Monthly Archives: May 2008

things have never been so swell/i have never been so well

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i am at “work” at the TBH, listening to the local alterna-radio station play fuzzily while reading a book of essays by sarah schulman (heart!). “you know you’re right” by nirvana just came on & it reminded me of something weird. six years ago, on long island for the first time in a long time. i went on a job interview & didn’t bring my bike to the train station because it was 95 degrees out & i didn’t want to be sweaty. i took a cab from the train station in mineola to the job interview (which is another funny story but doesn’t fit in with what i’m trying to say here), went to the job interview (proofreading at a local paper), had literally everyone in the office stop what they were doing and stare at me in shocked silence (oh long island. this was during my closet-tranny period). i walked back to mineola & took the train back to syosset. nobody was home to pick me up, so i got into the cab.

cabs in long island are weird—you don’t get one all to yourself unless you pay top $. usually, you are herded in there with up to 5 other strangers and you get driven all over with them. there’s no meter & drivers charge whatever the hell they feel like. that day, the driver was my favorite one–a mid-20’s white guy with long tennis-ball-colored dreads. he was wearing overalls with no shirt & you could see his pierced nipple. some irritating woman was demanding that he drive her first, alone, and then send someone else to pick up the hordes. “fuck no! you want fucking private service, you call a fucking limo! come on, everyone, get in,” and we all herded in, kind of stunned. as we peeled out of the parking lot, he leaned out, gave her the finger, and yelled, “FUCKING YUPPIE!” everyone laughed. then “you know you’re right” came on the radio, and our cab driver got so happy, like this wave of relief visibly spread through his body. “fuck yeah,” he said, turned it up and headbanged. it made me really happy.

i didn’t take cabs for years before that. an old friend of mine, one i was secretly in love with, got raped by a cabbie when we were all 14 or 15 or so. she was coming home drunk from a party. this was after she stopped talking to me, so i heard it thru the grapevine, but it broke my heart, and for years i avoided cabs at all costs. not because i thought i would be raped, but because i couldn’t stand the thought of tipping the man who raped her. i didn’t know anything about him, but it was a small town, a small cab company. i liked tennis-ball-dreads dude because he was too young to have been working 5 years ago. and because he rocked out to nirvana and wouldn’t tolerate rude yuppies. man, i hate those yuppies too.

the sanest days are mad.

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my boss is in the hospital. broken leg with pins all over. i am worried about him, even though he is a tough m.f. like all arieses are, a fighter; he says he won’t retire until he’s dead and i believe him. but he’s on the southside reciting letters over the phone, i am alone in the office placating the various lawrencevillians who come in.

anyway, i have lots of interweb time. the last time he was in the hospital was at a very devastating time in my life when having lots of free time was the worst thing ever. i bought a lot of patches on etsy and filled out a lot of myspace surveys and wept in the bathroom. but now i am using this internet time for productive ends and making some good changes in my life, i think. i am doing a lot better than i was in that last post.

it’s sunny out and the soul station is playing less depressing songs than usual. i remember when the gloom first broke, it was like the most upbeat 8 hours of radio music i’ve ever heard in my life. i was dancing in the office by myself, so good. amanda and i finally put together this hammock we’ve been slowly dragging from her house to mine for six months. we lay in it and listened to iron and wine and it was perfect. the big dipper is directly above my backyard.

favorite memory #2.

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this is one that i never talk about, because i am not quite sure how to articulate it, but it’s something i find myself thinking about every so often.

2003, the beginning. i was just about to fall in love, but i wasn’t there yet. living in NYC at last & full of a delicious loneliness that was hardly painful at all. full of hope & hopelessness all at once. kastoory & i were traveling on the subway from her apt. in williamsburg to visit my kinko’s boy(embarrassing, i know). i had found a pair of vans on the street & on the L train discovered a used condom wrapper inside them & freaked out. kastoory said, “it’s the city [aka land of people not staring at anyone, no matter how bizarre, because they’re just too effing jaded or whatever] and people are still staring at you.” we laughed & laughed.

 we made the transfer from the L to the 1 at 14th street, through that tunnel that just feels endless, that feels like the hugest barrier to where you wanna go. at the end (or was it the beginning? i forget) of the tunnel, there was a man wearing spraypainted gold robes. he had a violin (was it spraypainted gold too? i forget.) his eyes were closed, and he was waving his violin bow in the air. slowly, and you could tell that whatever music he was conducting in his head was the most beautiful thing ever. we stopped and watched him, completely transfixed. perched on that bow was a parakeet, bobbing a little or stretching its wings when the bow got too unsteady, but otherwise staying right with him. we looked for a string around its little leg or for crucial wing feathers to have been clipped, but there was no such thing. the bird wanted to be there; it was as simple as that.

a little girl stopped & he opened his eyes and they just looked at each other for a few seconds. with a look of pure understanding. it wasn’t romantic, it wasn’t creepy, it was just like they got each other. she was maybe five or six and with her father. he hauled her away, and we could hear her scream, “daddy! no!” all the way down the tunnel. he closed his eyes again and was still. kastoory & i shuffled along, speechless by the extreme magic of that moment. we went to see my kinko’s boy, who wasn’t really mine anyway, and just sat on the subway, trying to say something about it. but what can you say? even re-reading this, i know there’s no way to convey to you how fucking amazing it was. finally, kastoory said, “he saw her, you know?” and that was all we had to say about that.

this week in verbs:

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singing, laughing, crying, worrying, fucking, crying, worrying, cutting, pasting, writing, hugging, screaming, barfing, dancing, screaming, laughing, drinking, worrying, worrying, worrying. i have also laughed nearly as much as i have worried, so perhaps this isn’t quite as draconian as it seems when reduced to mere verbs.

last night a friend got emotional about my possible demise. i felt real bad for bringing it up. i didn’t mean to, it just kinda came out.  then i went home where my ex made me cry for the first time in 7 years of friendship/dating, where she said all sorts of terrible things. all i wanted was a little support. after i screamed & cried & went off to my room to cry some more she came in & held me & apologized for being jerky, which is nice, i guess. still, i could hardly sleep, kept waking up overheated & not sure if it was the over-heat of two bodies crowded into one bed or something far more sinister. now i am at work feeling wrecked.

my horoscope keeps saying things like, “you’ve been having so much fun! enjoy it while you can, because things are going to get bad real soon”. my horoscope today says that i may get what i want, but it’s not what i need, and that i don’t have to fake being happy. my horoscope for tomorrow (when i am going to the doctor & hopefully get to the bottom of this freaking thing) “You must stay focused today as you push up against some of the same fears that previously held you back. The difference is that this time you are even more highly motivated to get it right. <b>A major shift is about to change everything,</b> so your clarity at this time is quite helpful in clearing the air.”

so vague, i know, so probably not even rooted in reality, but hard to not take seriously. a major shift could be really good or really bad & i am trying to tell myself that whatever happens i can get through it. it’s so weird, though, to stay hopeful when both my body & this planet are failing. yesterday sharon & amanda & i sat in my backyard reading zines, surrounded by my cute little hopeful plants & lots of other cute little hopeful plants growing in the cracks & i read a zine amanda’s boyfriend had gotten about how doing things like greywater & low-energy lightbulbs are just a way to placate ourselves because what we do doesn’t matter at all with factories & wars & landfills everywhere. it was hard. it’s hard to think that all this destruction is happening & yet huge plants are growing in the cracks. usually they give me hope but i am feeling very hopeless right now. the most important relaysh to me is being destroyed & i think it’s my fault, i think it’s because i brought her in my house & my house is truly where romance goes to die. not friendship, it seems, which is good because i have lots of great friends here & i don’t want to lose anyone else.

you gotta keep on, keep on livin’

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a lot of funny things have been happening. the unfunny ones are what is plaguing me, but perhaps the funny ones would make a more interesting blog entry. like: we have two clients at the law firm who are twin brothers. they are both very socially awkward & troubled–my unscientific diagnosis is asbergers’ syndrome in the quiet, well-groomed one and unmedicated manic-depression in the wild-haired one. this is just a guess. they are both very sweet, even if they do call me at work 5 times a day asking questions like, “my phone has been shut off. what do i do?”

anyway, they are selling their dead father’s house, which is why they are in here. yesterday they were hanging out in the waiting room, right next to my desk, waiting for my lawyer to see them. their perky, normal-person real-estate agent was there. i overheard the following conversation:

perky, normal real-estate agent: so, did you get rid of those…problems in your house? [the wild-haired twin has been having roommate issues, to put it lightly.]

wild-haired twin: huh? [pause, then his eyes grow wide, crazy, and bright] oh, you mean the demons and the concubine? i kicked ’em out!

the demons and the concubine. what precise nicknames. i heart my job.

i also heart a lot of our other clients: the 80-year-old black lady with a foot-high blonde bouffant; the lady who tells the funniest fucking stories about playing pranks on a woman who wore spandex pants with her adult diaper; and more. i could go on and on, but i shan’t.

things are kind of lousy with me, honestly. i am dealing with something that could either be life-ruining or totally benign & i won’t know for a while. the list of evidence in the “life-ruining” column is escalating & the list of evidence in the “not a big deal” column is dwindling. i don’t know how to talk about it, mainly because i am highly superstitious & don’t want to jinx anything. also because it is too scary, because opening my mouth makes my throat close up. mostly i feel like i can deal with anything, but sometimes i don’t think i can deal with this. i asked some girl to come home with me largely because i want someone’s arms around me because i am tired of dealing with this alone. did you know that in acupressure, the trigger points for letting go of grief and deep sadness is at the front of your chest, exactly where someone else’s chest presses against yours when you hug them? i learned this while researching a paper years ago, and i’ve never forgotten it. anyway, that girl didn’t come home with me but i had a good phone convo with one of my best friends, who’s been through this sort of thing before, and in a way that was a lot better.

in brighter news, i have become a karaoke fiend and gotten far more recognition for it than i had ever expected. i remember i lost my stage fright around this time last year at the queer studies department end-of-the-year party, reading poems & finishing up with an amazing piece by david wojnarowicz and i had everyone, i mean they were really truly with me, and they all cheered, and it felt so good. an ex-zine pal once said, “being up at the mic is better than fucking, better than being fucked.” and it’s true.

i don’t have any poetry outlets in the burgh so i just sing songs from the 90’s that i remember hearing on the radio back when the radio mattered. i didn’t think it would mean as much, or be as satisfying, but it’s pretty close. close enough. cindy from doris wrote this amazing piece in “doris” #24 about how she never felt okay until she sang in a band because her scream was powerful & she never knew she had it in her. i scream a lot anyway, but i can totally relate.

don’t drink & dress.

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last night was fun, full of bad songs, too much booze, gigglez, something that should have upset me not really bothering me at all, & a good phone conversation that lasted until 3 a.m. these past few days have been full of love & appreciation & i need it, in the face of this scariest thing.

now i’m at work; i woke up still drunk this morning and i am feeling pretty rough. two cute lesbians were canvassing my neighborhood & talked to me & i blew them off because i was late to work. i’ve been at work for over an hour, nobody has come in, and i have hardly done anything at all. i coulda talked. they keep walking by my window overlooking butler st., & they are so hot.

aren’t i, like, so deep? my ulnar nerve is tingling & i know what this is, thanks to my carpal tunnel zine that i’m writing. isn’t it sad that “zine” comes up as a mis-spelled word? lately i have been re-reading the “how sassy changed my life” book, which i am in (check me out in the index!), and arthur said that he was in manhattan the other day & saw julia stiles walking down the street with that book in her tote bag. “somewhere, ocean, julia stiles is reading your name!” i haven’t watched any of her movies, so i don’t really care, but that is pretty funny.

favorite memory #1.

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1996 or so, early. thirteen years old. it was a snow day. we were at d.’s house, because it had the lowest amount of parental supervision. d. was a troubled loud crazy girl from a really fucked-up family who i was secretly in love with, e. was a pretty little blonde from a really fucked-up family (and who is still one of my best friends today!) and i was a tall awkward bookish dork from a really fucked-up family who was just coming out of my shell, just learning how to talk so people would listen, just learning how loud i could scream & what it could do.

anyway. three thirteen-year-olds (perhaps e. was 14 by then. she’s an aquarius.) snowy day. bored. this was before the interweb. sitting in d.’s living room we saw some teenage boys walking by us. we dared d. to say something to them. she opened the window, pulled up the screen and screamed, in her waking-the-dead voice, “EAT ME OUT, MOTHERFUCKERS! YOU AIN’T SHIT! EAT ME OUT EAT ME OUT EAT ME OUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUTTTTTTTTTT!”

we all laughed. then one of us said, “oh shit, they’re coming towards the house!” we all panicked and ran out the side door, up the hill in d.’s backyard. no shoes, no jackets. d.’s backyard was a hill at about a 50 degree angle, straight up and totally icy. we ran up, half scared, half giggly. i looked down at e., climbing underneath me. she had a kitchen knife between her teeth, blade side pointed away from her tongue. she had a truly crazed look in her eye. i had a moment that i’ve had a lot of times since, where i look around and think, “this is so fucking crazy, and this is so where i need to be.” barefoot on the ice? why the fuck not? e. was so quiet in school, the only conventionally attractive one in our whole social circle. everyone thought she was so normal. but she had a knife between her teeth, and she took it out once we reached the bushes at the top to hiss, “if they come up here, i’ll stab them! i’ll stab them!” i have never loved her more.

that was the first time i fell in love with tough girls, the first time i made a vow to always have my life be crazy, the first time i looked at danger and got exhilarated. before them–just two years ago–i’d been resigned to a life of reading books in my old beatup chair. nobody touched me & nobody heard me. i would talk and people would just look in shock. i didn’t know how to be loud. people said my name like a punishment. who would have thought in just two years i’d have a new name, i’d be standing on a hill with knives & we’d talk about stabbing boys. we’d do it for each other, if that’s what it came down to, because that’s what we meant to each other. two years ago i would have cringed at “eat me out” and “motherfucker” but now my mouth was filthy, now it was curved to fit the shape of those words.

the boys knocked on the locked door & eventually went away. we went back inside and prank-called people and laughed until we couldn’t breathe, until we all thought we were literally going to die. & that was just the beginning, just the beginning.

my life isn’t really all that crazy or dangerous anymore, and i don’t really want it to be. but sometimes i miss that self, wire-rim glasses and all. i have a waking-the-dead voice of my own; that girl who screamed has a baby & lives on the other side of the country & hates me so much she won’t speak my name. that’s fine, i guess. she helped me enough.

cracking the code

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last night, amanda & i were walking to 80’s night & we had the following conversation:

o: i totally want to stay sober tonight, but i was wondering, have i ever danced in public when i’m sober? [pause] i don’t think so. [pause] well, it’s been a really long time. i was thinking about how blahblah once confessed that she’s never made out while sober, and then yadayada said she never had either, with ANYONE, but i guess that makes sense because they’ve never been in a relationship. [pause] OH MY GOD!!!

a: what?

o: you know how everyone always says, “i’m sleeping with this person…but i don’t know if we’re dating…what constitutes dating?” DATING IS WHEN YOU MAKE OUT WHEN YOU’RE SOBER!

a: oh my god, you’ve cracked the code!

and it’s true! i feel so defined. there is only one instance in my life where i’ve made out with someone i wasn’t dating while sober, and that was more coercion, loneliness & boredom more than anything.

incidentally, we went to 80’s night and stayed sober and danced way past the point of sweatiness and had an awesome time. the only real difference between dancing sober and dancing drunk is the fact that i felt way more awkward & insecure & i was way more conscious of everyone else around me than usual. there was a girl dancing near me who dressed & moved like a pal of mine who is dead & it was making me very upset, but also kinda happy, like i got to be around her again.

i think tonight i will decorate my carpal tunnel brace with stars. i think i will scrub my house with eco-friendly cleaning products while listening to mixtapes so old they’d be in middle school by now if they were people. it’s hard to think about the future when it feels like the world is ending, both in a large-scale way & on a personal bodily level, but i want so much. so many plans are hatching & i don’t know where to put them all.

i don’t think i will ever understand hipsters.