school’s out

January 31, 2013

Courage: A kid in school comes out to MTB after class.

Meets courage: MTB comes out to the kid.

First off, WAY TO GO HOMOS! Seriously, this shit needs to be happening every day. Also, it’s 2013 and it’s still a radical and scary thing for anyone in a school to come out and be out. And for everyone I know who is prepared to tell me a story about how there are out kids in their school and its no big deal, I am more than 110% sure I can come up with a boat load of stories about how it sucks or is impossible to be out in school, as in teachers and coaches getting fired and kids getting harassed and beat up. The It Gets Better Campaign is a bullshit answer. How about some ACLU action? Better yet, how about us queers organizing to make schools a safe fucking place to be queer? Seriously, how do we do that shit?

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zadie smith on joy

January 29, 2013

Cheryl Strayed posted a link to this article on FB and I am reposting it because it is an amazing.

Here are some excerpts from Zadie Smith’s insights on joy:

…that strange mixture of terror, pain, and delight that I have come to recognize as joy . .  Until quite recently I had known joy only five times in my life, perhaps six, and each time tried to forget it soon after it happened, out of the fear that the memory of it would dement and destroy everything else.

It doesn’t fit with the everyday. The thing no one ever tells you about joy is that it has very little real pleasure in it. And yet if it hadn’t happened at all, at least once, how would we live?

Joy is such a human madness.



kind of a recounting of my friday night

January 26, 2013

I went for a walk this evening and it was warmer than its been all month and it almost smelled like spring. And on the way back from marching around I saw the moon and it was almost full. I was thinking — possibilities are every where. I walked with my ipod and ear buds in, which is something I hardly ever do, and I sang along with some of my favorite songs and there was about a block or two where I looked at all the trees and the sky and street lights peeking through the branches, and I felt like “holy fuck,” I’m so lucky to be alive and experiencing this very moment, and I almost cried. I mean my eyes teared up and I couldn’t catch my breath. Later on my walk, I spiraled out into some weird anxiety. But I have been all over the map today, in terms of feelings. MTB said that maybe I was dropping the cage around my heart. I hadn’t thought I’d caged my heart in, but I could see where that could be true, too. Anyway, when I got home, I made a tuna fish sandwich with potato chips on it and looked at cartoons in the New Yorker and then I spent the next 5 hours recording. Oh my god, I had forgot how much I love recording and how fucking insane it is. I recorded my guitar track at least 10 times and there’s still some flubs. At some point I poured a double whiskey, which I couldn’t finish all the way. This is the first time I’ve used this Tascam digital 8 track I bought this fall, meaning there was a new gear learning curve. Process, process, process and practice. Somewhere in the midst of the 8th or 9th guitar take, I became aware of how willing I am to be in the process of practicing when it comes to music and I hoped I’d remember the moment so I could apply to every other part of my life that I want to better at, like writing and running and shooting hoops and being less opinionated and not being sarcastic and being better at holding space for other folks hard times and hard feelings. And now it is 1:30am and I should be asleep.

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what i’m really talking about when i talk about the sky

January 25, 2013

For months I’ve not been able to figure out how to talk about all the huge feelings I’ve been having for MTB, except to talk about the sky. And I’ve talked about the sky a lot since September. I still can’t quite figure out how to talk about all the huge feelings, even now. Which is something I told MTB this week. I said something along the same lines to her last week too, when I was trying to distill these massive feelings into a 5 line blog entry, which I kind of came up with but then never posted. Mostly because MTB came up with something better, without even trying. She wrote a spontaneous poem over chat that she didn’t even know she was writing. It was amazing. And perfect. And so much better said than anything I can say right now, even if I am tempted to go back and retag a bunch of my old posts with the “love” tag.  And I was feeling so high about about all of that that I was gonna post MTB’s poem here. We even talked about it. I had a draft ready and everything. But the truth is, it was a private thing. And part of what made it so perfect and amazing is how MTB wrote what she wrote from this tender and open place where she was just talking to me and my heart from her heart. And I find myself being so protective of her softness and tenderness and amazingness. Really, of her heart. And I am aware that I am not talking about the sky right now. And that I haven’t talked about it much lately, although I do like to send MTB photos of the sky from the tram and tram deck. I imagine that she knows that they are both photos of the sky and of the amazing thing happening between us.

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four years ago today

January 18, 2013

My dad died. His dog, Ben, died with him. January 18th, 2009. It was a house fire. Probably smoke inhalation. No working smoke detectors in his house. There wasn’t much working in his house, except electricity, and it was likely a frayed lamp cord that started the fire. The best guess is the smoke eventually woke him up and he tried to find his phone to call 911 or tried to get down on the floor. The firefighters discovered him kneeling against his bed with his head on the mattress and his phone on the floor near his side table. You can easily imagine that he was panicking and knocked the phone to the floor and then was consumed by the smoke, which was so thick that the firefighters had to use a special infrared light to find his body. The whole thing sucked and so did everything that came after it except spending time with my family, most especially my sister, and getting to finally meet and become friends with my dad’s best friends, most especially his best friend, Joe.

I have no idea about the long arc of grief, specifically grief for someone with whom I had complicated relationship, at best, estranged, at worst. I suppose I could google “arc of grief.” It doesn’t really matter. Its still the case that I will be writing about something unrelated to my dad and and the next thing I know I’ll find myself writing him anyway. And it’s still true that when I’m  getting to know someone I want to be close to, I end up talking about my dad and my dad dying. This year I got slightly panicked that I had forgotten the date of his death. And I had to go back and look it up here on my blog. The forgetting part, not just of his death, but of him, is strange and unsettling. I’ve always had to kind of remind myself that he existed and that he was actually my dad, and that’s even more so true since he died. I think I finally realize why my Grandmother and Mom and uncles talk so much about my Grandfather — so they won’t forget him.

I’ve still not read Billy Budd. But it continues to sit in a pile of books on my bedside table. I did remove his dog tag from my key chain. It was loud and I think I wanted to take a break from trying to be close to the experience that impacted my dad’s life more than anything else. The thing I’ve noticed this year is that sometimes it feels weird to say I loved or love my dad, because loving him became such an exercise in abstraction, so separate from concrete expressions of love, like birthday phone calls or ever hanging out at his house or going with him to his favorite festival. But George Saunders said “Grief is, in a sense, the bill that comes due for love.” (his eulogy for David Foster Wallace). So by that measure I clearly did, love him that is.

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staying queer

January 17, 2013

This week I spent a 1/2 hour reading a book review in the New Yorker – the subject being twentysomethings and a handful of new books about what that’s like. I’m not sure why this interested me, maybe the pictures or pull quotes; most likely, it looked like the kind of mildly interesting thing to read before falling asleep, as in something that wouldn’t keep me awake. Anyway, somewhere in the last part of the article, probably when the author started in on the topics of delaying the decision to get married and/or having kids, it struck me that this was a review of books for straight twentysomethings. (And probably for straight, white and middle or upper class twentysomethings, too), and  the author, who was calling himself a critic, wasn’t even going to comment on that. That pissed me off. And then I got pissed that I’d wasted my time reading the stupid article in the first place. And then, after that, I got pissed about all the shit I read like this, that really is so herteronormative at its heart. And then I thought maybe I am still a “raging” queer, which made me sigh and say “whew.” Because at some point in the latter part of the 32 years I’ve been out, it seemed like I’d just stopped getting outraged*, which seemed kind of fucked up because fucked up stuff is still happening.

Looking back at the last 16 years, I can see what happened. Mainly, I got tired of dealing with the difference of being different and I just wanted to stop being the lesbian co-worker or lesbian classmate or lesbian neighbor or lesbian friend or the dyke you served coffee to or the dyke you bought your bike from or the dyke you sat by on the bus. I wanted the luxury of not having a bunch of wrong assumptions and stereotypes foisted on me. I wanted the privilege of not having my whole complicated and nuanced self distilled down into playing softball (which I never played) or listening to Melissa Etheridge (who I was never a huge musical fan of). I am exaggerating. Kind of.  But hopefully you get the point. Also, I didn’t want to be policed for how good a dyke I was being, as in how well I represented and how much I was or wasn’t like your lesbian cousin or your best friend’s dyke sister or some magazine article in the Sunday Times, etc. I didn’t want to be somebody else’s version of who I actually was or am (paraphrasing Toni Morrison here). But of course I didn’t stop being different and of course me being different didn’t stop making a difference, and even if I did at times kind of convince myself I’d stopped caring about it, that really wasn’t true. No matter how much I tried to be heads down in my tech career and my relationships and for a while, my band, and owning a house. I think I thought I could maybe assimilate into the larger culture, but I couldn’t and I’m really fucking glad about that.

Don’t assimilate. That’s my message today. Assimilation means giving up on queer subculture and conforming to the mainstream, where queers will always be outsiders anyway. Because we don’t fit in the mainstream. Because the mainstream is about the gender binary and gender conformity. And the mainstream is about male privilege and misogyny. And mainstream is about exploiting race and class to feed capitalism and bolster up entitlement. And the mainstream is about commodification of everything, including your queerness, if someone can make some money off of it.

*I did have some serious outrage over how It Gets Better Project became the de facto national campaign for fighting bullying queer youth in the schools. It’s such bullshit that’s its best we can — make videos telling kids to wait it out.


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this is portland winter

January 11, 2013

I am listening to a song that makes me feel like I am sitting in a coffee shop in L.A. and the sun is shining and there are impossibly beautiful and tan people standing around me, wearing t-shirts and flip flops and sunglasses, and they tare sipping on drinks with lots of foam and skim milk. And maybe they just came from eating the best Chinese food. Or the best Korean food. Or the best taco. Or the watched the sun set or rise at the beach. I’m so there. For a at least a few minutes. And it’s strange, because L.A. is strange and I don’t love it, but its nice to be there in my mind right now. Because the reality is I’m sitting on the floor in my bedroom, right beside my space heater, and it’s dark outside and I’m wearing my thick ass sweater and silk long underwear under my jeans and I didn’t see the sun set because it set behind the clouds and it kind of rained on me on my bike ride home and my hands got so cold even though I have good gloves and glove liners. I have been talking with various people about gloves a lot. It does not seem like me — to have this conversation over and over. But this is Portland. And this  is Portland winter. And people like to connect about gear and even people who don’t connect about gear like to give advice. And lately, everyone keeps asking if I rode today “in this,” meaning in this rain or in this rain and wind or in this cold. Today it was all three. Wind gust rocked the tram from side to side as it traveled up the hill, and I watched fat rain drops turn to snow flakes. It was like another world up on the hill. Even though the snow did not stick around, it was kind of beautiful. Which is one of the tricks to living in Portland during this time of year.  Noticing the beautiful stuff. And getting outside.

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a good sad song and a secret

January 9, 2013

I really love a good, sad song. Really. Really. Love.


Also, there is nothing quite as sweet as someone like your girlfriend sitting on your lap and singing in your ear a song she liked so much in high school. The way she is smiling and rocking back and forth and swinging her legs — she’s letting you in on a secret. And you’re going to remember that for a long time.


butch video project video 1 :: am i in the right place

January 7, 2013

For a while I’ve been wanting to do this. Talk about what it’s like being butch in front of the camera. I’m sure there’s gonna be a learning curve with the quality and the sound but if I wait until its perfect I won’t get this shit out there. So here’s video one, which is all about using the public bathroom and being butch.


diving into negative space

January 4, 2013

Two things I’ve read this week have been sticking with me.

Advice from Dear Sugar: One of the basic principles of every single art form has to do not with what’s there—the music, the words, the movement, the dialogue, the paint—but with what isn’t. In the visual arts it’s called the negative space—the blank parts around and between objects, which is, of course, every bit as crucial as the objects themselves. The negative space allows us to see the non-negative space in all its glory and gloom, its color and mystery and light. What isn’t there gives what’s there meaning. Imagine that.

From my horoscope this week: In order to win full possession of the many blessings that will be offering themselves to you, you will have to give up your solid footing and dive into the depths over and over again.

I think that diving into the depths has something to do with holding space for negative space, which may be hard to explain. Except to say that I am having huge feelings and something amazing and gigantic seems to be happening and it’s challenging to hold onto myself and to hold onto the amazing and enormous thing loose enough to see all its mystery and light, and at the same time hold onto it with the kind of care and intention (and a bunch of other things that are just too personal to post here to) to nurture it along. But I think that’s the trick so to speak, the holding it. And probably the fumbling too, which is inevitable because I am imperfect, as in super human (but not super power human). The thing is solid footing has been a slippery slope for a while now. And I’ve been managing to be ok with stepping off and feeling vulnerable by thinking of riding the tram or thinking of flying and by reminding myself that life is short.

Alright. I think I’ll end this with a George Saunders quote: Anything is possible. Stay open, forever, so open it hurts, and then open up some more, until the day you die, world without end, amen.