Saturday, June 02, 2007

I'm outta here

I've moved over to Wordpress. You can see the new! improved! totally messy and disorganized! version of La Guerrillere--renamed Strange Fire, for the time being anyway--over at

This place will stay up for a bit while I try and get my shit together (links, etc) over there. But all my new posts will be up at Strange Fire now.

See ya there

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

in which I quote Monty Python at unneccessary length

Bring out yer dead!
Here's one.
I'm not dead!
Nothing. Here's your ninepence.
I'm not dead!
'Ere. He says he's not dead!
Yes, he is.
I'm not!
He isn't?
Well, he will be soon. He's very ill.
I'm getting better!
No, you're not. You'll be stone dead in a moment.
Oh, I can't take him like that. It's against regulations.
I don't want to go on the cart!
Oh, don't be such a baby.
I can't take him.
I feel fine!
Well, do us a favour.
I can't.
Well, can you hang around a couple of minutes? He won't be long.
No, I've got to go to the Robinsons'. They've lost nine today.
Well, when's your next round?
I think I'll go for a walk.
You're not fooling anyone, you know. Look. Isn't there something you can do?
DEAD PERSON: [singing]
I feel happy. I feel happy.
Ah, thanks very much.
Not at all. See you on Thursday.
Right. All right.

So I'm not dead yet, and neither is my blogging career, as it happens. I've been invited to be a guest blogger at Feministe for a week, which I find totally thrilling, a little scary, and completely inexplicably. But what the hell! I'll let you all know further details later.

I am, however, going to move this party over to Wordpress, and I'm considering a name change. "Left Angles" (obscure Ani reference), "Sacrilicious", and "Deconstruction Worker" are a few ideas I've got at the moment. But if you've got any preferences and ideas, drop 'em in the comments. Also, whoever sent Feministe my way, you rock so hard.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

in which my vocabulary degenerates

[interrupting blog identity crisis]

Like, OMIFRICKINGAWD, what kind of supremely pathetic dork do you have to be to wear a "Ronald Reagan Presidential Library" t-shirt? Seriously? How incredibly lame is that? To wear your loser Republican idiocy with such...such...gah! Ludicrousness. I had to wait on a Ronald Reagan fan today. I can only assume my karmic books are slightly more balanced now (you hear me, universe? That was just mean. It was like some cosmic Candid Camera episode. The gods mock me.)

If there's a word to describe a combination of appalled disgust and disbelief that results in mournful hilarity, insert it here.

[now resuming blog identity crisis]

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

identity crisis

so, I'm thinking of turning this back into a book blog, which is what it was originally, and switching it from Blogger, maybe to wordpress.

I just feel like I need a narrower focus; which doesn't mean I won't talk about the same old stuff, but it will be centered around reading and literature and comics and stuff. Would I change the name? I don't know. Maybe.

Thoughts? I just feel like I'm rambling all over the place with no regularity or consistency, I don't know how anyone finds it readable. And I feel like I've outgrown blogger, and the form of this blog.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Postcards from Hippietown

  • My boss/the cook speaks Pidgin (her daughter had diaper rash and so now I have two new vocabulary words to name "down there") and writes poetry.
  • Everybody is psychic here, and some of them actually are the real deal. My coworker "Martha" can tell anybody's birthday with a glance, and predicts what kind of day we'll have: "Slow and steady all morning, and then we'll get a big rush around 1:30". And she's never wrong either. One of our regulars is clairaudient (so, she hears voices but isn't schizophrenic).
  • Which is why the local joke is that this is the only town with 50,000 channels and no TVs.
  • Elrond's (my roommate) boss decided to take a vow of silence based on a dream he had. Also, his driveway is haunted by a 16 year old Apache warrior; he was very, very upset with the messiness of the yard, so they cleaned it up for him.
  • Everybody-but-everybody has a Sanskrit name here--Dakshina, Divyo, Shanti, Sukhama--but none of them are Indian.
  • A drum-circle, suffused with sage and pot smoke, is considered a wild night on the town.
  • Impromptu May-pole dances.
  • "You have really great energy; maybe we had a soul-connection in a past life" is a ordinary reaction upon meeting a new acquaintence.
  • "Manifest" is a transitive verb used in everyday conversation, as in "I'm manifesting new professional opportunities."
  • There are four kinds of people here: American Indians, Hispanics, transplanted Europeans, and refugees from Minnesota winters.
  • A normal Tuesday afternoon will find me at home, Ravi Shankar on the stereo, Superhit burning in front of the kitchen Buddha, and Elrond making miso soup and chanting with his mala beads.
  • I no longer find any of this all that unusual. It's alternately fascinating and irritating.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

warning: this is a soppy girlfriend post.

Love rode 1500 miles on a grey
hound bus & climbed in my window
one night to surprise both of us.
the pleasure of that sleepy
shock has lasted a decade
now or more because she is
always still doing it and I am
always still pleased. I do indeed like
aggressive women
who come half a continent
just for me; I am not saying that patience
is virtuous, Love
like anybody else, comes to those who
wait actively
and leave their windows open.
Judy Grahn

So, I guess they do have poems about long-distance lesbian relationships. Who knew?

Yes, this is an Anniversary Post, for the record. Because I met Winter a year ago tomorrow and I've been living out my own poem ever since. I get a kick out of the fact that the day I met her just happens to coincide with a major pagan holiday that's all about sex (Happy Beltane, everybody!) Heh.

Meeting her was a lot of Alix Olsen

and I’m sorry if you’re thinking that I knew what I was doing
I guess what I do best is look like I am in control
but tonight, tonight, I am a soft and untamed thing
and I will wrap my breath around you til your exhale comes clean.
I am checking my pulse
I am checking my pulse.

And then I wandered around Ireland, reciting Yeats to myself (Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled/And paced upon the mountains overhead/And hid his face amid a crowd of stars) and drowning my sorrows in little pubs.

Going home was every forlorn love poem you can think of.

Deciding we wanted to be together provoked, inexplicably, the Beatles. Not a great Romantic poet, or a classic Second-Wave dyke poet, no, I walked around for a week with "She Loves You" stuck in my head.

The past several months have been endless Adrienne Rich:

You've kissed my hair
to wake me. I dreamed you were a poem,
I say, a poem I wanted to show someone ...
and I laugh and fall dreaming again
of the desire to show you to everyone I love,
to move openly together
in the pull of gravity, which is not simple,
which carries the feathered grass a long way down the upbreathing

And now, when we do manage to snatch some time together from every-day reality, I think of Olga Broumas:

...your red
lips suspect, unspeakable
liberties as
we cross the street, kissing
against the light, singing, This
is the woman I woke
from sleep,
the woman that woke
me sleeping.

Happy anniversary, Winter.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

not a pretty girl: thoughts on femininity

My feminity:
  • Greek sandals, hand-made by the son of a poet in Athens
  • Green pants, hand-me-ups from a younger cousin both taller and wider than me, faded to dull gray
  • a pink floral dress that stepped out of the 1930s into the thrift store where I bought it
  • bronze fingernail polish, and ring made of recycled green glass
  • a necklace of silver leaves and wooden beads, from France
  • eau de toilette my mother sent me
  • mineral powder foundation, a free gift for enduring that godawful make-up training session at The Spa

I looked in the mirror the other day and thought, where the hell did you come from?? Perfume? Nail polish? When did I turn into such a...girl?

You say the word androgyny and you think of Grecian hermaphrodites and their perfect marble proportions, the harmony of yin and yang, the Platonic (or was it Aristotle? some dead guy with no gender issues) idea of both sexes achieving that ideal state of unity. But you also think of figures, sexless and neuter, from a sci-fi novel, grey skin and expressionless faces, or conversely, something vaguely monstrous, too many body parts, absurdity and freakishness, the bearded lady, the streetwalker with a dick tucked under her skirt. My androgyny is neither extreme. Not so dramatic, but never that balanced sense of completion either. I'm not intersexed, or transgendered, or genderqueer (depending on your definition, I guess). I like being female, and I like my body as it is. It's my wardrobe that's got identity issues.

I just wish sometimes that you could change names like you change your clothes. That I could wake up in the morning and put on a shirt that hides my small breasts, and a tie, and the moniker "Andy", and go about my day, smiling to myself when people address me as "young man." And then get up the next day and wear an outfit as elegant and refined as the name "Anne." My name means "graceful one", but I've never felt particularly graceful, in any way. My androgyny shifts, constantly, abruptly. Like hormonal fluctuations, something always just slightly beyond my control. It's never something I feel I have a good grasp on.

I love my butchness. I like my boyish charm. I was a tomboy as a kid, and when I was 15 I recreated myself in the image of James Dean. I still remember the indescribable satisfaction when I first cut my hair off. I watch costume dramas and sigh over the waistcoats and hats. One of my goals in life it to own a perfectly tailored three piece suit. Possibly pin-striped. I feel most comfortable with extremely short hair, just shy of a buzz cut, to my mother's eternal consternation. I get a perverse pleasure in confusing people.

My relationship with feminity, however, has always been fraught. I was raised in an environment of white-middle-class-American feminity that felt completely alien and uncomfortable to me. My breasts are too small to put on constant display, and shaving is a painful waste of time. "Women's Interest" magazines bore me. I would look at myself with my big nose and glasses and braces, and at my sister with her long blond hair and perfect tan and concluded that the nurses switched the bassinets. A modern changeling. And I've realized recently that my tomboyishness was also informed by heaps of internalized misogyny. I remember asking my mother if I could get my ears pierced, when I was 11, and she said I was too young, I had to wait till I was 12. My older brother sneered; earrings are so girly. And those days anything my brother said and thought dictated my beliefs, so I decided I would never, ever be girly. I didn't pierce anything till I was 23.

And feminity, girlyness, as I thought of it, seemed inevitably connected to certain behaviors. Normal girls, acceptable girls are feminine. Feminine girls are pretty girls. Pretty girls aren't smart girls. Pretty girls don't read. Pretty girls hang out at the mall and buy lipstick and talk about boys. At lunch pretty girls gossip about who's taking who to homecoming, and what shoes they found to go with their dress. Pretty girls are like women's magazines: boring. I'd never heard of Ani Difranco in high school but I knew that being a pretty girl was not what I wanted to do. And in college part of my coming-out and politicization meant rejecting, piece by piece, everything I'd been raised to believe, which meant everything my mother and sister said were part of dressing "normally." I wanted to stick out, and look as queer as I could.

But. I remember being five and feeling so grown up in my red stockings, my legs crossed, sitting for my portrait in the photographer's studio. Painting my nails with Tinkerbell nail polish. And when I was eleven, I had a paisley skirt and jacket suit that made me feel graceful for the first time. Ugly as sin, now that I look back on it, but at the time I loved any excuse to wear it. My high school senior photo, a tight black dress and gray knee-length jacket and black boots. I think it was the first time I felt sexy, in a traditional sense. Cause I knew I was hot stuff in my jeans and docs and white t-shirt, even if everybody else thought I looked ugly and wierd. But that was the first time I felt comfortable and sexy in a dress.

Now, of course, my notions of feminity are structured by feminism and queerness and postmodernism blah blah blah. But I'm just starting to really, well, embody it myself. Recycled glass jewelry and, someday when I'm filthy rich, perfume from Black Phoenix Alchemy Labs. I'm starting to let my own feelings dictate my gender expression and not so much what I want or fear other people percieving. Sometimes being femme means I look like a boy in drag, and I enjoy that immensely. And sometimes it means looking like a woman in a second hand dress and sandals. And yet I know that my outfit today would still embarrass my sister, and for some reason I feel like that's an achievement. Like it's a sign that I'm on the right track, if I can be comfortably feminine and still make my family cringe, it's some kind of success.