Monthly Archives: August 2012

doesn’t feel like i left home, feels like i came home (it’s late, so i am using the enter key as i will. not a poem though)

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leah lakshmi piepzna-samarashina is one of my feminist/queer literary heroes, for real, for real, for real, she tells so much raw truth, so many jagged edges but also this strong undercurrent of hope. she knows what it means to heal, and writes about it in a way that’s a map for other people who need it. she writes about way more than that, about family and incest and homelands and more, but i guess it’s that aforementioned theme that resonates with me the most deeply.

i bought her book of poems, “love cake”, today and i was just sitting on the couch reading it. struck by a line, so simple, yet it describes exactly how i am feeling at this point in my life:

“thirty, unbroken by my history

walking in a new city”

and when i read that line, it was practically pulsating, it was like a shining electric message from god. i am thirty. and right now, at this exact moment, i am feeling unbroken by my history. at this time last year i thought i would always be crazy, destructively so. i thought i could not love and was inherently unlovable. for realz, for realz, i did, and if this hellish year has taught me anything it’s taught me that people love me.

and that love comes from all sources. and that concentrating it all in one place is usually a bad idea.

thirty. unbroken by my history. i just never thought i would get here, get to a point where it makes sense, where it makes me strong instead of making me weak. i have so many people i wanna thank but to thank them all properly would reveal too many secrets. francesca and i were just talking, tonight, about catholicism and how it inspires one either to over-share or under-share, based on which neuroses you internalized. (obvi, i am of the over-sharing variety)

here’s to leaps of faith

here’s to breathing through the heartbreak

here’s to letting go of bitterness

here’s to dispelling the rumors that i am just a fucking asshole or what have you. i can only dispel them with my heart. loving fiercely and living as though i am not that bad person. it’s all i can do.

here’s to everyone, everyone, everyone who has shown me kindness

here’s to those of you who scribble in notebooks because it’s your only way home (OUR only way home)

here’s to everyone who thinks they aren’t going to make it

and here’s to the me, homeless & sobbing on street corners at 23, understanding i’m an alien at 9, wanting to die at 13. here’s the me that left home at 18 and was wandering the country via greyhound for months on saved drugstore wages. amazed but buckling under a great burden of sadness and feeling guilty for not having a better time. here’s to the me that wandered so many streets–hungry or exhausted or weeping or heartbroken–of so many different cities.

to paraphrase something that someone far more brilliant said: now i am walking in a new city.

a day.

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i went to the library to check out patty hearst’s autobiography (click on the link if you don’t know who she is–it’s a pretty interesting story.) i couldn’t find the book myself so i had to get a librarian to help me. “patty hearst, where is she now? well, wherever she is, she’s probably got a lot of money…”

biking home, i heard beautiful accordion music. some guy was playing, barefoot on the grass–no hat out full of coins, just playing because he wanted to play music in the sun, wanted to share it with all of us. i sat down to listen. i cracked open the patty book and saw that it had been checked out the day i was born:

it made me feel connected. i’ve been having lots of moments of synchronicity lately, it makes me feel good! so, i read, the guy continued playing. a dude in a convertible stopped, yelled, “my uncle used to play the accordion!” sounding excited and proud.

i saw kate bornstein read tonight, she said to write every day and so that’s what i did. forewent watching “wayne’s world” with my housemate for baking cookies and cracking 32,000 words on my book. but before that, at the reading, i was standing in line and this middle-aged butch who i’d spoken to earlier that evening said, “didja see the title of this book?” the title was why do women crave sex more in the summer? the way she said it, it sounded like she was hitting on me, which was sweet and annoying all at once. “weird,” i said, curtly. i’m a new yorker, good at shutting people down. what i should have said was, “this doesn’t feel like summer to me, and i’ve quit romance anyway.” no, actually, i shouldn’t have said that at all. but probably, something.

abundantly.

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yesterday i traveled across (or more accurately, under) the bay. i was going to see my long-lost pittsburgh friend aaryn, who lives in SF now, and to go to a collective tarot event at modern times bookstore. i was walking over the pedestrian bridge to get to aaryn’s house, shivering in the wind but admiring the colorful houses on the hillside, the fog rolling in, all the beautiful flowers growing everywhere, and was very happy to be where i was. then i saw aaryn on the street and i yelled his name and he yelled my name and we hugged the way only two old friends can.

we haven’t been close for the past few years due to us both being wrapped up in our own bullshit, and also because he’d moved to the burbs and neither one of us had a car. back when we were close, things were rough in both of our lives, we were both poor and dealing with some shit, but we were neighbors, we hung out a lot and shared what we could and it was great. now aaryn is living in the dungeon/playroom of some older gay dudes, mediating their arguments and cleaning up after the sex parties. he’s happy with this life, or happier than he was in pittsburgh anyway, and i am happy for him. we couldn’t get our words out fast enough. so much to catch up on.

we made our way to the mission for the event. it was a little bit scary. i love public speaking/performing but i am awful at parties, gatherings, groups. especially hipster events. i find hipsters scary and dare i say triggering? i know it’s silly. and a lot of people are fond of telling me that i look like a hipster. also, people often say that before they got to know me they assumed i thought i was too fucking cool for them. when really i am just tongue-tied and shy.

but anyway. the whole point of this post was to tell you that i saw one of my literary heroes in the audience. she was the first person i saw, and i knew it was her. she looks so much more radiant in person. and only two weeks ago i was reading an old, obscure zine by her on my living room floor in pittsburgh, reading a poem she’d written about being crazy but seeming like you’ve got your shit together because you’ve got a job and aren’t screaming in the street anymore, but you’re not fucking okay because once you’re broken you’re never really okay again. and i was having a bad day, such a bad triggered worthless crazy day, and i read this poem over and over again, sometimes to myself and sometimes aloud. and i sobbed because i understood perfectly, and i don’t want to. i don’t want her to and i don’t want me to and i don’t want you to, but a lot of us get it because a lot of us are just totally fucked up.

but anyway, that was two weeks ago. ancient history. and last night she and i sat in the bookstore together, as strangers. i didn’t say anything to her because what would i have said that wasn’t completely stupid? or creepy? or just not enough to express my thanks to her for putting it all into words, so powerfully and so beautifully? what the fuck can you even say. i didn’t say anything. and i think that’s okay.

this is mostly a letter i was writing in my head, to amanda. but i thought i should just write it all here instead.

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i’m glad i came out here. my ipod keeps shuffling to songs about california, songs about this year being better than the last. i believe in them, because i have to.

today i went to the oakland library, which honestly made me kinda homesick because the pgh library is so fucking great that any other library anywhere is pretty disappointing. but then the library closed and i had to make a several-mile trek up to rockridge to hang out with scarin and andrew and some danish couchsurfers. biking during rush hour, oh no, right? but it was totally fine. drivers aren’t totally fucked up here, not all of them anyway. they’re used to bikers and there are bike lanes and routes everywhere and it’s so nice. about halfway through my journey i saw a house whose garden was so magnificent i just needed to stop. hot pink petals everywhere, or i guess they were more magenta, so vibrant it hurt to look. i took a few blossoms that had fallen onto the sidewalk, pressed them in my journal to mail to my girl (who isn’t really my girl anymore, but i think i can still send her flowers and have it be okay). but i just stood and stared for a while, overwhelmed by the beauty. the foliage here is so different. it makes me feel like i’ve really gotten somewhere. there’s a palm tree on my block, can you imagine?

eventually i made it to my destination and met up with everyone. we ate mexican food and then went to this lake. the sun was setting and it was so ridiculously cold (okay, like probably in the upper 60’s, but that’s cold for swimming!) but we all went swimming anyway. scarin was rocking the most amazing bathing suit, and the two danish dudes were brightly colored and hilarious. we all splashed and played and talked and it was fun, even though my fingertips were turning blue.

walking back to the car i was cold and shivery. the sunset made all of us stop and take notice. you can’t write about sunsets. you just can’t. you have to be there. but trust me, it was gorgeous.

scarin had the access code to this hippie hot tub, so we all went there. basically, some rich dude with a hot tub has given out access codes to a few respectful people, granting them access to his backyard. these people can share them with a select few respectful people, and on and on. there’s a shower and changing area and a big hot tub, non-chlorinated. the lights are on low and everyone is naked. speech is prohibited, to cut down on sexual harassment possibilities. but i think also, to make you more aware of the moment, to make it more of a space to renew one’s energy.

so. i was naked, with one of my favorite & oldest palz, and three dudes i’d met just that night, but it was totally fine, not awkward or weird at all, with anyone. strangers came and went in complete silence. the hot tub was almost too hot, even for a hot-water-lover like myself, so i had to keep getting out. there was a hammock next to the tub, and i laid on it.

the hammock! remember the hammock? [for those who don’t know, i had a hammock several houses ago {which was actually amanda’s, but i was its custodian i guess} & had to leave it behind. i was really bummed. beyond bummed. this summer, it was finally rescued. i was so excited. i’d been waiting for so long. i went over ben’s house to use it, with amanda, and within five minutes of laying in it the weathered, frayed, un-taken-care-of ropes snapped] when we fell through i tried to be cool with it. i said “at least we got five minutes” but i was angry and sad. all spring and summer, all i’d wanted to do was lay in a fucking hammock. be caressed by the breeze. feel like i was floating. and it just felt like i wasn’t going to get to do it. it felt like i was so close, but wasn’t there. like i was being taunted, or something.

and here i was. 2,500 miles from my old backyard. in this awesome hammock, naked in semi-public but feeling safe. skin warm and soft. one of the danes sighed, “there’s no place in the world i’d rather be than here, right now.”  no dogs barking or neighbors screaming at each other, which usually punctuated most of my hammocking back in pgh. i finally got my hammock time. i didn’t even know it was coming; just thought i’d have to do without. i  never could have imagined this night, this circumstance, any of it. but it happened, and it was so fucking sweet.

you said the past won’t rest until we jump the fence, until we leave it behind.

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before i start! a VERY SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT! i have long since suspected that haterz were reading this blog, but figured that i was just being paranoid. sadly, i was not. to those of you who read this blog to, i don’t know, confirm how much i suck and what an awful person i am, i am asking you politely to stop torturing yourself & stop reading this blog. i understand the urge to read annoying blogs–i’ve certainly done my fair share of it. but, i am just a human being. this blog is a chronicle of my heart and brain. i love with an open heart and i do so imperfectly. i need somewhere to write about it & i don’t appreciate yinz violating my safe space. in summation (in case you did not want to read all that:)  if you hate me, hate my writing, and hate my blog–DON’T READ IT!

anyway. what did i do this past week? oh, just packed up my whole apartment, said goodbye to most of the people i love, and rode a bus for over 2,500 miles. the last time i rode the bus across the country was utterly miserable, but this time wasn’t so bad. thanks to my pills and my pillow. i have seriously never traveled with a full-size pillow before. i don’t know why, i guess it just seemed ridiculously frou-frou, but it made a gigantic difference.

my last week in pittsburgh i was numb. couldn’t comprehend that this was really happening. felt like someone else’s life. got such an outpouring of love from people, it was really inspiring. everyone kept saying, “you know this will always be your home,” which meant so much to me. i had issues with “home” my whole life before i got here–living in unsafe homes, getting kicked out of homes, etc. and that’s why i loved it so, because it really was home, and i think it always will be.

missing the girl with the dichromatic eyes peering lovingly into mine. so much. it was a lot harder than i thought it would be, leaving her behind. it was hard leaving everyone, but it didn’t feel quite as tragic. felt like, oh of course i’ll see you again. and we can just talk and laugh and it’ll be like i never left.

on my last day in my apartment, i laid on the empty living room floor. i remembered laying on my empty bedroom floor of my first apartment in pittsburgh, waiting for a. and the moving van to get there, wondering what was to come. and i laid on my floor this time, knowing. it was an interesting set of bookends.

on the bus, i befriended a family that was also moving to oakland via greyhound. they were from west virginia, so they traveled almost as far as i did. a mom and two middle school aged kids. they were so sweet and welcoming. the 14 year old girl took a shine to me, and we sat on the floor of the salt lake city bus terminal and she told me of her middle school woes. at one point she said, “you’re the only person i can talk to!” which was sweet and sad. i tried to give her advice about how middle and high school isn’t the end of the world, and how usually people who are weird in school grow up to be interesting adults. it was nice.

other than that, i slept a lot, ate over priced snack foods, had terrible luck with vending machines and my water bottles rolling away never to be found again. listened to a lot of the same music, over and over again. didn’t fret too much about where i was headed or obsess too much over what i was leaving behind. which is unusual for me. i ran around downtown st. louis for 20 minutes and thoroughly enjoyed it, despite the 100+ degree temps. also i walked around columbus ohio for a few minutes in search of a mailbox, that was nice too. ate thai food in rock springs, WY of all places.

and here i am! west oakland. having a good time thus far even though i haven’t done a whole lot. i’ve hardly left the house, hardly left my room since i’ve gotten here. it’s okay, i need to rest.