trigger warning for police violence. take care of yourself! -RD

after the protest, for days i kept circling on them. the cops, the missteps i made. losing my shit. getting hurt (again). helping other people who were hurt. so much yelling. masks. the army of the rich. glossy BMWs. REI-clad yuppies telling me that cops are “a part of the 99%”. if cops are a part of us, then aren’t they the worst part? that darkest impulse of cruelty and fear, of selfishness. masked tools of capitalism, control freaks jeering from behind badges, batons, rubber bullets, pepper spray. i was tired, in pain, irritated to still be on high alert and a little dehydrated, adrenaline almost washed out. where were you when they were pepperspraying people in the face?! cops are not your friends, not part of the 99%, they are the enemy, tools of capitalism. i yelled, probably sounding foolish in my exhaustion, the kind of insurrectionary absolutism i usually find distasteful blooming bright from my mouth. and: fuck you, why don’t you go buy your way out of another problem! (fuck you for misgendering me so resolutely, for being so naive, for being so stout in your privileged blindness, standing on a street corner and trying to shout down my rage as somehow irrelevant to your ‘movement’.) have you noticed that ‘movement’ sounds like taking a shit? well, i have. stop expecting cohesion, this shit is gonna splatter.

i am angry. i could tell you a dozen ‘bad cop/bad cop’ stories and i don’t think you’d get it, still. the cops are not your friends. you can make nice-nice with them early on if you must (and can–tho i won’t, i will not/can not), but when it comes to it, they will take you out when the order comes to roll. bowl you over with a line of their amped up city bikes, pepperspray you in the face, baton you to the abdomen and all those precious organs. have no doubt: cops are like pitbulls, trained bears in kevlar suits, you may think you know them but you don’t. do not trust them, do not expect them tame for they are wild. do not make a fool of yourself, do not put yourself and everyone around you at risk by making such a fatal mistake. please please. please please. i would beg you if i thought it would make a difference, bring you somehow closer to understanding why i draw up this division.

***
when i started medicking, i had not been hit with the cluebat yet. i just thought “oh, i’d just like some more skills to help take care of my communities (places where i already provide care),” and took to it with little thought beyond honing existing skills, acquiring a few new ones, drawing new connections between people i liked and respected. it certainly never occurred to me that i would grow a new political analysis or be exposed to state-sanctioned violence (trauma both personal and secondary), anarchism coming into focus sharply and involuntarily as a horn growing out my forehead. my naivety could have scalded you with its white-hot ridiculousness. i laugh at it now shameless but shamed: i can only go the speed at which i travel, and it took all the places i’ve been to get me here, now.

but then: how could i not have known, after all i’d seen, even then? ACAB, all cops are bastards, the black bloc roars, whinnying on proud hind legs, masks up against identification because they know that the cops come after those who dare to criticize them openly, to call for abolition rather than political pandering, reform. will this keep us sane, these simple messages, these simple actions in the face of something so broken it can not be fixed? sometimes people tell me that it works for them, and i can not argue that. if you must, you must. hold the banner, march the streets, yell the simplest things, keep getting in the same arguments with liberals.

i’m not really the insurrectionary type, i tell __ over the last of our pitcher. i’m more about building bridges than smashing windows. but those moments where we break with the everyday still burn bright in me, the shattering of glass i built, i would never… but i have started asking the hard questions, starting thinking maybe, in a world without police, without landlords…

***

that’s all i got, the big-scary what-ifs and wonderings. so what’s up, insurrectionary anarchism, i been thinkin’ about yoooouuu. and i have come to no conclusions but questions.

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11/28/2011

i begged my sheets last night, hold me, but they could only clamber up cold, my body heat pulsing against sieve and let out.

11/26/2011

This year I am most thankful for my relationship with my mother, growing strong even after having been cut off (once, twice, more).

For me it feels like something so incredibly powerful to have known this person my whole life long, to have known them since they were so young, themselves.

Last year we started speaking again after almost an entire year of absence (no phone calls, my letter unreturned, etc), just a few weeks before Thanksgiving.

In the last year I feel like we have grown together in a way that would be impossible to describe with words. Even though we are thousands of miles apart I can feel her with me when I need her most.

I don’t place a whole lot of value on biological family–mine has not placed a whole lot of value on me, after all! But I place a lot of value on chosen family, and I have chosen my mother, over and over (and will choose her, over and over), as she has me.

A lot of my memories of her are hard, we grew up together, we both made lots of mistakes. But in the last year I have felt her ease up on me, I feel like I get off the phone with her no longer anxious, but buoyed up by her love and praise. Even tho we disagree, even tho there are things we still find too difficult to talk about.

When I was having really bad PTSD/dissociative stuff earlier this year she just let me sit on the phone with her and tell her. Everything, every painful detail that I could dredge up, all the things I have survived, and she took it. She told me, it is not your fault, it is not your fault, how could you have been anywhere else? when I told her about my rapes, and how I have blamed myself for them for so many years. I felt something break open (gladly) and release,  in me, I was so grateful. I needed that. Who else could have given that to me, but her? I know by logic that these things are not my fault, but it doesn’t stop me from feeling like they are, sometimes.

My mother survived horrible things as a child and a young adult, it always amazes me, that she can give me so much compassion when she has so rarely been shown that kind of compassion, herself (to my knowledge, anyways). I am grateful.

I am grateful to be family with this incredibly strong, intelligent, thoughtful, compassionate person who writes me beautiful hilarious letters that brighten my days when they are darkest.

Thank you, Universe, for my mother, and the relationship we have now.

-RD

bailamos

11/21/2011

for C.

it seems appropriate that in Spanish a verb is conjugated by pronoun. to do together is different than when you or i do so apart, after all.
there has never been much in the way of a unit to our relationship, and i love this, so respectful of our autonomy that sometimes i ache to introduce this timbre to other relationships that tug at my heart in different ways, tug others’ hearts different ways.
people ask so much of the people they share their bodies with, and it is so often too much for anyone to bear–for me to bear, for you. it seems we are perpetually pulling back from people who want more from us than we could ever give.
our relationship is process, constant journey, being reimagined radically at every turn. i love that we dance so far apart at times–in other rooms, other cities, we do our turns, but still return and press palms, come together with sparkling revelations and experiences to exchange.
refresh, renew and move along.
circulate.
estamos muy cerca, y mas.

this writing originally appeared as part of a body of work written as part of a project over the course of winter 2008. it has since been edited and polished, and appears now in its semi-final format, tho it is best conveyed via live performance. on a more personal note to myself: i should renew my passport. -RD
***
I have lived here all my life, and should have left long ago but couldn’t.
Some days I look in the mirror and ask whose body this is, anyways. The body of Puget Sound? My thighs the straits of Juan de Fuca? Maybe this furrow hidden under clothes is Deception Pass.

This land is my land. This land of camas, of brutal and frequent rain, the seasonal affectation of goretex, of blackberry tangles and deep forests.

I tried to leave. On two wheels then four, by foot and train, there’s too much to keep me here.

The tarred timbers shivering in the salt at the pier call me back. I can’t sustain myself in a clime where there is no steady tattoo of rain to lull me to sleep and comfort my wakening. What is navigation if there aren’t bodies of water and glacial till to reckon my way by? I get lost in better-platted cities than my own, feel unsafe when the network of streets becomes too predictable. Muggers lurk in other cities, but here I feel safe even where I shouldn’t.

My explorative nature should have put me to some dangerous elsewhere by now–I should have gotten out when I still had a valid passport, globetrotting pen and ink like Stein or Hemingway, but I can’t call that sketch mine now. This place is all I desire, and so I mark like a compass needle, north by northwest, the sound like the reassuring slap of waves.

sometimes i feel like screaming from the top of a very very far mountain “I WANT MY LIFE BACK!!!” from radical goings-on, the constant work that is never done.

talking with one of my fellow students from Spanish class, zie says, “me and activism are taking some time off from one another right now.” lord, do i understand.

after the three steps forward, i try to take two steps back and go back to the people and places dearest to me, press my exhausted body into the mattress after nights with so little sleep, sleep in. sometimes if i’m lucky there are welcoming arms, someone whose face i can hold in my two hands and get close enough to see how perfect they are. push my face against theirs, the air so cold our deep breaths are visible. we drink in the silence by the river (autumn-going-on-winter, here). that is what i feel most nourished by when it all comes down, not just my introversion (though sometimes that is so so good!) but also that closeness, 1 on 1, late night conversation and its late night lapse. the press of palms that makes me forget all about cops and violence and somuchworktodo for a whole hour or more at a time.

this past weekend travelled to another city to teach (a big daunting task). the whole time felt hard-pressed to connect mind and body, hurting all over (stress + injury aggravation + sleep deprivation are a bad combination, no surprise), but often in the quiet places all i could think was: i would really like a hug right now. i wish there was someone to hold hands with. all of us should just make a cuddle puddle!

it seems silly, counter-intuitive to my overall introversion of late, even–but lord, i thrive on touch, and in an alien environment where almost everyone is practically a stranger i start to crave it. i love* (and have been missing!): dancing, long hugs, cuddling, holding hands, walking with arms linked, sitting with thighs touching, being patted affectionately, so many things.

being quiet together.

i can not tell you how nice it was to come home yesterday, press myself into familiar arms (combustion, combustion, joy!), sit under the lamp and read and read, while that familiar brain and that familiar body read and read nearby. to recharge by osmosis, like one of those newfangled thing-a-ma-wogs where you just set the device atop and the batteries recharge.

3 steps forward for that big work, 2 steps back to recharge.

hugging: now with 10% more revolutionary action!

*with people i want to touch/be touched by. other people touching me tends to lead to me triggering out badly, as one might expect, yeh?

11/11/2011

it took me 24ish years to figure out that my inner introvert had specific care and feeding instructions attached to it, all i had to do was slow down long enough to listen. my psyche had been shouting directions the whole time: STAY HOME TONITE LET’S MAKE SOME NEW PANTS OKAYYYY
my psyche gets the caps lock stuck on a lot.

11/09/2011

two: Good that English exported
Sparrows to this country–
how two soft r’s deep in chest;
the ending w extending breath
sustains the species.

-Steve Creson, from here

it also feels important to note that i think that my feelings about Spanish pronouns, gender, and not passing will likely change over time. as my feelings about these topics in relation to English have evolved, so shall these! i am not anywhere near fluent in Spanish yet, and so i don’t yet think in that language*.

i am excited to become more fluent because it will give me more chance to share narratives with other trans/genderqueer Spanish speakers the world over. i’d bet you at least fifty dollars of some political bank roll that other Spanish-speaking kweerbos have done some writing on these topics. now i just need to be fluent enough to find them!

as a writer (and a second-generation one, at that!), i believe fiercely that the language we use is imbued with its own cultural components, and that this is part of why it is so important to be intentional about the ways in which we communicate.

*altho i have since my teens dreamt in Spanish, and occasionally find myself interspersing Spanish words or pronunciation/accent with English, particularly in the period of days after one of these very intense dreams.

so let’s talk about pronouns and gender identity, yeah? after all, it keeps coming up in conversation, and i’ve been meaning to write something more coherent.

excerpt from an old journal entry:

They/them is a compromise, a way of acknowledging the interstitial space I’m at right now, a space I’ll likely always inhabit in some form or another. An incredibly effeminate (lisp, prance and all) boi-identified person who is terrified of medical transition for various reasons. And I’ll keep my cunt, thank you. But not my tits, maybe? If i had a relationship status with my tits on Facebook I’d say It’s complicated, like anything about gender is. Have been trying to write about my longstanding “need” to present as femme while feeling uh…less-than. And then there are skirts. I’ll always wear skirts. Just because I’m a boi doesn’t mean I don’t get to wear these comfortable, practical garments. Anyone who believes the clothes make the man can fuck off.

It’s difficult to explain what it’s like to live in a female-assigned body, love garments that are often female-assigned (skirts, esp.), and…wish that my body were male-assigned. To wear a dress, to put on “femme” and paint my face, to wear high heels…feels subversive. I look in the mirror, and I see a boy/boi/boy, as I am, as I’ve always been.

A friend asked me how gender fluidity worked in languages wherein pronouns/objects are constantly gendered, like in Spanish or Italian. I told them that I couldn’t speak for every genderqueer person ever, but that for me it felt like less of a big deal to be gendered feminina en español than in English.

In Spanish every noun is gendered. La tarea, el doctor, etc. There are also exceptions where a noun with a feminine or masculine (-a or -o) ending are actually gendered opposite (el aroma, la foto, etc) for a variety of reasons. The gendering of nouns in the Romance languages I have studied works in my brain as such that the gendering of pronouns feels less of A Big Deal ™.

It seems to me like Spanish is already set up to acknowledge that the lives of nouns will sometimes fall outside the gender binary, whether for the sake of brevity or to convey the language of their origination.

For the last couple of years the people who know me best have known me by gender neutral or gender fluid pronouns. Not because I am gender neutral, but because to convey myself with these terms, to be conveyed by others by these terms, feels like the closest I can find to something that fits me without making me itch at its untruths.

I am a boi, “the boi/boy/boi your mother warned you about,” clumsy and hopeful, tight-muscled and big-hearted, but being socialized as female has left its mark on me. I could not walk around in my own too-big boots without having been borne forth by strong women and by strong feminism, and to choose that–to reconcile my boi-ness with that, feels like the place I want to be.

It is hard to abstain from medical transition, as hard as it would be to move forward with it. It is shitty to still bleed, and constantly feel my breasts, that alien weight, at my chest. To have to bind, the sweating itchy elastic band against my chest, rather than to breeze past flat-chested and unencumbered. Who minds? I mind.

But for this time, if I have to walk around in this body, being all awkwardly gender-deviant and foul-mouthed, at least I can make life easier for other gender-variant people by mere fact of my existence. Walking the streets I run into other kids in their varying states of difference, some that mark them early as queers: I’m not the only one, nor are you! I wish I had known other bois when I was a kid, to know that someday there would be a  better question asked of me than, are you a boy or a girl? and always me responding: why does it matter?

It’s not really an answer, is it? when I tell you that I prefer gender-neutral pronouns, I mean. Maybe that’s the point, that I’m tired of having to answer, not because I’m gender-neutral, but because like any protagonist, I have a whole lot of gender (a whole lot of self) under my belt, and I’m just beginning to unpack: femme-boi with an i.

***

oh brother

Drawing the enemy (I am not the enemy, I am your brother) near
the boy/boi/boy your mother warned you about
not because she believed that I was
(what I am, what you are, what we are collectively)
but because she knew difference could be its own
type of injury
and she didn’t want it rubbing off on you
(tho we’ve rubbed off together, fulfilled those fears in ways
she couldn’t even imagine to imagine)
she thought maybe a protection order like hers would save you
from these queer motions
notions of queerness endowed
by the careful fist
–knuckle down, now.
My mother said once
“It’s a hard life. A hard life to choose.”
but I know now I did not choose this life
this life has chosen me
over and over:
choose life, choose me, choose the boi/boy/boi
I was always going to be.

(oh me, oh my, oh me.)

-RD