Category Archives: new york

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.

by the sea.

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today was my mom’s birthday, and we all went to rye playland to celebrate. it’s an old amusement park in westchester county, NY. kind of falling apart at the seams but still charming as hell. i didn’t take any pictures but i spent all day with my mom & my sibz, strolling around this strange park we haven’t seen in over 20 years. the rickety roller-coasters, the murals and displays that stubbornly and obviously haven’t changed since the 60’s or 70’s or 80’s. peeling paint and clacking carousels. it’s still beautiful,

beautiful and sad like the rest of NY is, i mean the trueNY, not what you see on movies or on TV. it’s beautiful and diverse and joyous and celebratory but with a real layer of sadness on the bottom. or maybe floating to the top.

i wish i had taken a picture of the carousel horses so i could show you. the gorgeous whittling, the roses and some odd items hanging from the saddle, like pistols & dead pigeons. but still, totally gorgeous. a work of art. S once told me that amusement parks were invented by factory owners so the workers, doing 14-hour 7 day workweeks, would have something to live for. whether that’s true or not is unclear, but it’s interesting to think about.

i had a really sweet moment just as we left. a sad-looking girl of about 11 or so was sitting on a display rollercoaster car, looking pensive. she had long, tangled brown hair and really intense blue eyes. we saw each other, we made eye contact, and we both smiled at each other so big, and so genuinely. i’d been frowned at all day for being a freaky pierced hairy-legged genderqueer person, by everyone else in the park, but her smile was all i needed.

i remember being young, & seeing weird adults out & about–not too many, because i lived in a small town, and i remember the very strong hope it gave me. the feeling of being less alone, so strong. it’s nice being on the other side of that bench…

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?

weekend knuckle tattoos, part 6?

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hello from the lower east side! i am sitting in my sister’s purple bedroom, waiting for her to get back from the doctor’s. i’m here for the feminist zine fest in brooklyn and sorta-my-dads-birthday-even-though-he-doesn’t-celebrate-it-because-he-is-depressed-about-getting-older and general why-not-ness. so many good people to see and so little time to do it! but it’s ok, i can try.

i drew these knuckle tats on the megabus yesterday. surrounded by a bunch of whiny, healthy, well-groomed college kids. i got two seats to myself because i look weird. hooray. the tats are an unconscious reference to an awesome drawing by my friend o’ryan, and also, of course, because i was headed “home”. but is new york my home? no, i don’t think it is anymore. i miss the people i know but not the city so much. i kind of wish i was at my actual home, but i’m glad to be away. i know getting away is important. trying hard not to forget that.

my life in meals, as of late.

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christmas eve. oyster bay, ny.

first meal of the new year. brabec st.

january 8th, a very good day. bellevue, pa.

 

i haven’t been updating here for lots of reasons, including but not limited to not really having time/internet access. but i think the most compelling reason i haven’t been updating is this team dresch lyric: “some things are probably better kept to myself/but some scared part of me still tells everything, as if that could help.” i have spent most of my life living by the second part of that lyric, but i’m thinking perhaps it’s time to start living by the first. not saying this blog is dead, just saying i’m realizing how maybe it’s not a good idea to have so much personal info about me available online and i’m taking a step back. but i’m still out here. in case you were wondering.

since i deleted my facebook, i have nowhere else to put this useless-yet-compelling info…

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my little sister is on a fashion blog! so proud of you jill!!! thanks for the tip, arth (and commenter #4, you are boring. plz find something better to do than writing paragraph-long critiques of strangers’ outfits. thanks).

i am SO HAPPY i deleted facebook! i hate facebook, what was i thinking? less internet time is always better. and i don’t need social networking, i have the phone #s of most of the people in this city who care about me. all i need is a little heat, a pot of chili, a few gossip girl dvds and a stack of library books and a few good friends. and i can make it through the winter. that’s more than most people have. i can stay in my apartment and heal my brain and face and heart. i can get sober. i can be strong all by myself, i know i can.

the first sentence of my horoscope this week says, “you are almost free.” it resonated with me.

i had a really fun hour-long interaction with two francophone clients and google translate. they weren’t even my clients, but i wasn’t doing anything so i tried to step in. they were really sweet. i said, “je suis desolee, mon francais es mauvais!” and the lady said, “tres bien, mon soeur!” hahaha. (translation: me: i am sorry, my french is bad!” her: very good, my sister!) it was odd and sweet in a way i can’t even explain here.

are you sitting in a room that is heated or cooled to a comfortable temperature right now? if you are, please appreciate it. please.

things people have given me today: a soft pretzel, a beautiful CD, backhanded compliments about my hat, and hugs (1, from jessie).

i have to go now!

RIP paul c., 1984-2011.

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i haven’t seen you in years, but you were fucking amazing. the best cupcakes, hilarious one-liners, a perfect blend of bronx-faggot street smarts and sassy silliness. “spill that tea, girl, that shit is hot!” i hope heaven is full of fashion shows, good cookin’, and truly scandalous gossip. the world will miss you.

but where is home?

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so. i am home now, whatever that means. spent my whole time on the road crying, obsessing, feeling as though all is lost. all is not lost. i signed a lease yesterday. i’m really leaving–not going too far, 4.3 miles away according to google maps. but i’ve been in this neighborhood for 4 years & this house for 3. so much has happened,

but i’m ready to go. ready to do what i gotta do again. ready to remember that i’m not meant for safe, for easy. today i had a potentially scary conversation with someone i’d thought of as my enemy. but it actually went really well. i love taking the power out of negative situations simply by confronting them head-on. by not being afraid.

i’m thinking about detouring my travel plans so i can go to the philly naked bike ride, but, i don’t know. i was feeling pretty excited about it but last night i had a horrible dream about philly, about being in a liquor store that was held up by a nerdy nervous white dude who made it clear that he would kill us all if we didn’t stroke his ego in the exact right way. and me & the other people being held hostage, we were able to communicate without speaking because we knew that if we didn’t, we’d all be dead. and at one point i thought, “i really wish i had never come to philly.” it all felt so real. is that a sign, or just my brain being weird? it’s so hard to tell!

i’m scared to write about good things on the internet. because usually when i write about things on the internet, they contradict themselves. i know that’s ridiculous, but it’s how my brain works. but i’m feeling good right now. hopeful. peaceful. i hope that this doesn’t become untrue, simply by virtue of me typing it.

i’ve got a lot more to say, but i forget. i’m going to new york tomorrow. thinking about oyster mushrooms, about lasagna, about concrete, about forgiveness, about love. about living in a way that honors the beloved dead, that honors every good thing i have gotten to experience. thinking about cute genderqueer legos and libraries and the ocean. thinking about cities and the past. thinking about subways, and the future.

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.

these streets, they’ll make you feel brand new

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

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

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

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

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

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

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