confronted

Sentimentality, the ostentatious parading of excessive and spurious emotion, is the mark of dishonesty and the ability to feel; the wet eyes of the sentimentalist betray his aversion to experience, his fear of life, his arid heart; and it is always, therefore, the signal of secret and violent inhumanity, the mask of cruelty… He is not, after all, merely a number of a Society or a Group or a deploration conundrum to be explained by Science. He is—and how old-fashioned the words sound!—something more than that, something resolutely indefinable, unpredictable. In overlooking, denying, evading his complexity—which is nothing more than the disquieting complexity of ourselves—we are diminished and we perish; only within this web of ambiguity, paradox, this hunger, danger, darkness, can we find at once ourselves and the power that will free us from ourselves… Our passion for categorization, life neatly fitted into pegs, has led to an unforeseen, paradoxical distress: confusion, a breakdown of meaning.”

-James Baldwin
Everybody’s Protest Novel

Off to Oz

The tension before taking off. How do you pack it all and go? Zippers inside zippers. A tetris of objects playing tricks of easiness. Summer clothes. THC tea, a blotter sheet, Dr. Bronner’s soap, Goo Gone for sticky messes. Rhodiola and yerba mate. 37 books. I’m ready. Flying into another season. The farthest I’ve ever been from home. My cells shake, anticipate. Preparing for a whole new world. New rules, new government, new order. No more sativa mornings. Walks through redwoods. No more Bart rides to 16th. Delayed by people jumping. New transit, new accent, new coffee shops. Wondering what will be. A place that seems mythical. A place also fucked by foundations of colonization, but somehow seems to function in a streamlined smoothness of well-being that gleams from many Aussies I meet. Generally okay. No worries. And that’s what scares me. The main thing I’ll miss and maybe even crave in Australia is friction to rub against. Something to be bothered about. An itch. Something that makes me watch out. Something that makes me critical. All the chaos home provides. The subsequent yearning to make, to do, to deconstruct, to transform. What will I do in a land called Oz? The same as anywhere: think, feel, read, write. Burn and rebuild energy. But will Australia irk me the same way? Will the people agitate towards change like they do in the Bay? Will there be access to the same niches of information and conversation? Talks on Tuesdays. Will the people care about what’s happening around them? Or are they too far removed, hearing yesterday’s news? Will the flag be half-mast everyday there too? Lifted into the air by migrants on minimum wage while those who pay to have it risen stay inside, scheming. The American Dream. If everything is relatively sane and easy-going down under, then what is there to reach? (Isn’t simply being there wrong?) Where’s the dirt? (Paved by Victorians seeking gold. Stolen generations.) Maybe it’s fertile soil for groovy music and laid-back design of neon pinks and blues. Quality gastronomy. I’m not sure how far I’ll go slipping into pleasure. A new place to consume. You can’t compare the two, but you can feel them differently. When you mix all the paint the color turns brown. Once at a bar in Paris, drinking my favorite color green, I overheard a table of Aussies saying they’ll never go to the United States. Because of the ignorance, the obesity. All the shit. The competition, the stress, the drugs, the mess, the machine. But I’ll miss the mud that springs lotuses of reform the world watches and replicates. The tallest trees and the dry breeze. I’ll miss California. Not the border, but what happens within. Channels of hope to grasp in the dark. The ones that pull you through and push you forward. This is just a time capsule of thoughts. A photograph. Maybe in a year I’ll have some answers to these questions. Maybe I’ll be wrong, again. And look, I’m outside of myself. Already there, wondering how next will be.

*

Here. Made it. First impression: love.

To be

Telling her how to be and when to be. “There’s a time and place for everything.” A predicament inherent to being. Everyday reflections remind her where the power lies. In the subway, the cinema, this screen. Attention doesn’t equate to better treatment. “Smile, honey” becomes “fuck you, conceited bitch.” Every dismissed stranger presents more risk of danger. “Can I buy you a drink—no?—you’re not that hot, anyway.” Standard procedure: projection after rejection. Discomfort aroused from desires denied. Hold it against her. Eyes on thighs as she walks by. Words responded but he just wanted her mouth. Reactions often halted, in fear of another attack. But she no longer holds in her expression for his convenience. Someday he’ll never want again.

Migrate

3 am, can’t sleep. Don’t want to think about it anymore. Him, her. Is it possible to care and be happy? Considering place. I don’t want to label and critique every moving object. Get into debates in a digital web of 1s and 0s. So reactive by surroundings. Neurons scanning a screen won’t fix the anthropocene. Maybe I shouldn’t talk about what I think on that podcast. Me, me, me. I, I, I on the byline. Why even put it in a book? Thoughts keep coming anyway. Maybe someday I’ll write them away. Mental predispositions mix with chemical compounds. Exposing patterns in unseen conditions. Role play the foreplay ‘til climax; the end. A crisis, the meeting point. Rather read and listen. Get high and take notes. Entering a stealth mode to heal head and heart. Still migrating physically and mentally. Something I don’t take for granted. Something all humans should be able to do. Freely.

American addicts

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It started with a collective itch, absorbing unseen elements. We left and met here. Hopeful the unknown would be better than this. Still craving, switching spaces. The united states of bodies on the ground. Just human. Sure, we can migrate to a new state. We can evolve. But what’s next? Awareness morphing into control. A meditative/medicated existence, far removed from the jolts of the past. Blacking out the rising sun. Muting emotions. Tucking fear into a belt. Veins popping out. A splitting people. They say it doesn’t affect them, but children will singe. Blur this dirty scene, a failed humanity. Closed eyes see reality. Who cares if we can zone out? Focus on the breath. Unthinkable for many. Those who cannot escape. Those before us. Circling around fire. Making sense of sounds. They couldn’t afford to shut it all off. But we think we have the switch.

Vehemently speaking

Mixed thoughts and feelings from the last few days. A prose poem about the Kavanaugh hearing & repressed memories of sexual assault.

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Drinking parsley tea, watching the hearing. Disgruntled by the dirt in the details. But isn’t shit obvious? Smeared facts with his résumé (cool), his basketball practice (well done!), his grades (congrats!), and wait, his faith (still his, not this). But sir, one thing does not lead to the other. Let us explain in simple logic. Boil it down for you and drink the tea for this anxiety. If he lied about that, then would he lie about this? Seven hours of Him vs. her brought it to the surface. Manhattan, 2011. 2012? Couldn’t even tell you the year, let me check my calendar. He drugged me, pulled down my pants, and threw me in a room with his friend. Awoke from open eyes to open eyes, he behind me. I puked the whole way home, only drank one beer. Where’s the Off to these thoughts? Busy connecting the public and private. I try to distract from the past, but His face appears everywhere. September 27th, 2018 held me in a spell. After intaking the whole hearing I left to decompress and wound up in a dressing room, trying on a bra. Solace in fitting and dressing these breasts. Capitalistic bliss; an anesthetic drip. Our small is their extra large and it’s starting to seem like we’ve bitten too much. “Oh you don’t like underwires?” laughed the salesperson, “that’s cute.” This isn’t working. Still not sure what he did. Fuck that kid. Fuck all of you. Few of my exes too. The one who wouldn’t take no and the one who told me to go. To be quiet. Who gets to show rage in such a high place? Oh wait, can I show my emotions now or should I hold off a bit? Please oh please keep telling me how to be. Ha. “Indelible in the hippocampus is the laughter.” Truth and lies can both cry. Read this, mister. You should be scared we don’t conform like they did. Doesn’t matter if you “like” or “don’t like” politics. Let’s call this place the divided states. Rewrite the compromise, draw a new line. Really wouldn’t give a damn, just preserve the land. Or let it burn and I’ll escort you to those fiery gates of which you believe, but don’t worry, you’ll still wake up in your bed tomorrow morning. Smash open the eyes on your head. Everything will be the same. Welcome to yourself. May that name never change. This was not written for you, or you. But, you. We see you.

West

Three hundred years ago he moved from Bern and changed his name from Aebi to Avey to sound a bit more neutral, a bit more American. I’ve been thinking more about what it means to be American. Who, how, why. I have some reference points. It was easy to move to Germany. Music I know is everywhere I go. My Colombian father-in-law told me to hide my passport because it might get stolen. I underestimate that blue cover. The public schools and libraries. Hiding a heritage of human sorrow and potential. Somehow still allergic to this land. Poison oak forms a resistance on the trails we blaze. Oozing with red bumps, making me question the way. I’m the non-native species. Make it more American. But how? From the jazz to the mundane. Paint the spectrum black or white. The distance between what you know and want to know lies in what you create. Between places you’ve been and places you can’t imagine. How could it be so hard to write under your parents’ roof when they gave you every neuron? Drive north on the 1. A loud bed and breakfast might be awkward. Let’s take a quarter and go explore. Another pioneer couple walking on a boneyard of tree branches. Looks like beach cheese. Sitting halfway up a Monterey cypress. Staring at the setting sun with the moon to our back. This place makes me sleepless. I heard a man inside the wall with a pickaxe. Crumbling down the structure from the inside out. But then the mother of slumber blacked out my vision with her placement of fill-in-the-box. I’m home. Horace Greeley might have told you to “Go west, young man,” but I’m called by the wild poppies and cortaderia. Those here before us. Junipero Serra paved the way, killing with faith. Priests on a mission overlook young women. Left out of the literature. I’m pulled in by the Pacific, the way redwoods hold on to their neighbors’ roots. Prioritizing nourishment. A church turned grocery store. Looking at another “All Are Welcome Here” sign made Sam ask what that says about other places. A bold statement against a dark reality. But damn this place is hard to reach.

Away

It’s easier to establish a voice away from home. Surrounded by expression foreign from your own helps you feel more alone. Background voices merge into a hush. Hidden in a cafe, away on a train. Sinking in solitude. Language becomes noise. Until I hear my own. That accent pierces past and I distract. Mind deciphers meaning. “We sold two so far.” “She was so wasted she couldn’t stand.” The words of others crowd my mind and expel my own. Familiarity pauses attention. The known pulls me out. Craving lips moving in silence. Everywhere I go, one language turns up the volume and drowns my stream of thought. The others, a sea of sound I can sense, but not grasp. A liberating loss of comprehension. Drowning in the unknown, searching for significance. A pocket of air. Choking, an inner voice becomes more clear. More distinct. I can think.