Saturday, June 28, 2014

Scanning


So I wake up thinking about hashtags—warning: this might be a joke about a joke. Is that a hashtag in your pocket, or are you just happy not to see me? A hashtag walks into a bar. Or is a bank? How does a hashtag tell the difference? These are the questions we are faced with today.

Today’s cooking advice: turning on the wrong burner will probably not make your recipes more creative. A kohlrabi review: difficult to chop and it doesn’t taste that special, but in vegetable stock it’s the secret ingredient that changes your life. Help, the descriptive blurb is taking over my life. Maybe I should write a book called DESCRIPTIVE BLURB. Has anyone started a dating show called THE BEST ADVICE FROM THE MOVIE YOU NEVER WATCHED? And they’re opening up a gym down the street called Orange Theory. Does anyone understand this name? I guess Orange Crush was already taken. Orange Juice might make you thirsty. You don’t want to be thirsty while you’re working out. Maybe gym names are not supposed to make sense. Usually I guess they’re named after some guy who got really buff and now you go somewhere called Gold’s or David Barton or whatever, and don’t even think about it. Don’t even think about it: that’s an important important ingredient in gym culture. Maybe the most important ingredient. What are some other gym names? Crunch. That one makes sense. You definitely know what you’re doing if you’re going to 24 Hour Fitness, right? “You’re a woman of the ‘80s, you’re a Spa Lady.” That one made sense to me. But I was never allowed to go with my mother. Equinox. That’s one of the poshest. Retinal scanning instead of membership card when it first opened in New York 15 years ago.

Woke up thinking about Amina Cain’s Creature as a meditation on meditation, the distance of watching your own acts as they happen, the connection and disconnection between feeling and self-expression, the gaps between what we want and what we imagine. Meanwhile, whoever invented that atrocious smell described as cleaning the carpet, what do you think they were thinking? Indifference is the new difference. Whenever I hear the phrase killing it I want to run for cover. The trouble with being a writer is the trouble with being a writer. With all this killing it going on, what happens when you really?

Sometimes I feel like someone turned the lights off, even though it’s light out, maybe because it’s light out, but what do I mean if it’s the light that’s giving me a headache. My brain, that’s the light I mean, like my brain’s shut off no, it’s the distance between thinking and feeling, or feeling and being, being in bed, is that where I should be? If I close my eyes maybe I’m closing everything. Yes, I want to go get in bed, but maybe I’ll go for a walk, anyway. I thought today was the day when I didn’t feel so tired.

Every time I learn something about a sports team, I wish for no sports teams.

“I don’t know what truth looks like—I haven’t experienced it yet.” Amina Cain, Creature. And: “My challenge is to relax with another person in the way I relax when no one is there.” Thinking about the layering of desire inside violence inside calm inside work inside thought inside power inside powerlessness, and by layering I also mean the way the chapters overlap, voices in and outside of time, present and past and never-present and ever-present, maybe there is a play that becomes something other than play, something deeper in longing or violence. And then the relationships that people often do not call call relationships, at least not the relationships, between sisters and cousins and friends. In particular, friends, and how those relationships can last in different forms: “I think this is because the body still remembers the relationship, and most likely the bodies keep it alive in spite of the mind. The best thing would be to spend time with each other physically, but this is not always possible or appropriate.” The shifts in voice that build into and out of one another until suddenly we are in something almost like satire, with all-caps words like MY LIFE, except “My talent lies in gentleness, even if I am not a gentle person.” Is there always rejection inside dejection, I think that’s a question this book is asking. Husband and wife, and where this isn’t what it is, where this isn’t what it should be, where this should be what it isn’t, and where it is. Friends with physicality that might be desire even if it isn’t desire. A desire for softness. A desire for empathy. A desire for feeling, hearing, seeing, knowing, growing, flowing, I didn’t mean for this to rhyme. A desire for rhyme? The way one works with the other, the relationship becomes another organism.

          And then the last piece, where is it that I start crying? Before the question about whether the relationship will be forever, the question that gets in the way of the rest of my feeling because of course we know forever doesn’t happen, right? But this piece makes us question that. It’s a trope about a three-way relationship between the narrator and a married couple, something so easy to make go terribly wrong, but it doesn’t because this is the piece where everything comes together, that dynamic between feeling and trying to feel, exterior thought and interior action, suddenly everything opens up into a fluidity of comfort. A creature of us.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Don’t tell anyone, but I’m reading on Wednesday in Seattle at an event with “pride” in the title...


Yes, it’s called Write with Pride, and here’s what they say about it:

"Join us on Wednesday, June 25 at Gay City’s Calamus Auditorium for an evening of celebration as LGBTQ writers from across the community perform messages to our futures and to our pasts in a night of spoken and written words that share our hopes and reflect on how our hopes change. This will be a fantastic evening, as writers and voices from across the LGBTQ spectrum and across generations come together to celebrate looking back and looking forward with love, respect, hope, strength, and pride.

Write with Pride performers include Lambda Literary winner Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore, spoken word performer Roma Raye, Pride Foundation’s Gunner Scott, The Seattle Lesbian’s Sarah Toce, and more! This event is presented by Gay City Arts and hosted by Gay City and Old Growth Northwest’s Gay Romance Northwest initiative."

Sunday, June 22, 2014

My review of Martin Duberman's brilliant new book in the San Francisco Chronicle!!!

The myth of objective history is a cruel lie often used to silence marginalized voices and smooth over contradictory realities. Thankfully, in "Hold Tight Gently: Michael Callen, Essex Hemphill, and the Battlefield of AIDS," Martin Duberman resists both of these tendencies. Instead, he presents a meticulously researched, nuanced, empathic and insightful portrait of twoimportant artistic and political figures who came to prominence in the early years of the AIDS epidemic.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Sometimes I think I’m the only person who still goes outside thinking something magnificent and unexpected might happen


Today I walk towards the sun, stand at the bottom of the hill before the stairs to the street above the highway overlooking the skyline, and watch the shifting colors of the leaves blowing in the wind. Halfway down the stairs there’s a friendly dog, almost too friendly because he keeps jumping up and I didn’t realize English bulldogs actually jumped. But I liked English bulldogs even before I liked dogs, so it’s okay. Also, there’s the sun, so this is a different world, flowers growing in a field which isn’t really a field, just some rocks overlooking the highway. I discover a grassy hill I’ve never seen before, walking up the hill helps to realign my feet so they don’t hurt anymore, and when I get to the top I have to step over a railing to get back to the street. Then there are the usual gay couples who ignore me. Someone points in my direction, but actually he’s pointing at a condo. I decide to go back up that hill again, so I go down a different way, and I notice someone else wearing purple pants, but actually I’m not wearing purple pants. She smiles at me, and then goes back to texting. There’s that field of bluebells again, just past the hill I’m going to walk up, and when I look at the window of a building that looks redone I see that someone is looking out but not out, and then halfway up the hill I realize it’s not as pretty this time. Maybe it’s not as pretty because I’m already thinking about writing about it, halfway up or maybe two-thirds of the way the grass turns to mud and moss and then just mud and cigarette butts, and I keep almost stepping in dog shit. I guess if people are going to smoke somewhere, it might as well be here. Back on the street, I’m walking up the hill that usually seems overwhelming but now it doesn’t, except that now the sun isn’t out anymore and I’m cold. Suddenly I’m sad too, and when I get back to my block there’s some really loud noise, maybe the construction is going on late tonight. Actually it’s someone with a leaf blower, blowing allergies right into my face, and now my head hurts. There’s a container of dental floss on a chair in the lobby of my building, I do need floss but I don’t think I want someone else’s.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Imprisoned for the crime of being trans – free Jane Doe!

Does everyone know about the case of Jane Doe, a transgender teenager now in prison in Connecticut for over two months without any charge, held in solitary confinement for the crime of being trans? Unfortunately this case is not unusual. It’s the way the vicious prison system has been designed to work. What is unusual is the tremendous amount of support that Jane has received from an incredible group organizing on her behalf. And yet Jane is still in prison. Here’s a summary of the case, and what people can do to help, by Chase Strangio and Reina Gossett...

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Oh, look — HOOK-Online just published a lovely excerpt from The End of San Francisco — a full chapter, in fact, hooray!

Sure, here I am again walking through the artificially dark halls of men madly projecting masculinity at any cost because that’s what gets them action. But the point is that it no longer matters: suddenly I’m so present. It doesn’t make sense really, but I’m laughing and grabbing guys to kiss them on the neck, then I’m devouring this one guy’s ear, tongue tasting the hills and valleys and he’s hugging me or maybe I’m mostly hugging him but whatever it feels good and starts a trend because then there’s the guy with his head nestled at my chin, the few words we exchange are not exactly going anywhere that resembles connection but that’s okay too or no, it’s not okay, but it’s okay.

Sunday, June 08, 2014

The descriptive blurb

Today everything is over, before I’ve even left the house. Of course, this is a common occurrence. Sometimes I think of my life as before and after: before I got up, and after I went to bed. But what is this thing called universal human dignity, and where do I find it? Walking down the street as the sun is setting, and the skinny white drug child with pink hair across the street is saying something to me, I’m not sure what. Now she’s saying work it, girl—work it, girl—in a good way! Why doesn’t this happen more often? A block away, and I realize that at first she was probably saying cun-ty! It’s been so long since I’ve heard that, please bring it back, in a good way.

Update from the yoga boutique: a floor length green-and-white striped tank top dress for $68. That’s their best deal yet. Hurry on over before they bring back the namaste coffee mugs. I’m trying to remember what happens on opposite day. Someone once told me that integration and disintegration are opposites. There’s how I think I feel before I get out of bed, and then there’s how I feel after I get out of bed. What’s the opposite of a drone?

Success: I opened the window so this wasp would leave, and it did. How do I apply this in other areas? Editing is tricky: once I add something back in that needs to be there, I have to pare everything down so you don’t notice. And now for the dreaded descriptive blurb. Oops—that headline said Jim Crow but I read J.Crew. Is there a synonym for a synonym? One is uniform, and the other is the uniform. In my dream I was staying at two airbnb places in the same building—so close, actually, that they connected and I wondered if I made a mistake by overlapping my stays. One of them was in Eugene, and the other in Portland, and they were inside a huge new hotel in New York inside an older crumbling building and I was picking up gorgeous pieces of the old building like part of a gold dome, wondering if I could take these artifacts home with me. So I was falling in love with the first sentence of my new descriptive blurb, but then I realized the second half was almost the same as the first sentence of my blurb for So Many Ways to Sleep Badly. The ruins of everyday San Francisco had become the ruins of everyday interaction. Maybe I should use the same descriptive blurb for every book. Marketing is marketing, right? It doesn’t matter what you’re selling.
 
Don’t worry. It’s already about a late-night moment. Consensual identity theft. Identity trading. Identity index. Selective identity. It still feels kind of like it’s going to feel. Leaving the house is hard does not mean that staying in is easy. I don’t understand what happens when I suddenly get so hot I think I have a hat on. Also related to when I go outside and think I don’t. I always want my hair to look really good when I go in for a haircut, so that the hairstylist will know what to do. Sometimes we live in the city where everything is already lost, which doesn’t mean that we can’t lose more. Indifference is the new difference. You know you must be addicted to publishing when you spend hours working on a descriptive blurb and derive some sort of satisfaction from this project. Don’t get me wrong — I still think the descriptive blurb is a scam, it’s just that right now I’m a part of it. Okay, it’s sunny outside, but the descriptive blurb is keeping me inside. How do I break free? I did not just write craving for authentic experience. Okay, it’s definitely about the brutality of belonging, now I’m going outside for a walk in the sun if the sun will wait for me, please. Amazing how I can spend hours trying to make one marketing paragraph sound simple or ecstatic, expansive or comprehensive, or just basic and elastic. I still think I should use the same descriptive blurb for every book.

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Wait, did I mention that I just won a Lambda Literary Award for The End of San Francisco?!!!!

It's true—usually I don't get so nervous about these things, but last night I was following the progress of the ceremonies via Twitter, and it made me so edgy!!! Also, it meant a lot to me that the judges in the category of Transgender Nonfiction were thinking of transgender as a category that extends, bends, mends and transcends—I couldn't stop sobbing when I found out that I won the award. Thanks to all the judges, congratulations to all the other finalists and winners, and here's to more delight and excitement in the future!!!

Ashamed to play

Okay, so I turned on my computer, pulled up Google to search for something, but instead I saw Support a world where every athlete can be #ProudToPlay” just underneath the search bar, and clicked it in anticipation of something awful. But it’s even worse than I thought—it’s a covert ad for the World Cup at a time of unprecedented protests that threaten to derail the games. Protesters in Brazil are calling attention to the mass displacement and structural inequality caused by the construction of an unnecessary $500 million new stadium, facing repressive police state tactics in response. The “ProudtoPlay” video paints an entirely different picture, starting images of Brazilian beaches and cheering soccer fans, and a voiceover by Nelson Mandela, back from the dead to tell us that “Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does.” And then we are treated to gay athletes from around the world, mostly people of color, telling us how proud they are. “This is the biggest moment in sports. It’s our time to make a difference and show the world that every athlete can be proud,” says a white guy towards the end, and then we see Nelson Mandela again, telling us that “Sport can create hope where once there was only despair,” and then a rainbow soccer ball next to the YouTube logo. The official YouTube blog for the video tells us that “In celebration of the upcoming World Cup in Brazil and LGBT Pride month, we’re honoring the LGBT athletes, their supporters, as well as the YouTube Creators who stand up for diversity in sports and elsewhere—all of whom help create an equal and inclusive playing field for everyone.” Apparently an equal and inclusive playing field means spending $500 million on a new stadium in an impoverished neighborhood instead of putting that money towards schools, healthcare, housing, food, and other basic necessities Gay athletes and everyone else should be ashamed to play at any sporting event that causes massive displacement and serves as a showcase for corporate greed and real estate profiteering. Yet again, an allegedly pro-gay agenda is deployed as a covert advertising gimmick for multinational corporate whitewashing. When will this end?