Category Archives: brilliant moments

i’m getting there.


this is my darling friend danny & me, at pittsburgh’s dyke/trans march on saturday.

i made this sign in a burst of inspiration on my living room floor. amanda was on the couch and buggey was on the floor with me. these are amanda’s stamps. they were  a christmas present gone awry. when she opened them, she was shocked at their size. but they’ve come in handy many times since then. the font is called “center of attention”. & isn’t that what i sometimes want to be?

i love this sign. i love this day. i’ve come so far from last year’s march. last year my sign was negative and angry. i was negative and angry and about to go through hell, already going through hell.

this year i was surrounded with so much love. laid in the grass with a bunch of rad ladies, for hours, and talked about important things. it was one of those days when i realized i was really gonna miss pgh. just this act of laying in the grass, talking. half people i’m close with, half virtual strangers. still, we can tell stories to each other. we can talk honestly. we can inspire and do all sorts of good things.

this harsh year has taught me how to love myself. taught me strength and perserverance. i don’t want to go through that again. but, i can’t deny i’ve learned a lot.

i know it’s not over. things are still hard. i am still crazy, and getting crazier by the day. the world wants to punish me for being dykey and genderweird and outlandish. i’m not so shy any more, but it flares up during the most inconvenient moments.

after the long talk, i took m. to dinner at the indian restaurant. she got an awful text and sobbed. i held her in my arms on the street, and then we went to a community garden and lay in the grass. we held each other. i was laying 2″ from a piece of dog shit, but i didn’t notice until m. put her hand in it. gross! but we kept going. on the 31st street bridge, which is mostly closed to cars these days, i took the street and she took the sidewalk. i asked, “what the hell are you doing? don’t you want to be on the street?” because we’d just talked about how great the 31st street bridge is now, in its car-free form. she screeched to a halt, hopped on the metal divider between the sidewalk and the bridge, pulled her bike over her head and heaved onto the bridge. we laughed hysterically, despite everything. despite everything.


all the arms we need!


laying in bed with my girlfriend i run my fingertips down her arms. her bones are bumpy around her wrists. “oh, that’s because i broke this one twice and the other one three times,” she says casually. i frown at this and she breaks into a smile. “it’s okay! i mostly broke them while i was having fun!” and she’s talking excitedly about some ridiculous skateboarding accident. we are comparing feet–we both have ugly fucked-up feet. her toes are all snaggly and it’s because she broke them all, too. same thing, same luminous smile. she mostly broke them while she was having fun, so it’s okay.

and the not-so-fun bone breaks, we just don’t talk about those.

today i am sad about things that i have absolutely no control over. today i am wondering if i am just doing that classic crazy-person thing of saying, “oh, i’m fine now! i don’t need my meds!” while neglecting to remember that the reason i am fine is because i’ve been on them. wondering if i actually need them or if i just need a buffer from life. aren’t we just supposed to be sad a lot? isn’t this desire for relentless happiness so stupid and american and just generally a bad idea? doesn’t it make us bad, weak people? and don’t i not-so-secretly think i deserve to suffer?

laying in bed, my girlfriend touches my arm. i make a muscle and she whispers how sexy my strong arms are. it’s nice to have a partner who is not intimidated by my strength, both physical and emotional. who needs me to be, and stay, strong for her. my body is the strongest it’s ever been, mostly because i live up a hill. a huge one, a ridiculous one. a cliff, really, but there is a switchback road that gets one up the hill without going straight up. i’m not close with anyone who drives on a regular basis, so it’s me & my bike or me & the city steps, every day that i leave the house. i used to hate that hill so much. used to weep as i struggled up it, partially because everything made me weep when i first moved to this apartment, and partially because i just couldn’t believe that this was my life. that i gave up a sweet house on a tiny hill for this shitty apartment on this giant incline.

now i love the hill. the way the struggle makes my thighs come alive. the awe of my sweat-panted neighbors, sitting on their porch, watching me go. i love how strong it’s made me. love the way my girlfriend squeezes my muscular thighs and says that she loves them.

i hereby release myself.


this is what my anger & heartbreak looks like, transformed. i was cleaning out my dresser & found a caustic letter that i wrote in september and didn’t send. i re-read it and then unhesitatingly walked into the kitchen, turned on my gas burner, and threw the letter into the fire. the flames rose high, but i wasn’t afraid. i watched it burn. when it was just smoldering i picked it up with some tongs and put it in this metal bowl so it could keep burning without being dangerous.

this is what it looks like now. the words don’t exist anymore. they are gone, they’re something new now.

it feels good. moving on. changing. and now my kitchen smells pleasantly of bonfires.

rhythm is a dancer.


“purple represents, brings about, and is present during radical transformation from one state of being to another. purple appears at twilight and predawn. it stands at the gate between the land of material flesh in one world and the land of the spirit or soul in another and is present in the envelope of energy that surrounds the body, usually called the ‘aura’. […] I asked a traditional Witch to tell me the qualities of purple. […] [she said,] ‘purple has always meant power, spiritual power. it’s connected to the birth and death and all kinds of transformations, and to the number seven. And it’s also a color associated with the moon. but more than anything, it means power.'” -judy grahn, another mother tongue: gay words, gay worlds [an amaaaazing book! please read!]

so. i feel a little silly being 30 and dyeing my hair purple. but you know what? i never got to be 16 when i was 16. i had a job and a lot of family burdens and i was very old back then. and having fun hair was impossible (mainly because my job wouldn’t allow it).  i’m not so old now. and then i thought that anyone who might criticize me for this probably got to be a teenager at the age-appropriate time, and to them i have nothing to say but: fuck you! i’m reclaiming my youth, now that i’m old enough to enjoy it.

anyway. i just came back from a trip down south with two of my favorite heart-friends. it was wonderful. we slept outside & made a lot of silly jokes. listened to mix cd’s and talked openly. amanda went to a wedding in durham, NC while ben & i rode our bikes all around and cooled our hot feet in a fountain. it was just perfect.

i asked them, “did you ever have good vacations with your family?” amanda had. ben & i hadn’t. family vacations, for me, were just a new place for us all to fight and be unhappy. in fact, we often fought more and were more unhappy because there was the stress of traveling. i said that this vacation we were on now felt like a good family vacation. the way they’re supposed to (& yes i know they’re a privilege and i was lucky to go on any at all, no matter how miserable). i felt relaxed and loved. got to see some new things. i messed up a few times but it was okay. nobody yelled at me, we all worked together to figure out how to make things right again. and i did the same when amanda or ben needed me to. amanda said i was the MVP of snack-sharing on the trip & i’m glad.

last night i was biking home from my sweetie’s house at 2am. i’d been wearing a miniskirt and biking around all day. it made me feel awkward, the skirt, but i wanted to wear it. but i didn’t want to give pervy guys a thrill when i rolled by on my byke. but at 2am nobody was out. i felt safe. just hiked my skirt up so i could pedal faster. i thought, “soon there will be no more feeling safe at 2am. there will be no more sweetheart. [at least not this particular one]. soon i will be on guard every second again.” but i think it’s okay. think i’ve been nurtured enough, think i’ve been safe enough, to be able to fight again. safety. i never had it before i came here. and it has changed my life. i hope i don’t forget.

i know i talk a lot of smack on fb. but sometimes it leads you to truly wonderful things…


….like this. i found it on my old pal theresa’s fb page, but she got it off of leslie feinberg’s fb. i lived with theresa 11 years ago, when she read “stone butch blues” and it made her cry. this picture & this dedication almost made me cry. so fucked up and yet so amazing.

i have other things to say but they all seem irrelevant. let’s remind ourselves what we’re capable of, despite everything. let’s remember to fight back always & resist in any way we can. refusing to give in to despaid can sometimes be resistance. & most importantly, let’s take care of each other.

to learn more about cece, go here.

to learn more about leslie feinberg, go here.


I have taken back my author rights
to Stone Butch Blues.
I am working on plans for a
20th-anniversary author edition
of Stone Butch Blues
for Spring 2013.
 A digital multi-media edition
 will be available free online.
A not-for-profit, at-cost print edition
will be available for order online, as well.
During our visit in jail,
I asked CeCe McDonald
if I could dedicate
Stone Butch Blues to her.
I’m thrilled to announce:
She said “Yes!”
When I saw this attached photo
for the first time, it was clear to me,
 that this is the dedication photograph!!
More information on novel publication as it develops.
Soon, I’ll also post information regarding translations.


super moon & mayday & love & living.


whoa, this weekend was off the CHAIN! i don’t think i’ve ever had a day like the one i had on friday. or saturday.

friday was the mayday variety show in bloomfield. i had one of those moments, sitting in a sweaty clump surrounded by friends, watching etta and suzy on stage–suzy dressed like a beautiful & strange & ethereal tree, etta draped in christmas lights. i tried to take a picture with my phone, but of course it doesn’t capture the moment at all–suzy is a mass of blinding white light (aura?). but it was one of those moments, so safe and cozy, where i realized how desperately i will miss all this, that weird magic that i’ve only found in pittsburgh. how will i live without it, & what will happen to my heart? i don’t know. but i guess i’ll find out. i guess i’ll manage.

i read marge piercy’s poem “for two women shot to death in brookline, massachusetts” which got a good response. it was the first time i’ve read that poem aloud and not cried at the last stanza, which was good because i hate crying in public, but also a little strange. i blame the anti-depressants. & it’s a relief to take a vay-cay from being over-emotional but it’s a little strange too! anyway. the guy who went after me gave marshmallows to the audience & we all threw them at him & he tried to catch them in his mouth while jumping rope. i love that these two acts can co-exist side-by-side & i love that people cheered for us both.

afterwards there was a punk show under the bridge & people got arrested. don’t want to say anything besides that here. walking back to larryville to get my bike, i ran into j. who was fleeing a hipster bar and we drunkenly played on the playground.

the next day was the mayday parade! no time for 8 hours of sleep, just go go go! oatmeal, coffee, sunscreen. sequinned gold booty shorts. bike up that damn hill, fast, that hill that used to seem so imposing and impossible. herron ave, you ain’t no thing anymore, my thighs are practically machines now, you don’t fuckin’ scare me. made it there in time, lots of good people and fabulous costumes, gorgeously decorated umbrellas, amazing vibes. i passed this along the way:

& it was so appropriate. i felt like i was living up to the urgings of this little metal doodad chained to a random polish hill fence. & then a bbq full of delicious free food. jail solidarity meeting, we decided to head down there. i went home to change out of my booty shorts, shower, and frantically cook and bake. released prisoners need food, jail solidarity people also need food. lentils and peanutbutter oatmeal cookies.

the tone was serious at the jail but the vibes were good. we commandeered a corner, set up our food and umbrellas, making each other laugh throughout this shitty circumstance. don’t forget to bring beautiful things to ugly places.

i can’t even describe how jail solidarity was, so i won’t. all you need to know is that i accidentally brought a lady bug into the jail and felt terrible. a wild bunny visited us. we all had each others’ backs. i made so many new pals! i was there for 7 hours, some people were there for 12+. waiting until everyone gets out. nobody left behind. the day felt like it had months of activity crammed into it. like we lived and laughed and cried and raged enough for it to count for at least a month.

i crapped out before everyone got out, but i was there for the first 3, and it was so good, marching towards them twirling the umbrellas, their huge smiles at seeing us. M and P and some boy i don’t know & i were all watching the supermoon from the upper corner of the parking lot. the jail almost obscured it, but it couldn’t. it couldn’t reach that high. the eerie light made the glass-y weed-y parking lot gorgeous. M said, “i’m always going to remember this,” in a way that makes you notice. makes you look around at what’s going on, makes you aware that you’re really living it.

this little poem was propped up against the light pole when i got there. i like to think that it wasn’t one of our crew who placed it there, i like to think it was a random person who believed in words and synchronicity and strangeness. who believed in the power of little, tiny things like this. because we all know it’s the little things, right?

my friends are so smart.


kelsey says she wants to go to one place she’s never been every month this year. i text aaryn and tell him that the song “san francisco” keeps shuffling on my ipod and i think it’s a sign, and he texts me back, “follow the signs…take the detours…it’s time for change!!!’ he’s right, of course, and not only because he’s moving back to the bay and wants me to come, too.

at work, frank starts singing, loudly and off-key, a song about loving danger and not being afraid to die. barry sighs, “this is the best place ever.” and in that moment it feels that way.

i’m feeling confessional and so i tell arthur on the phone, in a furtive whisper: “i got a britney spears cd out of the library and i’ve been dancing around my kitchen to it! i can’t stop!” he sighs, “oh, you’re such a fag!” and i brightened because he always knows exactly what to say somehow. but that happened last winter, why am i pretending it was recently? now i dance around my kitchen to rihanna. so much has changed.

lying in bed with D i tell her that i am learning how to date people without throwing my whole life away. her face brightens up. she gasps and says, “that’s SUCH a good idea!” in a way that is so adorable that i can’t help but smooch her again. but it’s a good quest, a necessary quest. being on anti-depressants and dating multiple people and knowing that i’m leaving soon helps. loving fiercely but not overwhelmingly. it’s all a balance, right?

at work again, i tell myla that my name is actually ocean–or rather, my email address does it for me, when i send her something from my personal account. i expect her to think it’s weird. she says, “oh, that’s your nickname? my nickname is egypt!’ without missing a beat.

sharon n. (who is more of a friend of a friend than a friend) said, “when in doubt, freak ’em out!” sharon k. said, years ago, perched on my toilet lid in brooklyn: “not all happiness is punishable. you have to understand that. you have to understand that!” and, oh, this is only a little, tiny bit. only a fraction of the good things that people tell me, that i am so lucky to hear. thanks.


that i had a really good birthday party! comprised of my dad & sister, housecleaning stress, over 90 cans of beer (cuz that’s how we roll in my family, i guess), all my favorite people in pgh, this amazing cake:

(sorry, i can’t flip this photo. i feel like a dumbass for admitting it, but it’s true) (but isn’t that cake amazing?!?!?) (even more amazing: it’s gluten free. even MORE amazing, it was partially inspired by my okcupid username, which is “bravelittlonion”).

there were lots of stories and laughing hysterically and too many things to write about. like all good parties, it ended with me drunkenly drilling a xylophone onto a utility pole. i don’t have any pics of the event, but here’s a picture of my sister playing the xylophone this morning, with my dad in the background:

30, here i come. thanks to everyone who helped me get this far. ❤

a few things i have been thoroughly enjoying lately.


+ SPRING!!!!!

+having very vivid, nuanced and colorful dreams that don’t haunt me.

+this quote by dean spade, who i honestly normally can’t really get into, but it says so much of what i need to hear:

One of my goals in thinking about redefining the way we view relationships is to try to treat the people I date more like I treat my friends—try to be respectful and thoughtful and have boundaries and reasonable expectations—and to try to treat my friends more like my dates—to give them special attention, honor my commitments to them, be consistent, and invest deeply in our futures together. In the queer communities I’m in valuing friendship is a really big deal, often coming out of the fact that lots of us don’t have family support, and build deep supportive structures with other queers. (i originally read this on amber’s tumblr)

+this fucking adorable and beautiful and amazing comic by cindy, about learning how to finally fucking be friends with your demons!

becoming friends with my demons is something i’ve been struggling to do for over a decade, ever since axi & i had a memorable conversation on our front porch in winter 2002, when i was freaking out about a shitty email my abusive ex had sent me, and we were talking about all the bad things, the haunting things, the horrible things, and she said i need to learn how to embrace my dark side. how that’s the only way i’m ever gonna be whole. i’ve got to go there.

& cindy’s writing & art is so fucking perfect, so poignant, because she goes places so fearlessly. that drawing of her holding hands with her demons, on the right, makes my heart hurt in the best best way. i’m gonna take it to the copy place & blow it up. hang it on my bedroom wall so it’s the first thing i see every morning. so i don’t forget. this image is from the excellent book the encyclopedia of doris, which i cannot recommend heartily enough. 

+all the readings i’ve been doing as of late! karen lillis and i just read at pitt and it went swimmingly. my next one, april 22nd at hambone’s in lawrenceville (42nd & butler!). i will be reading at a special library worker reading, even though i am not a library worker. i did go with amanda from branch library to branch library a few sleepy saturdays ago, where she showed up in neighborhoods like mt. washington (douchebag central, if yr not from pgh) and brookline (depressing) and inquiring at the front desk, “are there any writers working here?!” fortunately, i’m a library lurker, which is close enough i guess.


yeah! so many people find this blog by googling terms like “deleted facebook so happy” or “should i delete facebook.” my answer: YES!

+listening to your heart breaks, invincible, jawbreaker & the fuckin’ no alternative comp that i found at the lawrenceville goodwill for only three dollars! i was just thinking about it and i let out a shriek that terrified my shopping companion when i saw it. holy shit, it’s SO good. i especially like soul asylum’s cover of “sexual healing”. as oliver so brilliantly put it when i played this song for him, “wow, they’re taking it SO SERIOUSLY!”

talkin’ shit about a pretty sunset. blanket & opinions that i’ll probably regret soon.


this is what the view out my kitchen window occasionally looks like.

yesterday i was bikin’ up the hill and some teen boys were like, “damn, look at her go! how does she do that?” i sincerely regret not turning around and saying, “cuz i’m a toughass motherfucker, that’s how!” but i couldn’t figure out if they were making fun of me or not. i think this will be one of the major pitfalls of my life. not knowing when peeps are makin’ fun & when they’re serious.