Friday, September 23, 2011

Look At You, You're Growing Old So Young

"I feel like moving to California would be admitting to myself that somewhere, deep down inside, I actually might want to be happy. I’ve wanted many things in my life; happiness has never been one of them."

May 6, 2008

I'm happy. 


Today I turn 30 and today I am going to write a post on this blog. 

But it's been ages since I've properly cut open a limb for you, dear blog, and I don't know where to begin. The scar turned perfectly white in a few years. I keep stopping and starting again. I'm better at deleting things than I was.

I live in California and I'm happy.

In lieu of deleting/starting-over over and over, I'm just gonna do that thing where I write down all the words as they announce themselves in my brain and then publish this blog post and then if nobody comments I will feel really insecure and delete the post like it never happened and eventually get over it and then one beautiful December morning you'll wake up to a brand new comment-worthy Sunday Top Ten about muppets or citrus fruit.

The longer it's been the harder it is. I have 10-12 stories to tell you about California but haven't decided if I should tell them all at once or one-by-one or another way. A way the universe has yet to reveal to us.

I'm not as busy as I was last year -- simply because keeping up that pace would've killed me -- no, that's a lie. Would've killed you. Because I don't have any regrets in life, not ever, but I regret editing that video instead of going upstate last summer. I regret leaving New York four months before my body actually left New York. I guess I was trying to detach, like detachment is a thing you can put on a packing list and check off before you check off "socks."

I have more work now than I've ever had but it feels more structured now. So less busy. It feels real. Like me. I'm 30 and I'm real. 30 entire years on this silly planet!


Today I turn 30 and today I am going to take myself seriously -- that I'm a proper grown-up, that it's okay that I don't have an "income" or own a car or a house or a tiny baby or a pet or a dishwasher or veneers or whatever a 401k is (I feel like I'll never find this out). It's okay 'cause I made Autostraddle and I have Marni and I have so many amazing friends and co-workers and I like the weather and all my cleverly planned meals. It's okay that I am getting things done in a different order than initially anticipated. 


The morning we left for San Francisco from San Diego after my panel at BlogHer, a woman named Julia who'd been on the panel with me told me to "own it." We were sitting by the pool at The Marriot (where everyone stayed except us, we stayed at The Dolphin Inn, which I highly recommend) with a bunch of other gay-lady blogger-buddies, eating breakfast burritos wrapped in soggy sheathes of foil, and she was talking to whomever was sitting next to me. And then I saw her and said hi. She's one of those people you like right away.

So she goes "You act all like" [imitating me] "Oh I don't know, I just started this website and now it's big and popular and a-ma-zing, I guess it just like happened?" [being herself again] "You have to own it. Own it. You did this. You made this happen. Own it."

"Right," I said, in a voice I imagined a pirate might use to reassure his pirate captain that he was heading in the right direction despite the fact that the pirate had no fucking idea what hemisphere he was in.

"No, you have to own it. Own it, girl! You knew what you were doing."

In the car driving back to San Francisco from San Diego I tell Marni that I feel like Julia is right but I can't shake the cranky 12-year-old animal hibernating in my subconscious who'd like to argue otherwise. 

Marni says Julia is right. Marni tells me that Julia is right every day. Not in so many words, but you know what I mean. 

I keep trying for the whole car ride home to experiment with owning it. I am experimenting with self-esteem. It's like trying to clasp a stubborn necklace where you can only maintain almost getting it for long enough to believe you might really get it. So then there's the let-down, the cheap silver napping across your palm, her naked collarbone. 


This blog is a novel about a heroine in her twenties lost in a giant dirty/beautiful city. She's swallowing hearts and breaking fingers. She's giving herself daily emotional autopsies and they're always inconclusive. She's being lifted and pushed against the hard white rock of someone else's townhouse and eaten alive. She let you fuck her in the cab and fuck her over on the stairwell. She's excessively maudlin at odd hours and doesn't know what to do when her shoe breaks on 14th street. 

Now I'm in California. It's another chapter, or it's an Afterword that might never end. The Neverending Afterword. 


I am far away from so many things but I have no room to miss you. I miss you too much to miss you. 

16 years ago I had a choice: open your heart to the prospect of wanting to see a person you'll never see again, or stop wanting. I chose the latter. 

I chose not to miss anybody. I just want to see you. We'll pick up where we left off. The phone calls and emails in between seem oddly tedious, like oil changes you're abstractly aware your car needs to keep running although you've still got no idea what an oil change actually is. Or maybe you do, and that's one of the 400 things about the world I missed in favor of catching the things nobody else cares about. But the phone calls and the emails do remind me of having you near, and make me miss you more, and want to see you more. But like I said I miss you too much to miss you. 

If I let myself miss people I might even miss the 24-year-old who wrote this novel. She was so new /tender that reading everything she wrote makes my heart ache so hard I feel like it's crawling up my throat, begging to get out and give up/party. 

No, I miss her because I feel like this now:

"I crave blogging. I crave sitting down and telling you about my day, or my emotional insight, or the mind-blowing sex, or what I’ve been writing today. All of which have been happening. It’s a challenge to be that open and honest here, for lots of reasons. What used to feel like a sanctuary now feels like a podium and microphone in front of hundreds of people, so I psych myself out.
What do I even want to tell you? How do I begin to explain the last six weeks? What do you want to know?"
Sinclair Sexsmith

Maybe I am confusing missing something with wanting it back.

If I let myself miss people I would miss Ryan, my "other half" who by definition should've left me broken when he vanished. He's not even on facebook. He could be anywhere. If I let myself miss people I would miss Caitlin, and that would be confusing and hard. Like I said, it's hard to not confuse missing something with wanting something back. She's still everywhere, she listened. 

I could go on but let's not.

If I let myself miss people I would miss everyone. I just want to see you. I will get on a plane and see you soon enough, or you'll get on a plane and see me soon enough, if you can wait. We'll pick up where we left off. We always do! In the meantime, I think about you and write about you every day.


I am 30 years old which means I can't use youth as an excuse anymore, which means Julia is right, I have no choice. I have to own this. I have to own what I've made.

I am 30 years old and a real live human. 

I wake up every morning between 7:30 and 8:30. I have a meeting with Laneia and Rachel, who I love and have loved for so long. And Marsha, who is teaching us to be better leaders. I've got a cute apartment I might actually buy furniture for this weekend.

I ride my bicycle everywhere. I've already had two bike accidents.

I love Marni and she takes care of me and I hope one day I can be as good at that as she is. Love is so easy now. 

Me: "I think I want to write a song to the tune of "I Fell in Love With a Stripper" but it'd be "I fell in love with a commenter."
Marni: "I think that has too many syllables."

I'm happy. I'm 30 and I'm happy. I haven't needed ambien or xanax for a year. I eat vegetables every day.

I'm sitting on my bed with a laptop and to my right is a notebook and underneath the notebook is Tinkerbell. And to the left is a chair and my backpack and a water bottle and a green tea bottle and a dustbuster and Claritin-D. At the end of my bed are the jeans I was wearing earlier. 

I'm 30 and I'm smart and made a website that really matters to so many people and I'm a good writer and a decent leader and I love you and you love me. I'm 30 and my thoughts are really important and not stupid. I'm 30 and despite what I told you that one time on the boat on the day we set sail, I am not going to die before turning 30. Look at me! I'm still here. And so are you. 

Thursday, June 30, 2011

I Bet You Wish This Was Actually a New Blog Post

It probably seems like I've completely abandoned this blog which is actually not true! People abandon blogs a lot, I realize, and a 6-7 month absence from one's blog (save one night a few months ago when I put up a blog post, went to sleep, woke up and saw that nobody had commented, had a crisis of confidence, and took it down immediately) would suggest that one has abandoned one's blog forever and ever. I haven't. I don't know when exactly I'm going to write something again but I haven't forgotten. Definitely I will write something this year, I promise you that. And I don't make promises I can't keep. It's not like one day I'll delete this blog. So as long as I am alive, the possibility exists that I will begin writing in it every day or every six months or whatever. You never know! The future is a long time, and it's allegedly quite bright.

I wrote a thing on Autostraddle recently that is kinda like things I've written here that you might like. Anyhow I love you all, how are you? I hope you are well. I am well! My work-life (Autostraddle) is insane and hard but also very rewarding spiritually or something. It is just as busy as always but I go to sleep a little after midnight and wake up at 7:30 AM every day, like a real person. Autostraddle is enough insanity for one life so the rest of the parts of my life are much calmer than that otherwise I would explode and die.

I feel like I've lost touch with a lot of people and I realize I don't know how to keep in touch with people I can't touch. I need you here, those I've loved, HERE, in front of me, I need to see you, and when I do we will pick up right where we left off. I think I've lived too many lives. There are all these lists of people I know from different lives.

Anyhow, I just wanted you to know that I love you, autowinners.

Also a few people asked me about the first paragraph of my aforementioned deleted blog -- like the little bit of it that came up on google reader? The tease? 'Cause when you clicked on it, it went nowhere, because I'd already deleted the post?

"I want to read the story of the sweet girl named riese," they said. So I think I can give you that. It's from last summer when I think I was talking to Marni on the internet about how I felt really scared about moving to California and that maybe it was all a huge mistake. Then before I went to bed I asked her to tell me a goodnight story, and so she did, and I copy-pasted it onto my desktop stickies thing, and now here it is:
marni: once upon a time there was a sweet girl named riese who lived in a big big city for many years. and she laughed and cried and did lots of writing and some drugs. but one day riese's heart said 'but riese, i miss the trees. and the water.' and riese said, 'me too, little heart.' and so riese decided it was time to take her heart allllll the way to a new, sunny placed called c-a-l-i-f-o-r-n-i-a. while she was getting ready to leave, riese said to her heart, 'but heart, what if this is a mistake? what about all of the things that are here. what about the things that i love.' and riese's heart said, 'the things that are here will remain, and so will your love. and that love will go with you, and i will keep it safe. and we will keep on loving, because i want to keep growing.' 'okay, little heart,' said riese. 'i'm ready.'‬

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The First Question Will Be: What Were You Thinking?

Dear [You],

Last week I was walking back from The Y, it was getting colder like it was about to rain and I was listening to depressing music because happy music is so you know, fundamentally dishonest. I was thinking about how it was looking like I’d probably end up spending Christmas alone this year (I did) and how last year I’d planned to spend it alone but Alex made me spend it with her family and I’m glad she did that. I’ve always said ‘I prefer to be alone’ but I realize now I’ve been lying about that. I just don’t mind being alone, but good company could be better than none.

I could be alone forever. Maybe that was a thing we could've done forever, together.

I don’t think you realize how much I miss you. But that’s what happens in arguments like these when everybody’s right/wrong and nobody makes sense and at the end of the day it’s me being me and you being you.

Last year I spent Thanksgiving alone but this year Haviland and her friend Ashley came up from LA -- it’s my fourth Thanksgiving with Haviland. You and me weren’t talking much then. I wondered what you were making and if I’d ruined it.

When Haviland & Ashley arrived the night before Thanksgiving, I was still in the hospital. Not a big deal but when you don’t have health insurance, everything’s an emergency, like having a pager in the 90s. After bcw/m. got off work, she met me there and I drank Dr. Pepper and we did a crossword puzzle and about a billion hours later, I was called back.

I’d been sitting on a bed back there for an hour when Haviland marched in and extracted me. It was very cinematic. I'd been in a screaming match with the senile World War II veteran who’d been yelling about the Chinese & the Jews and calling the nurses the n-word and then said something about my ‘tits.’

It’s sad when a person’s dying / sick / drunk and you learn how they really feel.

You don’t want to know how anyone really feels.



We left the hospital in Ashley’s Prius and it felt like a spaceship. I felt like everything was gonna be okay. I leaned -- or burrowed, really -- into m.’s shoulder, in that space between collarbone and chest and I felt so safe in there, in that car, with those people. Everything felt easy and peaceful in a way things haven’t felt in a while. Old love, new love, the future.

I’d moved into my apartment two weeks before Thanksgiving, after spending ~6 weeks on Taylor & Kelsey’s couch where every morning Taylor would make coffee or I would and Kelsey always woke up last, look who just got born. Most afternoons I’d be in m.’s living room -- smoking, writing, editing, talking to you on g-chat. I know you say I never talked to you then but I did.

Kids kept killing themselves in October. I feel like I’m working the suicide beat, I said.

Or m. would arrive at TK's looking defeated from the endless interrogation that'd been unleashed upon her after being brave enough to say to her now-ex, This is how I feel, and how I feel is that this is over.

You don’t want to know how anyone really feels. Honesty was never the point, we just need to believe that it is in order to do anything at all.

The key was to avoid eye contact. Maybe then we could avoid seeing eye-to-eye or looking too long but people are animals and animals are magnets w/hearts sometimes.

This was when I was still allowed to go there; to the apartment m. & her ex still shared while she looked for somewhere new/the future. But things happen and you can’t just go everywhere anymore. Things happen and people cry and your boxes are in the street.

People tell each other how they really feel, and then everybody’s crying.

You don’t want to know how anyone really feels.

That’s how life is. It’s fair. A person gets what a person deserves or sometimes gets what someone else deserves by proxy which is also your fault.

If life was all open doors and purple sunsets then it wouldn’t mean as much when the sunset would be so beautiful that you actually stop to kiss on the sidewalk. Even assholes like me can do that, I know that now. I can see the sun rise and set every day in California and usually it would set while we were taking our daily walk like old people needing a stretch. To Safeway, Berkeley, Piedmont, the city. Or just around. Sometimes we’d just walk around.

What if trees and sky were all I needed and I was just afraid to be a thing worthy of light? What then.

By the end of the month most of the walks were to look at apartments. First for me, then later for her.

I feel like everything is about to change for everyone, including you.

The thing that's blown my mind for the past few months is how people will hang on to a thing that's completely stopped working, if it ever did -- that is, the ex-girlfriends of many of my friends; the ex-girlfriends who fought to keep a tired thing or fought just to make sure everyone felt equally attacked. It's savage. It just feels so savage to me and I can't shake it.

Why spend your life sitting in a car on the side of the road, hazards blinking like a wolf crying.

All I really want in life is to never want a thing that doesn't want me back. Maybe that's even worse. I don't know how to fight for a person. I'm learning with you, even though it's not like 'that.'

No. I'm not learning.

But I'm studying.


On Thanksgiving m. moved into her new place and Haviland was here and everything felt easy except you, and we'd tried so long to run in opposite directions and still ended up where we ended up so I knew by then there wasn't any way to fix it. And that's the worst part. Someone on formspring asked me why isn't love enough? And I think I said, it is. Gotta give 'em hope, you know.

m. & Ashley made Vegan Thanksgiving ‘cause Hav only eats twigs now. Then m. played guitar and they all sang while I watched. It was super gay/perfect.

I love how I took Emily’s part and you took Amy’s, Haviland said to m., like we didn’t even have to discuss it.

The next night we played frisbee on the quiet street and I was wearing tights but can’t remember why. Later on we got stoned and I was talking about feeling psychic and Ashley asked me if I felt like I might have had wings in another life. Like that I could’ve been an angel or something.

You know better than that, though, don’t you. You know I’m not an angel.

Haviland has a lot of feelings about light now. Maybe I would’ve laughed at them in August but now it’s December and I like them. This is a thing she said to me:

Haviland: “You are choosing light now and I cannot explain the massive difference I see. You can’t control [people], you can only wish for them to make the light choice and keep doing it yourself. And surround yourself with other lightworkers.”

thanksgiving 2010

[I was lying before when I told you I liked the darkness. It was a defense mechanism, for when the other kids would be splashing away the goldenest years of their brilliant athletic youths and I’d be sulking inside with a book.]

[I didn’t know the darkness was a thing I could change.]

[I couldn't. Not in New York. In New York I loved the darkness. But I'm almost 30 so I have to stop that.]

Anyhow I was talking about Christmas, how I was walking back from the Y and thinking what if I bought a ticket to where you are. What if I just showed up. What would you do then. I thought about your hands over your face going no-no-no and pushing the door away and I almost cried for a second but didn’t.

I don’t cry much lately but I did the night I sent you that terrible email. It was lots of things: a fruitless day at the health clinic, my family losing interest it seeing me for the holidays and doing so too late for me to make other plans (but that’s unfair, probably, like “will you buy me a plane ticket ‘cause i can’t afford one myself” isn’t necessarily the best barometer of love). But mostly I was crying about you.

I do cry about you, I have cried about you. In the afternoon with pre-sunset whiskey, on my bed in child's pose at night, scrunched up like a baby dinosaur (my spirit animal).

I want you to like me again. I want you to admit that you still love me. I want you to admit that you know we still love you but that would be admitting that we’re not bad people and then you’d have to like me again.

What if me and you were just two people who met somewhere else at some other time. Like we were astronauts who spent too much time eating astronaut ice cream and not enough time shooting valiantly to the stars. What if we were waitresses together, smoking cigarettes and waiting for our rides after a dinner shift, blowing smoke valiantly towards the stars above us.

What if we were those people instead of who we are.

What if we were infinite? What if we were infinite and I showed up on your doorstep and said I know you don’t want to be fixed, but I heard from a friend who heard from a friend that you said you felt broken.

What then.


You deserve/need a giant girl with a heart bigger than your whole body -- I'm not just talking about you now but also you and you and you. You’d sleep cradled in the scoop of her enormous ribcage, which’d be larger than a significant tropical body of water like the Gulf of Mexico. Lake Huron. Swan Lake. What you need is a heart bigger than a jet plane. Higher and faster and bigger.

Not just you, all of you.

What if my little heart’s more like a motel where you can sleep for a while but someone else might need the room tomorrow and I’ve gotta clean it first. It’s on a little brown raft crawling out to sea/see. What if I kept you there though.

Do you remember last October when everyone was partying in the room after the Equality March and I was sitting in the hotel hallway talking to you on the phone. I’m obsessed with how socks feel on hotel hallway carpet, dashing to see friends in the next room. For ice or something. What’s funny is earlier that day we’d been on the National Mall and m. and julia were both there too but I didn’t know them yet. I could hear Tess talking and Katrina loud-talking and Alex laughing because Alex has the best laugh in the whole world. She was/is/willalwaysbe my little lightworker, and the lightest thing I ever held in New York.

Do you remember that?

I’ve got rooms & rooms and my socks on the carpet and they’re filled with you all of you and I wanna live in every room forever but that would mean believing I'd ever been invited.

Everyone tells me you just need time but I miss you all the time. How long is time. I don’t think we’re meant to understand these things.


I can’t explain why it’s true that I love you in this/that way but can’t always be the thing you want. Nobody’s made me want to be everything as much as you have. I tried to do everything from here which is so far away from a place where I could touch your face and I ended up doing the worst thing of all the things.

It's a thing.

So many things can be true at the same time. Different feelings at the same time.


I never expected more than one (now dead) person could ever love me. I thought you were all lying. Now I don’t know what to do with all the people who probably really do love me but who I know, i KNOW, would not really like me if they met me, even if they’ve already met me. Every time someone tells me they love me, it feels like a surprise party.

I’m sorry I didn’t believe any of you who said you loved me. I’m sorry I just don’t know why you would, it just doesn’t make sense like why anyone would love Love Actually or beef jerky.

I realize I'm comparing myself to a bad romantic comedy and a piece of meat but maybe that's actually the most perfect metaphor I've ever pulled on you.

I was lying when I said I hate everyone. I love everyone. Everyone I've ever loved; I love forever. It's a long list.

I was lying when I said I hate everyone. I love everyone.

That’s the problem, Sid.



Sometime in October, my little heart slipped out on its own. I wasn’t unhappy. I think I was just outside. You weren’t the only one who complained and still even now I don’t know what happened because I don’t remember changing. Everything seemed perfectly natural and I loved you and everyone just the same.

It’d been so long since the world promised up oxygen I was semi-interested in breathing. I wasn’t writing things down because when you write a thing down it starts to exist. Sometimes i need to keep my stories in my head, close to me where nobody else can see them.

What if I tell you a thing and then I lose track of the meat of it, like a pen or my sanity.

What if I showed up on your doorstep.

My little heart was dashing around in slow motion or slipping into patches of darkness with m. where nobody could see us and we could forget about the rest of it -- an overhanging tree, some ambitious cross-fence foliage -- on Oakland’s night-time sidewalks. Corners. The damp, lukewarm California night. Fingertips. Her palms. My bones were on fire.

One night all four of us got kicked out of the hot tub, when only moments earlier there we were being sparkly wet and unemployed and fucked up in California at night in a tub of hot water with our shirts off? Stumbling home later, like sparkly wet animals? It was a Saturday night, it was a good night.

The feeling of being young. Not in the sense that I’m younger in years, but that feeling children have of life being totally infinite and incomprehensible.


Signing for my apartment in my apartment when it was still somebody else’s apartment

So now my life is pretty simple. I wake up and do Autostraddle and sometimes go to The Y, or take a walk alone, and at some point later, m. gets off work and at some point she comes here or I go there. Then I burrow like a thing. Like I'm a thing who laughs and smiles and everything.

I didn’t consider the possibility of this.

I don’t consider possibilities, good or bad, that I don’t have control over. My problem is expectations, my boyfriend said to me in high school on the dock of Green Lake, I just need to stop expecting anything, and then I won’t be disappointed.
I thought good point.

So I don’t. But now it’s become everything: I literally cannot see tomorrow. Tomorrow does not exist. I can’t even write to-do lists anymore. I can't warn you of anything. Maybe her and I have the same problem, that way.

Expectations are too much for a writer/psychic -- give me a possibility and I’ve got the next five chapters and they’re so gorgeous I can hardly believe the pages are mine to turn. I used to want things. Ages ago. I remember being on the bunkbed in my Dad’s apartment, underneath my brother, where I learned how to cry hysterically silently so he wouldn’t hear me.

That’s what growing up is, or was. You learn how to cry silently. How to throw up silently. How to walk silently. How to feel silently. How to break silently.

Things happened that we didn’t want/expect/predict.

I mean since I’ve gotten to California.

Things like the purest most unexpected happiness ever.

I'm sorry I couldn't warn you.

I did not consider this possibility.

Because it’s not what I do, and because there were so many reasons not to.


The point of this is that I love you. The point of this is that I’m sorry. The point of this is that I don’t have a giant heart after all. I’m just me on this fucking raft.

I want to be a lighthouse but I’m only a flashlight. You know what I mean?

I love you though. I'm not what you asked for, but I'm still what you have. I can't touch you but you're a thing I am keeping and nothing can change that.

Not even silence.

I will fight for you forever even if you never let me win.


While unpacking I found a letter Carl had sent me a year or two after I moved to NYC. Not a letter really. A note.

A piece of paper he’d cut in a heart shape and colored red with a marker. And a note with it that said, be careful. It’s the only one I have.

We haven’t talked in ages, me and Carl. I put it on the wall on my bulletin board to remind myself of that -- that sometimes being careful with a heart isn’t the thing you thought it might be.

On Thanksgiving I gave thanks for my friends but I called them “my family.”


I'm glad Haviland was here, I told m. when they left. I'm glad she was in this space after I moved into it. Like someone from before.

Like she blessed it?

Yeah, yeah. Like she gave it her blessing.

A thing to be thankful for.

Did I ever tell you that I picked Berkeley for you and what I knew you’d need. It doesn’t matter anymore.

Things tend to matter more when you can’t say them.

I guess that’s the thing about us.

I could just tell you everything and anything and you’d get it and you’d tell me something and we could go like that forever.

I just wish I could still tell you everything and anything.

I wish my life hadn’t become a blog post you don’t want to read.

When for so long; you were the first one I told.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

that time i took photos, often outside, far away from computers

First Alex drove me to the airport from New York City after everything got packed all in a hurry.

Then I flew to Detroit and my Mom picked me up in the airport and took me back to her apartment which felt familiar and nice even though I'd never been there before.

On October 1st Interlochen, my boarding school, was hosting its class of '99 reunion and so my Mom drove me to Kalamazoo and then Ingrid and I drove upstate to Interlochen and everyone was there.

I went away to boarding school for my last two years of high school. My Mom and I were fighting one night and I wanted to say something dramatic and so I said I was going to boarding school. I don't do things like that anymore.

There's a part in The Big Chill where someone says to someone else, "I was the best I've ever been with you people," but she's talking about their time at the University of Michigan which I also, incidentally, attended, though I was arguably perhaps at my worst with most of those people. But at boarding school, I was the best I've ever been with those people.

So it was good to be see faces that have only changed a little bit and people fully intact. We changed I think, for at least a little while there. Or maybe we just did that thing you do where you have to put on certain personalities for someone else because you've always suspected there's something inherently unwired and abnormal and unacceptable inside of you and you have to at least give it a try -- to be something other than that.

Maybe I am just speaking for me. Maybe everyone else kept it all this time but regardless we all got it back.

See it's Saturn Return.

Sarah says, you know I'm supposed to say how we all have changed but we haven't. Delp (our writing teacher and surrogate father) said, the craziest thing is that you all look exactly the same. Then I said no I look haggard and weathered and I think I want a face transplant and everyone said the thing they always say about how dumb I am to say these things.

See Interlochen was a place where I felt authentic. Somewhere in the woods, there's a center in me I am simple without. Most people have places like that, or I hope they do.

When I first got to Interlochen I was fifteen and sad. I was catastrophically sad. I was sad like a person who doesn't think sadness ever stops or changes and then it did. I left boarding school liking things I'd been discounting for a while as overly sentimental and more importantly too painful to lose at the end: friendship, poetry, the apple fritter things they served at breakfast.

On the last day went to Delp's new cabin. Everything felt peaceful. I was with Meg and Ingrid and Sheetal and Delp and everything felt right.

When people asked me what I was doing I told them about Autostraddle and everyone said they liked it or was impressed that I get to do what I get to do which is write, and work with other writers and edit and have ideas and be creative and work with other creative people, which is the thing I was doing and the program I was in At Seventeen. Unlike every single other person I've talked to about my work, not a single soul at Interlochen asked me how we make money (I'm amazed, honestly, at how f*cking tacky people are sometimes). It was just good.

Then we drove back and then I was at home with my Mom. She was really nice to me and made sure I had everything taken care of before I left, like my teeth.

Then I got on an airplane and the airplane landed in Oakland, California! So far away!

From there I did not use my technologies, except for ordering pizza. bcw and I looked at a map and a travel magazine and decided to go to wine country because there's an attraction there which promised famous fainting goats. If you would not drive 1.5 hours north on the West Coast Highway to look at fainting goats then I don't know what to say for you besides I'm sorry.

See two French children hugged and then the geyser exploded. It only explodes every 45 minutes.

Then to the big castle we saw out the window which was a winery also by this rich man who wanted his own castle. So we drove up there and conducted additional photoshoots in the spirit of fitforafemme. Eventually in the future you'll probs find out what we were wearing on her website.

Also later to Twin Peaks to smoke and look at how big the whole world is and how we were smaller then. I could see everything, even through the clouds & fog afterwards which will always be there, sometimes. There's nothing a person can do about it. Sometimes you just have to get through it, and grope in the darkness and remember earlier how the sky turned purple and you were glad to be here.

We are reading Inferno for Autostraddle Book Club

Sunday came and wasn't the best day ever for some reasons so we sleepwalked through Alcatraz where we learned that men are powerful and they know how to control other men, especially the bad ones. Then there was dinner and then I went to Taylor & Kelsey's and we had wine and later me and Kelsey got sick. All of these things were fun however except the sick part.

Everyone ran Autostraddle without me quite well, even if Laneia was driven slightly crazy by the task. Let's be real, we're all crazy already otherwise we would be at Buffalo Wild Wings right now.

I'm at Taylor and Kelsey's new apartment in Oakland. It's nice to be here with them. I usually hate crashing but this isn't a crash so much. It's a landing or something, although temporary.

Sometimes I get super scared and most of the time I just try not to think about scary things and instead think about things that make me laugh or smile.

On Sunday my grandfather died and now it's Wednesday and I am still scared to call my Grandmother because I don't want any of these things to be real. I call but it rings and rings.

I just want the ocean right now.

I just want an audio tour of my life in a foreign language I don't understand, and someone who can translate it for me.

I just want a home by the ocean I'm lying I want to never have a home ever again. I do I want a home by a lake. I want to be in charge of a thing.

I just want to get into a space where maybe I could stay for a while, lying on the kitchen floor reading Inferno.

I feel relaxed and the sun goes down behind the buildings every night.

When I get a place I will feel better. I know there is fear underneath my ribcage and my stomach and all the other parts. The visible parts. I am lying on top of it, smiling and eating tomatoes.

New York City is a hard place to live. To fight all the time for a small patch of overpriced land. I love the city but the living was hard, and at some point it wasn't worth it. You fight against unspeakable strange malice every day at least a little bit, you go somewhere overcrowded or get elbowed on the train or you are forced into an overpriced cab ride due to emotional circumstances of some kind which are making you feel bad enough, thank you very much, city, I do not need that expensive cab-ride in my life when I am so sad or mad or in a hurry.

So I feel good, I think. I'm behind on all my work. I just read two pages of Inferno and looked through my bag for chapstick, which I couldn't find, and then i thought my phone was blinking but it was really just this mobile Virgin web thing I had to get.

I just want a tree. I just want ice cream.

I got ice cream, I want a treehouse.

I feel like everything is about to change for everything, even you, I said in the car.

I just want to do things when I want to do them and most of all help people. Is what I want. I need you to trust me on this even though I seem so far away. Not geographically but like in my brain. I am. I mean, that's exactly it. How I want you to be happy.

Friday, September 24, 2010

What Did You Do Out There. What Did You Decide.

[i wrote this on my birthday as a stream of consciousness with whiskey, forgive the occasional incoherence]

The night before I left Michigan for New York City in 2004 I’d rented a room at The Courtyard Inn out by the highway so I could sit on white sheets alone and decide who to be next. Blake* came by and we laid on the bed and looked at each other and I took photos of him with my new cell-phone and we talked about how much we liked each other and how much he'd miss me.

Then we fucked and I could see in the mirror when I looked up that blood was dripping down both my legs, bright red and almost beautiful and I thought it’d scare him or me but it didn’t. (I mean I wasn't like that. I mean it wasn't like me. I couldn't wait more than two or three minutes after sex with men before dashing to the bathroom to scrub everything off me, to 'detail' my bellybutton ring like I could get pregnant or die that way. Then I scrub memories too but I didn't scrub this one and so; bear with me. I feel like it matters or I wouldn't be telling you, trust me.)

(But I gave that up, too: the idea of sex being clean, because I mean what makes you more vulnerable than being fucked and dirty too, and how can you have sex if you aren't vulnerable? But also so much has changed since then, about sex.)

He kept fucking me because this could be the end of it, after all. Who'd ever said that we didn't have to shed a little blood on our way out? Or leave some damages on the carpet or even stain my brain with the memory of my thighs in the mirror, shocked by myself and unsure, thinking to myself 'we are animals who bleed' and also how the Pill they'd switched me to was fucking me up, because you know, for so long, for a year or so I hadn't bled at all except on purpose. So this was a new thing for me and Blake.

I was thinking of that Tom Waits song we wanted to play at our funeral, Take it With Me, and thinking of the morning in February after we’d polished off $150 of cocaine in four hours and how he'd left my room and my house bleeding. I had the smallest room in a house I shared with seven Kappa Kappa Gammas and one best friend and when I was sad I'd just turn out the lights and turn up Fiona Apple and listen to my friends talk about me outside the door. Anyhow he was fucking me and I was thinking of how he'd left bleeding that morning and when I called him eight or eight hundred times later in the depressive throes of "coming down" and "wondering why he was spending the afternoon with that other girl after what he said last night" he told me that he'd bled all the way home, that his mouth was bloody and he'd bled all over his shirt and how I'd told him, 'my everything is bleeding' even though I was just talking about my heart but that was what I did with everything, then, I said 'do you want to get ice cream' and even then I was just talking about my heart.

I stayed that way -- splayed, bleeding, fucked, shocked by my reflection in the mirror, at various degrees for the whole summer. See I haven't been in love that many times, really. I've wanted to be in love so many times and sometimes I wanted to be in love so badly that I thought I was in love but I wasn't. But I was in love with Blake and he can have that forever if he wants it. The last man I ever fell in love with.

So that summer I was still that girl in the mirror but also; I was sometimes the girl I still am now if you happen to catch me laughing or vulnerable or honest for a minute. I was the girl who came to New York City because I thought it was the only place I could both be myself and be loved. I didn't know who i was but I showed up just the same in those obnoxious flirty mini-skirts I wore and purchased all summer in electric blue, bright yellow, hot pink and light pink. I also had these hot pink Puma sandals and a Star of David necklace I wore because 2004 was a year that a lot of people were sharing their opinions about Israel with me and I didn't like it so I thought the necklace would scare people. Don't ask me why I thought what I thought about politics, I'm sure I was just repeating whatever someone I admired had said out loud to me in a dark room while I nodded.

So that summer Blake kept me hanging on for a bit 'til he met someone else who he said was just like me, as if that would make it hurt less, and I wailed and screamed and then I eventually met someone else too, by September.

But in the meantime, that summer in 2004, when I got to New York but left my heart elsewhere -- girls were okay. I could be with girls if I wanted to and so I was. It wasn't hard to meet girls here.

I mean that's how it started. I mean that's what I told myself about how it started.


I'm leaving New York City in seven days and I don't know how to write about that. I don't know how to be honest with myself about what it means, with respect to the dreams I came here for and the fact that although I feel perfectly ready to admit defeat and flee, I don't honestly think that's true. I don't think I necessarily messed up though I definitely spent most of my time here messing up.

I didn't come here to be gay, that's for sure. When I write "that's for sure" I'm actually just imitating the boyfriend I got to get over Blake, this ridiculously nice boy I met at my second serving job that summer who left his wife because of me but not FOR me -- it's just that we talked about things he'd never talked about before. It's strange how some men can go their entire lives without once talking about their feelings to anybody. He always said "that's for sure" in this way that made him seem so young and trying-hard-to-be-sure even though he was eight years older. But unsure. He'd lived here all his life and knew things that made me feel safe. That's for sure.

Anyhow I left him or we broke up. You already know that part. About how I leave and leave and leave and I've spent my whole life leaving and I only stopped because I ran out of the money I used to use to leave. Because I have a lot of books and books are heavy and hard to move and mean more to me than people. That's a lie.

That's something I learned here: meeting a person you really feel something for -- meeting a person you can't do without -- god, that's fucking rare. I mean that's something. It's something worth staying or leaving for, though I wouldn't advise it, but it's been known to happen.


I changed here. Dramatically.

I hate it here, I love it here. I don't want to remember loving it here. Something changed. It was me or it was here. It was me or it was you. It was the internet it was my heart it was the day I looked at a photograph of a window and decided I had to leave.


I wanted to tell you something about the people I met here who I love and who changed me. Or the things I did where I woke up or looked out the window and thought 'i could be anybody' or 'i am an animal who bleeds.' I'm not just talking about New York City who I also loved and who changed me or who let me change because the thing is you can be whoever you want here. You can be ten people in one day.

It's August 2004, before I got my new boyfriend but after I lost the old one and also my heart, and I'm standing in Justin's apartment in Columbus Circle and he is sleeping. I am in his living room and i am thinking, 'this is the nicest apartment I've ever been in.' I walk to the window and below me is the whole city, giant with it's golden mouth wide open and everyone inside on their way to somewhere else. I wonder how he keeps it so clean. I want to move things around, eat things and then put them back. I'm naked at the window and wonder if he'd ever considered, as I do, what it would look like to take a running leap towards that gigantic window. I mean how much glass would break.

It's February 2006 and I'm in a blizzard with Kat* and Jenny after the Black Hearts Party at the Chelsea Piers and me and Kat are in our boots and fishnets and our makeup is smeared and compromised but it doesn't really matter because the snow is more beautiful than either of us will ever be though sometimes together we did feel beautiful; and she was. She was graceful and even in anger had a precise velocity I admired a great deal. We finally get that cab to that subway to our home and it's only the next morning that I realize we crossed that line again, and I'd wonder what that meant if I wasn't so confused, in general, about what everything means. It was fun. I knew that much. We'd had a time. What were lines, anyway? I mean how fucked up were we? Why didn't anyone stop us?

We're in our Brooklyn living room after work, watching Pretty Persuasion for the third time eating spaghetti and things feel easy and sustainable. We're in our kitchen watching the couple across the alley again.I mean we've seen these people do everything. 'Do they know we're watching,' Kat asks, and someone (me or her) says 'Do you think they're watching us,' because after all, we know how to perform. We know how to be shadows.

She's one of the people who will still be here as I drive away, I think, and who may or may not know how much I loved her in a heightened, confusing and often self-destructive way that changed me forever, and I think changed her forever too, or maybe that's just what I told myself when I drove away, feeling like she hated me because I didn't really understand yet how the opposite of love isn't hate, it's indifference and she wasn't indifferent.

I think she's doing what she came to New York to do. I hope she is. I mean I loved her gut and would've taken care of it.

These are the things you can do here.

These are the stories I can tell now because they're over. This is how I keep everybody alive. I pretend to leave but I'm not really, because as soon as I'm gone the stories begin, I can't stop telling them.

It's May 2006 and I'm in Haviland's bed the night before I have to fly to New Orleans and the way I cried earlier while Kat yelled at me and I packed like a maniac who didn't know how to wear clothing and who, consequently, had to wear beat-up Converse with Kat's polka-dotted dress to my brother's graduation ceremony the next day, much to everyone's dismay, and Haviland says "I don't know what's going on with us, but that's okay with me," and later on she says something about a treasure hunt and a few years later (I think) I'll know that part was from Tipping the Velvet.

It's December 2007 and I'm sitting in the corner by the bathroom in my apartment in Harlem, maybe tripping but maybe not, and Alex is there too and I look at her and I tell her that I'm bad news. I tell her if she thinks this is bad, it's only going to get worse. She says it doesn't seem like bad news to her and it takes me a year or two to realize she meant it. I think she is the happiest and purest thing I've ever seen in my life and I want her to stay that way forever, no matter what happens next, and I don't want her to ever stop dancing or being a rabbit.

It's a few days later and I'm having breakfast with Tara at a diner a few blocks from the Upper East Side hospital where Heather is sick and I want to eat Tara's head off I love her so much. I'm texting Caitlin, maybe, I mean that's likely. Haviland is slipping and she'll move away soon. We're all still excited about that fake vacation that never happened. I think about how much time I've spent in hospitals that year and how much better 2008 will be. I grin at Tara because she's not in the hospital anymore and I can touch her face whenever I want to.

Or it's September 2007 and I'm on the island between streets on the Lower East Side practicing with Stephanie for my reading at Happy Endings. I'm happy that she's agreed to read with me, happy to see her again after so long, happy that she didn't forgive me that December prior when I'd asked her to because she forced me to change. I think of how she's such a beautiful person and whomever gets to crack the surface is likely to find wells of empathy and history and heart there. I think someone has, now.

After the reading I'm sitting on that street in the Lower East Side with Stef (not Stephanie) and I think I'm crying. She's rubbing my back and telling me it's gonna be okay. I've never cried on the street like this before and I'm crying about all this other stuff, the stuff that made me afraid to leave my apartment except for previously scheduled events. I can't remember. New York City is a place to love people but it's also a place to let the night shatter you into pieces -- not neat pieces, not clean jutting diamond blades from hell but into just MUSH, into just something gross that you want to scrub off later.

It's November 2007 and I'm running down the stairs of my apartment away from that ridiculous 'potluck' my roommate held to sell us something with Caitlin and Haviland and we're laughing so hard I think we all might die, dashing into Caitlin's crappy car and making jokes… It's July 2007 and I'm on the rooftop with Carly at the gallery opening from hell where we were supposed to sell something to somebody I think but instead just made fun of everybody… it's January 2008 and Alex is walking into that hotel room at The W and she says "what the FUCK is going on here" and then she turns around and then she turns back and it's too late, we're already laughing, I mean it's over, I mean how fucking cute can one person get, "I am REALLY drunk right now," she adds, but really, what's that to any of us then at that point.

I don't know the person in any of those scenes. I recognize her but I don't know how to hold her or keep her safe. I love her though. I love her because she gave herself permission to love recklessly and jump heedlessly off things more serious than cliffs. I love her because she hadn't paid her processing fees. I don't want to be her again because being her was often sad and hard but worth it. Because this is "it."


What of recent history? I can't handle that shit. Whatever just happened is a thing I just can't think of just yet. I don't ever think of what I'm doing while I'm doing it. Like right now? How I'm packing and leaving? How I honestly think that I maybe picked the right place this time? How I feel like I learned something from experience and I trust my gut for the first time ever and as fucking pissed off I've been, I also feel more certain of the future than I ever have before in the weirdest craziest way possible? That's a lie. I know things now, though. That's not a lie.

Do you feel me walking away, probably not, because I am already hiding behind a rock, packing my slingshot. That's just a thing. I mean that's just a story I'll tell to the 6-7 people who want to read it, way later. There are some secrets I'll keep for years and I don't know yet quite what those are. There's some I'm only now learning how to tell. There's some I want to eat and dance about. There's also most things which are not secrets.

I can't. I mean really. I've spent this whole post trying to get to a point about leaving New York City or about loving people or about how I came here splayed and bleeding and left here with hearts beating still and all I could do was talk about moments where everything was so heavy that I couldn't walk around it or lose it. Moments when I couldn't starve me out of me.

I'm moving to California for no reason and by that I mean I want to step into a circle of light, break right in there and raise some hell.

I want to say that I want to look in the mirror and recognize something in it. But when the blood is that red and that beautiful, I'd be lying if I said I didn't love that, too. I came here to have adventures less local than a highway or a mirror or a clean white hotel room or my familiar, dull, heartache.

I'd be lying if I said I didn't want to do it all over again, but smarter this time, but stupider this time, and in the sunshine.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

this blog post is 2,836 words long, all the words are true

[I think I accidentally wrote this because of Freedom, where Jonathan Franzen manages to make every single detail of every character's life seem necessary just because it was lived and therefore has meaning, but I'm not Jonathan Franzen, so maybe it'll be terrible. But I wrote it, so you know. HERE]

I am moving to San Francisco at the end of the month, for abstract and possibly impulsive/illogical reasons. I have no plan.

My last trip to San Francisco was in 2000, the summer everybody left everybody else, including me. It was the summer I felt fucked for no reason and kept traveling distances to watch other people fight. Mostly they fought about how it's hard to love people and be far away from them, or how it's hard to love people and watch them change into a person you don't recognize, which I think happens like a year after high school, maybe, or maybe it keeps on happening.

First up was running away from Manhattan, where I'd just finished up an NYU photography class and was waitressing at the Olive Garden in Times Square. I chose to leave suddenly, like the indifferent, fragmented, endlessly needy but cold-as-fuck person that I was. I just haven't really ever not known what I wanted more than I didn't know that summer.

It was June, maybe 2 am, when I waved at the doorman of our midtown post-work haunt (I'd befriended the owner's son, who'd sent me some mediocre love poems and earned me the eternal devotion of his employ, regardless of my age) and walked, uncertainly dressed in platform sandals and a brown sunddress that made my legs look good, back to Mike's going away party. Mike, the 27-year-old law student I'd been sleeping with since February, was headed to L.A. for the summer for no discernible reason. He was perversely delighted by our collective disapproval of this decision.

High drama was underway: Jen, another server, had baked a cake for Mike and also confessed her longtime crush on him. So she was crying next to this cake we were scared to eat. Mike was on a rampage, inspired by Jen's friend Steve asking Mike to be kinder about rejecting Jen. For example, the "YOU? HELL NO!" was unnecessarily cruel. This only enraged Mike further: "Fuck you guys! FUCK. YOU. GUYS. I dunneedyou! New Olive Garden, all new friends, alllll new women!"

I thought, I'm sleeping with someone who just said NEW OLIVE GARDEN!

I'd probably cried 5-10 times in front of Mike already but that night I was the calm, embarrassed/horrified babysitter, all crossed eyebrows & arms. On our way out, Mike spun on his heels, grabbed the hand of the new young pretty OG girl and stuck his tongue down her throat. They kissed for two mortifying minutes, I stuffed him in a cab and he remembered nothing the next day. Being with Mike felt like a claymation fistfight in slow motion, like a game of "How Low Can You Go?", where the winner must completely evacuate vast reserves of self-worth.

Mike left for the airport and I trotted back to my apartment where I was greeted by the ballistic face of my psychotic pseudo-beatnick roommate Evan. Gorey-like, the elongated tool of his mouth and eyes dashed at me from all corners, screaming about my BLOWDRYER being PLUGGED IN (apparently a primary cause of unexpected house fires) and also about his IMPORTANT VOICE MAILS from AUDITION PEOPLE which I'd COMPLETELY ERASED like a person with no RESPECT.

After that pissing contest I decided to move out the next day instead of staying for the summer. I moved swiftly about my mess & boxes like a swan out of hell. I quit my job and scheduled a flight back to Michigan.

I bid adieu to my Oklahoma-bred gay best friend from boarding school, Hayden, who I'd moved to Manhattan with from Sarah Lawrence and who'd let Evan move into Our Apartment under false pretenses. Hayden was obsessed with Evan's obvious gay crush on Hayden, though Hayden didn't really want to fuck Evan. Hayden had hated my relationship with Mike, I had hated Hayden's relationship with cocaine and Evan. We were at silent odds.

Hayden was my "other half." We'd been obsessed with each other for three years. We pawed, held, cried, saved, even fucked (we'd decided having sex would make us as close as possible, adding a physical element to the emotional and what we perceived to be a "supernatural" bond between us) -- we could barely breathe without the other. Friendships like that don't last into adulthood, because you should know better by then.

Later that summer, Evan would try to kill Hayden with a broom. In September, Hayden would move to a Navajo reservation and I would start school at the University of Michigan, where I transferred from Sarah Lawrence because I didn't know what the fuck I was doing and thought the in-state tuition was better suited to this kind of indecision.

I hugged Hayden like I might see him again in a few months. We'd never been apart much longer than that.

I never saw Hayden again.


I carried a barrel of anxiety/neediness in my stomach then. It was gigantic, it could swallow plants, but I also tried to keep it hidden by not talking too much. Then before you knew it you were knee-deep in my fucking barrel.

I was like a girl who wanted to be trampled on and was just looking for the right trampler. My personality was up for grabs -- first come, first serve.


I booked a handful of West Coast trips to fill Michigan's endless numbered days 'cause almost as soon as I got home, I started going nuts, and there wasn't enough time to get a new job before school started. My brother and I were silent fighting about our own self-loathing, my Mom was dating a track coach who's son had sold her a ton of Cutco Knives.

I felt like the protagonist in one of those popular late 90s films about sad people w/nice houses. I'd be watching TV but would feel like I was standing at attention in an empty carpeted room, staring out the window, vacuum cocked in my right hand like a machine gun.

Nothing happened. My friends were out of town. Nothing to think about but the past; which I hadn't enjoyed too much at the time. Or the future, which made my stomach hurt.

You might notice that nothing was wrong, really. Like I didn't have any "problems."

I'd spend a week in Berkeley with my old friend Magali and another in Seattle, coinciding with my friend Genna's trip out there, to visit our friend Sabri. Genna & Sabri were boarding school friends. I can't believe I traveled so far to be around people I loved. It was unlike me.

Seattle was pleasant -- we went raspberry picking, made a lot of complicated meals, went to a museum or two, took an overnight jaunt to Vancouver where we fell in love with the city, and also, for one drunken night in a restaurant we couldn't afford with big windows overlooking the water, fell back in love with our friendship.

But also Sabri & Genna, who'd been best friends like small beautiful turtles, were having the first falling-out of their friendship for reasons including Genna's disappearances to meet up with her boyfriend and Sabri having read Genna's diary.

I was stuck between Genna & Sabri and their fight, but I wouldn't take sides. They'd been these little rabbits, see. Like little animals joined together, like Hayden and I had been. They were both short, and Sabri was a designer-clad Indian and Genna a pale redhead who preferred Value Village but they had this special thing that made them seem identical.

Now they hated each other and I didn't know anyone anymore. That's how it seemed.


Mike emailed me: i'm gonna get a local exchange # so it's cheaper for my many ho's to call me. so, speaking of ho's, I've already had a date. Yep. going back out with her tonight. she's sweet, but not as sweet as you. as i remember when i first met you you put up this 'facade' :) of how you really are. a bunch of bullshit. you are truly a nice genuine person. see the good things i say about you?


"Sooooooo I'm a total pothead now," Magali told me when she picked me up a the San Francisco airport.

"Magali, guess what? I actually want to smoke pot right now," I said. I never wanted to smoke pot.

"Really? Ooo, this is so exciting!" she smiled. Magali was warm and sunny and optimistic and my time with her was serene, but distant 'cause I thought she could tell that I was changing into a person who might try and "fit in" at the University of Michigan when classes started in September. Selling out, like Ani had told us not to do.

I also knew she hated Mike, for example, and hated my fixation on him as I had no explanation for liking him besides that I was needy.

We saw the Indigo Girls, smoked pot from Magali's sister's Oregon farm, took hikes in boots & shorts and went to museums and mostly I thought about how crazy it was that I'd always had the upper hand in our friendship despite Magali always being infinitely cooler. She spoke three languages, eschewed leg-shaving and other patriarchal beauty institutions, kissed boys and girls, made perfect mix-tapes and sewed fabric into her bellbottoms to make them baggier. I guess I made her laugh.

But then things got bad, just like with Genna and Sabri, because Magali's ex-boyfriend Joe had illogically decided to visit her and she didn't like him anymore. His need made her cranky.

Mike called and said I should fly to LA from SF to see him. And so I did. In LA, things were already sad because Lana, an Olive Garden friend, had decided to also visit LA that week to see Gerard, a friend of Mike's who she'd fucked a few times. She'd also fucked Mike and two of their other friends. I hated hearing Mike and Gerard talk about Lana, like she was a hamburger they'd both eaten. I felt bad for her because I thought the only thing that made her sex life different than mine was that she was really funny-looking and I was only kinda funny-looking and I had that one brown dress that made my legs look cute.

But Gerard had a new girlfriend now, Brittany, who was 16 and rode in the front seat of the van like a terrier, tucking her lanky tan legs beneath her and eschewing the seatbelt for an advantageous body position that enabled her to constantly keep tabs on the passengers facial expressions; like maybe she already knew she was dumb and wanted to make sure her new boyfriend's friends hadn't noticed yet.

"Hey uh, I told you I quit working at The Olive Garden, right?" Mike asked. He always started sentences with "I told you" or "Can I ask you something" and ended conversations with "Lemme go."

"Yup, three or four times, genius." I said.

He rubbed his knuckle into my ear; "Oh, how I've missed my Marie!"

Mike took me back to his place. I'd helped him pack to leave Brooklyn, so I don't know why his barren room surprised me.

"You couldn't even buy sheets?" I asked, staring at the bare mattress he'd dressed up with a pillow and that comforter I'd always hated.

We had sex. Afterwards he said that although he'd dated a lot of girls this summer, he'd missed 'my body,' which I took as a huge complement and rode it like a dream through everything that happened those next two days and big chunks of months afterwards, which would be some of the most numb and miserable and empty of my life.

I'd only planned to stay in LA for one night, 'cause Mike frequently stressed that he couldn't stand being around me for more than 48 hours at a time. When I called Magali to tell her I was staying an extra night, she seemed distracted and more than fine with it, but I felt guilty, like now she knew that I just wanted to be fucked, but also to complain about being fucked afterwards.

We traveled mostly as a group -- Mike, Gerard, another friend, Brittany, and Lana, who cried in the bathroom, messing up her makeup, while I tried abstractly to help her with problems that seemed insignificant compared to my self-loathing and World Hunger.

Mike was uniquely chivalrous at times, like taking sticker pictures with me at Venice Beach and telling me he loved me in a big brotherly voice. For a second it sounded like a fatherly voice, which scared me but not as much as it should have.

Mike said he had a cold and insisted on taking NyQuil for it.

"But you'll be sleepy! You'll sleep through our time together!"

"No I won't."

"But why take drowsy and not 'not-drowsy'?"

"Uh, because the drowsy kind works better? That's why it makes ya sleepy!"

After sake bombs at a strip mall sushi joint, more drinks at a club I'd gotten into with Lana's ID, and, once home (Lana spent the whole way back fighting with Gerard), a joint, Mike fell asleep on the floor. Everything felt trippy like I'd been dropped into the story of someone else's life; or rather like I'd flown myself right into someone else's life.

After Mike fell asleep, I wandered innocently back into the living room, where I was greeted by the unexpected sight of Lana's ankles on Gerard's shoulders and him fucking her like a jackhammer. I scampered back into the hallway, horrified, my head in my hands in the darkness thinking how the fuck did I get here. Lana was gasping, Mike was snoring, the dude was grunting, I was not yet crying but surely would be soon.

What the fuck, you asshole, I said to myself. Who are these people? How did you get here? I was stoned, they were fucking, he was an asshole but a passed-out asshole and who the what the how did my Mom let me go here. I met him at the goddamn Olive Garden. I'm a child, goddammit, I'm clearly unable to care for myself, will somebody please, please, please, please rescue me please just tell me what to do I'LL DO ANYTHING and what did I do with those thoughts, what did I do.

Well I drank the rest of the NyQuill and passed out into cherry-sticky sleep and flew back to Magali's, where she and Joe were at odds. She smoked maniacally and worried about me leaving her there with Joe. Just like I'd left Mike to pick up Lana's devastatingly lonely body the next morning and left Sabri with Genna's secret emotional breakdown and its walls. I'd left Hayden with Evan, and now here I was in this totally fucked place, and it was one of those moments, you know. When you realize you're fucked and you realize, I am a person who takes wrong turns, I am a person capable of gigantic miscalculations of spirit and personality, I am anybody really

Magali and I crossed the Golden Gate Bridge in early, dark, morning, flanked by cars headed to work. I told her that it looked beautiful out there and she agreed. She was taking me to the airport, and I didn't know if I was ready to leave or not. Surely I was ready to leave these people, but I wasn't ready to give up on mountains.

I'd seen cities that looked big enough for my needs -- Vancouver, where I wanted to live. San Francisco, where I wanted to live. Los Angeles, where I knew I'd always be visiting people. Seattle, which is a difficult place to complain about because everything seems fine there.

I came back numb, thinking only of the geography and not the people in it. I'd had a good time with the trees, I thought. I had a good time with that bridge. I wanted to be like Sweden, somewhere green where people never changed and always gave me what I'd come for; some place like my first two nights in Berkeley before Joe came, smoking and pouring cream in our cereal.

Maybe we'd emerged to announce who we'd become and then retreated into the new universes we'd been preparing for, alone. We had to tear each other apart in order to change without being sad all the time.

Really, I guess, it was a matter of who had the guts to scream NEW FRIENDS, NEW LIFE, NEW OLIVE GARDEN, NEW GIRLS into a crowded room. Who among us was willing to not only push people away in order to evolve and leave without dying, but to announce this intention to whomever is within earshot? It was better to pretend, after all, like we were just cranky, that it didn't mean anything bigger how selfish we were that year. Me too, including me.

There is a need, sometimes, to run away again, because it's just been so long since I've done it. It's just been so long since I've had a chance to leave, and sometimes I'm not sure what else I can do to show you how much I love you.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

i wrote this blog post on april 26, 2010 but never published it. i forgot it existed. it seems like such a long time ago

Sometimes at night I get really scared. Panic angles for space between my lungs. My lungs are pissed off and so the panic sticks out like a shoebox. I bang my head on my desk. Nothing works. I misplaced my tweezers and now my eyebrow is bleeding.

I think, I'm scared. I think, there's so much going on. My cheek is on the surface of the desk, like a lot of things: a roll of toilet paper, a lighter, a nail file, two stones from Northern Michigan, a stick of deodorant, a hard drive. My lawyer's business card. My Vocabulary Did This To Me: The Collective Poetry of Jack Spicer.

In the morning I walk to the kitchen. I consider the kitchen. I want coffee. I look at Natalie's coffee but there doesn't seem to be enough. I wash a spoon. I move other clean utensils around to fit the spoon in. I put a few forks away and get out a plate to eat food on top of. I look in the refrigerator but there's no food and I have no pants on.

I put on pants. That's one step. I find two more links for the daily fix and open at least two windows with 3-4 tabs apiece. I feel very successful when I can close a six-tab window. Are you sure? Yes, I'm sure, I want to close all six of those motherfucking tabs! I am DONE with all six of that shit. Fuck you gmail, fuck you action method, goodbye netflix i am not watching skins right now, twitter wtf, oh gmail again you sneaky bastard. autostraddle, autotstraddle. I'm sure.

In two or ten minutes I'm already od'ing on new tabs already. I close my laptop and put on a shirt. I look at myself in the mirror but I don't like it.

I think it might be time to go to the gym, eat a meal, or take my medication. The third option is quickest, so I do that first. I put on gym pants, which is 10% of the process to get me out the door. I debate finishing the Fix before or after the gym. I like to return from the gym with all fixes completed or published, so that when I return I can start on tomorrow's editorial projects, catch up on emails or other administrative shit.

I think, I need to eat. But also I need to write emails. I have no pants on. I need coffee the most. So then I get clothes on and put on my glasses and hoodie and go to the deli for a bagel and an iced coffee while I look at emails and start preparing my heart to spend the next 10 hours in overdrive. I am a car on a track, it's easy as that. Or I am a conductor of an orchestra, and everyone's chewing gum.

It's been an hour and finally I am onto something. i've picked the story and now I am investigating or writing words about it. The investigating is fun, I feel like a real journalist, I put on my best Lois Lane impression of Lois Lane couldn't ever leave her office except when Superman picked her up.

Sometimes at night I get scared listening to music in the smoky dark. I get scared that the part of my brain where I store feelings I have no space for (it's like a storage closet, but more plushy because of the brain tissue) is reaching maximum capacity, like thinking about how this thing is too big to fail but too big to go on this way, and how I'm not sure what I can do to make it better, which is why I work so much every day to make it better, and do my job better than I've done anything, and even when it's not good, it's my best.

I love you all so much; I love you like the game where you hold the parachute up it in the air and then all go collapse inside of it. You make me feel like nonsense and I love you, children.

I love these young creatures.

That there are monsters in my hair

People who never knew me this way (as autowin)
Now take to autowin like detectives or supervisors
which feels like my tentative, elongated hands, hovering over the keyboard like
i'm in the fucking Matrix

I get scared that my friends are monsters
I am scared because my friends are monsters
I am scared because I love my friends
I am scared because I do not do enough for my friends
I am scared because I am behind
I am scared because we need to sell ads
I am scared because this is a video game where nobody gets points, but they lose energy, and what do we do when we've sucked everybody's energy?
I am scared because we can't always get what we want
I am scared because nothing belongs to me anymore
I am scared of doing the same things over and over again but with different actors playing the same role, in a different scene

I want to eat everyone I love. I want to get everyone I love into a house together. We can eat dinner and afterwards collapse into each other like simple animals. There will be peace in the morning. Rain or shine.

I'll draw back the curtains, unafraid. See I like the curtains. I like the darkness and the light. I'll like darkness and the light then, too.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

things i told livejournal a long time ago: a tumblr you should read

i used to keep a livejournal from 2001 until 2006. most of it is private and also impossible to find on the internet. two days ago me and laneia decided it would be a good idea to republish excerpts from my livejournal onto a tumblr blog called "things i told livejournal a long time ago." if you want to read it. i will probably be done with it within the next day or so. we just felt like it was a thing that i should do. also wecrush.

also if you want to you should start from the beginning 2001. here's the archive where you can see it all and the titles have dates in them. this is the first one.

Monday, May 03, 2010

and the heart says write a fucking post in autowin, like now!

I've spent most of the weekend reading. Not books or anything important like that really. Well, I did read an essay from Zadie Smith's book Changing my Mind called "The New Direction of the Novel" and I did re-read Emily Gould's And the Heart Says Whatever; or at least my favorite pieces of it.

It comes out May 4th but she sent me a galley in January (I think) so I ate it in January. Since the first reading I have been reading bits and pieces of it again, here and there. And I did another formal re-read about two weeks ago to prepare to write about it.

I spend a lot of time preparing to write about things, but then I never have time to do said things until the last minute, because every minute is the last minute for something else! I'm not sure if there's a way to describe in words how fucking busy I am, and how much shit I could/should be doing at all times, and how I have invented a totally rewarding but also completely logistically impossible life for myself, which is strange, how it just happened and all of a sudden here I am in my life, where all the minutes fly away from me like blackbirds. Like bye bye birdie, It's exactly like Bye Bye Fucking Birdie!

It's difficult to figure out exactly what to write about And the Heart Says Whatever on my cutting-edge relatively-literary-minded immensely popular website because my number one feeling about the book is "omg me too" which I think, given the nature of the book and the inevitably bitter criticism it's going to get (Emily Gould makes people violent or whatever) (she's a lady, writes about herself without apologizing for writing about herself, is pretty etc) (yeah i don't know either) is redundant and maybe irrelevant. But it's also the most relevant thing I ever could say about the book, particularly because if you're the kind of person that might be interested in reading about all the ways my life has been similar to Emily's or my feelings have been like Emily's feelings, then you're definitely the kind of person that will like the book, and should get it.

So I decided to work on two pieces about it; a relatively straightforward review for Autostraddle (which'll be, clearly, so "autostraddley" that it's actually unlikely to be straightforward at all), and the same for this blog but with more of the incoherent rambling that I've convinced myself you all must enjoy if you're still reading this space after all this time.

I was also writing something else for this blog, totally unrelated, which I'm confident I'll finish on some yet-to-be-seen night in the future when I magically have free time. I actually haven't had free time since... I dunno. It's hard to remember what life was like before this. Well, it's not. It's just hard to figure out how to let my life evolve, rather than frantically darting about like my life is clay comets I must catch and mold consciously, each one further away from the last.

I've been really fucking busy. Like really fucking busy you guys. This thing that I do? This thing that I do is fucking hard. I wouldn't recommend it to anyone, it will eat you alive! I have been eaten alive. I am currently running Autostraddle from the inside of its stomach. It's funny that people don't realize that I write most of the website myself. I'm trying to stop doing that. There's been a lot of general behind-the-scenes stress as well lately, which is exhausting and in my opinion really unnecessary.

In any event, I'm very proud of us. Of our amazing team.

Alex too. Is everyone proud of Alex? Let's all be proud of Alex. Due to her amazing infographics, she's going to be on a panel at BlogHer as an EXPERT on how to use visuals to make blogs interesting or something.

Don't worry Emily Choo, I love you most of all (I link to that quote b/c that's how I imagine saying it out loud, not b/c the situation or emotions are similar, so really I should link to a video clip, but who has the time).

I'm also really proud of me and everyone who I work with and talk to every day and everyone who's still involved with the project and still giving as much if not more energy to it now. I'm proud of our consistent quality, our community, our growth rate, the important things we talk about and how we refuse to play stupid SEO games, as The Awl said they attempt to do when reflecting on the spirit they were founded in. I'm trying to own my feelings like Sady Fucking Doyle right now btw, is it working? I'M PROUD OF MYSELF AND ALSO OF YOU. please donate $$.

[Also, if you haven't started watching Julie & Brandy in Your Box Office, which is the show that I'm editing for Autostraddle, starring Julie Goldman and Brandy Howard, then you really should because I'm proud of that too. I KNOW IT'S VIDEO AND YOU'RE SO FUCKING LITERARY. Try it! Also we're doing this Queer Feminist Roundtable thing this week, maybe you will like that too.]

I'm still scared & sad a lot of the time, when I'm alone, because I think that humans are generally supposed to become more financially stable as they get older, but I was much better off at 18 than I am at 28 (so much debt you guys! so much debt! and no income!), and, and basically things have gotten progressively worse since about 2004, with the exception of the first few months of 2007 before my life fell apart and started getting worse again. Then as soon as I had money I gave it away anyhow, so there you go.

This weekend a lot of my surprisingly popular tumblr followers have probs wondered where are the photos of Kristen Stewart, what's with all this fucking text. Because of all this online reading that I've been doing that I mentioned in the beginning of the blog post. So I quoted some things.

I think I've been reading a lot this weekend b/c I've been thinking (because of Emily's book) a lot about writing on the internet and discourse around cyberculture, the future of publishing et al. Also I've been sort of trying to like, change some things about how I live my life, or something, and I think I needed time for reflection. I was hoping this "reflection" time I imagined having this weekend because I can't afford to leave my apartment would be "writing time," but instead it has been reading time. Reading BLOGS, honestly, mostly, when I haven't been doing Autostraddle work. Which I felt guilty about (whaaat?) and therefore wrote/am writing this post, to feel better.

These are some things I read this afternoon that I liked, in addition to The Economist's special section about the future of television and online television, which is not available online, dangit:
Is that okay? Are you still here? Are we still in love? I'm still broken on the inside, but you'll have to keep that between you and me for now, because I have to act "as if" right now. Just right now though. You know one day I'll tell you everything, right? I never did, really, because I couldn't. There are only two or three things I know for sure and that is one of those things; one day.