Category Archives: ne’er-do-wells

springtime, even though it never was winter here.

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hello! i have been writing blog entries in my head for months, but i never have the internet time to actually do it, it seems. i wrote a lot of really good ones and i LOST them, ugh, oh no. where did they go? i’ve been remarkably busy with my book, trying to get it out into the world in as many forms as possible, trying to get people to actually read it. the library! i would like it to appear at the library, any library, but mostly i have to find a distributor and i think maybe i need to pay a lot of money? but i’m really not sure. i wish somebody could do this all for me: fundraising, promoting, asking people to do things, technical stuff. i’m fine with mailing books, writing, and blogging about this process. i can do that part. i realized that i haven’t written anything besides blog posts for at least six months because i’m too busy trying to bring this thing into the world. that makes me sad.
in other news, i’ve started binding again for the first time since 2003. last time it was motivated by pure self-hatred and body dysphoria, it felt desperate, urgent. this time it’s way more casual. a gender hiccup, not a gender crisis. no desires for surgery or pronoun changes. i just like the way my chest looks more when it’s flat. it’s interesting how differently people perceive me–a lot more hatred (i’m pretty sure someone spit at me the other day) and a lot more embarrassing pity. as a (possibly-controversial) side-note, i’m pretty tired of hearing gender-conforming people complain about how nobody GETS their obscure gender. i’d really fucking like to walk down the street dressed the way i want without having to worry that someone is going to bash my face in, without planning what i will tell my clients who will inevitably be triggered by my bruised face, without calculating how much sick time i have left, how much i will need to take to recover. without stressing about how i’ve already had two concussions that fucked up my life and they’re cumulative, they’re cumulative and i think if i get a third there is a part of me that will never come back. i don’t give a fuck if anyone GETS my (strange) gender, I WANT TO BE ALLOWED TO LIVE. i want to not be scared. i want to not have a history that includes a man at a train station whispering to me the details of how he will kill my faggot ass once these people leave, how he has a gun and no one will miss one less faggot….and how terrified i was to speak, to say one word, because my voice gives me away as female and what, what, what will he do to me then? i have tried to conform and i can’t, i can’t. there is a common misperception that people who don’t conform do it because they “like being weird” and while i do like it in some ways, it is mainly out of a lack of choice. i have tried and i have failed. the choices are: accept it or die. i don’t want to die, so that is my only choice.
the ex i love most once called me an “anti-drogynous boy in a skirt” which melted my heart, the way i was understood. i am not a boy, but…there aren’t any words for what i am, and in many ways it doesn’t actually matter.
ok, writing this blog post has actually made me very upset, i think i need to go home and drink some skullcap tea now or something. in other news, i got a crock pot and think it’s an important form of self-care. i am trying to prioritize friendship more. soon i will be able to catch up on my mail. soon, soon. i am getting somewhat used to working 12-hour days, being out of the house from 7am to 10pm (or 7pm to 10am when i work overnights). my home is still a sanctuary. i pretend that it’s a ship’s cabin. so tiny and so cozy.

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my love, she keeps me warm.

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i was just thinking about safety. about how my friends & i say “get home safe,” when we are parting. especially the women & the queerz. how we say it with a note of wistfulness, a hope, a fear that it might not come true. thinking about my clients, the ones i have connections with, the sadness in their voice when they say it to me. “be careful out there, sweetie. get home safe,” spoken by the witnesses, the survivors of the most terrible things you can think of. spoken with the heavy sadness, the knowledge that it’s not safe, that none of us really know anything about safety.

a new friend of mine didn’t make it home safely last week, died in a car, in the suburbs–supposedly safer than walking home in the city, but it didn’t protect her. i didn’t know her that well, but she was very loved by everyone who knew her. i felt so sure that she was going to do great things with her life. i can’t stop thinking about it.

today i was on the phone with e., one of the 8 or so people i refer to as my “best friend”. we have known each other since childhood, been tight since we were 15. we were reminiscing about the bad old days. i brought up m., the only other out gay kid at my high school, who we took on as a project. we drove him to the gay coffeehouse, and then when we dropped him off at his house, he wouldn’t stop trying to force himself on e. i was sitting in the back and i punched him on the side of his head, screamed, “get the fuck OFF HIM,” i was so timid back then, but i guess it was easier to stand up for someone else.

anyway. we were talking about him and e. said, “i heard that he died,” and i googled his name and it’s true. he died on new year’s. cause of death vague. my gut tells me suicide. this blog has turned into a memorial site & i didn’t mean it. it just seems that a lot of people are dying lately. i guess that’s what happens when you’ve lived for a while. it feels sometimes like my dad goes to funerals constantly. that’s partially because he knows a lot of people, & partially because he knows people through heavy drinking. & the longer you live, the more funerals you go to. or, in my case, when i am living 2,912 miles from the place of my birth, when most of the people i love are somewhere else, you light candles and write blog entries and try to figure it out as best you can. nobody in your daily life gets it so you keep as quiet as you can.

you ride home and the cars are so close. you know your days are numbered. you’ve always, always, always known that your time in this life is limited. the cars are so close by on your bicycle, they come so close but still you rise unharmed. this time. you know you won’t always be so lucky. gotta do what you can, so that when it’s your time to go, people will write nice blog entries. i hope they say, “she tried,” i hope they say, “she brought that aries fire, she inspired me,”  i hope they say, “she wrote something good,” but i guess you can’t control what they say. i hope they play “the trapeze act” by iron & wine, then storytelling, then “i was here” by beyonce. i hope i have a little more time to say what i need to say. i hope i get to dance with my best friends again. i guess i don’t know. i guess i won’t, until it’s too late.

farewell, lorazepamsam.

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that was your okcupid username. i use it in this post because i went on the worst okcupid date of my life with you. last march, at the end of a long and lonesome winter. i should have ended it at the very beginning, when i bought a pabst blue ribbon and you made a fucking joke about putting something in it. you apologized profusely when i called you on it & my instincts told me that you were awkward but not a threat. so it continued, down by the river with a sixpack, watching the lights on the water. i can’t remember what we talked about. it was okay, i guess, until you told me that that horrible thing had happened to our mutual friend, X. X was someone who i had known a decade ago and hadn’t talked to in years. i knew her at a very bad time in her life, and you told me something horrible that happened to her in that time, that i hadn’t known about. you mentioned this like it was just a casual anecdote to be shared on a date, a prelude before a kiss, just making conversation.

i said, “i have to go.” went home and fucking lost it. lost it. cried so hard that i thought i was gonna die. i couldn’t believe what had happened and i couldn’t believe that you’d told me like that.

this incident was a blessing in disguise. i reconnected with X, apologized for not knowing, for not supporting her more. she said it was okay. we wound up falling in love, for a brief moment, and healing each other in ways we couldn’t have imagined. throughout our affair, you were an awkward background figure. you were X’s roommate and occasional lover. you’d say hi to me when i stumbled messy-haired from X’s bed in the morning. your presence unnerved me. i didn’t feel safe around you. X kicked you out when you got into a huge, pill-fueled fight with a neighbor. the neighbor broke your nose with a punch and you threatened to kill everyone.

i didn’t think about you again. i was relieved that you were gone. i didn’t think about what happened to you, where you went, until this afternoon, ten fucking minutes before getting on BART to go to work, i looked at my phone to see a text from X, saying, “hey……i don’t know if you heard…….but [lorazepamsam] killed themselves last night……shot himself in the head…..just thought i should tell you.”

i work at a mental health crisis center. i was feeling a little crisis-y myself with this news, even though i hardly knew you, even though i didn’t like you. on BART, shaky hands, i took half a lorazepam (better known as ativan) because i thought i just would not be able to get through the day without having a fucking panic attack. i laughed a little at the irony. half a lorazepam because lorazepamsam is dead.

when i went on that date with you, i didn’t even know what lorazepam was. now i get paid to hand it out to people, write down what time they take it so they don’t take too many. now i take half of one on my way to work, to cope with the death of you. i don’t believe that spirits who die violently find rest easily. i thought about how uncomfortable it was to be next to your life for one night. i cannot imagine the raw discomfort and pain that you endured for 35+ years. i hope you are in a safer place, but i don’t believe that you are.

i thought work would be rough but it was actually mostly good. the clients were friendly and sweet, funny and happy to be there. reflective. about 6 hours into my shift, the small street became filled with cop cars. when the medical examiner’s van came, we knew that someone had died. domestic violence that had turned deadly was the rumor on the street. the clients sat outside, smoking. i was worried they’d be triggered–a lot have experienced violence at the hands of the police–but instead they grew reflective, commenting on the fragile nature of life, how at any second it can be over. how lucky we are to be here, on this side of the street, safe, alive.

if there’s a moral to this story, then i wish you’d show me.

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today i was walking to the berkeley library from BART. i was sniffling down shattuck, sick and grumpy but glad to be out of the house & in the sunshine. i heard a little girl’s voice say plaintively, “daddy, why do you keep hurting me?” followed the sound to a red-faced crying girl of about 4, holding her mouth as though she’d just been hit there. she was walking next to a boy who looked about a year older, and they were trailing a man who was eating ice cream and walking quickly. “you’re clumsy,” he said, as though he were trying to convince himself. “you just fell.”

i started feeling upset. wondered if i should intervene but really what can you do? i have worked for child protective services and i would recommend never, ever getting them involved if you can help it at all. nothing but fucked-up horror stories everywhere, ruined lives and trauma compounded upon trauma. i turned back and openly stared at the dude, hoping that i could at least shame him into acting like less of a raging douchebag in public and maybe get him to think about his actions a tiny bit. he looked back at me and our eyes met. i was projecting you are a piece of fucking shit at him so hard. the look in his eyes said, i don’t fucking care. he was about my age, white, tattooed but it was hard to tell if he was punk or just into tattoos. good looking but not devastatingly so. you could tell that women loved him and he treated them like shit and got away with it because of these good looks; it made me hate him even more. i went to the library and cried in the bathroom, which made a difference in no one’s life and changed nothing. i am getting good at managing the rage and powerlessness i feel towards the sadnesses of the world, but sometimes they flare up so hard.

it reminded me of an incident i haven’t thought of since around the time it happened, about five years ago. i was at 23rd & 8th in manhattan, waiting for emily in front of burritoville. i saw a girl who was probably 12, with her brother who was probably 9, screaming at some sort of father figure who was stomping down the street. i can’t remember the exact details too well, but i remember the resignation in her voice, how she sounded so old. he completely took off, just left these two children on a street corner in manhattan, and she was chasing after him but then she stopped. she turned back and looked at me and i knew–in the way that women are so psychic sometimes with each other, in the way that strangers in new york city share connections in ways that are so meaningful and so real even though you know you’ll never see them again–that we recognized a certain pain in each other. and i wanted to say something to her so badly but i absolutely, in that moment, could not think of what.

now if i had to do that moment over again, i would go up to her and say, “hey!” in that way that grabs peoples’ attention. i would meet her eyes, kneeling if i had to (i’m really tall) and say to her, “listen to me. your life will not always be as bad as it is now. you need to stay strong, grow up, and get away.”

maybe you think i am presumptuous? maybe you think that i am crazy? well you can think that all you want. either you get it or you don’t; either you connect with people that way or you don’t.*  if you don’t get it there’s no way for me to explain to you but if you know what i am talking about then you know it so fiercely. of course i don’t know if her life will ever get any better. it certainly could get a lot worse, and while i agree with many of the “it gets better” critiques, i would like to say that i never would have made it out if there wasn’t a voice deep in me saying what i wanted to say to that girl. and i wanted to say it because i am worried that she didn’t have that voice and maybe she needed to borrow mine. and although life as an adult has certainly not been easy, i’d take it any day compared to the powerlessness of being a child. to the daily torment of being a hated child.

in other news (or at least, the other news that i’m willing to talk about here): i have been reading lots of books but finishing none, pondering getting my MSW and/or learning how to drive, listening to one jawbreaker song on almost sickening repeat (it’s “sluttering” if you were wondering) and it’s been oddly healing some residual sludge in my psyche, reading some truly great blogz (current faves: humans, humans and queerfatfemme–check the links bar to yr right if you wanna! they’re both there!) and getting inspired, fretting about my books, and not sleeping enough. goodnight.

 

 

*isn’t it sad that i still feel the need to address potential enemies & frenemies? such are the perils of a public blog, i suppose.

legacies. & it’s not that easy to pick a side….

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today as i was biking here to the library i was thinking about grandparents because i got a postcard mentioning someone’s grandma. 3/4ths of my grandparents were dead by my 2nd birthday. the only grandparent i’ve ever known was my dad’s dad, who was kind of a jerk. he died when i was 18.

some days i am worried that i am turning into him. he lived alone and was set in his ways. his house was a big pile of old newspapers, “national geographic”s and readers digest condensed books. my house is a big pile of zines and queer/feminist books and clip art and backgrounds and other stuff. i like my mess, even though (in part because) it is alienating to other people. i don’t expect anyone to understand. my grandpa was a mean person but he loved his garden & grew the most delicious stringbeans i’ve ever tasted.

he was a jerk. when i let my bad side dominate, i am a jerk too. i was thinking, “my bad side’s been in hiding for the past few months & that’s great” but then i was thinking, “is there really such a thing as a bad side?” my “bad” side is savvy, street-smart, honest, self-preserving, and tough. my “good” side is naive, silly, ridiculous and a tad lazy. when i was bad, i wasn’t all bad, and when i’m good, i’m not all good. and what is good? and am i really that good now? and was i ever really that bad? isn’t it all a matter of perception? well, duh, of course it is. but which one am i? WHICH ONE AM I?

self-reassurance//i am trying to go off my meds.

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it’s okay to be lazy after a life of hard work. it’s okay to not write every day. it’s okay to not beat yourself up thinking about how you wrote 20,000 words in four months while working fulltime but now you have all this time and you just fritter it away.

it’s okay to have 6 rolls of tape, 4 scissors and one remote control. it’s okay if you can’t find any of these things right now. they’ll turn up sometime. it’s okay that the house is messy, nobody comes over besides your lovers and best friends and they all won’t judge you. they love you. it’s okay to scrub the kitchen floor on your hands and knees but pile all your paper on the table. nobody lives here but you.

it’s okay to have three lovers and two crushes. it’s okay to not be in love with any of them. it’s okay to send your girlfriend a hysterical text message now and again, she understands. she’s on lots of meds, she’s gone off them too, she understands. she still loves you, remember? she said so.

it’s okay to sleep. to rest. it sucks that you’re not changing the world but it’s okay, you can’t do it anyway. it’s okay to breathe. shh. relax. it’s okay to breathe. it’s only not okay to stop.

i hereby release myself.

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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.

untitled, untittied

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yesterday,  at a work meeting, my creepiest co-worker sat too close to me. i was wearing a cute dress because i was going to sister spit after work and wanted to look cute. but, i forgot that if i look cute that’s just a fucking invitation for every creepy man in the world to try & look up my skirt. pgh  is not like new york or philly–guys will look, but not touch, or say anything. for a while, i thought that was good enough.

but not this guy. he has such bad vibes. such sexual-assaulter vibes. there are times when a man looks at me and i feel like he just thinks i am attractive. and there are other times when i can hear him raping me in his head. and yeah it’s just a feeling, not an action, but it wears on me.

the meeting went on & on. he was so close. one side was him. the other side, a lunchroom table, jammed into my ribcage. across the table was another middle-aged, possibly aspie man who was openly staring at my tits. i hunched over and crossed my legs. of course, this put me with my back to the director, who was speaking & who already thinks i’m a disrespectful young whippersnapper anyway cuz i have piercings and tattoos and don’t look like a girl. but fuck. i could not allow this man to see my thighs anymore.

the worst part was not being able to escape. surrounded on every side by men, & it’s a serious meeting so i can’t just get up and leave. and if i did, they’d just see more of my body anyway.

afterwards, i was visibly upset. my friend b. asked if i was okay and i said no. i told him a little of what happened. my friend agreed with me that he is creepy, and said, he hasn’t gotten laid in a while, everything catches his attention. i said, please don’t refer to me as a thing. my friend is a straight white dude from the sticks. sweet, but hasn’t thought about a lot of things. i’m glad i said that because i think it changed his perspective a little.

i saw my lover later that day, when i was on break. still upset. still visibly upset. he asked what was wrong and i couldn’t tell him. because he doesn’t get it. because he’s a man. i hated him for being a man in that moment, even though he’s sweet and nice and respectful. i just couldn’t talk to him. so i was quiet and fuming and weird and it was awkward. but the gap between us just felt so wide then. and i just knew he’d never understand. (note: i have since talked to him about it and he did understand, kinda).

i bummed a cigarette off a lady friend at work, because i couldn’t stop panicking. such a little thing, really, but it reverberated so deeply. i said, “thanks, r! i feel so much better!’ she said, “yeah, i think it’s the deep breathing.” i said, “i’ve been trying deep breathing all day, it’s not working.” “yeah, i guess you have to go out and hurt yourself.” we laughed bitterly. then she said, “well, it’s better than cutting yourself!” i have big self-inflicted scars all over my arms. we aren’t close enough for her to know my past. i stopped in my tracks. i didn’t know what to say.

left work early because i just couldn’t take it. went home cuz i’d forgotten to take my pillz that morning and i knew that was part of the reason for me feeling so badly. ripped the cute dress off. pulled out my binder and cutoffs. i don’t want to look nice for men anymore. i want to be a genderqueerdo again. i don’t want them to be able to see my tits. i don’t want to let them win. while i was pedaling & crying, towards the bus stop to pick up emily, a girl yelled, “hey, dykes on bikes!” at me. i couldn’t tell if she was validating me or just making fun. it really could have been either.

sister spit was fun and hilarious. pretty much all of the performers had good energy & good things to say. but i was still having some residual anxiety from my day and had to go home. breathe in, breathe out, even with lungs compressed tightly under layers of meshy cloth. breathe in, breathe in. don’t forget, people love you. people think you are sexy who don’t want to rape you. i had written “someday…” on my wrist in red ink and it looks like a cut. it was a reference to a powerful line in the sarah schulman book girls, visions and everything: “someday, i’ll kill a man.”

don’t read it and think i’m advocating murder. don’t tell me you aren’t the problem. don’t tell me i am crazy. think about what has to happen to drive someone to make that statement, what drives someone to appreciate it. think about it and then think of a solution. because i’m tired. i’m so fucking tired.

but i’ve got something, man, that your fucking money cannot buy

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i’ve not been well lately. trying to take comfort in books & friends but it doesn’t really matter. doing stupid self-destructive things because who fucking cares? i am so tired of being strong. i am so tired of being brave. because, as sherman alexie wrote, “at three in the morning i can act just as young as i want, with no one around to tell me to grow up.” because, as nikki giovanni wrote, “i would not reject/my strength/though its source is not choice/but responsibility.” because, as i said on the phone to M. last night at 1:30 am, when he commented on how well-adjusted i seem about a certain shitty life event, “well, i have to be! what choice do i have? i can either deal with it, or i can fucking kill myself!”

anyway.

valentine’s day and all my co-workers are wearing black, even those of us who believe in love. i believe in love, and i have lots of it in my life right now. i am grateful. i love the two people who sit on either side of me. yesterday we had a talk; we all have crazy parents, we all spent our whole lives dealing with crazy, which is why we can do this job and not take it too hard. which is why we can smile at people who are screaming at us and flipping out, and still try to help them, and still want good things for them, because we know where it comes from. they get it, they fucking get it; and to think that i was so worried about getting through this work-year without a partner at home. when really, it’s so much harder to have a rich-kid lover who you need to understand you because they take the majority of your emotional energy who maybe wants to understand but simply, fundamentally, does not have the tools. so much lonelier. and these two people, even though we don’t touch, even though they don’t know my real name or anything about me, really, we share that burden & it’s lighter because we’re sharing it. you know?

but still. i can’t sleep because the bad guys are winning. can’t sleep because spring ain’t coming this year. can’t sleep because the shittiest people get all the breaks and the good people get shit on (and when i say “good people” i am not, in any way, referring to myself) and that’s the way it is, and that’s the way it always will be, forever and ever amen. because “life isn’t fair” and that’s a good enough explanation for most people. it’s not good enough for me. but i’m still here and i’m still trying. to make it a little more fair. even though both things feel so pointless sometimes.

i have left everywhere that i have ever been. i don’t really recommend it though, not like anyone asked me.

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lately when i am riding my bike around, a phrase gets stuck in my head. it’s from a zine i read a long time ago, by fellow sassy aries ammi emergency. i don’t remember the exact quote, just the idea behind it: “my body is the only vehicle i will ever own.” i think it pedaling up hills, bumping around on potholes, the wind slicing through my coat. i thought it when i was in philly, riding matt’s light speedy road bike instead of my beloved heavy clunker, my conscious mind forgetting where things were but my body knowing exactly where to make all the turns. i know that city like i know no other, after all those ten-hour shifts delivering food. so long ago, but it’s imprinted. i don’t forget.

it’s a nice thought, that quote, but an exhausting one. a sad one. keep pedaling even though the bike’s about to fall apart. no one can fix it. no one can drive you, not even the bus. this is all i’ve got. how do any of us keep going at all?

a. read my tarot cards this weekend. the final-outcome card was the six of swords. she was excited for me. “that means you’re leaving!” she said it was a good card, a happy card, but it looked so sad to me. a woman on a boat, clutching a baby, her back to us, staring across the empty and endless sea. six swords were stuck in the hull of her boat. a leaky ship & a broad sea. that sounds about right. today at work a 22-year-old client cried about her best friend, shot to death on new years’. they’d had their babies in the same month. “i saw her the other day, i saw her. she looks just like her mom, even though she’s so young. it’s so sad.” and we looked at each other, across the desk, across the valleys of our lives. i lost my good friend when i was 22 also, but who cares. i still didn’t know what to say, except i’m sorry, except stay strong. and i know it’s not enough. how do any of us keep going at all.