Monthly Archives: June 2010

no snappy title for this one.

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so. today i read brother, i’m dying by edwidge danticat, which is a totally heartbreaking book about family and illness and political unrest in haiti. i read it on the subway taking me away from new york. the first chapter made me cry, quietly, on the subway, with everyone sneaking glances at me in that new yorker way where they’re interested but don’t want to act too interested.
i read it while sitting in the plane for a fucking hour waiting to take off, and i read it while sneaking glances of the ocean beneath me, feeling the almost physical pain that comes with leaving, yet again.
when the saddest part of the book happened i glanced out at the rolling fields of western pennsylvania, hundreds of miles beneath me, and i hated bureaucracy and america and fucked up immigration policies and colonialism and america, again. just hated it, all this hate and sadness stuffed in my body, in a hermetically sealed airplane.
oh, but i’m a lucky, lucky girl, because all of that sadness, plus all the sadness and rage i carry with me anyway got to come out! i arrived at my home, my home that i’d dreamed of my entire week away, only to find that my boundaries have been completely trampled upon & that something really really not okay happened in my absence, and so i screamed and cried until i literally couldn’t breathe, i just felt so out of control.
once the immediate drama had died down i felt extra bad. because my home is safe, that’s why i love it, it’s safe for everyone who comes here but most especially for me. i had never had a permanent home where i felt safe until i came to pittsburgh; it’s really important to me. and tonight my home was not safe, and it was unsafe because i made it that way.
those who have been raised with any amount of violence and/or excessive anger might know what i’m talking about. that promise that you made a thousand times growing up, i’m never going to do this, not to anyone. and then when you react violently, even when it’s not half as bad as what you endured when you were a freakin’ child, you still feel that horrible guilt. the guilt of, oh my god, i am not any better than them. the guilt of, all that suffering was in vain, because i haven’t learned anything.
that’s not even true, because i have learned some things from my childhood. and i only react in extreme anger when i am very, very provoked. but it’s still scary and it still sucks.

i’d love to go drowning, and to stay & to stay, but the ocean doesn’t want me today.

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hello from new york. i’m at my dad’s house and it’s like 8 AM and i’m waiting patiently for my stepmother to go to work so i can use the washing machine–oh, to be 28 and sneak around like a drug addict for something as simple and innocent as washing clothes. everyone likes washing clothes, right? unless you’re kinda ocd and passive aggressive. sigh. i committed the crime, yesterday, of turning off the air conditioner when no one was home and today, as retribution, it’s cranked up (down?) to 65! ugh.
new york’s been really fun thus far, although tinged with a weird sadness. like 1/2 “i hate american consumer culture” mixed with 1/4 “i miss my cute little house and my cute little boyfriend” mixed with 1/8 “ugh site of many bad memories” and 1/8 “why is my family basically never there for me when i need them?”
but, despite all that, i’ve been having fun. swimming in the murky polluted atlantic/bay every day and even though it’s kind of sad, it feels like home, it unlocks some sort of key in my heart.

(i look kinda grim in this picture, but i was actually really happy, despite being freshly made fun of for my hairy pits. this was taken before i got my gnarly-ass spray-sunblock burn, where i have patches of white & red all over, because i believed the stupid bottle when it said you could just spray it on & you don’t have to rub it in. fuck you, spray sunblock!)
it was my mom’s birthday and she wanted to go on this bizarre fund-raiser boat for her favorite public radio station. it was a shipful of middle aged public radio nerds, plus me & my sister. we were initially dismayed about this fact, but then once we realized that we could do whatever we wanted & not feel judged we felt a lot better.

we all got kinda drunk, which is weird for me, since i haven’t gotten legitimately tipsy in at least a year. my mom was hilarious and dancing wildly on the front of the ship:

i mostly just looked at all the lights and thought about the city. i missed it and i didn’t.

when we passed under the brooklyn bridge, my mom told me about my great-grandpa’s stories of building the brooklyn bridge, how the process of mixing and pouring cement was unstoppable for some reason, and so if someone fell into the columns, they just died, there was no pulling them out. how the brooklyn bridge, for him, was a gravesite, because he knew which bodies it contains. intense!
it was a really good night, strange & beautiful.
yesterday i went to the ocean, got sunburned, and realized that i am now afraid of the ocean. i never used to be. but when even a slightly large wave came in i would scream. i stood on the edge for so long, waiting to feel okay.

it’s weird, because when i was a little kid, and scared of everything, i wasn’t afraid of the ocean, and now i am terrified. imagining rip tides and such. i mean, i still went in, it just wasn’t as much fun as it usually is.

today has been so weird

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just something in the air, co-workers snappy and freaking out in ways both amusing and scary (i particularly liked how someone screamed, on the phone, to a caller who refused to believe that our fax machine was functioning properly: “you are frustrating me! my entire day is ruined because you are stressing me out!!”). my friend pino ran into me on the street, while i was waiting for the bus, and drove me to the health food store where i bought my first divacup. there was a plethora of cops on the street & traffic was nutty, so pino dropped me off & i walked home. a car had crashed through a storefront of a ridiculously upscale glasses boutique (i live in a mostly-poor neighborhood where hardly anyone can afford these designer frames!).
i came home as the rain started & kissed my sweetheart. couldn’t explain how crazy i was feeling. i can’t explain it now. my period came at the same time as the thunderstorm & the pain in my belly feels a little like the thunderclaps. i feel connected.
changed the theme again because the other one looked too “teen”. this one reminds me of last sunday. after spending the day in the library with my boy we left to discover a food not bombs serving on the front steps. there was plenty of food, so we had some, and picked up some free bread from a trash bag. we sat under the super-old sycamore trees & talked, listened to all the interesting conversations around us, and i felt taken care of. i have issues with food not bombs–i think it’s a great idea and i’m glad that some of the food wasted in america is going into stomachs & not landfills. but my ex-lover was really involved with philly fnb and she was always breaking plans with me to do food not bombs things, no matter how much it hurt me, and i spent four years feeling like i was not as important as a box of rotten bananas, literally and figuratively. but sunday was really nice and sweet, like how i want the world to be, and i feel like i was able to put that experience behind me. lately i’ve been thinking a little more like her, a little more about how i should be putting activism before my own personal comfort. not like i am doing shit with my life right now. i’m still burned-out and i think it is okay to take some time off rather than do a half-assed stressed out job. but i am beginning to understand.

what are you, changing? who do you think you’re changing? you can’t change things, we’re all stuck in our ways.

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hello! i changed the appearance of this blog because i decided the font was too small & it looked uninviting. this new theme is a little bit weird too. but, oh, who cares.
i am so excited about quitting my job in august/september! really i’m hoping they’ll just fire me, because i’m on probation until august 16. but until then i am saving frantically and trying to make it through. suuuuper excited about the potential of riding to DC with my sweetheart! it’ll be really hard, but hopefully worth it. i’ve never really liked DC that much as a city, but i think it’ll be cool to hang out there for a little while (we have a free place to stay for as long as we want) and just be somewhere that isn’t pittsburgh. i haven’t left pittsburgh for longer than five days since i moved here three years ago! and that’s just nutty.
this has been a rough week, but now that it’s the weekend i feel eons better. on thursday my co-workers were being lighthearted about that guy in utah who’s about to be executed by firing squad, and someone said something like, “he’s been living large off OUR [yeah, because we really live in fucking utah!] tax dollars for 25 years! that’s so unfair!” etc.
i couldn’t take it anymore and yelled, “when you’re on death row, nobody is allowed to touch you, talk to you, or look at you! and you get fed like, 40 cents worth of food a day!” everyone looked at me as if i had just said, “gumdrops! my shoe is eating my foot!! lollygag!” or some other such nonsense.
my boss broke the awkward silence by saying, “speaking of money, let’s count the snack money for the day,” and everyone laughed hysterically as i struggled not to cry. god i just wanted to storm out right then & there. what kept me sitting in my seat, typing as though nothing was wrong, was: a) health insurance b) the fact that i’m taking a paid vacation next week! c) the fact that i wanna quit my job and i need money money money. i have never had a job with benefits before, and never realized how much they trap you. i could easily go find another job to pay my billz, but there’s no way i could find a job that would give me paid dayz off.
anyway, after that i came home and got into a fight with my lover about something else, and then i sat by the river with amanda and watched the sun sink over the mountains, and we had lots of good talks. we visited jude and then i went home.
yesterday everything got way better, it was a whirlwind of all-lady bike rides, good conversations, hot sex and fun friends. hoorah! tonight we are going to roller derby, which i have mixed feelings about. i think it’s really unfeminist and i wonder why so many feminists seem to love it. but i’ve never been, and i want to have more new experiences. that’s a valid reason for doing anything, right?
i hope i am not getting more boring as i age. last night i was reading the archives of a blog i used to love, from like 6 years ago, and it was so good then! and it’s so boring now, but i keep reading, out of a strange demented hope.

what has been happening?

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today i went to this really jacked-up estate sale with alyssa and ray. it was a seriously trashed house with piles and piles of things, like literally a stack of 10 VCRs, probably about 12 desks, etc. hoarders to the extreme, and the house felt so creepy, you could tell something really, really bad had happened there.
anyway, while i was waiting for ray to finish fussing about every thing in the house, i was reading a notebook i’d found. it was just periodically dated lists, each with the heading “what has been happening?”. they were things like, “____________ is a brat” or “__________ didn’t get me anything for my birthday.”
anyway. i do not want to recreate any part of that creepy house in my life. so i don’t think i’ll make a list. but. a lot has been happening & at the same time, nothing has.
i’m pretty much committed to quitting my job in september and riding my bike to DC (there’s a trail that goes almost all the way from pgh to dc!) with my boyfriend, hang out in DC for a little bit, and ride home. hopefully at some point in this journey i will figure out what the fuck to do with myself. because i can’t keep living like this. my job makes me so, so miserable. like, i cry in the bathroom at least once a week. & i feel kinda guilty for quitting, but, by september i should have enough $ saved up to live off of for a while, and, and, i need to live my life. not hold out waiting for next year because who the fuck knows if we even have a next year.
my best friend kastoory came to visit me and we had such a great fucking time, so wonderful & loving, like how most people probably feel when they see their families. i was talking to her about this, saying how i wanted to do it but also how afraid i am, and she said, “but ocean, you’ve ALWAYS had a job. you are one of those people who can always make it work. i have complete faith that you can come back here and find something. plus, you really need a fucking break!” and i needed someone to say that to me, so much. it was so nice to hear.
we had all sorts of other fun, too, but it probably wouldn’t be interesting to hear. i made a really good spinach/mushroom lasagna and we watched zsa zsa gabor’s exercise video from the 90’s (yes, i own it–long and hilarious story). i don’t know, it was just a really good weekend, really fulfilling and recharging.
ever since i made the decision to quit, work has been a lot better. but every time i think, “oh, this ain’t so bad!” then something really terrible will happen again. mostly i don’t know what i will tell anyone. but whatevs.
also, ray & i are going to toronto over july 4 weekend! so excited, for the toronto zine library & the women/trans bathhouse and the prospect of not being in amerika for independence day, because i am feeling even more bummed about amerika than usual these dayz. tomorrow is pride and i was thinking about making a sign with oil-soaked BP birds that said “THESE BIRDS CAN’T GET MARRIED EITHER–WHY NOT FIGHT FOR THEM?” but i feel like it makes so little sense as to not be worth hauling it all day. like, it makes sense to me, in my head, but maybe not too much to anyone else.
pictures! taken by caldwell.

this is our local queer bar, the blue moon, on a particularly packed evening. i feel like this pic is really representative of our queer scene in general.



this is one of the very few pics of myself that doesn’t make me wanna die. ray looks pretty nutty, but he’s had a haircut since this pic was taken, so he looks way less nutty!