No pesticides have been added. Nor any corn syrup or sugars not already churning within the veins of this body.
No dyes. Minimal dyes. Nothing had been surgically enhanced or altered. (Thoughts of doing so do not count.)
This body is organic.
Autumn has arrived and the air settles onto skin like red, orange and off-green kisses falling from bark to body. This season represents change of color, cooler inhalations, semi-hibernation prep. Humans surround me in scarves and boots, some already wearing jackets.
This body is already feeling the climate shift. Throat is sour and limbs are like old doors, creaking. Energy feels powdered, like dust. It blows off of me too easily. I need to prepare better for this.
I gargle salt water and coffee. Drink ginger tea and red wine. Eat high antioxidant foods like blueberries and chocolate cake.
Recently, a stranger on the subway asked me where I was from. I answered: My mother’s womb.
He nodded and turned away, repeating my answer. I think he may have been expecting me to name a state, city or borough. Perhaps I just don’t like to give people want they really want.
I was walking to the train and thought: What would I have looked like if I were born/raised as a boy?
Then, I wondered if I’d look different if I were born a mother or decided to become someone whose job fattened my bank account and I no longer worried about the rising cost of capers and peanut butter.
Would I look different if I were a wife or husband or world traveler?
What version was I supposed to be and am I doing this right?
My first thought in the morning is coffee.
My next thought is: what if the words never arrive today.
Then, I have a cup of coffee, digest the caffeine and allow it to clear up the bloat in my throat and begin to unravel.
I have recently acquired a sweater with the most beautiful emblem on it, representing all I believe in, celebrate and practice. This blue and white image is like the rainbow I secretly hope to appear in the sky after each warm rainstorm. It is the signifier of hope, patience and art of writing in this country.
It is……….the United States Postal Service mark of dedication.
Beyond writing letters (almost) each day, I find comfort when I spot a curvy, blue mailbox to slip my envelopes inside. It reminds me that I am not only being encouraged to write, but how dedicated these postal workers are, traveling all over to empty these boxes and bring them to the chosen addressee.
I have written 125 letters to one particular human for the past six months. When I mentioned recently to someone that we live nearby and often see each other, they asked: So, what do you write in your letters? What is left to say?
I mentioned that I never plan out my sentences. I write what I see. How I feel in that moment. I write about the pigeon hopping along on three feet with what looks like bed head, staring me down as I eat a pretzel. When I crumble a few bits of it and toss it onto the ground, I write about how it pecks at it, then walks away. Perhaps the pigeon expected it to have more flavor or bite. I write about the panic attack I have on the A train which follows me onto the 4 train. I write about the way in which I abruptly head above ground, toward a farmers market, breathing in the medicinal fume of local vegetables. I write about the man standing above me on a different commute and the envy I feel for his perfectly-fitting suit and how his tie looks crisper than mine. I write that I wish I could afford a tailored suit and how different fabric looks on a body, which it was measured just for.
My postal worker in Boulder, Colorado, where I lived for a few years, was named Rusty. I often greeted him, asking him about his day and thanking him for his dedication to his job.
It’s not easy delivering mail in rain, sleet, or snow. On the coldest days of the year or the hottest.
Postal workers are my heroes. They are thankless publishers, bringing handwriting and languages to worthy recipients.
Yes, they also deliver your bills and bad messages, but if you were to have a pen pal (or several), it makes the junk mail feel less lackluster.
Thank you to all those who go door-t0-door, filling up mailboxes across the world.
And find yourself a pen pal, if you haven’t already.
(I’ve always got room for one or two more!)
I wasn’t checking you out.
That is to say, I wasn’t looking to get inside your pants which were wide open, zipper down. I wasn’t interested in the way your body would feel pressed against mine. I had no interest in knowing how soft you could be. Or how…hard.
I had no interest in your mouth. Or your long hair whipping into mine. I didn’t care how many indents you had pressed into your abdominals. If your thighs were strong or weak, it did not matter.
I could not care about the color of your eyes or if they caught my stare.
I had no plans on learning whether or not you are a good kisser. Perhaps you have a tongue that can drip a thousand alphabets down my throat. I will never know.
What I could not stop noticing was the skin between your collarbone and bellybutton.
The human who sat beside me said, “I think that’s what your chest would like like.”
would look like…….
I couldn’t stop memorizing the ways in which your chest flattened and curved, shadowed by the sun. I was too far to calculate or memorize the drips of sweat from the heat, but I imagined they were there.
I curled my head downward toward my own chest. It was clothed in button-down shirt, tie, vest. It was flat until I touched it and then, the curve could be felt. The binder. The interruption of how I feel and what remains.
I watched you pray, Male-Presenting-Meditating-Human.
I watched you contemplate peace or life or maybe you were just napping with strict posture. Maybe you were wishing for a different chest……like I was.
Maybe you were wondering what it might be like to look the way you feel inside.
Guess it’s hard to know what you feel inside when all that is seen is your outside….
Guess it’s hard to show what I feel inside when the outside appears so different.
at The Red Room at KGB Bar NYC
85 E. 4th St. 3rd Floor
$15 at the door
$10 in advance (http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/853689)
Eyes scroll palms instead of sidewalk cracks and I wonder what would happen if we all spent a day foregoing text messaging and reminded each other that we exist through face contact and voice contact and in-person breaths.
We are forgetting how to connect without the use of electronic devices. We are moved by a human and the first question that often slips out of mouths has grown to: can we be facebook friends?
What happened to: Can we have a cup of coffee sometime and swap stories?
After so many open mics, poetry events and spaces where people share their art, I realize that we so often forget about the importance of in-person contact. By living our lives on computer screens, we are creating another version of ourselves, sometimes very different from the one that exists off-line.
What do we really know about each other. We can certainly learn a lot due to what one posts about themselves. Some feel the need to document their meals; some share links to global issues and world news; some post photographs of themselves taken by themselves; there are those that share poems or slices of their art; there are those that are in search of personal connections albeit through the computer screen.
I wonder what my words say about me.
Key words: gender, sexuality, identity, body, sad, human, love, words, poetry.
But what version of this is me?
What am I not giving away; what am I holding back?
I know I have typed this before: UNPLUG.
And I know I am saying this not just to you, but to me as well. Ask a stranger (or someone you’ve known the name of for awhile but couldn’t list more than three things about them) for coffee. Reconnect with someone you may be FACEBOOK FRIENDS with but rarely–if ever–speak to.
There was a time none of this existed. And by this, I mean, TECHNOLOGY.
How did we connect before computer screens and text messaging?
Unplug and find out the answer.
I’ve got enough calluses on my feet to remind me that I am city-living. I inhale the beautiful soot of new york and get lost. I travel without electronic directional device, so when I turn incorrectly, I ask human beings: Where am I?
Over ten years minus about six months without health insurance and this earth can be quite scary without back-up sometimes. Several people in my life have told me to intentionally get lost: Go without maps and allow yourself to study parts of the wind you weren’t expecting to meet. Three years ago, a beautiful German with the blondest of dreadlocks told me: When you make the wrong turn, it becomes right.
So I turned my maps into paper airplanes and floated onward. Careful of the cracks and and inconsistency of sidewalks, I lifted up each foot so as not to fall. I wanted to see everything and yet feared falling. Suddenly, I realized I was collecting more fears. Choking and getting sick and infections and side-effects and migraines and whooping cough and chicken pox–even though I received it in my youth and it no longer exists.
I still wanted to be aimless and hippie and hunt and exist, yet I worried about the contagion of city.
Now, I am incorporating vocabulary back into my speech such as: HMO, copay and referrals. I am searching for doctors in my plan. Suddenly, I feel like an adult because I have…..health insurance.
I have deeply mixed emotions about this body I live in. I lost the keys a few times and I’ve had to break in. So, there are cracks and creaking floorboards inside me. There are tiny slits where the mice get in. There are drafts and mold, but it seems to be rent stabilized, so here I am.
Suddenly, I feel like I can address this body in ways I have been waiting to. Ready to see some doctors. Ready to articulate my sick. Prepared to get my heart checked.
When all else fails, take fourteen hours out of your day to create a manual for making it through a mood. Call up the lover that always mispronounced your favorite word and remind them the importance of expiration dates, clean sheets and the texture of toast. Mediate an argument between humans you never met before but feel the desire to restore. Give your mouth away just for an evening and forget about your allergy to men, moustaches and margarine. In order to make new friends, sometimes you need to pretend you understand how to download or upload and logout immediately. On the second day of Autumn, you will receive an unmarked scab from someone who used to know seventeen things about you; this will be their version of a love letter; do not eat it; or if you do, tell no one of this. Everyday thereafter, this encrusted wound will cause you to mispronounce your favorite word. You will choose silence over speech lessons. The next time you weep will be three years two months and four days from now. It will be attributed to something related to southern women or a misplaced pronoun. Sometimes, to be human can be difficult.
He asks, “What do you collect?”
I say, “Rituals. Mothers. Loose tea.”
She wants to know why maps coat my walls as though these paper grids were paint.
I say, “I got lost somewhere between sixteen and thirty-two and need to be reminded which directions and roads will lead me back.”
“You must confess how you got your hair that color,” they sing.
I say, “Plasma, sex and rejected genetics.”
He whispers, “Tell me what distracts you away from then.”
“Easy,” I slurp out. “I eat cross-outs. I memorize bloodstains on my mattress. I finger the silence between my gender and my hairstyle—”
“I just don’t understand,” they interrupt. “What does blood and silence and the haunt between your legs have anything to do with—
“Tell me what you think when you look at my knots and curls,” I instruct.
She responds, “Pretty. Feminine. Lucky.”
I tell him that injecting a different box into my body doesn’t have to change the length of my hair.
He asks me, “Do you hunger for happy.”
I say, “I appetite for multiple choice and window panes.”
She tells me that I am too feminine to be called anything other than—
“And what distracts you away from now,” he interrupts.
I tell them, “Naming tomorrow.”
From a recent article in the NY Times magazine featuring Jill Soloway, the writer of the new Amazon program, “Transparent”, Ian Harvie, a transgender actor was quoted saying: “…We’re all trans. Don’t you see that we’re all trans?”
The writer of the article, Taffy Brodesser-Akner said, “But we aren’t, except in this way: We all struggle to become comfortable in the skin we were born into; we all try to uncover an identity beneath what was assigned to us at birth.”
And here I agree. So much of this life is about remaining. We are encouraged (by some) not to alter. Not to change what has been “given” to us. But so much of it is beyond changing hair color or attire. So much of it comes from a need to feel complete. To unite one’s insides with one’s outsides. And it is painful. And risky. But far better than living inside a construction site that you feel unwelcome in.
Trans is to move into another state or place.
Trans is to transform.
Trans is to translate. To surpass. To transcend.
I think more visibility is what is most important. To ask. To never assume one’s pronoun or gender marker. To allow space for someone to exist between binaries. To give humans space to be inconsistent if that is what permits them to live out loud. More and more movies and television programs with transgender characters and actors and genderqueer humans existing as well, is what we need to further educate those who are unaware or unsure.
There is never going to be just one way to be. There is not one kind of gay person or trans person. Or human.
We (can) exist to educate and inspire one another. So, ask. And respect one another’s vocabularies. It takes some people a lifetime to find their inner dictionaries and understand how to enunciate the body.