Annual Talya post.  

Five years.

Five years feels like some sort of milestone in grief time. Five years is halfway to ten years, and maybe at a decade you feel like you’ve officially moved on. A decade, after all is a different measurement of time entirely. You’ve kept living and healed while the person you loved just stopped. The pain becomes less about their absence, because you have grown accustomed to it. The pain becomes more of an occasional dull ache where your friend was. You wonder what their life would be like now had they chosen to continue living it. What would they have accomplished? Who would they have grown into? I think about Talya whenever I’m back home in North Carolina.  In the delicious humidity, listening to the cicadas sing, out with friends in the places we loved, I wonder what that precious time would be like if she was there?  What quirky, weird jokes would she make?  How would she have brought extra love and light to our time together?  Lucky for us, the years have cycled through to where she is able to bring such joy to that time together, even in her absence.

I loved Talya’s voice. In the days after her death, we all talked about her singing, and huddled together around the few recordings of her singing we were lucky enough to find.  I loved her weird ass humor. Case in point:  The time I convinced everyone that we simply had to watch the awful disaster movie 2012, with John CusackAmidst the ridiculous CGI wrought explosions, and cities breaking apart for no other apparent reason than it being well, 2012; extras for the film, useless to the plot aside from suffering indignant deaths onscreen ran around like chickens with their heads cut off. I drunkenly pondered aloud: “What would you even do in this situation if it somehow happened in real life?”  Without missing a beat, Talya replied “I’d run around yelling ‘help help!  I don’t want to die a virgin!’ and just see what happened”.  The room burst into bellyaching laughter.

I loved the way she would try to translate the nonsense phrases I got stuck into my head into German and say them back to me. Like the time we got fixated on the phrase “Honey I shrunk the Führer”.  Where the fuck did that even come from?  Were we watching World War II movies and Disney movies in the same day?  Talya started saying it in broken German, and I could not stop laughing.  ADHD children all grown up that we were, I forgot about it shortly.  In the following days, Tuesday absolutely forbade Talya from repeating it back to me, despite my insistent asking.  He knew that he’d then be dealing with both of us glitching out and repeating it into forever, or at least until we got distracted.

I loved Talya’s kindness. I am not sure I ever heard her say an unkind thing about another person, a true rarity in the world. I also cannot recall anyone having anything unkind to say about her; even before she died, which is even rarer. Talya was unique and so adored by everyone around her. At the end of the day was still in so much pain, that she chose a permanent ending to that pain.

Maybe I’ve finally come to respect that choice.  I hate saying that aloud.

Five years ago today I couldn’t imagine a future where Talya’s death would ever hurt less. Heather Talley and I sat in the garden outside of Rosetta’s at the wake and she asked “Where is the threshold? When do our hearts just finally break?”.  I thought maybe this was it. I couldn’t envision a life where we’d all moved on to the degree that we have. All that was to be felt was a big, awful, empty now. Like trying to catch our collective breath and figure out what deal to make with the divine to get Talya back from beyond the veil, or stumbling home drunk and sobbing up Lexington Avenue was just what we do from now on.

And then five years passed in a flash. Night still followed day and the world kept spinning. Life moved on, albeit a little darker. I sometimes wonder if I used Talya’s death as an excuse to continue down a path of hardening my heart, but I don’t know if I would have survived that year if I hadn’t.  When we talk about Talya now, it’s with an air of fond remembrance instead of soul-crushing despair. Because goddamn, she was so, so funny, and so weird, and just so kind. It is an overused phrase, but I’ll use it anyway: There will never be another one like Talya.  I’ll talk about the life she lived bravely, and the qualities she embodied until the day I die.

Maybe some day I’ll finally be done writing about her every August 9th.

Keep breathing.
Keep moving.
Keep shining.
Keep living.

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Annual Talya post.  

I fell in love and it scrambled my brain.

So I haven’t been writing as much. Still grinding away at this novel, but aside from that I mostly try and sit calmly with the present. For whatever reason, writing about the present has always proven difficult for me. It’s like I have a hard time articulating the significance of an event until after it’s time as has passed and I’ve had time to reflect. Maybe that’s why my first book is about a life lived two decades ago. I can tell you with absolute clarity what it was all for, and what it all meant.

The present… The Present feels jittery and electric, like I want to do a million things at once. Maybe that’s the strong cup of green tea and chronic lack of sleep talking though. Or maybe too much time researching bullshit on the internet is making me foggy before my years. I don’t know. I can’t think clearly right now. Maybe I should just be outside with my dog (The real love of my life.)

What I’m trying to articulate here, is what a joy it is to fall in love. I haven’t been in love in some years. Opening my heart to another has never been something I’ve done lightly, and rarely something I’ve given myself to fully. If we’re being real, I’ll one part blame on being socialized in a culture of toxic masculinity, one part mental illness and trauma, and the last part just kind of feeling like a whole lot of the people I encounter aren’t worth my vulnerability and authenticity anyway. People can be disingenuous and dishonorable shitbags. I see it on most of them, and keep my distance. People are also flawed and wounded and wonderful and most of us are doing the best we can. It’s the ones that use their hardships as an excuse to never grow or change that I can’t abide to share my time with.

Or people can’t handle my authenticity or vulnerability. That’s possible too. I think I encounter that one a lot. I don’t know. It’s difficult to be objective about yourself sometimes. I am more than aware of myself as a “difficult person”. I am painfully aware that I’m unlucky enough to experience the terrifying and joyous journey of life through a certain lens, and the world I see through that lens doesn’t always match with the world the people I love are seeing.

That is to say, trauma and mental illness done fucked up my perception of reality. I won’t make any apologies for how I experience the world, not like I wanna experience it in this way either. I’m real sorry for the vital connections it’s caused me to break over the years, most of them anyway.

Anyway… Love poem in progress. I think we’ll title it Janky Love Poem #1 because I’m feeling real sweet and vulnerable and clumsy right now. I don’t know if I’ve ever written something about a relationship while I was still in it.

Falling in
Falling away
From an idea of love cheapened
With plastic sentiment
Filled with impossible promises
Of a saccharine soaked forever
And sepia toned happily ever after
Accepting each imperfect
And impermanent moment

Making monuments from ruins
An idea of love
Falling like walls
Cracked open
Like precious stones
Once hidden in rubble

Falling in love like
Tearing lonely cynicism to shreds
For gentle whispers of
How the world is still worth fighting for
Four simple words to sink in
“Nihilism is so stupid”
It’s true.

That’s all. I’m going outside. Maybe I’ll work on this more later. Maybe I’ll leave it as it is, a clumsily sweet monument to the first tenuous steps of falling in love. Only time will tell. For now, I will enjoy this moment.

Thank you for reading. ❤

I fell in love and it scrambled my brain.

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.  

Heavy eyelids not heavy enough. 

New zine out, old zine reprinted.

zinesToday is the hardest I’ve worked in a long time, but I’m really proud of what came of it. I’m really proud of this writing too. Despite some revision and printing disasters today, I will have some zines with me tonight for my set at Invokation if you’re in Olympia. I don’t have many, so grab them quick. Thanks to Pocket for the indispensable proofreading, technical, and assembly help. They even took this pretty photo you’re looking at. Total lifesaver.

My new zine, titled Downpour and Drought is a collection of writing spanning from fall, 2015 Spring, 2017.  These were some dizzyingly hard times.   They made for some of the best writing that’s come out of me yet though, and I’m thankful for that.

The second zine I have available is a short poetry zine titled We Who Fell In Love With The Sea.  This zine is a few years old now, but I did an incredibly limited run of it the first time around.  I’m really proud of this material too.

Out of town friends, I’d love to mail you some zines, but it might be a minute while I figure out sustainable printing since it’s a new era where all the copy scams are dead.  On that note, got printing and distribution advice for me?  Please, get in touch.  I feel like I’m groping in the goddamn dark sometimes.

New zine out, old zine reprinted.

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.

For fucking fearless queer love.

Anyway, things burn.

Flicking matches scratched
Off of broken teeth
Into broken homes hollowed out
Dry as bones and drenched in gasoline.

Making way for moving the fuck on
I just wanna watch it all go up in smoke
Tearing out every page we wrote

The story wasn’t even good the first time around
Bored as I get with cliched melodrama
And true tales of tragedy and woe

Come on baby, dry your eyes now
We’ve all fucked with fire
Just to know how
It felt to get burned. 

Anyway, things burn.

February.

February so far:

Crushing, inexorable anxiety at the state of the world.
Warm rooms.
Writing poems, that I think are okay like:

Drawing a blank
In this long
And dark
American night
Waves of fear crash and roll
From shore to shore
Against the walls
That surround this sleepless and vulnerable Body

Turns out the flags aren’t as dead
At the tops of their poles
As we had hoped
Back when we were young
Now you get this sinking feeling
Deep in your bones
Cold as cold as cold

That the flags are glaring
Baring teeth, awake
And hungry for blood
Just like they were all along
Consuming the young and the old
The sick and the poor

Low men, with plunder in their eyes
Teeth like knives
Grinding down lives
Gazing from gilded towers
Satisfied with the reckoning
We have wrought
As all hell and war
Comes knocking on every door.

Trying to finish this fucking zine I started in November.
Casting remnants of toxic connections into the sound.
Giving thanks to the light stretching longer into the days.
Coldwave/Darkwave/New Wave
Torrid pre-apocalypse romances.
Making plans that involve long term survival.
Doing my best to use my creative energy in spite of the world, even when it feels completely futile.
Feeling safe in my skin, despite the world.
Thinking about how if it’s the end of the world, so much of these hard feelings aren’t worth holding onto.

February.