Saturday, August 31, 2013

Through my body

The energetic pathways in my body opening up – that’s what I’m starting to feel, especially with feldenkrais at the beginning of the day and then when I start eating, the vegetables bringing a warmth through my body. Although then with the grains and beans, everything becomes cloudy again. But I can’t just eat vegetables, that’s not enough calories to sustain me.
I’m on a roll with my editing for Sketchtasy, I can’t believe how much I’ve already done. I’m almost frantic, pushing through, and part of that is because I’m leaving to go on tour in a month, but also his because I’m so exhausted I can’t function and I feel isolated here in Seattle because I don’t have the energy to connect with people if I have to explain, to explain how I’m feeling. Or, catch up — what could be more exhausting than catching up?
But this editing, it kind of give me energy in a way, even if it hurts my body and leaves me drained too it still makes me hopeful in some way. Hopeful about creating something, engaging with the world, crafting this novel, doing this thing that I love.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Bending down

That feeling of energy going into my body, tingling from inside: I don’t know if I really noticed this before. Like when I’m drinking a bowl of dulse broth and the warming from inside. Or doing feldenkrais movements and suddenly it’s like the pathways inside me open up. Sometimes on a walk in a cool breeze. Or even now, sitting at the computer, if I notice the wind blowing around my calves, suddenly there’s more breath.

But then I’m outside, and already I’m too exhausted to reach down to pick up a good luck penny, what if I can’t get back up off the ground? An awakening; a shutting down. When George W. Bush was president I laughed a lot. Yes, I was laughing in horror, but at least I was laughing. I’m in the park: if I listen carefully enough, maybe the sound of the chirping birds will drown out the leaf blowers.

Thursday, August 29, 2013


I woke up with a phrase in my head about trying to get my body back. Back from my father. Except, I don’t know if I’ve ever had it. Not in all the ways I need.
I woke up with a phrase that became a whole paragraph, but what was it? There was confidence there too, confidence that I would succeed. Even if right now this horrible intestinal bloating pushes my whole midsection out in pain, and now I’m treating some dysbiotic flora, as they say, klebsiella pneumoniae, whatever that is, something that could be causing all this pain or could be causing nothing. Remember, I treated parasites, and the parasites went away, but nothing ever got better. Nothing.
In fact, I got much worse, and never recovered.
This time, though, at least I can treat with grapefruit seed extract and caprylic acid, not so harsh as the dreadful Flagyl, but did I tell you this whole thing I went through with a new naturopath, the new naturopath who’s nice enough but I’m not sure how knowledgeable, anyway she was convinced that I had small intestine bacterial overgrowth, which I’ve already tested for, and remember the protocol for the test made the bloating dramatically worse, and then the test came out negative.
But she says all my symptoms point in that direction, so maybe we should just treat it anyway. What’s the treatment?
But wait, I just told you I treated the parasites with Flagyl, and nothing ever got better. Nothing. If I had small intestine bacterial overgrowth, and Flagyl makes it better, then obviously that didn’t work.
Life-threatening. What a phrase. What isn’t life-threatening, when you feel this awful all the time?
Maybe the phrase was: I will get my body back. Except then I started wondering if I’ve ever felt embodied in all the ways that I want, and this wasn’t overwhelming, so maybe that’s a start.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Too difficult to listen to

Sometimes the lack of critical engagement in worlds allegedly built around critical engagement stuns me — it stuns me. I can’t tell if I’m hungry, or enraged. And what’s the difference. It’s time for Eats Tapes, the scratches and bleeps that somehow form music usually too difficult to listen to these days, I’m too exhausted for Eats Tapes and what’s the difference between exhaustion and hunger. And rage? Spending so much time to carefully coke healthy food guaranteed to make me sick, there’s a tree I love on the way to the park, white flowers except in one tiny part by the trunk where purple flowers grow, every year this happens, or twice a year because in Seattle everything blooms twice. I wish that were a metaphor.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013


Imagine the cloth around our bodies billowing out but then connecting, zippers drawing the forms together, pulling the cloth in and out. There’s a humor to this expanse, a dance. There’s the way that cloth become self-expression, and what about when it’s all of us together in this way, pulling in and out. What if we are in a room and not shouting but speaking loud enough that everyone can hear without straining? What if we are saying something that no one wants to hear? Can we have spotlights without shadow? Then when we move our hands across our bodies to find not cloth but the tapering of zippers connecting skin.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

A great interview about The End of San Francisco in the Wisconsin Gazette!

Sycamore’s non-traditional memoir, “The End of San Francisco” (City Lights Books, 2013), flows stylistically from stream of consciousness to rant to stage dialogue. A cross between an activist handbook and a cautionary tale about activism, it is a queer travelogue that includes stops in a number of LGBT-friendly metropolises.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Trying to get somewhere

I’m in therapy, on the table, sensing into this bloating. What does it feel like? I’m supposed to give the first answer that comes into my head, not from the processed mind but from the embodied feeling: death. My death. Hopelessness. Helplessness.
A few minutes later I notice that the room has changed. I’m still on this table, but I’m scared. My father is in the room. I’m a little kid, and I want to ask a question, but at the same time I’m me, now, and that question is so illogical, a question I never thought I had, not in this way, in this childhood place of fear and loss.
What is it, Nathan asks, and I struggled to speak. This childhood place when I struggled to speak. I want to ask: Do you think he will ever forgive me?
And right then the sobbing, whole body sobbing, choking, gasping and then sobbing again because I can’t believe I just said that, then I’m feeling that. Even Nathan’s follow-up question, what does he have to forgive you for, and my answer: nothing. A resentment that he even asked that question.
But still, in this childhood place where I thought it was my fault, where I thought I was going to die. I thought he was going to kill me. He told me I was worthless, that I deserved to die, that he could just chop my body up and put me in the mulch pile and no one would ever know. Did he literally tell me this, or did I just imagine? Just imagine — what does that mean? And how I get stuck thinking about the literal, but this is now.
In the moment I’m sobbing and then later, when I’m walking around, I’m thinking about how, my whole childhood, I thought he was going to kill me. The time when we are supposed to trust, to learn safety, that’s when I thought I was going to die. When I trusted him the most is when he raped me.
So I fled into my head: this is what saved me. Walking around now, trying not to only be in my head, this is so hard. Difficult. I feel things more, sometimes, suddenly the taste of food and the tingling sensation of warmth going through my body, nourishment. But the exhaustion gets worse, the intestinal bloating, and so I’m shut off, struggling just to function, more debilitated.
This question for my father and of course I know the literal answer and maybe that’s one of the things that makes it so heartbreaking. He’s dead, so of course you will never forgive me. Even if there’s nothing to forgive, and in that childhood place I yearn for that forgiveness so deeply, inside every mechanism that makes my body me.
But then, being able to access this question and how I’ve been able to use that, in the telling, in the telling with two different friends to access the sobbing, my vulnerability, my vulnerability with people I love and where does this leave me? Because I want more safety, I want more connection. Even as the overwhelm of the exhaustion and chronic health disasters force me into something close to obliteration. Where the windows, that’s what I want to know, the windows into feeling better?
I’m glad I told this story to the homeopath, after asking her if she wanted to hear. I always preface it that way, or have so far, because it’s so deep and heartbreaking. I thought maybe I would start crying on the phone with her, but actually it’s just after, when I read something a friend wrote about an old friend of hers who just died, couldn’t handle the world that we try to make into our own even as it makes us into the people we don’t want to hate, but do, so often we do and we hope for more, consciously and unconsciously trying to get somewhere that maybe we’ve never known.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Oh, look – my fall book tour for The End of San Francisco continues to develop – of course, let me know if you want to bring me to your town or university…

Here's what I have so far:


Thursday, October 3, 7 pm

Conrad A. Elvehjem Building

Madison, Wisconsin



Women & Children First

Monday, October 7, 7:30 pm

5233 N Clark St

Chicago, IL 60640



Friday, October 11, 4:30 pm

National Coming Out Day Keynote

Kleinau Theatre

Carbondale, Illinois



Busboys and Poets, 5th& K

Tuesday, October 22, 6:30 pm

Cullen Room @ Busboys and Poets, 5th & K

1025 5th St. NW

Washington DC 20001



Tuesday, October 29, 6 pm

Kimmel Center for University Life, Room 912

60 Washington Square South

New York, New York



Bluestockings Bookstore

Wednesday, October 30, 7 pm

172 Allen St

New York, NY 10002



Brooklyn Community Pride Center

Monday, November 4, 7 pm

4 Metrotech (corner of Willoughby and Gold Sts., entrance on Willoughby St.)

Brooklyn NY 11201



Giovanni’s Room

Monday, November 11, 5:30 pm

345 South 12th Street

Philadelphia, PA 19107



Red Emma's Bookstore Coffeehouse

Friday, November 15, 7 pm

30 W. North Avenue

Baltimore, MD 21218



Tuesday, November 19, 4:30 pm

Middletown, CT



Food for Thought Books

Thursday, November 21, 7 pm

106 North Pleasant Street

Amherst, MA 01002



Harvard Book Store

Wednesday, December 11, 7 pm

1256 Massachusetts Avenue

Cambridge, MA 02138


And, a Facebook invite for the whole tour:

And, info on the book:

The End of San Francisco
by Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore
City Lights Publishers 2013

“One of the most important memoirs of the decade.”
—Ariel Gore, Psychology Today

“[A] frantic kaleidoscope of mourning and survival… recklessly transfigured through language and imagination.”
—Michael Bronski, San Francisco Chronicle

“Delivered in a free-form, associative writing style, Sycamore’s effort to exorcise the demons from her past is blunt, dynamic and original.”
—Kirkus Reviews

The End of San Francisco breaks apart the conventions of memoir to reveal the passions and perils of a life that refuses to conform to the rules of straight or gay normalcy. A budding queer activist escapes to San Francisco, in search of a world more politically charged, sexually saturated, and ethically consistent—this is the person who evolves into Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore, infamous radical queer troublemaker, organizer and agitator, community builder, and anti-assimilationist commentator. Here is the tender, provocative, and exuberant story of the formation of one of the contemporary queer movement's most savvy and outrageous writers and spokespersons.

Moving kaleidoscopically between past, present, and future, Sycamore conjures the untidy push and pull of memory, exposing the tensions between idealism and critical engagement, trauma and self-actualization, inspiration and loss. Part memoir, part social history, and part elegy, The End of San Francisco explores and explodes the dream of a radical queer community and the mythical city that was supposed to nurture it.

More praise:

“Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore… is the posterchild for all that was culturally alternative in San Francisco in that pierced-lip poser decade [the '90s], while at the same time possessing one of the loudest voices cutting through the bullshit clamor back then and questioning it all. She's also a brilliant writer… Her new memoir… is written in such a hypnotically elliptical style (summoning City Lights' Beat poet legacy) and contains so many spot-on observations and era-damning epigrams that anyone who lived through the period described will cling to its pages while wishing to hurl the book at a wall in embarrassed self-recognition. Searing, funny, maudlin, elegiac, infuriating, and confessional, The End of San Francisco is a deliberately disordered collection of vignettes dealing mostly with Sycamore's span living in the city… Along the way we get drug overdoses, AIDS, lesbian potlucks, heroin chic, crystal meth, ACT UP, the birth of the Internet, the dot-com boom, the dot-com bust, mental breakdowns, outdoor cruising, phony spirituality, Craigslist hookups, hipster gentrification, Polk Street hustling, fag-bashing, shoplifting, house music, the Matrix Program, crappy SoMa live/work lofts, "Care Not Cash," gallons of bleach and hair dye, and processing, processing, and more processing… As we weather another dot-com boom of homogenizing gentrification, The End of San Francisco is a timely reminder of the community that can spring from resistance.”
—Marke B., San Francisco Bay Guardian

“Leave it to Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore to have us all excited about the end of San Francisco… Her writing is furious and unlike anything you’ve ever read… Drunk on language that ought to be incomprehensible but is somehow piercingly lucid, [Sycamore] wails elegiac for the dream of a transcendent queer culture once glimpsed with such promise here."
—Evan Karp, SF Weekly

“Can memoir be honest, emotionally or otherwise? Is counterculture actually possible as a way to live? What happens to those who dream of a radical queer community when the dream fails? Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore’s latest book, The End of San Francisco, is a despairing memoir of loss—the loss of the dream of radical queer San Francisco, the loss of formative friendships, the loss of personal and political innocence. Written in a free-associative style and merging personal and social history, it is—like all of Sycamore’s work— innovative both formally and politically… The End of San Francisco is the opposite of nostalgia. Nostalgia is fundamentally conservative, and its conservatism is often embedded in the form in which stories are told. The End of San Francisco seems to me radical, not just in content, but formally, in insisting on other ways of remembering and documenting.”
—Jessica Hoffmann, Los Angeles Review of Books

“Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore’s long awaited memoir… will rip you open; crack your rib-cage and pour glitter into your heart… Brutal and brilliant, the memoir weaves in and out of time, bringing readers into the intimate details of Sycamore’s adolescence and early activist days. Never defaulting to tidy recounts, cleaned with the passage of time, Sycamore invites readers to share in the complexities of growing up and finding yourself… There is no rose-colored revisionist memory here. Expertly, Sycamore tells not only the story of her past, but also gives a glimpse into the world of anyone who was ever young, idealistic, and too queer.”
—Sassafras Lowrey, Lambda Literary

“The End of San Francisco begins and ends with intense wants for recognition and connectivity. Throughout, there isn’t one part where [Sycamore] is disengaged from this intensity. But that want for more, for something deeper, for integrative relationships and structural change, which is so often mistaken for cynicism, is fueled by love and aspirations.”
—Peter Cochrane, BOMB

“A whirring, thoughtful—but not nostalgic—elegy for San Francisco as queer haven. The book is invested in trying to understand, in trying to process both joyful and traumatic experiences even before laying them out in linear time… The book weaves and glitters, it holds the hopes and threats of Clairice Lispector’s The Passion of G.H. and also David Wojnarowicz’s blood-filled egg—one of his images for rage—while at the same time creating its own brave, tender, kinetic world.”
—Mairead Case, The Rumpus

"This autobiography is a story of the way people fail each other, whether out of malice or exhaustion or just not knowing how to be there. It’s a chronicle of the ways that we need each other, and the way that need can be turned around, inside-out, torn in all the wrong places but still the only blanket that you have. It’s about critiquing out of love and loving despite critique, despite failure, until you can't do it anymore, until you genuinely feel as though an entire city has come to an end."
—Ocean Capewell, Maximum Rocknroll

Sycamore’s work… is structurally challenging, and reads like it was driven more by free association — Freud’s psychoanalytic technique that employs spontaneous and unconstrained collecting of emotions and ideas — than by any style taught in an English literature classroom. The result is brilliant, a collection of unstructured vignettes about sex abuse, dying parents, feminism and veganism, Tracy Chapman and Le Tigre, dyke bars and gay tricks, AIDS and ACT UP that all weave together a life of hope in ’90s San Francisco and the disappointment that follows.”
—Diane Anderson-Minshall, The Advocate

The End of San Francisco is as much social critique about the impossibility of collective dreams as it is a memoir looking back at queer and feminist community building in the ‘90s. And it feels life changing reading this book in the midst of the marriage debates… As a reader I felt like I was inside my own memories while I was given access to the formative moments of someone else’s life. I kept wanting Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore to be sitting next to me so I could say, “Right, me too”... The End of San Francisco is a reminder of the ways hopefulness runs alongside longing. It is a model for turning internalized pain into unabashedly anti-assimilationist liberatory politics.
—Jessica Lawless, HTMLGiant

"A trenchant observer, [Sycamore’s] denunciation of racism, classism and homophobia is fierce and she does not spare queer communities for their refusal to reject hetero-normativity—marriage and children—or capitalist consumption."
—Eleanor Bader, TruthOut

“This book is a useful reminder that the gay community is far from monolithic and that it is especially important to listen to the voices of resistance.”
June Thomas, New York One

"Sycamore identifies the complicated messiness of identities wrestling with belonging, activism and being instruments of gentrification. . . Her style—emotional and conversational—creates a rich, satisfying, evocative and deeply relatable world."
—Sarah Mangle, Broken Pencil

"The End of San Francisco could be the most insightful break-up memoir the city has ever received."
—Ingrid Rojas Contreras, KQED Arts

“Shirking the idea that time unfolds linearly and our lives are both affectively lived and narrated chronologically, Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore's The End of San Francisco gives us memoir as "an active process of remembering" to be experienced simultaneously by author and reader. At its core, The End of San Francisco is a narrative of emotions loosely tied together in constellations of events. It's a trippy read—in multiple senses of the word—but at the same time profoundly honest and raw.”
—Marcie Bianco, Velvet Park

“A fin-de-siècle late '90s narrative that captures the city's underground demimondaine of artists, punks, activists, anarchists and addicts whose ranks will soon be, if not completely swept away by the tech boom's false promises, then severely thinned by gentrification.”
—Tomas Mournian, Huffington Post

“Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore's whip-raw memoir… feels like emerging from a chrysalis...”
—Paul Constant, The Stranger

Described as "startlingly bold and provocative" by Howard Zinn, "a cross between Tinkerbell and a honky Malcolm X with a queer agenda" by the Austin Chronicle, and one of "50 Visionaries Changing Your World" by Utne Reader, Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore is most recently the author of The End of San Francisco, described by Psychology Today as “one of the most important memoirs of the decade.” Sycamore is the author of two novels, So Many Ways to Sleep Badly and Pulling Taffy, and the editor of five nonfiction anthologies, most recently Why Are Faggots So Afraid of Faggots?: Flaming Challenges to Masculinity, Objectification, and the Desire to Conform, an American Library Association Stonewall Honor Book, as well as Nobody Passes: Rejecting the Rules of Gender and Conformity and That’s Revolting!: Queer Strategies for Resisting Assimilation. Sycamore currently lives in Seattle.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

What I was looking at

Okay, it’s still the same night. I just put a chapter break here because I needed a break. Everything was getting too messy. I could tell you about vomiting into the toilet in the bathroom at the Ramrod, and then standing up and vomiting all over the floor. But no one noticed, so then I stumbled back into the bar and ate peanuts and ordered another cocktail. Then I could tell you about going outside, and over to the Fens to smoke pot, and passing out, right there on the bench with my head hanging off until someone was poking me and when I looked up I couldn’t figure out what I was looking at, and then I fell off the bench and onto the ground, and I guess I passed out again because then I woke up in the mud and there was this awful shit smell but I just wanted to stay there anyway, it felt comfortable. But then I started to get scared. I didn’t know what was happening to me. And that’s when I realized wait, I think he drugged me. Because I drank that orange juice, and then everything changed. And then I drank more this morning or evening or whatever that was, maybe that was drugged too.

I could tell you about getting home, finally, if this is home, will I ever have one, I could tell you about getting home, or wherever, and taking the usual pills, but more of them, and then realizing that I shit in my pants, shit and blood in my boxers and I couldn’t turn the washer on because Ned was sleeping.

I could tell you that I just took more pills. I could tell you about vomiting again, how my throat kept spasming and then I was choking on my need to vomit but nothing coming out. I could tell you about passing out on the floor in my bathroom, and Ned finding me the next morning because I forgot to close the door. I could tell you about calling Avery and then hanging up, I could tell you about calling Avery again and then hanging up.
And then I called him back, and he said he was sorry, he was sorry for being an asshole. I could tell you about our conversation. No, okay, I will tell you about our conversation.
Avery, it’s not what you did, it’s how you talked about it. How you talked about me.
I was just kidding.
No, you were not kidding, I know you were not kidding.
Mattilda, how do you know I was not kidding?
It was the way you said it.
What, what did I say?
You said: you have a nice asshole, but I found something even better.
I was just kidding. Nobody’s better than you.
That’s not the point.
It is. I love you.
Avery, the point is that you were talking about me like I was this thing, an asshole, nothing but an asshole, do you understand, do you understand what I’m saying?
No, I don’t, that’s not how I talk, you know that.
No, I don’t know that. You talk like that all the time.
Mattilda, I do not, I do not talk like that.
And then you said you called this other whore, like all I was to you was a whore.
Mattilda, I did not say whore. See, I don’t talk like that. I called him an escort.
Okay, you’re right, you called him an escort. But that’s not my point.
Mattilda, why don’t you just come over, so we can talk about this in person?
I can’t come over. I can’t come over until you understand what I’m talking about.
Listen, you called him an escort, but my point was that you were acting like that’s all I was to you.
Mattilda, you know that’s not true. And besides, you were an escort. You are.
That’s not the point — I know I’m a whore, but my point is the way you were talking about me, like I was just this thing.
Okay, I get it, I get it.
And besides, I was really upset, I was really upset because something horrible happened to me, I called you for support and then you weren’t even listening,
What, Mattilda, what happened?
It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter now.
It does matter.
You’re right, it does matter, but I don’t want to talk about it. Someone raped me.
Mattilda, what do you mean?
Someone raped me. Some guy.
Who, Mattilda, who?
I went to the Fens, and then I went home with some guy, and he raped me.
Then you were fucking too, why are you getting so upset if you were fucking?
Avery, I can’t believe you just said that.
What, what did I just say?
Avery, I can’t talk about this. I can’t talk to you right now.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Something awful

Avery, something awful happened. Avery, I left you and I went to the Fens, I went to the Fens and then something awful happened. Avery, I don’t know what happened, but I need to talk to you. Avery, I’m really scared. Avery, I can’t find the phone, where’s the phone, I want to call you. I want to call you, to ask for help. I just want you to hold me. Okay, will you hold me?
Oh, here’s the phone, covered in splatter paint, of course, what is this place, Andy Warhol meets Jackson Pollock meets Jack the Ripper? Avery picks up the phone: Domino’s Pizza, we deliver. She’s really high.
Avery, I say.
Mattilda, there’s a lot going on here, a lot.
Mattilda, are you ready, are you ready for this story?
I don’t know.
Mattilda, you sound so nervous. I just want you to know that you’ve got a nice asshole but I found something even better, ha ha ha, even better.
Mattilda, I called this guy from The Phoenix, you used to have an ad in The Phoenix, right? Well, I called this other guy from The Phoenix, Chad, I mean I know that’s not his real name, but Chad, Chad has an amazing ass. Chad, don’t you have an amazing ass? And, we have a lot in common, you know, we both like to blow, blow, blow the house down so that’s what we’ve been doing. Don’t worry, I paid him first, just for an hour, I fucked him for an hour but then he decided to stay over because of my, well, you know, just to hang out, and we’ve been hanging out ever since —I don’t know, 15 hours, 25 hours, how many hours? No, wait, maybe we slept, and then we fucked, and then we slept again?
Mattilda, what’s wrong, are you okay? Where’ve you been, are you coming over? Are you coming over soon?
I hang up the phone. My heart, I hope it doesn’t break through the skin. Ouch, now I need to shit again, ouch. I’m not dying. I’m not dying. I’m not dying yet.
I guess Avery was the wrong person to call. I’m feeling so tired again, but I don’t want to get back in this bed because then when will I ever leave? Did Avery really hire a hooker, right after I left? Don’t think about it, just go outside, wait, first get dressed, first get dressed, and then go outside. But why is it so hot in here?
Go outside, and it’ll be okay.
He folded my clothes. I can’t believe he folded my clothes. Everything is so awful, I can’t believe this happened. I can’t believe Avery hired a whore. Maybe she was joking. But I heard someone in the background. Oh, no, I have to shit again.
Okay, okay, don’t think about the pain, don’t think about it, don’t think about how when I was little I would sit on the toilet trying to shit and then there was always blood on the toilet paper, always blood, just like now, don’t think about it. Okay, there’s a lot of stairs, one at a time, don’t go too fast, okay, Mattilda, you’re going to be okay, we can get up the stairs. He’s not going to open the door before we get there.
Oh, it’s dark out. It’s already dark. What a relief. Oh, the Ramrod, should I get a cocktail? Maybe I need a cocktail.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Through my body

And when I wake up, wait, have I been sleeping, Bobby’s kissing me and saying yes, yes, and I look for the movie again, oh there it is it’s upside down — someone’s reading the newspaper called GAY, everyone reads that paper now and I close my eyes and Bobby’s saying yes, yes, and is he really fucking me, wait, I’m on a deck, reading the paper, inside the paper is more paper, I keep opening and opening and opening the paper until the water comes through the sky and the stars are so bright and night, this tunnel through the trees and oh, a little window I’m climbing through the window into the other side of the sky another window, something in my mouth, bubbles—blow bubbles blow I’m on the elevator going backwards fast through the stars and on the other side is light, the sun on the beach and now the water, shooting backwards through the water the waves my whole body shaking in the waves and how am I breathing the elevator shooting through me the water, backstroke, side stroke, fancy diving too, oh wouldn’t it be lovely to be with you, to be with you, to be with you and I never noticed before how if you let everything go, if you let everything go in the water you can feel the way it becomes a pump your heart.
I wake up in a bed, a really comfortable bed but something hurts, maybe my stomach and how did it get so dark? Oh, right, I’m still at Bobby’s house but am I alone? I start to sit up but I’m too dizzy. I need water or sleep I mean I need water and then sleep, more sleep, please more sleep, but can I get up? I close my eyes.
I’m doing back flips on the beach in the sun, I never realized my body could do this before, I just keep flipping my legs over and over and over and over and over and even though it hurts it also feels like I’m flying, why don’t I try this more often, maybe because I’m never on the beach. But then I hit a wall. It doesn’t hurt like I thought it would, it just feels like diving into the water and forgetting to put your hands out in the right position, oh, I am in the water except the current is pushing me back, I’m swimming but I’m not getting anywhere and then I let go.
Now I’m awake again, how long has it been? My mouth so dry it feels something other than my mouth, what is it? Oh, my tongue and here’s the light switch in the kitchen, ouch that light hurts my eyes, turn it off. I guess there aren’t any windows in here. Here’s a glass. Okay, the sink, yes, water, yes. Oh, orange juice, should I drink this orange juice on the counter oh it’s fresh squeezed but now I need to shit.
Oh my God. That shooting pain that goes right through my body when will it end. Diarrhea. Blood on the toilet paper, I can’t tell if it’s a lot or a little but it’s definitely blood. I need something to eat, is there anything in the refrigerator? Gross — what’s that smell?
Okay, Wonder Bread, I guess I can eat Wonder Bread. Iceberg lettuce? Mustard. I’ll make a mustard sandwich with iceberg lettuce. Here’s the toaster. Maybe it will talk to me, oh, the toast is already burning.
I need more water. This isn’t that bad, this, this sandwich. Except that chewing hurts. I need more water.
I remember saying I didn’t want to have sex, and then cuddling, and maybe he was sucking my dick anyway, but it was all right, and then I remember, oh, wait, ouch ouch ouch ouch ouch okay I better sit down. He kept saying you’re beautiful, I know he kept saying that because otherwise I wouldn’t have it in my head. He kept saying you’re beautiful while he was fucking me, right, he must’ve been fucking me that’s why everything hurts.
Oh, a shower, yes, a shower. Red, I do love this red, except then I start thinking I’m taking a shower of blood. Warm, right? The water pressure is really strong but the only soap he has is Dial. I kind of like it when guys smell like Dial, there’s something so clean and fresh but on me it just smells like poison. I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what to do about this blood. Should I write him a note? What would I say? I know I asked you not to fuck me, but now I just want to know if you used a condom.
There must be a condom around here somewhere, right? There must be a condom. In the bathroom trashcan? Just tissues. In the kitchen? Where is the trashcan? I can’t find a trashcan. Oh, here, underneath the sink: empty. Maybe he emptied the trash, maybe he emptied the trash in the morning. Is it morning? I don’t want to go outside, I don’t think I’m ready. I need to lie down again.
What did I do last night? K and ecstasy and that huge cocktail, pot beforehand. Sure, I was a mess, but it was fun and then something changed, how did I get on the floor, we were rolling around on the floor and then he was fucking me and I couldn’t even tell, I couldn’t even tell what was my body and what was his and what was the carpet and then I was asleep. I was asleep, and he was fucking me? There must be a condom around here somewhere, right, there must be a condom. I don’t know if I’m ready to go outside yet.
At least he has soft towels. At least he has soft towels, and I don’t have to talk to him now. I need to get out of here. I need to get out of here before he gets back, but I don’t know if I’m ready to go outside. Should I make another sandwich? Oh, I need to shit, but I don’t want to, it’s going to hurt too much. Ouch ouch ouch ouch ouch fucking ouch.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Classical proportions

The blonde guy puts on his clothes and walks down the beach, what a pretty beach with trees right at the water and here’s another wave, oh it looks exactly like Bethany where I went as a kid I miss Bethany I mean the ocean, that’s what looks the same not the beach this beach is more wild and undeveloped, prettier, but the ocean I guess it is the same ocean let’s go swimming.
But now the blonde guy’s dressed, why did he get dressed? It just seems strange. Why get dressed? He’s by the harbor in white jeans, he must bleach those jeans a lot it’s hard to find white jeans without stains, grass or dirt or oil or car exhaust or pollution or handprints or egg yolk or come or shit or dead bugs or chewing gum or just sand, what about sand or the ocean, maybe the ocean doesn’t stain. Where is he now, I ask Bobby who’s behind me again although I can still feel his lips in my crotch, how does he do that? Now he’s behind me, holding me from behind like we’re little kids on the beach, and maybe we are, we can be, here on this beach.
Bobby, where are we now?
Still Fire Island– I want to take you there sometime.
That makes me giggle like I’m on a ride, a fun ride on the boardwalk not something scary, where am I, I haven’t even made it to Provincetown.
Okay, this part is boring, he’s petting a dog or okay I guess I can pet my legs like a dog woof woof and Bobby’s holding my hands, whose hands, look, my hands, whoa – but this guy is reading a newspaper called GAY, is that a real paper, and Bobby says have some more K, and I think I like the sound of the projector more than this music, and Bobby says ooh, ooh, I have something special for you, just what you need to relax, and he runs back into the kitchen, now this guy is writing a letter and is that a wedding ring he’s wearing? Is he really married, why, why would anyone get married? A mineral like one of my grandmother’s on the table, pyrite like gold, fool’s gold but I always thought it was prettier than the real thing and now he’s walking around naked and so am I, we can walk around naked together on the carpet beach swimming pool sand smooth feet together.
But now he puts on pants to send a letter, I don’t want to put on pants to send a letter this is confusing. And Bobby’s back with a big glass of orange juice for me, now he has his briefs on again, that’s better. Where are my boxers? What a pretty purple glass of orange juice, purple and orange and I’m watching the lights on the glass in the juice and this guy is swimming as the calendar starts to burn, why is the calendar burning?
You’re beautiful, Bobby says, like a Michelangelo, you have classical proportions, did anyone ever tell you that? And now there’s a kid running on the beach with a dog, just after sunset and the calendar is floating in the water I wish we could go swimming the water is bubbling purple bubbles and Bobby says go ahead, drink your orange juice, fresh squeezed and he’s right this is the best orange juice I’ve ever tasted and there’s so so much, it just goes on and on and I’m finally in the water I can feel it on my skin pouring through me so warm I love this music through the path in the trees, where does this path lead, oh, back to the beach and I’m in the water floating away, the heat from the sun on my skin I’m floating away the drums at the post office a kid with a kite, back into the woods I’m running naked through the woods and the drums, the matches, fire in the woods and a glass case and the water is bubbling, I’m bubbling in the water swimming through my skin in the music whose heart is that really my heart, pumping so fast in the dark with the lights and I’m spinning everything’s red in the shadows of the trees in the sand in the ocean we’re in a sauna, sweating in the bubbles floating through the tunnel the music through my body and Bobby’s saying yes, that’s the sound of his hands, the tunnel so bright and dark, inside and outside I’m a gymnast, bending into new shapes, rolling on the beach over and around the pole go Mary Lou go Mary Lou where’s the pole I think I can stay balanced my body opening up into the water and through the woods and into the softest wave I’ve ever felt in my life yes I want to stay here forever with the water flowing through me.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

In the sand

Oh, I love this movie already, the titles written in the sand on the beach — I wish I was writing in sand: if I sit down on the carpet I can pretend. What would I write? HELLO. HELLO. Or HO, like Abby on her birthday on Revere Beach, we should go to Revere Beach again.
Pretend I’m at the beach with the lights swirling around the splatter paint sky and this movie, it’s beautiful the way you hear the birds in the trees and see the leaves alternating in light and dark and what beach is this?
Fire Island, Bobby says, and oh, now I understand why people go there. But why this awful classical music? Can we turn ESG on again, to drown out this music?
It takes longer to write in the sand carpet than I thought. HELLO. HELLO.
Wait, now it’s night already, that was fast. I know it’s night in here, but night on the beach, this guy in the sky with his shiny chest glowing, okay, daytime again and the ocean, I love the ocean, green and blue and wait, now it’s nighttime again or maybe I’m just high and Bobby, I’m looking at Bobby to see if he notices how fast everything is changing and oh, his eyes, now he’s behind me, rubbing my back, this guy’s back, shaved head, before I thought he was kind of cheesy with the ‘70s denim look but now, now Bobby’s rubbing his back, this is fun.
Oh, look — some boy’s running towards us from the ocean and then we just see his hand feeling that guy up I’m feeling that guy up and now his head goes down, before I wasn’t sure about facial hair but now I like it. He’s much hotter than the guy from the ocean a mermaid but without scales, I miss the scales and oh, Bobby’s on his knees with my dick in his mouth and how did this happen? Oh, Bobby has a shaved head too, how come I didn’t notice that before, I guess his hat, that’s right, where did the hat go, was it red?
Now I’m laughing because it’s funny with Bobby down there between my legs the way he’s grinding into the carpet and trying to get me hard I’m not going to get hard I’m way too high my hands on his skin so warm and then these guys step into the woods and they’re making out, wow, I love it when the blonde one rubs his hand through the back of the first guy’s head, down his chest but why is he putting a cock ring on his dick, it makes me nervous that both of their dicks are still pretty soft although not as soft as mine, maybe they’re on ecstasy too, Bobby’s mouth like a fish I kind of want to lie down maybe they’re both on ecstasy and Bobby pulls away from my dick and stands up with his dick in my face, wow it’s huge but Bobby, stop, I told you I’m too high. Okay, Bobby says, and goes into the kitchen with his dick swinging.
Oh, now the blonde guy in this lighting, here’s where he’s suddenly hot, now I get it, the sun illuminating space through the trees and now it’s his ass pumping away and damn, okay, now he’s hard but his dick isn’t nearly as big as Bobby’s, what would I do with a dick that large it’s too large and the camera keeps going back into the trees, sparkling with the sun and oh, now someone’s getting fucked but I can’t tell who it is and then the trees, oh, wait, now the blonde guy’s jerking off over the other guy’s face, mouth open to take all that come so much come and then he rubs it all over his face, wow, the abandon, I guess this was the ‘70s, an abandoned time, now they’re making out again and then the one with a shaved head is getting his dick sucked and the music is really religious, like a choir or The Sound of Music the Mormon Tabernacle although what do I know about the Mormon Tabernacle, when I was nine I made a report on the Mormon Temple rising off 270 like a fairy castle and oh, Bobby’s sucking my dick again I’m in the movie with the disco lights and splatter paint all over my body and this guy is jerking off while everything flashes, we’re flashing into the past present future — I’m on the disco ball rolling down the beach and he takes his cock ring off and puts it on the other guy’s arm and then runs away, but where are you going, oh, all the way into the water until you disappear, you disappeared in the water, I miss you already and oh, how does he breathe like that now Bobby stop, stop, you’re going to miss the movie.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

In the carpet

Somehow he already has his shirt off, muscular arms and this big tattoo of a snake on his belly. Want to see the rest, he says, and starts to pull down his pants but then he says just kidding, Miss-ter Mattilda— I’m not trying to rape ya. Although I bet you’ve got a nice ass. Oops — hope you don’t mind my humor, it’s in the gutter. Do you like my playhouse? Ooh, ooh — I forgot to introduce myself. Bobby, like the bar, that’s my bar, Bobby’s. You like that bar?
Ha, ha — stumped you on that one. Lots of hot boys there, though, right? Lots of hot boys.
If you like that sort of thing.
What sort of thing, Mister Mattilda, what sort of thing do you mean?
Underage boys from the suburbs wearing too much CK One.
I could see you at Bobby’s, dancing to the latest hits with your shirt off.
I don’t like the latest hits. And I don’t generally dance with my shirt off.
What’s the matter — are you shy? I bet you like disco — I’ve got lots of disco — ooh, ooh, I remember disco, don’t I remember disco? How old are ya? No, no, don’t tell me — just a baby, my baby, young enough to be my baby. Do ya like ecstasy, I’ve got ecstasy.
How ‘bout music, do you like music? I’ll put on something nice that we can dance to. Donna Summer?
I don’t really like disco.
Are you kidding me? Where did I pick this one up? I bet you don’t even like ecstasy.
I do like ecstasy.
Well, why don’t you pick out some music, maybe do some more K K ketamine, and I’ll be right back, pussy cat.
I’m looking through his records, but I can’t find anything that looks good to me – maybe Kraftwerk? I hate their computer voices.
Bobby comes back and now he looks kind of sexy, can’t decide if it’s just because his shirt’s off or because I’m getting K-ed out and it’s funny because in the park I would be on my knees sucking his dick but here I’m sinking into the sofa and the lights are getting really interesting. Bobby hands me a hit of ecstasy and a glass of orange juice. You do drink orange juice, don’t you, he says. What did you pick?
I can’t decide.
Donna Summer it is — then it’s gotta be Donna Summer. Just joking with ya — what about ESG, do you know about ESG?
I don’t think so.
These black girls from the Bronx, sisters who got together in the late-‘70s to play music and it’ll blow you away. Blow, blow, blow — let me do some more of this here K, ‘kay? Ooh, yeah, ooh, ooh, that’s right, listen to this.
He’s right. The music is great. I can’t tell if they’re playing instruments or if it’s synthesizers. Do you want to watch some porn, Bobby says.
Not really.
A cocktail, do you want a cocktail?
What’ll ya have, dearie?
A screwdriver.
Yeah, baby, that’s the way I like it: a screw. Did anyone ever ask you if that hair is real?
Ooh, yeah, ooh baby yeah. Help yourself to more of that K.
I do another line, and I don’t know if I’m ever going to get up off this sofa. I love that disco ball — I should get one at home. Ned would love it, right?
Bobby comes back with a cocktail in a huge glass, like 32 ounces, something ridiculous, it’s almost too heavy to hold. I think the ecstasy is starting to hit, seems pretty fast so maybe it’s just the K. Bobby’s running all over the room, I can’t tell what he’s doing, but it’s pretty funny to watch.
You get really calm, he says, you get really calm on it, you just calm the fuck down like it’s all so easy, yeah, so easy, you just calm the fuck down.
I don’t remember vodka ever tasting this good, is this really vodka? It tastes like something else. The lights are starting to go in and out of my eyes and Bobby’s doing that thing where he pushes his hand right in front of my face and I go whoa, and then he starts laughing so I do it and he goes whoa, whoa, and I go whoa, whoa, and I guess now we’re kind of at the same level, level 42, what does that mean, why 42.
42, he says how did ya know — yeah, boy, I’m 42. Old enough to be your father. Except, wait, I’m 52 — how does that make you feel? Whoa, whoa, let’s go for a ride. Is there anything you’ve always wanted to do, but never had the balls to?
Gross. I hate it when someone says balls. I just want to sit here and watch the world like it’s a game, and Bobby keeps going whoa, ooh, ooh, whoa, and I can’t tell if he’s making fun of me but then he says wait, wait, have you ever seen Boys in the Sand? It’s porn, but it’s art. It’s porn when porn was art. From the ‘70s. Before you were born. I’ve got it on Super-8, I can take out my projector and set it up.
Bobby doesn’t wait for my answer, he just starts setting up the projector so I figure it’s a good time to do more K, right? Bobby says you go boy, you go, you go, you go, and I wonder if I look as wacky as he does now. I head for the bathroom, and yes, this carpet, yes, oh, I want to take my shoes and socks off to feel this carpet and wow, red, the whole bathroom is red, even the lightbulb, everything except the floor — I love it, I love red and my eyes in the mirror, oh, yes, this is so much fun, give me more.
Back in the living room, Bobby’s still setting up the projector, I guess it’s kind of complicated, and I take off my shoes. Oh, my feet in the carpet, oh, let me sit on the floor, yes, this carpet. And the disco ball lights swirling around the splatter-painted walls it’s like the paint is coming off the walls and flying around the room, is that really happening?
Make yourself comfortable, Bobby’s saying, so okay, it’s kind of warm, maybe I will take off my shirt. Oh, skin. Yeah, Bobby says, yeah, you go, make yourself comfortable. And this sofa, wow, so soft, and yes, I really want to take off my pants too, but I’m way too high to have sex so I say Bobby, and he says yes, yes, my dear, and I say Bobby, I’m having so much fun.
And he says ooh boy that’s great, that’s why you’re here, and I say I think I’m going to take my pants off, but I don’t want to have sex, is that okay, and he says of course, of course that’s okay, dearie, why don’t we get naked and make ourselves comfortable. And I say I think I’m going to keep my boxers on, and Bobby says okay, I’ll keep my briefs on, and it’s kind of funny watching him take off his pants I mean where are we?

Wednesday, August 07, 2013


I can’t believe Avery and I are having this argument again. It all started because I wanted to go on a date with Bryan. Just a date — nothing more, nothing less. I never go on dates. Avery says we’re not monogamous, but she won’t agree to sit down to define the terms.
Mattilda, I just don’t want you to go on dates.
But it’s okay if I go to the Fens?
Yes, it’s okay if you go to the Fens. I’ve already said that. I like the Fens. I go there all the time. During the day. There are pretty flowers there.
There are no flowers in the Fens.
There are, there are — in the gardens, the little gardens.
Oh, right — the gardens. I never notice the gardens.
That’s because you don’t go there during the day.
Anyway, why is it so threatening for me to go on a date?
Because I love you.
Avery, I know. I love you. But why does that mean you don’t want me to see anyone else? I don’t even have any friends — there’s just you, and my sugar daddy.
Why do you need friends?
Avery, I can’t believe you just said that.
No, no, that’s not what I meant to say — I meant to say that friends are fine, I like friends, but you already called this a date.
I called it a date, because that’s what he called it. We don’t have to call it a date.
That’s not the point. I don’t want you to go out with Bryan.
What are you afraid of? This is ridiculous. I’m sick of having this conversation.
You started it. I already said you can just go on the date, and not tell me about it.
But I don’t want to do that.
So now here I am, wired to all hell, at the Fens. I’m not even horny, or I don’t think I’m horny, but when I was reading Memories That Smell Like Gasoline I kept thinking oh, I miss the Fens, why don’t I go there anymore? But now I’m thinking I don’t have any friends, and I’m not going to meet any friends in the Fens. So I’m over on the druggie picnic bench where usually people talk a little, except it’s just me. I guess I can talk to myself.
And then some guy comes up and sits down across from me, I figure he just wants some pot so I hand it to him and he says oh, oh, manners, remember manners, don’t we? Don’t we?
I can’t tell if he’s throwing me shade or if he’s excited, so I hold out my lighter and then he takes a big hit from the zeppelin.
Ooh, ooh, that’s a good one, he says, and smiles at me. His eyes are huge. I can’t tell whether I think he’s hot. What’s your name, he says, and holds out his hand.
Mattilda? And I’m Broomhilda. Do you waltz? Waltzing Matilda, waltzing Matilda…
The usual. I start to stand up, but he stops me and says ooh, ooh, I’m sorry, I’m sorry Miss-ter Mattilda, I didn’t mean to offend you. That’s the last thing I wanted to do. You know you’re an awfully attractive boy. Boy-girl. Girl-boy. What will it be?
I’ll take everything.
Ooh, ooh, I like it. I like a girl boy boy-girl, girl-boy, girly girly cutie pie hot-tot hottie tottie hottie, yeah! Yeah! Do you like to party?
So then I’m on the way to this nutcase’s house, wondering if this counts as a date. I mean we’re not in the Fens anymore.
We get to one of those gorgeous old apartment buildings down the street that I’ve always fantasized about because they’re so convenient, go around back and this guy makes a big show about saying welcome, welcome to Pee-wee’s Playhouse. When he opens the door it’s pitch dark and he says don’t worry, don’t worry ‘bout a thing.
He turns the light on, a red bulb in the ceiling and Christmas lights all over the walls. The stairs are carpeted, and we’re going down. Watch your head, he says, and I duck down into the most hilarious room I’ve ever seen. All the walls are covered in splatter paint and the sofas too, almost like it poured down from the walls except they don’t quite match and then there’s a huge brass four-poster bed against the wall, plush white comforter and sheets. White carpet too — how does he keep it so white? He flicks another switch, and it turns out there’s a disco ball in the ceiling, here we go.
There’s a big mirror table in front of the sofas, and he takes out a vial and pours it on the table like in some movie, what movie is this?
Special K, he says, just like the cereal, do you know about Special K?
I’m feeling special already.

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Just a reminder that most of the writing I'm posting here right now is for a first draft of my next novel, Sketchtasy, which takes place in Boston in 1995/'96...

There's also a lot I want to write about me right here, Seattle in 2013, but it's hard to do both at the same time…

A diseased world

Back to Memories That Smell Like Gasoline, where the Gulf War is playing on hundreds of TV screens in St. Vincent’s Hospital; I’m thinking about senior year of high school when I was studying for finals at the American University cafeteria and I looked up at the TV screens and there it was, the bombs were dropping. My mouth fell open and I couldn’t do anything but stare at the TV screens. I couldn’t study anymore: there was no point.
The Gulf War is playing on hundreds of TV screens in St. Vincent’s Hospital, and “my friend is too weak to turn the channels on other people’s deaths.” Then on the next page there’s that drawing of a guy with lesions all over his body, everywhere, there’s nowhere without them and his eyes are closed like maybe he can imagine this away. How something so simple as this drawing can still feel so scary. And I’m thinking about how I hardly ever see anyone with lesions anymore, and where have they all gone?
I remember when I moved to San Francisco, and you would see guys in wheelchairs all the time in the Castro and that was only three-and-a-half years ago. If all those guys are dead, what about the new guys in wheelchairs, are they all hiding behind closed doors?
And then I hear Ned gasp, and when I look up I see his hand over his mouth in reaction to that same image. He doesn’t look at me. We both go back to reading. There’s a drawing of a guy with blood all over his clothes from cruising the waterfront for hustlers: “Maybe I did something wrong,” he says, on one side, and then on the other we learn for the first time about the virus inside David’s body. And I remember what he said in Close to the Knives, that when he contracted the disease, he knew he had contracted a diseased world too, and what does Ned know of this world? How we were so close yesterday or was it the day before, and what does it mean to feel that close, when you’re not really close? Ned doesn’t say anything when he finishes the book; I can’t tell what he’s thinking and somehow I hate him for that. No, I hate him because I don’t hate him.

Monday, August 05, 2013

In the mirror

There’s something about having sex with someone who knows you, who knows you so well, who knows you so well in this particular way: Avery and I are on Sean’s bed, he’s fucking me from behind and I don’t have to ask him to put his hands underneath my thighs, to rub softly, really softly. When I move his hand away from my dick he doesn’t move it back, I don’t have to keep pushing him away. When I pull his arms around me he doesn’t move them away, just squeezes me really tight and soft at the same time with his dick still in my ass as he moves his hands all over my head and face and then he grabs my neck like he’s going to choke me but I feel so safe.
And he pushes me on the bed, face down, I know this is a game we’re both playing until ouch, I pull away, and he pulls out, turns me over, grabs my head again and we’re making out in that way that makes me forget there’s anything else except this tongue and those eyes so close to my eyes I can almost feel them no wait I can, I can feel his eyelashes, my hands all over his back, squeezing his armpits, there’s his dick at my asshole again, inside as he puts all his weight right on my chest, yes, spits in my face the way he was afraid to before and I’m laughing because there’s a lot of spit, I’m laughing with all this spit and this boyfriend on top of me, now he’s biting my neck and pumping, grabbing me really firmly all around and pumping, I can tell he’s going to come so I grab his head and feel the pressure of his belly against my dick, I’m pumping too so after he comes and pulls out he lies down beside me and I get on top of him, move one of his hands under my balls and just like that I shoot all over him and then I squeeze him tight the stickiness between us with our sweat and now he’s laughing and saying Mattilda, how did you come so much?
So when Ned says childhood pornography, does he mean child pornography, or pornography from childhood? I don’t wait around to find out, just feel kind of scared and distant like what is he saying about my life? And, now he wants to know more about my history. This cocktail, let me change the subject, so I can finish this cocktail.
What did you think of the blackened blueberry tempeh? I was trying to recreate this tempeh I had at a restaurant in San Francisco, and I’m not sure I got it quite right.
Oh, it was sensational, I’ve never had anything like it.
I’m thinking about when Avery pulls the sheets off the bed, Sean’s sheets, blue pinstripes on white, classic preppy pointlessness, then opens the linen closet at Sean’s house and there are all different colors — paisley sheets, plaid, bright yellow— Avery, where did you get all these sheets, I don’t remember going shopping, and he starts laughing and pulls out the paisley ones and drapes them over me. They’re for you, he says, for you and me, and when I go to the bathroom to look at myself in the mirror with the sheet around my head I see there are new towels too, paisley towels that almost match the paisley sheets, such beautiful colors and I feel like a little kid twirling around in someone else’s dress or okay, my mother’s dress, twirling around and looking at myself in the mirror.

Sunday, August 04, 2013

The wind in the room

The way David sometimes seems to fetishize the perceived violence of others as something close to comfort and I’m wondering why I don’t read more often, I mean I used to do nothing but read and now it’s only at times like these when suddenly my mind feels more functional except as soon as we’re done I crash and then I go upstairs to do another bump, okay that’s better.
This is the place in the book where the drawings become less ink and more line. Oh, these are the drawings that freaked me out the first time I picked up this book, made me feel gross, made me feel like the book was gross. Right before I remembered I was sexually abused.
I think it was this first drawing in particular: black lines on a white page with a hard dick in the center, face cut off. The chest is just a box, arms without hands, and it’s a drawing of a Polaroid a guy took when David was 9 or 10. It freaks me out to look at it now too. Nine or 10, when I was nine or 10.
Then there’s one with a guy examining David’s underwear to make sure he doesn’t see any signs of an STD, there’s something so disgusting about looking at that line drawing of this old guy with a receding hairline staring into those white briefs. In the narrative underneath David writes that the guy is with his son, they picked David up together, but remember this is from the viewpoint of a 10-year-old so presumably it’s the guy’s lover or another hooker, sitting in the background with a hard-on. But I can’t stop looking at this guy who somehow reminds me of my father even though my father’s hair hasn’t receded, and I was the one that would study his underwear when he wasn’t around, take the white briefs out of his dresser and look at the stains, smell the underwear while I was jerking off.
What does it feel like to say that, or not to say it since I’m not saying anything, I’m just here at the table with Ned, kind of wondering but not wondering what he’s thinking, maybe he’ll tell me or maybe he won’t. But I’m also trying to think about what I’m feeling when I think about these memories because looking at the drawing makes me feel gross, thinking about my father and how rape imprisoned me in his desire. Four, five, six: before I even knew what desire was. How is it possible to invent something else beyond own memories, and what do they make me feel?
Distant. Like I’m up there in the ceiling or down beneath the chair, or both, and yes, it’s time for a bump but maybe first more of this cocktail, yes, this cocktail, oh that’s perfect, put the glass down with a little bit of noise and Ned gets right up to get me another and in my memory this book was all about AIDS, about dying, but here we are on page 39, I mean here I am on page 39 since I’m not sure what page Ned’s on exactly, but I’m on page 39 and still the book hasn’t even gotten to AIDS, no mention yet, and the book is only 61 pages long.
But then there’s the middle of page 39, “the beautiful view and my overwhelming urge to puke.” This is the view from the hospital, on the page right across from the guy looking into 10-year-old David’s underwear. And then still, after the image of the hospital and the smell of human shit, another page with an image from childhood: the wind blows everything in the room to the left, this guy is telling David not to worry, he won’t come in his mouth.
I realize now it’s going to get really intense, I mean I turn the page for a second and I see the picture of a guy with all these lesions, and then I turn back, and I close the book, because I don’t know if I’m ready, I mean I know I’m ready but I don’t know if I’m ready to read this with Ned. So I close the book, and I say what do you think of these drawings?
And Ned closes his book too, and says pornography, childhood pornography.

Saturday, August 03, 2013

When does a stereotype become an archetype?

Later I’m with Avery; he’s so present when I’m doing really bad, but then when I’m just normal he’s all over the place. Avery, I say, I need you to listen to me. But she’s still not listening.
I wanted to tell her about crying with Ned, about David Wojnarowicz and all he means to me, about rage, about powerlessness, about childhood, about all this emotion I’m starting to feel, even with the coke, maybe more earlier on in the day when I haven’t done so much, like at dinner with Ned or now, after dinner, right now I still feel so emotional. I want to tell Avery that she’s a part of this emotion, this feeling, this opening up. But instead I just tell her about the guy from Paradise; and she looks really scared. You went home with someone? She says it twice. Almost three times, two-and-a-half, because the third time she just says you went home?
Yeah, with some guy I met, we went back to his place and did some K but then I felt weird and walked home.
You went home with someone?
Yeah, I mean I know we’re not monogamous, but I realized when I went home with him that you and I haven’t really talked about what that means.
What do you mean we’re not monogamous?
Well, I mean obviously I’m a hooker, right? I mean I’m not turning tricks right now, but I do live with one.
That’s different.
Okay, I guess that’s different, but why? I mean maybe that’s one of the reasons I felt weird and didn’t make out with this guy, Bryan, even though he was really hot.
I can’t believe you went home with someone.
Avery, I’m trying to talk to you. Why are you freaking out?
Back at the dinner table with Ned, I’m wondering again how much input David had in the design of Memories That Smell Like Gasoline. Because it just seems so perfect. How the moments when the text gets bigger or changes color fit so well into the narrative, like when it goes from a small “What are you” at the end of one page to a much bigger “talking about?” on the next page, and how the bigger text builds the panic and then when it gets smaller again it’s even more suffocating, this rape scene, this rape scene in a truck that I’m still thinking about although now we’re on the next chapter.
The way the guys in the porn theaters start to blend together, not just because their faces are rubbed out but are they stereotypes even in their own imaginations? Or just David’s archetypes? And when does a stereotype become an archetype, or is it the other way around?

Friday, August 02, 2013

This cocktail

Why didn’t I remember that chapter 2 of Memories That Smell Like Gasoline was about rape, rape and the way you remember, the way it stays in your body and keeps you so scared and helpless. I didn’t remember until now, now when I’m sitting here at the dinner table with Ned, my body scared and helpless except then I’m sobbing, and sobbing as a kind of hope, right? And Ned looks so concerned, which makes me cry more, and then he says: Did something like that happen to you?

But does he mean a trick gone wrong, turned into a rape in a truck on the side of a road you don’t know, like in the book, or does he mean a trick gone wrong, turned into a rape that you see again, when you see him or when you don’t, or does he just mean a trick gone wrong, or does he mean rape in general, or is rape ever general, or just rape, does he mean have you ever been raped, and who hasn’t been raped?
I haven’t told Ned about my father, I mean I told him I hate my father, that I hate both of my parents, that when I was 13 I decided I had no respect for them at all but still I was trapped and now I’m not trapped anymore so I don’t want to talk to them ever again. But I haven’t told him why. I don’t know if I want to.

But now Ned’s saying has that ever happened to you, and I just nod my head and continue sobbing. He comes over and rubs my back. I’m sorry, he says, I’m sorry that happened to you; I don’t want that to happen to you again. And that makes me cry more, I can’t believe I’m crying this much, when was the last time I cried this much. I can’t believe I’m crying with Ned. Again. I’m crying again with Ned. All because of this book, this book that means so much to me.

Ned hands me another cocktail, and do I want this cocktail, yes.