Pandemic Days

I can write okay, except when I can’t.

I haven’t seen another person aside from my partner in almost two months, which feels a little crazy making.

Some days, I write all day, look back at the pages, and still feel like I got nothing done.  Some days I stare at a blank journal.

Sometimes making lists helps.

List One:

5/1/20 (Late at night)
I miss:
Crossing the Los Angeles County line (Any time of year, or day)
Avi’s cassette copy of the first Motley Crue record, played loud, while Crossing the Los Angeles County line.
Jacob, talking about The Cure
Luna, in the passenger seat
My Elders
Budd Inlet
Priest Point
Crain
Gas Pump Graveyard (Gone)
That one Secret Spot under the 6th Avenue Bridge in Denver (Also Gone)
Shows
Punk
Punks
Skinheads
Friends in general
Lexington Avenue
Malibu, with Pocket
Pocket
That Malibu Taco spot, with Pocket

List Two:

5/2/20 (AM)
In My Head:
Summer of 2013
Seven years bad luck (are they related?)
The end of the world
The desert
The mountains
The Ocean
Rust
That time C and I were in the desert, and Hope got her little face in a cactus and we had to pull the barbs out with my Leatherman and Hope was such a trooper about it
How I should call C
Worrying about Hope on the stairs
Dirty’s weird toenail in my bedside drawer, next to the dildos.
New Wave
No Wave
Darkwave
Anxiety Anxiety Anxiety!
Shaving my head again
How stubble feels on my face now
As opposed to 7-8 years ago
It’s pretty okay actually
And I can deal
I don’t hate being man adjacent
The way I used to
I exist in a body
And turns out, I like it just fine
The world still
Freaks me right
The fuck out
Especially these days
I don’t leave my house enough
I guess I haven’t had a lot
Of Say in that lately

The Rust Belt

I had a dream last night
About my best friend
How maybe I should write
The two of us another story
This one will be fiction too
I want to write us something new
A story about our lives
With all the tragedy excised

Because
We have both
Had enough of all that.

Falling Asleep to 1990’s marketing Extravaganza Dick Tracy

The plot isn’t much to speak of
Scattered and hard to follow, but the colorful and garish
Sets, they just soothe the edges of my soul
Eyes adjusting to the darkness ahead of rest

I might always live like
A faceless wraith stalking my way
Through the avenues and alleyways
And haunted spots of anytown, USA

I liked that about the movie
How those obviously painted hulking
Concrete and steel monstrosities
Static and frozen, yet still somehow in motion

Could be a metaphor for the underbelly
Of any city, the concrete canyons of New York
The cold labyrinthine streets
Carving the wastes of Chicago

Okay, those are actually the only
Two cities that come to mind
When I think about just where
“The City” might have been based on

Not nearly enough sunshine
For the soulless sun soaked streets of LA
But I’ve always been such a sucker
For a hardboiled detective anyway

I love the two-dimensional villains
Out to get theirs at any cost
All physically deformed and amoral
Impeccably dressed in tailored suits all the same

After a day’s worth of eating shit and air pollution
Cutting two wheels across cold pavement
For a hundred bucks and some exercise
Knees that creak and wrists that ache

I think I understand
Just how busted hands
Could reach for a gun
Trading the violence wrought

On aging bones
Through toil and exhaustion
At the end of every workday
For the violence of

Striking out into the cold
Of this heartless world
To take what’s rightfully yours
Instead of what those hogs at the top say you deserve

So meet me tonight at the docks
Underneath a yellow moon peering
Indifferently though the smog
Down at streets seeped in soul and sorrow below

I’m a sultry songstress
Bruised but unbroken, just like you
Always on the same side
With a loaded .45

Pressed against my thigh
Sticking to circles of streetlight
Until the hour arrives
To slink back into the shadows

Of The City and strike
Out at its black heart
Because in this life
There are hard truths they teach us

Before we can even grow
First and foremost
We come to know
That only suckers fight fair

Highland Park, 7:29 PM

Molly texted me just as I was walking my deliveries into the Shadyside gym.  She heard that Keziah had passed away and wanted to know if I had heard anything.  I checked my social media and found the same sad news Molly had seen.  I didn’t get the chance to take a writing break while riding my routes, but I thought about Keziah for the rest of the day.  Molly filled me in on the details gradually.  Keziah died alone in her room from a heroin overdose.  Not an unfamiliar ending, as far as punks go.

I turned the tragedy of dying young, yet aged beyond your years over in my head, and felt that same anger I have felt so many times before at the news of so many other dead friends or acquaintances.  I forgot a pickup and had to race back out to South Hills and missed most of a work meeting.  I was embarrassed, but didn’t care much beyond that.  Now I’m home, and I’m trying to remember everything I thought about on my routes.

I know I saw Keziah for the first time in the fall of 2006, when Lizzie and I were traveling together and rolled through Denver.  This was back when Molly was a substitute at that weird charter school and Keziah was one of her students.  She had just left home and was set to ride trains with a dude I had encountered and got bad feelings from earlier that spring.  I remember Emil, Sean, and Teal were sketched out too.  Lizzie and I tried to talk her into not taking off alone with this dude, but Molly ended up giving them a ride out to the yard later that night and told Keziah to keep in touch, and call if she needed help or money to come home.

I can’t remember exactly how that story ended, but I don’t think it ended well.  That dude is dead now too.  I can’t remember his name, but I remember hearing he was shot to death in New Orleans a few years back.  I just counted.  I know five people who have been shot in New Orleans.  One who survived.  I still have never been to that city, and doubt I will ever go at this point.

I know I saw Keziah again, and if I’m placing the time right, it was 2008, the summer I was 27.  I was back in Denver for a month hanging with an old friend while she was pregnant and sleeping on a couch in the suburbs, in a sleeping bag that still smelled vaguely like diesel fuel from Lizzie’s and my previous trip, no matter how much I washed it.  I’d go downtown to hang with Molly and other friends when the suburbs got to stifling.  I think Keziah was dating that guy Sal by then, a charming and sociopathic seeming fuck up who rarely stopped talking.  I remember that summer was also the last time I ever saw Mike Brown alive and all of us hanging out at a sketchy ass crashpad across the street from the Wild Oats where I had worked for a few years, and then was later “banned for life” for allegedly shoplifting

Molly told me later how her and Dustin had let Keziah and Sal live in the basement of their house.  Their fights got too brutal (I’m putting it lightly here, and maybe skipping some details that aren’t mine to repeat anyway) after a fight that resulted in a bunch of broken windows in the house, they eventually left.  I don’t think Molly ever saw either one of them again.

I saw Keziah a few years later after I moved to Olympia  At a crust show at Crypt.  She was with Maria, who told me she had moved Keziah out to Port Townsend with her to get her away from Sal.  I meant to say hey, and then a fight started with some army dudes who had wandered into the bar and were getting too aggressive on the dancefloor.  I sucker punched one of them.  Shit popped off and I remember seeing him push Andreas against the wall in the dimly lit back room of the Crypt.  I saw distinctly his hands at Andreas’ throat.  I ran across the floor and aimed a punch square at his kidneys.  I remember everything moving in slow motion, running up and realizing how big this man was.  I felt my fist connect, and to be honest, I don’t even know if he felt it.

The trouble cleared out the door and they went across the street to McCoy’s.  I lost heart for the show and slunk back up the Puget Street hill to my basement room and my books and my dog and my cat.  I didn’t say goodbye to anyone.  I never saw Keziah again.  I saw Sal on 4th Avenue some weeks later.  I remember wondering with a slight distaste if he had followed Keziah out to Washington.  He said hey and I remained neutral and didn’t say much.  He handed me a zine and I took it, only to throw it away as soon as I had walked another block.

I never really liked that guy.

I listened to the news on my routes all day today.  So much intense rhetoric coming from the right about the coming civil war if Trump gets impeached.  Some people have been talking for a while now about how we’re in a cold civil war, waiting for the first shot to turn this shitstorm hot.  Trying to catch my breath n the Alley just on the other side of Negley Avenue today, it’s hard to not think those motherfuckers are right.  I guess I’ve been feeling that for so many people across the world, one war or another since before any of us were ever born.  There’s soldiers, there’s casualties, and there’s fucking profiteers.  Today, dodging in and out of traffic and ticking down miles until I could ride home to my old lady dog, I kept thinking about Keziah dying alone in her bedroom with a needle hanging out of her arm while the Sackler family are secure in whatever compound they call home to keep themselves safe from the rest of us.

And I want to hack these motherfuckers to pieces and set their bodies on fire and allot their fortunes to healing the epidemic they have profited mercilessly from, that has been decimating the poor for decades, and put so many people in my community in the ground.

I remember trying to help another friend kick junk, a few years back now.  I remember sitting in my too cold living room calling support line after support line, just trying to help find them resources.  The walls we kept hitting felt like some maggot’s idea of black humor.  Someone got it in their head to make the hellscapes we call cities and the drudgery and toil we call work so unlivable and impossible to extricate oneself from that so many people will be literally dying for a taste of escape, then to make sure they will never escape from the escape.

And I get it.  I can barely go an hour without looking at my stupid phone.  Not that these fucking cancer-making nightmare rectangles provide much escape nowadays.

I remember trying futilely to beat back my busted teeth at 23, before I lost a shit ton of them to car wrecks and rot (also a case of a lack of resources).  I went to the hospital in my city and told them I was homeless and had a tooth infection (both more or less true).  An overworked doctor gave me a bottle of antibiotics and a bottle of 30 hydrocodone, the number to the dental school across town, wished me luck, and sent me back into the snow.  I washed the pills down and walked back to the house where I was crashing.  I remember clearly the beautiful, washed out numbness that followed as the drug began to diffuse through my bloodstream.  I can almost taste it writing these words now.  I laid in a friend’s bed and listened to a tape of Amebix’s Arise LP and thought to myself:  “I get why people get hooked on this shit.”  I even remember recording notes of what I was feeling in my journal of what I was feeling.  I wondered if this was what so-called “normal” people, who live with the luxury of not feeling this world’s dizzying joys and crushing horrors, so hard and so fast, and just so relentlessly felt like.

And I think about the brutal unfairness of this world, what it’s done to my friends, and how we are among some of the luckier people making our way through this this thing we call late capitalism.

And I think my lifelong best friend Molly summed it up best, talking about Keziah:

“Keziah got handed a heap of shit in her short life and when she needed to, she gave it back. She was resilient, defiant and curious.  May she rest in peace.”

 

 

Brookline Avenue, 4:05 PM, 89 Degrees

Cut through a small, well-kept pedestrian alley at the end of my route, where I am sitting to write this now.  There’s a door in the middle of this alley and steps behind it that go down into some restaurant that isn’t open right now.  For whatever reason, I’m imagining it as some sort of jazz club, the kind that might have existed in the 30’s.  Did they have jazz out in the suburbs and small towns in the 30’s?  I really hope so.  I am still feeling waves of jittery energy from that hippy meth coffee and then the kombucha on top of that.

Right before I turned into this alley, an old man stopped in his tracks on the street to stare at me.  Like, full stop, turned his head to follow me with his eyes as I made my way down the street.  I stopped for a minute and held his stare without breaking eye contact or changing my facial expression.  All the sudden, I felt like I was fifteen, turning heads at the mall.  He eventually started walking again.  I walked into the tanning salon to change out their posters.  It smells heavily of what I imagine is chemical tanning lotion in there.  The strange, orange colored women behind the counter are always very friendly.  “Just change out whatever you need, hon.”  My next stop was the pizza place that always smells faintly like rotting cooking oil, the kind Lizzie and I used to dumpster when we drove around the country in that fucked up diesel/veggie oil truck/money pit that I couldn’t even keep running for longer than six months.  The contrast of smells from tanning salon to pizza shop is always nauseating.  I feel a headache coming on.  Too much coffee.  Not enough water.  Too much sweating the precious fluids in my body out in the sun.  As I was walking over here I heard a woman yelling at two kids on BMX’s.

“If there’s a problem here, we can call the cops!”  She said.

“No problem.  You don’t need to call the cops” said a scared looking boy who couldn’t have been older than 12.

What is it with middle age that makes someone so cop-happy?  Seeing that interaction reminded me of the time Mike Fleetwood and I were bored when we were 13 on a lonely small-town Saturday night and wandered into the Shrewsbury Family Restaurant – I think it has a different name now, but it was the closest thing to mom’s house where there might be other people. If I’m putting the time right, my father probably would have been dead for a month or two.  I know it was still cold out.  If I recall, we were lurking around behind the diner, just childishly wandering around.  Somewhere back around the front, a woman came out and confronted us:

“What are you two doing?”

“Uh.  Nothing.”  I remember saying, with my eyes directed towards the frigid pavement.

“Well, I’m calling the cops!”

I remember thinking what a rapid and unnecessary escalation that exclamatory statement was, and that the last thing my mother needed to deal with was my being driven home in a police car.  I turned and ran and Mike followed.  We cut through yards and made our way back to my mother’s house, where we hid in my room probably watching movies or whatever for the rest of the night.

Two short years later, a different Saturday night and Adam and I were bored and maybe high on dirt weed or Ritalin. We walked to the diner in the cold and empty night, smoking cigarettes and talking.  I had a mohawk and Adam had bright blue hair.  We sat down at the counter and asked for a cup of coffee.  The manager on duty told us no service.  The place was dead.  There weren’t even other customers to offend with our hair.  We got up to leave and the server behind the bar told us to sit back down and she would get our coffee.  She went back in the kitchen to get our coffee and we could hear voices raised, but never knew quite what they were saying.  We drank our coffee and left, tipping as graciously as two broke fifteen-year old’s could.

It’s weird what you think about.  I want to get home to my dog.

Journal 10/1/19

South Hills, 2:50 PM, 91 Degrees

Siting in the alley a block up from Eden and watching an old man on his smoke break from the restaurant on the corner.  His beard is gray.  His apron is a dirty white.  His eyes dart between the sweltering asphalt and his phone.  This part of town reminds me of Lancaster or Southern York County, sometimes I start to feel claustrophobic when I’m out here.  I’m sitting on the cooking pavement trying to find shade and drinking the kombucha the woman who owns Eden comped me.  White clouds, without rain pass overhead giving the street a brief break from the heat, and I could almost miss the cool gray falls of the Pacific Northwest.  This time last year I was settling into a misty fall and winter living with one of my favorite humans on the planet, and I feel the ache of that absence right now.  I’ll make sure to text them when I’m off work later.

Instead of missing anything more or picking up my phone, I find myself remembering the pregnant gray storm clouds of a South Florida late summer day.  I remember the way they’d gather in the late afternoon, all gray and heavy and ominous right before the sky opened up and the rain came down in blinding sheets so thick you could barely see a few feet ahead of you.  The world would cool down for a few blissful hours, and sometimes the streets would flood.  The kids would all come out to run around in the water once the lightning stopped.  Now I think about those clouds and the feeling of dread that comes with 90-degree fall days in October in the Northeast and I think about acid rain and rising seas and how long before she sinks.

Nothing to do for today, but jump back on my bike and finish my rounds.  The man across the alley just finished his cigarette.  Looks like we’re going back to our respective grinds at the same time.  I hope he’s done with work soon too.

Journal Excerpt – 9/30/19

Slept hard last night, like the dead.  I think the travel took it out of me.  I left my phone in the kitchen and managed to stay in bed until 9:30.  Only part of the road that I really remember is stopping to stretch in a Vermont cemetery where most of the graves seemed to be over a century old.  I scratched my eye somehow and spent part of the drive precariously trying to blink the blurriness out of my right eye and keeping the car under 80 mph just in case.

I feel a total lack of enthusiasm for my day job today.

Reading the other night went okay.  I thought about reading a piece about my mom intended for use in a collaborative project with Sam, but it didn’t feel ready, so I switched to an excerpt from a prose piece about Olympia – a recounting of a sweet date with HP and the night W and I thought we were going to die.  Felt good to write about a one and place that is safely relegated to the past at this point. I finished with a newer poem.  Being onstage was at once both exhilarating and terrifying.  I sweated it out under the lights in my Ben Sherman knockoff.  I need to work on my inflection and delivery.  I felt flat, on autopilot.  I don’t even know how long I was up there.  Time melts away onstage, especially when the venue is dark and the only lights are on you.  I know I got a strong round of applause as I left stage, but I was too scared to look out at the crowd.  I walked backstage a cathartic mess of nerves and wanted to hide.  I have this feeling like I just want to be so real that it shines through everything else.  Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.  I think sometimes, people just want to be entertained.  It worked last time I was on that stage, reading about lost love and forgiving my momma.  Tonight, it felt like it felt flat.  I’m not sweating it too hard.  There are good nights and bad nights.

I felt like a raw nerve after I read, and just wanted to hide.  I found a spot behind some ancient bleachers way in the back of the theater and crawled under them to hyperventilate.  The person who went on after me and closed out the night did this jokey nude performance art thing, where they walked onstage mostly naked and gradually had people who were in the know hand them clothes until they were dressed  As they were walking off stage, they said: “Did you know that in Vermont that it’s illegal to take your clothes off onstage?  That’s it.  That’s the performance.  Bye.”

It was funny, but maybe lost on me, prudish as I can be at times.  The staff working the event asked everyone to put their phones in a box, so nobody could creep and sneak photos.  Totally understandable.  I got up from my hiding place and surrendered my phone and then went back to the shadows to try and remember how to breathe.

I hid until the house lights came back on and then got my phone and went outside.  A few people told me they were into what I did and I think I smiled weakly and said thank you.  I never know how to take praise, even though I know how much we all want it on some level.  I guess it’s just that I bare my soul up there and I wonder how voyeuristic it might feel for someone else to see, and I also get that someone might wanna shield their eyes.  I don’t know.

I’ve decided that I can always feel pride in how much of myself I pour into my writing, how hard I work at it, even if I don’t always connect with a reader or an audience.  I don’t think I’m always necessarily palatable as a person, or a writer, but when I connect with people, I do so on a pretty rad level.  All I can be is brutally honest and keep working.

8/28/18

I have been feeling weird and anxious all day, and unable to place exactly what lay at the source of that anxiety. I’m in the middle of packing all my things to move and struggling to get an abscess tooth taken care of adequately with my inadequate state health care. I even lost my patience with an overworked healthcare worker today, saying “I have a fucking infection in my face, and all I want to do is get it treated without losing more of my teeth. This cannot possibly be this hard”. I almost immediately apologized and told the worker that I knew they are just doing the best they can. I’m just so frustrated having been trying to get this tooth fixed for weeks now. None of this is exactly out of the ordinary though.

Then I realized what day it is. My father would have celebrated his 80th birthday today had he not been dead for 24 long years. I didn’t know my father well. He worked tirelessly and came home exhausted and checked out nightly. He would eat dinner sit in front of the television, drinking and smoking until he fell asleep, only to get back up with the sunrise and do it all over again the next day. He looked old past his years, with strangers often confusing him for my grandfather. I didn’t realize until I was well into adulthood that my father had a drinking problem, much like his father before him and the dependencies inherited by my older brother.

Tonight I am thinking about all my friends. I am thinking of all the people I don’t know who I am afraid for. I am thinking of everyone struggling to care for themselves sufficiently. I am thinking of everyone I have ever loved who struggles to live well because they have always been told they only deserve so much. I am thinking of all the people who the world has a way of knocking down anytime they find a way to stand a little too tall. I am thinking about everyone I love who I worry is literally working themselves to death. I am thinking about low intensity class warfare laying waste to all the cities I have loved, making them uninhabitable for the people who made them what they are. I am thinking about the houseles folks whom Relic and I gave some things my emotionally abusive ex sent me unprompted for my 36th birthday to last night. I hope they liked that soft gray blanket and Joy Division shirt. I am purging things to move and they had been sitting in my room long enough, reminding me of the text messages that followed their arrival in the mail two winters past. “Hopefully you like them. The blanket was expensive.” Gross. I am thinking about sitting next to one of the great loves of my life earlier this afternoon, feeling wave upon wave of exhaustion exude from them, and feeling how much the potential of loss scares me even more as we go deeper, get more vulnerable, and as we get older, as if I held them tighter death wouldn’t be as much of a certainty.

I went for a bike ride in the late summer night until my heart beat right again. My chest has physically hurt with anxiety all day today. I am so tired all the time, and the wildfire smoke surrounding the Puget Sound has made it hard to want to exercise lately. I wanted to move my body and not tread down the path laid for me by either of my parents, ignoring despair and inertia. Though I do hope my father’s ghost rode along with me for a bit. I sat on the hill beneath the water tower waiting for the moon to Rise, listening to the music I have loved for more than half of my life. I listened to early Cock Sparrer LPs. I remember my how my mother hated the music and subcultures I was joyously diving into when I was fifteen. Inexplicably, she liked Cock Sparrer. “I think your father even would have liked this” she said.

Go figure.

The moon rose, full, ancient and yellow. I remembered a night so much like this one back home in Appalachia with one of the other loves of my life. We fucked in the cemetery, sweaty and joyous and in love. When we finished the mountains stood silhouetted by the moonlight and I felt the immediate sensation of someone having touched my soul in such a way that I felt like I had been here with them before.

My remembrance was interrupted by the kiddo walking up and taking a seat on the pavement next to me. We listened to a few more records there in the dark, with the moon rising higher and the sounds of the city to our backs. Percy Sledge, Lee Moses, Maraboots, and Symarip. I can feel a shift coming. For once I’m not overwhelmed by the darkness behind and ahead. I’ve survived so many nights of going through hell in this city by keeping going. For once those nights feel like they add up to something.

Thanks dad.

Thanks lovers (Save for that aforementioned one whose gifts now grace the hands of some of Olympia’s houseless population.). Thank you friends, past and present.

Thank you moon.

Heavy eyelids not heavy enough. 

Typing on my phone and intermittently staring at the gentle glow of a candle on my ceiling.  

I haven’t had a single good night of sleep this week. My body hurts and I’m exhausted. I haven’t written in a week. Somehow, I’ve felt too distracted or just too tired. There was a day or two this week where I felt too love struck and electric with sweetness and sentiment to concentrate, so that was pretty cool. I am allowing myself to gently fall in love for the second time ever. Turns out moving not at a frantic-trying-to-fill-the-void-with-whoever-is-around pace is real nice.

I keep telling myself I’m going to do some more work on this book. I’m going to start work on an outline for the film project a friend and I started discussing this week. I’m real excited about that project, and not just because it’s an excuse to travel to Florida to get out of our respective Cascadian and Canadian winter climates.  

I sit down and start to write and the exhaustion of the distraction just take me the fuck down.  I end up just going to bed.  Once I’m in bed, I stare at the ceiling.

I think about lost loves, friends, snd enemies. People I miss.People   I don’t miss. I think about the terror loose in the world. I feel a deep and dark sense of dread thinking of a friend who is currently in serious legal trouble. I think about racism, about cops, about war, about this culture devouring itself at a suicide-pace.  I think about mommas and poppas trying to raise their babies on a burning hellworld, that could break them.  

Nothing ever breaks my heart, but goddamn is it bruised sometimes.  

For fucking fearless queer love.

queer bootyI wanted to send my sweetheart a cute selfie tonight.  We will not be seeing one another for a few days, and this is literally what I look like in bed, so I figured why not?  I look fucking good.  I’ve been feeling myself hard lately, and not ashamed to admit it.  I wore a ton of make up to the gym the other night, and chuckled internally just a little bit at the bros giving me a wide berth as I made my way to the squat rack with Black Sabbath’s Paranoid blaring in my headphones.

I’ve hit a wall with my writing the last few weeks.  I have two larger pieces in progress, and I just don’t know how to land the first one, and the second one, well some of the subject matter just feels so raw somehow to dive into fully.  So instead I write short poems, and read a lot.  I don’t do enough work revising pieces intended to submit to journals.  I keep meaning to, and I keep running out of time in the day.

I’ve been playing with gender expression regularly lately for the first time in a long time.  In so many ways it’s still such a strange and terrifying journey.  I grew up effeminate and sensitive in your slightly more homophobic and right wing than average family.  My lack of masculinity and sensitivity quickly made me a target for bullying, and soon after it made me a target for sexual violence when a few of the older kids in the neighborhood got me alone.

By the time I was seven, I was well on my way to learning to keep parts of myself cold and buried forever.

And those pieces of myself refused to stay buried.  For that, I am so, so lucky.  This isn’t to say I didn’t grow into one hell of a vicious streak, and that I don’t still have plenty of ruins to undo, but still.  I’m so blessed to not have a head that is entirely filled with bad memories and broken glass.  I’m lucky enough that I figured out how to not let my trauma define me.

I have spent my life surrounded by some of the most courageous and loving people on the face of this battered earth.  I don’t know how any of us could have made it through this burning nightmare that is the modern world without one another.

Middle school in the 90’s, and tough girls in combat boots taught me how to wear raccoon eyeliner like my idol Robert Smith.  When I was in high school, I played in bands with boys who cried, and crusty punk girls who punched nazi skinheads at shows.  I hit my early twenties and came out as genderqueer.  I wanted my gender to be total negation.  I didn’t want a gender at all.  I would wear all black everything, and keep my face shaved a smoothly as possible.  I learned to only share my body with those who I could actually be intimate with.  Nobody else deserved it, or could even understand this strange and distorted reflection I saw myself in.

When it was time to drop out of the rat race we’re expected to inherit when we get out of college as soon as I fucking could.  I hopped freight trains and into speeding vans with fearlessly criminal trans women who survived and braved lives that I could scarcely imagine on and off the streets while I was still dreaming of running away from Southern York County.

In my late twenties and early thirties, still trying so hard to live bravely through trauma and mental illness, I allowed black and white thinking to cloud my vision.  In this world supposedly without boundaries and binaries, I still found myself feeling as if the world held no place for me.  Maybe if I tried harder to squeeze into a binary, it would.  I would identify solely as a transwoman.

That part, I don’t really want to talk about, aside from noting that my exploration of this identity led to the worst mental health crisis I have ever faced in a life that has been well, kinda filled with mental health crises.  It took years to pick up the pieces and get back to where I am right now; which is living relatively comfortably in my occasionally made up and lace adorned skin.  While existing in this gender fluid space with relative ease, I also I live in awe of all the courageous, creative, and criminal queers that came before me.  The trans women, the gender benders, the fags, and the dykes that fought and died so I could be right here.  I think about the QTPOC who threw bricks at cops a decade before I was even born, and live with a lack of privilege that I can scarcely comprehend.

Thank you.

I’ve rambled enough, and it’s time to sleep.

All this to explain one cute selfie.

Journal 1/23/17 – BPD Confession #3.

walk-softly

I have had this taste lingering at the back of my throat for three days now, bile and bitterness. I feel like bile is trying to escape my body, crawling upwards from my stomach and out my throat. The taste is accompanied by an ever present feeling of nausea. I cannot help but wonder if my body is involuntarily responding to the state of the world we live in, sickness being met with sickness. Every now and then, as I write this I feel like my hand almost involuntarily wants to slam against the table. My body contorts in on itself. I clench my fists, and wonder if my soul isn’t so sick of this shit that it’s trying to crawl out of my skin. I feel like a monster. I think about everything and everyone that I would like to leave in destroyed ruins. The list is currently as monumental as my memory is long.

And I wonder why I don’t get invited to parties.

This morning I woke up feeling invisible, in a cold room and ink-vomiting out the most vulnerable shit I can pull out of me into these pages to hurl into the void of anonymity. I mean, isn’t that what we all want, to have our experiences seen and validated? I fancy myself an archivist, documenting my own insignificant experience of being crushed by mental illness as humanity wars, progresses, exploits itself into screaming extinction. This is what I do on my good days. The bad days, I spend in bed not writing, reading, or otherwise nourishing my soul. I spend the bad days torn between the two very distinct opposing forces. On one side of the polarity I feel completely forlorn and alone, like none of the very real sweetness and love I have experienced is has any substance to it. On the other side of that spectrum I spend, I find myself wanting to annihilate the people I love for seemingly being more happy and successful than I feel like I will ever be.

I feel abusive and hate myself into sleep filled days for this one.

Meanwhile, all these positive thinking motherfuckers talk about letting the love in, or accepting the love we think we deserve, or love trumping hate, or whatever. While they are saying this, I’m trying to remember the last time I felt any sustained amount of empathy or softness. I’m pretty sure it was Friday or Saturday when friends who were hurting needed someone. I mostly have felt lost in a swirling labyrinth of my own pain, scarcely able to notice, let alone empathize with anyone else’s. I hate myself for this as well. Gifted as I am, with a detailed memory, I can remember when sentiment and warmth practically overwhelmed me. I have a harder time remembering precisely when they rotted out of me though. I think it might have been somewhere in North Carolina, or maybe Oakland, Maybe even on the 9th Street Bridge in Minneapolis.

This is the fucking season of collective suffering too. I have been trying to remember the last time the world felt this dark for me. Maybe there is a certain privilege in that, not noticing how dire the situation is until it’s choking the life out of you. I know that is one of the big critiques I’ve heard of the anti-Trump mobilization that is currently underway; that too many of us refused to acknowledge the clear and present danger many marginalized communities have been in for a long time. I am not saying I woke up on the morning of November 9th and suddenly realized that I lived in the belly of a racist, imperialist, and misogynist horror show. I’m just saying I can’t remember the last time I saw so many people around me so hurting, and so scared.

That pain and fear is crushing me. So I stay in my room with the same two Joy Division records playing over and over, and replaying old memories over and over. My current favorites are “Times you mistreated the people you love most of all that you want to remember forever and punish yourself with.”. I compose beautiful and vulnerable apology letters that I might never send. The sound of a person I loved deeply crying into the phone at the sound of my unforgiving words replays itself over and over in the dark, taunting me, nearly drowning out the music. That phone call was years ago now. Lucky me, I still remember it clear as day. I count my blessings. I’m working on learning the lessons.

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