Love On A Real Train (Time-Jump #26)


One day I will be yours and you will be mine.

One of my all-time favorite pieces of music. Now I ride fake trains every day and look for love in a real city, or as close as anything in this country gets to being a real city anymore.

“The girls are never supposed to end up together.[[MORE]] I watched that movie with Ellen Page and Alia Shawkat, the roller-skating movie, the one where Ellen and Alia are best friends, each other’s only comforts in their podunk town. They need each other, and they hug, and they dance, and they tell each other I Love You, and Ellen meets a skinny boy who plays in a band. It doesn’t even work out with the boy, but that’s almost tangential. The girl was never a real option.
I think that’s why it’s really difficult for girls. For me. We follow narratives and our fingertips trace the contours of the stories we love and we long to escape within the confines of our own lives. Meet your boyfriend in the pouring rain and yank down his mask and kiss him upside down. Run with your boyfriend to the front of the ferry and throw your arms out to the side and scream, “I’m king of the world!” If you are a girl in love with a boy, your possibilities are infinite.
If there is a special girl in your life, you love her as a friend. You love her as a friend, but she becomes less important to you as you grow, and you leave her behind for a boy. She might even stand next to you when you marry the boy, and she might catch the bouquet of flowers that you throw to her. You’re giving her permission to move on, move away from you. It’s a ceremony of separation.
But if you should fall in love with a girl - and loving and falling in love are two very distinct things - the first kiss is the end. You’ve all seen the movie. Or the television show. Or the after-school special, or you’ve read the book that was banned from your school’s library for containing Sexual Content. The point of your story is not to fall in love. The point of your story is to struggle. Your story begins with a lie and climaxes in a truth and ends with a kiss. In the movie of your life, forty-five minutes are devoted to you figuring out how to say that you want to kiss girls, and another half-hour is devoted to people’s objections, and maybe the last fifteen minutes is you kissing the girl. Maybe you don’t even get to kiss the girl. Maybe she tells you that she’s flattered, but she doesn’t bat for your team.
The critics swoon; it’s realistic, they say, so realistic, to depict the struggle of the modern teen, the heartbreak of irresolvable incompatibility. Isn’t that always what celebrities cite in their divorces? “Irreconciliable differences.”
And so you’re lying on the floor of your bathroom, your knees curled to your chest, or you’re on your sofa with a pint of ice cream, or you’re in bed watching your favourite sad movie on Netflix, and the collective weight of all that you consume settles on your shoulders, leans in, and whispers, “You were never meant to fall in love.”
You were never meant to fall in love. Your story ends in tears or it ends in death. Jack Twist was bludgeoned to death with a tire iron and Ennis Del Mar was left alone in his closet to dance with an empty shirt. Alby Grant found Dale Tomasson swinging by a noose in the apartment that had been their safehouse, their respite, and he sank to his knees and cradled Dale’s bare feet and he cried. The Motion Picture Association of America axed Lana Tisdel and Brandon Teena’s sex scenes, but they didn’t have a problem with the extended shot of Lana cradling Brandon’s corpse in her fragile arms and falling asleep next to his body.
Love and intimacy are ours only in death, or so it would seem.
I don’t want to die. Isn’t that a very human experience? Not wanting to die? When does anyone who looks like me get to grow old and raise grandchildren and hold her wife’s hand as the skin wrinkles, turns translucent?
Sometimes my father asks me if I’ll ever date a man. Sometimes he doesn’t ask. “You are attracted to men, and you dream about falling in love with men,” he says, as if he can will his imaginary daughter into existence merely by speaking about her. Or maybe he is just looking out for my safety.
He’s seen the movies, too.
He loves me.
He doesn’t want me to die.”

if this is heaven:

Oh, my God, this is beautiful, and now I’m nearly crying. This. ALL OF THIS OMG. 

(via somatrip)

When my best friend and I were in high school, trying desperately (and usually failing) to either not be gay or at least not hate ourselves for being gay, she once confessed to me, crying, that one of the reasons she didn’t want to be a lesbian is that lesbians aren’t happy in love, that their relationships can’t last, that she’d never seen happy lesbians in stable relationships.  This shit matters so hard y’all.

(via sirpuddleduck)

This is another reason why I think Gone Home is so important and so excellent, why I love that it plays with your expectations, making you think that maybe something horrible has happened, that Sam and Lonnie can only be together in death, before revealing that it’s not that way at all. It doesn’t say in the end that anything will be easy for them, or even for sure that things will work out for them, but it says that it’s possible, that maybe they can find their way in the world, together.

(via westofawhitehouse)

Masha Tupitsyn on being a feminist killjoy

Also appropriate to how I’m feeling right now, as someone who is sometimes seen by certain readers, certain coworkers, certain friends, as difficult, negative, a person who rocks the boat (which I was born to do), who says the unpleasant things, who makes an unnecessary fuss of things, are these two posts by Masha Tupitsyn, from July 14 and July 17, 2012, respectively.


Rant (July 14, 2012)

I used to be so good at wearing my sadness on my sleeve. At being true to my anger. At not hiding anything. Not compromising. Saying exactly what I think. But how many times can you lose everything. Everyone. As a woman, in America, in the 21st century (and I can really only talk about my own time and place), the risk of alienation and disapproval is near-constant. Because the line between being liked and accepted and being shunned and hated is so thin and precarious. It literally depends upon how fake and placating and “positive” you are required and willing to be. Because apparently having any kind of critical mind these days (and not just on paper, although on paper isn’t exactly encouraged either), and expressing yourself, has somehow become synonomous with being a bad or difficult person. The front is so much more important than who you actually are. So you can be an asshole as long as you smile and have a good time while being an asshole. But you can’t say what you think and feel and still be thought of as a good person. You are forced to choose between popularity and honesty. Integrity and approval. You aren’t allowed to have both. To be both.

In this country, if you have anything to say, if you step out of line, if you complain or criticize or disagree with anything or anyone, you are immediately written off as difficult, a bitch, a drama queen, a threat. If you speak out against things, or even for them—passionately—it doesn’t matter if you’re a decent person. It doesn’t matter what your other good qualities are. It only matters if you smile and get along, even if getting along is not real getting along. Most especially if getting along is not real getting along. Is not love, is not honesty, is not vulnerability, is not truth, is not understanding, is not open, is not close, is not risk, is not work, is not change. There is no space for an incident-specific reaction. In an interview bell hooks once said that if your mind is decolonized in a colonized world then it becomes very difficult to live in the world. 

Sara Ahmed, “Feminist Killjoys (and other willful subjects)”: 

“We can consider the relationship between the negativity of the figure of the feminist killjoy and how certain bodies are ‘encountered’ as being negative. Marilyn Frye argues that oppression involves the requirement that you show signs of being happy with the situation in which you find yourself. As she puts it, “it is often a requirement upon oppressed people that we smile and be cheerful. If we comply, we signify our docility and our acquiescence in our situation.” To be oppressed requires that you show signs of happiness, as signs of being or having been adjusted. For Frye ‘anything but the sunniest countenance exposes us to being perceived as mean, bitter, angry or dangerous.” 

Romans, 7:15: 

“I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.”


The Joy Is Already Killed (July 17, 2012)

If love is also a politics of resistance, then certain kinds of anger go together with love. Today, in an email, L. writes about being a feminist kill joy, which is what I’ve been feeling like all the time lately, and writing about, too. But I am also angry with myself for how quickly I let go of the feeling that I am loved. I need a love so deep and lasting that I can’t forget. A love that lets me live with and bear my anger. 


“Gotta get mad to make that shit stop. Gotta be a killjoy. 

but… also gotta love somebody.” 


“So true. And story of my life. 

Getting/being mad 

And wanting/needing to love somebody.”


bell hooks on love and violence

From her great book All About LoveI’ve included this in a previous post but given the day I’ve had today, a day on which what I thought was a rather innocuous comment I made in a review became the focus of considerable attention and some ire, I wanted to reread it myself, and repost it.


Were we, collectively, to demand that our mass media portray images that reflect love’s reality, it would happen. This change would radically alter our culture. 

We cannot talk about changing the types of images offered to us in the mass media without acknowledging the extent to which the vast majority of the images we see are created from a patriarchal standpoint… Individual women and men who do not see themselves as victims of patriarchal power find it difficult to take seriously the need to challenge and change patriarchal thinking… Patriarchy, like any system of domination (for example, racism), relies on socializing everyone to believe that in all human relations there is an inferior and a superior party, one person is strong, the other weak, and that it is therefore natural for the powerful to rule over the powerless… Naturally, anyone socialized to think this way would be more interested in and stimulated by scenes of domination and violence rather than by scenes of love and care. Yet they need a consumer audience to whom they can sell their product. Therein lies our power to demand change… 

This is not meant to be an argument for censorship… But everyone knows that all forms of violence are glamorized and made to appear interesting and seductive by the mass media. The producers of these images could just as easily use the mass media to challenge and change violence. When images we see condone violence, whether they lead any of us to be “more” violent or not, they do affirm the notion that violence is an acceptable means of social control, that it is fine for one individual or group to dominate another individual or group.

Domination cannot exist in any social situation where a love ethic prevails… When love is present the desire to dominate and exercise power cannot rule the day. All the great social movements for freedom and justice in our society have promoted a love ethic. Concern for the collective good of our nation, city, or neighbor rooted in the values of love makes us all seek to nurture and protect that good. If all public policy was created in the spirit of love, we would not have to worry about unemployment, homelessness, schools failing to teach children, or addiction.

As Seen On TV


In “The Independent Woman,” the second episode in the PBS documentary America in Primetime, American actresses (almost entirely white) like Mary Tyler Moore, Julia-Louis Dreyfus, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Felicity Huffman are interviewed about their famous TV roles. Every single one of them, except for Roseanne Barr, who politcizes her role on television, her desire to be on television, and her relationship to race, class, gender, and body image) insist: 

We weren’t trying to be political. We weren’t trying to be feminists. We weren’t trying to be subversive. We weren’t trying to stand on a soapbox. We weren’t trying to pave the way for other women. We weren’t trying to be strong, We weren’t trying to change anything. Women can’t do it all. Women can’t have it all. Women don’t want it all.

Don’t worry, these television icons assure us, we’re not feminists and we never were. This is the very soothing message being communicated to America 60+ years after the inception of television. It is hard to imagine a group of male actors saying the same thing about men on TV:

Men can’t have it all. Men can’t do it all. Men don’t want it all. We weren’t trying to be men. We weren’t trying to be strong. We weren’t trying to be outspoken or independent.

What women want, the women writers, directors, producers, and actors in America in Primetime, explain, is the right to be “flawed” and “imperfect.” To rebel against the sanitized representations of American womanhood in the 1950s. But when have women ever been treated as perfect in our society? Submissive and incompetent, yes. One-dimensional and marginal, yes. Perfect really means silent and secondary. It does not mean that women haven’t been put down and degraded for centuries for their so-callled imperfections. That is to say, for the way they don’t—as a sex, the lesser sex—measure up to men. Being put on a pedestal is simply less-than sublimated as higher-than. But is fighting for the right to be “just as fucked-up”— imperfect—as men what feminism has been reduced to? Is feminism about accessing dominant power or eschewing it? Is it about the right to be different or the right to be exactly the same? Is role reversal the best we can do in the year 2012?

When it comes to men, the construction is reversed from the start: men are allowed to have it all to the degree that they have never been required to make the distinction or calculation between something, nothing, and everything—let alone justify the desire for, or the right to, the total and the whole. It is because men are permitted to be and have everything (I am talking, of course, about the straight white male norm here. The norm we see and hear represented) that they complain when they are actually expected to be accountable to that totality and wholeness. The desire is to signify power and entitlement, but cut corners when it actually comes to being accountable and involved in everything (the monetary, emotional, sexual, domestic, and spiritual). And what is “having it all” or “doing it all” mean anyway? It seems that both the question and the answer have always been not just about the relation between genders, but the relation between the concept of gender and its relation to entitlement itself. Last spring, for example, a male Tarot card reader warned me that as a woman artist simply wanting anything other than a writing life was impossible and would lead to a lifetime of suffering. It wasn’t enough that I told him that I don’t want children, or even marriage necessarily, or that I “suffer” precisely from feeling like writing is all I am allowed to have. Being anything other than one thing as a woman (no male artist is told this, even though it is no secret that male artists have historically not been able to balance their art with their personal lives either. However, they continue to believe that they can have both, without actually having to attend to both, precisely because they are not expected to do both) is perceived as unrealistic and greedy—the source of all gender trouble. When I told the Tarot reader that in addition to my writing I also want true and lasting love, which is radically different from simply wanting a man or a relationship, he was dismissive. Real love as opposed to just being in a relationship means that no one gets to just be or have a man or just be or have a woman. Real love is about being radically opened up from the inside out, not enacting roles. If it were just about having a man, I would already have a man, as just having a man would reduce me to just being—playing— a woman.

When men work and have families is that considered having it all? Is it even a question that belongs to what it means to think of oneself as a man? If we apply this question to all men, it is the construct of masculinity that begins to crumble, and not whether men are allowed to have both a professional life and a personal life at the same time. At this point this is a given right for all men, regardless of race, class, and sexuality. Nor is it a problem (or it’s largely a problem when it is men of color) when men aren’t physically present as fathers and husbands. When male actors and rock stars are on the road 180 days out of the year, when they rarely see their kids, rarely see their wives, rarely participate in their domestic lives or responsibilities, does it make them feel guilty, the way women always lament that it makes them feel guilty when they go to work instead of staying home? The way that women always talk about how being working mothers goes hand in hand with shame and guilt. Do working husbands and fathers feel this much guilt? Do they work less? Do they stop being film stars and rock stars and businessmen? Are they pressured to choose between work and family? Between fame and family? Between artistic life and family life? Between their sexuality and their work? Do journalists and talk show hosts ask them these kinds of questions? Do they wonder if they should give up their work to stay at home? Do they tell themselves they can’t have it all? That they have too much? Do they ask themselves if they give enough? Love enough? Are they made to wonder why most men are still allowed to be absent in some way—to merely signify presence?

Judging by conservative family-values Reality TV shows like Super Nanny, the majority of men, whether working class or upper class, white men, or men of color (although people of color are almost never featured on the show), are still only expected to be breadwinners. If men are asked to do more, they feel they are being put upon, stretched beyond their limits, feminized, sent “mixed signals”—required to be “everything”—by the castrating side-effects of the women’s movement. It’s no longer enough, men complain, to be a “Man” with a capital M. The very notion of having it all has only ever been applicable to women, for whom the public and the private, the personal and the political, the inner and the outer, are to this day still fundamentally irreconcilable. In post-20th century America you can’t even want everything, much less have everything. Women themselves are quick to point out that mixing both the professional and personal is an impossible ideal, one that they are giving up on. In America in Primetime, Shonda Rhimes, a black woman and the creator and writer of Grey’s Anatomy, states that for female surgeons like Meredith Grey (white) and Cristina Yang (Korean), “love is elusive” and the “fairytale impossible.” Yet is the source of Don Draper’s anguish on Mad Men the fact that he has an ambitious career and a family? Or is the shame all his own; so self-oriented and lawless it gives him a constant out: to have, but not want, everything. To possess everything, while also living with the option of having more of whatever and whomever else he wants, whenever he wants it. Is Draper’s self-loathing and self-destructiveness simultaneously a foil and a vehicle for all of his transgressions and faults? That is, we need the faults for the transgressions and the transgressions for the faults. Is Draper’s real torment and appeal having to answer for things men didn’t have to answer for in the past? That is, the reality of the man who has to be accountable (in 2012) with the reality of the man who didn’t have to (in the 1960s).

Of course Draper’s retro-chauvinistic inner anguish (though with all those ridiculous and smug facial expressions Draper/Hamm makes, it is hard to imagine there is anything inside other than self-satisfaction), the glamor of having it all and the tragedy of fucking it up—a very old story— would have no cultural validity if it weren’t coming from the current imagination and anxieties of contemporary American life, as it continues to lick its wounds from feminism and laments the loss of real American manhood, economic prosperity, and traditional family values. Mourning the men America has lost to feminism, immigration, and global capitalism—the men who have been wounded, crippled, displaced, and disoriented by social change—Don Draper is a man from the future (from today) sent back to the past. And, conversely, a man from the past sent to the future. The two men meet in the present—ours—in order to bond over their recontextualized, or more precisely, de-temporalized panic, and as an excuse to luxuriate in the nostalgic time-travel of a regressive gender and national politics.

In the retro-enthused (retro diners, retro cars) web series Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, Jerry Seinfeld and Joel Hodgson confirm the deep-seated nostalgia for the unrestricted retro-masculinity that is at play in Mad Men while driving to a New Jersey diner in a 1963 Sea Blue VW Karmann-Ghia.

Joel Hodgson: Mad Men is so great, still. I’m still in the middle of it.
Jerry Seinfeld: Yeah, I love it. We were on to that in the 80s.
Joel Hodgson: That’s all we wanted. That was all we wanted—to be advertising guys in the 60s.
Jerry Seinfeld: That’s right.
Joel Hodgson: We used to talk about that all the time (Hodgson and Seinfeld say “all the time” at the exact same time. That’s apparently how deep the Mad Men fantasy goes for men of all generations, but particularly Baby Boomers).
Joel Hodgson: Drinkin’ at lunch.
Jerry Seinfeld: Yup.
Joel Hodgson: Having a bar in your office.
Jerry Seinfeld: Yup.
Joel Hodgson: Is that like a shared dream of all guys our age? (both Hodgson and Seinfeld are in their fifties).
Jerry Seinfeld: Of course it is.
Joel Hodgson: And the sexual revolution was all tied up in that.
Jerry Seinfeld: Yup. I mean, that’s what the sports cars were all about. Women will give this to you (presumably “this” is sex?) if you have the right accessories.

Seinfeld and Hodgson arrive at a 1950s diner in New Jersey for coffee and breakfast.

Jerry Seinfeld: It’s another 50s diner. Why are we looking back all the time? This diner is about looking backward, right? So why are we looking back?

Hodgson’s admission that he’s “still in the middle of Mad Men” is indicative of what is morally and ideologically at stake for both of these men, which is not simply a favorite TV show, or entertainment, but a relationship to male authority, permissiveness, and an American past that precedes the social reforms of feminism. As young men coming up in the entertainment industry in the 1980s, Hodgson and Seinfeld—both white male Baby Boomers—longed to be mad men themselves: powerful, rich, and totally unrestricted.

For women the myth and rhetoric of everything isn’t simply or specifically about being at home and being at work, but rather: and instead of either/or. Plurality vs. singularity. Even the binary itself is homogenized, as choosing work over and in addition to being a wife and mother is morally always the lesser choice. So while The Good Wife is about a working woman—a litigator played by Julianna Margulies—its title is haunted by the specter of the either/or binary and impossible female ideal. On TV men want to be free to be juvenile and ambivalent—partially absent, partially present, neither here nor there. However, when they are treated that way (Everybody Loves Raymond, The Simpsons, Family Guy,Married With Children, The Honeymooners, The King of Queens), they feel as though they have been emasculated and ball-busted by their castrating, ungrateful, disapproving, “macho” wives (see also the movie Falling Down, 1993). This of course becomes a vicious cycle, as this gives men comedic and dramatic license—“relief”—to act even more juvenile, incompetent, and ambivalent. Since you treat me like a baby, I act like a baby. Instead of: because I act like a baby, you treat me like one, and can’t rely on me as a human being, much less a husband or father.

On TV, men want to be authority figures without being in control, or to be in control without being responsible or accountable. To be men while acting like boys, to be in power without doing anything to command it, other than simply and emptily signifying it. The flip-side of “women having it all,” the so-called mixed signals of feminism and 21st century life in general, is the “burdensome” and “conflicting” (rather than thinking of it as expansive and integrated, it is treated as contradictory) things that men “have” to be now as a result of those advancements—the “everything” (plurality) that men have to now live up to, which is what Big Love was actually about. On Big Love, the multiple wives were less about Mormonism or polygamy and more about the supposedly impossible demands and appetites of modern women. Polygamy was merely a cover for a much more reactionary sentiment: the varied pressures that women put on men in contemporary life.

Just as Sex and the City’s so-called smorgasbord of men was merely foil for the one man (Mr. Big. Can you get more Freudian?) Carrie Bradshaw not only wanted (a man who was such a Big Bad Daddy, silent-type throwback of a man, he wouldn’t even tell Carrie his name), but who invalidated any of the supposed sexual liberation Carrie was indulging in, as well as the reformed modern men she was dating and having sex with (recall the show’s Aidan vs. Mr. Big plotline). Mr. Big, it can be argued, was Carrie’s narrative punishment—the shadow on her consumer-based, have-it-all freedom. He is, the show tells us, the man women really want, the man women truly deserve, the man women always go back to and leave the Nice Guy for. The man who will not be changed, who won’t give you what you want, who will not bend to your or feminism’s will—he’s that strong—so you will have to change (back) for him. You will have to retro-reform. 

While women are apparently still battling—in others and in themselves (as they’ve thoroughly internalized the binary. The broken record of everything rhetoric)—to acquire the permission to even imagine themselves as sexual beings, mothers, and working women (though as bell hooks has pointed out, women of color have historically always worked) all at the same time, let alone anything other than or alternative to a white heteronormative ideal, men cannot part with the split-legacy of signifying multi-dimensionality while actually only living and practicing one-dimensionality. While women have had to evolve not only their conceptions of themselves, but also their conceptions of men (men can be aggressive and sensitive, weak and strong, providers and caretakers), according to America in Primetime, the majority of American men are still lamenting the “good old days” of the 1950s and the paradigm of “father knows best” (the first series in the PBS documentary happens to be called “Man of the House”). One could make the argument that everything on TV, with the exception of some of the long-lost class, race, and gender consciousness of American TV in the 70s, has always been possessed by some specter of this supposed loss and ideal (see Six Feet Under. Despite being dead at the onset of the show, the father literally haunted the Fisher family as the ghost of the Father). If, as it is touted, television is now more in touch with real American life than ever, we are really in trouble.

Love Dog notebook, 07/27/2014: a kind of exile

This is the fifth entry in my Love Dog notebook. As I read Masha Tupitsyn's remarkable book, I keep wanting to gently cut sections out with scissors and paste them into my own journal, then scrawl reactions and reflections beneath them, underlining passages, circling words, drawing arrows linking one thing to another. Instead, as I read the book, I constantly find myself typing notes, fragments of thoughts into my phone, then later trying to reassemble them here into something that makes some kind of sense.


On April 30, 2012, in an entry called Exile, Masha wrote of the Bob Marley song “Slave Driver”:

The summer I was 17, in Provincetown, next to ocean trees and ocean sand, my boyfriend had this song playing all the time, along with the Beastie Boys’ Check Your Head and Liz Phair’s first and only great album,Exile in Guyville. I think I was free in a way that I’m not anymore, or in a way that’s been lost or taken away. Will I get it back? I don’t know. That’s the big question. Love sets you free. I still believe that. The rest is exile. It hurts to think about it. It hurts to not think about it. But sometimes a sad song is part of and accompanies a happy life. “The writer of the journal exists, solely as a perceiving, suffering, struggling being.” -Susan Sontag. 

Exile is a word that’s always resonated with me. On May 19, 2011, in my GameSpot blog, I posted an entry called Exile, in which I wrote:

I knew from a very young age that I was very different from the other boys. It wasn’t something I picked up from anybody. I wasn’t influenced to be this way. It was simply who I was. Expressing this side of myself resulted in disapproval from my parents and vicious teasing from other kids at school, so I quickly learned to hide it, to bury it deep inside and try as hard as I could to fit in, to be like everybody else. As I got older, I did a decent job of this, and nobody knew what I felt. But on the inside, I was in anguish. Denying my true self was like carrying a stone in my soul everywhere. There was a hole inside me, like the one you feel when you really miss somebody, but the person I missed was me. I was an exile from society and from myself.

The title of Liz Phair’s album, Exile in Guyville, always had a very different meaning for me, when I was younger, like I had been exiled to Guyville (as what others saw as a “guy”) when that wasn’t where I belonged at all. Things are different now, of course, and better, but I still feel like a kind of exile. An exile among women who don’t see me as a woman, but also, the kind of exile Masha talks about in her post, the way love sets you free and everything else is exile. The person I’m missing isn’t myself anymore but I’m still missing someone. You’re the representation of that, for now. Of what I’m looking for, what I can only find with another person. Masha says it hurts to think about it and it hurts not to think about it. Someone asked me recently what it was like seeing you a while back and I said that it hurt seeing you and it hurt not seeing you. Maybe it was only an illusion but you made me see my freedom.

On May 23, 2012, Masha posted an entry called The time it took/The time It takes, which read:

It used to take me longer to kiss someone I liked because I thought I had more time, which means I didn’t really think about how long things took or whether I had the time for what something or someone was taking. I didn’t know that people left, that they prefer leaving over staying, or that things end as easily as they do. That they end over and over. I could draw things (time with someone; a kiss) out and the days would add up and I never thought: 

I am running out of time. I am running out of chances. This will not happen. 

Now I think about the time that I am losing all the time. I think about time-jumps. About the jump between what Masha was living or not-living, the waiting she was doing, the way she was stuck in time when she was writing these entries, and the living or not-living, the waiting I’m doing, the way I’m stuck in time now as I’m reading them. And I think of the time-jump that I hope will bring an end to this. And I wonder if I will ever feel like I have time again, like I am in something that I want to be in and I don’t need to worry that at any moment it’s going to end. Because for me too, things seem to end so easily, over and over. (On June 16, 2012, Masha quoted Alain Badiou, ““Everyone’s existence, when tested by love, confronts a new way of experiencing time…It is the desire for an unknown duration.”) 

I have a friend who likes to say things like “Time heals all wounds.” But what I’m not sure she understands is that always waiting for things that never come creates its own kind of wound. A wound that can only be healed by an end to waiting. The wound can feel like an emptiness. The emptiness of a long-unfulfilled desire. On June 05, 2012, in an entry called Time is of the essence, Masha wrote:

Desire is sometimes an empty space. You in an empty space and an empty space in you. Growing full, growing empty. Trains pull in and out. Arrive and depart. Where and when do you get on? Where and when do you get off? I’m talking about timing. About knowing when and not-when, but also about going where you are supposed to go once you are going there.


On June 8, 2012, Masha quoted from Kathy Acker’s Don Quixote:

Finally Don Quixote understood her problem: she was both a woman therefore she couldn’t feel love and a knight in search of Love. She had to become a knight, for she could solve this problem only be becoming partly male…This is the beginning of her desperation to find love in a world in which love isn’t possible.

I always saw something of a knight in you. An eagerness to fight for the causes you deemed noble. A kind of chivalry. I wish I could be at your jousts, cheering you on.


On June 22, 2012, Masha quoted Bresson, then added her own comment: 

“Hide the ideas, but so that people find them. The most important will be the most hidden.”

The most important people are like this, too. Hidden from the rest of the world, most of the world, but not hidden from you. I want to be hidden from everyone but you. I want you (whoever you are) to find me.

And I am hidden. From the world and from myself. I do want you (whoever you are) to find me, and in revealing myself to you, I will also be revealed to myself.

I say “whoever you are” here, and in an attempt to meet the universe half-way, I’ve signed up for OKCupid, where your compatibility with people is expressed in percentages and where you’re encouraged to rate people (or their profiles) with 1 to 5 stars like you’re rating a TV on Amazon. I feel like I need to take steps to meet people and I know that great people sometimes find great people by doing things like this but sometimes it all seems so incompatible with all of my feelings about compatibility and love. On July 11, 2012, in her great post called As Seen On TV, Masha wrote:

When I told the Tarot reader that in addition to my writing I also want true and lasting love, which is radically different from simply wanting a man or a relationship, he was dismissive. Real love as opposed to just being in a relationship means that no one gets to just be or have a man or just be or have a woman. Real love is about being radically opened up from the inside out, not enacting roles. If it were just about having a man, I would already have a man, as just having a man would reduce me to just being—playing— a woman.

Given the choice
Given the heart
Given the tool
Given the word
Given the cheers

And I want that too. Not just to “have” a person in some superficial sense, but real love. Can you find real love in a place where you give people star ratings, which seems to me like a cynical joke, a sad commentary on how love is too often conceived of today? 

If there’s anything special about me, about being around me, I don’t know that responses to the questions in that controlled, Myspace-like space can communicate it. It feels like another video game, part of a dating sim, when what I need right now isn’t a sim of anything but is something realer than any game or book or film. 

On June 27, 2012, in her post On Sleepless in Seattle, Masha quotes bell hooks: “I think that our culture doesn’t recognize passion because real passion has the power to disrupt boundaries.” I never knew (and still don’t really know) what boundaries to establish with you, what lines to draw, because all I wanted was to disrupt whatever boundaries existed between us. Now I browse OKCupid and it feels like a place made of boundaries, a place that pre-establishes boundaries.


On my way back to my apartment on BART tonight, I read what I thought was the most extraordinary thing in Masha’s book. From her entry on July 21, 2012:

 I tell myself that if I get the big grant I applied for I can leave New York. I can leave America, too. But then I realize that I don’t know where to go until I meet the person I can go with. Until I have love because love is the home I’m really looking for. The real reason to leave this time. I can’t take off alone anymore because I’m not just waiting to leave, I’m waiting for someone to leave with. Someone to leave for. Someone to go to. Someone to stay with. This has not always been the case, as I’ve traveled my whole life, on long journeys, alone, and still go somewhere every year. Or maybe it has always been the case. Only where before I left to find something/someone, now I need to find someone/something in order to leave. This time I am running to stop. I think I’ve ended up with a loneliness most people start off with. Eventually it catches up with everyone.

That loneliness has caught up with me, I think. Masha writes that “love is the home I’m really looking for.” In February, I wrote a post called Love/Home, in which I wrote, “Love and home. So intertwined, they might as well be the same thing. Without love, I am a wanderer. ‘I’m just an animal, looking for a home.’” And in April, I wrote, “to love, and finding a place to belong (which seem to me to be nearly the same thing).”

What I am looking for/waiting for is an end to this particular kind of exile. I’m looking for a home.

Columbo’s Tilt

What I love about Columbo is that, like me, he’s kind of a mess, but that, like me, there are certain things he just can’t let go of. Events in later episodes make this interpretation impossible, but early on, many believed that Columbo didn’t actually have the wife he often talked about, and I still prefer this interpretation of the character, that all he really has is the connection he forms with the killer in each episode, and his pursuit of the truth. That it’s everything to him. It’s the whole world.

One-Dimensional Women On One-Dimensional Feminism



“Miranda July Thinks 20-Something Women ‘Already Just Love Themselves.’ At author Sheila Heti’s reading of her new novel How Should A Person Be? in Los Angeles last night, performance artist, writer and filmmaker Miranda July delivered her verdict on Me And You And Everyone In Bushwick Girls, sort of:”

Miranda July:

Girls is a great show. Sheila and I were talking about Lena Dunham’s generation, whom we admire. These women are able to make art at a much younger age, without having to go through, like, a punky rebellion like us older feminists have. They already just love themselves. And that’s great.”


Nina Power, One Dimensional Woman:

“The political imagination of contemporary feminism is at a standstill. The perky, upbeat message of self-fulfillment and consumer emancipation masks a deep inability to come to terms with serious transformations in the nature of work and culture. For all its glee and excitement, the self-congratulatory feminism that celebrates individual identity above all else is a one-dimensional feminism…If feminism takes [the] opportunity to shake off its current imperialist and consumerist sheen it could once again place its vital transformative political demands center-stage, and shuffle off its current one-dimenionality for good.”

Note: Miranda July acts as though feminism is some kind of default or preventative measure—you’re a feminist because you have no other choice. You don’t have power yet. You don’t have access. Feminism is no longer a life-long struggle or commitment to social justice. It’s something you have to be until you no longer have to be it. For the record, feminism is not just about “loving yourself;” loving ourselves in the way that loving our ourselves has come to be defined (Sex in The City, HBO’s Girls, etc) and accepted is overrated, privileged, and self-indulgent. A lot of assholes love themselves, don’t they? Or are at the very least self-satisfied and unconscionable. Usually it’s the people who shouldn’t love themselves who do. So what exactly does “loving oneself” entail and what kind of relationship does it have with feminism as a political movement for social justice? For that matter, what is “punky rebellion” (July uses the diminutive, cuter “punky” instead of the more threatening, politicized “punk”)? Is rebellion simply a personal and temporary phase you learn to outgrow? Something adolescent. A general teenage rebellion that you get out of your system, as opposed to something you actively do and consciously are as a way to oppose a larger system of power and oppression. Me vs. everybody. Your system vs. the system(s).

bell hooks, from “Love As The Practice of Freedom”:

"…Many of us are motivated to move against domination solely when we feel our self-interest directly threatened. Often, then, the longing is not for a collective transformation of society, an end to politics of dominations, but rather simply for an end to what we feel is hurting us. This is why we desperately need an ethic of love to intervene in our self-centered longing for change."

As bell hooks points out, feminism is part of an ecology of love and social justice that is both individual and collective—political, personal, and social—and women aren’t just feminists because they have to be, or until they have to be, but because they want to be and should be—always and ongoing. Because it makes the world better for everyone (to quote bell hooks, “feminism is for everybody.” See also Audre Lorde’s "The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House"), not just for “yourself” or “me.”

July seems to think that feminism is only necessary when you are trying to make your way into the outside world of work and status, but that the minute you’ve “made” it (gotten your own HBO show, become a cult personality), you can stop being a feminist and hopefully, like Dunham’s generation, don’t have to be one in the first place. Though it’s doubtful that July was ever anything as politically conscious or critically engaged as a feminist herself, since as Nina Power puts it in One-Dimensional Woman, the word feminism itself these days has been so bastarized—used for everything and by everybody—for the most cynical, self-serving, and often incompatible reasons (“causes”). Both the word, and the struggle as a whole, have to be reimagined, redefined, radically repoliticized, and rescued from the miasma of consumer capitalism, as its come to mean everything and nothing—a promiscuous label that anyone can purchase with no real commitment or accountability. First the word feminism was shamed and demonized by the patriarchal media, so that no one would even use it, or associate with it anymore for fear of risking alienation. Then consumer capitalism figured out a better way, as it has with everything else: corrupt and co-opt the word and the radical (transformative) potential of feminism so completely that, sure, you can use it, and even be it, but it won’t have any disruptive or transgressive power anymore. As media critic Todd Gitlin puts it in Media Unlimited, “The media have been smuggling the habit of living with the media.” In other words, things can be hollowed out and disabled not only by making them look abnormal, but by making them normal.

"I contend," writes Power, "that much of the rhetoric of both consumerism and feminism is a barrier to any genuine thinking of work, sex and politics that would break with the ‘efficacy of the controls’ that Marcuse identified. What looks like emancipation is nothing but a tightening of the shackles."

The shackles are further tightened when feminism becomes nothing more than an instrument and a politic of personal gain and emancipation; a form of social darwinism and upward mobility.


"It is clear, then, that what we are not only dealing with ‘right’ and ‘left’ feminism, but with a fundamental crisis in the meaning of the word. If ‘feminism’ can mean anything from behaving like a man (Jacques-Alain Miller), being pro-choice (Jessica Valenti), being pro-life (Sarah Palin), and being pro-war (the Republican administration), then we may simply need to abandon the term, or at the very least, restrict its usage to those situations in which we make quite certain we explain what we mean by it."

In The Gentrification of the Mind, lesbian novelist and activist, Sarah Schulman, examines the historical relation between gentrification and AIDS, stating that “gentrification made us forget who we were,” and has resulted in “a loss of vision” on all levels. Schulman draws parallels between socio-economic gentrification and mental (artistic) gentrification. In one passage, she writes: “Gentrification replaces most people’s experiences with the perceptions of the privileged and calls that reality. In this way gentrification is dependent on telling us that things are better than they are.”

You say something, you make a “fool of yourself” by trying to say something, something that has your life at stake—to a lover, to a friend, to a neighbor, to an employer, to a landlord, to a real-estate developer, to a politician—in person, in writing, on camera—and they don’t care. You make a fool of yourself, but no one gives a shit about what you say or how you feel: the energy you spend and expend, the tears you shed. The sense you’re trying to make to and of people who don’t understand anything or have any sense, and the dismissal of one’s life, values, communities, labors, energies, needs, and rights. The way no one hears anything, even when you scream.

Sarah Schulman once wrote that “marginal people know how they live and they know how the dominant culture lives. Dominant culture people only know how they live.” These words have never left me.

excerpted from the post Love Dog: Gentrification of the mind (Like buildings, dreams are constructed and destroyed) 

I feel like this sums up so much of what I try to find small ways to struggle against, in my work, in my life.

Living the Dream: A Jonathan Richman Time-jump

Here’s Jonathan Richman singing with the Modern Lovers in 1973. The song is called “Dignified and Old.” He was maybe 22. Listen to the pain in his voice as he cries out in support of life in spite of the anguish of loneliness and misunderstanding.

Well my friends say that I deceive myself
And that I contradict myself
And I can’t say if they’re right
But I’m not ashamed
Someday we could be dignified and old together

And here he is last year, at maybe 62. Dignified and old(er). Radiating a joy that is tinged with sorrow. Singing a song that, like all of his songs, comes from his heart. A place of truth. He’s a great and wise storyteller, a person who understands the kind of beauty where “you have to look a little more to see it.” He is a living reminder that if we know how to suffer and how to feel, we might one day be lucky enough to really love and really live.

Well she don’t act cool and she don’t blow hot and cold
Her mystery not of high heels and eye shadow
Well she laughs if she wants the way you do when you’re five years old
and she loves the faded colors of 3AM just like I do

She rocks, she swings, she delights in the faded things
Her mystery not of high heels and eye shadow
she laughs, she delights, she delights in the faded colors of the night
just like i do, just like I do