussion, and one thing I noticed is that I got much more relaxed when everyone else was sharing too, I mean that part didn't hurt my body so much. Once we got into the more presenting/discussing part, I got more exhausted -- also, there's a point around one hour where I always suddenly lose all my energy. But have to push forward anyway -- that's always during the Q&A, and the Q&A is important, or it feels important to me. Things to think about, as I get ready to do more events.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

A wonderful post about the book launch event on the LGBT Resources Blog of the San Francisco Public Library -- don't forget, if you're in the Bay Area, it's Valentine's Day, next Tuesday, 6 pm at the San Francisco Main Library!!!

Well, of course. We’ve always been here, flipping through dusty page after page, trying to find representations of ourselves that were honest and unafraid. Before we went to the bars or took a peak in the bushes, we turned to books for inspiration and stimulation. The books we found were often filled with stereotypes or, even worse, bad writing. But we’ve kept coming back, and even today, when the Internet is supposed to make connecting so easy and online cruising has become so respectable (and horrible), we’re still searching the library for those revolutionary texts that are going to let us know that we are not alone, and give us the tools to challenge the status quo. And now, finally, a book that is not afraid to flaunt its faggotry in all its flaming glory

A great review in the New York Journal of Books!

From its provocative title onward, Why Are Faggots So Afraid of Faggots? is the sort of book that confronts its reader and makes demands of him. It asks him, for at least a moment, to open his eyes and see the world from the point of view of the authors of any of the 29 essays collected here, and in doing so risk being offended, angered, saddened, entertained, pushed, throttled, frightened, confused—or all of these things at once.

Why Are Faggots So Afraid of Faggots? comes at the reader like a sudden slap, a sucker punch; it holds nothing back. It is a collection in which the individual life experiences of the authors become, in the reading of them, universal, in that they have the power to move, to communicate, and to educate anyone experiencing them.

What the reader will not experience in reading this volume of well written, passionate, even hectoring essays is boredom. For each of these essays represents terra incognita, an unknown realm ripe for discovery.

Read the rest here

Wait -- I was so excited about getting a photo shoot on this corner but then dammit it got painted over -- please, homophobic graffiti artiste, please return so I can get my glamour points, okay?

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Yay -- the official San Francisco book launch is coming up next Tuesday -- Valentine's Day, indeed!

The romantic details:

THE BIG BOOK LAUNCH
Valentine's Day 2012 – Tuesday, February 14, 6 pm
San Francisco Main Library
100 Larkin St
San Francisco, CA
A delicious discussion with contributors Jaime Cortez, Tommi Avicolli Mecca, Debanuj DasGupta, Booh Edouardo, Eric Stanley, Harris Kornstein, Gina de Vries, Horehound Stillpoint, Matthew D. Blanchard, and your lovely host Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore

And yes, the Facebook invite

Please tell the world!!!

A pretty good day

As soon as my doctor's appointment is careful, I feel better. I mean: my sleep was so awful last night, it just seemed too overwhelming to go to a two-hour doctor’s appointment to talk about how awful I feel, trying to feel better. I scheduled the appointment a month or so ago and it was hard to get, supposedly the doctor will have more information about heavy metal toxicity, but hopefully I'll get that information another day.

Today I just want to rest. It's a good day for resting -- cloudy and cool, better without plans. Although, I called my new feldenkrais practitioner, just in case he was available, and he is -- now I just have to decide whether I want to go in. I guess I do. Maybe that will help the pain between my shoulders. I just did a breathing lesson, and that did calm me. I thought maybe I would go to that weird thrift store on the upper Polk, to see if they have some cute blouse/vest-type things to wear for my events. I realize that the ones I usually wear actually hurt my body because they squeeze too much and are too short really, then I hold everything up and it hurts so I guess I only have one special outfit with me that doesn't hurt, definitely need a few more. Okay, I'll go there first, then to get some produce down the street, and then to feldenkrais. That sounds like a pretty good day.

Monday, February 06, 2012

A great review in Richard Labonte's syndicated "Book Marks" column, including a lovely excerpt from my intro at the bottom -- thanks, Richard!

"29 visceral essays celebrating defiant nonconformity and subversive flamboyance – writing that afflicts the gay mainstream while comforting the outcast rebels, fierce queens and gender-redefining queers who birthed Queer Lib but are now forsaken by it"

The second breath

I can't sleep here; my life is a mess. Lying in bed every night so far at 5 am wired to all hell. Before I got to San Francisco I was sleeping; I need my sleep in San Francisco. I wake up into headache and gloom, but then somehow on the fire escape something shifts -- this is the second time today of the fire escape, and I'm doing my morning meditation scanning the horizon away from the sun, which means towards the wall of this building and there’s that brick building next door, all the colors of red and gray and black and putty, turn more and the blue sky, that triangular shadow I remember from my other view, the one from my apartment before and then back across the wall of this building, sunny shadows of fire escape ladder and maybe the air is okay, soft even if it still smells like fabric softener on the second breath.

A wonderful write-up on Why Are Faggots So Afraid of Faggots over at Wild Gender...

Here it is...

Sunday, February 05, 2012

A review of Why Are Faggots So Afraid of Faggots in the national UK gay glossy magazine Gay Times! (thanks to Andy for the photo)

Softness

After feldenkrais, I'm walking down Market Street and I notice the arches of my feet hurt -- I haven't felt that in a while, and I realize it's from walking on so much cement, asphalt, hard flat surfaces and I start to miss my walks down dirt alleys in Santa Fe. I guess that's one thing that helped -- this particular pain went away, used to hurt me especially whenever I walked downhill, happens a lot in San Francisco. And the air: it's disgusting. Even when I got to the top of Nob Hill, where I always felt the air was so fresh, yes it’s moist and blowing in from the bay, but still there’s that underlying smell of car exhaust -- I guess I'll have to get used to that again. It's not like the fresh air and Santa Fe helped me in any meaningful way, but my eyes did get used to looking at everything in a different way, softer, the sky a part of what’s down here.

I guess it is pretty here when I let my eyes roll over the sun onto buildings, oh there’s the blue sky and even the moon, the views of hills and the downtown skyline. Noe Valley, a neighborhood I've always hated because of its cultural hideousness -- affluent and trendy straight couples, babies everywhere, retired New Agers -- not a good combination. But it is beautiful -- all these neighborhoods are beautiful, but so gross in their varieties of class striving and that's why the Tenderloin was the neighborhood I liked the best. Still like the best, even if one thing I notice about San Francisco everywhere is the fashion consciousness -- aviator and wayfarer sunglasses everywhere, nerd chic, an endless variety of ‘70s and ‘80s tragedies. Preppy with facial hair in all different varieties -- just back from the mall; just back from Paris; just back from the sex club. That one at Whole Foods is pretty cute -- the kind of form-fitting khakis that probably cost $300, a blue button-down shirt fitting just right, another $300, trim facial hair, smooth hairstyle that emphasizes a softness. That's what I'm attracted to: the softness. At least in this case.

Nerd chic also comes in all different varieties: grade school with the big glasses and cobalt blue leggings; those square Gucci black glasses on the high preppy fashion types; the oversized ‘70s glasses on the fashionistas and everyone else really, trickle down trickle up it's all fashion -- interesting to study, and not interesting. But what about doorman nerd, pompous preppy nerd, punk nerd, serial killer nerd, nerd diva -- and, of course, old-school briefcase nerd!

Saturday, February 04, 2012

To get ready

First impression, driving into San Francisco from the train station at night and yes, in spite of the grossness of what all the buildings represent, this skyline has gotten more attractive. Nearing Glen Park and we aren't even in the city yet really, and I'm noticing that every space is taken, little houses and apartment buildings squashed right against one another, no space left. I'm starting at Katia's house for the first night, when I go on a walk the air feels so fresh, views from every corner because every corner is another hill. When I wake up, there's a garden in the back and I step onto the deck moist from the morning fog or maybe this is a drizzle, whatever it is I love it.

This is a different San Francisco, not the one I ever lived in. After 10 pm there's no one out on the street; even in the middle of the day it's almost quiet. But then I'm back to the San Francisco that's familiar, a sublet on the same block where I used to live. Walking around, I don't really find it pretty anymore -- yes, there's amazing graffiti; yes, there are a lot of interesting people to look at; but also I notice that the only trees look stuck, and there’s that thing about no space between buildings again, somehow now that seems strange. The air is disgusting -- car exhaust and laundry detergent, even in my seventh floor apartment. Especially in my seventh floor apartment.

That same view that I used to love so much -- now I'm not sure. Yes, I can see far away, but even when it's quiet there are kids screaming on some rooftop playground, police sirens, trash chutes, someone yelling, pounding of metal against metal in the distance, closer now. But, it's amazing how I can go outside and find what I need, I mean I know where in the neighborhood or at least nearby to go to get drain strainers, probiotics, a soap dispenser, toilet paper, water, a replacement for one of my favorite CDs that got scratched up when it got stuck in my stereo.

Familiarity: I haven't gotten to the top of the hill yet, where I know the air is fresher, coming in from the bay. Donna, the feldenkrais practitioner who I planned appointments with a few months in advance, to save me from falling too far, calls to cancel all the appointments. They installed six smart meters in front of her door, and the radiation from the meters or whatever it is made her so sick that she has to leave the city for a month to figure out what she's going to do. This world that we live in can be so hideous, so heartless in the details, relentless in its pursuit of poison, poison at any cost, poison me and now I need to find another feldenkrais practitioner, so much for advance planning to take care of myself.

I do like this apartment -- except for the fabric softener and car exhaust and smoke and tandoori ovens in the air. I climb out on the fire escape just like in the old days, good or bad I'm not sure but at least I have sun. There's a sun deck on the roof here, but I started to get paranoid about the building manager seeing me out there and I'm guessing he doesn't know I'm subletting, right? Not sure if I should ask the person I'm subletting from or just avoid the roof, the fire escape is more convenient anyway, right? Reminds me that I need some sort of place to sit in the sun in my apartment in Seattle.

Oh, did I mention this headache? This headache. This headache, this head, ache. I did find a feldenkrais practitioner, not just in between these paragraphs but before really, I mean there are a lot in San Francisco but some of them don't call you back and most of them are hard to get to, so hard that I wonder whether the struggle to get there and back cancels out the positive effects. This one is in walking distance, even though I think he just finished his training. I'm going this evening, that's pretty exciting.

Oh, and my sleep -- suddenly it's worse: all wired in the middle of the night, what a mess. Makes me think it's something about the electrical grid or cellphone towers, everything concentrated together downtown because otherwise my sleep has been kind of okay on this trip, saves me from complete catastrophe but now. But now. But now hopefully it's about to get better.

Yes, sitting at the computer ruins my life, that's another thing I notice. But I need to sit at the computer. In a week or two I'll probably be used to San Francisco, maybe sooner even, but I'm starting to think that Seattle will be a good balance for me now -- a balance between the convenience and excitement of the city, and the calm that I need. Better air quality -- that's for sure, I'm going to love the air when I arrive. And, maybe I don't need a view of the skyline, that's what I'm wondering -- a mountain view might be even better. Funny, right when I wrote that I started to miss the city. Here I can see the San Bruno Mountains that used to amaze me, but now they just look like nothing. In comparison to what I used to see. The light glitters off all the car windshields on Potrero Hill in the distance and I'm not sure whether I think it's pretty but then the light starts to soften, the sky gets misty and I watch the pigeons and seagulls on the tops of buildings: maybe this is pretty, just let my eyes relax and see it.

I'm so glad I'm here for a month, time to maybe recover in one place, at least in some ways. And then more travel, I'm already sick of the travel. Sick from the travel. Not sick -- worn out. Sometimes hopeless. Too much pain. When I get to Seattle I will rest, yes, rest. Although I guess first I need to find an apartment. My neck hurts -- my back, jaw, head, shoulders. Time to do some feldenkrais, to get ready for feldenkrais.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Honesty in a place of pain



One more time at the beach and I want to savor it, this feeling under my feet, chilly air and then the water, not as chilly as I thought, so soothing the water that little kid feeling yes that little kid feeling yes. I wasn't planning on bringing the computer out on the train, but then they advertised WiFi in the parlor car -- really, WiFi in the parlor car? No, not really. But now I have the computer out.

Thinking about this sinus headache in the recycled air. Thinking about traveling and how it destroys me. Thinking about why. Why? I just want to go home. I don't have a home.

Soon, San Francisco. I'm not looking forward to San Francisco -- a month in San Francisco, what will that feel like? Will it feel like home? I don't have a home. Not now. When?

A month in San Francisco, Davka asked if it felt haunted. I'm not sure yet. I mean I'm sure, but I'm not sure what it will feel like. Staying on the same block where I used to live, a sublet. I did like that block: where I used to live, it felt like home, at least in my apartment, or sitting on the fire escape in the sun.

A relationship with the clouds, that's what I'm developing. What I developed in Santa Fe: hopefully this will help in Seattle. On that fire escape in San Francisco I used to watch the clouds too, so it started before, before Santa Fe. On the beach in Santa Barbara, watching the sky blend with water blend with clouds and then I'm gone, on the train, moving too slowly towards a place where I don't even want to be really. Maybe after I rest? What does that feel like -- rest?

Actually I slept well in Santa Barbara, but every time I check in and think how do I feel: sadness. Sometimes relaxed and sad, those are the good moments. Not usually. Travel: but then the train station with Davka, you see how travel can bring you to these people. To you. To me. To us.

I want to dream, but I am traveling. Travel is the place for dreams, like when the train starts and we are on a cliff overlooking the ocean and suddenly I don't feel so awful. For a few minutes. And then. I feel awful.

Davka says such beautiful things -- about me, about my work, about honesty in a place of pain and I am hopeful. I want to be hopeful. I try to be hopeful. Sometimes I am not hopeful. Davka and I take pictures -- the two of us together, some of them I don't like and some of them she doesn't like and some of them neither of us likes so we delete most of them but now I'm hoping that I still like the one that we liked. The most.

Maybe that's part of the train starting, on a cliff overlooking the ocean and honesty in a place of pain but suddenly everything brightens. And then it's gone.