October 6, 2010 - One Response

I keep reading articles about bullying, and invariably there is  a comment by someone saying something like: “People need to get over this. Bullying made me a stronger person… blah blah blah. That’s life… blah blah blah.” Actually, it’s not life. I am thirty years old, and the most tormented time of my life occured between fifth grade and senior year of high school. These are the years when we are supposed to be learning about the world and about what makes the world work, we are supposed to be concentrating on our studies. Sure the world can be cruel, and it often is, but I can’t agree that bullying is how we learn about how unfair the world can be. My experiences after this time, have largely been filled with kind people, intimacy, love, real happiness, some sadness, a bit of conflict, but never the crushing depression, humiliation, fear, self-hatred, hatred for others, that I experienced in school. I don’t remember anyone EVER reaching out to me, I don’t remember ever telling even my closest friends or my parents about what my days were really like when they were not around to witness it for fear that they would reject me for being gay (even those I knew would still love me.) One event that will always stick with me: I was being harassed by this guy named John. It was in art class and the teacher was literally a foot away from us. John crouched behind me and said graphic sexual things to me and put his hands on my shoulders, while across the room his friends laughed, and I stared at the teacher, who looked at me and then looked away. Even my table mates went about their business, as if he weren’t there at all. It was in high school that I stopped hating the people who were torturing me and started hating myself. What did I expect? I was a faggot.

I know for a fact that I would have tried harder in school if things had been different; I would have joined SOMETHING; I know that I would have been braver once I was out of school; I would have had more confidence in my abilities in everything;  I would have loved myself before the age of twenty. I sometimes say that being bullied made me stronger, but all it did was tell me that I was hated for who I was and what I couldn’t change. It made me HATE and mistrust heterosexual men. Not that girls weren’t as bad, but they were subtle about pointing out my difference. When I got my braces off after a year, a girl in my science class, who I had actually liked, said: “Great! You don’t sound like such a faggot anymore.”

It was a long time before I realized that I was not the one with the problem. Just because kids have always been bullied doesn’t make it right. Doesn’t mean it does NO damage. I can only speak for the gay kids: the world already tells us we’re wrong, just by bombarding us with straightness, by keeping the VERY existance of homosexuality away from children so that they don’t understand it. Even members of my own family have acted as if I am something to hide. My aunt didn’t tell her children I was gay until this year. They are 13 and 16, and I’m sure they figured it out. But what was she hiding from them? What is so shameful about me? Of course, this goes for everyone: do we want to stomp down the resources that are American children? We keep popping out more and more: do we want them to be beaten down so early in the game that they feel it’s useless to become great?


When you don’t do anything . . .

January 21, 2010 - 2 Responses

I made promises. I wrote notes; I paced. I washed the dishes because it had to be done. After that, I cleaned the kitchen, vacuumed, and watched TV. I made new files and wrote a line in each one. I played a short phrase of music and then turned the keyboard off.

For years and years, writing a novel has been a plan. I’ve done work here and there, up to a point. I have reams of paper with words and characters that now seem unfamiliar and embarassing.

Maybe writing a book will always just be a plan. Maybe not. I think most people have something like this in their lives, something that nags at them, a project that is the project of their lives. I’m really good at talking and planning, not so good at doing. I like notes and fragments, and often when I’m writing I’ll encounter a problem I don’t want to deal with, so I leave a note for myself to deal with it later. As I get older I feel better about this. Sure, one day I might get it right, I might actually take a fragment of something and make it whole, or I might not. I wonder if anyone else can relate to this: being great at making not doing anything look like doing something.


December 22, 2009 - Leave a Response

I’ve been MIA for a while. Actually, I’ve been around, but I’ve been ignoring my blog, which I knew would happen at some point when I started it. I’m not very good at keeping diaries. I used to have an online journal (this was before “blogging”), and I would usually just write a line or two about what I was thinking, or what I’d observed. I enjoyed that. I like being brief, so I might go back to doing things that way. Perhaps, you (who are you anyway, probably one or two of my friends?) will be happy to know that in the time I was gone, I was working on stories, having the flu, watching the Simpsons, eating a lot, scrapping a car, and getting a new car. It’s hard for me to write stories and then come here and write about myself . . . so from now on, I’ll keep it brief. Oh, and Happy Holidays!

Spring Pageant (Excerpt from Novel or Story, who knows.)

October 26, 2009 - One Response

The background was a triptych of sorts. The left panel pictured a great tree, and on the ground below it, the inhabitants: two giant sparrows as large as children. The center panel was filled with green fields, painted with pure acrylic green, not at all like real grass, and nestled in the green were two huge bloody strawberries with butterflies dancing in the air above them. The last panel showed only a night sky, navy blue and dotted with pure white stars and a thin yellow crescent moon. Recorded music played quietly. Classical, familiar, but Justin couldn’t name it; he could never keep tunes in his head. . .

The lights in the auditorium switched off, leaving the stage dark. Then, the footlights slowly came on to illuminate the set and the players began to wander on, as if they’d forgotten how to begin.

Some children wore street clothes, their only costume a wreath made of flowers on their heads. Others were completely changed, dressed as birds like the ones pictured in the set piece. A kid walked on stage, its head a bird’s head formed out of papier-mâché, and its torso enclosed in a plump dirt-brown and ash colored costume with wings on the sides. A plain bird: a sparrow.  It sat on the stage by the tree and Justin could no longer see its legs. The footlights turned up, yellowish white, and the audience was left in the dark. With the new light, Justin could see the feathers on the bird costume. What kid would sit and glue all those feathers on a costume? And where did the feathers come from. They were not wispy white chicken feathers, or down from a pillow. They looked stiff, like feathers you’d find on the ground on a hike. The stage was silent, and Justin could feel the audience around him shifting with anxiety. Where was the music, when would it start? Children walked onto the stage and wandered around, as if seeing the set for the first time. A girl dressed in a long white gown moved to center stage. She had long blonde hair, braided here and there. She held nothing in her hands, and Justin couldn’t imagine what her function would be.

“What’s going on?” Lilly said.

He thought he could hear everyone’s breath escape at once as the tinkling piano started. Justin imagined Patrick standing behind the curtain, watching the children mill about, giving them hand signals, his finger to his lips to shush the younger actors. The music teacher, an older woman named Donna that Justin had met last year at the Christmas show, sat at the piano and smiled to herself as she played. The song wasn’t familiar to him, and as he watched her play it, he realized, he supposed because of the look on her face, that she had written it. The tune seemed sad to him, but as the children lined up, the tallest in the middle and the shortest at both ends of the line, they smiled. A young boy, one of the fifth graders, wandered onto the stage, shirtless, his arms smeared with mud. A few rows ahead someone took a picture, though earlier they had been warned not to use flash photography. All the children blinked against the lightning flash. The shirtless boy moved in front of the line of other students and they all began to sway to the simple piano. Why was this kid shirtless? Patrick hadn’t said anything about the show before hand. In fact, he’d been so tight lipped about it, and now Justin started to sweat. An unpleasant trickle made a trail from his armpit to his hip. He’s lost his mind, he thought.

The boy sang. All the time the others swayed behind him, and stage left the bird child still sat, his head cocked to the side. Now, he could see its black eyes. The head cocked again, and he was no longer sure there was a child in the costume.

“The sun rises, and makes the sky happy,” the shirtless boy sang. The others repeated it, sweetly. Now, the audience was captivated, because their children were performing. Justin looked at Lilly and she smiled, her hands folded comfortably in her lap.

The girl in the dress came to the young boy’s side and took his hand. Justin thought how strange it was to be a boy in school, a place where no one touched you unless they were going to punch you in the arm. If you touched a girl, you were done for, and if you didn’t brag about touching a girl, you were done for. It was so exhilarating to be touched back then. Once, on the bus on the way home from school he’d sat next to Michelle Vasquez, and the fat part of his arm had touched the fat part of hers. She’d smiled at him and then moved closer to the window to give him more room. She always smiled at him after that, and he wondered if she could hear the thoughts in his head, trying to scream out to her that he wanted to touch boys, not her.

On stage, the girl held the shirtless boy’s hand. The song ended and the chorus behind them dissipated, some of them still milling around or bending down to pick up fruit and flowers that littered the stage. There was muttered dialogue. Justin tried to hear, but there was only a single microphone on a stand in front of the stage. One of the younger girls brought the boy a spade and the girl in the white dress took the little girl’s hand and seemed to move her along. Was the boy a farmer and the girl in white his wife? She took both his filthy hands and led him off stage.

The lights dimmed and a tall man entered from stage right. It was still dark, but it had to be Patrick. As the lights came up, he moved to the front of the stage to show himself to the audience. He wore a pair of overalls and a flannel shirt. His feet were bare. He wore a mask, a paper creation, green as new cicada wings. The music started up again, sinister classical buzzing out of a radio too small to handle the volume, music that would follow a hulking beast in a cartoon. The audience laughed as Patrick thumped around in his bare feet, along to the music, and one by one the children came on stage and then were briefly chased and scared back off by the monster and the audience laughed as the children shrieked.


Excerpt from new story in progress (1)

October 15, 2009 - 3 Responses

The doctor drew little shapes to represent new structures in the middle ear. Here was the small chain of bones that had been removed thirty years prior and would be fashioned out of bits of cartilage during the reconstruction, the bones that vibrated as a wave of sound came through on its way to the inner ear. Hammer, anvil, stirrup. He could not remember what it was like to hear completely. He had been in pain for all the years leading up to the first surgery, had leaked fluid from his chronically infected ear on his pillowcases, and had never really been cured until the whole rotten mess was taken out. And then, he was left blank on one side. For a long time, he would turn to the right, afraid that there was someone or something next to him or coming up from behind. He missed words and important declarations; spontaneous outpourings of love had to be repeated.