things to think about


today i am thinking about, briefly: THE BEST THING
September 30, 2009, 12:31 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

I got myself a present last new year which is to say I got myself a huge bedroom. It is 14′ x 17′. That = 238 square feet. For those of you who live in NYC, pick your jaw up off the floor. For those of you who do not live in NYC, realize this is kind of a miracle.

Here is the miracle: it is 238 square feet AND a separate closet AND good light. It is attached to a ramshackle but loveable house that has a lot of people I like in it.

I can lay on my floor with my arms and legs spread wide and not touch any walls or even any thing. My bed is in a nook and I have 2 desks and a craftsman table and a huge bookshelf. I am so lucky.

It has been a long time since I have had a home to spread out in. My last home was my first real home in a very long time, with my friend Naomi. I am learning to keep my room clean and make a space for me, all for me, that works the way I want it to and everything is just so. I buy things for it; it’s fun to decorate.

It feels good to have a home. It feels good to make it my own. When I think of the place I want to live Someday, all I want is lots of room and lots of light and tables and overstuffed chairs. A big space to make things when I want to with enough comfort that I can like it. I feel tangibly close to that right now, which is amazing to me. What a gift. What a crazy gift.

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today i am thinking about: DEEP LEZ
September 25, 2009, 12:57 am
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , ,

So I’m having a bad week, friends, or a bad two weeks now, or maybe it’s a bad three weeks, I can’t even tell, maybe it’s a bad 26th year or a bad 2009 or a bad life. And you know what that means my ass is doing? It means I’m sitting here with Ani Difranco on repeat over and over and yes, I know all the words and yes, you know all the words too.

And you know, say it loud, I’m a fucking deep-ass lez and I’m trying to be proud. I fuck girls. I hold hands and make sweet noises with girls. Sure, I would do it with a boy now and again, but I am not generally speaking at this point in time spending a lot of time thinking about it. I reserve the right to change my tune later but I am just speaking generally here. I am not one of those gay bacon lettuce tomatoes who is so deep into wanting to do it with the menz.

I have been negotiating lately with the way in which so many people in the corner of the queer community i live in <3s being a faggeau. and i mean don't get me wrong, i'm all HAY QUEEN HAY MARY HAY FAGGOT SNAP SNAP I'LL MEET YOU AT THE BAR LATER with everybody too. i identify the kind of masculinity I rock as faggoty chic very openly — queeny but masculine, not butch, hey girl, snap snap faggot snapping in the loafers I am so light in. I think it's fun and honestly it is an aesthetic I grew up in and I remember back in the day when I was busy coming out and at first I was like SAY IT LOUD I'M LEZ AND PROUD. And then I got the idea that lez was not my scene after all, girls were all drama, that it was all u-hauls and boring scissor sex and I ran off to the faggots and I pretty much haven't looked back. Faggot faggot faggot queer queer queer.

Here's the thing. I work at the world's premiere foundation with "Lesbian" in the name. I say the word lesbian more times at this job than I think I have my whole life ever. Lesbian this lesbian that lesbian lesbian lesbian foundation for lesbian justice lesbian lesbian. It makes a queer think, sometimes. If this word is an accurate description of my behavior, why don't I like it?

Why am I so udgy about the word lesbian? Why am I so wary of being identified that way? It feels like it holds a cultural meaning that I do not see myself in – a different way of relating to gender, a different way of having sex, a different set of aesthetic goals. I feel like I wear too many bright colors to be a lez, I have this funny concept hair, I have sex that has to do with power, and I want to be FABULOUS in a way that I do not understand inside of lesbian culture. And yet — I say all this as an outsider, as someone who doesn't really hang out with people who identify as lesbian (except maybe at work). What do I know? Why do I sit at the bar and judge? I feel like I don’t know enough.

Sarah Schulman (article from the Times!) my lez root writes in my real lez root, Girls Visions and Everything:

Actually, Lila had often considered the question of marketing lesbian popularity. She looked at other groups of outcasts who had managed to make a name for themselves. The ultimate failures were Communists. In America, they were still at the bottom of the charts. After considering various historical examples, she concluded that the most successful model was that of the Beats. Guys like Jack, William Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg, some of them were smart and had some good ideas and wrote some lasting and inspiring work. Mostly, though, they weren’t all the geniuses their reputations implied. The thing was, they had made a phenomenon of themselves. They made themselves into the fashion, eacu one quoting from the other, building an image based not so much on their work as on the idea that they led interesting lives. Lila firmly believed that was exactly what lesbians needed to do. Why not make heroes out of Isabel Schwartz and Helen Hayes, and make The Kitsch-Inn the new mecca? let kids from all over America pack their bags, sneak out at night and flock to the East Village to hang out with the lesbians. Soon there’d be lines around the block for the Inn’s midnight show bringing those hungry for stimulation folocking to catch the last word in Lesbiana. They’d have magazine covers, syndicated situation comedies, do the lecture circuit, maybe even walk down the street without being afraid.

The harassment I get these days is, ironically, as often about being a fag as being a lez, and generally has to do with my gender. And yet I just don’t trust myself with my own squeamishness about lez as an identity. Am I just someone who saw some bad branding and reacted? Did lesbian do it to itself, get taken over by people whose vision of the world is fundamentally different than mine? This word works for a lot of people – what works for it for them? What’s about the split, and what do I think about it?

Or is it my own misogyny? My own bad idea of lesbianism? Lesbophobia? Just not feeling like it is the right word for me? Different places around the world have a different reaction to this word; what does being in the US, and the urban US, do to affect mine?

So I am going to work on a little bit of a project. I will be doing little interviews and posting what people think. I am trying to get to the bottom of this. Who loves the word lez? Who hates it? And why?

I worry my own sentiments as expressed in this post will shut people out. I am trying to be honest, even when it is hard; I am trying to own what I think in a public sphere because honestly, I don’t think I’m right. I don’t think I do the right thing when I value fag so highly but bash so hard on lez and I want to do more thinking about what that is. Conversely, I imagine a lot of people who would say something like “well, lesbian just doesn’t describe what I do” — but does fag, either? Does queer? And even within the queer community, why is faggotry valorized and lesbianism denigrated? Can’t we pull from both?

Please leave your lez thoughts in the comments. This is open to people of all genders and identities and orientations, obvs, although especially from folks who have more personal involvement with the word.

Work it out, queens!



today i am thinking about: FOOD CHAINS
September 25, 2009, 12:00 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

There is a mosquito in my room. There have been mosquitos in my room for weeks, biting me in my sleep.

You may think to ask, “Ariel, are you sure it’s really mosquitos? Are you sure it is not THAT WHICH SHALL NOT BE NAMED biting you?” Yes, I am sure, friends, because I stayed up at night with a flashlight stalking. Mosquitos: 2 or 3. THAT WHICH SHALL NOT BE NAMED: 0. It’s mosquitos. It’s tiny, buzzing, bloodsucking, motherfucking MOSQUITOS.

Here are some facts about mosquitos:
1) They are from the family Culicidae.
2) They bite you when you are seeping, the little fuckers.
3) There are about 3500 species of mosquito found throughout the world.
4) All it takes is one to bite you all over and leave welts that will itch you for a week.
5) T cell populations are decidedly susceptible to the suppressive effect of mosquito saliva, showing enhanced mortality and decreased division rates.[20] Parallel work by Wasserman et al. (2004) demonstrated that T- and B-cell proliferation was inhibited in a dose dependent manner with concentrations as low as 1/7th of the saliva in a single mosquito.
6) There is a mosquito in my room and it keeps circling me and then dodging off around my shoulder where I can’t see it and it is too fast to swat and I am pretty sure it is some kind of supermosquito here to make me a host of its crazy alien babies.

(Odd-numbered facts found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mosquito)

I am a human. I AM A HUMAN. I am supposed to be good at tools and fighting things. I am many thousand times bigger than this mosquito — it is probably 1 cubic inch and I am many, many cubic inches. My brain is infinitely more complex than this thing and yet I am sitting here chasing it around my room with a world map — the closest thwacky thing.

I know that mosquitos are supposed to have their function and I should thank Hashem the great for making all things, even tiny buzzy things. But here’s the scoop: I am not there right now. I am not counting blessings or feeling really great about the world or having grateful moments. I am angry at things right now, angry in a new way, and that means that I am pretty sure these mosquitos are here to piss me off and spite me, not to pollenate flowers or food or whatever it is those little buzzing pieces of shit are supposed to be doing instead of eating me.

It’s the High Holy Days right now, for those of you not keeping up with the Jews, and this is the time of year where we are supposed to reflect and reconsider ourselves. We are supposed to make right with the people we’ve wronged and we’re supposed to think hard about how we have wronged Hashem, by sinning or by not being our best selves or by killing too many tiny beautiful insect wonders of creation or whatever version you decide works best for you. It is all about introspection and finding the beauty and rededicating yourself to progress and being better.

Only here’s the thing. I’m not having it. These mosquitos are here, and they’re trying to eat me, and I am not even making a dramatic metaphor here. And I am for once coming out swinging. I’m not one for killing bugs — I try to warn the spiders in the bathtub when I am about to take a shower, I don’t even get mad at roaches when they’re not in my house — but sometimes, there’s a mosquito, and it is trying to suck your blood out.

Eat or be eaten, right? Kill or be killed. These are the lessons I am feeling in my bones and they don’t have a lot to do with generosity or tshuvah or learning or being a better person. I feel stuck in these high holy days as I try to figure out how to just let the mosquitos buzz around.

That’s the thing, right, in the end: it’s just a fucking mosquito bite. It’ll itch, and then it’ll fade. I have my whole life — the mosquito has two weeks (a month in captivity, but who the hell has a pet mosquito?!). This metaphor is getting tortured, and I’m tired of forcing it, but I just have to say I am so, so tired of waking up every morning itchy and uncomfortable and for once, I am just going ahead and scratching that itch.



today i am thinking about: BICYCLE ADVENTURES
September 20, 2009, 3:07 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

inspired by a really awesome conversation i had last night, i decided to ride my bike to astoria today to water miss dish’s plants.



today, briefly, i am thinking about: FATSHION
September 13, 2009, 6:23 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

There is a longer post here, but right now i am taking a little break mid-Soho and i am thinking abt a few things about fashion. By which i mean FATSHION.

Here’s the story. I am a picky shopping asshole. Ask ppl who shop with me – it takes me forever to make any selection. Is it right, is it cheap enough, is it flexible enough, cute enough, ridiculous enough, fun enough? Is it the right gender and the right cut and a fabric i like? How much does it cost? Can I even fit into it?

Let’s be honest with each other, internet. I wear a size 20-22 pants or abt a 48 inch waistband, an xl in men’s shirts. I am 5’10” and i think abt 270 lbs. This makes me larger than many men, most women, most PEOPLE. I am not deathfat but i’m big.

I cannot think of 3 stores in Soho that carry pants i can fit into, and i can fit into most knit men’s xl and some woven men’s xl and not always even that. So I have a few options, sort of. That’s it.

I am vain bc i want clothes that look good and i admit that puts me in the “do these make me look fat” category. I envy the kids who are able to let that go more and have more fun. I am fat, and clothes aren’t going to hide that. I wish i just cared less abt it. I wish i didn’t get so mad that these stores didn’t carry clothes for me.

Fat kid stores – fat girl stores, at least – don’t even get me STARTED. I am not a diva, a goddess, any of it.

More later, internet – I am working on a big post about this. Tell me a story about your favorite thing to wear in the comments.



today i am thinking about: where to buy my bagels
September 11, 2009, 9:16 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: ,

the trevi

the trevi

There’s this deli by my job. The Trevi Deli, 17th and Union Square East. $2 for an everything bagel toasted with scallion, which is a little more than I like to pay. They scrimp on the cream cheese. I’ve been going there two years at least once or twice a week and they still have no real idea who I am, which makes me grumpy. I got an egg and swiss there once, only I told them egg and cheese, and they got mad at me because they thought I was trying to cheat them out of the 10c or so. There was no sign saying deluxe cheese was extra!

The Trevi seems to be run by two women who are always put together and have lipstick on and do not make small talk. They are bagging and cashiering machines. I am always so impressed by them. In the 2 years I have been going there, I have made a conversation with them maybe twice, and I can talk to ANYONE. I am not sure how much English they speak, but they seem to speak English when they need to. I figure they are just not that interested in me.

They have a lot of bougie snacks at the Trevi. They don’t sell Cheetoes, but they sell organic cheese puffs. Those Terra Chips that are radishes or sweet potatoes and fancy chocolate that says the cocoa content on the wrapper. They have M&Ms and Wise chips too but it’s all about the mochi. And it’s all expensive! Not as bad as it could be for Union Square, honestly, but still — although honestly, I can get a sandwich for $5 or less, and for Union Square that’s a miracle.

But then, coming out of a storefront that used to have $8 plates of baked pasta and $3 sandwiches, an interloper:

dunkin dunkin

dunkin dunkin

That’s right, folks. Dunkin Donuts is moving in.

the block -- you can just see the DD orange

the block

So now I have a new option, or I will whenever they open. I can go somewhere else, pay slightly less probably. The Dunkin is about half a block closer to my work than the Trevi, which makes a difference (and you New Yorkers know what I mean.) I don’t know if DD has scallion cream cheese, and their bagels aren’t great, but then neither are the Trevi’s.

This is where it is, right? It’s easy to get sentimental about your favorite deli if they know you, if they love you, if they say hi to you when you come around, if they make eye contact with you. But here is this deli, I assume owned by a family, that has no real affection for me. And I feel challenged by that! I feel challenged by the idea that I don’t matter to them, that maybe I should just go to the Dunkin when it opens, that it’s a little closer for me and it doesn’t really matter anyways and who doesn’t love a boston cream donut in the morning?

The Trevi started carrying Krispy Kreme donuts — just a few boxes — within maybe a week of the DD sign going up. I wonder if they’re worrying or not. I thought of pulling a Jeremiah and just asking them, but we don’t have any relationship that I can tell — despite me being in there, everything-toasted-with-scallion, no-thanks-no-bag, day after day. And I hate to think of interrupting those ladies when they are such machines.

I feel weird about the DD moving in even though, as I said, I feel ambivalent about the Trevi. I don’t like the idea of a chain store coming in and taking over, especially a chain store that has plenty of locations in the area (14th and Irving, I think 17th and 3rd.) I don’t see the point of all this mindless sameness – yeah sure, it’s nice to know I can get the same thing no matter what, but not when it’s always so generic. I just want the DD to back the fuck off! Leave the Trevi alone so I can dislike it in peace!

It makes me an angry activist, right – I want to flyer, I want to put up stickers, I want to harass the DD into submission. But I don’t even like the Trevi that much! I go because it’s the closest and cheapest place to get a bagel on my way to work — not even always on my way, although since the 16th street park crossover has been closed I go right past it — and I feel grumpy every time. I can’t imagine how many $2 bagels I have bought there and I guess I just feel slighted, grumpy and slighted, even though I am sure they must see thousands of people a day.

So I guess I’ll see. I hope the Trevi sticks around, just to stick it to the man, so I can keep disliking it and wondering what those two women at the front of the ship are thinking. I will keep you posted. Maybe I’ll even work it out and do that interview.



today i am thinking about: heterosexual, homogender
September 5, 2009, 1:08 am
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I have thought at great length about the difference between homo homos and hetero homos — you know, homos who date people whose genders are like theirs vs homos who date people whose genders are different from theirs. I identify as a hetero homo usually — whomever I am dating, their gender is different (oppositional is harder to say) than mine. I like the difference. I like gender roles. You get the gist.

I am in Kalamazoo, MI today and it is funny to be here where I am the only queer as far as the eye can see. I keep thinking people (ok, girls) are flirting with me but I think everyone’s just really nice. It’s always funny to get out of New York City but I love the midwest just a little bit.

And so I am surrounded by family and locals, and they are straight people, and today I am thinking about gender. Not homo gender, but hetero gender for once. I am going to theorize wildly, and you know what, I am not going to feel bad about it, because I am sure everyone has been theorizing about me all day long. My queer friends and I are all slightly gender-obsessed; we think about it and play with it and analyze it and get overwhelmed by it and have sex with it and mess around with gender all day long. But I don’t know if straight people do this too, see, and right now I am fascinated by heterosexual gender phenomena.

This is the thing: there are a lot of matching heteros in my family. Heteros where they wear the same clothes, have the same aesthetic, even sometimes the same hair. I wonder how they think about this; I wonder how they talk about this. I was wandering around Target (I needed sunscreen) and there were so many married couples who, well, matched. Just like matching homos! But different, right? How do heterosexuals think about this?

Taking this in, I realized was that I was programmed to see this as a failure, especially on the part of the woman. The whole “letting themselves go” thing, right? These married couples matching must mean that they’ve failed, that they’re not hot for each other any more. I guess part of this is that they are all low-fi matching, not all fabulous and dressed up (I am very excited to see what everyone wears to synagogue tomorrow). But why do I interpret this similarity as a failure and a capitulation where I interpret other gender-synchronicity — the queer kind — as kind of cute and great?

I am really curious about what it is to operate in the hetero gender world. They don’t talk about gender like I do, or like my friends do; at least it doesn’t seem like it. Do the women who are not so feminine feel like failures? Do these men who are not so masculine feel like failures? Do they feel bad for not playing into the world of opposites?

Sometimes I am curious about dating heterosexually but I just can’t imagine how it would work. I could date other queers, but I cannot imagine my gender in a completely heterosexual paradigm. I feel like I would be unintelligible. I am always curious to find out if that is true but I do not even know how to begin testing (and I mean, I’m not REALLY) that curious. I would pay a million dollars to know if people here in Kalamazoo are even aware of my gender, or what they think about it, or even if they CAN think about it or if it is just unintelligible — just like a lot of their genders are to me. I want to know more about straight people gender! Straight people, do you talk about this? Think about this? Date people with genders like you (I mean, aside from being “man” vs “woman”) or people with genders not like you? CAN you date someone “opposite” from you who is still the same? Do you think different genitals (if your genitals are different) are what make you hetero, or is it something else?

Please comment about this! And please tell your heterosexual friends about this post. INQUIRING MINDS NEED TO KNOW.