you make me sick, sick, sick, sick, sick. (trigger warning)

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so. today i got a new job (!) (it’s actually my current job, just with fulltime hours & more responsibility & more $$) and went thrifting in the mission to celebrate. i got some really rad stuff (captive genders for $1! an original edition of work of a common woman by judy grahn for fifty cents! etc) and decided to cut through clarion alley to get to BART–partially because it’s efficient & partially because i love the murals there. they’re always changing & always inspiring and rad.

i saw a new one there that i hadn’t seen before. the link doesn’t really do it justice, but it’s a comic about a girl who overdoses on heroin & is saved by narcania! a superhero giving her naloxone, a drug that reverses potentially fatal overdoses. it’s cool, a much needed public service. what was NOT cool was a well-scrubbed hipster family–a white, hetero couple probably a little bit older than i am now, with their daughter who looked to be 11 or 12–taking smiley pictures in front of it with an expensive camera. the dad and the daughter (as i say this, i realize i don’t know their exact relationship. they could all be cousins or friends or siblings or whatevskies) posed around the last panel, where the girl who’s been saved says, “thanks, narcania! i’m not sure that i have anything to live for, but thanks to you, i’ll be able to find out!” that is the happy ending–a heroin addict who states that she has nothing to live for, but is grateful to be alive, to live another day, to find out if there’s any fucking point to this existence. this is what passes for a happy ending in san francisco these days–or at least, a certain segment of san francisco.

the “dad” and “daughter” were on either side of this pale, suicidal, yet hopeful cartoon. they were smiling so big. the dad had a fist curled, on the side of the cartoon’s head, like he was just about to punch her.  the punch line. like this was all a joke. like youngsters dying, like youngsters having no reason to live, is something fun to take your picture next to while on vacation, no different than a picture of a smiling ear of corn in iowa or something. 

i stood, dead in my tracks, a look of abject horror on my face. the woman turned to me and said, “oh sorry, were you waiting to pass by?” big smile for me, because i’m white and vaguely hip and don’t look homeless or strung out. i wanted to say something. as usual i froze.

i had been thinking about freezing, because earlier that day i was gossiping with billi in front of our workplace while we smoked cigs. an argument at the housing complex across the street got heated and a man held a woman by her hair and bashed her face into the gate. i said to him (his back was to them), quietly, “holy shit, look what’s happening…” and before i could even get the sentence out of my mouth he was running down the street, yelling, “HEY STOP IT! FUCKIN’ STOP IT RIGHT NOW!” in all his faggy glory. i stood with my feet rooted to the ground, my voice ground down to nothing. i hate myself for not fighting back more. always. i hated it then and i hated it in the alley. i should have said something. it could have been a moment like this one for that young girl, where she realizes certain things, where it changes her life forever.

instead i just kept walking. can’t stop. can’t talk, my voice will break. can’t start talking too much, what if i say everything. what will happen to me. i walked down the alley, i gave my spare change to the guy who asked me for it, he asked where i’m from but i kept walking, didn’t answer. i just couldn’t.

4 responses »

  1. Hey, I’m sorry you had to deal with some bizarro, hipster Stepford family who didn’t even understand what they were smiling about (so sick and sad). And while you didn’t say anything this time, there’s always next time you come across something like this (unfortunately sad, but true).

    On a different note, I was one of the folks that attended your Minneapolis reading when you did the zine tour for High on Burning Photographs and I want to donate the money that I completely forgot to donate (I’m seriously sorry).

    Is there still a way for people to donate to you? Also, I noticed that you’ll be publishing a book (I will SO buy this and am letting people know about your writing), but are you still publishing your zine? I’ve been reading your blog lately and it’s really made me feel like I can actually WRITE (and I went to school for journalism for chrissakes, which actually just suppressed my creative instinct). If you’re publishing your zine still, is it possible to buy issues 1, 2, 5, and 8+?

    Anyway, sorry for this long question thingy, but I wanted to give you the money that you deserve since every time I read your words they touch me and leave me inspired to write about my own messes.

    Much love from Minneapolis,

    Kim

    • kim, this is so sweet! i’m glad you liked my reading & still remember it two years later. if you wanna buy my book that would be a wonderful donation! this srsly made my day, thank you so much.

      • Absolutely I’m going to buy your book! I know in one of your posts that you said it’s coming out in February and I’m REALLY looking forward to it, but I still would really like to pay you for your art (your amazing zines) :)

        Since you didn’t address the zine stuff, does this mean that you are no longer doing the zines? Oh, quick thought: Have you ever thought about maybe doing an omnibus edition of “High on Burning Photographs” if doing them piecemeal seems like an annoyance? I’m seriously sad that I missed out on those issues and would love to be able to read my missing editions of your thoughts in paper format :)

        Kim

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