31 December 2009


"oh my god!! do you realize what we're doing?!"
"dinner and a movie!"
*horrified faces*
"the world is going to implode"

the ticket sales guy seemed quite amused.

21 December 2009


brainstorming ways to celebrate Solstice with my Dad: "we could ask [the incredibly Baptist neighbor next door] if he wants to have a drum circle!"

there is no way Jesus was born in december, even that close to the equator. those poor [fictional] shepherds.
in case any of you still had any doubts about it, the Gospels are mythology, and the Nativity stories even moreso.
nobody was around when Jesus was born. they made up stories about what they thought should have happened because, as my Origins of Christianity prof put it, "all great men must have extraordinary births."
way to go early Christians for co-opting a pagan festival to convince the pagans that they were already practicing your religion anyway.

that said...
if people realized that every newborn child has the potential to change the world for the better, that every person who has ever been and will ever be born has a story to tell, that Jesus was just another man, albeit one who was charismatic enough to make people listen--maybe the world would be a better place, and maybe Christmas would serve as the reminder it should be.

17 December 2009

Things learned/confirmed in the first semester of grad school:

-Grown-ups only pretend to know what they're doing.
-Life is way more important than school.
-Things get done.
-Shit is pointless, but we do it anyway.
-Several things i don't want to do with my life.
-My family is actually pretty awesome.
-So are my friends.
-So are most people, if you give them the chance to be.
-I couldn't have gone anywhere else.

16 December 2009

Personal efficacy

i just overheard some boys in the hall talking about how they don't need to re-register to vote once they move because "we won't be voting again for another few years anyway." then one said, "unless you vote in local elections," and another laughed.

THIS is why city politicians can get away with proposing things like taxes on college tuition!!

12 December 2009

Lecture, revisited (or, Peer Education)

at the bar (paraphrased):

I learned in class this semester why I can't do shots. One of the classes I'm taking this term is called Dysphagia, which means swallowing disorders, so I get to spend a semester learning about swallowing (cool, huh?). There are a bunch of different stages of a swallow, the part you do in your mouth and the part in your throat and the part in between. So there are two main types of oral preparatory stages: the tipper swallow and the dipper swallow. Most people use a tipper swallow, where you hold whatever's in your mouth on top of your tongue and then push it straight back when you're ready to swallow. But 20% of normal healthy young people, and this number increases with age, do a dipper swallow, where you hold whatever it is under your tongue until you're ready to swallow, and then dip down with your tongue tip and move it back. And that's what I do! which i never knew before, because i never knew that such a thing existed. So it makes perfect sense that I can't do shots, because I hold the alcohol under my tongue before swallowing it, and that just doesn't work out. It's nothing I'm doing wrong, I'm just physiologically indisposed to taking shots. (or, if you prefer to think of it this way, i'm part of a perfectly healthy swallow-related minority.)

i told my professor the story of this mini-lecture after class this week, prefaced by, "Can I share something completely ridiculous with you?"

09 December 2009


the crazy security lady today told me she listens to talk radio, and has probably been doing so "since i was in vitro"

04 December 2009

Midnight adventures

"Someday, we're going to go on a normal date, and it's going to be the weirdest thing ever."
"What, you mean like, dinner and a movie?"

leaving at 11:00 because we just had to go somewhere
"my carbon footprint hates me"
getting in the car and choosing our own background music
getting lost, or not lost,
because it doesn't matter where you are
driving and driving and not knowing what was on fire
ending up in West Virginia
just to eat waffles
"i feel like i'm driving guitar hero"
on Rte 79
missing Pittsburgh entirely
because we ran out of gas
ending up in the middle of the woods in Beaver county
on the opposite side of lost
"you can't call me from the middle of the woods and ask me to google-maps you"
the dude in the bitchin car who caught up
after i opened up
and played a game or had a conversation
depending on your point-of-view
if i had a car like that, i would too
but what if i was just being a dick
and he was just trying to change lanes
and we were really just in each other's way?
either way,
we were there,
and we shared it,
and it woke me up
and opened my eyes
and let me know
that even in the middle of nowhere,
even when you have no reason to think you are,
you are not alone.

"What's the name of this one?"
"I don't know, the jewel case is in the glove compartment"
"Which one is it?"
"Track 12"

02 December 2009


Introversion may be fundamentally exhausting.

30 November 2009

the Internet is for distraction

i'm not interested in my homework. i have a major presentation to do tomorrow that i'm not anywhere near ready for, and a project due that is so stupid and irrelevant to my life that i must be in graduate school. i'm remembering something that someone else wrote about how most of the things you have to do to get into a profession--the specific situation there was acceptance to med school--are designed not because you need to know anything you are supposed to learn in the process, but to prove that you are willing to put up with whatever shit they throw at you, and sometimes, when you're lucky, to prove that you can think logically and independently. it's like that everywhere.

i realized this semester that there is a very simple secret to being a grown-up. all grown-ups ever do is pretend that they know what they're talking about. the trick is to find that thing you can pretend very well about, and spend a lot of time on it. the further i go, the more i realize that everybody does this.

the purpose of this post is really that it's the last day of november, and i want to post once more before the month ends. also it's been 4 days and i like to keep some semblance of an update schedule.

things i'd like to be posting:
-something about how it's been one year. i didn't even notice until most of the way through the 29th. i still miss you, but i've learned a whole lot this year. i still think it was an incredibly selfish decision, and even though i still get angry sometimes, i might be able to say i've forgiven you i understand. (not that that was what you wanted.)
-an open letter to somebody else's mother.
-anything creative.
-an update on personal issues that are only sort of related to me.

-something about family--my own, or the archetype.

-something about that time i had the option and decided i was too tired to build any more walls, that it was more worth taking the risk that somebody wouldn't reach back than the risk that i'd miss the chance to make that human connection.

26 November 2009


this seems appropriate for my 300th post. i've been wondering what it would be.

for a long time i've thought Thanksgiving was a stupid holiday, because i have a problem with the American habit of eating to excess and producing shockingly irresponsible amounts of waste. but it can be a powerful opportunity, if you take it, to sit down and really think about what you're thankful for.

i am so thankful for this life.
for the way things always seem to fall into place.
for the fact that i've never had to worry about having food in my stomach, a roof over my head, or medicine when i need it.
for a body that works the way i want it to.
for literacy.
for the chance to do things i believe are important.
for the best friends i've ever had in my life.
for a family who are so incredibly accepting, no matter what i throw at them.
and most of all, for tomorrow, and the chance for things to get even better.

23 November 2009

[the cynicizing of a poet]

this is the stuff you don't write about
because you want to believe it isn't happening
and to set words down would make it too real
and you don't want to admit you were even awake
at the hour those words hit the page
and suddenly i understand
that maybe the reason grown-ups don't write like i always have
isn't because they're too busy
but because the shit that used to seem too important to deal with
any other way

is now too important to deal with
this way.

21 November 2009


"boyfriend" feels easier every time i use it.

17 November 2009

why i will eventually become a radiologic technician instead

gender is so embedded in our culture that we don't even know what to do with the idea that it could be unimportant.

watching 2 videos in class on teaching personal pronouns to kids with autism, especially the difference between "he" and "she," starting with "Is it a boy or a girl?"
...why is this so important to treat in our children? why does it matter if the figure on a card is "a boy or a girl," and who are you to make that judgment? what is that child supposed to do if they see a person and they've learned to ask "Is that a boy or a girl?" but they don't know? (and why am i of all people stuck working in a language that has no third option, which facilitates a culture that all but forbids a third option?)

the [androgynous] Taiwanese woman in the front of the room explains how second-language learners [can] have trouble with English pronouns because there are no gendered pronouns or verb conjugations in Chinese....the professor asks how you know from context if you're talking about a male or a female, and then doesn't understand when the student explains that it doesn't matter unless it's of particular interest, in which case you ask...."the important thing for me is that the person is washing the car"....the girl next to me whispers, "that's crazy," and all i can think to respond is, "why?"

...i get so distracted by gender theory that i can't concentrate on what i'm supposed to be learning...

13 November 2009

DC sniper execution

At 9:00 PM on Tuesday, November 10, the state of Virginia executed John Allen Muhammad, who was convicted in connection with the "Beltway sniper" killings of late 2002. this is something i have rather mixed feelings about, and i feel it deserves my written attention.

first, let me state: I unequivocally oppose the death penalty.
i don't believe it is any human being's right to choose that another human being should die, even if the human being in question has caused the deaths of others. i also know that the death penalty doesn't deter crime, and it costs taxpayers more than does sustaining a prisoner for the rest of his/her natural life.

that said, i was a resident of the DC area when all of this was going on. i attended high school 5 minutes across the Maryland border, and the sniper shootings took place early in my sophomore year. i approached it much the same way i approach anything that makes a large group of people very nervous: i laughed at it. while my mother was ducking and weaving through parking lots, i told her it was the most ridiculous thing i'd ever seen, because even when more than half a dozen people had been shot, there were still hundreds of thousands in the area and the chances that any given person would become a target were, although unpredictable, pretty slim.

then a 13-year-old kid at the middle school in my neighborhood got shot. on the front steps of his school.

the kid survived, and i heard he's an asshole now. regardless. you don't just go around shooting kids on their way into school in the morning. a person might have to be completely soulless to find that not utterly reprehensible. schools across the area cancelled extracurricular activities and kept their blinds closed--not just annoying, but also pretty damn scary.

Muhammad maintained his innocence until his last breath, giving no final statement and never any admission of guilt or remorse. if the accusations against him were correct, he brainwashed a teenager named Lee Boyd Malvo into joining him on a rampage that terrorized the residents of (at least) three jurisdictions for three weeks. he was tried in Virginia because that state has a reputation for executing convicted murderers. he was also sentenced to six life terms in Maryland, and is suspected in murders in states as far flung as Alabama and Arizona. not only did he end the lives of 10 people, but his manipulation of Malvo irreversibly changed the life of a young person in an indescribably negative way.

the governor of Virginia refused Muhammad's bid for clemency, which is not out of character for him. i don't really have strong feelings about that, but i wonder if i should. yes, he had the opportunity to prevent the death of another person and didn't take it. but i also think public officials should put the wishes of their constituents before their personal views. this is tricky, and i remember arguing about it in high school religion classes. if your constituents are religious conservatives and you are elected on the basis of your conservative religious views, then to vote accordingly is all well and good. if you run on a platform of strict adherence to any given constitution, then your religious beliefs should have nothing to do with your political actions. if you're a Catholic, like Governor Kaine, and you are personally opposed to the death penalty but the judicial system of your jurisdiction sentences convicted criminals to death, you should probably work through legislative means to change that practice, or allow it as the will of the people.

i lean toward the former. killing a violent criminal serves no purpose other than to affirm that killing is acceptable--which, ironically, is the very point we attempt to disprove in the act. i have never been one to support the status quo simply because it is the status quo, so maybe, instead of saying "this is the way it has always been," we should recognize that there are other, and dare i say better, ways of addressing violent crime. Muhammad killed no one else during his seven years in prison; thus, his execution was redundant as a means of protecting the public.

i won't make the argument that everyone deserves a second chance. i don't know that everyone does. but even if a convicted criminal doesn't choose to approach a life sentence as a second chance, never reforms, never shows any signs of remorse, at least the rest of us won't have the death of another human being on our conscience.

10 November 2009

Letter to the Mayor

To: askpgh@city.pittsburgh.pa.us

Office of Mayor Luke Ravenstahl

City of Pittsburgh
City-County Building - Fifth Floor
414 Grant Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15219

November 10, 2009

Dear Mayor Ravenstahl:

As a university student and registered voter, I feel a responsibility to express my disapproval of your proposed tax on college tuition.

For years, Pittsburghers have expressed concern that young people do not remain in the city after graduating from college. We have envisioned young voters as disillusioned and uninvolved. At the same time, we have stressed the importance of higher education to the stability of our city's economy and attempted to make Pittsburgh more attractive to recent graduates. Obviously, Pittsburgh's universities--and therefore its students--are very important to the city.

Instituting a tax on tuition would completely negate any competitive edge Pittsburgh may have with prospective college students. The idea of having to pay even more for the "privilege" of paying tens of thousands of dollars to obtain a meaningful education will drive qualified, motivated students to other cities. This decision is unprecedented in any other jurisdiction.

Additionally, taxing college students, many of whom already struggle to pay their tuition and fees in attempts to make themselves employable in an uncertain economy, will only serve to further alienate you and your administration from young voters. Recent college graduates will become even less likely to remain in a city they believe is not concerned with their interests. If any of them do remain in the city four years from now, they will certainly vote against the incumbent mayor who proposed such insensitive legislation.

Mr. Ravenstahl, had you exercised any measure of fiscal responsibility in your prior term, perhaps you would have already begun to repair the monetary problems Pittsburgh is facing instead of contributing to them. There is no reason a trash can should ever cost over $1000, especially to increase visibility of your name in neighborhoods that already had public waste receptacles.

Thank you for your time.

09 November 2009

a conversation, part 4

"is this it?" she asked me, hands on her hips. she stared off into the distance; what was there, i may never know.

"of course not," i answered. "this is never it."

"then what is it?"

"something else."

"that's a cop-out answer," she protested, after a moment. i couldn't tell if she was pretending to be frustrated. she may just have been tired.

it started to rain. a drop here, a drop there at first. then everything opened up. we raced back to the car, but neither of us won. we hadn't even gone that far, and we were soaked.

"ugh, my feet are filthy," she griped. her toes were caked with the gray from the gravel's bed, her flip-flops more of a hazard than an impediment to injury. my sneakers were wet, and dirty from a couple years of more-or-less constant use, but i had escaped that fate.

she wrung out her hair. "so what do we do now?"

i watched the rain run in rivulets down the windshield. "i don't really feel like going anywhere, do you?"

"i've got nowhere else to be."

"that's not an answer to the question i asked."

"no." i couldn't tell if she was merely agreeing with my statement, or saying she didn't want to move. i decided to let inertia do its work.

"then what do we do?" her voice startled me.

"i don't know. whatever."

another sigh. "it's like getting caught with the wrong shoes."


"it's like when you're out somewhere, and you get caught with the wrong pair of shoes. you can't do anything about it, or it wouldn't make sense anyway, so you just keep doing what you're doing. even if your feet are wet, or your toes hurt, or you look completely out of place."

"are you saying we're like a fashion mistake?"

"no, but i'm saying we're not above making one."


"usually, you fit me like an old pair of shoes, the ones you wear every day. but sometimes, you need to dress up a little. it's not throwing away your old shoes, it's just wearing another pair . . ."

"this metaphor is quickly becoming useless. it could mean too many things."

"i'm sorry." a breath. "i just think, we don't always know what to do with each other, y'know? we usually do, but sometimes we don't. it happens to everybody; it doesn't mean anything."

"everything means something."

"but it doesn't have to." she put her feet on the dash. "sometimes, things just are."

my pause was cold. it's a truth about reality that i don't like, so i resist admitting it. "so what are you saying we should do about it?"

"i haven't said anything, yet," she pointed out. "i think we either need to work harder, finish figuring things out, or learn to forgive each other for not being perfect. probably both."

"i think we need to forgive ourselves, more than each other," i offered, hesitantly, knowing my own medicine is the most bitter.

"either way," she said, "we have a lot of learning to do."

i turned the key in the ignition. "that," i said, "sounds like the essence of every problem. milkshakes?"

"sure," she answered, and put her feet back on the floor. we drove back the way we'd come.

07 November 2009

rant, abridged

it's amazing what being employed by a university can do to your willingness to say things on the internet. i'm so fucking pissed right now i don't even know what to write.
this game is getting really old.

04 November 2009

fun question of the day:

"are you still with your girlfriend?"

02 November 2009

realization & question:

yup. it's november.

how is it that one part of this semester seems to be moving so fast while another seems to be moving SO SLOW?

29 October 2009

a conversation, part 3

i pulled over a couple lanes to the right. there was no one in front of me anymore, and i didn't want to look like i was trying to get there. it just seemed like bad form, to stay in the left lane unnecessarily.

she turned on the radio, and i almost immediately reached over to switch it off. there's no escaping car conversation. she made no protest, and went back to staring out the window.

"you know ignoring it's not going to make it go away," i said, more calmly than i meant.

"there's nothing there."

it took a moment. her words struck me in the heart, and the impact radiated out to my fingertips and knees. "that can mean a lot of things."

she had only been thinking of one. she turned suddenly, and i could hear the wideness of her eyes. "oh! oh, no, i--i didn't mean . . ."

"i know."

we drove, and we drove, and we sat and we thought and we spoke, more than really talking. time ceased to exist; it was just us and the road and the moving. it didn't matter where we were going, which was good since we weren't going anywhere at all.

at the end of the road, we got out, shut our doors, and walked slowly forward.

26 October 2009

mirror image

i did get to see the girl in my parents' bathroom mirror last weekend. she looked different, for the first time i can remember. she looked....grown up, in a way. and maybe it was the context; maybe it was who else was in the mirror. she looked like the woman i always wanted to grow up to become.

23 October 2009

Mole Day

a year ago i was having a beautifully awkward conversation on the Cathedral lawn and dancing on tables during Rent.
this morning i woke up next to a person i love more than i knew i could.
that's certainly something, isn't it?

21 October 2009


i love how last night, we couldn't let it slide, and although my slip was completely natural and i did it without thinking, i couldn't continue until it was acknowledged, but i couldn't acknowledge it either. so thank you for saying something and making it comical enough that we could move on. sorry for stalling the conversation. thank you for giving me the opportunity to start that sentence again when i didn't know i needed it.

20 October 2009


so my girlfriend is [becoming] a boy.

nobody's really all that surprised.

i'm getting used to the new name, i'm even doing ok with "he" (although i still hate gendered pronouns more than just about anything on the planet), but in light of this, please forgive me if i have a hard time with the word "boyfriend."

quote of the day on sunday, while walking from the car into the airport:
"your family is amazing."

such a good weekend.

18 October 2009

a conversation, part 2

i flicked on the blinker and changed lanes. i was passing everyone, but at least i was being consistent.

"i'm not what you wanted, am i?" i said slowly, passing a grandma in a red Geo Prizm.

she leaned on her elbow on the doorframe and raked the fingers of her right hand into her hair. she let out a sigh that didn't shudder as much as i might have hoped.

"what are you talking about?" she asked the window, in a voice smaller than i thought her body would allow. "you're perfect."

"do everyone a favor," i began, gripping the wheel briefly as if it could capture my frustration, "and never saddle anyone with that responsbility."

"it's not a responsibility," she protested. "you don't even try."

"i try really. fucking. hard." i could have measured my words with calipers they were so precise. "i try so hard to be nothing less for you."

"congratufuckinlations," she offered, impassive.

there was a pause.

"consider your efforts successful."

"i'm not anything more or less than i am," i tried, grimacing at the tautology. "no matter what i try to be, i'm only human. so is everyone else."

"you really believe that?" it was a sore subject, born of too many nights of too much pot and too little sleep. your philosophy at sunrise is inevitably different from your philosophy at dusk. i gritted my teeth.

"i believe it enough. Occam's Razor and all that."

"very well. anyway, regardless. you are what i wanted, whether i knew it or not. i think."

"am i what you want now?"

"yes." she said it too quickly and too loudly to be sincere. people only talk that way when they are trying to convince themselves of something. she heard my thoughts: " . . . i don't know."

another pause. "what did you mean, whether you knew it or not?"

she took a deep breath, "i just . . ." released it, drew another one. "i see parts of you that match up with parts of me that i didn't know were there. it's like we're every possible set of people; we interact in almost every possible way. you fill expectations i didn't realize i had, or that i gave up on, and a lot of them you fill in ways i didn't think anyone could." then a change, tired: "see? perfect."

"so i'm not what you thought you wanted. techni--"

"no. but that doesn't matter." with no hesitation, in an even tone.
tell her you love her, and it will all be okay. "didn't you ever get that christmas present you wouldn't have thought to ask for, and then couldn't live without?"

we drove past a white cadillac, the newer kind that tries not to look like a cadillac. an older man and his (older) wife were inside, not talking to each other.

a blue mustang with a single driver whizzed by in the carpool lane and cut me off. i honked apathetically once, glad for the distraction but unconcerned. it didn't mean my heart wasn't racing.

i spoke her name over the steering wheel, trailed off, and shook my head. she decided not to notice.

16 October 2009

a conversation, part 1

i've been wanting to post pieces of this for a while. written sometime in july.

i'd never been the driver of a car during a conversation like that. i was accustomed to being the passenger; it was rare enough that i drove at all.

it was distracting, but not so much that i was driving unsafely. after a while, even your conscious mind goes on autopilot. you know, when you're driving, if you've been doing it for long enough, where all the cars around you are and how long you have to stop if you need to. how fast you're going. whether your speed is steady. you start to see without looking. you don't have to concentrate on any given part of the landscape, or make your eyes focus.

she was silent for a long time. she stared out the window, drumming her fingernails on the plastic of the doorframe. the part just behind the handle she always grasps when i take a corner, whether it's too fast or not.

the thing about talking in cars is, you always have a captive audience. no matter how often, anybody jokes about it, they're never going to open the door, tuck and roll. my mother used to talk to me about sex and drugs in the car. i'll probably do it to my own kids too, even though i hated it then. we both knew it was coming, so it was just a question of which of us would break the silence first.

she opened her mouth and there was a sharp intake of breath, like she was preparing to say something, but it turned out she was just gasping at the idea of language, like a fish taking its first breath of air. it knows there's something to be done with this strange substance, but it's not sure if it can do it. the idea generally dies.

"yes?" i opened.

"hm? nothing," she replied, casually looking out the window, drumming. she was a great actor. or, we both thought she was.

i sighed and flipped down the sun visor. driving west at sunset, nobody is ever tall enough.

another minute passed. "you know . . ." i started, and my voice caught in my throat. she turned.

"we can't keep doing this." she spoke my thoughts.

this happened quite frequently. it was part of why conversations like this were so hard; we were so in tune, and we thought so often so much the same, that for us to struggle to understand each other was unfathomable.

i exhaled. "you're right," i said to her.

"i know i'm right." she was looking out the window again.

i don't know what it is people think they can avoid by looking away, even in cars. even if you're not looking at each other, the words are still going to hang there, like stars on the thin wire of a mobile, sparkling between you and strangling you if you neglect to pay attention.

10 October 2009

words i'm thinking about

caring for
taking care of

13 always seems like a good number to me.

06 October 2009

on allies

i had a great ally experience this morning:

in class, we were talking about, of all things, evidence-based practice and evaluating research articles. we got to a point about different types of categories for data: nominal, ordered nominal, and dichotomous. in giving an example of each type, my professor said, "dichotomous--you're either male or female. well, what do you do with someone who's had a gender reassignment?" there were some nervous giggles (my class is full of girls and i'm the only one who even has short hair), and we went on, because this is actually something that people in my profession deal with, but it wasn't the focus of the lecture. it did, however, brilliantly prove the point: even those categories in research we think are dichotomous may not be.

coming off a talk last week which stressed the value of straight allies in a way i'm not accustomed to hearing out loud, i thanked her after class. it was nowhere near as big a deal to her as it was to me.

04 October 2009

sonnet 74

if everybody in the balcony
is texting, reading, doing sudoku,
what is this program meant to do for me?
it might have been intended more for you:
the folks on stage who speak in microphones
and want to think they make some difference.
each of us hundreds sitting here alone
might, if we paid attention, make some sense
of all the things you try to make us learn.
the front row only might have heads all raised,
in hopes that their attentiveness might earn,
from some adjacent dean, redundant praise.
oh, colleague turns to colleague, smugly grins--
the letters you have earned by ego's sins!


02 October 2009

found - article


this literally made me laugh and cry.

29 September 2009


i want
whatever that means.
there is no third person.

26 September 2009

i spoke too soon!

i feel like it would be a waste of bandwidth to write another lengthy post about this, but last night's clash between protestors and police was possibly even worse than thursday's. over 100 people were arrested, many of whom were just there to see what was going on. police outnumbered the peacefully gathered people they decided were in a public park unlawfully. university dormitories were tear gassed, and the intentionality of that doesn't matter. students were told to "go home," but then the entrances to dorms were blocked. riot police chased students into the lobbies of their dorms, accusing them of not dispersing when the ones in the lobbies were (i think obviously) trying to do just that.

THIS IS HAPPENING IN AMERICA. the mainstream media is nowhere: any reports that mention it are brief and incomplete (c.f. the New York Times). even local pittsburgh media were not at the scene. police are endangering, not protecting, American citizens, and American citizens don't get to hear about it.

you should all read what my friend Alex wrote about this. he's more articulate than i am when he's pissed off. (also, it's his birthday today!)

EDIT: immediately after i posted this, commentary from the ACLU was brought to my attention.

25 September 2009

What the G20 Really Did for Pittsburgh

When the government geniuses who plan these things announced a few months ago that the present G20 summit would be held in Pittsburgh, PA, they created a buzz about all the benefits this would bring to our city. Foreign dignitaries and media representatives from all over the world. International attention on our remarkably stable economy and success in the realms of education, medicine, and technology. Perks for local business-owners who would be serving the delegations and media reps. And, perhaps most importantly, a re-imaging from a dead steel town to a thriving, green metropolis.

Then came the months of planning, or, as far as most of us were concerned, months of waiting. Details of what roads would be closed, what transit routes rearranged, what classes would be cancelled didn't come until this week for most of us. It seems the best security plan local, state, and federal officials could come up with was, "Don't let the people know what's going on until the very last minute." And yet, they kept telling us, "Be prepared." How can we be prepared if we don't know what we're preparing for?

Then came the police. On Wednesday, the day before all these supposed dignitaries and media personnel were to arrive, security forces from god-only-knows how many different levels and jurisdictions swarmed the city. They were wandering around Pitt's campus, I guess trying to get a feel for the layout, looking like they were waiting for something. Three lanes of Fifth Avenue, a main road through Oakland, were closed for two blocks, full of buses waiting to transport police and other officials. Police cars and motorcycles were everywhere, going through any intersection they felt like because they had sirens and obviously needed to be somewhere more urgently than the rest of us.

Thursday morning, I went to class at 8:00. Campus was dead. I saw more police than students. A bus stop that's usually full of people was completely empty. For three days there have been firefighters sitting in lawn chairs in front of their trucks on sidestreets, just waiting for something to happen. I haven't been Downtown, but from what I heard and saw, most businesses were closed and boarded up. Employees couldn't get to work anyway, because of secured zones and mass transit disruptions. All the regular people of Pittsburgh closed up shop and stayed home, or left town completely.

One of the most powerful images I've seen from this week was a picture of a shop window Downtown, boarded up with a plank that read, in black spraypaint, "PLEASE DON'T SMASH OUR WINDOW. WE CAN'T AFFORD IT." If that doesn't speak to the true nature of Pittsburgh's economic and social situation, I don't know what does.

I went to visit a friend on Thursday night who lives at a corner where a security checkpoint was set up to enter Schenley Park, where the Obamas were hosting a dinner at Phipps Conservatory for the dignitaries and their spouses (and no, i won't say "wives" like every goddamn news source). It looked like trying to navigate a war zone: there were concrete barriers and ten-foot-high fences set up across the entire road, police and military personnel milling around for blocks. We sat on the porch and I couldn't tell if we were on the right side.

Then there were the riots. I'm not interested in the illegal march from Lawrenceville to Downtown that got broken up Thursday afternoon, but the situation in Oakland on Thursday night was absolutely ridiculous. From what I've been able to gather--keep in mind, I was stuck on the other side of Oakland last night when this broke out--it started with a small group of protestors gathering peacefully near Schenley Park. Since this was happening on a college campus, it drew out the college students, who naturally wanted to see what was going on. There were only about 300 protestors, but they were joined by about 1000 student spectators. Then the police decided there were too many people and started trying to break them up. Most of the kids who got into bad situations last night seem to have been innocent bystanders.

Riot police trying to "disperse" the crowds trapped a group of students in an outdoor stairwell, didn't let them move up or down, and threw tear gas at them. They were pleading to be let out, with one girl repeatedly yelling, "Please, I'm bleeding." They threw tear gas into a group of students watching from the balcony of their own dorm building. They told students to disperse and return home, then locked them out of their dorms.

Friday afternoon, there were riot police stationed on every corner of Forbes Avenue on campus. I've felt like I'm living in 1984 for the last three days, like I might be asked for my papers at any moment, like if I look at anyone the wrong way, rats will eat my face.

So what has the G20 really brought to Pittsburgh? Insecurity. Police brutality. Economic hardship for local business owners who must repair their broken windows after not being able to make any money for days. Frustration for residents who can't get where they're going or do what they'd normally do. Disruption to the lives and educations of countless children for whom school has been cancelled. Fear and distrust of police and military personnel. And all that international attention? It's not focused on the economic stability or the green development of Pittsburgh. All they see are boarded-up shops, deserted streets, and violence.

This is not the city I live in and love. This is a city under martial law, a police state. This is more like a war zone than a college campus. I'm sick of hearing the sirens. I'm sick of the helicopters that won't stop hovering--I'm used to helicopters, I live within walking distance of four hospitals, and these unsettle me. I'm sick of the city buses full of men with riot gear and weapons. I'm sick of feeling like I need to check the news to know that it's safe to walk outside and visit my friends. This is the United States of America, where we are told that we have the greatest freedoms of any nation on the planet. And yet, I don't even feel free to leave my apartment. I want my peaceful city back, and I want widespread admission of the reality we've created.

For some incredible photos of what it's really like to be in Pittsburgh this week, see here and here.

24 September 2009


i had every intention today of going to the gym, getting on a treadmill, and running until i had thought through pretty much everything (or the machine cut me off, whichever came first). so i tried this, once i got going, and after a few seconds of what should i think about? and the incomprehensible drivel that inevitably follows, i wound up in a rhythmic mental repetition of, my thoughts need to
S l o w
D o w n .

and so i realized: the great thing about running is, you can't think. you can't think about anything but your body: what you're doing, how you're feeling, how to keep feeling that way or change it. (perhaps this is inappropriately placed in the global second-person.) there's something reassuring about that, being forced to put one's body--and, depending on your perception, one's self--before anything else.

if i'm here in this human shell and it enables all the other things that i do, i ought to pay attention to it once in a while.

23 September 2009

stream-of-consciousness xv

so here i am with an hour or so to kill, because i woke up way earlier than i needed to, and i shouldn't go back to bed, i've already had coffee, but i don't want to read my homework. nor am i awake enough to do so yet. i'm sure there's something that needs writing--i can think of at least one thing for school, but none of that interests me. personal life is infinitely more interesting right now.

i'm dreading the G20. i just want everyone to go home. any sane resident of Pittsburgh knows that despite whatever "international attention" this may bring to the city, it's just going to be a pain in the ass for the normal people who actually live here and are just trying to go about their lives. i'm sorry, but i can't get behind the protestors because i don't believe they are going to accomplish anything except creating a huge headache for as many people as possible. that said, i also can't get behind the conference, because i don't believe it will accomplish anything either. dinner at Phipps Conservatory? yes, let's get together "important" people from all over the world and show them a bunch of pretty plants that DON'T GROW NATURALLY IN THE U.S.

maybe i'm just cranky because i'm awake.

anyway, i'm done with all non-apartment related obligations at 11:00 AM on thursday, and i've been saying only somewhat jokingly that my plan is to lock myself in. i'm sure i'll get out at least a little bit thursday and friday....i haven't decided why or how yet.

i really need groceries. i ran out of bread. that's when you know the situation is really dire. and really, it's just that i haven't had time to go to the store.
i did pick up a loaf of bread, but nothing else.

how much ethernet cable do i have, anyway? i want to move over there....

the answer is, more than enough.

and of course, none of this is the "infinitely more interesting" stuff i want to be writing about. but that's all been written in more appropriate places for the one person who needs to read it.

i can't wait until i have wednesdays off like i'm supposed to. it hasn't happened yet. graduate school, so far, appears to be an exercise in "go where they tell you to go when they tell you to go there. no questions, no complaints." there are parts of town i'd rather be headed into this morning.

i suppose i shouldn't say "that's all been written," because i'm sure there's more to it. there will always be more to it. but for now, nothing seems urgent to communicate, or to purge from my brain via pen. that happens sometimes....i can't count the number of times i've had to Write, my pen almost unable to keep up with the words flowing through it, until everything was completely exhausted--and inevitably, the last thing that comes is something i needed to get to, something i hadn't realized was so important. it's therapeutic. it really is. and i think that's what i mean when i call myself a writer. i need to do it. i would lose my mind if i didn't.

maybe that's the way we know how to label ourselves. what about you would cause you to lose your mind if you didn't have it?

17 September 2009

closing a book

it's funny when we are reminded that laughing and crying are pretty much the same thing. when you're far enough into either one, even you can't tell the difference. both are natural bodily responses to being completely emotionally overwhelmed. both can strike you when you least expect them, and at times that may seem completely inappropriate to anyone else--and even yourself. and each is incredibly necessarily once in a while.

of all people, i want to talk to the girl in my parents' bathroom mirror.

11 September 2009

magnetic poetry 10, 11

it's been well over a year since the last installment of this. how odd!

why would tuna

if together grow
my whole philosophy is
as it were shining

look at her
our almost loudful love
you delicious thing

09 September 2009

reflections on recent mental wandering

Human beings have royally fucked up life on this planet.
we can barely treat each other well, let alone every other living thing we have to share our environment with. Earth would get along perfectly well without us, and in fact, maybe it should. every major religion, and every minor one that i know of, has a flood story: humans get too numerous and too stupid for our own good, not to mention the good of everything else, and something comes along to wipe us out. except now we've gotten to the point where we even fuck up dying off: a vaccine for the swine flu? maybe that was the next thing that was supposed to come along and kill off a large number of us, but we're just too stubborn to admit that maybe we don't know best.

that said, i still believe that the world is a beautiful place, and human beings can be such a beautiful part of it. there is so much good that has come out of human creation, and i think it's so cool that humans can think and feel and do all the things we do. being born human is an incredible opportunity. but so many people have gotten careless, and they waste it, and that in turn wastes everything else. if we could only remember how to live with our world instead of in it....

04 September 2009

a few thoughts:

i think i'm aware of pretty much every muscle in my body right now. and they all feel awesome.

i find it hilariously funny when straight boys trying to pick me up--even when they see me with her--just don't get it.

grad school is going to be way different from anything else that's ever happened to me. i hope i'm ready.

31 August 2009

washing dishes

any time a group of [unrelated] people live together, washing the dishes eventually becomes a point of contention. i'm not sure why this is the case, but it has happened to every set of roommates i've known, including the ones of which i've been a part. nobody wants to wash anybody else's dishes, and most people don't even want to wash their own. at the same time, nobody wants a sink full of dirty dishes, and people get really upset if they pull a dirty dish out of the cupboard.

doing the dishes is actually one of my more favorite household chores (laundry being the other), but i'm not going to do it for just anyone. there's something about taking care of one's own belongings, and even moreso taking care of one's own place, that just makes certain tasks less despicable. (the word stewardship has been bouncing around in my brain a lot over the past few months; i think that it may apply here and that it merits more thought.) i'm finding now that i live on my own that washing the dishes is an even greater pleasure, because i know that everything in the sink is mine, and i'm responsible for it. furthermore, pulling dirty dishes out of the cupboard doesn't piss me off as much (or happen as frequently, by my standards) either, because i know that if something isn't the way i want it to be, i was responsible for that too.

maybe it's just taking pride in one's own responsibility, and the frustration that arises when one either has one's responsibility taken from them, or has another's responsibility effectively forced onto them.

there have been times when i have literally gotten into screaming, yelling fights over the state of the dishes. i have friends who've taken more passive-aggressive routes, washing only their own dishes, or ceasing to cook anything at home when the sink gets full. (one even packed the dirty dishes his roommate had promised to clean into a box shortly before they moved into a new apartment together--that didn't end well.) those who are "quiet" about it never fail to complain to everyone who visits the kitchen when the roommate isn't there.

maybe it foreshadows that i will eventually be doomed to a life of domesticity, but there have also been times when washing the dishes has dropped me unexpectedly into an almost absurd state of contentment. all of these have centered around peaceful dishes-washing relationships--much harder to come by than hostile perpetually-full-sink roommate situations. i have stood alone in the kitchen washing dishes after someone else cooked a meal that we shared, and been profoundly happy. drying the dishes as someone else cleans them, and being the person to put everything in its right place--perhaps for the first time--has meant more to me than i can condense into a sentence this week. what is it that makes us want to care for that which does not belong to us?

...this is not as simple a subject as i intially imagined it to be.

24 August 2009

random image for the day:

a woman with moderately poofy hair standing outside shadyside hospital, wearing a hospital gown, pushing the IV pole she was hooked up to, and smoking a cigarette.


the interesting part about the solitude i practiced yesterday was the unexpected connections to other people. a letter. a phone call. i didn't expect these simple things to make me as happy as they did, or to be as unobtrusive as they were. and maybe they won't be always, and maybe it depends on which people they came from, but it's worth reflection.

21 August 2009

found - Asperger's in relationships

The Missing Piece
by Richard Howlin in Psychotherapy Networker magazine

...there's some interesting stuff in this one.

19 August 2009


in chat with steph:

[15:47] me: i want a cucumber.
[15:47] me: it's been a long time since i've eaten cucumber.
[15:47] me: that's such a funny word
[15:47] me: cucumber
[15:47] me: cucumber!
[15:47] me: heheh
[15:47] me: cucumber.

17 August 2009


hey, hey, remember all those muscles that felt really good yesterday?
they are totally killing me today.
let's go do it again.

16 August 2009


everything only ever happens very quickly.

12 August 2009

should vs. is

things i should be doing:
-washing the dishes
-finishing the packet of "How to Live Here"
-de-cluttering my desk and tables
-reading, something, i'm sure
-planning a schedule
-walking the building and paying attention to what's in it
-writing at least one letter
-balancing my checkbook

things i am doing:
-catching up on texts from last night, because i no longer have work to read it at
-browsing iGoogle homepage themes
-drinking coffee in the evening (following a nap, of course)
-downloading interesting fonts
-trying to see how long i can go without taking more cold medicine
-writing a vapid list instead of a real blog post

08 August 2009

Updates, or something

so it's the saturday after the week after (most) classes ended for the summer, and it's my last day of work at the library, and there is virtually nobody here except the occasional grad student returning their books, and i feel like i should be writing something. i like to keep my blog posts to short, snippy, interesting-for-their-vaguery-or-their-conciseness bits, but what i really want to write is a long, drawn-out, self-indulgent-blogger Update On Things That Have Been Happening To Me. in short, a livejournal entry ;)

that said, i'm struck by concerns that "i passed out in the shower this morning. it's ok, she caught me" is not internet-appropriate.

we've been learning a lot these last few weeks. i've been learning a lot, i mean. i'm sure multiple people have been as well. it's the sort of learning that is hard to write about, learning about what family means and how the universe works and why people are the way they are. i'm still trying to figure that one out, actually.

i'm wearing my cock boxers! it's gonna be a good day.

i went to a rave a few weeks ago. it was an amazing experience. so much of the world opened up to me. people were free to be and do whatever they are and do, and it's so totally relaxing. it's a relief, really, to not have to worry about putting on a front of any kind, and just Be Yourself. do whatever you are meant to do, whatever makes you comfortable. the atmosphere of unconditional love and respect is a brilliant lesson in What Life Could Be. (i just read the tao of pooh again and i am all about Unexpected Capitalization.)

there's a lot of time happening between these paragraphs. i'm distracted. i'm chatting with steph in another window, and we have always been the best at bouncing ideas off each other. sometimes we are the voice for each other's ideas, as she put it recently.

then there was her 21st birthday, which was just as much of a shitshow as i expected it to be.....i don't know what i'd do without her roommates; that would have been a good deal messier than it was. and i feel bad about some of the things that happened, and my role in contributing to them, but at the same time, god was that walk funny.

i'm having a hard time believing that it's almost halfway through august already, as far as the time i have left to do stupid things without it impacting my real life. this summer has been a much-needed break, and i hope i'll be ready to think seriously again when school starts up. then again, i'm not entirely sure what "thinking seriously" will entail anymore. it might be different now.

04 August 2009

on saturation

it's strange to find our limits.
but it's good to recognize that humans have them.
we are finite beings.

02 August 2009

on family

"she's my mom."
"that's your mom?"
"well, not my real mom, but she teaches me a lot."

hippy-dippy thought for the day:

water should never be sold. who was it who decided you could own water? this may be the stupidest idea ever. it's water. everybody needs it, and nobody can live without it. how can you own that? you'd never sell "bottled air"....

that said, there should be a mechanism to make water clean and safe to drink. and there are many, and those do have to be owned by someone. but you shouldn't have to pay to get clean water, at least not in the way that we currently do. there should never be anyone who "can't afford" water. it should be a tax: your taxes pay for the water company, and everybody can get water. like school, or roads, or other public goods that are less important.

31 July 2009

last post for july

the most politically-correct definition i can give of myself:
i am a female-bodied person who presents in untraditionally feminine ways and is attracted primarily to other female-bodied people, of various genders.

29 July 2009

my view

just in time for it to set, the sun finally came out, after hiding behind positively vengeful gray and wet all day. and the angle of the light and the patience of the trees and the low, racing clouds are nothing
to the shadow of the flag against the roof of the carnegie music hall.
perfectly centered and slow-dancing

26 July 2009

a note more justly scribbled

a lot of my words lately have been happening in real life. spoken or signed. or thought and trapped there.

i came to the realization recently that my inner life has its own merit, and not every thought needs to be written down. it seems counterintuitive to even type this. mostly i'm trying to excuse my written absence over the past few days, and the fact that i still have nothing to write here.

a lot has been going on. very little of it has even been penned. i fear the eventual loss of my memory.

i could very happily start every day the way i started this one.

22 July 2009

about time

i just read something i wrote to someone else at the beginning of my sophomore year [of college], right after a bad breakup. and i am horrified....at who i was, or maybe just at how little i knew. it would be easy enough to write it off as "i still had a lot to learn, and i wasn't familiar enough with myself to be mature in my interactions with other people"--but that was only almost three years ago. yes, i've changed a lot in the last three years (some parts several times over), but i can't have changed that much. ...right?

i'm young yet. how much am i going to learn in the next three years? how appalled am i going to be when i look back on the things i'm writing and saying now? with how much regret/sadness/nostalgia/wistfulness will i remember the relationships i am building/have built/am losing?

at the end of three more years i'll have my master's degree and my C's, assuming i do everything right. i have no idea what part of the country/world i'll be in or who i'll be with or who i'll even still be talking to. i'm certainly not now where i expected to be then....maybe part of the lesson is to live life with no expectations.

20 July 2009

[untitled poem 7/14/2009]

i want to make things explode
learn to breathe in the staggering smoke
let them free and imagine what
breaks out

your lungs are the vessel
for precious words i long to capture
my ears the home of your freed creations

my mind the g(r)asping, comprehending,
mmm-uttering resting place
for a thought that began with you
its travels long and perilous
its bridge crafted out of thin air

its journey succeeds
when we are both understood.

16 July 2009

breaking the silence

U.S. military deaths in Iraq since war began (3/19/2003): 4325
(since "Mission Accomplished": 4186)
U.S. military deaths in Afghanistan, Operation Enduring Freedom (since 2001): 739
as of 7/14/2009 at 10:04 pm, from antiwar.com

If we as a nation were to hold a minute of silence for each American killed in Iraq and Afghanistan since 9/11,
we would be silent for three and a half days.

just a thought.

13 July 2009

poem 07/13/09

if i were to speak the truth
if this were within my power

to say the words that held the meaning of the universe
and make everyone hear them

...no one would listen.

there is no room for a modern-day christ
but there is room for a small voice,
whispering from the darkness,
rustling through the leaves of the trees,
reaching those who most need it.

a smile crosses the lips
of the first person to hear
the words
that give meaning
to everything,
and she resolves to keep it quiet in her heart
and speak it through her deeds.

the wood of the cross holds no greater secret
than this:
love is the (most) powerful means to an(y) end.

she touches her finger to her lips
and looks at you
with a shy grin,
before turning and running away,
skirt flapping, eyes shining,
all brightness and living.

11 July 2009

storytelling, part 5

it came up in conversation last night that perhaps the reason for telling a story is not what i have previously posited: you tell a story not to get the point across, but for the sheer joy of the telling. the experience of relating the story is at least as important as the story itself.

think of all the people who tell stories to audiences that already know them. no new information is gained by any party, but the storyteller takes such pleasure in relating the tale that the redundance of it doesn't matter. sometimes, the listener is as enthusiastic about the retelling, but often they are not: how many of us know all our parents' stories already, and don't think they're likely to gain any new ones? it doesn't seem to matter to the storyteller, and maybe that's not a bad thing.

or--and i think this was my favorite example that came up--think of the old couples who don't need to tell their stories to each other anymore, but they do anyway, for the sake of reminding each other and reminiscing together. they get to a point where the performance is practiced, well-rehearsed. (and) each has their own part to tell, but both know all the lines, and they tell it the same way anyway. [i look forward to having someone to tell stories like that with. i imagine there is no deeper joy than building your life with someone you know fits you just right, to the point where even improvisation feels natural and well-rehearsed.]

09 July 2009


i've written a few times on the topic of Home...i'm beginning to suspect that the quest for such a place, be it a physical location or otherwise, is one of the main journeys in any given life. this week, i feel pretty good about it.

two weeks ago tomorrow, i moved into a new apartment. from the very first, it felt like mine. this is a big change from my prior living situation: i shared an apartment (i now live by myself), and more often than not i felt cornered into my own bedroom, for no good reason other than my own discomfort, so i spent as little time in the apartment as possible. it became less a place to live and more a place to keep my stuff. now, i want to be here; i want to spend time in my place, and when i don't, i want to figure out why, and i want to put work into making this place even more mine--even more my home.

it's funny, because the last place that really felt like a home to me was also in this building. i went up to visit one day last week, and it was odd. all my bedroom furniture was exactly where i had left it over a year ago when i moved out.

aside from having a place of my own, where i truly feel comfortable, there's something else to my life lately adding to that feeling of Home. it's taken a long time, but i finally feel like i'm in the right place. i've known for a while that i'm in the right city; i've lived here for four years, and though i don't expect to stay here forever, it's not time to leave yet. i'll know when it is. Pittsburgh fits like that space in your shoulder where my head goes when i've had a bad day--and the real sense of Home comes from being able to make that comparison.

[the relationships we build in college, the networks we find and create niches in, are so much different from the spaces we make for ourselves at any other time. i can't decide if i'm excited to see how the development of new relationships changes as i get older. it seems like it only gets harder. i have better friends now than i've ever had in my life. i know that at any given moment there are at least three people i can call and find a space to crash if i need it. there are people who would miss me if i left. i know my role, and i know i'll have support in changing it if need be. this is what it means to have a Home: to know that you belong somewhere, whether it's in an apartment or among people.]

06 July 2009

random image for the day:

a man in a motorized wheelchair transporting two children: one seated between his feet, and the other behind him on the reclined back of the chair.

05 July 2009

Adventures & journals

i always wondered what makes people stop keeping journals.

i've been keeping them consistently since i was 8 years old, and almost every day since i was 15 (after i spent a month writing nothing, and realized it would drive me insane). but i never saw grownups keeping journals, setting aside a regular time to write the way i eventually had to do, even grownups who i knew had kept them when they were younger. grownups never talk about it the way little girls talk about their diaries. (the difference between a diary and a journal could be its own post.) and i always wondered: what made them want to stop writing? or, what made them stop wanting to write?

the older i get, the more i realize: you don't want to stop writing, or really even stop wanting to write. but eventually, you become more busy living your life than writing it down. other things become more important than having that written record. time doesn't grow short so much as it grows full. you write when you have a few moments to do so, but it becomes less important to make sure that those few moments aren't spent on something else.

part of my concern has been that i can't remember anything unless it's written down. maybe i'll learn to remember in other ways.

anyway, if i were more concerned with my journal, these are some of the adventures from this weekend i would want to write in more depth about:
-playing an out-of-tune piano and the attention this garnered
-building a bear with an accidental resemblance to a real person
-$30 worth of candy, to go with ridiculous movies
-impromptu alternatives to supercuts
-dressing for maximal confusion (and feeling shockingly normal as a result)
-sitting so close to fireworks it was like they were going off around my head
-walking back from downtown
-hitchhiking on someone else's trip
-getting lost in public transit & refusing to be late to church

30 June 2009


just moved, still figuring out internet at home.
(and wanted to get in one more post for june :-)

25 June 2009

Dear Mr. President:

i got an email today from Rea Carey, the director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, asking, "If you had a chance to talk to the President, what would you say?" apparently she is going to meet with President Obama next week to mark the 40th anniversary of Stonewall, and she wants to take the stories of LGBTQ people with her. the email included a link to a form to send her your story or questions.

i don't have a story for Mr. Obama, but i sure have a hell of a lot of questions.

Mr. President, when are you going to keep the promises you made to the millions of LGBTQ Americans who voted for you in November? When are you going to stop doing damage control and start working for real change, repealing the discriminatory laws that prevent us from receiving all the same rights and benefits as our heterosexual peers, instead of promising us a few in apology? How could you stand in support of DOMA, knowing that its repeal would not automatically or even necessarily guarantee legal marriage for same-sex couples? How could you believe that advocating for civil unions is advocating full equality, when you must know the fallacy of "separate but equal"? When are you going to tell Congress to pass an inclusive ENDA so you can sign it and protect all Americans from employment discrimination? When are you going to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell, so that we can freely consider all of our options for education and employment, without having to worry about what happens if...? When are you going to stand up and acknowledge that all civil rights belong to all people, and no one should face discrimination based on whom they love?

Mr. Obama, I am proud to be American, and
I am proud to be gay, and I am proud that you were the first person I voted for in a Presidential election. I truly believe that you have the potential to bring necessary and important change to our nation. I want to continue being proud of someone I really feel is my President. When are you going to live up to our expectations and earn our votes?

24 June 2009

while packing (i.e., a distraction)

my life is on hold as i prepare to move again, for the seventh time in just under four years. i feel good about this one: i like my new apartment, and i'm excited about my situation. i haven't felt as good about all of them.

it's amazing the things you discover while packing your life into boxes. i am always surprised by how much stuff i accumulate over the course of a year (or in this case, 14 months). there is no reason for any person [my age] to have this much stuff. things get tucked into corners and forgotten about. stories get shoved onto shelves or into drawers. those same stories are barely even told when they are rediscovered months or years later to be shuttled to a new station, a new place to be left and dismissed. rather, they occur, as a flash of memory that plays out like a subliminal message in a television commercial: if they do it right, you won't even notice. a flood of endorphins. a feeling you've forgotten how to name. a face you never wanted to remember.

someone used to comment on how every item in my room has a story. the game then became, choose one, and i'll tell it. we killed a few minutes at a stretch that way.

the trick when you're packing to move is deciding which stories you want to keep. we are alternately rescued and damned by the dumpster behind the building. if you could live with a gap in your memory, would you choose to do it? would you be faulted for it by those who couldn't comprehend the choice?

19 June 2009

thoughts on Pride 2009

there's something so different about a city Pride celebration from a college one.
at the huge dance party Saturday night and the parade & festival Sunday morning, i kept coming back to the realization that all of these people--and there were so many people--were here together, to celebrate the fact that we can all love each other.
in conversation yesterday, i was pleased to discover that i was not the only one who had felt it profoundly acceptable to just Be, as Whatever You Are.
i loved how you could pick out any given article of clothing and comment on it and the person would accept the compliment graciously.
there's nothing like drag queens.
and it felt so good to see so many families.
that may be my favorite picture ever, and i wish i knew what song was playing. so much about that moment was perfect.

15 June 2009

an aura-reading synaesthete (part 2: music)

this weekend's mental adventures have made it plain that part 2 of this explanation needs to be written. although what i'd really like to write about is aura-reading and how it affects my
experience of other people, i feel that the music section needs to be written first. hopefully sequential sections will inform each other.

although words on a page evoke color, shape, and texture for me, those images are based mostly on the spoken sound of a word. i hear a narrator in my head when i read, as many people do, and its (her?) voice creates the auditory basis for my perception. so, my synesthesia is mostly sound-->color synesthesia, with associated grapheme-->color synesthesia (as per the omniscient wikipedia)....i think.

so: since sound causes colors, shapes, and textures to occur in my mind, music must be particularly ...there's an adjective here, but i can't quite get to it. intense? affective? picturesque? that'll do. when i listen to music, all the parts fit together to form a moving painting of sorts. i tend to think of something like the Toccata and Fugue in D Minor from the original Fantasia, especially the part from about 5:30 to 7:45 in this video:

i experience dynamic landscapes of music. if i sit directly in front of a set of speakers, i feel the shape of it rolling towards me like the red hills at 7:10. i love that feeling like i'm surrounded by the music--as long as the composer and the musicians did a good enough job putting the right colors together in the right way. just like writing, all the pieces have to fit right. if they don't, i am made extremely uncomfortable.

different kinds of music fit right into my ears at different times. there are some types of music that never do. i can't stand popular country (too bright), and most mainstream rap is just painful (too sharp). favorites, on the other hand, include Gustav Holst, certain types of jazz, DJ Tiesto (who i am convinced is god because only a divine entity could create works of such beauty), and almost anything by the Foo Fighters (who even have an album titled "The Colour and the Shape").
volume also affects the shape of music--much like when you look at the waveform on an oscilloscope, or the green-and-red equalizers on an old tape deck. the color and texture of a person's voice usually affect whether i get along with them, because if the sound doesn't fit right, i can't stand to hear them talk, and we obviously can't be friends.

*it seems important to note at some point in this sequence that my experience is enhanced by certain substances and dulled by others. alcohol definitely damps it.

i find it particularly interesting when a person and the music produced by his instrument are not the same color. but elaboration on that will have to wait for a future installment. =)

13 June 2009

she speaks my name, part ii

you yelled my name last night
and it was heavy and cobalt-black, like treacle
dripping from the tensely-strung cables above and between us.

i didn't want to turn around;
there is no backward.
but what else could i do?

and so i sank
into that hot, steaming, sticking mess with you,
but in trying to pull you out
i only entrapped my own limbs,
and two people drowning
can't help each other swim.

10 June 2009


there's the kind of gay where you're attracted to the same sex, and then there's the kind of gay where you're attracted to a similar gender.
i suppose any given person could be one, both, or neither, and at any given time.

has anyone thought this before? what do people make of it?

06 June 2009

the experience of an aura-reading synaesthete (part 1: writing)

i really don't expect that i'll be able to cover this in one post, especially as i'm still coming to understand it myself.

synesthesia: (n) a sensation produced in one modality when a stimulus is applied to another modality, as when the hearing of a certain sound induces the visualization of a certain color. (from dictionary.com)

so when i talk about "thick blue music" or my name being spoken "round, purple" or a certain word being "bright green" and "serrated," it's because that's really how i experience it. letters, words, and sounds all have associated colors, textures, and shapes.

writing, for me, especially poetry, is in large part an effort to put together words that complement each other, whose shapes fit together like pieces of a puzzle. but not a jigsaw puzzle; more often, it feels like one of those 3D puzzles with several different pieces that you have to lock together to make a cube or a sphere, but not made of wood, usually more like play-doh, or... ...or like two people lying together on a sofa under a blanket. (you just know when it fits.)

not all writing works like this. not all writing needs to. but it's part of why i like certain writers so much, and why textbooks are so hard to read. textbooks are usually very flat, very bland, very grey, or beige
[like the carpet in the townhouse i grew up in, lazy saturday mornings eating cereal and watching cartoons, and nobody wants to do anything]. f. scott fitzgerald was brilliant. he had an incredible talent for putting words next to each other that most people wouldn't realize should go there. i don't even like his stories, so much, but the lyrical style of his writing floors me every time. ("lyrical," for the record, looks exactly like what it means/is meant to describe: blue and curving, lacquered, but like somebody didn't mix the paint all the way so there are streaks of other shades in random places.) in packing up my apartment this week i found a book of poetry by adrienne rich that i'd forgotten about--wow. rhyme and alliteration do things i don't think most people expect. straight prose almost seems like a waste of language: why express anything if you can't bother to make it beautiful?

sometimes, the color or the shape doesn't come from each individual word, but from a line, a stanza, or even a whole paragraph. words are like the shimmering highlights in the oil slick of a paragraph: they change the color in small pieces and contribute to the overall aesthetic. (the shape and texture of an oil slick rarely fit a piece of writing, but it was the best color analogy i could think of.) a short story writer, or even a novelist, needs to be able to put together larger chunks of a puzzle--it's like sculpting, or architecture, instead of painting. poetry is more likely to draw out the finer nuances, to occur on a smaller scale. a canvas more easily framed.

parts that need to follow: music, food,
possibly movies, and auras (the reading of which i'm convinced is related, though some may dispute it).

03 June 2009

Fourth of July

Today i remembered where i was on the Fourth of July that year,
what i was doing,
who i was with,
the words that split the air in the crowded car, full of our own inexpressible emotions and thick blue music.
i remember the fireworks, the tension between us as we couldn't touch for fear that everything would break, the fear that everyone would know.
i remember sitting on the hill, the grass biting our bottoms, in boyshorts and tank tops, after a party in a house too small, too narrow, too full of life and youth and denial.
i remember the race back to the Metro, the sticky orange seats, the way our knees fell together and i barely noticed, and then i could do nothing but notice, and that tangent point became the focus of my entire being....
i remember the frustration, the desire, i remember the way she cried, i remember how that song has never meant anything else for me....
i remember the way her voice broke, the cool of her skin, the wetness of her kiss, the passionate breath, the hesitation....
we wished we could never go home
and now, four years later, all i am left with is guilt.

02 June 2009


"Dyke" is my gender, not my sexual identity.

30 May 2009

Pittsburgh weather

watching the rain come & go
berate the city for thinking we could go without
breathe an answer to the prayers of things green.

we shake like ducks in the wet.
go about our business, let it roll right off us.
this is the term of our tenure.

long-awaited thunder comes,
the catharsis of the cold season,
a Homeric purgation,
the scream of a newborn summer.

We thirst!

the robins always sing after the rain,
as if waking to a new dawn.

11 may 2009