things to think about

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:

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.