the past isn’t dead. it isn’t even past.

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this is what things look like lately, a lot of lying in bed alone, wearing cute tights and having no energy or desire to leave the house. my main squeeze has been too busy to come over lately, and i’ve been too busy/tired to go over there, so my bed has turned into a nest of books, scissors, rubber stamps, (it’s weird because i’m typing this and i see my left hand typing and then i see my left hand in that picture above, it’s a little disconcerting), paper scraps, boxes of crackers, fabric, tinctures, zines, envelopes, etc. when he comes over i make things into a pile but usually i just need enough space for my body. it feels nice surrounded by mess, art tools, words. it feels like safety to me. it feels like my own little kingdom that is horrifying to most people, but the ones who make it there understand, and that’s what matters.

i am an old person lately: sewing while listening to books on tape, taking long, aimless walks to look at graffiti and plants. work has left me too exhausted to socialize and EVEN THOUGH I KNOW IT’S NOT TRUE i often feel like i don’t have friends here. trying to take care, hold on, be safe. be useful and compassionate still. everything goes in cycles. there is one exciting thing going on that i can’t really talk about here. let’s just say that the two of bottles keeps coming up in my tarot card readings. but, as exciting as this potential and spark is, it’s also highly problematic and could fuck everything up super hard, so i can’t let myself give in to it and just be stoked. what does it mean to feel a strong connection with an unlikely person? what are they trying to teach you? i really wish i had someone i could talk to about this.

feeling magical despite all the drama and hopelessness. feeling safe despite all the chaos. listening to high energy songs and also sad songs. about betrayal, desperation, hope and crushes. i just turned thirty-two! does any of it matter?

visual evidence

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I feel like sharing a little bit of where I live. Partially because most of my best friends live very far away and don’t see the little items and spaces that make up my world. sorry if these pictures aren’t the greatest, I don’t have a smartphone. I make do.
hallway

my neighbors put this in the hallway. it felt poignant. we all live in such tiny spaces here, it seems unsustainable for the long term. all of our homes are temporary.

blankey

my patchwork quilt that scarin trashpicked over a year ago. it is torn up like hell, and any halfway sensible person would have scrapped it by now. written it off as a lost cause. not me though. I’ve been patching it up, slowly, using patches that no longer seem appropriate, or cloth pads that I don’t need now that I have an IUD, or t-shirts that don’t fit. clockwise from top left, I have a patch that I bought on etsy that happens to be printed on the same sheets I had as a child, a few cliché bike patches, a cute frowny artichoke shirt that was too big, a repurposed former rag with kiwis and strawberries on it, a lovely silkscreen patch of a bike being carried away by birds that I wore on the back of my hoodie for years until it got too mud-splattered and torn, and a t-shirt for the Berkeley Prison Lit Project (which I am a core member of) that emma gave me that is far too small. this is only one corner of this blanket. to capture the whole thing in one photo is hard. it feels nice to lay beneath.

view

the view outside my window. a tiny slice of brilliant blue sky. the scarf says “another world is possible.” etta made it.

each day

my bike, at aquatic park in berkeley, under some posi graffiti. I live so close to here and I like to go there after an overnight shift, when I’m waking up at 4:30 and desperately need some sunshine on my face. California stuns me, endlessly, with its beauty.

 

apt

the white walls were upsetting me, so I bought some fancy paper and taped it over the walls. I’m not allowed to paint. it made me feel about a hundred times better!

tenofkeys

this card, the ten of keys from collective tarot, is the card of burnout. of loving everything you do but stretching yourself far too thin. I feel that card tremendously, and it looks a little bit like my apartment. am I living in the ten of keys? I don’t know. I mean, I have certainly been busier, stretched thinner, but sometimes it doesn’t feel that way. I do an ok job of taking care of myself but there never seems to be enough time. Always exhausted, underslept, my book to-do list is so long and I just don’t know how to do it. Trying to teach my impatient Aries self to take things slowly, slowly. it’s so hard sometimes.

springtime, even though it never was winter here.

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hello! i have been writing blog entries in my head for months, but i never have the internet time to actually do it, it seems. i wrote a lot of really good ones and i LOST them, ugh, oh no. where did they go? i’ve been remarkably busy with my book, trying to get it out into the world in as many forms as possible, trying to get people to actually read it. the library! i would like it to appear at the library, any library, but mostly i have to find a distributor and i think maybe i need to pay a lot of money? but i’m really not sure. i wish somebody could do this all for me: fundraising, promoting, asking people to do things, technical stuff. i’m fine with mailing books, writing, and blogging about this process. i can do that part. i realized that i haven’t written anything besides blog posts for at least six months because i’m too busy trying to bring this thing into the world. that makes me sad.
in other news, i’ve started binding again for the first time since 2003. last time it was motivated by pure self-hatred and body dysphoria, it felt desperate, urgent. this time it’s way more casual. a gender hiccup, not a gender crisis. no desires for surgery or pronoun changes. i just like the way my chest looks more when it’s flat. it’s interesting how differently people perceive me–a lot more hatred (i’m pretty sure someone spit at me the other day) and a lot more embarrassing pity. as a (possibly-controversial) side-note, i’m pretty tired of hearing gender-conforming people complain about how nobody GETS their obscure gender. i’d really fucking like to walk down the street dressed the way i want without having to worry that someone is going to bash my face in, without planning what i will tell my clients who will inevitably be triggered by my bruised face, without calculating how much sick time i have left, how much i will need to take to recover. without stressing about how i’ve already had two concussions that fucked up my life and they’re cumulative, they’re cumulative and i think if i get a third there is a part of me that will never come back. i don’t give a fuck if anyone GETS my (strange) gender, I WANT TO BE ALLOWED TO LIVE. i want to not be scared. i want to not have a history that includes a man at a train station whispering to me the details of how he will kill my faggot ass once these people leave, how he has a gun and no one will miss one less faggot….and how terrified i was to speak, to say one word, because my voice gives me away as female and what, what, what will he do to me then? i have tried to conform and i can’t, i can’t. there is a common misperception that people who don’t conform do it because they “like being weird” and while i do like it in some ways, it is mainly out of a lack of choice. i have tried and i have failed. the choices are: accept it or die. i don’t want to die, so that is my only choice.
the ex i love most once called me an “anti-drogynous boy in a skirt” which melted my heart, the way i was understood. i am not a boy, but…there aren’t any words for what i am, and in many ways it doesn’t actually matter.
ok, writing this blog post has actually made me very upset, i think i need to go home and drink some skullcap tea now or something. in other news, i got a crock pot and think it’s an important form of self-care. i am trying to prioritize friendship more. soon i will be able to catch up on my mail. soon, soon. i am getting somewhat used to working 12-hour days, being out of the house from 7am to 10pm (or 7pm to 10am when i work overnights). my home is still a sanctuary. i pretend that it’s a ship’s cabin. so tiny and so cozy.

a note on myself.

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current mental status: overwhelmed. increasingly disorganized. experiencing an upsurge in hopelessness. how can i not, when that garbage can outside of my apartment says “hope is the worst of evils, for it prolongs the torments of man.” i’m starting to believe in that. i wrote why but then i deleted it. not for this forum.

i got my christmas present in the mail from my mom today, after over a month of change-of-address bureaucratic mumbo jumbo. it was a t-shirt advertising a tree grows in brooklyn, one of my favorite books ever. it made me happy. i’m wearing it at the library right now, waiting for a book nerd to notice it but realizing that that probably won’t happen.

i don’t feel like explaining the book right now (you can google it if you aren’t familiar with it or with its premise) but maybe you know that i have a gorgeous picture of an ailanthus leaf tattooed on my thigh. ailanthus, also known as the “tree of heaven”, is the said tree in this book. it represents survival in bad circumstances, perseverance. surviving. survival. surviving.

it’s a gorgeous tattoo, but i won’t post it here, for it seems like a shitty ex of mine is still reading, and i don’t want him to know what my body looks like now. i want the version of my body in his head to forever be the wrong one. it is a tiny bit of control in an uncontrollable situation that, despite all the work i have done on letting go, still haunts me terribly.

a lot of things haunt me. terribly. i’ve had several bad dreams about an ex-friend that shouldn’t bother me so much, i mean, i knew she was terrible pretty much from the get-go, i listened to her patiently because i was trying to be nice, because i sensed the damage and thought i could help, but her toxicity just swallowed me. and it’s fine, we don’t have contact, she was never that important to me, she is stuck inside a miserable life and as my old therapist once told me, living well is the best revenge. but i still have a lingering resentment that claws at me, that i can deny in my waking life, but when i go to sleep it’s all still there.

i have been experiencing an upsurge in insomnia. new schedule. i sleep extremely poorly next to my sweet sweet lover, and not all that much better when i’m by myself. i’m nearly out of ativan so i bought some stinky valerian root & some lemon balm for nicer nights. i just can’t be refreshed. soon i will adjust or things will change. i don’t know.

i sent a text to ______, my good friend and occasional lover in pittsburgh, this morning. it said, i had a dream that you had cancer and i was your support person. i took you to do fun things and held you while you cried. honestly, i think this has more to do with me, and how overwhelmed i am with my job and my life, than you. but i like to tell people when they show up in my dreams :)” (of course, i mean people i like). he hasn’t responded yet, and i mean, really, how could he. what do you say to that. i sent it mostly as an act of courage and love, because i know that he is not going to be scared away by me being my most authentic self, and that means so much to me i can’t even put it into those words.

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.

2013 in review!

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1.What did you do in 2013 that you’d never done before?

legally changed my name!!! fundraised to publish my book! made this thing real, finally finally finally. those two have been on my to-do list for years. also: learned an ex has raped someone & dealt with the complications around that (including what to do with a large body of autobiographical writing where he is portrayed pretty un-harshly). visited seattle. taken the train across the country (twice). worked on christmas day. worked all night, multiple times. talked a stranger out of committing suicide. filed a missing person’s report (also multiple times).

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

i published my book! although it’s not back from the printer’s yet so idk if that counts. i got a job and i loved in a sustainable way. i dunno what my goals are for 2014.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth? yeah, but i’m not close with any of them. aly & tara just gave birth yesterday, separately.

4. Did anyone close to you die? sean, although we weren’t close. a few clients, although again, we weren’t close.

5. What countries did you visit? none.

6. What would you like to have in 2014 that you lacked in 2013? financial security, paid vacation time.

7. What dates from 2013 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

swimming naked in the pacific ocean with nora in october was one of the high points of my entire life, let alone the year. i will remember intense moments at work, dancing by myself besides the SF bay, some really intense and healing conversations with a new friend, some moments with my book, taking some pittsburghers to the hot tubs and marvelling at the strangeness of life and how we all got here, sailing to treasure island drunk with eva, dave and their weird marina neighbor, playing on ziplines in seattle with monica, murph and adam, lizzie surprising me with a picnic on my birthday, laying in the hammock with jordan after a devastating and scary family fight, my mom getting excited about the giant duck, listening to my ipod as the train chugged through gorgeous mountains in seattle, reading strangers’ tarot cards on the train, reading maranda’s tarot on the steps of my old house, going to the bay with jill, i don’t know, lots of stuff!

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

doing a lot of good work. changing my name.

9. What was your biggest failure?

not setting appropriate boundaries with certain people. a few things that i fucked up at work.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

i got the flu recently which was awful, and i fucked up my neck in july & had to go to the chiropractor. other than that i’ve been mostly ok.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

the legal notice for my name, the cover of my book (three hundred bucks from a friend, and totally worthwhile), plane/train tix to the east coast, tasty food, my new coffee pot.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?

my friends & my sweethearts, some clients, some co-workers.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

the city of san francisco.

14. Where did most of your money go?

student loans, traveling, and moving.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about? my new apartment, visiting the east coast, and publishing my book!

16. What song will always remind you of 2013?

i dunno if any new songs really came into my life this year. embarrassingly, “same love” by macklemore will always make me think of this summer.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:

a) happier or sadder?  a little sadder, but still okay.

b) thinner or fatter? thinner, but that’s cuz i just had the flu :(

c) richer or poorer? i have a lot of $ in my bank account but it will all be gone soon.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of? writing.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?

dealing with people’s bullshit.

20. How will you be spending Christmas?

already spent it. i was at work all day but there wasn’t much to do so i got paid double time to eat snax and go on the internet. rad!

21. Did you fall in love in 2013? stayed in love.

22. How many one-night stands? none, but i made out with a few new peeps.

23. What was your favorite TV program? orange is the new black.

24. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year? i hate the same person more.

25. What was the best book you read? “telegram”, “do it anyway”, “dear sugar”, “welcome to my country”, “the way forward is with a broken heart” and probz a lot more.

26. What was your greatest musical discovery?

don’t ask me for a musical discovery, i’m hardly cutting edge. i spent most of this year listening obsessively to beyonce & jawbreaker.

27. What did you want and get? published book & name change, meaningful work that i am good at, cali-friends, lots of (unpaid) vacation time

28. What did you want and not get? a good night’s sleep, a paid vacation, recognition from higher-ups, etc

30. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? I was 31, i was in pittsburgh. lizzie surprised me with a fancy picnic in front of the library, then jessie picked me up and we gossiped, then shea & stephy took me out for pizza and we gossiped some more! i talked for like ten hours straight and it was a good day.

31. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

probably more money. and my friends standing in solidarity with me and no longer hanging out with my shitty ex.

32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2013?

the same.

33. What kept you sane?

validation.

35. What political issue stirred you the most?

just the gentrification of SF & the cutbacks that affect people i care about.

36. Who did you miss? east coasters.

37. Who was the best new person you met? everyone at work! also i am glad that asher came back into my life <3

why yes, it has been a long december.

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at work, we keep all the knives in a drawer or a locked cabinet, sweep the house to make sure that there aren’t any laying around. most people won’t do anything with them besides chop vegetables, but you never know. one of my co-workers is traumatized by something awful that happened recently with a pair of scissors, while she was working all night alone. i worked with her on christmas day and she kept asking, “where are the knives? where are the scissors?!” hypervigilant. i don’t blame her.

i’ve been working a lot and i am exhausted and burned out. one co-worker, who i met for the first time on christmas when he was coming in for the night shift, talked to me for ten minutes and said, “you need a vacation.” my sister sent me a letter yesterday where she said that i sound “tired” on my blog. i dunno if she means this blog or the one related to my book, but she’s right! i am tired, the kind that sleeping or coffee can’t touch. yesterday i worked thirteen hours and it was exhausting but i did a workshop based on a piece from doris zine which some people really seemed to like (it was from the Q section of the encyclopedia of doris, the piece called “quitting”). i got to share it because it changed my life when i first read it and i thought it could change someone else’s life too. i got to share it because i wanted to and nobody is going to tell me no. i also got three hugs, a few high fives, a few sincere thanks. all of these things make me feel good, keep me going in the face of trauma, despair, and futility.

it was good but i’m glad i have the next two days off, where i can wear inappropriate shirts and be restoratively silent and go to the vegan coffee shop with my boyfriend and generally chill the fuck out. my apartment feels a little like a hotel room, temporary, like it will never be a real home. i had a moment of genuine loss for a second but i don’t want to write about that. the white walls kind of bum me out & i can’t paint them. the white curtains. everything coming into my life seems to be white, or at least i see the white spaces more. i am a colorful person and it’s kinda harshing my mellow–although, of course, i am still infinitely grateful to have a home at all in this city, and a safe one at that. i’ll ride it as long as i can, and then do something else, i guess.

what i’ve been doing.

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enjoying my new apartment, in a slow quiet way. working too much & feeling burned out & stressed. applying for loans, financial aid, and credit cards. realizing that i may not get any of them and therefore won’t be able to do anything i want to do this year. trying to be okay with this and figure out some alternate way.

eating lentils. learning adobe indesign. laying out my book and feeling super glad that i didn’t have the money to outsource this step, cuz now i have a new skill, and now i know my book on another level. i know it in a way that i will never know any other book in the world. it’s a nice feeling.

disgruntled with work lately, but today we had to go to some bullshit meeting in which i thought they’d be taking away one of the few benefits we have; so i wore my IWW shirt that i got from a freebox that says, “the working class and the employing class have nothing in common.” my co-workers applauded that, even the ones that were severely pissing me off just a few days ago, and the fact that i can show up for a staff meeting in a ripped-up radical t-shirt and have people be delighted is one reason to enjoy my job. another reason is that a guy stopped me on the street, a former client. i honestly didn’t remember him, but he remembered me and shook my hand, said he’d been sober for three months and was looking for work and couldn’t have done it without us. it was truly heartwarming, because the clients who are doing well don’t come back to us, so it’s easy to feel that we don’t help anyone, and important to remember that we do.

i’ve been the busiest i’ve been since moving here; since losing my job in pgh in may 2012, actually. it’s overwhelming but mostly good. laziness and numbness are not good for me. feeling kind of too scattered to read, even, but i have a big stack of library books by my bed and i’m slowly picking my way through them.

i hated winter but i crave it. i don’t want 5 months of winter like back home; more like two weeks. maybe i can get a flight deal in february or something. but i don’t know. i’m edging towards being broke and it makes me so nervous; i’m not one of those people who can be happy with a huge credit card balance, with debtors calling. i live within my means and i’ve survived 13 years of poverty with my good credit still intact, which is no small feat. i think those days may be over & i’m trying to be okay with it. trying. trying. that’s all you can do, i guess, is just keep on trying.

some things will always be true.

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right, right, never use the word always, it’s overrated and often inaccurate. but there are some things that i can’t seem to avoid. no matter what bike i ride, the brakes are always shitty and nobody can fix ‘em. it’s ok, i’ve adjusted my riding style. slow down way before the red light. my room will always be messy and no amounts of threats or cajoling or withholding will change that. (although moving into a tiny studio apartment just might! we’ll see. don’t hold yer breath).

last night i was talking with a friend about how we experience love so much differently than we used to. romantic love, i mean. how we both used to be so obsessive and now things are so different. how the person is not the center but just part of a life. there was the unspoken sentiment hanging in the air that a certain heartbreak had made us both this way, that we were damaged, that we can’t love the way we used to because it just hurts too much.

the next morning i wished i’d said maybe what we think is the result of heartbreak is actually the result of maturity. there’s definitely multiple upsides to being this way, in fact i think i like it better. but, you know. there’s always that residual sadness. someday, maybe, we will be so used to it that we don’t even notice it’s there anymore.