Friday, April 25, 2008

Reflections on the Day of Silence Part 1

As the meditated cacophony of Latin American accents reverberated dully off the concrete walls, my eye glazed over only to catch themselves mid-slouch and resume the task of focusing on the presenters. My attention waxed and waned in tandem with the awareness of my jaw extending itself just enough to hold the damp cotton fabric firmly against my tingling mouth. It was the National Day of Silence. It was an international conference on Latin American social movements. The activist in me was gagged in solidarity with those who have suffered from hate crimes. The queer in me was bound* in the elastic cloth that sought to justify my gender deviance through pushing it even further. Who was I? What was I doing there? Why was I wearing a handkerchief over my mouth?

The only explanation I offered was the blue and white Puerto Rican name tagged crookedly to my shirt. I sat there an ex-student (in)activist, enduring a performance of the academy that was at best theatrical and at worst esoteric. I needed air in too many ways to count…

*binding- the practice of flattening one's breast tissue against the chest implying an effort to present in a less feminine manner

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Submission Call for Trans stories

I was looking at binders yesterday and ran across a submissions call that I thought I should promote. One of these days I will actually write down my pensive ponderings instead of just posting things I've run across. Maybe soon.

Share your story!

Hey guys,

I am in the process of starting to write a book in which transgender people share their experiences.

So, if you are willing to share, I would love to hear your personal stories. You can choose to write about whatever you want....

- your life story
- how you felt growing up
- how you identify....FTM? trans? gender queer? none of the above?
- your transition experience
- the world through the eyes of a trans person
- your coming out story
- the trans community and what it means to you
- poetry
- or any other topic that you can apply your personal experience to!

These stories will be compiled into an ebook format. Those of you who contribute to the project will receive a free copy.

I hope that in compiling this book I can provide a resource for people who are questioning or coming to terms with what it means to be "trans." Many times, realizing that there are others out there who feel the same is a huge relief and confidence builder. While there are many personal pages on the web, there are few resources that provide a collection of stories in one place. It is my hope that I can provide that with this book.

Thank you all for reading, and I hope to hear your stories!

Where to send your stories:
You may either send them as a message on myspace, or email them to Make sure to include the word "story" in the subject line.

What to include:
- Your name (this can be your real name or you can make one up if you prefer)
- Age
- email address (necessary for me to send you a copy of the completed book)

- photo of yourself or something significant to your story (please no other people without their permission)
- location (where you live or where your story took place)

If you send us your story we will happily send you a free copy of the completed eBook!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Abstract poetics

I did a free write today and came up with five short and untitled poems. I was thinking about how much I needed to write at one point in my life and about how much I could benefit from getting back into the mode...

A thick layer of gridded celophayne
superimposed over my will
preserves only the outline
of the incisions
as it lie in refrigerated box cars
that have yet begun to move.

Plucking each word like an unwanted body hair
Painfully from the layers that tell others who we’ve learned
to be above quick glances that guild the silence
in unmistakable shades of anticipation and waxburn.

All that I have learned
in grotesque bouts of surrender
infringes on my ample solitude.
As if I had not given away enough
to see where the bottom was sure to take us
before we began.
I decided those days
in the sun-filtered library windows
that we were able to do no less
than we imagined.
And for that price we shall continue
only as half-faded relics
amidst an ever evolving history.

In the flickering of our faces we carry
hunched and buckled, hard-bellied
the staunchly stubborn postures we have taken,
molded our bodies over the wired mesh
that takes shape only in retrospective moments
endured against the contortion laden landscapes
whose familiarity summoned
the tragic attraction of our childhood…

Pacing ourselves,
The circles grow redundant
As if we didn’t know where
these lines were heading
long before we drew them.
Instead, we poke at spaces between
the grandules, displacing the children who
play too long in the sand dunes.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Monica's Writer-for-pay Plot

A good friend of mine and pretty damn good writer is trying to go into business for herself the shareware way; writing no matter what and soliciting donations from appreciative audiences.

Here's something from her new website

What's This All About

This is an experiment. But then life generally is. Here is how it is going to work – I am going to write. People are going to read. If people like what they read, they are going to pay me. I am going to write some more. People are going to read some more. You see the cycle already?

It all sounds very cynical, very capitalistic. The truth is, I love to write. The more I write, the more I love to write. Interesting how addictions work, isn’t it? The other sad truth is, I’m poor. I mean seriously poor. Not in that charity case, six o’clock news sense, but in that college student bad cliché sense. All the successful yuppies out there are thinking “Yeah, I’ve been there, too. It’s just what you’ve gotta do. I managed to climb up that ladder and so will you.” The only glitch in that logic is that I’m not endeavoring to climb.

What does that mean? Well, I’ve got a soft spot for hard luck cases. I had this dog. I fell in love with him on the spot. He was mangy, dirty, matted, and flea-ridden. He smelled and he didn’t seem particularly excited to see me. He was nothing anybody wanted, abandoned after his frolicking puppydom but before his first birthday. He was a scruffy, scraggly, dingy shade of grey, neither large nor small, but everything in between. But he looked at me with soulful eyes and I was hooked, just like that. He was without a doubt, the best thing which had ever happened to me in all my eleven years. He was with me for the next fifteen.

So, when I finally manage to claw my way out of graduate school, I know there will be hard luck case waiting for me. Some barely functioning non-profit or energy-rich, cash-poor advocacy group. I’ll probably end up being paid in organic produce half of the time. Unfortunately, I don’t think my student loan creditors will appreciate a bushel of sweet corn in lieu of my soon to be exorbitant monthly payments.

“Social entrepreneurship,” it’s called. See what the fancy education got me already? Actually, according to the all-knowing god Wikipedia “Social entrepreneurship is the work of a social entrepreneur. A social entrepreneur is someone who recognizes a social problem and uses entrepreneurial principles to organize, create, and manage a venture to make social change. Whereas a business entrepreneur typically measures performance in profit and return, a social entrepreneur assesses success in terms of the impact s/he has on society. While social entrepreneurs often work through nonprofits and citizen groups, many work in the private and governmental sectors.” (As of 04/08/2008)

So what’s my social ill? Well right now it’s the cost of college. And since I never could do anything the easy way (sensing a relationship here with the hard luck cases?) I had to sign up for the double degree program, even though that meant another full year of graduate school. I’m in for both a Master of Architecture and a Master of Community and Regional Planning. What will I do when I get them? Well, save the world, of course. If you don’t see the connection, fear not. There will be plenty of opportunity for me to explain it.

Instead, let me steer back onto course and explain how you can help me help save the world. I am debuting three books, which I’ve been working on for the last few years or months. Two are fiction, one is non-fiction, sort of a journal. One is science fiction, the other romance (though not too trashy, I hope), and the other is Buddhist. I am dedicating ten hours a week to these three books. How I divide those ten hours is in direct relation to any donations or contributions made to this project. (If you are poor like me, you can still put in your two cents without actually giving me two cents.) If I make ten bucks this week and six is for one book, four for another, and none for the last, I will spend six hours on the first and four on the second. How much you donate is entirely up to you. In the name of transparency and disclosure, a full funding report will be posted each week.

I don’t expect this to be a ringing success overnight, so I’m going to give it time. After all, I love to write, so I’ll be doing to work regardless. If and when this begins to take off, I should be able to write more rather than work at all of my several pathetically low paying University jobs.

Check out the links to the right for information on the books, myself, how I’m going to save the world, and how you can help me. Visit often for frequent updates.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Meeting Allison Bechdel

As she read from her memoir, publicly displaying the lascauxian creation myth of herself as a queer artist, she peered out at us from beneath her brow furrowed in uninhibited anxiety. It had made an irrevocable impression on me how she had defined her past into discrete panels of reflection. Her persona was more awkward than funny, her comic more tragic than funny. I could relate to the dry, absurdist tendencies of my own malformed humor.

There was a fastidious quality that permeated her voice as she recounted episodes of OCD that made up her artistic process. Apparently it involved posing and taking pictures of herself for every character she draws before embarking on creating the panel detailed in minutia. That’s thousands of pictures over the course of the entire graphic novel. Then there were a series of layers drawn by hand and on the computer, super imposed over one another and melded into a painstaking whole. It comes out to several hours per square inch. “There went a whole weekend” she would joke, flipping through sketches of the Victorian wallpaper endemic in her childhood home. I could so clearly imagine her silhouetted in a lonely house etching the images that her (understandable) resentment had seared into her psyche. What is the difference between the compulsions that enhance our humanity and those that detract from it?

The familiarity of her fidgety and uneven breathing escalated during the q&a period when she as she squinched her face up into a lost expression as she told us she didn’t understand why she did what she did. She almost seemed to plead to the audience to validate her compulsion. Her openness was uneasy on both sides. She seemed pretty desperate about the manner.

How do the stories we tell shape who we are? How do they limit or expand the ways we can understand ourselves? The way we can relate and connect? How does making sense of the world and oneself in relation to it lend justification to our existence? Is there any such thing as credibly and authenticity when one tells one’s own story? How do we prove to ourselves that certain stories belong to us? Why do some people need to share?