Saturday, March 31, 2012

Check out this fantastic hour-long interview with Sarah Schulman on Against the Grain...

Check it out here...

The order has arrived

Did I walk too far, maybe I walked too far -- but, then, too far is the walk I need: I mean I can't go on my daily walk without this park, even though today it's freezing and raining hard still it clears my head and makes me see things so softly. Until I'm home and my head is blocked off, the new pounding headache in my temples, is this from walking too far, exhausting myself even when I'm surrounded by calm, the flowers, the birds, the sound of rain, the drains gargling, a few dog walkers and joggers and yes, the rain, from inside it can be depressing but then you go outside and rain is what makes this air so fresh, right, but then I'm back at home and my lower back is messed up, maybe the new shoes that are more waterproof, so exhausted that I don't want to do anything else, whatever it was that I was thinking of doing I don't want to do it, don't want to get back in bed either though, that'll just mess up my head more, but what are the other options?

I don't want to get groceries now, but I do need groceries, maybe I should call someone to see if they want to take me grocery shopping. Before I was going to go to the post office to send Justin a money order to pay for gas for the moving truck on the way here, but I think I'll wait for that until Monday, might have to go to the ATM twice to get enough money anyway. There's this big TV here in my temporary apartment and I keep thinking of watching a video when I get this tired, but then I can't figure out how it works and pressing all the buttons on the remote controls hurts my body, so I won't try that again.

I would like to say that walking too far would eventually not feel like too far, I mean my body would get used to it and I would become stronger, but I'm not sure that's the way my body works. All I know is that I need my walks to the park, that's my favorite thing so far about being here, but what if these walks are draining me more than helping? Oh, how will ever figure this out, this pattern, this pattern of exhaustion and overwhelm and what helps and what hurts and the latest appointment with a new naturopath, on the phone this time and I don't think I like her style very much. She won't tell you anything that she doesn't recommend. I mean she recommends that I eat meat, animal protein she calls it, that's the only thing that has worked for anyone in my situation -- for her, my situation means a liver that isn’t working to detoxify my body fast enough. That part I'm sure is true, but what about the fact that when I tried eating fish a little over a year ago, 10 times, and 10 times it made me sick? She thinks that if I take this one particular enzyme formula, that won't happen -- she acts as if it's that simple, but is she listening to the way I describe my life, my digestion, all the little things that make me sick, including every digestive enzyme formula I've taken except one? What makes her think that this time will be different?

I feel like she's applying some formula to me -- I guess it's based on her experience with other clients, but I wish she would tell me the other options that haven't worked, just so I can go through them and see if I’ve already tried them all. It just doesn't make sense to me that something that dramatically increases the horrible bloating that's destroying my life will help the horrible bloating that's destroying my life. She thinks the bloating might be caused by a small intestine bacterial overgrowth, which sounds like an okay theory but it turns out the only way to test for small intestine bacterial overgrowth is by eating meat -- or, sorry, animal protein -- for three days. What about if we just treat for small intestine bacterial overgrowth, and see if that helps?

But then we won't have the diagnosis, she says. Who cares about the diagnosis? I've had enough diagnoses, and they haven't helped. Not that I'm saying the treatment for small intestine bacterial overgrowth will help, but the other natural path suggested a berberine extract for that, said that many of his clients did not have any adverse effects from that, so that sounds like a good place to start for me. I ordered that formula while back, thought I would start it when I got to Seattle, or once I was a bit more settled like now, but now it's in a box in Nick's apartment in San Francisco. I mean Randy's apartment, that's Nick’s name in my writing. Don't worry -- I changed the first name too, but wanted to preserve the error or not error but the way truth imitates truth, right?

Guess what? This writing is actually making me feel better. Or, is it the throat lozenge? More writing! More throat lozenges! More truth imitating truth! So anyway, I ordered the berberine extract from a store here in Seattle, but why haven't they called me yet? Maybe that's what I'll do now: I'll call to see if my order has arrived.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Baby you can drive my car...




Choices

Today it’s too long to the park and back but this is already after. There must be something to say about how excited I am to be here, especially when I go on walks and study everything growing -- daffodils, succulents, even the roots of the trees breaking the asphalt -- how excited I am to be here, and also how awful I feel: completely drained, exhausted, almost unable to function. Is it time for a nap?

I don't want a nap: naps make me feel awful. Today I got up earlier, and I thought that was a good sign, but maybe it wasn't. I mean I feel awful, so I guess it wasn't a good sign. What would be a good sign?

They redid the floors in my new apartment, and now they're painting. I haven't seen anything at, but they agreed to pay in pastel yellow and pastel orange so I know my apartment will look lovely. And, I'll have almost 2 weeks to open the windows and let everything breathe before I move in. Do you see how this sounds exciting, but I can't feel excited, because I'm so exhausted? Now I feel like I need to eat, but I also need to get back in bed -- what should I do first? I guess if I get back in bed before eating, then I'll just get wired, so maybe I should eat first, but then that might just give me a stomach ache.

Walking in the rain: I do like walking in the rain. My brain, rhymes with rain and now I can't think of anything else to say I mean I can't get anything else to come out of my brain except this headache so I better lie down.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Acclimated

There's a lot of pressure on a gorgeous sunny day in Seattle: even though I have no energy whatsoever, I feel like I need to go on a walk immediately or it might go away -- everything. Everything might go away.

It already feels like my head is caving into my face -- no, wait, like my face is caving into my head, but when I look in the mirror there's just a lot of puffiness around my eyes: seasonal allergies, or the detergent residue on my eye mask?

Reading a weather forecast in Seattle is tricky: chance of rain means that it will be sunny, at least at some point in the day. Scattered clouds means scattered sun, right? Oh, wait -- here it goes, I better get outside. I mean I was already outside, sitting in front of the place where I'm staying, a beautiful patio with tables and wildish-looking plants carefully arranged. It actually smells amazing, which is hard to find for me, since I'm allergic to most smells -- I will miss this patio, although I will be trading it for lots more light in my apartment, maybe then I won't be so desperate to get outside, at every minute when it's beautiful, like anything else I could do would be a waste. Or, maybe I'm just acclimating to the Pacific Northwest and the beauty of spring.

If only I didn't feel so awful, but okay, whatever, I'm going to walk, after I do a little bit of feldenkrais to balance myself out and eat a little more food so I'm not too hypoglycemic right away, I guess I need to shit again but there’s a rush, right a rush, so let me take a break from these words to find more.

Here I am outside and it's too cold no it’s not too cold it’s perfect but I'm not wearing enough clothing, I need a scarf and mittens at least but I'm too tired to go back inside, what if it takes too long to get back out and I don't have enough energy to get to the park anyway, I'll just take a short walk and then I'll go back inside. Yes, my hands are too cold but wait, there’s Aloha which means just one more block to Prospect and then I turn right, up a staircase yes here I am and I know this is going to sound strange but it's when I get to that park that I think yes, I'm home.

Or, at least: yes, I can live here as long as I get to the park as often as possible I mean I want to live here I love it I love this, almost like living near the beach and you get to the sand, maybe not quite but still the quiet and openness of all this space the birds chirping and squawking and screeching, someone lying in the grass even though it's cold and cloudy now the sun behind high clouds which truthfully I like as much as the sun without clouds, it almost looks like the moon all soft and glowing.

Oh, yes, the feeling of my feet on the pine-needle-covered side of this part of the hill or that part at all this grass and then when I turn the corner out of the park and there's a corner where the moss has taken over from the grass and yes the view of the mountains between that ugly building that suddenly seems splendid and the street wider than you would think, over there the big white mansion with crumbling paint, you wonder about them next door to the ugly tower with a permit for another antenna on the roof and then downhill too fast because it's steep, more crocuses, purple this time, and then I'm back on the beautiful patio with the crooked stone walkway no not crooked it’s perfectly laid, it's just that each tile holds different angles, not flat or smooth and when I get back inside, 35 or 40 minutes I guess to the park and back, a few blocks further to my apartment once I move, such a beautiful walk and now I'm filled with possibility.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Spotless and sparkling

There's no question about it: I love Volunteer Park! So much fresh air, so many gorgeous trees sculpted towards the sky. Peek around the corner and yes, on days of high clouds or sun, yes, those thick snow covered mountains, oh my.

I don't think I'm going to like the people in Volunteer Park as much of the park. Only a few people today -- someone with a baby carriage and the dog, saying do you want to run down the hill, do you want to run down the hill? Which one is he talking to?

A straight couple exercising on the stage. A few older white wealthy couples. When it gets warmer, all of the straight couples will be out -- straight couples picnicking, straight couples with kids, straight couples drinking, straight couples -- but why think about that now, let's think about this gorgeous day with the clear air and then I decide to take 13th Avenue on the way back and who knew that it winded around like this, crazy old houses and newer mansions and older mansions and a few ugly ‘60s buildings, there will always be a few of those everywhere in Seattle, even if many have been torn down for new condos and it's not a loss except for the loss of character, even if character just meant ugliness and a lack of pretension.

Some of these old mansions are being torn down for new condos too, which seems awfully strange, but wait, I wanted to tell you about this grand old apartment building on 13th right when the curves end, it's the three-story portico at the front that really makes the building, red brick and cracking old tiles in the entryway when you peek in -- it's called the Maryland, built in 1910 I think it says and then I'm walking down the hill a little bit too steep for my body but yes, those mountains, spotless and sparkling, at least from the distance.

More, please...

Friday, March 23, 2012

Oh, no -- this is tragic...

What I'm looking forward to

Oh, my -- what has happened to my sleep? I keep getting wired so wired in the middle of the night -- so awful and familiar, the next day I'm just struggling to do anything. Today I signed a lease -- that's exciting, right? But then, I'm so tired that I can hardly get excited.

A beautiful place -- gorgeous hardwood floors, a spacious living room, a bedroom with enough room for a bed and a dresser, beautiful light, a 1920s building I think, with the original paned windows, overlooking a street with a lot of trees. I didn't get everything I wanted -- the kitchen is small, with an electric stove; the bathroom doesn't have a window, only the original vent allegedly going up to the roof; no laundry in the unit, which I knew I wasn't going to get, but still I wake up every night with someone else's laundry detergent in my head thinking I wish. But, no sign of mold -- at least as far as I can tell -- and, a great location, not in the original location I thought I wanted but actually a location I like better. Not close enough to the co-op, but in a part of Capitol Hill that feels more energetic, better air actually unless you're on the thoroughfares or some horrible pollution machine drive by but I guess that's the way it is everywhere on Capitol Hill, seems that way to me. Radiator heat which I hate because it dries me out too much but I can turn it off, and those poles in the kitchen and bathroom that don't turn off -- those I really hate, have always avoided, but now I'm thinking that actually mold usually starts in the bathroom or kitchen, and maybe those poles will help to keep those areas dry. Not the kind of view I wanted, but it does seem soothing, open, elegant -- nowhere to sit outside, unfortunately.

And actually, this was the only place I looked at where I thought yes, I could live here, I think it would be great -- and so, yes, I'm excited. They even told me they might paint in pastel colors of my choosing, since they haven't painted the unit yet. Someone's still living there and I won't be moving in for a little while, which sounds nice too because I like my temporary apartment and I'll get some time to rest, a few more events but rest too yes rest I hope for rest.

But did I tell you about the sun today? The Sun the sun the sun! Not just high clouds or sun breaks but really really really sun oh it was lovely, sparkling, everything growing and I love everything growing, then when you get to the top of the hill you can see the mountains really the mountains right down there and oh. Spring indeed, who knows how long it will last but I love my walks around Capitol Hill, just looking at the ferns and moss and flowers here and there, tree roots pushing through sidewalks, a new park in progress, all of the real estate development, condos for sale everywhere, the clashing styles of architecture, grass I can walk on when it's not so soggy it feels like a sponge. Just walking slowly and taking everything in, this is what I'm looking forward to.

Crocuses!


I just signed a lease!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

I'm not a big fan of email interviews...

Where's the conversation, right? And, sometimes I feel like I end up writing some whole thing and then what do they end up using? But actually, this time I find myself thinking oh, I like these answers, I mean I think that a lot in interviews and that's one of the fun parts, but then I don't usually have what I just said written down, right? So maybe that's one of the advantages of an email interview. Anyway, here's are some of the things I was saying:

I think gay culture has become obsessed with normalcy at any cost. Straight ideals reign supreme -- anyone who fails to conform is seen as suspect. Ironically, this is most pronounced in the sexual realm, where any transgression from a basically straight masculinity renders you outside of the trajectory of desire. In some ways, gay men now enact homophobia as much as straight men -- certainly in the sexual realm, that's for sure. Straight guys aren't telling gay men to act like men when they're sucking cock, right? Maybe straight norms participate in policing gay behavior on the street, but it's gay men who are policing each other in sex clubs, bars, cruising areas, and bedrooms.

I don't think that effeminacy was ever particularly valued broadly in gay culture. But, certainly there were ideals among certain queens, freaks, and sexual outlaws in early gay liberation about rejecting the confines of masculinity, sexual aggression, objectification without appreciation, militarism, the nuclear family, and the stranglehold of straight and state control over queer bodies, minds, lives, and dreams. In certain ways, gay liberation made it possible for straight people to be more fluid in their gender, sexual, and social identities, while gay people are now busy propping up dominant institutions of power like marriage and military in a misguided quest for straight privilege at any cost. In this way, gay liberation has failed -- but, I do still believe in the ideals.

Growing up, I was called “sissy” and “faggot” before I knew what they meant, starting around four or five on the playground. All I knew was that the other kids were seeing something in me that set me apart, that made my desires sick and wrong and evil and permanently outside normalcy. Instinctively I knew that the requirements of compulsory masculinity would always leave me broken, scarred, and hopeless. It took me a while to realize how to challenge this, and what I find so tragic about mandatory masculinity in gay culture is that gay men are desperate to embrace the exact same thing that oppressed, and continues to oppress, so many faggots and sissies growing up -- not to mention women, queers, trans people -- and yes, even straight men, the ones who can’t or aren't willing to measure up either.

Gay culture, and particularly gay sexuality, could be about experimentation, fluidity, flamboyance and bold visions of community-building based on molding desire into something vast and transformative, but instead it's about regimentation, regulation, following some tired script that says don't talk, don't ask, take what you can get, only think about yourself -- every guy you hook up with is just another beer can you can crush on the sidewalk and kick into the gutter once you're done. In this sense, gay sexual culture has become a bastion of some of the grossest forms of consumer loyalty masquerading as “community,” and this harms everyone involved.

Color and light, thank you


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

A glorious taste of joy (although now, I must admit, I need a nap but I'm getting ready for a book launch...)

A sunny day in Seattle is a glorious taste of joy, that's for sure, even or especially a day when the wind feels icy but that just means you can walk all around side streets and see hardly anyone, just a big beautiful crows, robins here and there, gazing up at the giant trees. And, I will admit it -- this may be a sunny day for Seattle, but it's not even a sunny day. It's a day when the clouds are high so the sun comes out intermittently but it's not raining and the air is so goddamn fresh it's like a dream.

Walking up into Volunteer Park and there's no one around yes no one just me climbing this familiar hill, passing the bathrooms that are closed now, they say it's because of the season, and into that field I've always treasured, since that first time sitting on the hill that's like a basket full of joy yes joy, there's that word again, basking in the sun in the summer on a hill full of queers, or gay people anyway and now that's mostly over. The gay people or queers go to a park a mile away that people talk about loving but that seems like a stretch to me. The other park is okay I guess, but small and flat and uninteresting as a space except for the way it's designed.

Volunteer Park is big and sprawling and filled with trees that expand in all directions but mostly towards the sky yes the sky and you're up on the top of the hill where you can float. Cal Anderson Park, renamed after a recently-deceased gay legislator, barely even has trees -- there isn't even that much space except for a baseball field and a reservoir converted into a fountain, I'm not sure why the gays and queers have abandoned Volunteer Park or how exactly it got taken over by the straight and breeding and why the queers fled to a space far less interesting, but I guess I'll find out when it gets warm.

I forget that I have memories here, memories from 15 years ago when I lived here, or 18 years ago when I lived here for a month. Or no, I don't forget that I have memories, but because they are softer and more subtle than the memories of San Francisco before or New York after, not as formidable or formative, memories of a space between -- between visions of community and activism and queer world-making. But Seattle has always felt calm to me, and that's what I'm feeling today. Now I will have calm, and I will also have visions of community and activism and queer world-making, okay?

Friday, March 16, 2012

Another time

Something about North-facing windows, that's what I wanted to write: even if there's a gorgeous view, there's not enough light. It just stays there, in the distance, no matter how much you hope it will come inside. South and West, that's what I need -- even though West gets awfully hot in summer and I might hate myself then, but really in the permanent darkness of the Northwest yes I think I need West-facing windows, at least some of them -- a living room facing West, right? I don't mind if my bedroom is dark.

West is also the direction of downtown and the mountains from Capitol Hill, that means the view that I want -- the light and the view and the space and the absence of mold, that's what I'm thinking about now as I get ready to get on the train back to Seattle, my last train for a while and honey I'm already glad. No more of that recycled air pummeling my sinuses, drying my skin, emptying me of the energy I need.

I have to say: whoever decided that all the buildings in the Northwest should be gray, or grayish, that person should suffer a terrible fate, if they haven't already. Color -- we need more color! Okay, now I better get ready to go -- it's amazing how long it takes each time, another time of getting ready, oh I'm just ready to rest, that's for sure.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

All that beauty

Oh, no -- I just did that thing where I got on the computer to write, and then I did everything except write. Now I need to take a nap. I got up needing to take a nap -- too late, or not too late if I felt better, but I felt worse. Not because I got up too late -- just from too much exhaustion. I know exhaustion is supposed to be what happens when you get too tired, which is also what happened.

Woke up and it just felt so dark, 11 am and dark already and I can't wait for my seasonal affective disorder lamp, to take it out of the box and put it on the kitchen counter in the place where I'm staying, or the place where I will be staying, after I take the train and arrive. My last train in a while, I can't wait -- can't wait for it to be done, that is.

Then I'll be back in Seattle, and won't need to move for three weeks. Of course, first I need to find my apartment. Looking at this gorgeous view in Vancouver, and thinking about what I need. More on that later, first I need a nap. I know that yesterday my nap made me feel worse, but still I need to try again, I mean that's the only option right now. I'll take a nap and when I get up hopefully the sun will be moving beneath the clouds and then I’ll rush outside if I have energy or stay and if I don't end either way I'll be ready to take in all that beauty.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Face and embrace

Strategy for dealing with the rain: you go out in the rain, pretend it's a nice day, walk around, slowly, the light in your eyes. But honey, it's still dark. At least today. Yesterday the sun came out and then suddenly you could see the mountains, at least from the condo tower where I'm staying in Vancouver on the 15th floor and there they were, snow-capped and stunning.

Yes, I'm staying in a condo tower on the 15th floor, on a street called Citadel Parade, I kid you not -- I'm guessing they invented the street recently, because it's not on the map, although there is a citadel, actually, I would call it an armory but I guess this is a different country, right? Other than the citadel, there are just four or five or maybe six gleaming 30-something story condo towers, or maybe the one at the end is apartments, but you get the point. And, to tell you the truth, this is the nicest place I've stayed. Alienating, yes, but completely absent of mold -- the only place where that's been the case, actually. Makes me think about how people keep giving me advice to look at these new buildings in Seattle, they might be the only way to avoid mold. Unless, of course, the construction was faulty. But if they are brand-new, then they just smell like chemicals.

But anyway, this one a small spotless studio with white kitchen cabinets and white walls and blue tiles in the kitchen and bathroom and a real bathtub not some plastic thing, deep too, but they key of course is the view yet the view, even at night when you're distracted by everyone in their windows, that's fun too, right? I mean, I wouldn't want to live here -- you walk outside and there's nothing human at all, really, except for a few humans walking around, then there's an institutional downtown, offices and hotels, more new condos, hardly any trees that all, Vancouver can be so ugly unless you're gazing at the water or the mountains or the sky and I wanted to tell you more, more about what I'm thinking about moving, more about what happened last night after I watched the people in their windows, but first it looks like I have to get back in bed, at first I thought there was a question: should I get back in bed?

But then I realized that was an answer. I've been getting back in bed a lot since I've been on tour, and maybe that's one of the good parts: that I can get back in bed, that it's okay to lie down and take care of myself were not just okay but absolutely necessary, even if it doesn't always do what I wanted to do it’s so much better than trying to push through the exhaustion without the cushion of more cushions. Pillows really, and a mattress, but you know what I mean. Time to lie down so I can get ready for my reading tonight, get ready by lying down so that I can face and embrace everyone tonight.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Not a good sign

I'm so glad I don't have to leave this place where I'm staying until 5 pm to catch the train to Vancouver -- makes my day so much more leisurely than I were leaving just a few hours earlier. Even though that also means I'll be getting in right around my bedtime, up too late but oh well. Somehow I can't seem to wake up today -- could it be the weather, darker than the last several days with sun breaks, remember sun breaks? That's right -- the sun peeks out from behind the clouds for a few minutes, and you rush outside.

I'm getting used to walking around in the morning and pretending it's a nice day -- I do like the cool moist air, refreshing. Although I'm getting worried about how I will prevent mold in my apartment, is it possible? It's hard to tell in these places when they've just been painted -- or, even worse, new carpet, yes the only thing worse than old carpet is new carpet, that's for sure. I guess I've already looked at 10 apartments or so, seems like a lot, and I'm realizing the most important thing might be getting a place with a view -- ideally the downtown skyline, and the mountains. I looked at one place with a downtown skyline view, one of those motel-style 1950s building that I never imagined I would even think of living in, but actually the ones that are well-kept are kind of nice. This one was okay -- fake-wood floors, but at least no carpet and a window in the bathroom, that's another essential -- you wouldn't believe how many apartments in Seattle don't have windows in the bathrooms, even in some of the old buildings that must have had windows there in the first place.

The cabinet under the sink in this place seemed a bit musty -- I figure if I even sense that there's a possibility of mold, I shouldn't go there, right? The landlord said there had never been any issues with mold in the building, but do they ever tell you the truth? Oh -- and, she scheduled seven people with the same appointment -- one of the people who arrived was angry and disgusted and made that clear before leaving. But then, the gross part -- this gay couple made sure to assure the landlord before they left that they had no idea why that woman got so upset. People's allegiances are so depressing.

Right when I walked in, the landlord looked at me like she hated me -- a whole different personality than on the phone, when she was super-friendly. But, by the end of my time looking at the place, when I was the only one left, asking questions about how to prevent mold, she seemed to warm up to me. She was showing me the fan in the bathroom, but it wouldn't turn on, and when it did turn on then suddenly all I could smell was mold -- not a good sign.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Two upcoming readings for Why Are Faggots So Afraid of Faggots on the East Coast (or, close to it)...

I will unfortunately not be able to be at these readings, but two amazing contributors will be at each one to tantalize you and stimulate a delicious discussion -- here are the details:

Thursday, March 22, 5:30 pm
Giovanni's Room
345 S 12th St
Philadelphia, PA 19107-5907
with contributors Chris Bartlett and CAConrad

Thursday, April 12, 6:30 pm
Food for Thought Books
106 North Pleasant Street
Amherst, MA 01002
413-253-5432
with contributors Jason Lydon and Khary Polk

Communities of Care, Communities of Despair

One of the questions people ask while I'm on tour is how I came up with the idea for this anthology. I generally start by saying that all my anthologies come from a very personal place. Why Are Faggots So Afraid of Faggots arose out of the contradictions of my personal experience in gay and queer worlds. On one hand, I feel intensely inspired by the politics and potentials of trans, genderqueer, and gender-defiant subcultures. Simultaneously I find myself less and less hopeful in the (gay) male sexual spaces I also inhabit. I wonder: if the desire I hold dear has only led to a product-driven sexual marketplace, what are the possibilities for transformation?

In offering this answer about Why Are Faggots So Afraid of Faggots, I started to think about shifting the focus of my next anthology. I still think that a queering of the Occupy movement is an important project, but this doesn't feel urgent to me in a personal way right now. And so, I started to wonder: what would feel intimate and crucial? My anthologies are always a melding of my passion and history as a direct action organizer with my skills as a writer and editor. I put an idea out in the world; I see who relates to it; I hone the pieces into a multi-faceted conversation that serves as a necessary political intervention.

And so, I started to think about part of my answer to the question about where my impetus for Why Are Faggots So Afraid of Faggots came from, the part where I say that I feel inspired by the politics and potentials
of trans, genderqueer, and gender-defiant subcultures. When I say that, I mean specifically a radical queer analysis that believes in the central importance of creating alternatives to status quo normalcy as a way to survive structural, familial, and cultural homophobia and transphobia, misogyny, binary gender tyranny, self-hatred and the dead-end options of assimilation into gay or straight consumer identity. This is a queer politic that centers around accountability, negotiation, fluidity, communal care, creating families of choice, and gender, sexual, social, political, and cultural self-determination -- challenging all the violence of the outside world, in its never-ending quest to annihilate difference, and building something else.

As queers, many of us believe that desire is where our politics, our sense of the world and its injustices and possibilities, our drive to build community and intimacy, lust and care, on our own terms -- perhaps desire is where all that started. When I say that I believe in the politics and potentials of this analysis, I don't immediately reveal that I don't believe in the actuality of what exists now. Over and over again, I see the places where a liberatory politic masks the realities of everyday brutality in the communities and cultures that mean so much to me, cultures I've lived in for two decades now, where in spite of our dreams inaccountability often reigns supreme, and a lack of trust, an absence of negotiation, communication, or commitment lies camouflaged beneath the rhetoric of amazing intentions.

This is the paradox that I want to investigate with this expanded anthology I'm tentatively titling Communities of Care, Communities of Despair: Queer World-making and the Politics of Accountability. How do we live up to our brave visions? How do we hold ourselves accountable when these visions fail? How do we imagine something else? I'm starting to brainstorm a new call for submissions now...

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Only time will tell

Hurry -- someone please explain to me this horrible fashion trend now quite popular among the gays. The first time I spotted it -- well, no, not the first time, but the first time in full force was in San Francisco with these two girls sporting charcoal above-the-knee raincoats with belts pulled tight, leather briefcase-shoulder bags, and skinny jeans tucked into unlaced brown leather work boots. That's the key -- the unlaced leather work boots -- sometimes new, sometimes old, usually brown but sometimes black if particularly vintage in presentation.

Wait, this might be getting confusing: I do mean to say that the first time I spotted this trend was in San Francisco -- you know that we don't have trends like these in Santa Fe, where caftans and kimonos, cowboy boots and sporting-good chic are eternal. So yes, San Francisco was where I found myself swept back into my studies of current trends not only popular in New Age towns or among ‘70s throwbacks.

Sorry for that detour -- let's get back to our report -- yes, the gays and straights sympathizers going for a little bit more realness model unfitted jeans, still tucked into the unlaced leather work boots, of course. Where did this awful fashion trend emerge? I mean -- I know that all fashion comes from that garbage bin of consumerist hubris known as the creative industry, but why this, why now? On the street in Seattle, yes I don't have my contacts on yet, but I can still recognize those unlaced work boots, and sense that snide look of studied disapproval even with coffee cup in mouth. The only thing that saves it is the curly-haired hawk-mullet -- can a curly-haired hawk-mullet save us all? Only time will tell.

Friday, March 09, 2012

For-rent signs

It's funny how exciting it is to have a stereo in the place where I'm staying -- music just sounds so much better when it's not just coming from the tiny speaker in my laptop, right? I'm dancing around the kitchen, looking out to the distance for the sky, oh there it is. If I peek around the corner, I can even see the Space Needle, not something I ever liked before but now is a different time, maybe I like the Space Needle, at least for a moment when it surprises me like that.

Yes, I woke up into another laundry detergent disaster -- even after washing the sheets, dammit that didn't work. Outside for a walk without contacts, yes even in Seattle, strange how my relationship to the city changes block for block -- as soon as I'm in First Hill it just feels empty but what do I mean by empty? Sterile. Or, suburbanly urban. Gray.

Just kidding about the gray part -- it's gray everywhere. I mean here. The air doesn't smell that fresh to me, but maybe I have to give up on that if I'm going to live in a city. The air was great in Eugene, but Eugene would be too small for me.

Later: another walk. The first block I really like is a block with trees, yes trees, I think I need trees. Although, just a few blocks beyond, three huge cellphone towers, what am I going to do about those? I mean, otherwise it's my ideal location, right around the corner from the co-op, but I don't want to be around the corner from three huge cellphone towers, do I? Moving is so complicated -- looking at the rentals on craigslist just hurts my body and depresses me -- too much carpet, too many ugly new-old buildings. It's funny how all the buildings blend right together -- the gorgeous old ones, the rundown old ones, the gorgeous rundown old ones -- you could see my preference, right? But: are those more likely to have mold?

Okay, but I was talking about the blend -- you already know about the old ones, but then the 60s motel-style atrocities, the new condos, some of them suburban-urban style and some of them hyper-modern, squeezed in between turn-of-the-century buildings, what else? Those ones that were built recently, but look like they’re already about to fall down. Oh -- and, the big houses turned into apartment buildings, or house-style apartment buildings, those are the ones on 16th Street that I start thinking about living in, they face a little park and I imagine an amazing view of the downtown skyline but none of them have for-rent signs.

I'm getting wet, walking around in the rain just before sundown, I mean an hour before -- walking around in the rain is a strategy for dealing with the dark, that's what people say, keeping you from getting too depressed and the air is getting fresher. I go to look at some posh high design condo-style insanity -- it's too expensive for me anyway, but I want to see what it's like -- probably no mold, right? Too cold, empty, institutional, bleak, bathrooms without windows, chemical-smelling -- except for the view from the rooftop, which is so stunning that it's hard to believe. At least I don't want to live there: that's kind of comforting.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Love of the critical kind

What an incredible event in Portland -- I know it's going to be great, because I arrive a little after seven and all of the chairs are already taken, the store is bringing out more and the event starts at 7:30. It's a really beautiful combination of readers – Ezra RedEagle Whitman, River Willow Fagan and myself, all bringing a different but complementary engagement. Of course, before the reading starts I'm all edgy, rushing to the bathroom to shit, why all this edginess? And then, as soon as I start -- this packed room all the way back and everyone's there with me right away, then I feel calm. I notice it in my delivery, even -- slower, more musical, more space.

The store apologizes at the beginning for only having 16 books -- they ordered 25, and more are on the way. That rarely happens: stores don't apologize for only ordering 25 copies, that's pretty standard. But then, this crowd shows up -- later the event coordinator tells me this is the biggest crowd they've ever had in that store, Powell’s on Hawthorne, and on my way out the people working the register say that it’s the sweetest group of people they’ve seen -- how beautiful!
And the Q&A, a question about HRC and bridge-building between radical queers and the gaystream -- that's a fun one to answer. Someone doesn't agree, not quite a question. Questions about intimacy and intergenerational contact and dark feelings and It Gets Better and the structure of the anthology to bring on conversation, I love all these questions and conversation and one thing I notice is that I feel so present in my answers, even more present than usual -- it's the energy of the crowd that builds inside of me, and these are the kinds of moments when I feel so much more than present, how do I describe it? I mean: like I'm on a roll. Like my articulation actually surprises me.

River and Ezra have interesting things to say too and I would tell you about what we all say, the whole conversation, I wish it was recorded, I hate wishing that kind of thing after the fact and today of course I’m pushing against the disastrousness of exhaustion, how will I pack, how will I get ready, in less than two hours I leave to catch another train, tomorrow another event in another city and when I took a walk in the sudden sunshine of course my head cleared but my head is not clear now, ready for bed again but now unfortunately is not the time for bed, there isn't time with everything else and at least tomorrow I won't be in the basement although it is a back house so it might be dark too but really, the event last night, the energy in the room, the intimacy of engagement, the intimacy of something communal or collective, disparate but not daunting, clashing but critically open, questioning and even confrontational but not dismissive, or not dismissive except when necessary, and I want to say something about hugs, now I mention it at the end of every reading, that I love hugs, that if anyone wants a hug please come up, and the space that that opens up too and I want to call it love all of this, all of this I want to call love and I want to think about this love in my body and hope that my body won't always feel so messed up afterwards, so messed up, such a mess, I'm a mess but I do feel like I'm getting somewhere with this tour, an important conversation is opening up and people are relating and this might be my best tour ever, I mean the beautiful intensity of the events and the way everything is coming together and that's the work I'm doing but it’s working better than ever and that's something to think about too, more hugs and more intimacy and more possibilities for engagement and yes, love, I'll use that word again, love of the critical kind that means we will hold one another and we will hold one another accountable.

Monday, March 05, 2012

What it all means

Oh, the basement -- I don't really want to write about the basement because it's temporary, right, temporary -- tomorrow afternoon I leave the basement this is a good reminder to never stay in one again, right, never again. This is a cheery basement as far as basements go -- bright lighting and a nice big dining room table with comfortable chairs where I'm sitting now -- but, still I feel like I'm underground I mean I am underground but my head, can't wake up, went on a walk in the rain and that was refreshing but now I'm back here, in the basement, reminding myself how much I will need a view from my apartment in the Pacific Northwest, certainly a view and tons of windows and light please light.

But I wanted to write about energy in the room at my last event, that energy of excitement and intimacy, love even, lessons and struggles together and I helped to create that energy, facilitate it, keep it flowing and that's the excitement that I want. More to think about: how to keep it going, building my energy and not draining me. I liked when someone came up and said: each of your books have come at just the right time for me. And, the question about what would make a sex space more vibrant, filled with possibility instead of walls, that's my phrasing and then thinking about that more too because people keep asking: we don't have those spaces really, or when we do have them they are usually still fraught with everything they are trying to resist. All these histories in one room and maybe we are together, in a certain way, or that hour or two of the event, and that's what I'm wondering about also: these histories, this together, and what it all means.

Sunday, March 04, 2012

A few things I wanted to show you before I left San Francisco, but my hands kept hurting too much to click the fucking mouse oh the fucking mouse now my hands will hurt again and I won't be able to arrange them in the order I want the photos I mean but maybe also my hands and anyway I wanted to show you...













Obstacle course

Reminder: don't ever stay in the basement. I think this place was described as an above-ground basement, so I thought maybe it would be in the back not that dark, but it's not actually above-ground and honey, it's dark. Depressing, I have to admit, although this is a nice big table that I'm sitting at, comfortable chairs, I like that part.

The worst part is the laundry right next door, and walls that don't go all the way to the ceiling so the laundry smell ends up here in my head, surrounding me in bed, that's the sheets too and I already washed them once to get that smell away but it didn't work. Outside the air is fresh and cool and moist and I love it, except when a car drives by -- I don't remember being this sensitive to car exhaust before. Or, worse, barbecues on the street, fireplaces here and there -- not like Santa Fe, but just a moment of exposure and local voice gets scratchy. More things to remember to avoid in the apartment I find -- the view, I definitely need a view; not too close to too many cars; watch out for where the laundry fumes are blowing out. Clio says it's like an obstacle course -- true enough, my path through the world.

Those bags under my eyes -- I haven't seen that in a while -- oh, laundry detergent. Now I can smell it on this cashmere sweater I'm wearing -- from the person who had it before me, but I need to wear this sweater inside to keep warm, can't wash it until I have something else as inside clothing, I mean I already left it outside in the sun for who knows how long, back in Santa Fe, but here the smell is coming out, right under my nostrils I guess everything is aggravated from the laundry, oh the laundry and I just went on a walk but I want another one but first I need to eat, more. And then I might need to get back in bed. Hopefully not, but it's certainly a possibility. I'll keep you posted.

Saturday, March 03, 2012

Travel, aftermath

Today is a day of travel aftermath. I felt kind of okay on my before-eating walk, outside without contact lenses, trying to get that sun in my eyes, right? Strategizing for the Northwest already and in Eugene I thought yes, this is going to work, this Northwest thing, but now I'm in a basement apartment in Portland and things don't seem so bright.

Of course, I won't be living in a basement apartment, I know that, especially one connected to the laundry room and all those toxic fumes, but that's where I am now, staring at the computer screen or no, letting my eyes drift but there's not much to look at, I need to look at outside, from inside I mean, so I better go outside soon I guess but I'm so exhausted.

That's okay -- today is my day to rest, right? Recover from yesterday's bus that didn't seem that awful except when they turned the heat on, but then they turned the heat on, right? And now my voice is a mess -- although I want to go on another walk, I don't think I have enough energy for another walk, yet.

Friday, March 02, 2012

The beautiful light in the room

I was going to tell you about all the beautiful light in the room, that's how I'm picturing it and I don't mean light in the literal way. I mean the intimacy of engagement, the excitement, the communal sense of possibility. Afterwards, yes I felt exhausted, but not drained like usual actually. Exhausted but calm -- the kind of fatigue that people talk about but I rarely feel -- oh, I'm tired, ready to relax.

And then I slept pretty well I think, 10 full hours and I woke up thinking yes, that was the kind of event that makes it all worth it, I feel kind of good today. I was going to write in the midst of that mood, that excitement, but then of course I crashed. I still feel calm, kind of, a few more hours before I leave for Portland and the air is so fresh here in Eugene, you open the door and your head clears; my head clears.

But now my head is cloudy, ready for bed again but no, not yet -- more packing and eating and getting on a bus, yes a bus because there are no trains at this time of day and it will only be two hours so hopefully, you know what I'm saying. Soon I hope to tell you more.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

I love this review over at Radically Queer!



This volume asks us to question our fears–not only of femininity but of brown bodies, trans bodies, poverty, drugs, open sexuality, terrorism, and AIDS. The essays engage explicitly with sex, linking queer desire to ideas of nationality, safety, and acceptability. The authors ask us to build a political discourse around sex and desire and to see the potential in brown, femme, and/or diseased bodies that the collective mainstream gay imagination fears and has forgotten because of the terrifying possibility of death.