say yes

felt you in my heart

Posts Tagged ‘Chicago

am i there yet

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So, New York. One sunny afternoon, my sister and I walked to the park. We could see the house our mom grew up in, across the street.

I was saying something about how I feel weird talking to our cousin’s kids, how they have grown up in the place where their parents and grand-parents and great-grandparents and great-great-grandparents lived, and if our mom had stayed put we’d have full Long Island accents.

And my sister goes, yeah, they have roots. Her baby asleep on her chest. She says, we don’t have any roots.

I couldn’t speak for a minute. And when I could, I didn’t. My sister has an apartment, a long-term boyfriend, a baby. What are these things if not roots?

We went to NYC a couple of days later, my sister and her boyfriend and their baby and I. We walked down Canal, through Chinatown, and the familiar signs, the street vendors, the press of bodies, the music of tonal languages, the smell of exhaust and incense and roast duck enfolded me. And for the first time in weeks I didn’t feel that familiar ache, the sense of displacement.

We were resting on a park bench and I said to her, doesn’t it make you feel homesick? even though that wasn’t what I meant at all, and I was going to say something else but she said, No. China wasn’t home. I don’t feel that way. Do you?

And I said no.

Which is true in some ways. I don’t feel like China is home. I don’t feel like anyplace is home, but I get homesick for the places that used to feel like home.

I used to feel like Chicago was home. For about three years, I was content. I loved biking and cooking and my loose-knit community of queers and artists. I felt relieved every time I came back from visiting my folks in MI, felt that ache in my throat ease.

I started getting restless again two years ago. In the winter. Everything grey. That was when I switched my major, figuring, among other things, that as a teacher I would be able to travel.

This spring and summer, things were all right for a while. J. came back, and I was really caught up with her and with bike taxi. But since the season turned, I ache, like I’m rusting inside.

There are these ads on the outside of the El. I’ll see it fly above me, on my bike or walking, and I’ll stop in my tracks: a long picture of Shanghai, the Pearl Tower, the glittering riverbanks. I don’t know what I would find if I went back, I’m a little afraid to find out. I’m worried about leaving my sick parents, my kid sister who’s now a mother, about missing J. so much that I can’t enjoy my surroundings. But I can’t stay here much longer. I’m crawling out of my skin.


Written by ponyboi

November 6, 2009 at 10:43 pm

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in my own voice

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L.’s funeral is tomorrow. I’m trying to figure out how to look respectable. I don’t know who else from our school will be there, but I kind of feel like I’m going to the 10-year reunion with not a lot to show. All my classmates hold teaching positions.

I don’t want to teach anymore, in part because the early childhood field has a disproportionate amount of cis straight women speaking in their highest vocal registers, and—despite being a cis woman myself—I stick out like a sore thumb in that kind of environment. I spent the whole time that I was teaching growing out my hair, trying to present feminine, trying desperately to pass.

When I was laid off last spring, I went back to bike taxi. I regained my favorite hairstyle (mohawk!) and my facial piercings. I was doing work I loved, I looked exactly how I wanted to look, and it felt great. Unfortunately it isn’t very profitable in the winter.

So I’m looking for a winter job, any winter job, and I’ll get a haircut & take out the jewelry, but I won’t speak in a falsetto.

I was telling J. on the phone a few days ago that I want to work at something where I don’t have to hide myself, that I want to be one person all day long. She pointed out that it’s one thing to be yourself and another to “fly your queer flag high every day”. And I get that. I don’t need to be completely out at work to be happy, but I can’t handle being completely closeted, either. I just want to be able to speak in my own voice.

Written by ponyboi

October 10, 2009 at 8:23 pm


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I’m back home. J. came to pick me up from the station, looking devastatingly handsome in a shirt & tie, and we curled up in her bed for days, emerging only to make coffee and pancakes.

I am exhausted. Content, but exhausted. Here is a camera-phone shot of some brownies I made at my sister’s apartment last week. They’re the blueberry brownies recipe from Veganomicon; I think it’s become my favorite brownie recipe. When I made them with Heinous a few weeks ago, J. ate one and then declared that she dislikes brownies with fruit. I’m going to make them with strawberries & strawberry jam next time…she won’t be able to resist.

Written by ponyboi

October 8, 2009 at 11:46 am


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Today I biked downtown to the art district to meet up with with Heinous for a mutual friends’ gallery opening at I-space. I wore jeans and a button-down shirt, but sadly, couldn’t remember the new knot I learned for my gallery show (the Pratt knot, my new favorite) and decided to go tieless rather than revert to the Windsor.

The show was  “EveryBody!: Visual Resistance in Feminist Health Movements, 1969-2009” and it was amazing. There were cunts everywhere. There was a coloring station including crayons with coloring pages from The Cunt Coloring Book*, a whole lot of zines (including Tip of the Iceberg, an excellent book on the clitoris which my friend wrote, drew, and published), prints from A New View of a Woman’s Body on the walls, and a giant plush cunt in one corner.

Our friend went to the fancy artists’ dinner, so Heinous suggested that we get Thai food at a restaurant a couple of blocks away. It turned out to be a restaurant that we’d gone to together when I first moved to the city, which I hadn’t seen in the five years since, and I had the best kind of nostalgia. Then we biked back to Uptown and did our best to melt our brains by watching hours and hours of The L Word. I’m pretty sure I succeeded and that my brain is permanently mush, which I’m sure the zombies will appreciate when they invade.

* Google Books has The Cunt Coloring Book listed under “humor”, but I think it’s more “educational”.

Written by ponyboi

September 12, 2009 at 3:30 pm