Archive for October, 2004

welcoming doorways

Trick or treating was purely fun this year as Moomin was old enough to be really into it. The mad throng of kids running like crazy up the walkways and doorsteps!

I’m half appalled and half pleased by the people who decorate their yards with yards of fake spiderweb and elaborate talking skeletons. Some of the carved pumpkins were amazing…

But mostly I love it that there’s little kids, and they go barreling up the walkway and the door opens and there’s benevolence and generosity. There’s greed and consumption too, i know…. but the people opening the doors want to be opening them and handing out something indulgent… it’s so sweet…

Moomin was SO CUTE. All the kids were. Rook and he were dressed as cowboys and Rook got him a gigantic stuffed horse.

People are so rich here. the good kind of candy is pretty much the norm. You know what I’m talking about. The chocolate bars!

passing, and not wanting to pass

Passing as legitimacy. I am thinking a lot about this and don’t know how to write about it. Vegas was uncomfortable. I thought it would be more like Texas, where even the phobes are mostly polite with that southern politeness.

But in Vegas it’s not like I saw any girls holding hands in the street.

It’s nice to be back here and feel like the world is just that much more sane by a tiny smidgen of sanity.

The easiness of being in an environment or in a body or in a relationship where you don’t always feel like people are looking at you and freaking out and processing whatever their private issues are. Uncomfortable moments when other people are acting “off” and I can’t tell why. Is it because I did something to offend them, something directly rude, or is it my silly hair, or are they just thinking about something else, or are they suddenly throwing some huge queer-phobia my way?

I know that is all totally elementary but honestly I have not had to deal with it all that much and have mostly been queer in really supportive environments, even if there has been hatred around it’s been fairly obvious and I’ve faced it with a fair amount of support.

It was very much like the strange awareness of people’s attitudes when I was in a wheelchair. Their curiosity and fear were always on display for me. Mostly I just wanted to talk about other things and not That.

Once again. Yay for the bay area. I felt instantly more comfortable being back here. I don’t want to feel any pressure to pass for anything I’m not.

As I got off the train in RWC 3 blocks from my house I ran into 3 people who had gotten off another train car and who were dressed very hilariously with signs that said “Gender DeConstruction Workers”. Their outfits were great, with half-mustaches, skirts and jumpsuits, hard hats… so cute… It’s the suburbs here, but it’s still home.

the soothing removal of my brain

It’s so nice to brain-dump a little bit. I’m not trying to entertain anyone today. I’ve filled my “talking to other people” quota for the entire year.

Tomorrow I’ll email everybody I talked with at the conference and said I would email. I’ll print my agustin1 and Ibarb0rou translations and send them to those modernism anthology guys. Wow but their panel was wildly exciting.

I lost my head at some point during my own panel and said something wild-eyed about lat. amer. modernism and how it was part of or parallel to the development of science fiction and fantasy. I wonder if someone else has said this? I bet they have. And on the plane I was reading Dar1o and he mentioned H. Rider Haggard. This confirms all my vague theories about modernism and sf and the pushing of extremes, the exaltation of the trans-human, space, aliens, mystery, geography, the creation of a sort of transcendental landscape. You can look at that poem to Helen and at the novel “She”… those thousand year old ideal all powerful goddess-women… what’s that about? Agust1ni’s fevered crushes on stars and statues and vampires. (Critics talk about her as “startlingly erotic” or whatever and sure, yes, but in a gothic romance and SF tradition she looks like part of a continuum.)

Also tomorrow I’ll try to write up more of my paper on Mars and P4tagonia. It will tie in splendidly with the thoughts on modernismo.

at the ethiopian restaurant

The things that sporty people do. At the Ethiopian restaurant (after a long drawn out waffly process of deciding-where-to-go and not being sure if I’d just invited us along and then waiting for people and looking for other people and wondering who else is coming and is the group getting too big? oops the reservation is only for so many… so me and Chula and “Seema” wandered off to this place around the corner. No one wants to suddenly feel that they’ve gone to dinner with the losers as there is limited time for schmoozing, but how unpleasant to suddenly feel like the unimportant ones. However how much more comfortable to not spend too much, and to be able to have a real conversation where one can hear what people are saying. And I had no particular wish to schmooze with any of the reservation restaurant people, so I was not pained at all!) Okay I lost my thread. At the Ethiopian restaurant we were the only customers – the other people eating were 2 little kids who were probably the kids of the restaurant owners. Halie Selassie’s portrait was on the wall, surrounded in a blue neon halo. The food was okay. Is the bread stuff supposed to be ice cold? even if so, it would have been nicer warm.

But my point was that ever since I read that long shocking description of what it was like to run in a marathon I have thought with respect and freaked-outedness of sporty people. Seema confirmed my queestions about marathon running with many stories of horrible, painful chafing, peeing in the pants, etc. I wish I could remember that marathon blog. It was by a totally sedentary person who went into training to run a marathon, and it TOLD ALL. The vomiting, the peeing, what happens when you have to take a crap by the side of the road, the obsessions with the body and what goes into it and what you’re feeling that an athlete feels. Before reading that blog I had no idea. I’d just hear someone say that they’d run a marathon and I’d nod politely and think, “Hmm, they must really be in good shape. That sounds hard.”

It’s not just “hard” it’s way incredibly insane. I can’t believe that anyone in this society has thought for even one second that I’m a freak for any part of my sexuality, when people voluntarily do stuff that is supposedly “healthy” but that… wow it just doesn’t sound all that healthy no matter how good it is for your cardiovascular fitness. It’s totally perverted! Talk about “body modification”! I don’t mean this as a criticism — I’m just weirded out by it.

random bits of my trip, unordered

Lots of walking around in strange fancy yet somehow horrible malls. Lots of huge buildings and huge rather ugly art, like the MGM bronze thing.

I liked the flaming fake volcano ridiculously much.

Also the fake pirate show with dancers and horrible songs. “You take a little bit of sugar and a whole lot of honey and mix ’em together!” or something like that. Apparently that’s what the sirens sing to lure pirate cabin boys to their evil, um, vessel. “My name’s Cinnamon,” said the head siren. “But you can call me… SIN.” And then there was some more dancing around; spangled hot pants, bare-chested guys, idiotic dialogue, and the best part — lots of explosions. We were far away but I could feel the heat of the huge fires. Not fireworks – explosions with giant blasts of flame.

We looked at the outside of “New York” and the inside of “Venice”.

We went with a whole bunch of translators to the V00doo lounge on the 51st floor of “R1o”. In the casino part of it there were sexed-up “dancers” in cages that were on moving tracks on the ceiling. Like those little model trains in pediatricians’ offices that go around the ceiling… but way way overhead… and with near-naked women in them striking cheesy poses. I’m sure that’s what it’s like in Rio… yup…
The lounge itself was okay – much like the top of the john hanc0ck building in Chicago, but more loud and raucous – with an 80s cover band and a big patio outside. One bartender made drinks while juggling all the stuff – the metal cups, the bottles of liquor and the ice and everything. I was amazed at how well he flipped it all overhead and caught it behind his back. His performance was well worth the 8 bucks for a margarita!

Everything was smoky, but I did okay with very minimal inhalers. For like a week beforehand I’d been doing steroid inhalers and I’m sure that helped!

I whined a little to Chula that I wanted the cultural appropriation to be even more heinous.

I liked the seedier parts of The Strip better than the flashy fake cities. “O’Shea’s” was dirty and skanky, with a cheap food court, but as we sat there and had baskin-robbins ice cream I noticed that there was no architectural attempt at controlling people. There was no slaughterhouse-maze pattern or attempt to make people uncomfortable in the food court seats. People were gathered around the bar watching some sports game in a convivial way.

There in the Baskin-Robbins we saw the saddest part of Vegas: a pink laser-printed sign that said, “Make it a double! What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas!” This slogan was everywhere: give yourself permission to be naughty! Throw money away! Get so drunk you don’t remember what happened! Call some hookers! Go wild! And for someone, somewhere, going wild might come down to going to Vegas and getting 2 sinful, naughty, scoops of cheap ice cream.

The other skanky parts were the ones with a million cheap signs, south of Harmon. One truckstop-like little business that is simultaneously a chinese restaurant, a knick-knack store, a car wash, an internet cafe, a tiny casino (loose slots!) and god knows what else. I took some pictures of their hodgepodge of signs.

authentic dirty.

There’s the fake sleaze of parts of Vegas and then there’s authentic sleaze.

I have heard so many translators say “There’s no THERE, there” in the past few days…. Well. There are theres in Vegas and we found some of them…. Chula and I went to the Las Vegas Lounge, which was a pretty cool dive bar. Super-sexy curvalicious pole dancers with ass-implants and huge boobs and glittery outfits. Sex-worker desperation and not very many, definitely not enough, dollar bills being tossed onstage are never sexy, but… their dancing was hot. I felt like I was getting a femininity lesson. There were friendly girls esp. Kat, who was like the warm, welcoming, very drunk, flirty cruise director of the bar, but I realized at some point that the girls’ smiles at me were kind of brittle. There was a little bit of hostility or competition-feeling at me because I was a genetic girl… That is okay but I’m not sure what if anything to do about it or how to behave or if it can be forestalled somehow!

I will blog the fun parts now and more parts later but essentially: the nice cab driver took us around the giant giant huge mall-sized parking lot of Commercial Center. Around the parking lot, facing inwards, are a bazilliion queerish businesses. Lots of bars and clubs and a bathhouse and 2 sex clubs; a cafe called I think Rainbow Factory; wig shops, leather shops, uniforms, and I don’t know what-all else. It was pretty cool, but scary enough at night that driving from one side of the parking lot was better than walking.

Like I said.. the bar was full of hot hot girls. Chula did some great lap dances for me and she will kill me for blogging this but I very perversely enjoyed watching all the straight men watch her dance for me. They would all do the same thing… catch my eye and give me a friendly little nod, like “I’m watching your hot girl. You lucky dog. Don’t mind me.” Occasionally combined with an actual thumbs-up or a hat tip, or a drunken stumble-over-and-mutter in my ear comment of appreciation and congratulation. another strange dimension of it was the coolness of having so many times been on the lap-dancing end of it whether for paying customers or boyfriends/girlfriends and now getting to really get sexy lapdances in an actual club with a discoball and mirrors and public sleaziness. I also had funny over-analytical thoughts about the differences between whores and sluts. The bar was full of whores, but I definitely was getting lap dances from a slut, and it’s better that way. Muahahah she will kill me.

Kat the cruise director took us to the tg-friendly, or at least not tg-unfriendly, sex club. Its decor was hilarious and seemed very functional, if it hadn’t been a little greasy looking. And if there’d been any people there actually playing, it would have been nice! In the medical exam cubbyhole setup of it, I developed a sudden case of hysteria, but the silly doctor i was with kept trying to cure my wisteria instead. Hahahaha… Maybe it has specific nights that it’s a hopping club… But I doubt it. They let us in for free and didn’t charge me for a locker, so I’m not sure how they ever make any money? Maybe they host cool private parties sometimes.

Oh yeah – in the dive bar, I had a funny dual “trans” experience as some guy named Juan, from Peru, had an insane conversation with me that was like some sort of vaudeville routine. “Eres latina!?” “No, no, pues…. hablo poquito…” “pero hablas muy bien! y que bonita! muy bonita!” “jajjaja, muchas gracias” “Y… que maravilloso… su amiga.. que suerte estás… y es hombre?!” “No! Es una mujer!” “Pero…. no…. no, no, no. No entiendo. Tú eres hombre, sí?” “Aaaa.. no… soy mujer! mujer! Ella es mujer tambien!” “Qué? Cómo!?!? Noooooo… ” “Um, somos, um, lesbianas… marimachas… tortilleras… levis… um… jajajja” “COMO?! Nooooo… Ella es HOMBRE, no?” Heh. it went nowhere. I hope he found someone to hang out with. He was from some tiny town near Salt Lake City and came for some hot action I guess…

It was strangely comforting to find this “there” in Vegas. Probably nearly any friendly subculture would be nice after the impersonal creepy corporate giantitude of the Strip. But I love authentic sleaze, and public space for sleaze. As long as I can get a safe ride home from it and have a hot bath with rose petals, it’s great.

thinking of home

I miss Rook and Moomin… Moomin sang “Rawh1de” for me over the phone! So sweetly.

catchup is impossible

I can’t catch up to now. Of course I’ve barely lived it if I haven’t written it down. Ack!

I’m sad that my conference is just about over. It’s so intense, exhausting, and great. Possibly I did too much flitting this time and not enough deep hanging-out.

I loved hanging out with Sima Arandel, who told me all about her grad student woes and how she and a bunch of people started a rogue academic zine, Masturbatory. (The main student paper or journal is The Tory.) All her projects sounded nifty! She was amazingly nice! We will do a b1lingual poetry panel together next time, maybe.

Finally I tracked down F.F. and got to talk with him and enjoy his peculiarly hilarious dry wit. He doesn’t even have to say anything some of the time. and he is just so impressive. we went into this room to hear various readings, came in in the middle, and 2 sentences into a poem, F.F. muttered quietly to me, “Oh. that’s C3rnuda!” and later, “Oh! that’s a haiku, a takeoff of someone…”

“It’s Basho isn’t it?”

“Yes!” *exchange of conspiratorial glances* (But I just now looked it up, and it wasn’t! It is Ryokun.)

Somehow it makes me enjoy it all more to sit next to him and hear his occasional quiet appreciative Hmm-ing right at the same moments that I’m Hmm-ing. He is so nice and such a fantastic translator! He talked about his sculptor-poet-essayist guy, and more about L@ureano Alb@n.

I enjoyed the short poems translated by V. Cast@gnini though it was like torture as she read so quietly no one could hear. What I heard was great! I bought a little book of her own poems.

The best thing I heard today was the mindblowing poetry of Cesar Moro and the awesome translations
by B. H@usner. Oh, wow. oh wow oh wow. oh the surrealist holothurians, armpits, and love letters, so over the top that it hurt. B.H. blew my socks off. I think they came out my ears! I was so jealous and inspired I could have happily killed and eaten her. “…motionless amber, source of the Milky Way…”

There were more great, great readings today that I’ll describe later. And I gave a somewhat incoherent rambly talk about my anthology project. Response seemed positive. With many many many warnings: publishers will be scared of it unless they’re all public-domain dead.

platitudes and profundities.

N. wa Thingio’s speech was… there were parts that were okay but mostly it was boring and I thought old-fashioned and full of platitudes. Old-fashioned as in 1988 margins-and-center talk. I will go back and read that one Spivak article about can the Sub4ltern speak, I’ve been meaning to, but… that was a while ago, neh? And he was (gently) down on D.U., who introduced him, for saying “marginal” language rather than “marginalized” as it’s not marginal to the people who talk it.

*** more in a bit ****

conference hijinks. the resurgence of “dots”.

The first day of the conference was incredibly fun. I went into hyperactive interstellar social overdrive and was excitedly talking with all sorts of people. Everyone seemed glowingly happy to see everyone else. I am happy that people remember me from last year and sometimes even remember my work or specific things from it. Everyone’s projects and thoughts are exciting and cool and so nerdy. there is somethign about talking with other poets who are obsessed with (mostly dead) other poets and who nitpick over their work enough to be super-translators.

As I predicted I heard many people talking about Wallter Benjjamin and that one essay that I still haven’t read. Christ. At least no one asked me if I’d read it. I wonder why it’s so hot right now? WTF? Was there some great article on it, in the last Tr4nslation Review, and i missed it?

I nipped out for lunch to meet Chula at the one cool cafe, where she’d parked herself for the day to write and work on the magazine correcting proofs. The proofs looked great. o wow what a great cover – a double cover of utopia and dystopia. I am unnerved yet so pleased to be in it and to help out with it. Then back to the conference: Jack the nice guy from the other night gave me a ride so i saved taxi money. If I weren’t so wimpy it would be walkable, but I am rationing my knee-power. Jack and Bob whose name is really Chad were fun to drive around with. Jack’s story of how he and his quadreplegic ex girlfriend almost slept with Punky Br3wster. (which — wouldn’t that make a great name for a pub? ) We all discussed the love of nerdy punky girls.

Back at the conference I suddenly noticed that the nametags have the exact same sticky paper dots as I was just talking about the night before, that I used to wear in the nightclub. I babble stupidly about “dots” to a translator of Roum@nian poetry and the editor of “Abs1nnthe” magazine. Doh! why do I do it?

T. Ay@la came up during the keynote speech and asked me how my publishing’s going and rather than reply while N. wa Thingio (yes I know that’s not how you spell it) was talking, I handed him my book. Just as he was leafing thru it j.o.s. came in and started laughing at me. I hid my face wildly embarrassed! I swear, he asked me to see it! I’m not going around pushing my book on everyone and their dog! “Don’t be ashamed!” j.o.s. whispered, and he patted me on the head. aaaaaagh! Hahahah.