Sunday, December 29, 2013

Interview on OtherPeople podcast...

This is a strange interview. Brad Listi, the interviewer, is very worried about using the wrong language to talk about queerness. In fact, in his introduction, he says he may have set “a new record for awkwardness.” I’m worried that he’s asking me so many questions about childhood, and even asking me to elaborate on the scene I describe so clearly in the first chapter of The End of San Francisco, where I’m visiting my abusive father on his deathbed. I’m worried that, by asking for all this elaboration, Brad is imposing a linear narrative on work that deliberately challenges that façade. If I were to edit this interview, I would take all those parts out, and then I would love it. But it’s not that type of interview. It’s a podcast. There are moments of revelation — I like it best when Brad asks me specific questions about language as a catalyst, naming and claiming, when the rhetoric doesn’t match reality – and when we tell stories about trading books to build relationships, trying to create space for people who don’t match. And, I do always enjoy talking about Mary Cheney.

Monday, December 23, 2013

I had so much fun writing about my favorite books of 2013 for Bookslut!!!

In diaspora all things are possible, so many things yet remain unseen.”
Thomas Glave, Among the Bloodpeople: Politics and Flesh 

At first I wanted to say that I’ve never started an essay with a quote before, but that couldn’t be true, especially when your staircase becomes a cold white blanket, beautiful to look at but hard to climb. You look for the water but it isn’t there, under water turned to white. I’m saying that the snow in Boston right now is beautiful, so this might be a good time to tell you about my favorite books of 2013 (the ones I read this year, that is).

Thomas Glave’s Among the Bloodpeople (Akashic Books) is about the violence of machetes and bombs, the silencing of literature and skin. Listen: “It is something to know that you so dearly and even desperately love a country in which you know that you are not, in fact, safe, no matter the seductiveness of your illusions; no matter your desire for safety (actual safety itself, whatever it actually is)…” Do you see how this book circles around itself, our selves? It’s about Jamaica, and the US, interwoven legacies of colonialism and homophobia and that gasp for fresh air, the way the light gives way to darkness, and how we move from literal to figurative, and whether this helps us, and when that matters.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Surprise reading in Chicago on Friday, December 7, 7 pm....

I know there’s some horrible consumer holiday coming up. I’m taking a train to avoid it, but I know I won’t be able to avoid it. People will be saying Merry. Merry. But, there’s good news. After everyone gets their Gucci, Godiva, and God, I will be in Chicago, and I will be doing a surprise reading, hosted by Jessa Crispin, editor of Bookslut and Spolia. It will be a salon at 5954 N Lakewood Avenue, in Edgewater (two blocks from the Thorndale L stop), 7 pm on Friday, December 27. Yes, I said a salon. I will be reading. Jessa Crispin will be reading, Charles Blackstone will be reading. Zak Mucha will be reading.  In addition to refreshing words, there will be other refreshments. We will talk. There will be an exchange of ideas. Hope to see you there!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Generative

The key is to endlessly moisturize my hands. Maybe then I will be ready to go outside. If I am ever ready. I guess that’s what today feels like. I’m heartbroken by the idea that “giving back” indigenous land somehow makes up for centuries of colonialism. I think we need to move away from thinking there can be reparations for genocide. Reparations might help the living, but they do not bring back the dead. Still thinking about what makes Twitter feel generative to my writing process, whereas Facebook mostly feels distracting. But then I got distracted.
 So, Twitter can be distracting too, but it hasn’t yet felt immobilizing in the way that Facebook does if I look at it for more than five minutes. Thinking about how I didn’t used to get this cold. Thinking about how I think I didn’t used to get this cold.
It’s amazing how long something can take when you think it’s not going to take any time at all. What kind of holidays do you like, someone once asked. Honey, I’m not that kind of girl. When I first started reading Sketchtasy after not looking at it for a few months, I thought: what is this shit? Then I realized the first chapter had to go. Once it was gone, I felt better. Yes, I needed to bring a few things back, weave them into the new first chapter, and once I did that I felt like I was high. That’s the best feeling: when editing makes you high. But soon enough you will be low again, struggling over words, your words, what are these words? How can I make them work? I feel like I’m going slower than I want to but also I’m speeding, my breath stops, I want to get up to take a break but I can’t get up.
            I’ve turned into one of those people who goes for a walk in the cruising park, even though I’m not cruising. It’s hard to have a life with all this editing. But, this is my life. But I’m not birdwatching. Or walking my dog. Or looking for my shoelace. The stars are not out yet. The moon. And hot tea is officially back in my life – welcome back, hot tea! I’ll admit I’m confused by the people who write to me and say when are you coming to my town, when? And then I’m in their town, and they don’t show up at my event. Oh, wait, it’s December. I don’t understand auto-clean settings that involve cleaning after the auto-clean. I do understand why I don’t have wine glasses, even though I don’t drink wine. They break, no matter what, they break. It’s kind of lonely here in this world that’s my writing but then there’s the world outside and which is lonelier but I’m getting a lot done. I love it when I get to cut a whole chapter, even if I just edited that chapter — now I realize it's unnecessary, it's getting in the way, too explanatory.
            It often seems like those who think of themselves as on the edge feel the most threatened by critique. I think they’re worried that critique means they’re not so edgy. Does the center really matter? I ask this question all the time. Most people don’t seem to. Why do I look at the weather so often? What do I hope it will tell me?

Saturday, December 14, 2013

A few beautiful quotes from Thomas Glave's beautiful Among the Bloodpeople, about diaspora…

"Diaspora knows the sum of its many parts, but not all the parts acknowledge the sum."

"Diaspora reveals the difficulties of diverse languages in concert even as it makes possible, necessary, previously unimagined combinations of concert in language."

"Diaspora creates suspicion and insularity, but must, by virtue of its very nature, also knock them apart."

"In diaspora all things are possible, so many things yet remain unseen."

Monday, December 09, 2013

The Band of Thebes "Best LGBT Books of 2013" list is here…

I chose Among the Bloodpeople: Politics and Flesh by Thomas Glave... Here's what I say:
It’s possible that I’ve never before read a book so capable of describing beauty and violence, the two at once, side-by-side, at war and in peace. Refusing to give in to selective amnesia or fatalistic despair, Thomas Glave dares us to examine the contradictions in tyranny and love, desire and hope and yearning and betrayal, personal and structural, our lives and lies, breathing, falling down, getting up again, breathing, yes, breathing, that’s what this book makes us do.
 And, the rest of the list is here – lots to think about…  

Just got this email from a very astute reader...

Hi!

I love your website. You are a great writer!

I started Pridezillas.com in July. Pridezillas is a national wedding directory of wedding professionals who support marriage equality. My best friend is gay and we have been friends for over 16 years. The thought of him facing any negativity while planning his big day spurred me to start the site to help all same sex couples find wedding vendors that are welcoming and excited to work with them.

I wanted to see if you were interested in guest blogging any time on our site or possibly blogging about our site on your site.

Let me know your thoughts or if you want to chat over the phone next week for more info.

Thank you!

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

A history of the legal system


 Whenever I see someone professing infinite love for (or from) a parent, I get confused. Really confused. Usually it’s a dead parent, but still. I think it should be required that anyone who designs, manufactures, or installs kitchens must actually spend time using kitchens. First it was core sanctions architecture, and now it is essential sanctions architecture – what will Obama’s speechwriters give us next?


Even though I’m cold, I’m sitting in the apartment without a hat because I don’t want to mess up my hair. I remember when I never wore a hat, for that reason, but now I can’t imagine going outside in the cold without one. Winter: it’s 7:47, but it feels like 10. Behold the holiday handbook: how to kill yourself without killing yourself. How to cry without crying. How to lie without lying. How to spy without trying. Or: how to cry without dying. Whoever decided that heating vents should be by the ceiling instead of the floor, really, what were they thinking? Testify. A history of the legal system: the judge isn’t here, and I am the judge. Okay, it’s unavoidable, this time of year: when morning becomes mourning. And do we welcome it, this grace, disgrace? Holding onto our cauliflower hearts or flinging octopus arms to the sky, hi, dancing that matters, breath inside vibrating with a chilly presence the warm tea.

Monday, December 02, 2013

The rest of us


I’m always surprised when someone is worried that it might be creepy or stalkerish to tell me that they love my work. If that’s creepy, then I love creepy! It’s a cliché to say that writing is lonely, and that isn’t true for me anyway because I write against loneliness. I mean, I write in order not to feel lonely. Which perhaps is another way to say that of course writing is generally a solitary process, which can feel lonely if no one acknowledges the work. Or a companion anyway. Apparently Mary Cheney thinks her sister Liz is on the wrong side of history because she opposes gay marriage. Is this a comedy routine? Honey, look in the mirror – everyone in the world knows that your whole family is on the wrong side of history. Mary Cheney gives new meaning to the phrase oh Mary.

Sometimes you find beauty when you’re looking for it: an abandoned cornfield on a thoroughfare, broken stalks still arranged in rows, tiny yellow fruit growing from weeds. These trees must have been dividing line between property, all these thorny plants and looking out into a field of something like wheat, but wild, I don’t know the names for these things so I study the way the light makes everything orange and yellow, even the browns reddish in the sun and then a moment later everything turns chalky, grey, dusky, but then back to orange and yellow again.

Thinking about queer theory, so often a disappearance act, sucking up identities, movements, emotions and lives in a commodified status ownership game. I don’t think knowledge is ever invented. Queer theory has the amazing ability to take everything that means something to me, and make it into a rarefied product for elite consumption. I don’t want to feel dead, so I try not to read it. I have enough trouble with parasites. I just remembered that someone said I was just like Cheney once, implying that by critiquing the academy I was furthering the goals of the Christian right. That was at the only queer theory conference I’ve ever gone to.

I hate when I’m staying somewhere for such a short time that I’m packing while I’m unpacking. But then I look out the window, and there’s a whole tree of birds, literally a whole tree, what are all these birds doing landing on one tiny tree in a parking lot, and the sun, the colors of the grass, green and brown and the sky so soft in this light. Maybe we should start a movement for the dead to marry. I just don’t want them living in sin. Turnip greens, what could be better than turnip greens? Like mustard without the mustard. Why aren't turnip greens more readily available on the West Coast? We definitely have turnips. If only the dead had the right to marry, that really would be better for the rest of us.

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Loving cement


Everywhere I travel, there are scissors in the kitchen. Even when there are no pots. This is useful for trimming my sideburns. I spend hours a day cooking, but I’ve never had scissors in the kitchen. Am I missing something? I’m worried about the word cisgender, that it undoes the possibilities of transgender, policing the borders rather than ending them. Transgender: transmit, transmute, translate, transcend, transgress, transform. Whoever invented the kitchen sink disposal should be disposed of. Doing dishes in the bathtub is never glamorous, but it’s even less glamorous when you’re renting a place for four days. In New York, the kitchen sink disposal is illegal, and so it is a luxury: every rich person has one, they hide the switch under the sink. Let them eat cake, I say, who needs another toothache?

            Cementing love is almost as good as loving cement. I keep hearing about something called a book deal. I’ve written books, and they’ve been published, which is exciting, but I don’t think there’s ever been a book deal. I do know about drug-dealing, and books are better than drugs, usually, or at least the crash isn’t as bad, so maybe I’m missing something. Once I didn’t believe in the internet. Once is still now. But then I’m disconnected, and I actually feel disconnected. A window of connection, and I’m trying to do everything at once, except leave the place where I’m staying to go on a walk, which was what I was trying to do before. I’m in Baltimore, so I feel like I should visit my grandmother. But she’s dead. I don’t mean to sound dramatic about it. But I kind of feel dramatic. I still miss what she could never give me, what I gave her: critical engagement as another artist, one related by blood and history and inspiration.