The Age of Dissonance

What does it mean to be?

Sick of the same sad flow, everyday another social media post accompanied by half-hearted captions,

painstaking math executed just to capture beauty, creativity, authenticity – when none of it is truly real.

news laden with celebrity worship – I say that as kneel at the altar of a few false idols myself and bring them burnt offerings of flesh and compliments.

It’s an accomplishment just to stay afloat through this pandemic, let alone in a state where Proud Boys have stormed the capitol six weekends in a row,

In protest of nothing, if they took the time to read through the evidence.

“Anti-fascist” is a simple enough concept yet it incites fear and anger in some – confusing, since wars were fought and won to ensure the world was free of fascism.

Peek through the shades, forced to wake up early on Sundays, Navy blue dress pants and scuffed shoes,

Cracks in the tile and chipping paint on the walls are all I could ever focus on from my seat in the pews.

The cracks, the chips, are all I can see now when I close my eyes.

I blink and relief washes over me like a tidal, all-consuming, cleansing.

Safe and sound for now, but still uncertain of what it means to be

successful as another cog in the wheel,

happy in a corrupt capitalist system,

awake through the chaotic, endless nightmare that is striving for the American dream.

Imperium

Have you found your power yet?

Spent years searching for mine in the heart of some rebellion or another. A declaration, a fix, a lover.

Spent this summer marching through the streets, screaming for every black life snuffed out too soon.

Police, the Guard, and their guns couldn’t frighten us.

Slept for days until that unrelenting hunger, the flicker of the flame that once burned bright deep in the pit of my unconscious re-ignited itself.

Cleansed my mind, my body, my home with frankincense and scalding water.

Past indiscretions played out in loops like graduation tapes, but that sick, sad, nostalgia for times filled with high anxiety and melodrama is long dead and buried.

No need to be the loudest voice in the room, when the room quiets for you when you speak.

This mind, this body is my empire,
it’s crossed rivers and mountains and learned to transcend the inconsequential.

I see now that the wisdom earned through tragedies, both great and small losses of the past IS my power,

And this is my finest hour, there can be no doubt about that now.

Clad in my only armor,
blood, sweat, and courage.

In Support of the Arts…

My husband and I have been on a mission to fill our apartment with one of a kind art. We figured we’d start our collection with works by artists we know. After commissioning a pair of portraits from dear friend Lisa Baroutgian, we decided we wanted our next piece to be a conversation starter for the living room.

To fulfill this desire, I reached out to Hazel Handan, a brilliant artist and fellow activist that I met while partying in LA in my youth. Needless to say, Hazel did not disappoint –

Title: Our Lady of Moons and Mindfulness: Medusa Dream

Artist’s Statement: This piece was birthed through a blind drawing that was sketched along with 5-6 other ones. The sketch picked by Hayden and Tom would turn into the Medusa Dream. This piece has a complicated story. When Hayden asked me if I could commission a piece, of course I said yes. We hadn’t been extremely close but when we met up with friends during our younger years as adolescents, his energy was always soothing, honest, poignant, and he was passionate about writing. I started the painting at the tail end of my relationship to a bad man. My living situation changed, and through the transition, the painting remained a skeleton, waiting for skin and muscles. When the time came, I arrived at a place where I could nest and make work. The Medusa went from a nightmare, to a dream. While painting, I thought a lot about how oh how the hell to deal with all the injustices in the world. How to deal with the injustices in my own personal life? How to deal with empathic overload and fatigue? How to deal with recognizing I had become a manifestation of the Medusa, that is a survivor. I kept coming back to mindfulness. Surviving an abuser is tricky, painful, but teaches you in such an intense way. The lesson goes from copper to gold, but it doesn’t happen overnight, and it doesn’t happen without intentional work. I think it was Audre Lorde who taught me to be mindful. Many people’s takes were interesting, and I respect that it works for them, but Audre really held my hand. Just learning how to turn a feeling into language, and soon, into action. That right there is the simplest and most powerful way I have learned to manifest. Did you know that looking up at the stars and talking about them, personifying them, and turning them into stories is the oldest form of spirituality? The world is heavy and I won’t try to or let anyone else try to convince anyone else that it’s not, but the stars have carried us since we could analyze and conceptualize language and narrative. We have changed and grown with the stars, trying to figure out its mysteries. Let the stars carry the weight for a bit, as they always have, and as long as we are alive, they always will.

Update: Ways to Contribute to the Cause

It’s Pride Month and since black trans folx have always been at the forefront of both queer and black social movements, I wanted to highlight some black-led organizations that specifically focus on serving the trans community:

Also, per usual my husband and I couldn’t resist joining the resistance. We attended a black and brown solidarity march. It was beautiful to see so many nonblack folx show up for the movement. It was beautiful to see so many kids there (we brought our kid – our dog).

We were unarmed save for our voices, led by indigenous folx smudging the streets with sage in their wake, but we weren’t allowed on the capitol steps for some reason. Odd, because armed whites were just there face to face with CHP and local police, demanding that we reopen the city so they can get haircuts and eat out again.

“Black Lives Matter. Did I stutter Linda?”

“If your solidarity isn’t INTERSECTIONAL, it ain’t shit. EVERY BLACK LIFE MATTERS.”

A Lot Has Happened…

Photo of a protester carrying a flag upside down
“People who treat other people as less than human must not be surprised when the bread they have cast on the waters comes floating back to them, poisoned.” -James Baldwin, No Name in the Street (1979)

since the last time I posted. Despite the fact that we’re still in the midst of a global pandemic, many cities (including mine) have ended stay-at-home orders due to economic pressures. To add to that chaos, the death of another unarmed black man (George Floyd) at the hands of police recently circulated on the web, sparking public outrage and mass protests. If you comfortable taking to the streets with Covid-19 unabated, there are other ways to stand in solidarity with the cause (see infographic below on where to donate). Black lives matter.

Fortunately, I’ve been empowered with a new platform through which I plan to use to further the discussion about these and many other vital contemporary issues. As of last week, I’ve finalized a deal to publish my second novel, Wildflowers next year with NineStar Press. A book where the central character is unapologetically queer and black. As a QPOC, this project is extremely important to me. That said, I’m taking a little hiatus. I’ll be channeling all my energy into activism, promoting Wildflowers, and writing a new book.

Lavender Menace

I remember catching glimpses of it growing up,
brazenly displayed on the shelves of little indie book shops –
Butt Magazine,
a title so queer and unapologetic my pulse raced.

the covers graced by models captured raw/hairy/nude and always smiling unabashed.
long before I knew I was their brethren,
they called out to me,
artists, poets, musicians, all queer men.

and now that I have grown
the time has arrived like a rite of passage,
a collection of their greatest hits living on the coffee table,
all my very own.