Thursday, May 31, 2012

Syllabus

We get outside and he says why? I hate that fucking song, I say, but where are we going? Do you want to go to Babyhead, I ask -- it's really straight, but the music is great, I wouldn't mind dancing. Okay, Aaron says, but then I realize no, I need to sit down somewhere first, but there aren't any cafés downtown, or nothing open this late. We could go back to the hill, Aaron says, but fuck the hill. I know – what about the video bar, so we head in that direction. Sure enough, there's no one inside except the friendliest bartender on earth with her big curly bleached hair – hey hon, she says like we're best friends and she hasn't seen me in a while, what will it be tonight? I say a screwdriver for my friend, but I'm just going to have a glass of water with no ice if you don't mind, and then I tip her two dollars when she brings the drinks and Aaron and I sit down at a booth.

Aaron’s looking in the mirrors, which is hard not to, since they are on all sides, underneath the video screens that are never on. Aaron's starting to look a little messy, they were selling two-dollar margaritas at the Galaxy. I say I feel like AIDS doesn't even exist at Brown, and I'm not sure he really gets what I'm saying but he says I know. I just don't know what to do about being here, I say – maybe I should move to Boston. And stay in school, he asks, and looks a little scared. I guess so, I say – just until the end of the year, so I can get off academic probation. Just until the end of the year sounds like something my mother would say – you mean the end of my life.

Aaron and I met in English 19 – he had a barrette in his hair the first day so he kind of looked like a riot grrrl and I thought oh, we're going to be friends. I wouldn't have necessarily thought that in San Francisco, because he also kind of looked like a 15-year-old but this wasn’t San Francisco so I had to act fast. I think I said something about how he needed to get away, before he became one of those people. Not the first time we met, but pretty soon. I’d just gotten back, and I was stunned at what everyone had become. When I left it was like I was fleeing everything I was supposed to be, no time to finish classes when everything I learned was from organizing against the administration. Three years later and I was a different person, trying to figure out what classes to take that wouldn't make me feel like my life was pointless. I tried to register for the senior seminar in queer theory, which didn't really make sense because I wasn't a senior and I'd never taken a queer theory class, but Laurie and I had gotten married to get off-campus housing and then we moved to San Francisco for the summer and never came back, and everyone knew I was an activist and a hooker so I guess they figured that meant I could take the senior seminar. So I went along with Letha and James who had become the queer theory pets, and the professor asked me what I wanted to research. I said I want to write about the role of incest in the work of David Wojnarowicz and Pedro Almodovar, and the first thing he said was: have you read Gender Trouble?

I guess I must've looked confused, so he said Gender Trouble, by Judith Butler, and I said I’ve read some of her work, which was kind of true because when that book Inside/Out came out I read the essay by Judith Butler, or tried to read it, or anyway I thought it was brilliant but at some point I realized wait, it’s taking me 10 minutes to read each page, and then I still have to go back because I have no idea what I just read, and if Judith Butler is so fucking smart, why can't she write so that people will actually understand? That was the end of queer theory for me.

But back to Brown, that professor said it again: have you read Gender Trouble? No, I said, and he said well this wouldn't be a good fit for you because that's the work that's going to undergird our investigation here, and he suggested I take his English 125 class, but then it turned out I couldn't take that one until I took Intro to Gay and Lesbian Studies, so that's how I met Aaron. And actually it's my only good class – the teacher didn't even look confused when I told her I went by a different last name than the one on my registration, because my father sexually abused me and I didn't want his name – she just changed it right away and when I asked her why there wasn't any David Wojnarowicz on the syllabus, she asked me if there was a particular piece I would recommend.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Well, I guess I should make an official announcement that City Lights will be publishing The End of San Francisco in April 2013!!!

Here's a description of the book, in case you're curious:

Part memoir, part social history, and part elegy, The End of San Francisco explores the perils and possibilities of creating community through critique, relationships through activism, and accountability through action. Shifting swiftly between time and place, the book moves from the clampdown of a childhood in 1980s Washington DC to the camaraderie and conflict in direct action organizing, club culture, public sex and chosen family in early-‘90s San Francisco, mid-‘90s New England, post-grunge Seattle, Giuliani’s New York, and a gentrified San Francisco during and after the dot-com craze. Ultimately the book centers on the myths and realities of San Francisco as a refuge for radical queer visions in community-building. Using an unrestrained associative style to conjure the push and pull of memory, inspiration, resistance and loss, The End of San Francisco expresses and exposes the tensions between idealism and critical engagement, trauma and self-actualization.

Monday, May 28, 2012

All at once

I can't become a student, that's just vile so it's Sunday night and I'm showing Aaron the bars downtown: I want him to know there's more to being queer in Providence than College Hell. We’ve decided to visit all the bars except GenX where everyone always goes, and I don't think we need to go to Gerardo's but Aaron kind of wants to, and definitely not Mirabar because everyone knows they’re racist.

We decide to start with the ones I haven't been to, so we park outside the dyke bar, it’s kind of close to Gerardo’s and Aaron’s worried he's going to get carded but no one ever cards in Providence, I mean I guess they card at GenX which is kind of funny because that's the only bar where students go or maybe that's why they card? Or because it's new, and they don't want to get shut down, or they haven't figured out the right people to pay off or whatever, but anyway we walk into the dyke bar which is decorated like someone's big porch in the country or maybe your grandmother’s patio, I'm not sure, the bartender who has a flat top looks at us like we’re going to steal something: May I help you. Gentlemen?

I'm kind of startled because everyone I used to hang out with in San Francisco was a dyke but it's different here, I hand the bartender my ID and Aaron hands her his which is fake but it's from New York and no one at the gay bars in Providence knows what a New York ID is supposed to look like so then the bartender grunts and says what do you want? I say we’re going to look for our friends, and start to walk towards the back –where the paneling, maybe this bar is cowboy themed? It's like everyone in the bar turns to follow us with their eyes as we walk back, mostly chunky women with perms and bad dye jobs or military hair and then a few youngish super-preppy types with matching Polo shirts – one has mauve with a pale green collar and the other one has the reverse, I swear it's like they’re parodying some college student book from the ‘50s but what the hell college do they go to and look, there's a big dance floor in the back, I didn't expect that, disco ball twirling in the mirrors with no one around but guess what, we don't find our friends I mean we don't have any friends here so we’re heading out the way we came, the bartender looks more satisfied now and I give a big fake exaggerated smile, wave goodbye.

Aaron says what was that about – I don't know, I guess they don't like fags – and then we decide to go to the leather bar because I haven't been there either I mean I went once and stood outside but I got that scared feeling and couldn't go in although of course I don't tell Aaron that. I just act like it's no big deal and when we get inside I realize it looks like the Detour with a fence in the middle and black walls, but it's bigger, even a dance floor in the front but there's no one there. Just one drunk guy at the bar and there isn't even any music on but at least the bartender is friendly, some big queen with curly bleached hair and a bleached mustache and leather vest: what brings you boys out on a night like this? Oh, I say, well we've never been here so we thought we would check it out – it's a nice place, what’s a good time to come when there are more people? He says Saturday nights it's packed – okay, thanks a lot.

Aaron and I leave and I say that kind of reminds me of the Detour in San Francisco, I wonder if it's cruisy? I just need some hot slutty fags in my life, I feel like sexual expression is something I left behind and where will I find it again? Like that guy I met on Tool-Net the other night, and first thing he said when I walked in the door was: you have to get rid of that hair. Why did I have sex with him? Or, that guy in a truck who I followed from River Drive out to some scary motel and he kept telling me this was his first time but I was really hot, I really knew how to treat a guy. Should we just walk, I ask Aaron – the other bars are kind of close. Turns out we walk right by Mirabar and there’s a huge line outside, gross. Aaron says are you sure you don't want to go? No, I say – we can’t go there.

Anyway, Aaron and I are walking down the street and it must be some holiday for drunk jocks or something. Aaron says they must go to Johnston and Wales, but do jocks really go to cooking school? Aaron says it’s business too, but these guys seem rougher, maybe they’re from URI? Someone points over at us: Hey, he says. Hey! Hey! Is that a man, or woman? And his friends laugh.

I point out AS220 where ‘Stravaganza took place – that's when I found out that people actually moved to Providence to be queer, I mean people from Connecticut and even Massachusetts, which just seemed so strange because Boston is less than an hour away, and Providence isn't even a real city. Should we go to Champs? Aaron says sure, so then we’re inside and it's like 1985 all over again, they’re playing “Hungry Like the Wolf” while three tanning salon muscleboys in leopard-print thongs gyrate on-stage and a gaggle of giggling queens in khakis and white button-down shirts throws dollar bills. One of the queens is looking me up and down, I guess because of my pink hair and thigh-highs with those clips that look like garters and she doesn't know what to do about it. A waiter comes over and asks us if we want anything, I'm not drinking because I'm driving and Aaron gets a screwdriver. He actually seems more comfortable than I thought -- I never know what to do at strip clubs, I start worrying that it really isn't consensual, which doesn't make sense because I was a hooker in San Francisco, right?

Is he even old enough to be here, one of the queens points at Aaron, and Aaron smiles. When he's done with his drink, I say do you want to go? I don't want the strippers to come over to us: it's okay if I'm the one turning the trick, but I don't want to be the trick.

Faggot, someone yells when we get out of the bar, like there’s anyone else at a gay strip club. Someone throws a bottle and it hits the ground but somehow doesn't smash. I try not to look over, why is everyone so rowdy tonight? Luckily the Galaxy is practically next door, we walk inside and I can't believe how packed it is, dark too and then I realize oh, it's drag night, yes, I've never made it before because usually on Sundays I go dancing at Babyhead where the crowd is straighter than hell but the music is amazing, or amazing for Providence anyway, but we get inside and there's this black queen with eyebrows shaved but growing out and then drawn in crooked all the way at the top of her forehead and one of the rattiest wigs I've ever seen, like she had her hair permed and then straightened, or straightened and then permed, I mean her wig but anyway it's greasy as all hell and her eyes are kind of half made-up and half closed and she's wearing the tightest black lace bodysuit with everything hanging out – but this song, what is this song, I love this song – some blues number saying if I can't sell my ass I'm going to keep sitting on it—ain’t gonna give it away! This queen mouths the words like she wrote the song, and for a minute I actually think she's singing – flinging her hands and head at the audience while dragging a chair back and forth on the stage until at the end of the number she throws the chair to the side with a bang, or a clatter really since its a folding chair. Then she turns away from the audience and pulls up her dress and it almost looks like she's got nothing on underneath, jiggling her ass and suddenly there’s a disco ball right there and she’s shaking her ass like there's nothing left to worry about in the world and people are gasping and screaming and shrieking like they’re in pain, one queen even yells put that shit away and I say to Aaron: oh honey, this is so much better than the strip club, right? And he says: I could stay here for the rest of my life.

The music ends and right then this queen pulls down her dress or bodysuit-type thing like she's some kind of demure girl-next-door who got caught in the act, turns around for her bow and I rush up to put a five-dollar-bill is her rhinestone-encrusted bosom, she's actually prettier up close in the way that 60-year-old queens are pretty, and she grabs onto my wrist with one hand and holds the five-dollar-bill up to the audience with the other like she just won the lottery. She looks at me, and says: Ooh honey, will you be me hus-band, and the audience cackles.

I'll be your wife, I say, and someone yells yeah, that's right, uh huh, and when I get back to Aaron he says you're blushing! And: I love it here, this reminds me of New Haven. That's one of the things I liked about him right away – he grew up with rich parents in Guilford, Connecticut, but since he came out in high school he was going to all the support groups in town and he discovered the New Haven he wasn't supposed to know, he almost wanted to stay.

The next queen comes out: everything is glitter and it's all about her eyes, big silver-and-gold eyelashes with huge lips that match, gold on top and silver on the bottom, and she says this is for all my sisters and brothers who died of AIDS, and the audience is applauding and I'm already getting tears in my eyes. And then I realize she’s doing “All At Once,” the only Whitney Houston song I still like, memorized all the words in junior high. This Whitney is almost still the whole time, just her shiny mouth moving huge, eyes looking out at the audience with exaggerated or maybe not exaggerated sadness until she gets to the second round of the chorus and then she's shaking her whole body: “All at once, I'm drifting on a lonely sea, holding on to memories, and it hurts me more than you know, so much more than it shows” – and then her whole body starts shaking and at first I think it's part of the act but then she throws her head down and starts to sob. And they stop the music: the host comes onstage to touch her shoulder and then they’re hugging and the audience starts throwing dollar bills. And I realize I'm sobbing too, we’re all sobbing and I think this is the first time I've really felt everything since I came back to Providence.

Then I realize Aaron is looking at me in a different way and I don't know what that means exactly, just that he's never seen me cry, right, I mean I definitely don't cry in public – or ever, really, it's so hard to cry and the host is saying let's all take a break now, let's take a break, so I go to the bathroom to splash cold water on my face and when I get back there are three younger queens on stage, I mean it's hard to tell with all the makeup but their bodies are super-taut instead of sagging – two short muscular Latina girls in fuschia chiffon, carrying big bouquets of fake pink carnations, and a taller white girl in a wedding gown. Their makeup is flawless, and they’re actually good dancers and they even have a video projected on a sheet behind them where they’re doing the same dance number in different outfits but everything feels fake after what we just saw. And then I realize oh no, it's Crystal Waters – “back to the middle, round round again” and I lean over to Aaron and say let's go.

Help!

Oh, no – how did I get sucked into listening to this call-in NPR program where caller after caller is telling us that we need to bring back the draft so young people really know what it is like to serve our country, I mean the first person thinks this would help bring people to an antiwar analysis, but the rest of them are just talking about patriotism patriotism patriotism we need more a sense of service to your country, and there's even this Dutch-born curator at the Getty Museum in LA who tells us he grew up thinking patriotism and nationalism were morally wrong, because of the way they were used in Germany during World War II, but then his son decided to join the Marine Corps and “our son educated us." These are people calling in from all over the US, mostly with some relationship to the military, and I'm just fascinated that there are no strident antiwar callers on NPR, but more likely they are being filtered out by the people answering the phone – I can't believe I've listened to this whole thing, but at least now the sun is coming out so I'm going outside to look for help, help, yes help…

Friday, May 25, 2012

Pronouncements

Good thing I didn't make any pronouncements, right? Oh, what a horrible day! I don't even know what to say. There was so much more to say. Maybe if I listen to the birds chirping, after this strange thunderstorm that just blew by. No, they aren't telling me what to say. What about the sound of cars driving by – or no, that must've been a motorcycle. It's pretty quiet here, considering him right in the middle of the city – here comes another plane. Yes I still wish I could be a few floors higher, not for noise but to get away from the smoke. Although I do like seeing so much detail in the people who walk by, whatever that means.

Okay, that's the sound of a car going uphill. See, not many cars come by on this street. Here goes the birds again. There’s a car door closing, a bike going by, people talking in the distance, people walking by with a case of beer, another car, on the other street, yes the birds are still chirping and here's a queen in a leather hoodie, I kid you not, to match her ankle boots. Some guy with a part in his hair and the pompadour or no not a pompadour but just a bit of a slicking-back – those parts are getting very popular right now, high-fashion ‘80s preppy. Another smoker, this one walking downhill. I get to see all these people, because they're coming from QFC, mostly, or walking up to Broadway. I get to speculate about which ones are gay, I get to watch the twins look in all these gay couples. I get to watch the building manager across the street, a middle-aged bear type, work on the garden obsessively, act friendly towards everyone who walks by, and then make sure to ignore me, unless I'm inside and his dog looks up.

It's humid now: we need another thunderstorm. Or, I need to go on a walk. Most importantly, this bloating needs to stop, but I'm worried that I need to eat more, first. I almost forgot to mention that I’ve banned myself from internet cruising until at least September – that's the most exciting thing to report.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Actually, maybe

I don't want to make any pronouncements, but maybe today something is shifting: I wake up with my new novel in my head – Sketchtasy, the one about Boston, maybe I'm ready to start, it's all in my head, a beginning. But wait, let me take out my journal from that time – and then, oh no, I'm reading the whole thing. I say oh no because this will surely destroy my body, but somehow I can't bring myself to stop until it's all in my head, pulsating, and I’m mapping out all these different directions, maybe, different angles I wasn't thinking about before, wondering about this and that until I need to go outside to try to break any emerging pain, especially since now it's sunny out, all the sudden – everyone's been complaining about the cloudy, cold weather, and actually I like the cloudy, cold weather, and one of the reasons is that now this sun feels so intoxicating. Probably not much more than a few degrees warmer than before, but I'm taking all my layers off in the park, just the purple corduroys stay on, feet in the grass, body reaching towards sun and then this guy with two daschunds wants to talk a while, lots of stories about gay Missouri in the ‘80s which are pretty interesting actually, and his boyfriend who is probably even younger than I am – 21, yes that's definitely much younger – and then eventually he’s on his way, and I'm on my way, and now I'm definitely exhausted, not like before when I could feel my feet moving on the ground in a more viable way, then I'm at QFC trying to find buckwheat because I'm out, but they don't have it, but I keep looking and eventually find crushed buckwheat, not sure whether that will work, probably not, and then I'm upstairs using the self-service machine to check out because the register is closed and I'm sweating and I hate the world and I need to get out of here.

But then I'm home, and after a little bit of feldenkrais, the one with the eyes and jaw that sometimes works magic, afterwards I actually get my make/shift column to a close-to-finished place, something I've been working on for weeks and weeks but every time I start I just get too tired, like maybe I can write a few sentences or make an adjustment and then it's over, but now I realize it's getting close to finished, finally, and then I actually exceed at finishing the email to people who have sent in submissions for WE ARE NOT JUST THE 99%, which now I'm not doing – I mean I'm changing the direction, broadening the framing, which also means that I won't be doing it for a while, maybe months or years because I can't really, I don't have the energy, but I finally succeeded in sending that email and wow this feels like so much, so much that I've done in my head feels clearer and the sun is going down and the trees are shaking in the wind and the birds are chirping in the air so fresh and I'm actually excited about what's next.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

How

Sometimes I feel like maybe I'm fading away, one day I'll wake up and it will just be that gray between day and night, that hovering of everything between all day, every day in my head will never go on again to give me those brief moments of something else.

Or maybe I'm just exhausted, I mean I know I'm exhausted and I need to get back in bed, even though I hate getting back in bed, but then I can get up and think about that hovering, blinking of eyes, softness yes softness and not the harshness of stomach tension pushing my insides out, my insides in, not the harshness of the crash but the softness of the glide. Sometimes I wonder how much more I need to keep cutting out of my life in order not to fall away, how much I keep falling away, how much my life and what? What will I remember, and what will I forget. And what will I use a question mark for. And what will I question.

And what will I think of desire. And what will I think. And what will I desire. And what will I imagine. And will I imagine desire. And what will I think of this imagination. And what will I think of this.

And what will I grasp. And what will I hold. And what will help. And who will I know. And who will I help. And who will I hold. And who will I grasp.

And what will I hope. And what will I hope to grasp. And what will hold hope. And who will hold. And how will I hold hope.

Sometimes even thoughts I lose, lose so fast like one minute there's everything I will ever need right there in my head and then there's nothing I can even grasp. Nothing I can even hope. Sometimes I grasp and grasp anyway and fail to, yes mostly fail to, yes mostly, lately as it seems my health gets worse and worse and this is where I'm afraid I will fade away.

I'm afraid I will forget what it means to forget. To remember. I'm afraid I will forget to use a question mark for hope. Forget to. Don't say it. I'm afraid I will question, and I will mark, and I will lose. And I'm afraid.

And what will I hope. And what will I hope to grasp. And what I am afraid of.

I'm afraid of what I think of desire. I'm afraid of what I think. I'm afraid of what I desire. I don't even know why I'm talking about desire, when what I mean is everything that I want. To imagine. To help, cannot help. Of what I grasp. And who will know, me. I'm afraid I'll forget how.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Borderline

Too many attractive guys walking by outside, and why does it always look like they are looking up at me as I look down, distracted from my exhaustion, end up cruising online until the dead-end becomes apparent, cruising online again. I could go on a walk, but I'm too tired. I could write something, but I'm too tired. I could do the dishes, but not yet. I just read, and now my arms hurt too much for more. I could watch a DVD, but I don't like watching DVDs really.

I guess it's something I can do when I'm exhausted: cruise online. Except it just makes me more exhausted. And, worse, it hurts my body. But, what doesn't? Another distraction, please. Maybe it's time to do the dishes. Another day, is it one or two days later? Time to get back in bed, this time in the afternoon on a rainy day, is that better or worse? There's something wrong with my camera, maybe if I take the battery out and charge it then everything will be fixed? Of course this happened when I went outside to take more pictures of Seattle building names, my developing art project. I still can't figure out how humidity works, when it's cold and when it's warm, or something like that – maybe it's just confusing in the borderline temperature area? I wish I was higher than the second floor, further away from all the smoking on this corner. I wish I didn't just notice the pain in my gut. I wish I wasn't thinking about getting back in bed. I wish I was in bed. I don't want to get in bed. There was so much more to say. There were so many ideas I wanted to convey.

Check out a lovely conversation with me on Gendercast...

Here you go…

Saturday, May 19, 2012

When it's warm out, apparently there's a jogging expedition right out front…

The words are gone

Okay, I tried that. It took about 16 hours for it to ruin my life. As if my life wasn't already ruined. Can I tell you about the bloating? I don't want to tell you about the bloating.

I just told you. One day there will be a moment when suddenly things start getting better, and it won't just be a delusional feeling in my head. I know I said I wasn't going to try meat again until I got this bloating under control, because I already know that I can't digest the things that I can digest, so how would I be able to digest something so alien? But then I got desperate – reading all the effects of toxic metals in your body, thinking about when that last naturopath said about my liver: it isn't life-threatening.

But I hadn’t asked if it was life-threatening, so then I thought: is it life-threatening? What does that mean anyway: death on the horizon, something I don't ever want to think about. But then I started thinking about cancer, just now I mean, when I said death on the horizon, even though I don't have cancer, but then I got scared: do I have cancer?

I don't have cancer – no one has suggested cancer, no one – let's not think about cancer: my father's intestinal pain, they never knew what it was until: death on the horizon. I don't really know the details about his pain, because of all the pain he caused me. I just have this horrible intestinal bloating that goes on every day for the whole day, and then gets worse for about 12 to 15 hours every night. My energy just gets lower and lower, so that now it's even hard to write. Exhaustion – regular exhaustion – that sounds relaxing. This is something else – of course it's been something else for a long time, I search for the words and the words search for me, but then I'm too exhausted and the words are gone.

Friday, May 18, 2012

This looks even better than I thought it would…

Desperation as medicine

Don't you love it when someone you don't know writes to you out of nowhere with a product suggestion, and – it turns out – they have your whole health situation figured out! Like this person who just wrote a blog comment, suggesting the perfect herbal solution for my uterine fibroids. Well, guess what? Uterine fibroids are something that I've never looked into – maybe because I don't have a uterus – but, why should that stop me from taking this exciting new product?

Well, I might as well mention that I'm getting more and more desperate about my health – so desperate that today I tried another attempt at the always-recommended and mysteriously named animal protein. This time turkey – supposedly “range-grown” without antibiotics, not fed animal byproducts, and not containing phosphates or nitrites. As good as it can get for something I don't believe in ethically in any situation really. Animal protein as medicine – take two. Or maybe this is take three. First I tried eggs, and that made me sick – horribly horribly horribly sick. Sometimes I feel like that started the disastrous bloating that's gone on for the last three years, but probably not. Then I tried fish 10 times, a few years ago, and that made me sick 10 times.

So, the good news is that this one slice of turkey that I ate didn't make me sick. Yet. So, that's more than I can say for everything else I'm always eating, like the beans that I soaked overnight and then cook for five hours, for the rice that I cooked for three times longer than you're supposed to. There was so much more in my head a few minutes ago, before I talked to my mother and crashed. Or maybe I crashed before I talked to my mother, then crashed deeper. There was so much more in my head in the middle of the night, and then when I got up, and then when I was on the bus, but not when I'm actually here trying to write. Now there's just a headache.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The space between the end and the beginning

Okay, here I am with something like a burst of energy or not really a burst of energy I mean maybe it started with a burst and now it's past but I'm going to pretend anyway, I'd like to go somewhere flirty with hot fags like the ones I see on the street or even the one who cruised me at QFC all extra-friendly that's rare but I'd like to go somewhere filled with that energy of sex but not the despondency or desperation of Steamworks where I think I'll end up, I mean it would be fine if some of these hotter, younger, more styley or just not as given-in given-up I mean playing by the rules and forgetting there's anything else or just some variety and yes there's a bar where maybe that would be the case, but of course I don't drink and the bigger problem is all that smoke from the patio I know it will be there so I don't even want to go, nothing could be a bigger disaster than if I stayed and sometimes there's that temptation even when I sense the smoke pouring or seeping or whatever it does to get in, in is the problem and I was supposed to have a craigslist hookup, yesterday actually, and when he said I'm definitely not a flake while he was flaking I should have known that was the end but I kept trying anyway because you know how when you get so close but then somehow, and then you get so close, but then somehow, but anyway I could go to the park but that sounds far, further than Steamworks and a bit exhausting on a freezing night like tonight so I guess it's Steamworks, that's what it sounds like, oh and if only I could have a nice fun conversation as part of the flirtation but I know that won't happen it's Steamworks, where does it happen, it's not like it's more fun with some drunk at a bar I guess QFC would be perfect but that's not going to happen so here goes my third try at Steamworks, wish me luck.

The space between the end and the beginning, that's what I want to convey, something about how the music stops, literally I mean in this case, the music stops and then the whole place is darkness and I wish I could say groaning or moaning but mostly just quiet and a creak here and there, the flush of the toilet. I'm studying the blackboard over the urinal where people usually write things like BB in 108 but the board’s just been erased so all you see is the way that the black surface is peeling off and I wonder if that makes it harder to write but I try and can't tell. Maybe I'm covering the blackboard in little hearts or maybe just two hearts or maybe there are no hearts at all because I’m at Steamworks but no, I’m at Steamworks so there are hearts.

The end is when I've been walking around too long yes too long even though I started in a really good mood because of a funny exchange on adam4adam yes I try not to name that cruise site too often because it sounds so awful, what did Randy say the other day? Something about how deleting her account was the best thing she ever did in her life, and that's why it's especially funny that now I'm there, haven’t been since I left Santa Fe I mean I’ve barely even thought about it but what brought me here oh thinking about a conversation and the first person I notice, black nerd chic glasses that I guess aren’t so chic anymore so what are they when they still convey the irony but not the immediate burst of trendiness, better than the trendiness without the irony I guess anyway he's hot with those glasses and a sexy skinny muscular hairy chest but the best part is what he says in his profile although now I can't remember exactly, but I sent him a message and he says he was at my reading at Elliott Bay and can you believe that's the first time something like that has ever happened on one of these sites and even though it makes me self-conscious in a certain way because what am I doing cruising someone here who’s actually human, wait what am I saying I mean I'm saying that it doesn't often feels human here and so when I read what this guy says about rebellion and wanting to be a pirate as a kid and embracing your inner slut but, I know, when he says he actually went to my reading I get excited but maybe embarrassed too because he’s so much younger and sure, younger is fine for sex I mean in most of the sex spaces I go to everyone is older and that feels depressing because 20 years ago it made more sense but now it means that I’m walking around in 20 years or more than that 40 years of other people’s desperation but back to this exchange on adam4adam, there I said it again, now that our exchange is in the real world too I get back into the barest meant but I can ignore that and what I want to say about desperation is I don't want to feel that part too. Or maybe it makes sense that I would feel desperate about sex since I feel desperate about feeling so horrible all the time and why would it be separate, except when it’s separate, an attempt not to feel so horrible but then it doesn't work. I want something to work.

Anyway it's a cute exchange but it isn't going anywhere because he's working although he does suggest coffee at some point and I reply with a walk, either would be fun I mean of course I don't drink coffee but just some mildly flirtatious exchange with someone who isn't in a sex space, right? How many days later is it now, and how I was going to start by saying I want to write about something other than how terrible I feel, but I feel so terrible. And then I realized oh, look, all this writing from whenever this was, I'll go with the flow, as they say, ignoring my headache and the sound of all that drilling outside, what is that drilling although it's not the headache that bothers me the most it’s the way I'm so exhausted that I can't think, then I try to write something but I can't, especially if it's something other than how I'm feeling.

And now I can’t think again – did something about trying to tell you how I can't think bring on this headache, the pain of trying, but I still want to say something about going on a walk last night, this was the hottest day yet so even at night I could just wear pants and a shirt and a cotton sweater and feel fine, or probably I could wear less but I'm thinking I might make it to the park after dark and then I might be out for a while

So let's go to last night: I'm on a walk without energy, the bloating so awful I just need to get outside and see if something helps, a walk after dark so that maybe if I have energy I'll end up cruising Volunteer Park, or maybe even if I don't have energy I'll end up cruising Volunteer Park, and maybe that will give me energy or even just a brief escape from what I'm feeling now and what is sex if not that brief escape I mean I know it's something else or it can be something else but sometimes I'm not sure. But, actually, even though it's 8:30 pm, it's not dark yet. That's right – because summer is approaching and we are so far north, I remember this from before. So I'm getting glimpses of the sunset over the city, stopping at intersections to look at the changing light. I still don't have energy, but I have something with this light, something calmer. And then I walk further, to the cathedral or whatever that is, I mean the cathedral, that's what it says, and then into the park where the sky is that deep blue before dark, still a while away it seems, drunk straight guys making a bonfire on the main lawn but oh the silhouettes of the huge trees. I sit on the cement I guess tiled stone platform for the Noguchi sculpture, the view of the reservoir and hints of downtown, someone next to me is maybe passing out and then a big shaggy red dog on the other side with a guy who lies down on a cement bench and I study the way the lights reflected in the reservoir grow larger as the sky gets darker but still not dark, soothing anyway and I'm glad I'm here. Then it is dark, maybe, a long process when you’re watching, I walk into a bush to piss and then over to the part where people cruise now, into the different trees by myself for now and wow I never noticed how tremendous this one is, towering up above, wider down here winding up to almost a point at the top: it would be nice to have sex against this tree. But here's the one where people are around, some chubby pale white guy in biker shorts is fucking an almost naked Latino guy but when I come over he stops. Not sure why. I'm not going to leave.

Then the other guy there is fucking the one who’s almost naked and it's hot because of the drive so sudden and intense but not because I'm attracted to any of the guys I mean I'm not but that's okay I'll watch for a while and get hard and think about nothing except this feeling. Then it's over because the guy getting fucked is done, pushes the other guy off without saying anything and somehow he's already dressed or I assume so because now everyone is walking away.

And then eventually I'm in another tree, I say in a tree because you look for the ones that might hide something, on my knees in the ground my back against this tree I like the feeling of the bark. I decided to ignore the cologne and wash my clothes right away, I guess the highlight is this guy’s comfort or that's how it seems anyway, but the real highlight is afterwards, I've already come but then there's this guy who I'm really hot for, I mean the other one was hard to say, baseball cap covering most of his features and pants pulled up way too high may be to emphasize the chest or does that make sense and I wasn't sure but I just decided to find him attractive, not a good kisser but he did get intimate with hugs and caresses and that point where I decided just to pull him against me against the tree and that's when I decided to get on my knees for all that thrusting until he was tired and maybe I was tired too. It wasn't until after we were done that I noticed maybe he was Asian, it's interesting when race does and doesn't come up, like with the first guy getting fucked there was something about so much skin exposed that emphasized the racial differences.

But then this other guy walking towards me or maybe I'm walking towards him, that rounded face and buzzed hair that makes me wild, preppy guy maybe he's Middle Eastern is what I think and I pull him right to me I'm rubbing his head while making out and then he's pulling me somewhere, not sure exactly where and I say I just came but he says come over here just for a minute, so then I'm on my knees studying the way his diagonal dick throbs in my mouth like he’s going to come but he doesn’t, until I realize I’m going to sink back into the exhaustion so I get up, kiss him again and he's jerking fast but eventually giving up so we hug and make out and damn I would get together with him again in a second but he's already leaving, I know that's how these things work and then I'm walking home and yes we already know my jaw will hurt tomorrow, we already know my sleep will be awful anyway, we already know that it'll be another day of thinking how can I be this exhausted, thinking about when people ask me how I'm doing and I don't want to say, but I do want to say, thinking about why do they ask, and why do I feel so awful-- oh, and when people try to find reasons – because you just moved? Because of the tour? And I have no idea. It does feel like I'm getting worse, that’s the overall pattern and it's sad and I don't know what to do and I went to this fun event about internalized ableism the other day, fun because of the companionship and comfort in expressing discomfort and I realized this pattern of mine: I need to reach out in order to feel connected, but then I'm so exhausted from reaching out that I end up feeling disconnected.

But I meant to tell you about the beginning at Steamworks, after the end, when the music came back on, and I was dancing in the mirror and laughing whenever someone came by, dancing in the mirror and laughing and loving it and I guess if I can find these moments, maybe at some point these moments will add up to something else or even if they don't, even if everything else is still the disastrous overwhelm of disastrous overwhelm I guess I still have these moments.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

As good as it can get

I thought Gay City would seem less like a clinic – with a library and a café on the ground floor, but I guess those things are separate because they have to buzz you into the clinic, which looks, well, like a clinic. No exterior light, small and crowded and depressing. The people working there are nice enough, until the guy doing my test tells me I'll have to go to Harborview instead because I have a rash on my hand, and that might be a symptom of an STI. Because at Harborview they can tell you your results right away, whereas at Gay City you have to wait two weeks. Listen, I say, I'm not going to Harborview, do you understand? That will take much more than two weeks, so I think it makes a lot more sense for you to test me now.

He goes to check with someone, comes back and now it's okay to test me. These places are ridiculous – why would they send someone away, who's trying to get tested, because they might have a symptom, any symptom? Something about their rules I'm sure, because they can't treat STIs just test for them, but anyway I'm glad I asserted myself because who knows when in hell I would get to Harborview I mean I try to avoid hospitals is much as possible, since they’re basically just places where you get sick, right? And anyway this rash is almost surely not STI-related – I mean it comes on because my hands get supersensitive and then when I touch something it hurts. But, I wanted to mention it just in case, right?

Anyway, then they do the HIV test and that's fine, negative I mean, but I wasn't worried about that – actually, I wasn't even intending to get an HIV test, since I haven't done anything that felt risky since my last one, but at Gay City they really seem to want you to get the HIV test, probably something to do with their funding and it's funny the way the clinician just keeps asking you questions like nothing is going on, but really he's waiting for the rapid test to come back, and then it does, but the thing I liked was that they let you do the throat swab and the anal swab too – I always skip the anal one, because I get all tense and scared when someone sticks something up my ass – I mean when it's not in the context of getting fucked, and sometimes when it's in the context of getting fucked, but anyway they let you do it on your own. And then I'm back outside on that sunny day, the second one or is it the third, over to a second park, two parks in one day, that's as good as it can get.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

My essay -- “Community Spirit”: The New Gay Patriot and the Right to Fight in Unjust Wars -- is now available in the second issue of the online journal We Who Feel Differently...

I remember when the U.S. started bombing Iraq under the first President Bush. I was a senior in high school, studying for exams at the American University student center. For some reason, that’s where disaffected outlaw kids at Washington, DC private schools went to study, maybe because you could smoke inside, and you could buy alcohol without ID, and I guess our schools were right nearby, but I had to drive a half hour to get there: I was trying really hard to fit in at not fitting in. I looked up at one of the TV screens flashing news updates, and the bombs were going off. That’s how I remember it, anyway. My whole body went hot and then cold — I couldn’t possibly study anymore; there was no point.

If we were watching porn

Thoughts on thoughts: I don't write about sex as much as I would like to. I don't write as much as I would like to. That rash is creeping around on my right hand again, and I'm worried it's an STD, even if that doesn't make sense, but I have an appointment for a screening next week, just in case that or the sore throat that's probably allergies relate. But anyway I would like to get rid of the rash. STI – that's what you're supposed to say now – it's an infection, not a disease. And probably I don't have either.

The good thing about waking up in the middle of the night when the bloating has moved up to the top of my stomach, right at the chest so that everything hurts, feels like a bruise no not a bruise it feels like bruises the whole thing that's my rib cage and chest and bones and tendons and muscles and then I guess heartburn, I see because it's at your heart and I can't get it to go away when I sit up I feel nauseous, really nauseous so that I push my sweatshirts to the side on the floor just in case I throw up. The good thing about waking up in the middle of the night in my new apartment is that it's light enough in the living room with all the streetlights, light enough that I don't get scared in that place of an incest flashback about to begin, but I do wonder if this is always how I feel in the middle of the night, just beneath the surface that incest flashback about to begin.

I'm going to call the next day old-school because I don't get out of the house until 7:50 pm but I'm not going to worry about it because it's not a pattern, just a one-time thing, and it's been raining all day I mean it always rains in Seattle, right, but not usually like this, all day strong enough that you can hear it but I'm going on a walk anyway. First block I know I'm not going to make it very far, but then honey before you know it I'm already at Prospect without even a pause to think about Aloha, up into the park and there's some guy approaching me on the path and he grins and says a nice night for a walk and it's hard to tell if he's serious but look at us, I think he must be. And, we are not the only ones walking around in the rain like it's part of us and that's what I like about this walk, aside from the air that feels invigorating, soft and soothing at the same time, aside from the feeling of excitement that I made it this far, even if it is the end of the day instead of the beginning I mean walks are usually less tiring for me at this time anyway but it's way more exhausting to get myself to go outside.

And then on the way back Broadway suddenly seems too busy after all the quiet of the park and even this huge bird flying out of the koi pond I'm not sure what kind but something like the one they have in the pond that’s fake, something like a heron but this one flies away, those huge wings and I wonder about the fish but back on Broadway I'm curious about the restaurants that I never go to, is there one that won't make me sick? Haven't been to a restaurant since I arrived in Seattle and there used to be the Gravity Bar where I could eat so many years ago and I would still be able to eat there now except gravity isn't on my side.

Maybe today is old-school too because I'm joking with Andee about the unicorn as the universal symbol of queer resistance and the way these hackneyed images pop up as supposedly authentic, cutesy, sweet and sublime representations of nothing that wants to be something, or maybe something that wants to be nothing. Which is worse? Go ahead – let's copy that thing that those other people copied and then we'll talk about how isn't it such a coincidence that we've all been thinking about unicorns and big chunky ‘70s fonts and pointy rainbows at the same time, moving downhill in our short-shorts borrowed from someone else's disco jubilee: you will never know the way I feel in your short-shorts!

I tell Andee that maybe we need a transcontinental podcast – this is after she tells me that whenever I mention her I'm reading her and yes sometimes she says stupid things but can't I write something else and maybe that's what I'm trying to do now. Although it's become complicated with this blog – when do I mention people, when do I not? Because often it's so close in time to the actual experience of the conversations that infuse my ruminations and what will that mean to the other person and when do I stop writing about other people at all and how is this limiting my writing? Or, when do I write about other people, but not in the way I would like to, because of how immediate this is, and should I start thinking about other options? Should I write elsewhere, instead, and when? I could change people’s names immediately – maybe that's one thing I should start doing, just in case there's something critical I want to say and I want to say it right away without fear of exposing someone in a way that isn't what I mean. If I'm offering a critique, I try to offer it to the person before I write it here, and somehow I've gotten used to the way that writing means writing it here, and the way this infuses my process, but does it also confuse the process?

Andee and I talked about a name change years ago, before my first book even, or not before my first book but before my first novel it was that story in Best Gay Erotica so much more fictional than most of my fiction but still. She was worried about misrepresentation, even though it was more about play and the possibilities of something like something that might happen and if I had it right here I would just quote it, okay, and maybe I do, no probably not on this computer. Or wait – probably somewhere, but I have to go to bed soon – Andee became Candy and Randy and all I was trying to say was that Andee didn't want me to change her name, or not too much, and so I haven't.

That was over a decade ago – we were in our 20s not even really thinking about 30 yet or maybe we were thinking about it, but what were we thinking? I remember thinking that 30 would somehow be the end of turning tricks, but then 30 arrived and it wasn't really the end or beginning of anything. Now 40 is right around the corner for both of us and who knows what that will mean either. Or, right around the corner for Andee, and almost around the corner for me. Depending on what corner: I know I need to start feeling better at some point, that the corner I'm looking for. Now it's been sunny for a few days and I've been lying out in the park and feeling more calm at least, that's a start.

What if Andee and I did create a transcontinental podcast about unicorns and short-shorts and tan corduroys and when Andee went to that movie about San Francisco that's really about speciousness masquerading as spaciousness and I don't know if there are any unicorns in that movie but Andee sent me a picture from Paris in the springtime, not so dramatic as it sounds because she lives in London, the lighting is great and the green of trees in the background and of course I notice she's modeling the ‘70s clone facial hair currently de rigueur for big-city contemporary gay worldliness. She says I knew you would comment on that. But, even better: when I went to that movie and everyone in the audience was working the same facial hair, and I just wanted to go home right away and shave it all off. There are ways of experiencing intimacy that are about sharing and caring, and there are ways of experiencing intimacy that are about sharing and caring about the moments when we want to die, just from watching something that's supposed to represent what we care about, but really it's like hosiery over your face and then someone lights a match at your neckline. I'm deliberately overestimating the drama – Andee says I would never think of killing myself for something like that, and I know what she means, and also I know.

And I know about this intimacy Andee and I are sharing, and its rarity. And I know that I could name the movie, but I haven't seen it yet. Even though I know I will hate it, I will probably have to see it, because it's about San Francisco and young gay male sexuality and when Andee describes one of the sensationalized characters – a black queen who says all the things the white boys don't dare – and then I say oh no, is it? And I'm right. Andee describes how they come out of a bar, and I say oh no, is it? And it is.

The ways these hackneyed representations swirl around themselves until you're surrounded in sludge, and I'm not just talking about that unicorn in your tan corduroys. The sludge of what we were supposed to be, what we will never be, what we still might desire in moments when we let down our guard, what we don't want to desire, what we desire anyway and it makes us sick, even when it makes us sick, and when I say we here I'm not talking about Andee and me but about all of us.

And the dead consumer identities that means too much: that's what this movie presents as authenticity and Andee says it was porn, and it would be fine if we were watching it in a porn theater, because then we could start jerking off, but we weren’t in a porn theater. But I wonder if that's a critique of the movie itself, or a critique of the possibilities the movie will never provide, and whether that's the same thing. Because why not start jerking off, all of us in our tan corduroys with these vapid representations swirling around us and calling themselves art and progress and experience and that big big lollipop that gets stuck to your tongue until you can’t open your mouth without glue and I know that doesn't make sense and neither does the way a deliberate removal of content passes as content. That’s our contemporary gay moment, even or especially in the hipster spaces that call themselves different. Don't get me wrong – all I've seen is the trailer and the two filmmakers who've endorsed it, one whose work I hate, and the other whose work I might love, have loved, yes I will use that word. But let's get back to thoughts on thoughts, the light is on in my apartment now and maybe it's too bright – I still don't know what to do exactly about writing the things I want to on my blog in order to experience the public vulnerability that makes new relationships already feel established, sometimes, I mean when people actually read it, but not that many people read this blog, and I don't know exactly what that means either.

Sunday, May 06, 2012

There's so much pressure in Seattle on a sunny day, my voice raspy from someone's smoke in my apartment, jaw tension extension, headache on the sleepy side of demise, but that's not what I meant to tell you. I meant to say: there's so much pressure in Seattle on a sunny day, all the excitement in the air, everyone walking around in shorts even though it's 54.2 degrees out. Or, no, not everyone is walking around in shorts – some are wearing light jackets with long pants, but soon I will be out there with a scarf and mittens. So much pressure to get out there, you know? Because it's sunny and everyone's excited, even if I'm somewhere between disastrous and done.

This guy, he's even wearing flip-flops – hand rubbing his belly and suddenly there's that feeling of wanting to rub his belly too, even though I really just want to get back in bed and close my eyes, for a long time. As long as possible. I'm leaning out, and someone leans up to say you have a nice view – but what is there view of me in my house sweatshirt, hair undone, contacts not even in yet because I'm trying to get the light directly in my eyes. By the time the guy walks by in flip-flops, my contacts are in, that's how I know he's rubbing his belly, those red shorts that fade to pink and they wear them anyway so I can wonder about their straightness.

It does actually feel a lot warmer than 54, at least appear where it usually feels colder than outside if all the windows are open, and all the windows are open except one. Let's take another look at who is walking by: wow, no one, no one at this moment. I guess it's my turn.

Friday, May 04, 2012

A good mansion is hard to find

Vocabulary question of the day: what is the difference between a big house and a mansion? A question of intent: did they just want a lot of rooms, or did they want to end the idea of the house? How many servants did they intend to keep, and is there a separate entrance? Can everything be locked at a moment’s notice?

If you look up and think oh, how comfortable -- that is a big house. If you look up and think what on earth is that -- that, my dear, is a mansion.

Of course, this all depends on perspective, but perspective in terms of the mansion will always make you feel small. Sometimes a big house can become a mansion, simply because the real estate in the area becomes so pricey, or due to the level of restoration of period detail -- sometimes it's as simple as adding a few columns at the front, or preferably a multi-story entrance for no apparent reason. Sometimes a big house can never become a mansion, due to a lack of possibilities in attitude.

A location near the top of the hill always helps. Even better if you can't figure out how on earth they got that there -- 10 points for mansion realness. Mansions are often white or red brick, or red brick painted white with the paint peeling off to emphasize the structural importance. Stone, masonry. If this building looks like a cathedral, a castle, or a seat of government, but there's no discernible purpose, chances are it's a mansion. If there is a plaque over the doorway that says “Bla Bla Bla Mansion,” that's often a good hint, although why would a mansion need to declare itself in that way? Historical importance is no substitute for that empty feeling of loneliness when gazing upwards.

A good mansion will always look empty but never abandoned, stunningly open and elegantly sealed. A mansion in disrepair can often lead to an end in mansion status, unless the disrepair is a result of the fact that the inhabitants are as old as the building, and the building is old enough to look sufficiently stately in its demise.

If a mansion becomes a school, it will never be only a school. If it becomes a museum, it might only be a museum but it will still be a mansion. If it becomes an apartment building – tears for royalty in demise. If it starts as an apartment building -- well, that is pretty wacky.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Otherwise they blow around too fast

I made it to Steamworks – this time I notice the musty smell, the way the darkness doesn't seem that alluring after all, the way it gets more desperate later on, which isn't that late actually – 11 pm is late for me now, right, and I've been walking around in square-shaped circles for way too long now. Eventually it's over, and strangely I sleep better, but not well enough to avoid feeling knocked-over after my walk that's getting too familiar except for the sights of new flowers, a different garden, maybe even the fish in the pond that's way too small it's not even a pond really with all that cement a large bowl. The fish are amazing and graceful anyway, but gracefully trapped is more sad than inspiring. Here I am again, trying to make what I can with this glazed day, trying to bring this exhaustion into calm, trying to spread the sleepiness into something that feels expansive anyway. I closed my windows, because it's cold today, even though some people still walk around in shorts and I wonder how. Not all of my windows – I keep the one in the bedroom open at all times, I can't help it. The thing about these windows if you can either have them open all the way, or close, because otherwise they blow around too fast. Or maybe I can have them open a crack, but it's kind of nice with the bedroom and kitchen open, cross-ventilation, and then the quiet in the living room: computer sounds, humming cars, birds in the distance, something boiling, what boiling? Oh, I must have left the beans on. No, something else – maybe the refrigerator? Here comes the sun, and I'm ready for bed, again.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Apparently this updated version of blogger doesn't recognize paragraph breaks at this point, unless someone knows something I don't...

Anything

Why do I wake up feeling worse yes worse, worse again, especially the bloating and then my energy and today's May Day I want to go down to check out the protests but do I have enough energy? Thankfully I have supportive friends already who call me to tell me their plans, a queer dance party at noon is what I want to check out. I arrive at about 12:15, but apparently the queer dance party became part of the anti-capitalist march, which just left. That's the march I didn't want to go to, since I need to avoid pepper spray, the new tool of the cops to intimidate mass protests and yes, I'm intimidated, I can't risk all that pain adding to all the rest of my pain and remember I got bashed once with pepper spray when I was 19, directly into my eyes I didn't know what it was I couldn't see them when I could see it looked like someone used red spray paint all over my face I ended up in the hospital lying on a table while they pumped saline into my eyes for 45 minutes.

I didn't realize that the main Occupy protest is actually permitted, a stage with sound equipment and port-a-potties in the square and supposedly that makes us safer, at least I don't have to go to Macy's to use the bathroom. Although everyone is smoking – cigarettes, pot, something else – it's gross and overwhelming, and then some of the people come back from the anti-capitalist march, coated in pepper spray and vinegar to get it off and even though there’s no pepper spray in the air my eyes start to burn anyway, with the residue and the smoke and luckily I'm with people who understand, who are sensitive also, so we go across the street where there’s more air, sit down and eat snacks and meals and I'm impressed at how slowly Finn and Meghan eat, I'm always trying to eat slowly but never that slowly and Finn wants to know how I'm doing in Seattle and that's a hard question. Because I feel really excited about being here – I'm touched by all the support I've received with unpacking and hanging art and getting groceries and just dealing with the everyday world. But I feel completely awful, totally worn out, dramatically more exhausted and maybe that's because of the end of the tour although that was more than a month ago, or the paint fumes in my apartment, or all the smoke that comes pouring in, or the berberine extract I'm taking, or who knows but the truth is that most of the time I feel completely exhausted, drained, annihilated even, so it's hard to feel hopeful even if I feel like everything is going well.

That's the sentence I use – everything is going well, but I feel horrible. Socket thought that was funny – I guess it is a contradiction, right, the story of my life. When will I start to feel better? What do I do if I don't?

I've always hated permitted mass demos, so I guess it's no surprise that I don't really feel any connection here, I mean any connection with the crowd – the stage is run mostly by young people of color, certainly an accomplishment for Seattle, a string of performances and music but why? That divide between performer and audience, protester and spectator, why can't we create something else? Homeland security drives by; transit cops; cops in riot gear; cops on horseback; some mobile command station with a huge spotlight on top. Every now and then, a group of protesters is chasing someone out of the square, an undercover cop we're guessing, but no one knows. The level of police response is more shocking here to me than in other cities where I've lived, because not much that's confrontational is really happening. I guess the anti-capitalist march redecorated a Wells Fargo, maybe a few other stores – the usual scene of a crowd as cover and people throwing rocks from the back without anyone knowing first, maybe even straight guys and then the queers got the pepper spray or maybe it was all queers, who knows, and I know this is all intimidation, and I also know that I'm intimidated. That's what different than in the past, in the past when I wouldn't have budged: now I can't take the risk, almost like drugs in a way – the momentary excitement is not worth the horrors that would ensue. But worse: I can only imagine the long-term effects of pepper spray on my health. Actually it's four hours since I left Westlake, and my eyes are still burning: I wasn't even near where the cops were pepper spraying, that was blocks away. I can only imagine what would have happened if I was there.

At the demo, I was trying to figure out the best goggles to get, what kind of particle mask might work the most extensively – just to be prepared. Max says you can't do anything, if you don't take care of yourself, and she's right. And sometimes I feel like I can't do anything, even though I do take care of myself. What can I imagine that would have inspired me at these May Day protests today, that's what I'm wondering now. Something so fast and spectacular that the cops don't even have time to mobilize, yet somehow it still makes an impact – that's the fantasy in my head, anyway.