Category Archives: gayz

no title for this one.

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in minneapolis, walking down the street, to my zine reading in fact, wearing a dress. two teen boys. i’m walking by them. “hey fag.” i say nothing. maybe it’s not about me, even though i’m the only one there. louder: “fag!” no response, still. “fucking faggot!” “fag!” “faggot!” “fag!” louder and louder.

i’ve been called a faggot multiple times in my life, both in a loving way and in a not-so-loving way. i am tall and androgynous. often read as a man, but i dress brightly and have a feminine walk. this means, to the world, that i am a faggot. usually getting this name hurled at me is kinda funny, maybe a little threatening. i have the get out of jail free card–womanhood! so ha ha, the joke’s on you.

except this time it wasn’t so funny. this time i could hear the real hatred in their voices. bored midwestern boys with nothing to do. why not. i walked faster. i expected to see them behind me. steeled myself for a fist. what do i do? do i say that i’m a woman. and in some ways, what does it matter.

nothing happened. i walked and went to my reading. i sat on a chair surrounded by smiling faces and read my stories to people. they clapped and cheered and you’d almost never believe that those two boys hated me. you’d almost never believe that lots of people do.

for the most part, zine tour has been going swimmingly. it’s been exhausting, exhilarating, exciting, extreme. fun & obnoxious & hilarious & heartbreaking. i’ve met pretty much nothing but nice people. i kinda wanted to go home throughout, but now i feel like i’ve really reached my groove and could travel forever.

i thought it would be easier to travel while heartbroken, because i wouldn’t want to go home. i was wrong. i still want to go home sometimes & it is compounded with remembering that i don’t really have a home right now. remembering that soon i will be moving out of the place i’ve lived in for years (my choice, but still). soon i will have to see my ex-partner and his new lover out & about. i will have to deal with his presence in my small community.

i’ve been crying a lot. in public, even (although not in front of anyone i’m staying with, thank gawd). it’s embarrassing. i can always tell when my ex is with his new lover–partially because my ex stops texting me and partially because i just KNOW. it feels awful. that is when i cry the most, that is when i can’t sleep, that is when i lie awake remembering that i was not enough. remembering what i had and feeling like i’ll never get it back, with my ex or with anyone. i know these are common things to think about when one has a breakup. i know that i am strong, independent, a survivor. i know i will probably be fine eventually & if not fine than i will probably just be able to deal with it & keep living & isn’t that the important thing. i wonder who out of our group of friends will still support me. i wonder when my ex and i will stop kissing each other hello. i wonder when he’ll stop calling me, or answer my phone calls. i wonder when it won’t be okay to hold him for more than a few seconds, to fit my face in the space between his shoulder blades at night. i wonder how i will be able to keep on going when that happens.

this is only a small part of my life. there is so much else going on. but, it dominates. it’s at the forefront. it stops me from enjoying this tour as much. people have been so sweet and helpful, regardless of whether or not they know what is going on. jami and i were sitting by the shore of lake michigan in chicago, watching the waves (are they still called waves when it’s a lake & not the ocean? i don’t know these things) crash. we were talking about astrology and i said something like, “the bad thing about arieses is that it’s easy to like us and so hard to love us,” and she held my hand, even though i wasn’t sad when i said it, even though i was just stating what i have observed from myself & other aries peeps. she held my hand & didn’t let it go, said, “loving people is hard,” and we lay there, in the sunshine, in chicago, so far away from the one that i love beyond the hardness, from the one who loves me despite my impossible aries-ness, and every other thing that’s wrong with me. it was a beautiful moment, one that gives me strength & hope, even after everything.

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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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.

drinks & fun & apocalypse.

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so, you know how most of the time, getting drunk won’t solve anything? last night was one of those rare nights when it kind of did! i was feeling really stressed out and awful, like a tense little toad (as we say around my house) but it was my friend’s birthday and she was hanging out at the local gay bar, so i went and it was super fun, lots of peeps were buying me drinks too due to MY recent birthday, and drunkness & loudness ensued.

so fun, & kind of just what i needed. danny & i went to the diner late at night & we were giggly driving talking so fast and so loud, and i said, “i feel ALIVE again!” he said, “yeah me too,” and it was a sweet moment.

i went to bed at 1:45 and woke up at 5 to the tweeting of the birds. even though it was a mostly successful night socially, i laid awake obsessively replaying my one  faux pas of the eve. whenever i remember something stupid that i’ve said or done, i often say, “fuck!” or “blah!” to myself. i kept doing that as i replayed the moment in my head. i thought i was being quiet but then ray said, in a very exasperated tone of voice, “baby, your blah-ing is keeping me awake!” and we had a giggle.

this afternoon i was eating lunch at a certain corporate-yet-delicious burrito chain, sitting at a window facing the street, when i saw five vans with this exact message:

hmm! apparently someone has used a very confusing math equation with the bible & gotten that exact date. normally i’m one for getting at least a little scared about apocalypse hysteria, but this is just too silly. here’s an article about these people who are, uh, spreading the word…

in other fundamentalist news, i have found one of my favorite magazine articles of all time! from spin magazine, spring 1996, where elizabeth gilbert (an unknown hack at the time, now the powerhouse behind “eat pray love”) goes undercover at exodus (kind of a boot camp for ex-gays.) it’s hilarious and heartbreaking and reading it at age 14 probably shaped my queer consciousness at least a little bit.

and i was locked/into being my mother’s daughter. i was just eating bread & water, thinking, “nothing ever changes.”

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i wasn’t really paying much attention a few months ago when the blogosphere was blabbing about the “it gets better” project. in case you didn’t know, it’s a project started by sex columnist dan savage where QUILTBAG (queer, intersex, lesbian, trans, bi, ally/asexual, gay. my friend alicia made this up, i cannot take credit, but isn’t that amazing?!?) adults write stories and make videos for QUILTBAG teens telling them that life doesn’t always suck as badly as it does in high school, basically a plea not to kill themselves.

a lot of peeps i know critiqued the project, mainly because life is hard and, you know, it’s always gonna be hard, and selling teens a sparkly gay future isn’t always the best idea, the most responsible idea.

i agree, sort of. i was thinking about it today, mostly because my job bears a stunning resemblance to high school (i get in trouble for thinking for myself, the stupidest/meanest people are the most popular [and the loudest!], i get summer vacation!, and people make fun of my outfits on a semi-regular basis [mostly clients on the elevator or in the hallway. no co-workers have made fun of me to my face, yet]) and i was wondering if anything has really changed in the 10.5 years since high school ended, in the 10 years since i left my parents’ house.

but then i thought, of course it has. and even though this past decade has been um, challenging, it’s still way better than being an angsty suicidal high schooler. even though i am still struggling, every day, to keep the fuckin’ faith in a hostile environment; to not hate myself even though i am surrounded by forces that say i should; to keep living and fighting even when it seems so pointless. even though these are the exact same struggles that i thought maybe would be over when i left high school and my family’s house. not that i thought everything would be perfect; i thought i’d have new problems, different problems. and i do, and i have; but the old ones keep on cycling back every few years.

but even though, even though, even though i’m still in this swamp, there are some ways that it’s easier. like, i now have indisputable evidence that there is life out there worth living, instead of just a vague notion, a silly hope. like, i have a home that is actually a sanctuary now, somewhere i feel safe and loved, somewhere that is not just an extra nightmare at the end of a long hard day. no violence, very little judgment, none of those awful things that just seemed so normal for so long. and i don’t ever want to take that for granted. and i don’t want to de-emphasize the effect that has had on me, on my well-being and general happiness levels, to finally have a safe space. it has changed my life so, so profoundly.

another good thing is that i now get paid $15/hour to be surrounded by negativity, and in high school i did that shit for free! never again, my friends.

of course, it took a long time to get to a space marked “okay,” many years of psychotic housemates, low-wage soul-deadening jobs, crappy relationships, teetering piles of self-doubt. and even those years, i think, were better than those achingly empty afternoons on long island.

and even those years, those long long years, i still had fun & they still taught me something, i still had a weird hope, no matter how many cigarettes i smoked. no matter how many times i listened to “out of range”by ani difranco (the song, not the album) on repeat. no matter how many times that weird thing she did with her voice on the chorus pierced straight through my ribcage, when i knew she knew, this stranger singing my life. i knew she’d been there too. and maybe i would get stuck too, or maybe i could make it out; maybe i could make it to the other side.

don’t you remember?

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came to work to find the air conditioning blasting (it’s 43 degrees outside! or it was, now it’s shivery again) and an anonymous valentine on my desk urging me to accept jesus christ into my heart. yes, really. it really upset me for some reason (although i felt better when i realized that everyone had gotten one and it wasn’t just me, it wasn’t just some random person who pegged me as a sinner).

the fabulous amanda lent me her walkman so i’ve been listening to fuzzy tapes all day instead of my crisp-yet-repetitive ipod. been taking me down memory lane, in a bad way. when i emerge from a too-long bathroom session my eyes are puffy and red and i look like a disheveled homeless man. i guess the fingerless gloves and the dirty long wool coat (what my ex-best friend called my “lovable wino coat”) don’t help matters much, but what choice do i have? the AIR CONDITIONING IS ON, ON FUCKING VALENTINES DAY. maybe that would be okay in, like, hawaii, but probably not even there. not in western pennsylvania. so i’m wandering around heartstabbed and shivering today. i can’t get warm anywhere. this coat used to be the thickest one i owned, and now the wind slices right through it.

snowy times, tough dykes, & possibilities

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winter is here and it sucks the breath out of my lungs, that first step outside. i didn’t believe it would happen. i don’t know why, i just thought things would be different. but i’m sleep-deprived & over-caffeinated, just like most people, wandering through the days in a numb haze. already tired of it, with many months to go.

i saw “rise against: the tribe 8 documentary” last night with a bunch of fun queers, and it was so good, so snarky and relevant to my life both now and long ago, made me miss my crazy punk dyke friends, all gone now in one way or another. and just seeing a movie, seeing something, that made sense to me, that i could relate to, was like a salve. there’s one line i thought about all day, where silas flipper says, “i read somewhere that a woman’s worst fear is being raped, and a man’s worst fear is being laughed at. i think that says a lot about how things are in our society. so, i try to laugh at men as much as i can!” i spent all day wondering how any woman gets by in this world without subverting it in some way. all the women that i work with, who i don’t like at all, i still feel bad for them. all the dieting, the endless trying to please everyone in their lives, all the casual self-hatred tossed out all day. “i’m so fat.” “i’m so stupid.” how have they done it for so long?

i don’t think that i’m making the point that i want to make. so i will change the subject. i was thinking of moving back to new york, not this summer but next, and working for the union for a little bit, mainly because i want my next novel to be a lesbian construction worker romance (which will not be as ridiculous as it sounds!) i worked construction the summer of 2004, in the union that my dad is a member of, that my grandfather and great-grandfather were a member of. fourth generation. all the grizzled old union guys were impressed when i told them. it sucked, getting up early and sweating all day with a bunch of dudes, half of whom were so pissed that i was there because they felt like they couldn’t scratch their balls all day or whatever the fuck. but it was also a really interesting environment that i kind of want to talk about. and i want to talk about how the women in that environment took care of each other; we had to. there were about 500 guys in the building and about 20 women. and it was so beautiful, what we saw in each other, what we nurtured and protected.

plus, funny things happened there every day. just little things. i don’t feel like telling any of the stories right now, but maybe i’ll be in the mood some day. the graffiti was great, the conversations were sometimes great, just being in those buildings while they were still new, before anyone else, high above the city as the sun slowly crawled above the buildings. and the first-born in my family has always been an electrician, for three generations before me, and i usually hate tradition but there was something about swinging that hammer, about cutting that pipe, about running that wire through the ceiling, that felt so right, that i felt deep in my bones. so maybe i’ll do it again, just for the summer when i’m off from my other job, gathering stories like little figs, underslept and overcaffeinated, just like i am now.

oh hello, it’s been a while

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i’ve been working on my new zine, processing a lot of heating assistance applications, embarking on a few stupid mis-adventures that i can’t complain about on this public forum but would really really like to, reading a lot, spending quality time with my sweetheart & a few friends, and trying to get enough sleep.
also, i haven’t really had a lot to talk about. but i do have a good story from yesterday.
i was hanging out at kelsey’s house, watching queer movies and talking, and her cat was whining for food, so she fed him some treats out of this bag:

(trust me, this visual is important to the story). i looked at the brand name, in the orange box in the center, which is very similar to my given last name (capewell), and declared, “i’m gonna change my name to ocean catswell!” we giggled.
a little while later, my boyfriend ray came over, after driving all the way from maryland, to pick me up so we could go to a friend’s going-away party. he came in and was in cat-petting bliss, and he went to feed the cat some treats too. i handed him the bag, and said, “this is what i’m changing my last name to!”, tapping my finger on the orange box.
ray got a confused look on his face, and said, in a befuddled voice, “happy hips?” kelsey & i cracked the fuck up, ray eventually realized his error and joined us in hysteria land. i am still giggling thinking about it.