Tuesday, July 15, 2014

I am a magnificent, fucked up universe.

I am a body of extremes. Too hot to eat, too happy to write. Too tired to sleep. Hunger/nausea, sobriety/intoxication, exhaustion/mania. Teach me the meaning of moderation; this dictionary excluded it.

Tonight: sinking into my bed, with the fresh sheets, and the pillows stacked justso, and the heat that keeps skin from touching skin from touching. Sink into this bed. Sink into that space where the words live. Somewhere behind my throat. I unfold into this pulse. Into this taut and scraped body. Into these knees; into pain like a knife’s edge under the throbbing spider web nerve endings. I have been knitting new skeins of scar tissue, slowing the mechanism.

Entropy (entrəpē) noun:  lack of order or predictability; gradual decline into disorder. See also: the way shadows drape across playgrounds. Our bodies clothed in moonlight, sunlight, the dirty crumbling streetlights. I never trust white sheets. I mean I never trust myself to be clean.

I want to write a poem about your hands, but every word sounds so trite. Teach me to transcribe the language of your forehead. The way your eyebrows says Come hither like my hips (shoulder width and thrust forward, chin to sky and eyes unfocused, kissing horizons.) The river divulging gifts as the sun sank behind my consciousness. 

There’s this thing I do lately where I’m talking. I feel my tongue moving. The vocal cords create a series of vibrations that resonate. Tongue, lips, teeth. The ears register resonations, forming coherent combinations of speech. The brain slips, disengaged, and I don’t know what’s coming out of my mouth until it’s said. Two nights ago the full moon leaned close to hear me say I’m scared. To hear me say I need. Or maybe I didn’t say those things at all. But we left anyways, bare skin and a stolen flower. Remembering daisies, the way bears sneeze, and sneeze, and sneeze. But I held it to my face like oxygen, walking the blocks that seem so long in the dark.

Then your kitchen. Then bones propped against counters and hard wood. Mouths, and hands, and words, and I don’t know how to explain what you mean to me. Let’s disregard chronology because it just makes us crazy. Or sad. And by us I mean me. Three days prior I tell a friend She is a good person to We with. You can wordify anything if you verb it. Friday night: Strawberry Wine and a slow-motion spin. Lessons in physics. Lessons in geometry. Straddling the tire swing, world careening, and entropy taking the backseat to centripetal force. The physics of our bodies stacked together under moonlight.

It’s easier when there are no boundaries, I said. I said, When there are no lines I can’t cross them. The slant of Katherine's mouth calls me chickenshit and I know she’s probably right. I pay her to call me out. I move in circles, and circles, and circles. I don't want to fuck this up. A yellow legal pad, and the words I’ll never see.

But there. Acknowledging the We of us in your kitchen, propped against cupboards and hardwood. Eventually, morning. Eventually wake up, wake up, and Did you know? you say. You say, They call it the thunder moon, while the horizon chafes and I wonder about rain. Memorize the ways yellow light and grey sheets cling to your body. What if you didn’t know what wind was? you say. You say How would you explain the way trees move? A green expanse of trunk shimmies over your neighbor’s rooftop, unexplained.

This is how I say I love you. Sprawled across the tabletop, hands outstretched thinking Hold this, hold this, hold this. Hold the Me of me. Sometimes I am terrified and small, and sorry. I hope you know that some days I have to be invisible. Or a bear. I guess that’s at the heart of this. I was worried that if I started needing you I’d never stop. I don't want to stop. Please, cradle me gracefully. Pour over me like moonlight on a tire swing.

I want to make a meal of your kneecaps. And I don’t know how to write, don’t know how to write, don’t know how to write this out. Or write about kissing hard lines and rigidity. A wrenching in the angle of the jaw. Between us: nothing rigid. Everything animal, somehow soft. Even when you sink your teeth into the meat of me. Fold me into the den of your ribcage. Claim my neck with your side-to-side wobble. Please fill this body’s empty space.

I’ll find words for your hands eventually.



Thursday, July 10, 2014

Hideaway with me some more.

Homo Hideaway
Room type: Entire home/apt
Accommodates: 16+
Bedrooms: 5
Bathrooms: 3
Beds: 14

This gorgeous home was perfectly suited for the 2014 Tranquil Women’s Overnight Crafting and Prayer Retreat. Nestled in a charming gated community, we rested easily knowing our activities wouldn’t unnecessarily pester the neighbors. The guaranteed privacy also facilitated an unanticipated amount of daytime nudity. The winding mountainous drive past the lake was breathtaking. Granted, we enjoyed the vertiginous scenic overlook much more before the debilitating two-day hangovers.

The two-story, 5 bedroom “cabin” comfortably slept the six of us. The heart-warming sayings and Jesus-chic décor reinforced our already strong sense of integrity. We appreciated but didn’t utilize the multiple bunk beds, upstairs living room, and creepy gender-specific playrooms. Unfortunately our stay was too short to peruse the extensive library of self-help and religious lifestyle books! However, we were able to huddle around the scrapbook and read aloud the Hideaway story. We noticed that somebody-definitely-not-us spilled red liquid in the binding. Grape juice, perhaps? Children are so careless! We thoughtfully tucked it into the bottom of the blanket hamper upon departure. We wouldn’t want it to sustain any more damage.

While we appreciated the house’s rules, the absence of a corkscrew made it very difficult to break the No Alcohol policy. Not to fret! We’re an incredibly resourceful bunch. Through sheer determination and teamwork, we successfully opened 2 bottles of wine before reinforcements arrived. The spacious kitchen was perfect for family-style breakfast as well as shoveling molten hot pizza into our drunk little faces.

The sports equipment in the garage allowed us to participate in all manner of non-homosexual physical activities. Between football, soccer, and basketball we were occupied for longer than anyone anticipated. We also tested the limits of how many balls a human can juggle while holding a mimosa. The property’s rolling green hills were perfect for rolling down, though we might suggest the owners install a safety net at the bottom? Nudity, high velocity rolling, and thorny underbrush made an unpleasant combination.

Our group was also visited by some charming wildlife! Vladimir the toad forever etched his small, slimy self into our hearts and souls.

The real star of the weekend was the hot tub (or the Tepid Tub as we affectionately nicknamed it). The first day we couldn’t figure out the broken heating mechanism. But once we put our thinking caps on/removed several of the clogged filters, the tub reached a comfortable 104 degrees. The hours of naked soaking really cultivated a sense of group camaraderie. We were able to participate in cooperative activities such as hand-feeding each other, and exuberantly singing our unofficial anthem, Fancy. The hardest part of the whole trip was leaving the hot tub. Literally, exiting the hot tub after hours of drinking was a feat! Luckily I had my elbows, shins, and face to catch my fall.

[Sidenote: the mucky human sludge that resulted from forgetting to reinstall the clogged filters overnight made avoiding the hot tub Sunday morning much easier.]

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Spiffy’s restaurant. Their charming buffet included a salad bar, breakfast bar, and a dessert table. The congealed gravy and weirdly sticky sausage paired well with ranch dressing and lemon bars. Several cups of lukewarm coffee ensured our stomachs stayed in a moderately distressed state for hours after the fact.

Overall, Homo Hideaway was an enriching experience in sisterly solidarity and bonding. We left that gated community with our hearts full of love and our cars full of empty bottles, cans, and wine boxes. Our livers and that house may have suffered irreparable damage, but the blurry half-memories will warm our hearts longer than a tepid tub.

Angels on your body.

                -b (+ the Tranquil Women’s Crafting and Prayer Circle)

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Tips for a successful Pride weekend:

Start your weekend Friday night. Start at the Queer Lit Happy Hour. Ogle your favorite authors Eat complimentary snacks. When the host asks if you have enough drink tickets, look distraught because you don’t have any drink tickets. He’ll appreciate your honesty, and dutifully keep you supplied with a steady stream of vouchers. After several microbrews, you’ll decide to buy things. Don’t fight the impulse; there’s no way this could possibly be a terrible idea. When you can’t decide which book you want, buy them all. It’s payday! You’re drinking free beer! Why wouldn’t you spend that $57? This might be your only chance to get signed copies from Tom Spanbauer and Lidia Yuknavitch, patron saints of writing!

Around 7pm several things become apparent: you’re out of drink vouchers, the sun is shining, you have $57 of books to begin reading immediately, Boiler Room has $3 well drinks until 9pm. Drop your pen. Retrieve your pen. Ask strangers to sign your Lidia Yuknavitch books, since Lidia left before you mustered the courage to approach her for a signature. The strangers will happily comply because Pride, or maybe alcohol. Drop your pen. Retrieve your pen. Amble approximately one hundred miles south and east into familiar territory. Drop your pen. Retrieve your pen. When you get to Boiler Room, divvy up the books. Order a round of tequila sodas. Read in relative silence until a) the photo booth drives you to distraction or b) your brain can no longer process written words.

After 9pm cheap drinks become expensive drinks. Quiet bars become karaoke bars. At this point you’ll have a critical decision to make: CCs or Twerk? Debate the pros and cons of each while smoking a cigarette with several charming gay strangers. When they advocate for CCs, agree whole-heartedly. Pack up your things. Pack up your friends. Borrow Carly’s belt to cinch your books into a tidy bundle, circa early 19th century. Borrow Carly’s dollar to coat check said books so you can circle the sweaty, oddly heterosexual dance floor unencumbered. Drink enough PBR to meet the $5 credit card minimum. Cede that Steve and Patrick maybe didn’t know what they were talking about when they advocated for CCs. Exit stage right. Magically teleport to Twerk. Or, you know. Let someone drive you.

Arrive at Twerk at the exact time as the cops. Spot a familiar herd of unicorns milling about outside. Graciously accept their invitation to after party at their house. Load back into the Shleigh-mobile. Stop at Wendy’s. Stop at 711. Stop at Jack in the Box. Arrive at Chez Unicorn with thirty warm PBR, eight Jack in the Box tacos, ten clove cigars, and double vision.

Wake up some time, some place. Be grateful for blankets and pillows. Vaguely remember a wolf smoking cigarettes. Realize you’re in the equivalent of an adult crib: two couches pushed together face-to-face. Vaguely remember a lion and the galaxy. Be grateful you’re not alone. Struggle your way out of the couch crib. Locate phone, water, seven discarded taco wrappers. Vaguely remember Parks and Rec; elbows-out eating with gusto. The eighth taco wilts in a greasy puddle of regret. Ignore the temptation to eat it. Ignore the hot sauce under your fingernails. Ignore the fact that you’re a 25 year old waking up on an island of couches, somewhere in northeast Portland despite the fact that your car slept in northwest Portland.

Loll about with Carly until you remember parking in 2 Hour Pay-to-Park. You parked angrily and askew. You parked with every intention of driving home before sunrise. Don’t panic, there’s really nothing you can do about it now. You’re too sleepy and hungover for that shit. Locate the nearest bus stop. Camouflage the remaining 28 PBR in a paper grocery bag, covered with your $57 books. Loll about some more. Fold the blankets. Thank the unicorns with a drawing of Trogdor.

Approximately three blocks into your walk to the bus stop, remember taxis exist. Blatantly stare at the man in construction orange shambling towards you. Note the man in a business suit closing in behind you. Say “Fuck it all” and call a cab. Regret locking yourself out of Chez Unicorn when you left. Hunker down on the front steps. Split a warm PBR. Listen to Fancy until the very confused cab driver arrives to scoop you both up. Avoid the vomit residue splattered across the back of the passenger seat.

Declare an official Pride miracle when you pull up to an un-ticketed Carrrl, still parked angrily and askew in Two Hour Pay-to-Park. Praise lesbian jesus. Drive straight to brunch, all mussed and sweaty. Don’t worry, your friends only notice because they care. Order the bottomless mimosas, even though every time you say “I’ll never order bottomless mimosas again.” Drink determinedly until brunch ends at 2pm. Chew on Carly’s knee caps. Part ways with your pals. Pretend you’ll see them later.

Make your way back to Carly’s house. Accidentally nap for six hours. Wake up long enough to stumble three blocks for pizza and beer. Guiltily avoid texts from the friends you promised to meet. Briefly consider meeting them. Decide watching Game of Thrones in bed sounds much more appealing. Try to wrap your sleepy, beer-saturated brain around the approximate 2 million characters introduced during the first two episodes.

Wake up Sunday morning for work, still sweaty and mussed. Spend six hours picking up 100 lb. dogs. Regret your existence.

Eventually find yourself hiding from the weather beneath a Waterfront canopy, drinking overpriced red wine. It’s the time of day that the focus softens and expands. Violins and four-part harmony. Eyes like driving through wheat fields. Use the word stunning.  Hands like hands like hands. Mouths and skin and rain that won’t quit. This is what you’ll remember: the smile when she sees you seeing her. Later: tacos and Scrabble and finally sleep. But for now, breathing. For now, use the word community. Sink into the corners of yourself without feeling trite.

Happy Pride, you bunch of weirdos. I hope you all gayed to your heart’s content.


Wednesday, May 21, 2014

There are different names for the same thing.

The longer I exist as a human being, the more I comprehend there are concepts of love we never have the opportunity to express. There are feelings that exist with no words, at least in the English dictionary.

The concept of loving something dependent on our care.

Loving a friend with no romantic inclination.

There is a love I feel for novelty. The new experience, the people who fuel my desire to go deeper and faster without reservation. This will not take long. This love is transient in nature.

There are people who inspire you to kiss their forehead while they sleep even if they won’t look at you in the morning.

Or the love you feel for your family late at night when you are alone. Realizing shared experience bonds you in a way words never could. Because history runs thicker than family but not nearly as fast or far. We are scattered together in our cowardly heredity.

Loving someone casually. Is there a word for experiencing someone else’s Personhood in a way that starts to make sense? How do I express the comfort of familiar hands and shared cigarettes? There’s going to come a time I finally notice the light fixture is pink, and has it always been that way or does sunrise have that effect on perception? Leaving in the morning is harder than I expect.

Then there are the yellow birds, those brief and intense eternities. The people who live underneath your skin; whose heartbeats you feel from hundreds and thousands of miles away. When I dream of lakes they taste like your name.

When a friend asks me about love, I tell her May 2013. I was trying to be a new me; a person who slept at night, and didn’t dream about girls with longdark hair. I wanted to be someone who could move on, but I still slept in her bed. My last night in town, in a city that used to be ours, she had a nightmare. Her hands grasping at mine to escape some fresh hell. Or old hell, or the hell she’d never tell me about existing in a place beyond repair.

She was leaving. But nothing felt real or stable the way we expect things to feel real and stable when they’re the right things. That night in her bed she didn’t know how to say goodbye the way I didn’t know what to say the day I left that town and never looked back. Except I looked back.

Came back. For her, and for them, and for myself because I had no concept of myself outside of that space. And maybe that’s what home is: a concept of yourself that exists beyond you. People know your mother’s name, or the first job you had and hated. People in that place see your scarred lips. They know you never gave up kissing bombs.

But that night there was me, and her, and the idea of leaving. There were six months of distance and history pressing heavy into my bones. The night she walked home alone. The night she wore exhaustion like a badge of honor. We tried to be anybody but ourselves in her kitchen over free soup and crackers.

Here are the facts: she had a nightmare that woke me up. Pressed hard into me like an animal escaping its own skin, curled into my body like salvation. And I held her the way I’ll always hold her. Which is to say like a last breath. Or maybe nothing like that at all.

She didn’t remember it in the morning. But her chest against my chest, me pressing hard into the smell of her. I read once that pheromones are expressed through the scalp and her hair against my face felt like timelessness. That’s the closest I’ve come to salvation. Holding her for the last time, knowing it was the last time; the everything of me converged in the back of my throat demanding acknowledgement.

Months later I retell the story under the purple-orange glow of god and streetlights, feeling small in a way I didn’t know was possible. She doesn’t know what it meant I say. I say My favorite memory will never be remembered.

The longer I exist as a human being, the more I know no loves are the same. The rush I feel when I see your name flash across a screen is not the same as your hand tracing the constellation of my shoulders. There are heartbeats beneath my skin I can’t begin to comprehend. But I keep trying. I keep existing. And if there are words for many types of love, I hope mine resembles patience.   

Angels on your body.