Saturday, December 18, 2010

snowy nights

Zip-zopping in snowpants, knit hat pom pom bouncing, puffy snowbooks tromping thru 4 inches on the ground, eyelashes blinking falling flakes out of the way, mittens sweeping accumulation from tops of fences, cars, and bushes, making snowballs meant for tree trunks. The mouth-covering muffler condences, freezes, melts and remelts with each hot, wet breath till its stiff and drippy. Peripheral vision is nonexistent because the hood is pulled tight, making turns a full torso swivel. Toes can still wiggle, but the tips are unfeeling. Fingers are so cold they are hot and stiff.
But, it has been a good day. The snowball war at johnny's house was epic and ultimately triumphant, the forts constructed for the event were soundly built and well placed, the teams fairly matched. The snow is perfect for packing—just wet enough to hold itself in a tight sphere, but not so wet that once turned into a projectile, it would hurt on impact. The light has just now faded, the blues coming out on the snow-covered houses, trees and yards. Shadows dont get black this time of year, just deep navy blue.
Its almost dinnertime. This thought gets feet moving a bit faster to make the blood flow more to all the parts that have gotten wet and chilled and are headed towards frost bite. Also, to speed up arrival home, where it will be warm. And dry. With hot liquids and warm hugs immanent.
Entrance into the back yard shifts the color scheme from shades of blue and white to splashes of yellow from the kitchen window, and orange shadows of people crisscrossing the pools of light. The desire to decipher the identities of these flitting forms arrests progress to the back steps, the last moment in the frosty night savoured, the anticipation of the inundation of physical and emotional warmth heightened by proximity to its source. Access to sensation has been shut down for hours, both by cold and reaction to it, but in a few moments all 5 senses will be alive to all that is comforting and safe. This weather is killing cold, but there will not be a casualty to it here, tonight. That knowledge, not conscious, but felt deep in the gut—the belief that all bouts of severe weather have their end around the family table, is precious and remembered with gratitude long past childhood.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

the (current) correct answer is....

nothing fits, but 'he' works just fine.
yes, im genderqueer. yes, being seen as a man is a little weird and not really what im going for. yes, there are people who have known me as 'she' for a really long time.
however, getting introduced to someone new, i usually prefer them to think of me as at least somewhat masculine and using the word 'she' to describe me to them is not going to do that. at this point it mostly just confuses them. and at this point, i feel like i should be the one who makes the decision about letting someone know certain things about me.
honestly, between friends, i dont care what you say. around other people, however, it feels weird to have them interact with me as they see me and then have you say something that makes them have to reassess everything about me in their heads.
cuz thats what happens. thats always what happens, and whether we feel like thats fair or not doesnt matter. whether we wish that wasnt the case wont change how i have to be treated from the moment of reassessment on.
and its going to happen anyway, my life is full of these moments. every day. but having control of when (if i can get it) feels really important. as in, its nice to have someone see me for who i am now for a little while before they start thinking about who i once was.
my queer peops understand this fully, i know. this isnt directed at you, cuz you have worked to figure out how to be sensitive around this exact thing. and my non-queer peops, especially those who have known me for a long time, i hope you hear this not as me being upset and reprimanding you, just trying to lay out my feelings for you so you know what happens on my end. its a complex situation. i know. and i dont get upset if you say something that doesnt feel quite comfortable, cuz i know its hard to adjust. but i wrote this just so you know where i stand right now.
(so fyi: when when you use 'she' about me to that cute girl ive been flirting with, thats gonna feel a bit like a cock block. and i wish i could describe better why that is true.) instead ill just tell you that i love you and i appreciate that you love me for who i am, who i was and who i will be. i promise i do the same for you, always.

Friday, December 10, 2010


didnt i just turn thirty a little while ago? i cant imagine where those two years went. time out of time is simultaneously so much longer and so much shorter than 'real' time. there are days i feel like it as been ages since something happened to me and if i count back it was 2 weeks ago. it just feels like a long time cuz it was 3 cities ago, or something silly. thousands of miles and tons of conversations with disparate friends since. i say, 'weren't we just talking about this?' to people all the time and then remember it was with that other friend in a distant city a few days previous. 'last week' could mean across the country, and 'last year this time' i could have been anywhere (but was prolly ann arbor.)
yet still, even taking all of this into account, how the f**k did i get to be 32? all joking about peter pan aside, i really dont know how to be an adult. ive said for 12 years that im about 7 years behind everyone else in my development. which would make me 25. which, in the understanding of the stages of a person's life, makes more sense. part of this is just my inability to figure things out, and part of it is, i may be a 32 year old 'woman', but im a 25 year old boi. i dont think i lost all those 7 years at the same time, tho. i think i was totally caught up in my gender until i was 13. then all my friends started to be boy crazy, and that was when my boi lost about 9 months. then, when i got my period at 15, i lost another 6 months. then, being boy crazy myself and figuring out how to be a girl thru 16 and 17, i lost a year and a half. then from 18 thru 19, when i dated my first serious boyfriend, i lost 2 years. then, when i was 22, and had just graduated college and moved back home, i lost another 9 months, and from 24 to 26, the time between china and seattle when i lived in chicago and was super girly, i lost another 2 years. and one day in july of 2007 when i had to be a bride's maid at my cousin's wedding, i simultaneously lost 6 months and aged a year. so here i am, a young man in a somewhat older woman's body. and still people look at me (and read me as masculine) and think im about 22. and im 6 months away from my 10 year college reunion. i will get carded till i go grey (which will be in about 3 years).
another year older and though im still homeless, im a lot closer to being settled in myself as to who i am and what i want. and hopefully, how to get it. at least how to start on the path to getting it. my year of being 32 will entail traveling to mexico for the first time, going to 4 weddings (2 queer, 2 not), buying a house, and figuring out how to stay in one place for an extended period of time. this last adventure will hopefully include a shit ton of writing time. i am working on getting rid of all my excuses for not being productive so i can get over myself and just sit down and write. house first, then book. this time next year i hope to be deep into my book about genderqueer artists. check in with me then.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

30 years ago today...

dear john,
you were my first artistic crush. I fell in love with you when I was 13 years old--still a child—not yet musically savvy. And then you schooled me in rock and roll, love, life and revolution. Soon I knew every note of every song of every beatles album. I had posters of you (like this one->) and your fab friends all over my bedroom. I thought of you as a friend of mine, I watched all your movies, I read books by and about you. I studied your harmonies and lyrics, I imagined what it would be like to be you, tried to crawl inside your head. It was love like it can only manifest for a 13 year old—as idolization. Obsession. You and the boys were all I listened to, all I thought about. I had about 3 beatles t-shirts in heavy rotation all thru high school, my favorite being the rainbow tie-dyed one. (yep.) note: this was during the time when grunge had taken over the radio. I didnt even notice. When my friend sang pearl jam's 'nothing man' I sneered and said they stole the idea from 'nowhere man'. The sentence 'kurt cobain shot himself' actually evoked a 'who?' from me. I had no patience for a rockstar who took his own life, believing your assassination to be the most tragic thing that could ever happen.

It was tragic. You, of all rock royalty, were the one who was supposed to be around forever. No burning out or fading away for you. I think about the state of the world right now and wonder if we would be as war-focused as we are if you had lived. I imagine your tireless 70 years young self campaigning for peace, love and understanding even now. I see you and yoko having tea with the obamas, talking about afghanistan. I love that you loved the usa so much and hope (against hope) that the country has lived up your standards. We have needed you these past 30 years, friend. Rock and roll activists could have used your help and guidance, and your connection to the old guard. I think you would have been a big fan of the riot grrrl scene. I bet if you and kurt had sat down for coffee you would have had a lot of things to talk about (heroin being the least of them).

I was in nyc this september, a couple weeks before your birthday, and saw the front steps of the dakota and strawberry fields for the first time. I had a poster of the imagine mosaic on the ceiling above my bed for years as a teenager and it was a little surreal to see the spot in person. It was a sunny day and there were people around and I felt silly taking a picture. My tourguide was in a bit of a hurry so we didnt stay long, but it was peaceful there and I could imagine going in the summer to sit and write all afternoon. I became smitten with nyc during that visit in the fall, I guess thats what happened to you too, about 40 years ago. I can see how the energy of that city would totally jive with yours, with your humor and candor and charm (oh, you libra, you). nyc makes you want to get things done and gives you the belief that they can be cuz there are so many people out there trying to make shit happen. Its a city of hustlers (in the best sense) and you were always one of those.

Last night I sang beatles songs at karaoke. I started the evening with oh darling (I know its pauls but still) and ended it with twist and shout, shredding my voice just like you did. Everyone was up and dancing and singing backup on your song. It made me really happy. I felt like you for just a second--something ive wanted since I was 13. It was pretty marvelous.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

let it...

it snowed this weekend. Maybe 3 inches. Its the first snow of the season, and my first 'first snow' in years. I was driving to have drinks with a friend when it started, and it smelled like rain. Smelled like wet concrete in summertime, but it was chilly and the snow was gonna start sticking really soon. And it just came down with a purpose for the next couple hours. We were sitting at a table far from the front windows, and yet the conversation was punctuated with exclamations like 'wow, its sure coming down' or 'man, thats pretty.' as much as we complain about the winter weather here in chicago, we are all pretty enamored with snow when its happening. I mean, no one wants to have to dig their car out of a space the snow plows have buried, and the grimy dark grey piles of city snow that accumulate are nowhere near good looking, and everyone worries about slipping and cracking their heads open until they have been able to retrain themselves to utilize their icy-sidewalk-shuffle at the approapriate times. However, we also spend a good amount of time talking about the different kinds of snow—tiny sparkles, large clumps of fluffiness, and all the sizes in between, the kind that will prolly only fall for 20 minutes, the kind that can go all night, the kind that makes you feel you are in a snowglobe—as well as our favorite snowy sights: an inch of snow piled up on every single branch (no matter how small) of all the barren trees along a street, snow angels left by small people in a yard, a spruce tree dropping a branch-load of snow cuz it was too heavy to hold up, watching snowfall from a skyscraper, seeing an outdoor xmas light-studded garland blanketed in snow, a group of kids having a snowball fight on their way home from school, the cityscape shifting from drab shades of grey into the dramatic high contrast of wet stone and brick and concrete against new snow.
Kids in this climate are very aware of the properties of 'good' snow for different activities. the exact perfect snowfall for catching a flake on your tongue, or making snow angels, or sledding, or packing perfect snowballs, are all different. The powdery stuff wanted for skiing and sledding is not wet enough to pack into a snowball or snowman. The tiny shimmery flakes that build up into a blanket so inviting for snow angels are nowhere near as good as the big clumps of snow globe snow for catching on a tongue. This is well known information in the younger set.
And the older kids (those of us who can drive) know the dangers of a freezing rain before a snowfall in creating the perfect skidding conditions. I have seen that kind of storm have its way with all kinds of vehicles on I-80, landing hundreds of them in the ditch on the side of the road. Ive seen it tear limbs off of trees with the weight of the ice and wet snow combined, or bend entire trunks of lithe thin birches over into arches where the top branches brush the ground near the roots. There is nothing quite as awe inspiring as surveying the destruction that one silent nighttime snowfall can do to a sparsely treed landscape (my small midwest college campus being an ideal example). Nor is there anything quite as startling as walking along a snow-hushed, tree-lined avenue on the peaceful afternoon after a storm only to have a tree branch ring out like a shot as it finally gives in and snaps from the weight, dumping a load of snow onto the sidewalk, feet from where you stand.
I remember one winter when I was in grade school, the snow came before the freezing rain, leaving a layer of ice on top of a six inch fall of snow. I was small (and lightweight) enough to, if treading carefully, walk—almost skate—over the ice without falling thru into the snow. Until i found a weak spot. Then i'd crash through and be up to my boot top in snow. It was a fun challenge to stay perched on the ice above. My brother and I took our sweet time getting home that day. We pretended we were trappers up north with snowshoes on, and we were being followed and couldnt leave evidence of where we'd been. We walked from the bus stop at the far end of our block to our house, leaving only about 10 footprints each scattered along the trail, but it took us a good half hour.
Ive missed this weather, living in seattle. Everyone thinks im kinda crazy for prefering bitter, dry cold of the midwest to the damp chill of the PNW. They forget that chicago winters have snow and sun (and efficient central heating) whereas the higher temperatures in seattle are accompanied by lower levels of sun. and whats the point of being cold if you arent going to get the fun of playing in the snow? I have caused myself to get ill before just to spend a whole afternoon building a fort that would ensure snowball war triumph, only to be made to come inside due to darkness and chill before anything more than minor skirmishes could be launched. Ive walked in the house stripping off mittens then gloves, boots and multiple pairs of socks, snowpants then jeans then long underwear, jacket, sweater, turtleneck and undershirt, finding each one of these items to be wet in most places, trying to run a not-very-hot bath that wouldnt make my extremities scream out in pain, and thought that every last bit of on-the-way-to-frostbitten agony was worth it.
Playing in the snow is what makes winter bearable. Take that away, take those days when the sun bouncing off the snowfall enough to make you squint like you are at the beach away, and you have nothing but crappy weather, bad insulation, and depression. Seattle winter is not winter and not fun. The greige gets into your bones and your brain and under yours skin and there is nothing redeeming to it. Having to mow the lawn in march is no consolation, it just makes me angry. (however, check back with me in the springtime, and ill be singing a different tune. Seattle knows that season far better than chicago. I only ever had a passing acquaintance with it until I moved west. Now its my pet.)
but I digress. So I will leave you with this:

Thursday, December 2, 2010

opening night.

tonight. we open. after tonight i can finally use my brain to think about other things besides the show. and yes, we have 5 performances this weekend. doesnt matter. i will have it down and wont have to use all of my brain power to figure out how to make things happen. i can just do them. (whew)
anyway, wrote this last night:

twitch of the nose. a smell detected. still dreaming, but olfactory attention has been hijacked by a new scent. pulled up from the deep by the wonder of what this smell could mean, half awake, quizzical and bemused. there is something familiar about this odor, but what? an image of it almost came clear in dream state, but now only its shadow lurks at the corners of consciousness. how frustrating. a thought left unthunk. a friend left unrecognized. an image only half-seen as if still only sketched out, the movement and line and mood portrayed but not the substance. here in waking life, where only the memory of the smell remains, one is left to reminisce over something not remembered, long for reunion with someone never met, become nostalgic for a time that has never been. if in the right frame of mind, the scent could bring back a whole history--an epic tale of life in dreamworld where memories from other lives pass over into this, where there is always a now worth attending to but the now prior and the now following are not necessarily connected (unless you need them to be), and here and there can be interminable distances apart or barely distinguishable from one another.
bright eyes open and then, it comes. here and now, brought up short against waking, recognition for the first time. the smell of one only met unconsciously--you, my mirror me, you, self of myself. you.