Monthly Archives: June 2011

pride & haircuts & life being awesome sometimes

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so. i have been oddly obsessed with cutting my hair off lately. it’s three parts “i know it looks bad” and one part “i need a change” and one part “OMG! i just realized that EVERY SINGLE TIME i have had long hair, my life is boring! and i’m sick of life being boring!”.

i even tried to go to a freakin’ SALON on the lower east side, even though that is really not something i do, or really have the money for, because i was so obsessed with the need to just get it all off my head. but the place that sounded so good on the internet had a “for rent” sign on the window and the sign had been taken down. well. so i took the train back to long island & got very upset about a whole bunch of things in my life that are unrelated to my hair. i was super sad all day, about lots of things that haunt me, most of which i cannot do anything about.

and then! late-ish that night my brother handed his smartphone to me and said, “hey guess what?” he had a news app open & the headline said that gay marriages are approved in NY state!  i know this is all old news to most peeps reading this & i know marriage is highly problematic. but i was so, so happy and hopeful. so overjoyed that my home state is now letting queer people who want to get married. and it was so cool how many random straight people were psyched, too. shows just how much has changed in my short lifetime…

anyway. i wasn’t planning on going to pride at all this year. too big, too corporate, too much. but this year i was like, no, i have to go! it’s so wacky that i happened to be in new york when this passed, i have to go out & celebrate. so i found where dykes on bicycles were meeting up to march in the parade, and dragged my big blue bikey on the strong island rail road, and next thing i know i’m waiting in a sea of humanity at 39th & 6th.

i made 2 signs for my bike. one is pictured above, and the other said, “I need a gayer haircut! If you wanna help, inquire within. Yes, I brought scissors :)” (this is relevant later on in the story).

Anyway, we were waiting for what seemed like forever but was actually closer to two and a half hours. i was trying very hard to savor the moment, to be grateful for the fact that i was free & celebrating & in one of my fave cities & surrounded by cute queer people. but i was getting a little cranky. every so often i would see something really powerful & amazing, like two young ladies of color wearing homemade t-shirts that said “resistance=life” on the front and “dear NYPD, we are not your targets!” on the back. so fierce & badass. i didn’t get a picture of them, but i did get a picture of these two sweethearts:

i can complain about how marriage sucks and we ALL need to fight for a world where ALL people have health care & survivorship & access to their dying loved one’s bedside, and still love these two ladies to death. i embrace this contradiction.

anyway, all that waiting was worth it when we started marching/riding at 0.5 mph down fifth ave. everyone was SO excited, so jubilant, so joyful. and i’m really happy that i was able to be a part of this ride & this march & this community.

about halfway through the parade route, 2 girls approached me and offered to cut my hair. since the parade would randomly stop & start & we were often just standing around for minutes at a time, i agreed. they were both really cool & currently attend my old college! yay, purchase people!

and we all marched, marched, marched. i was overcome with emotion a few times and yelled, “I LOVE YOU, NEW YORK!” more than once. nobody responded, but it’s okay. at the end of the parade, me & the ladiez sat down & finished my hair cut, and an older woman hairdresser made a video of the event (“it’s gonna be on youtube, i hope you girls are awright with that…”). there was a little mis-communication about the haircut, so it’s way shorter than i would have liked, but it doesn’t look bad or anything. and i got a free haircut & two new palz. and this version of the world is so much better than going to a salon and paying something ridiculous to get a haircut that wouldn’t have a story behind it.

it’s actually the exact same haircut that i got the last time two people randomly gave me a haircut in public–but that was right after high school graduation, and the two cutters were not strangers but two of my oldest friends. and it was a little more jubilant then, cuz i’d been planning it for months, and because high school was FINALLY OVER. this time it wasn’t quite as dramatic, but still it felt satisfying & special & real: that is my old hair, that is my old life. it’s gone now. now i am heading forwards.

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some disjointed sentences about my life right now.

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walking across the williamsburg bridge i was in love. with the city, i mean.

all those people on bikes. if i lived in brooklyn i would not be struggling over bumpy concrete alone. i’d be with my people. MY. PEOPLE. mouthy new yorkers. fearless queers. tough bikers. people who talk fast & mean what they say. in brooklyn i wouldn’t be too intense. i wouldn’t be too much.

but there are no jobs & i have forgotten how to be in new york. and like it or not, my life is in pittsburgh. for now, anyway. i’ve already spent a month of this year away from home, and i’m planning to be on the road for at least two weeks, probably longer, for my zine tour (if it works out! still not totally sure).

i am hurting right now. i did something awful before i left and i don’t know how to make it right. this awful thing was in direct response to something awful that was done to me. but still. leaves me feeling very fucked up & shaky & unlovable & alone in the world. even though i know it is (mostly) not true.

i should probably stop drinking. again.

see, the thing is, i am not physically addicted to alcohol. for this, i am eternally grateful. however, since i grew up in an alcoholic and violent family, i feel like as long as i am not as bad as what has been done to me, i am okay.

and on one level, that makes sense. on one level, i hate the person i love when he is scared of me, when he thinks i am acting inappropriately, when he says i am out of control. because who ever said that in my behalf? because whoever intervened on my behalf? because who ever gave a fucking shit if i felt safe? no one. and i feel like if i could handle situations that were far scarier, and far more inescapable, and far more violent, for over fifteen unrelenting years, as a child–then he can deal with one or two bad nights. i feel that’s not too much to ask.

but on another level, i know that’s wrong. i know that i have failed him & i have failed other people & i have failed my younger self, who promised, i will never be like this, when i grow up i will never do this to anyone. i know that while my drinking is not out of control, i am out of control when i am drinking. i know that my own anger is so huge as to be uncontainable. yet i contain it most days. and sometimes i want some acknowledgement of how hard that is, i want someone to acknowledge that and someone to validate how much i struggle, every day, to be a good person, and to rise above my past. my ex-best friend came from a similar background, and he used to say, “we are nowhere near as crazy as we have every right to be.” a lil’ grammatically disjointed, sure. but it was so comforting. so, i know where you are coming from. so much like, we can get out together. & of course we didn’t. of course you can’t escape the crazy. but sometimes, sometimes, you can try.

& sometimes you forget that you’re trying, and you do really fucked-up shit. and you can’t undo it. and you can’t do anything besides say you’re sorry and say it won’t happen again and try to make it right while knowing it will never really be all right. and that’s awful.

i don’t know what i’m saying with this. i don’t know who i hope will read this or what i think they will get out of this. i do know that reading the zine “filling the void: interviews about quitting drinking” this morning was really illuminating. it scared me, how much i related. you can order here but i think cindy’s really busy these days, so you might wanna get it from another distro. (i got mine at bookthugnation in brooklyn!)

i still get a lot of letters about sobriety from people because of an article i wrote in my zine in 2008. i have been un-sober for a year now. at first it was really fun but it has taken a much more sinister turn as of late. i don’t know how else to deal with my social anxiety, though. i don’t know how to leave the house and socialize with more than 4 people without wanting a drink. thoughts?

these streets, they’ll make you feel brand new

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these past few days have been all about escape. a magical ride to DC with my new friend katie. we were stuck in stopped traffic for nearly two hours and we thought about picking wildflowers and handing them out to people. we thought of turning up the radio, getting out of the car, and dancing. but something didn’t feel quite right about either of those plans, plus katie had to pee really badly and was worried that any sudden movement might not be a good idea. so we didn’t. and we were both sad about it. but instead we talked candidly about our lives, the kind of conversation you can have only with someone who you don’t know very well but connect with anyway. that naked honesty between almost-strangers. when was the last time it happened? it’s been so long.

after midnight we arrived in katie’s magical collective house and drank lemon balm & mint tea made with leaves that she’d just picked from the garden. i felt really happy & safe, so far away from all the bullshit, so glad that life had led me to this point.  i’d never had tea made from fresh leaves before but now i feel that i will crave it my whole life. that exact taste, the exact feeling. the next day we biked madly around DC and i ate a truly great falafel and saw some good art for free at the national art museum (or whatever it’s called. you know)

watching the NYC skyline rush towards me from the smudgy window of a chinatown bus i felt elated. only word for it. i was dancing in my seat to a certain cheesy pop song about NYC on my ipod, literally squirming with anticipation for getting out there.

the whole ride up from DC, i had been exchanging shy smiles across the aisle with a cute boy. he had helped me throw my bike under the bus when we were getting on. i had a vision of him helping me wrestle the bike out when we got off in manhattan, and telling him that he had a dazzling smile & then asking him if he wanted to go get indian food on the lower east side with me. “but how will we get there?” i imagined him asking, and then i imagined directing him onto the seat of my bike as i pedaled furiously up the allen street greenway with both of us, and how that would just be the start of a ridiculously fun evening…

but, of course, that didn’t happen. the chinatown bus mysteriously dropped us off in midtown (??!) which would have been ridiculously convenient ANY OTHER time i’d ever taken it, but of course this time i had a bike and was looking forward to riding it. cute bus boy didn’t get off in midtown for some reason, and he didn’t even look at me as i disembarked. even though the bus dumped me literally EXACTLY where i  needed to go i still rode 30 blocks downtown to get takeout from red bamboo, just because i could! and floated high on the sweet attraction of a stranger. i sure needed that reminder that some people think i am attractive and not just awful.

this past week in pittsburgh has been pretty awful, by the way. LOTS of drama in my community & also in my life. it sucks. my house feels really awful to me right now, i mean the energy. but i’m scared of sage & smudging & i don’t know what to do to change it. katie suggested throwing out my couch, as a lot of bad things have happened on it recently. but what would we sit on? & what would houseguests sleep on?

but maybe when i get home i will air it out. when i get home i will work on my book & on creating a more meaningful life. i promise, i promise, i promise.

by morning i’ll be gone. the highway will welcome me with her warmth.

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so. i was in the woods all “weekend” (it was thursday & friday which is not a weekend at all) and it was very rejuvenating & wholesome. just being out in the woods with ladies, all ladies, no couple energy or drama. 2 who i knew very well & 2 who i don’t really know. different levels. being both my engaged, funny, chatty self and my quiet introspective self and feeling like both were okay. when i was introspective i thought up lots of escape plans. i don’t know if i’ll use any, but i am just so unsure about my life right now & which direction i want to head in. i know the sensible thing to do would be to work at LIHEAP for at least one more heating season and stockpile some money before i go do any drastic life changes. but i’m tired of doing the sensible thing.

came home to some upsetting minor drama but after processing curled up in my boyfriend’s arms i feel better. although still not good. tomorrow i will be in washington DC. the day after, NYC. then long island and NYC and long island again, then the long c-town bus ride back home. but what is home, and where? i feel like i can leave pittsburgh & still come back, that i’ll still be welcomed back with open arms. maybe this is delusional. maybe it’s a lie i tell myself to get through the day. really, though, is that so bad?

summer’s ready when you are.

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the first two weeks of unemployment have been taken up with delightful swimming with ladies i love (in the allegheny, the dormont pool, and at ohiopyle), dangerous drama within my pgh queer community, a little boredom, lots of dishes, making lots of batches of soy/rice milk (and being dorkily delighted about it. gawd, have i used enough d-words in this post yet?), not working on my novel or getting it published. the teenage liberation handbook says it’s okay to take a little while to thaw your brain from its deep freeze once you quit school. surely the same thing applies when you’re laid off, right? even if you’re almost 30?

i think so. i’m starting a new zine, hopefully to be completed before i go on zine tour (late july? mid august?) i have some exciting leads on potential readings in cleveland, milwaukee, and lawrence, KS. gonna try & find someone to read with in chicago, minneapolis and detroit (i know some people in those cities, just haven’t emailed them yet–feeling shy for some reason.) and then the midwest that i’m interested in will be covered! and then i can figure out some sort of east coast jam. i’m not too worried about that. the east coast has been my turf my whole life before i came here–the first 25 years. i know it well and i know lots of people. the midwest is still uncharted territory that i’m aching to explore.

but anyway, i haven’t done anything for the new zine yet, besides copy some images for the cover today and think about unearthing some notebook writing. trying to use the shit out of the internet before it gets disconnected on friday. i am SO excited. i think, while convenient, having unfettered access to the interweb has only been a negative force in my life.

anyway. my primary reason for posting today was to share with you one of the best articles i’ve read in so long (and to keep this link in archive for myself): “Why The Best Kids’ Books Are Written in Blood,” by one of my all-time favorite authors, Sherman Alexie. So fucking great, & a real slap in the face to adults who think that teens will be sullied by reading fiction that’s actually, gasp, about their lives! Also, i love this house.

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i just got back from the philadelphia trans health conference and it was really fun! a little stressful, a little overwhelming, a little underslept. but mostly surrounded by inspiring people who are doing cool things with their lives! i had forgotten what that feels like. been trapped in my comfy bubble out here, for so long.i was bad at talking this time, don’t think i said anything meaningful or witty to anyone besides the 3 people i came with. even old pals that i ran into i was just so overwhelmed. but i listened, i listened really well.

one person said, “at every funeral i’ve been to i thought, ‘i should’ve, i should’ve, i should’ve.’ at the next funeral i go to i want to think, ‘i did, i did, i did.” another person said, “i realized i’ve been recycling all of my friends every 2 years because 2 years is the longest i can go without having a major conflict with someone, and it was easier to get new friends than deal with our issues.”

it was also really nice being in a public space and not feeling weird freaky or gross. just being in a space where it was ok to be whatever you were. i needed that. on the megabus today everyone was staring at me at the rest stop. i whispered to ray, “it must be because my outfit is so fabulous!” and we giggled, even though we both knew better.

i’ve been back for a few hours and already i feel myself slipping into apathy a little. BUT, i don’t want to push myself too hard because i’ve had a pretty harsh year and a half in social services and i need a little break from the heavy weight of other people’s misery. i want to volunteer for just harvest because they’re fucking amazing and kickass but please, please, for my own well being, i need a little break from welfare. (yes, i know this choice is a privilege and a huge one. i am being honest about where i’m at!)

 

SUMMER TO DO LIST.

-find a home for my book!

-finish writing that article

-go on zine tour (bluestockings/nyc? trumbullplex/detroit? madison, WI? minneapolis, MN? toronto, ON? montreal, QC?  baltimore, MD? cleveland, OH? buffalo, NY? chicago, IL? more? these are all places i can get to on the megabus fairly easily. if you want to read with me, or know someone in any of those cities who might, or know somewhere i can stay, please get in touch! escape_well at yahoo dot com)

-DC zine fest!

-go to the nude beach at fire island with eric g. and hopefully ray, and hopefully on a day that is not gray and warmer than 70 degrees! (although both those conditions were true last year and we still had possibly the best day ever)

-(secret purpose to zine tour) figure out if there’s anywhere else i want to live

-polish hill pool!

-actually socialize with people

-drug study?

-find somewhere awesome to volunteer at least 5 hours a week.

-start 2nd novel

 

phew! i am a little leery of putting to do lists on the internet, because i never do them then. i am a little afraid of all this free time. today stephanie gave us a ride home from downtown and i said i was afraid of blowing my first free summer in so long. she said, casually, “i don’t think you will,” with utmost certainty that i wouldn’t. maybe i won’t!

my reading, because i want to remember it–

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so. lately i have been thinking about my rut. how i need to get out of it. time to do something scary. i was visiting fleeting pages, which is amazing–a temporary independent bookstore set up in the shell of a closed borders books. full of local art, words & free events. i emailed the woman in charge and asked if there were any gaps in their calendar that needed to be filled, said i had an unpublished novel and i wanted to read it. she said okay, there was one spot–memorial day at 9pm. the store closes for good on june 4th. i said i’d take it.

ray & i took to the internet and promoted like mad. he made a facebook event page, i posted it to the free calendar (link on the right, if you care) and queer events listing, and emailed everyone i know in pittsburgh. people said they’d come, but i wasn’t really expecting much. it was a holiday, a work-night. who goes to literary events anyway? who even likes me, and my writing, in this silly city?

at 10 to 9 i was nervous. it was just me, ray, pino, danny, and amanda (who’d already gone to a previous reading at fleeting pages the hour before.) i was mildly sad. but okay, whatever. i love all of those people and if i just read to them it’s okay. but then ollie and colleen and joe and soham and aaryn and branden and eric (&boyfriendwhosenameiforgotsorry) and steph and lara and kelsey and jen and caldwell and radio and heather and lauren and soooo many more people came! some of whom i didn’t even know! even the wacky lady with the eyepatch who used to come to book ’em book sales (and once bragged to me, “did you know that you can spell the word ‘skootch’ ANY WAY YOU WANT, because it’s not in the dictionary?) was there!

and i read. and it was scary but also very, very exciting. and it got me excited about this book that i’d almost forgotten about, so familiar it is now. it was a nice reminder of the love & support that is very present in this tired old city. i keep forgetting.

afterwards i went to oh yeah! with a bunch of good people, sneaking through the back because it was closed but the ice cream guys decided to be nice and let us in anyway. and then the porch at black street for beer and conversation until really late, until i knew i’d be bleary at work the next day but who cares. the first weekend of summer. it was so good.