to fly

crying in yoga class, not balling, just a few tears welling up.
but for all the momentum, all the force behind the tears, it might as well be balling
two things: (one) crying in yoga class will always make me think of you, shiz
(two) though i will cry in every yoga class if it’s a real good one, this was the first time the tears came up because of being pushed to my edge. it was not the first time i was pushed to my edge in yoga class, but it was the first time i was pushed to my edge while alyssa talked about committing to the pose.
today our practice is going to be about commitment she said. i will be asking you to hug everything in through your skin, your muscles to your bones. active in every pose. alyssa said that through that kind of body commitment, one can find the freedom to fly. she also applied it to other life things (projects, self-work, relationships).  because of this lesson for the day, she had us holding the poses longer than we thought we could bear it (extended side angle pose in full bind into forward fold with full bind into bird of paradise and then back down again into extended bound side angle pose). see what you do in these situations she said do you back out? notice what path you take when presented with the challenge today.

_______

overheard in the front room of a cafe:
i’ve got a date with my pomegranate tree

_______

a living room full of dogs
plus a 2 year old kid
by the name of cyrus
how he chases the big ones
but the little ones chase him

_______

things we laugh about in front of the fire:
1. how delicious carmel mountain (a suburb in san diego) must be
2. when it comes to roasting marshmallows, how hot can mean sexy or mean heat
3. since we just ran out of graham crackers, they’re called s’less instead of s’mores

crisper cooler

pink blossoms crack open
at the edge of campus
it is a marvel that even in san diego )where one might think the cherry/plum trees would bloom all year round), these trees know when spring arrives
a marvel that even here, it is coded into their thin branches, their tangled and reaching roots

_______

the possibility of a treehouse in my inbox
all the way from missouri

_______

biking moonwards (also known as east) as it lifts itself into sky and holds itself there
parchment colored and impossible to miss in that crisper cooler of a february night

a tiny tallymark

priv·i·lege

noun \ priv-uh-lij, priv-lij\
verb priv·i·leged, priv·i·leg·ing.

1. a right, immunity, or benefit enjoyed only by a person beyond the advantages of most: the privileges of the very rich.
2. a special right, immunity, or exemption granted to persons in authority or office to free them from certain obligations or liabilities: the privilege of a senator to speak in Congress without danger of a libel suit.
3. a grant to an individual, corporation, etc., of a special right or immunity, under certain conditions.
4. the principle or condition of enjoying special rights or immunities.
5. any of the rights common to all citizens under a modern constitutional government: We enjoy the privileges of a free people.

lux·u·ry

noun \ˈlək-sh(ə-)rē, -zh(ə-)rē\
plural lux·u·ries

1. archaic : lechery, lust
2. a condition of abundance or great ease and comfort : sumptuous environment <lived in luxury>
3. a : something adding to pleasure or comfort but not absolutely necessary <one of life’s luxuries>
b : an indulgence in something that provides pleasure, satisfaction, or ease <had the luxury of rejecting a handful of
job offers

at a discussion group for being out in academia for grad students, the group was pretty evenly split between those who are visibly read as queer/genderqueer and those that can fly under the radar because they are often read as/assumed to be straight.  at one point, when addressing these two different situations, a trans-person on the f-to-m spectrum used the word luxury when he was talking about when queer people (perhaps more specifically, queer women) are read as straight. i don’t have the luxury of being able to not come out, he said.

 

luxury.

 

i had never thought of it that way.
and i probably never will.

 

i recognize that being able to pass is a privileged position to be in. i recognize that i receive hetero privileges because i am often read this way. but i would never say this is a luxury i bask in. i understand the privilege of being able to choose to assert my queer identity when i am in a space that feels safe to do so rather than have my appearance out me all the time in instances where i would rather go incognito. i also understand that if i’m rolling through a conservative (or unfamiliar) town i know nothing about on a roadtrip, which i seem to have done quite often in the past 5 years or so, i do feel like my appearance outs me in some way. i do not feel safe. (for some reason, it’s this setting i think of first when i think of feeling unsafe – which i recognize is much different than feeling unsafe in the day-to-day [in one’s neighborhood, workplace, school, etc.]) this unsafe-in-an-unfamiliar-town feeling stems part from being read as a woman [and who knows what men will do to women who look like they don’t come from their  conservative small towns], and it’s also part being read as weirdo [tattoos, hairy legs and armpits, unusual haircut, not the standard jeans and tshirt that seem to be the dresscode for that town.] and perhaps even a kind of deviant/queer, even if it doesn’t register as a sexual queer… a kind of ‘we know you don’t belong here’ outsider sort of queer. i understand what it’s like to feel like i can’t hide myself even if my life depended on it. i understand what it’s like to fear the possibility that others might want to hurt me. might want to do horrendous things to my body. might want to kill me. i understand what it’s like to fear how my mere presence/existence might anger others.

 

but, back to luxury.

 

when i think of luxury, i think of its verb-state. luxuriate.
a kind of sinking back into, a softening. like, laying back into a hottub with my arms draped on the edge. perhaps a champagne in my hand. 

lux·u·ri·ous  

djective /ˌləgˈZHo͝orēəs/

  1. Extremely comfortable, elegant, or enjoyable, esp. in a way that involves great expense: “the bedrooms have luxurious marble bathrooms”.
  2. Giving self-indulgent or sensuous pleasure: “a luxurious wallow in a scented bath”.

which is nowhere near the bodysense, the emotionality of what passing as straight feels like. it is not something i lean back into with my hands behind my head and say “oh yeahhhh. this is the life.” about. it’s not something i say “i want more. i just want to sink myself into it” about. it’s not something i indulge in.

while i certainly didn’t go into this much detail at the discussion, i did at least say it. i understand my passing as straight to be a privilege, but not a luxury. which i followed with something inarticulate about how passing or not passing both have their ups and downs. i’m not sure how clear it all got across, but i think it got somewhere.  it felt good to offer a disagreement that didn’t feel like a fight. i am proud of feeling the sting of that word (luxury)  but not responding with a slap back or a kind of blanket dismissal of that person.

this is something i’m working on. offering my perspective when i feel the sting of frustration/anger/hurt/rage, but not offering the perspective from that place. this instance, a tiny tallymark on moving forward in this work.

p.s.
all this is not to say i don’t experience luxuries/don’t live in luxury. the fact that i have my own little studio (shelter) and am working my first salaried job ever (/making more than 2 dollars a day) and own a little machine that i am typing this on which is plugged into an outlet in the wall which brings it all to life… these are all luxuries. so, i just wanna be clear that this entry is not to dismisss the luxuries i am surrounded with. it’s just to say, there’s no way you can name passing as straight (especially when compared to not being able to pass as straight/cisgendered) as a luxury. even if it is in luxurious circumstances (sheltered, fed, health insuranced, salaried, etc.)

it was about ice cream

we arrive after empanada and chimichurri lunch, but there’s a box full of free oranges next to the mintless water

_______

i could tell by the way you two were laughing without me even seeing what’s in the freezer that it was about ice cream the man in maroon tells 217 and i as we decide, like many sisters would decide, between what flavor 217 likes and what flavor her sister likes for her sister’s birthday

_______

before we drop down onto the freeway we see the stretching ocean and a line of palm trees along the shore

_______

i mean, how many times in your life can you say you spent your saturday going to kale fest and then heading up to north county for some LARPing in the park?

_______

(something coming up to the surface lately: write what you want to write. stop battling it out in the academia ring. if you want to write it, others will want to read it. followed by this: the question that perhaps i don’t know what i want to write. or i know what i want to write about/who i want to write for/why i want to write, but i don’t know how to do it in a way that will move my work forward. as if what i want to write will always be different from what journals and presses want to publish, different from what residencies want to say yes to, different from what contest want to give awards to. yeah, the voice that says: your authentic-self writing is cheesy, average, and kindof wrong in literary circles and won’t get you anyhwere. you have to put on a voice, you have to become, you have to perform, you have to dress yourself/your work in theory, you have to tell them what they don’t already know.

what if, in fact, i dared to entertain the idea that there are some people, perhaps even many people, who just want something human reflected back to them. what if i dared to consider that many humans want hope and struggle in the same stanza. what if i told myself it’s ok to want to write things that make people cry and the reason i want to make people cry is because i want people to feel something [in a fastmoving, isolating, desensitized culture and time] and the reason i want to make people feel something is because i want them to reconnect with their selves and the other people around them. what if i told myself that emotion and connectedness is also a form of intelligence?

and what if the first voice that pops up in response to this daring takes me back to the internal recording about  how my authenticself writing not go where i want it to, will not get the recognition that will help me move forward, will be laughed at and dismissed, by the systems that run the presses, the programs, the awards? what if grad school killed my narrative i and i am trying to resurrect it?

what if there will just be poems that are alive (the ones i believe in and that you might come to believe in too) on one side fighting poems that look good, read good (but are dead onstage) on paper on the other? perhaps part of it is accepting this battle, this binary battle and knowing which ones work where and encouraging them both.

if i am on the edge of a new/old voice, a people’s voice, a voice of collective grief and hope [grad school says ‘don’t use those words’], a voice that says ‘this is our story, this is our survival, this is our testimony to what got us this far’ [grad school says the word ‘survival’ is too broad] i welcome it in.)

or doored

while i take the time to draw three cards for the day
i am unable to concentrate on their descriptions
because i thought for a second about what comes next after grad school
(which ends in approximately four months)
_______

at university and park it happens again
infamous intersection of drivers get pissed at me and my bike for taking a whole lane(which is the thing you must do, as a biker, if you want to not get killed. and that is me – i very much don’t want to get killed. especially by rude driver who is so apalled that he must actually accommodate for a cyclist in the road.)
some fancycar man speeds past me
calling something out his window to me about moving over
this is where the rage kicks in
on top of all the layers of any time a man expected (or pushed me) to move over and out of his space (verbally or physically, actual men, or the patriarchy in general)
layered on top of all the other layers of every time a driver pulled up and clipped close
in order to yell something out the window about me getting out of the street
in other words, the rage comes from two places:
the sense of entitlement so strong that someone would purposefully endanger me by driving close enough to yell out their window that i am in their way.
every cell jagged with rage
but not enough to propel me forward fast enough to catch up with this fucker at the stoplight to tell him as politely as i can that there is a law that says he must maintain a 3 foot distance between his vehicle and my bike and that there is also a law that permits me to take a full lane
it’s not just that i could possibly killed
it’s that i know someone who was hit at an intersection in this city by a car that plowed through them at full 40 mph speed, it’s that i know cyclists and pedestrians die on these streets (618 in 2010 in the u.s.),, it’s that cyclists are hit or doored on these streets and then must figure out how to live in chronic pain, it’s that the number of times i have experienced this on the san diego streets in the past two years is more than i can count on two hands, it’s that i don’t want to be killed by someone who was pouty and pissed because i was taking something (the lane) that they’re so used to having for themselves

_______

i am sitting in a sealed off library
but through the glass windows
(that don’t open and never will)
i still smell the rain
_______

inside the gallery: 9 videos involving smiley faces
outside the gallery: triangles of cheese, crackers, hummus, beer

_______

at the shuttle stop i appreciate how instead of the typical
what are you doing after grad school
he says something like
what’s going to happen to you after this?

at least we are laughing / at least we look good

the highlight of TA-ing this quarter:
thowing my arms and head down on the desk
and declaring i quit
and meaning it for that day
but also laughing
and my students laughing with me
(the situation: what was supposed to be 5 minutes of reviewing an assignment became 45 minutes of the assignment getting more and more confusing to my students and therefore to me. me as and intermediary between the prof and my students. a translator failing at translation. but at least we are laughing.)

_______

counterweight:

a trailer for a collective performance between undergrads, professor and grad students from last quarter’s monsters, orphans and robots ethnic studies class

the internet can’t live forever

while falling down the internet rabbit-hole, i come across an image of the old drive in off national avenue (about a mile or two from where i grew up in new berlin, wisconsin):

15-outdoor-screen

what i remember:
•how it sat that way, in its unhinged state, for quite a while. and once the screen itself was taken down, how the lot sat there longer.
•a playground with a metal merry go round (traction tread) underneath the huge screen, for the kids to run around on while everyone else waits for dusk to dim.
•the A & W down the road (metal trays with yellow rubber-coated hooks attached to rolled down windows. thick glass mugs freezerfrosted and filled cold with rootbeer sweetness.)
•(not sure if this one is imagined or actually happened) adventuring one night (with friends? with family? on a family bike ride?). dried muddirt and stones under our tennis shoes. the sound of summer crickets and the illumination of actors on the screen. feeling like we were getting away with something because we could see the movie, even though we couldn’t hear it. what a secret (a good one) feels like.

what it is today:
a medical center (of the suburban, grayred brick variety) and its parking lot.

7271022

this phenomena is a map waiting to be made. the drive-in being only one site of many:
1. the two story farmhouse looming on the southwest corner (i remember blues and grays. perhaps wooden siding. yellowed shades pulled down in the windows) of the intersection of national avenue and moorland road. rooms abandoned. except for the ghosts i imagined that lived there. the building may have come down around the same time as the drive-in. what sprouted in its place: a bank whose tellers sent dum-dum lollipos through the pnuematic tube when i was in the car with mom as she pulled through the drive-through and the site of the first ATM (tyme) machine i ever witnessed. a bank (and its parking lot) that used to be named first wisconsin which is now associated bank ad which might have been something else entirely in between.
2. the hardees across the street from what was once the ghost-house that is now a starbucks, noodles and company, sprint store, etcetera.
3. the pharmacy that was not a far bike ride but a treacherous one involving several major intersecions- totally worth it because it sold single laffy taffys for 25 cents and single now and laters for 10 cents, maybe even 5. what took its place: anonymous office buildings that might also come off as a small apartment building. blonde-reddish brick built sometime in the late 80’s. the anonymity lending itself to an unnoticed rotation of businesses that may as well be invisible because as long as i’ve never had to go into those buildings [and in fact, i think i did, for family counseling], it made no difference to me who inhabited them.
4. the cornfields further south off moorland. the ones the bus passed on the way to middle/high school. the ones i dreamt of running away to (surely the busted brick shack was vacant and could provide enough shelter) cut down and paved over in the past 10 years to make way for a spill-sprawling parking lot for spill-sprawling box stores (michaels, office max, target with an eatery and pharmacy and grocery section) .
to name a few.

there is a wonder of growing up in a world that, when reflected back to us, looked like that… actual halftone newsprint. whose aura still comes through in digital scans of its pages. there is the wonder that some newspapers  are accessible online (see page 3). and there is the wonder that some newspapers have gone unarchived, will go unarchived. (it’s as if new berlin’s accessible history  is only old-old (new berlin historical society, early 1900’s) or in the archives of an online-only newspaper (early 2000’s). the local new berlin newspaper that i grew up flipping through at the kitchen table- first looking only at the pictures and later, paging through in hopes of finding something bigger to connect to- no longer exists. anywhere. what that does, then, to those who want to see their past reflected back to them (me) but can’t find it. can’t find it or only find it in singular photos of lightning-struck drive-ins from major newspapers that thought what was happening in my suburb was interesting enough to post a picture of. there is a kind of comfort when typing a search question into google only to find that dozens of other people have posted the same questions.  there is the sting of erasure, when i type defunct new berlin wisconsin newspaper or new berlin wisconsin newspaper 1980s and nothing comes up, not even another person searching for or writing about it.  (the suburb i grew up in itself perpetuating a living state of erasure.)

perhaps there is some kind of beauty in the unarchived (that only those who had been there then know about it, a kind of undergroundness/off-the-radarness), but i think the larger thing really, is thinking about who holds onto  histories unattached to document, or attached to document but not archived document? will it ever become searchable? what does it mean that there are certain documents and accounts that will show up on the internet that validate my history but, there is also a lack of document that blots it out entirely. what happens when the archive itself goes? (the internet can’t live forever i recall a comrade saying while walking the city at night.)

i’m sure there is a word for this, this thing about how when our worlds, our histories, our selves are reflected back to us, the reflection validates and reifies us and our histories.

even though we sang and acted on their stages, even though we wrote articles for their newspapers, even though we made their honor roll, our high schools forget about us. even though we remember the busted drive through screen and the cornfields before they were taken, our suburbs forget about us. even though we know the coordinates and the colors and what replaced what, the internet doesn’t always uphold our histories.

battle in the coach class

in backporch sunpatch rachel (with the extra z’s in her last name for every time she’s learned something about herself) and i unwrap tiny clementines
serving ourselves so-cal breakfast slice by slice

_______

suitcase as table top
we share
spinach empanada with chimichurri sauce
(chimichurri sauce always makes me think of gaston
who passed on over a year ago now)
a spinach sambusa
a cream cheese sambusa (with coconut and pineapple)
8 coconut pancakes
plus some mint limeade juice
under afternoon sun

_______

once seated on the #11 headed west
we hi-five over our timing

_______

a name for the exhaustion that comes from talking about oneself with a very good listener who asks difficult questions
(it is a useful exhaustion)
_______

on  a bench in the santa fe train station
i unfold poems
and read them outloud
and then we battle
in the coach class line
about what is and is not slammableyou could put a slam stanza in the middle of a poem you deem unslammable
she says
just to show them that you can do it
but are choosing not to
which i think is pretty genius

_______

and then the sky becomes a gray wash
spilling over the city
and the air turns cold
on my ankles and through my too-thin sweater
looks like rain we say
once i make it back to the dining room table
with kaya and alex seated at it
tamarind candy in my bag
a sidewalk soreness in my hips