Originally posted on ladyboxbooks.com:
Ladybox is a box set collection of chapbook-style zines by seven kick ass female authors:
Laura Lee Bahr
Rios de la Luz
Constance Ann Fitzgerald
When it’s time to purchase, this will be the place. Mark your calendars. No pre-orders available. Once they’re gone, they’re gone!
Each set will cost $40 (with free shipping in the U.S.) and will contain seven books and a few little extras, all packaged in a handy box to keep them safe and look fucking cool on your book shelf.
Wednesday I decided to take a break from Petaluma, work, and obsessing about the writing I am supposed to be doing, to go to a show with my friend Rachel in Oakland.
I say “the writing I am supposed to be doing” because, duh, a lot hasn’t gotten done. I started to yell at myself and then realized exactly what this month has been, besides my participation in a novella writing challenge.
I threw out my back like the vieja that I am, got super sick, and had to find a place to live, while working my regular shifts. Jesus. Fuck.
I HAVE finally cracked an outline and worked in some other characters and stories I’ve had in mind/notebooks into this. It’s progress.
I left the house too early for the bus I was supposed to catch I and decided to run some errands and have breakfast downtown. I waited to cross at the light and a guy swaggered up to the opposite corner. He tapped the signal and it changed instantly. I love it when that happens. I paused to appreciate magic touch moments for someone else and patted myself on the back for it. Good job not being totally into yourself for a second.
Springtime in California is in full effect. The sun was shining but it isn’t hot enough to be running around shirtless. You’d be surprised at how few dudes that matters to. I cut through the parking lot of the shopping center where I work and see giant bubble letter graffiti blasted across the side of the discount grocery store. Seems that guy was awfully busy, because his tag is all over downtown. Most of them half finished and poorly executed. I wish they ‘d leave art on the sides of buildings and not just a crude hieroglyph that translates to “ I WAS HERE!”
On the waterfront a group of old folks held a water color class, propping their paintings against the railing and sitting in camping chairs, critiquing their shaky brush strokes.
I have this problem where I am always early and the bus is always late. This day was the exception. I took it as a good omen for the day. Doubly so, when Rachel told me she was bringing me cupcakes from the bakery where she works. Then a girl sat in front of me on the bus wearing patchouli. My bus ride was terrible for the three stops until she got off and left her wallet. I laughed. I felt bad and walked it to the driver just as her boyfriend came back to retrieve it.
The bus ride from Petaluma to San Francisco is made for window gazing and headphones, getting day-dreamy on the scenery and thanking Golden Gate Transit for their epically sized bus windows.The right playlist is everything. I like to leave it up to the shuffle feature. Fate. This day all the tracks fall in to the right places, happen at just the right time.
“When I accelerate I remember why it feels good to be alive” I close my eyes to soak in the moment of that song, as I always do. The bus hit a curve and the driver accelerated through it, I smiled and opened my eyes and was met with the view of the SF skyline from across the bay, making that moment magic. Felt suddenly like this could be my last bus trip to the city. I wanted to take a photo but elected to soak it in with my own two eyes. Make that picture with my mind to cherish later. Because I see why people leave their hearts here. It’s so fucking easy to do. So easy to fall in love with.
Once we’re into the city, around Van Ness, I notice the back passenger window of fancy sports car has dried vomit streaked down the side. I’ve definitely been that guy. I didn’t leave it to crust over.
I get off the bus at the Civic Center Bart station and some dude who was talking loudly on his cell phone about facebook for the duration of our ride yells after me and hands me my scarf without saying more than “Hey!” and continues to argue with who I can only assume is his angry girlfriend.
I hit the Civic Center station and update Ray while I wait for my train. I pop my gum and watch people form lines at the platform that won’t do them any good once the nine car stops. I board and everything is good until that panicky part if the the train ride when my ears start to pop and I know it’s because I’m under the bay. What if something goes wrong and we’re trapped? We’ll run out of air, have to eat each other for survival. Or the tunnel could collapse and we’d all just drown in this electrified metal tube.
People in Oakland don’t give a fuck. Dude in a motorized wheelchair almost sideswipes Ray’s car as we enter the Wholefoods parking lot.
In Piedmont we sat in a pub booth where dozens of couples carved their initials into the wood. Name + name and I wonder how many of them are still together. Ghosts of their relationship etched into the walls for drunks to admire.
We parked around the corner from the Fox. Rachel took everything in her car and moved it to the trunk. There was a dude in an huge ugly denim skirt and smeared eyeliner wobbling around in the doorway of a closed shop. He stops everyone who walks by and asks for change.
“Sorry, we don’t have any cash.”
“Can I get a cigarette?”
“We don’t smoke.”
He’s wasted and he walks over to us, telling us about how it’s hard for him to live in transitional housing and to deal with his parole officer because he is transgendered. He flails his arms and won’t make eye contact. Rachel offers him a cupcake.
“Does it have weed in it?” S/he asks excitedly.
“No, but it’s delicious.”
Crossing the street, Rachel sees a dude who looks like one of her favorite djs. I’m too distracted by a dude who is not wearing shoes but whose socks were incredibly white.
I counted four dudes with their hair in a top knot. Unacceptable.
The show opened with an aerobics routine led by DJ Rapid Fire, who was somehow even gayer than Richard Simmons. We were in love.
The Knife turned out not to be playing a regular show, but rather presenting “The Habitual Experience.” It read like The Knife does cirque du soleil. Which was cool, but not quiet what we were expecting. In place of Karin’s elaborate costumes, was a jumpsuit and a lot of choreography. A short set, followed by a dance party in the GA section.
In the line for the bathroom some hipster girl with a haircut like she stuck her head in a blender and wearing some kind of holster that held nothing at all asked me “It wasn’t like corporate when they started synchronized dancing?”
Instead of hitting her with a dictionary I told her it wasn’t what we expected but it was cool to look at. She was up for debate, but the line was moving and I was grateful.
We walked out to the street and it smelled like grilled onions. I found the street vendor and ate a bacon wrapped hot dog on our way back to Rachel’s car, realizing that throughout the course of my day I had probably eaten an entire pig.
“Nobody wants to hear another story about how you couldn’t write right”
– Circa Survive
It’s been a really long time since I’ve updated my blog.
It’s been a really long time since I even tried to get anything published.
So, let’s work it out.
I’m trying to write every day, like Henry told me to.
This seems just as good an excuse as any:
This morning I threw my hat in with a dozen or so Bizarro authors who are going to take Bradley Sands up on his offer to band together and do a novella in a month, a la NanoWriMo, for April.
People like Cameron Pierce and Carlton Mellick III can churn out a novel in three days. I am not one of those people.
At first I was hesitant because I don’t have anything substantial to work on. Then I realized how stupid that is, how long its been since I wrote anything longer than a page or two (of fiction) and that even if it sucks I ought to do it for practice’s sake.
And I should tell everyone about it so I have to follow through, or I’ll look like an idiot.
I’ve been writing as long as I can remember. Scribbling in journals about boys I had crushes on (hint: damn near every dude with a pulse) and wanting something more. Weird rants, bits of ideas for things I would never expand. But always writing.
Until the last couple of years.
A Brief History/ WTF Happened (some of which you may or may not already know)
In 2010 I went to a writer’s workshop that birthed the idea for my book Trashland A Go-Go. The book was put out by Eraserhead Press in 2011 and I sold the shit out of it for the chance to win a contract with EHP to write more books.
The year I wrote Trashland was fucked. My closest friendship was put to the test when my friend met a dude, not uncommon among lady friends. Then more so, when that dude’s best friend died while driving his car that we were all in, the day after I slept with him.
Any one out there keeping score: that’s two men I’ve slept with in the last 3-4 years who are now dead.
It was complicated to say the least. We all moved into my apartment, and it was my hope that we’d be a support system for each other during a fucked up grieving period. Things never really work out the way any of us plan.
During that time my friend/mentor Kevin Shamel told me to write the idea from the workshop for that years NBAS. He gave me two weeks to complete the story before we went into edits. I took three.
It was exactly what I needed to move forward. I still cried, I still thought about it, but I had something else to focus on. A reason to make myself stay home and work toward something instead of drinking my face off. Which I still did.
Rose and Kevin presented us with our books for the first time in Rose and Carlton’s room in the Ad House at the Edgefield and I started to cry the minute it was in my hands. Because I worked for it. Because it was there. The culmination of all the shitty feelings I’d had during that time, and a bunch of other times, but it was printed by someone who thought it was worth publishing.
I spent the next year focusing on sales, pushing my book to earn the chance to publish more books. I didn’t worry about new words. Those would come later. There would always be more words. I worked on some stories about the adult shop where I was working and not much else.
My parents were proud. Both readers. Both grossed out with what I put out into the world, but proud nonetheless. (My dad brags about me to the people in his biker organizations.)
So many excuses, with laptop breakage, job loss and transition…but here ya go.
Better late than never?
I woke up at 5am, gathered the last of my toiletries and walked to the airporter in the morning mist. I followed an elderly couple from the building to the bench at the center of the parking lot where the bus picks up the passengers. The man made two trips back and forth from the building to the bench, carrying their suitcases to where they needed to be . His wife stood under the awning, out of the wet air.
He told her there was coffee inside.
In the airport after security checks I still had time for bad coffee and a greasy breakfast sandwich. I checked my email and trip itinerary obsessively like I do when traveling. I eavesdropped on strangers and people-watch like I do when I’m alone in crowded places. The intercom sounded several times asking for Ja Rule.
Waiting for my connection in Denver, I was sitting at an airport bar when the intercom called out for Corey Haim to please pick up the white courtesy phone.
Either someone was messing with the folks at the information desk or I am a terrible listener.
I continued to watch people. What they carried with them, how they killed time between flights, their luck with finding available electrical outlets. I counted three women in neck braces between SFO and Denver.
The flight to Denver had been on a nicer plane. A beast with televisions installed on the back of each chair. The child next to me was ill mannered and kicked the back of the seat in front of him, crawled all over his mother and refused to sit still.
“No, James.” she’d say weakly, obviously annoyed but used to this type of thing. He’d smile at her and continue whatever he was doing that she had asked him to stop.
I’m a terrible flier so I slammed two glasses of wine in Denver before boarding my flight to Rapid City. I caught a nice mellow buzz and fell asleep just as the tiny plane hit turbulence.
My little brother Tommy and his fiance picked me up at the airport and drove me into Sturgis where my dad was falling in love with this years Indian in Journeymen blue.
I grew up going to motorcycle rallies and runs. My dad has been riding longer than I have been alive. I’ve never before seen so many motorcycles at once.
The sound never bothered me. It makes me feel warm and I think of home.
I’d never seen so many people trying so hard to be “bikers.” You can spot them by their squeaky clean tennis shoes and bare legged women who shouldn’t get on the back of a motorcycle if they value their own skin. Half the attendees posturing, imitating stupid television shows and trying to impress the old school, who just remember what it was like when it actually meant something to get to Sturgis.
“We spent half the week on the side of the road working on our bikes. Hell, I didn’t even make it all the way here the first couple times I set out.” said my dad.
Since the event is so large and so many people converge upon the area, the local hotels make it a point to make all the money they can. They raise all the prices because they know that out of towners won’t have a choice. I called around and found that most hotels were going for $200+ per night.
For a Comfort Inn. It ain’t the fucking Ritz.
Locals don’t seem to mind going out of town for the week. Some of them even rent out their homes to visitors. A club member’s wife knew someone who had recently purchased a house in Lead, just outside of Deadwood, a small mining town outside of Sturgis. They moved in a week prior and then moved back out to let twenty-something bikers squat in their house for a few days.
The house was on top of a hill with steep stairs and a driveway filled with motorcycles. There were three rooms with beds, plenty of air mattresses, sleeping bags and tents in the yard. The week before the trip my dad filled the house with air mattresses, checking for leaks. He claims efficiency, I’m pretty sure he was building a fort without me.
(He saved me one.) Tommy and Bree brought an extra tent and sleeping bag for me. One of the Journeymen blew up the mattress while my brother put up my tent. No one would let me do anything, so I cracked a beer, enjoyed it for a moment, and went to find Kim Bobo. We hugged and played catch up for a while, but she was badly dehydrated from the ride the day before and wasn’t feeling well. I needed another beer. I let Kim rest and went outside to talk to everyone else.
I threw my suit case in the corner of my tent and made sure my pajamas were on top so I could easily access them later in the dark. I stepped carefully through a yard filled with tent posts toward the porch where I found a bottle of Fire Ball which I grabbed excitedly before even bothering to ask who it belonged to.
Long Hair James came out of the house through the laundry room holding a crystal candle stick and a bottle of Casadores. He set both down on the table, poured one into the other and knocked back the shot.
I guess the residents of the house hadn’t unpacked their shot glasses. Sometimes you’ve got to improvise.
We sat on the porch and in the yard. Talking, catching up and enjoying the cool South Dakota evening. Ralo’s father was a professional wrestler. She told me about how the first time we met she was talking about growing up around a bunch of men with wacky nicknames like Tank and Beautiful Bobby Wolf.
“And you laughed and said ‘Me too.'”
The day I arrived was my brother’s 21st birthday. Ralo and Long Hair James wanted to make sure we did something to celebrate, which turned into taking a cab to town and going to see LA Guns at an old opera house that the taxi driver swore was abandoned until we arrived in front of it.
My lap top is still broken. I plan to have a friend of mine perform some robot surgery on the little guy but, the most Californian thing I have said since “The morning fog makes my yoga mat slippery”, I want to wait until Mercury Retrograde is over. Mock me if you must.
You could better expend that energy by buying me a new laptop.
Point being, this was posted from my cell using the WordPress App. So, again hope it’s working out for you.
I work in a smut shop and sometimes the customers bother me enough that I have to write about them. Since I can’t be mean to their faces. I collect these stories and call then CREEPS. Several of them are available in issue seven of The Magazine of Bizarro Fiction. Others may never see the light of day. We’ll see how it goes.
Funny how the woman talking about ball gags made me wish she was wearing one.
It wasn’t the sound of her voice. The tone and frequency weren’t particularly offensive. Just that she was talking. That she could talk.
Two women opened the door and hesitated at the entrance.
– inaudible response-
“Oh, come on. We can’t get in much trouble…”
I heard the the knob from the deadbolt we recently changed and poorly installed clatter to the floor. Everyone lets the door slam behind them.
I was standing behind the counter and putting matching pink and red lingerie sets, surely made from some highly flammable poly blend, on new hangers. Trying to fool what few customers we may have into thinking they are new product.
The first woman entered and gestured at me. “See, she seems harmless.”
The second woman, obviously here against her will, didn’t look at me. She gazed after he friend, exasperated. “Why would she be?”
The first woman was almost in awe of the shop. That such things could be for sale to the general public. At first she seemed to delight in trying to embarrass her friend. She didn’t stop talking for more than a moment and when she wasn’t yakking away, she was texting.
Her ringtone was too loud. A long conch warning like Lord of the Flies. I pictured her a wild boar rotating over a fire on a spit with a shiny red apple in her mouth.
It was at this moment that she turned to the mannequin next to the counter.
My boss purchased two of them. Molded plastic faces that were something like an anime Harley Quin. Huge eyes with gaping, joyful, clown mouths. They were terrifying. So terrifying that I wasn’t the least bit upset when one day I bumped into one, knocked it over, and busted her head off.
The mannequin at the front counter remained in tact. Her face still frightened me so I covered it with a full face mask, harness and ball gag.
The first woman stared at it. She raised her hand and then let it fall dramatically to her side as she sighed “Oh, allllllll this. This is just too much.”
The second woman forced a smile and milled around waiting for her friend to finish shopping. “Shopping”. “Observing” was more like it. “Gawking” was more accurate still.
The longer she roamed the sales floor the more she came across things she found offensive.
I walked back to the secret labyrinth hallway in search of more hanger clips and heard her voice, completely aghast at something.
“Oh my GOD! Are these REAL?”
I didn’t care enough to look back and see what. The answer was probably yes.
She picked up stripper stilettos, fetish style toe shoes, glass dildos, and handcuffs. She made her way to the toy room at the back of the shop, touching everything along the way. Her companion trudged along behind her, dragging her paper shopping bag on the ground.
I finished hanging molotov lingerie as they walked back onto the main floor.
“No. I’m just not into it.”
The first woman said this firmly, defensively and walks away from the second woman. “No. Just. Not into it. No.”
She walked back to the front door, the second woman a trail of beige behind her.
The door slammed and the lock fell off again.
We really ought to get that fixed.
(it’s since been fixed, so don’t get any bright ideas, jerk)
I’ve somehow managed to break both my laptop and tablet within three days of each other. I also scalded the fuck out of one hand with soup and lodged a bunch of broken glass in the other. Mercury Retrograde is adorable.
The point is, I wrote/posted this entire entry from my cell using the WordPress app. Hope it’s working out for you.
This year’s PRIDE adventure served as not only the usual gay celebration, or the fact that gay marriage is now legal in California(’bout fucking time) but also as a mini vacation for me. Which is, of course, the most important part.
I work six days a week. Four of those days are double shifts. With summer upon us, all the girls at my sushi job are requesting weeks at a time off. An actual vacation is out of the question until Sturgis. So, I took Sunday off to go to the Gay Pride Festival and Parade.
I’m complete fag hag.
Even though my friends and I took an early bus down to the city, it was so crowded that there weren’t any seats available. We spent the entire 1.5-2hr bus ride standing. Which turned into what we’ve dubbed “urban surfing.”
Standing up on the bus while traveling requires some skill- stance, weight distribution, reflexes, and a firm grip. Next Olympic sport? Maybe X Games?
The bus was mostly filled with teenage girls. Squabbling, obnoxious teenage girls. I was fantasizing about sterilization with red hot pokers by the end of the ride.
One applied makeup the entire time. She packed it on thick with little to no blending technique. Cheek bones streaked with harsh lines of blush and bronzer. I fought the urge to tell her to fix her fucking face, figuring that maybe the queens would read her later. When her face couldn’t handle any more pigment, she started on her friend and made hers the same. They look like baby prostitutes. I was torn between the urge to laugh or lecture.
Sidenote/mid-post rant: What is it about PRIDE that makes young girls take off their clothes to celebrate the homosexuality of another person? Am I just getting old? Is it because I’ve never been one of those skinny bitches?
We walk the parade route, eying the spectators just as much as the parade. Checking out costumes both ridiculous and awesome until we are in need of cold beer. We wander outside the chaos in search of an open bar.
Inside Club 93 it’s hotter than outside. But there is shade, music, a place to sit and ice cold draft beer. We sit at the end of the bar and watch two bartenders handle the packed bar with grace and efficiency. I make sure to slip extra singles onto the bar.
Heather heads further into the bar, braving more heat to wait in the impossibly long line for the bathroom. Once inside she finds toilets that could only be flushed by sticking your hand inside the tank.
While she waited in line her boyfriend and I were approached by a couple of guys and we sparked a conversation about Ginuwine while ‘My Pony’ played over the sound system. They bought us drinks, tried to feel out Kyle’s sexuality, and were disappointed but not discouraged when Heather returned and they realized he was straight. Instead, fancy LA ‘mo Flavio asked if he had any homosexual relatives, because a girl can dream.
A pretty blonde girl enters the bar. She’s hammered and in an Australian accent, shouts her offer to marry anyone, male or female, to stay in America. “I JUST WANNA GET MY GREEN CARD Y’ALL!”
Single Serving Friend, Alex (who is smitten with Heather and insists upon multiple photos with her) says he will take her up on the offer, but she has to pay him.
“I’m just MONEY to you!” she says, complete aghast.
“And I’m just papers to you, honey. What’s the problem?”
Seems like a solid deal to me.
So, if any foreign born gay men need a beard and/or green card wife, hit me up. I’m your girl.
The bar continues to attract other parade goers in search of beverages and a place to hide from the sun. We relinquish our seats to the next wave of patrons and navigate through the chaos to meet up with more friends.
In a smaller fenced off area there are people laying in the grass and art hanging on chain link fences. We soak up the shade while Jesse says his hellos to friends. To our left there is an older naked man getting a handjob from another man. They go on like this for a while until someone in a yellow safety vest walks over and tells them to stop. The nude man puts a black sock back over his penis, but now it sticks straight out, waving like a flag.
At the other end of the park there is another old naked man. There always is. His skin is baked into leather, his stringy blonde hair spillsout across his shoulders while he sits in a lawn chair, tugging at his pathetic penis while passersby try to look away. That’s the part he likes. The attention, the revulsion, making people uncomfortable.
He is succeeding.
Rachel and Jesse want to dance and I want to go elsewhere before the fat guy in the lawn chair pops. We head to the sound stage.
Good music, sunshine and cool breezes are all negated by the presence of a furry. Furries and mimes give me the creeps.
Jesse walks over to the furry and Rachel starts laughing. I turn around and a bare-chested man with a giant wolf head is coming at me. So I run. I take off into the crowd and the wolf pursues.
FLASHBACK: You are six years old at Disneyland and Donald Duck wants to hug you. His giant goon head scares the fuck out of you so you run. He chases you in circles until you cry.
“THIS IS DONALD DUCK ALL OVER AGAIN!” I shouted in terror as the teal and white wolf-man caught and embraced me.
I swat at Jesse, scolding him for telling the wolf to chase me.
“I didn’t tell him to chase you. I said ‘will you give my friend a hug?’ and you ran. You ran from a wild animal, of course they were going to chase you.”
The festivities are winding down and we all head toward the muni to catch a train into the Castro. Then we hear shots being fired. One. Two. Three.
A crowd of people run up behind us. Clusters of police officers run toward the sound. People duck behind tents and vendor carts. Rachel and I duck into a vendor tent and squat down behind the table while the large man working the booth scurries underneath the table, pulling the table cloth down behind him. Hiding in his own private fort and not really bothering to offer shelter to anyone else.
We hear the crackling sound of a taser.
Sudden dominant police presence.
Chaos in the muni station. People are scared and the BART workers are on strike so the trains are extra crowded.
They say that the shooter disappeared into the crowd and two men were shot in the legs. They don’t say anything about a taser.
The muni station and the Castro are filled with cops for the rest of the night.
Thanks for looking out.
Dinner at Orphan Andy’s where a scruffy dude in flip flops and a straw cowboy hat breaks my heart with his homosexuality. All the good ones are gay.
Jesse and I hit a few bars in the Castro before declaring ourselves too tired to party any longer. We get a hotel on Valencia and call it a night.
The next morning we head to his doctors office to get the bandages from a recent minor surgery changed.
I watch the nurse pull out the packing and dispose of it. He leaves the room for a few moments and returns with a large bottle of saline. He fills an irrigator with it and begins injecting the fluid into Jesse’s open wound. Jesse bares down on the table while the nurse apologizes for the pain. Then he re-packs the wound with gauze, slowly stuffing the opening with tiny instruments.
“It feels like you’re stabbing me in the back with a tiny stick.” Jesse grunts.
“That’s because I am.” the nurse replies, his voice flat.
I stifle my hysterical laughter.
The nurse tells us about a previous patient with a similar wound, but deeper. This man went through a wound packing session screaming at the top of his lungs the first time. The second? He was basically asleep.
The nurse laughs, “I said to him ‘Did you take heroin before coming here?’ he said ‘Of course I did. You think I wanted to go through that again?!’ It’s premium pain treatment but there’s a stigma in this country. It’s, by far, the best thing around.”
And I can’t help but wonder, did this medical professional just indorse heroin?