Wednesday, May 28, 2014

A sense of place

When I hear people talking about the boundlessness of motherly love, I think about the bottomless pit of despair I feel when faced with the possibility of meaningful connection with my mother. Juxtaposed against the reality of decades of neglect and her inflated sense of care.

I ask a health practitioner about a particular herb, and he says he doesn’t think it would be right for me.  When I ask why, he says he doesn’t know much about this herb, but a few people he knew who tried it got cancer. I don’t know if it was the herb, he says, but they were healthy before. What do I do with this particular type of advice? Maybe I can broaden this question to ask about judgment versus insight. Later, he says he usually charges people for advice over the phone, but he hasn’t been charging me because nothing’s been working. But, he thought he would charge me this time, because sometimes that helps people to take things more seriously. Seriously? Then he decides to charge me for 20 minutes instead of a half-hour, because it’s a more balanced number—think about transcending the yin and yang, he says, getting to the next level.

Thinking about the body as a potential, but a potential for what? How come when something realizes its potential, it’s no longer potential? How many times a day do I go over to the computer to do something, and then end up doing something else, until I realize I was trying to do something, but what? Maybe this is the definition of belonging: staring at the computer screen trying to remember why I’m here.

Then there’s the other problem: staring at the computer screen when I should be getting ready to leave the house. Where something is happening, nothing is happening. And, where nothing is happening, something is happening. Is there still an in-between? I’m certain that ALL-THOUGH must be an acronym, although I’m not sure what for. Also, ALL-THOUGH might be the next literary movement. Now that I’ve discovered this, I’m going to leave the house. We’re always looking out for the moments when the micro becomes macro, but wouldn’t the moments when the macro becomes micro be harder to spot? I always think I’m going to leave the house with plenty of time.

I hate it when I realize that yesterday was the good day. Any sunny day in Seattle starts with the question: is it going to rain tomorrow? Wait, I have energy for ten minutes so I better use this energy to make sentences. That’s what I do when I have energy, right? Also, I could jump up and down, but really I need to eat. I hope this energy lasts past the eating, cross your fingers for me.

Maybe if I write about eating while I’m in the process, I can figure out where everything goes wrong. I mean I can figure out how to get somewhere else. The pumpkin seed milk is delicious, and I don’t notice immediate negative effects. But do you see how I’m always looking out for the negative? Because the negative is where eating always leave me. Okay, start with taste, right, I’m supposed to taste this. There’s a reason people talk about flavor. There’s a reason I cooked this food in a particular way, not just so that it wouldn’t make me sick, even though it always does. Chewing, I need to remember that too. Radish greens aren’t that great when you chew them, maybe I was wrong about radish greens. But I do love the subtle flavor of red spring onions. And these adzuki beans, what do they taste like?

Oh, texture — the gelatinous feeling of amaranth and teff, the crunch of burdock root, the creaminess of the adzuki beans. I do like these textures. The slight tartness of a radish among greens, the softer crunch of a string bean, a hint of parsley and those spring onions again. I think it’s helping me to write about eating while I’m eating, I can even feel my feet, this is a good sign. But if I wrote about eating every time I ate, I might not be able to do anything else.

But I haven’t yet fallen into the hellhole of dejection and intestinal bloating, let me take a few more bites. How do I describe the adzuki beans without relying on the ingredients I added? Like caramel and salt, and then the surprise texture of a mushroom. Here comes the sadness, should I stop before the sadness overwhelms? I used to feel like eating helped the sadness, but now more often it feels like it causes it. Okay, the energy is gone—I feel like I should lie down, but at least no horrible bloating. I will sit at the table to see what happens next.

Soaking my feet in vinegar is not as good as it was last time. Oh, I know— maybe I should do the same thing that just hurt my eyes, and it won’t hurt my eyes this time. One day maybe I’ll figure out why my building turns up the heat on the warmest days, and then turns it off entirely when it gets colder again. Once I had a sense of place and then I left it. I’m wondering if loss is a sense of place. I’m wondering if a sense of place is always a sense of loss. I’m wondering if a sense of place is always lost.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Simple and gorgeous

Let’s change every day to April Fools’ Day, okay? The news will be so much better. Sometimes when I miss you, it’s helpful to remember that we never met. What’s it called when you start every conversation in your head for a few minutes before you call, not just the details of the conversation but even the hello part? “Hi Paul, it’s Mattilda.” Or, “Hi Paul, it’s Mattilda.”

          Someone once told me to watch my language, and look what happened. Can you watch my language for a few minutes, I’m going to the store. But I think I figured out the problem with all my problems. The naturopath said something about how your body is always on alert, but that’s not my problem, it’s the next step past that. My body has been on alert for so long that now it’s so difficult to turn on at the right times. Meanwhile, my body goes into fight or flight while I’m eating, I think that’s what happens when my brain suddenly starts racing and I can’t focus on what’s actually going on, this process of nourishment. But I don’t need to fight this food, I need to eat it. I don’t need to flee, I need to digest. How to get my body to realize this. The story of my life: when I’m sleeping, my brain races around to plan out an entire essay. But then when I get up I can’t think.

          It seems to me that asparagus can be bitter, or sweet, but never bittersweet.

“To defend oneself against a fear is simply to insure that one will, one day, be conquered by it.” James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time. I can’t believe Vice Magazine still exists. One of my computers just changed its time, and now I’m not sure which one’s right. Should I check the clock? I just checked the clock. Do we all just sit here waiting, what are we waiting for?


          The 111-T is the latest heavy-duty high-pressure cementing unit designed and manufactured by BJ Service, Inc. The 300 hp truck engine also transmits power to a high pressure 4 ½” x 8” triplex pump (reciprocating ram type) through a torque converter located between the engine and main transmission. Another 4 ½” x 8” duplex pump is driven by a 172 hp industrial engine, and the combined horsepower of the two engines can be utilized to drive the triplex pump when excessive pressures are encountered. Postcard by TriColor Multiprint Corp., Hollywood, 27, Calif.

Feminism beyond the category of woman is a feminism many of us have been imagining for a long time, but unfortunately this doesn’t mean the other feminism doesn’t still dominate. Sometimes this domination takes place in surprising ways, like when the category of woman opens up to include people like me. While I do think this is testament to a lot of work by a lot of people that the category of woman can sometimes shift to include a variety of bodies, I still think feminism needs to shift away from a reliance on this category. But what does feminism beyond the category of woman mean? It means hope.

          It’s so hard to avoid clichés in writing a descriptive blurb. Of course, a descriptive blurb is its own cliché. When you feel so alone that you think about moving to places where you felt even more alone. But then the sun comes out. What’s the cure for nostalgia? Truth.

          I’ve never liked her music, except for True Blue when I slow-danced with Robyn Novick at the school dance. Or, okay, maybe I liked Papa Don’t Preach, but anyway, why has Madonna been in my dreams for the last several nights? Last night her daughter was trying to do push-ups, she collapsed after three and just kept going, didn’t want to drink any water even though Madonna told her water was the secret to her success. Then Madonna sent her daughter away with a friend she didn’t know, so that she could try on all her outfits for the Grammys, even though didn’t the Grammys already happen?

          Sitting in a park in the sun I’m thinking this must be one of the most beautiful things in the world until I realize this is a park in the historically black neighborhood, and everyone in the park is white. Unfortunately, I feel terrible about 300% of the time. The rest of the time, I feel great. I’m getting confused, because first I was told to save the screen. And then I was told to capture it. I keep thinking someone’s calling me, but it’s another solicitation for donations. Thinking about writing a book called I CAN’T EVEN THINK. Which means I’m actually trying to edit the book I’m actually writing. Except I guess I need to lie down again. It’s hard to call healthcare practitioners when I feel this awful. Maybe the sun will come out, and then I can lie in the sun instead of trying not to lie down in here. I can’t believe someone called Twitter a safe space. I can’t believe someone called anywhere a safe space. Maybe I’m getting somewhere. The sound of the saw outside, maybe there are birds, my eyes are so dry. Oh, there’s my breath. Let’s go in that direction. One day something will happen that will make me think nothing happened. Wait, I think that’s the sun. Is that the sun? I wonder what would happen if I did what I was trying to do when I sat down at the computer. Sometimes I think writing is about taking a really long time to do something that should be really easy. But anyway, there’s good news—I figured out how to change the beginning of this one chapter in my new novel, Sketchtasy, and now I can go on. CORRECT USAGE: A Funeral Home for the Upwardly Mobile.

          When someone says maybe the universe is trying to tell you something, I know I need another universe. Don’t call me sex-positive, but I think my whole body feels better just because I got fucked last night. And I wasn’t planning it. I was walking through the park looking for something else, but someone was looking for me, and then we were in the bushes. First I was thinking what am I doing getting fucked here, where there’s really no cover. Then I was thinking: what am I doing with my knees in the dirt, ass up in the air, and what if the cops come by right now? Then I was thinking how on earth does this feel so good, I mean I could just keep going but I better come before it starts to hurt. Then I was thinking maybe I should have gone longer, just to see how long it would have stayed pleasurable. But my knees were starting to hurt, that’s right — that’s why I stopped.

Only afterwards did I think of the real question: why is it a crime to do something so simple and gorgeous?

The other day I was surprised by someone who mentioned how a friend had to call the cops all the time because there were people shooting up behind his building. I was surprised because of the idea that they had to call the cops: I’m not usually around people who think this way. Especially when the idea was that they had to call the cops because someone was shooting drugs. When people say they have to call the cops because their landlord raised the rent, maybe I will start believing in the cops.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Even the gestures of intimacy

Did I mention I’m against the law? The problem with the sentence is that it’s always words. Thoughts on a new day: wouldn’t it be great if I didn’t have to go anywhere? And, why does my hair always look so good before I put my contacts on? Do I put my contacts on, or in? If someone had told me 15 years ago that people would be on their phones all day, but would never answer them, I would have been mystified. Maybe I still am. Today’s cooking tip: if you don’t turn the stove on, nothing will boil. Although it’s important to always use sturdy pots, because that way if you leave the house for several hours and forget to turn something off, when you come back, it will only be burnt at the bottom. I’m trying to get enough energy to go outside and lie in the sun. Writing that sentence made me so sad. Do I have enough energy to call someone? What happened — why am I such a mess? One day I will succeed at naming all the forms of exhaustion, but before that day comes I would like to feel better. What did I ever do before to erase and re-record press three?

          One day maybe I’ll figure out what separates the days when I wake up feeling awful from the days when I wake up feeling okay, but then feel awful an hour later, but before that day I would like to feel better. One day I’d like to live in an apartment where I can turn the heat on and off. At least right now I can turn it off. That’s what’s most important. A gray shirt that says LOVE PINK is not really doing it for me. Unfortunately I live in a world where it’s unrealistic even to dream that one day there won’t be any more fabric softener. Yes, sometimes while I’m in the hallway locking the door to my apartment I think: did I remember the keys? There must be another word for another word.

          If I think long enough about this sentence, maybe it will become something other than what it is. If this sentence become something other than what it is, maybe I can think about something else. If I’m not thinking about this sentence, then I’m thinking about something else. Watch this sentence for me, okay? Too much time to think is a myth, but I’m not sure who started it. Maybe I should do the dishes.

          I remember when faggots kissed hello. On the lips. We had so much to fear and so we feared nothing, I mean we feared one another but we feared fear more. Kissing one another on the lips, this was joyous and commonplace, a legacy we were inheriting, sometimes from people we hated and sometimes from people we dated, sometimes that queen on the street that you can’t believe, and sometimes the one you grieve, this doesn’t have to rhyme, what I’m saying is that we kissed because we had to. We had to know that we could kiss like this, just a simple greeting but something splendid and transgressive even when mundane, this was what it felt like. Yes, there were the ones who turned their cheeks, and we thought they were shady unless they explained this by mentioning a cold sore, one just starting or one in the past, whichever way we hoped we were taking care. We didn’t know we were the last generation to do this, to kiss on the lips all the time, people you knew and didn’t want to know, the ones you loved and the ones you didn’t even like that much, even the ones with bad breath, too much garlic was never a problem, we kissed anyway. We kissed the living and the dying, knowing that the dying are part of the living and we wanted to keep them with us.

Maybe this was a dream, I mean it wasn’t a dream, but maybe it is now. Now we’re more afraid, afraid of one another, more afraid, so even the gestures of intimacy have disappeared.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Here's what happens when I wrote something a month ago, and now it's here

I just got a royalty check for $69.08. Do you think if I ask them to round it up to $69.69, they would object? I know that 69 is not officially a round number, but just look at it — something needs to be done about that definition. What happens when your old passwords take over from your new passwords? Is there a password for this? A password is not the same thing as a pass. I don’t know because I looked it up in the dictionary. Suddenly someone appears, words or no words, this will be a sentence. No, if this is a sentence, then there must be words. But what about the sentence without words? Still looking for the right language.

I’m starting to be able to feel my breathing in more dimensions, I almost said three, but it feels like four. I guess I mean directions: forward and back, side to side, up and down — maybe that’s three, maybe that’s six, but whatever it is I’m feeling more and this is a good sign, I think. It’s hard to recognize good signs, because so often they end up not being that good. I’m not sure if that’s an error of recognition, a displacement of signals, or a simple reading mistake. The difference is mostly inference. But what’s the difference between error of recognition, and recognition of error? Inference versus interference? Sometimes I open two search engines at once, and then I’m lost. I just got a voicemail that said: be sure to put your breakable and sharp objects outside in a box marked blind.

When I wake up thinking about the liberal imagination suffocating everything imaginable, I wonder what this means about me. I’m suffocating, that’s for sure, but what about my own imagination? What about living here in Seattle, so surrounded by middle-class dreams I mean there is hardly anything else. When I described Seattle as middle class in orientation, someone who recently moved here asked me to say what I mean. She said oh, you mean American. Both are problems. Are there solutions? That’s what I’m trying to figure out.

One thing that’s harder here is to have interactions with a wide variety of people, I mean just when walking down the street. Because the people walking down the street are not that varied. And then, of course, there’s the problem that most people walking down the street don’t interact. That’s one of the things I mean by middle-class: act like you’re in the suburbs, even though you’re in the city. This is Seattle. I knew this when I moved here. It bothers me more when I’m doing worse. When I’m doing better, I can sense the other possibilities more. But what if Seattle is one of the things that keeps me feeling worse?

Saturday, May 10, 2014

“Sometimes there is a great emptiness, like shaking a box nothing is inside of; sometimes the box becomes warm”—Amina Cain, Creature

I guess there’s a rule that all public bathrooms must be dank and decrepit. But, if this is a rule, why is it not broken more often? Now that my view is gone, I can’t stop staring at the black mold growing on the outside of the frame of the new building across the street, my new view. Actually, the view I had before this building got to the second floor was the new view, since they tore down the beautiful old house across the street so they could build this new building. I kind of want to take pictures of the black mold, so that when they have a mold problem I can say look, it’s the builder’s fault. I guess this must be what the frame of every new building in Seattle looks like.

When you’ve felt so horrible for so long, it’s hard to imagine what the effects of aging might be. What’s it called when you feel like you’re on the phone with someone, but really you’re just sitting alone, looking at your datebook during your morning meal? What’s it called when smart, politically-engaged people suddenly start speaking in abstract theoretical jargon? Oh, I know: academia. On the street, someone says: don’t do anything illegal in that outfit, okay? A handwritten sign saying SAVE OUR PARK—but from what? Probably they mean drugs, but I wish they meant dog shit. SAVE OUR PARK FROM DOG SHIT. SAVE OUR PARK FROM DOG OWNERS. Yes, probably a good idea to put my face directly into the mattress to see if it still smells like the chemicals I’m allergic to. Speaking of allergies, the sun is out. I know I’m supposed to be excited. I could be excited. I used to be excited. I was excited. I’m not excited yet.

Thursday, May 08, 2014


I’m not sure what this means, but suddenly people are using umbrellas in Seattle. There was so much to say when I was in bed. Maybe I should go back there. Maybe it’s worth saying something about that feeling after craniosacral, when suddenly it was like someone else was in the room. I mean I could sense the pulsing of the light, but in a different way. Not a way that was attacking me. Let me try again: this feeling like suddenly I was connected, connected to something other than trying to push through in order to arrive, in order to feel anything except the feeling that everything is too much. Then I sat in the waiting room, and I felt that calm like a high something familiar from the past, but also in my body right here, this is what I want. When I got outside it was kind of startling how bright, a very slow walk home, tiring, but that moment when my breath suddenly got larger, that’s what I mean, when it was like suddenly my body wasn’t working against me, everything could open, was opening. Opening: that’s what I’m trying to get to.

Suddenly I’m thinking about all the guys I met years ago in backrooms in New York when I was a hooker, and then if we had a conversation afterwards they would ask what do you do, and then when I told them they were shocked. Unfortunately, gay culture has only become more hypocritical since then.

It’s not a good feeling when you’re sitting on the toilet and it starts to overflow. This is not a metaphor. Since I might be running late, I better check the bus schedule again, and then write about it. Okay, I’m about to leave the house, so I better check the weather again. Okay, I checked the bus schedule again. Obviously, I better change into green socks before leaving. We make art from our neuroses, do but do we make neuroses from our art? In this dream, I’m looking at the paint job in the park, and it’s the clumpiest thing I’ve ever seen, but then I realize all of the protruding parts at the bottom, they’re swans.

There’s something about the smell of the shiitake mushrooms cooking with the quinoa in vegetable stock that makes me think this might be a good day, which probably means I’m feeling a bit delusional. The best thing about the rain is the fresh air. I open the window, and there’s a gust of fabric softener hell—this is my bedroom, what I’m sleeping with, this headache. Okay, I’ll open the other window. If we lived in a better world, fabric softener would be abolished from the face of the earth, but instead we’re still dealing with the meltdown at Fukushima. But, wait—there’s a computer on the phone with me, making a special offer on air duct cleaning. There are no air ducts in my apartment—I’m so glad I picked up the phone. Indecision is definitely a sign of indecision. Still not sure what it means when I say how are you to someone on the street and she says: I’m blessed.