6/23/16

OK I'm gonna do it. I'm gonna get back to it.

6/13/16

I'd been staying off of social media this past weekend to take care of myself even before Orlando. But I had this interaction and it brought me some comfort and I wanted to share it.

I want to thank the older man who approached me yesterday at Punjabi Deli while I was eating by myself. He asked me how to spell Orlando because he and his friend behind the counter were looking at the news. He wanted to tell me how sad he was about what happened, and to say how sad he was, as a Sikh, for the inevitable xenophobic backlash, that as a man who drives a yellow cab in new york wearing a turban, that he experiences racism daily, and even though he had nothing to do with the massacre that he wanted me to know how sad and sorry he was. He wanted me to know that it wasn't his religion, and it wasn't even about religion. That it was about someone who was sick, and sad, and scared. He told me about his son, getting angry at college and flipping over tables in the cafeteria, and he and his wife didn't know how to help him but they tried and were able to take care of him. He said that the killer probably didn't have anyone to take care of him. That this kind of tragedy is the product not of religion or even just homophobia but that it's something else, too. It's just sad.
I felt strange about our interaction, like I'd been asked to bear witness or something, and the older man thanked me for listening and I thanked him for talking to me. I felt really seen and comforted in a strange way.

6/10/16

The building next door, which is one floor below mine, has been vacant for a few months. This morning when I woke up there were men on the roof doing demolition. Taping up tarps of white plastic, including over the windows just beneath me.

I woke up this morning and the heat was on, somewhat miraculously.

I woke up this morning and had a nosebleed again. Worse than before. I’ve had one for months. Maybe this is related to the radiator being on or maybe it’s related to the asbestos next door, being abated as we speak.

I don’t remember them but I know I had many scary dreams last night. I kept waking up. It could be from the wine and the spicy food before bed. I think I was just upset. I had the palpable feeling that I was too angry to sleep. Too sad, too upset to get any rest. I feel like I need to hurt someone. Probably myself.

Trying to find a way to reason into this without sounding like a moron. I’m not holding the present accountable for the past. I’m not blaming them for making me feel the way I’ve so often felt before. But I’m also not blaming myself for being oversensitive.

It’s like, I don’t want to give them any more power by discussing them.

I thought, it felt like I was kind of doing okay. Like I was making progress. This is the last week of me tapering off my antidepressants. I’m going on a short vacation this week. Other than the chainsmoking I’ve been pretty okay about taking care of myself. I’ve been meditating. I’ve been trying to be in better touch with people. I’ve been quiet. I’ve been listening.

I’ve been trying really, really fucking hard. I’ve been working at this. By myself.

Last week I asked if anyone wanted to get a happy hour drink and Eric was the only one that did, so we met up. I got there early and he got there late so I had a drink before he came but it was fine. We chatted about our weekends, our boyfriends, shopping, etc. I made some comment about how I wish I was like Maria Bamford or Melissa Broder or Jacquline Novak. You know, someone who could parlay my struggles with depression and anxiety into a lucrative comedy project, book, TV show, movie, career, etc.

In the 90s, straight men did this with grunge music. They were rightfully pilloried for this and it’s over.

But no one wants my pain. A pathetic washed up 31 year old loser faggot with no friends. I haven’t earned it. There’s nothing to make jokes about. There’s nothing to complain about. I’m too sad to be sad.

I was talking about this with Eric at drinks. He said he couldn’t tell if I was being serious when I was being sad on twitter, sad on facebook, speaking openly about hating myself and feeling like a loser. He said he couldn’t tell if I was joking.

I’ve had a few people say some variation of this to me recently.

I’m not joking. I mean I’m never joking. It’s hard to describe because there’s a part of me that’s acting like it’s a joke, with no punchline. Maybe I should say that I wish I was joking. Trying to find the humor in it.

But no, I made it abundantly clear to Eric that I wasn’t joking, that I really have been struggling, that I seriously am feeling the things I purport to be feeling.

At a different art opening last night (Raul de Nieves’ gorgeous work at Company Gallery), I passed Eric on my way out. He made a point of inviting me, again, to his show last night. Are you coming tomorrow? He asked. Oh right, I said. Yes. He said you should.

So after work I rushed home and I took a shower and got changed into my nice clothes. I rarely get to go to Talk Hole, the comedy show that Eric does with Steven, because it’s normally pretty late at night and I’m kind of a wimp about that stuff. I have a 9-5 day job that I have to get up early for. So I was excited that this was a show during the 6-8 gallery opening time slot. I thought maybe I didn’t understand by reading the brief, but I did. This was a performance that took the form of an art opening. Okay. I go to a lot of those. I thought Eric and Steven were funny in social media and when I saw them in real life or performing elsewhere, I was excited to go.

They hired a protestor to stand outside the gallery and pretend to protest it.

There was a girl with an ipad at the door, and also a small sculpture sort of blocking the door. She asked for my name and I told her. She said I wasn’t on the list and asked if I’d RSVPed. I said yes. She asked Eric and Steven if I could come in, they both pretended to be too busy to turn around and said no. She kept asking if I had another name I could be under. I said no. I told her to ask one of them again. Steven turned to me and said he needed another name. I said I didn’t have one. He said they needed “a bigger name”.

Okay I get comedy. I get that the thing is that they’re pretending to be awful. I did the bit. I let them have their joke but I felt like it was time to move on.

I told the girl to ask Eric. He turned to me and stared at me and said no. He asked if I had another name “a bigger name”. He asked if I had “a longer name.” I was beginning to lose my patience. Although I was being polite I was, I think, pretty obviously ready for the joke to be over. Eric stared at me in my eyes and said no.

Someone walked by and knocked into the sculpture that was hanging in the doorway. The girl with the ipad hustled to pretend to fix it. I saw on the ipad there were only three names but didn’t see what they were. I walked in. Eric sighed angrily and shove me out of his way, saying I was making a whole thing at the door. I wonder if this was there way of ending the joke and letting me in.

The gallery was packed full of people. Some of whom I knew from around, most not.

There was art all on the walls, but like actual art or something, made by other artists. It wasn’t clear what was part of the installation and what wasn’t.

I saw Ian tending bar, doing this thing of pouring himself a huge glass of wine and then deliberately pouring guests a tiny thimbleful. I just grabbed the bottle and served myself. I saw Brian there and I talked to him for a minute. I felt really bad.

No one else at the gallery seemed to get the treatment I did at the door. At least not that I saw. If they did pretend to not let people in, they certainly didn’t do it for as long as they did for me.

When Eric and Steven saw Brian they made a point of saying how glad they were that he was there.

I felt like I was being tricked into being mean. Like the joke was to see how mean we can be. I wanted to start smoking indoors. I wanted to break something. I wanted to hurt. I felt the worst that I’ve felt in probably years. I stole a bottle of wine from the cooler on my way out. I went to a bar to get a beer and eat a Xanax and chain smoke. I went home and tried to sleep but couldn’t, as I said.

I feel like a crazy person. I don’t understand.

I guess it’s a thing of critiquing the art world. Making fun of art openings. But these people aren’t artists. I’m usually reticent to say that about people, to call something not art, but it’s not. These guys are trying to be actors on TV and they’re making clever performance art about how vapid and bad the art world is by replicating some of the horror.

It’s not that I’m not down for comedy or that I’m particularly sensitive. I make performance art too. I see a lot of work and I’ve certainly felt good and bad about various intense things I’ve seen. I’ve seen Annie Sprinkle do her titty ballet. I’ve had Ann Liv Young smear her shit on her hand then scream at me to say, into the microphone, what it smelled like. I’ve called out audience members to pretend to put people on the spot. I think there is something cool and exciting about live performance.

I’ve seen eric do his slideshow performance where he narrates a powerpoint of his nudes. I thought it was sweet. I saw him do another show where he was going to do a slideshow of things he saw in a store and almost bought but didn’t. But then, the slideshow technology didn’t work, so he got into his underwear and did a monologue narrating how to douche before sex. I thought that was sweet too and kind of brave. I thought it was cool. I haven’t seen Steven perform aside from going to Talk Hole once or twice but I thought he was attractive and funny. I guess he’s on TV sometimes or webseries.

I was excited to go to this performance, as I said. I had been friendly with eric. I got dressed up, I sort of planned my night around it. I felt like I was punished for being earnest. I was being humiliated and attacked for trying to show up.

Granted, unless you read this no one would know that this is how I felt. But that’s just the problem I have – they went out of their way to make me, personally, max steele who knows them, feel bad. I am the audience.

5/16/16

It feels personal. It feels vindictive. I've asked for help. I've begged for help. I've paid and waited and paid and waited and worked and paid and waited and borrowed and listened and begged and died and I just wanted some help. I just wanted some advice. Support. Understanding. Help. Anything I'm incapable of giving myself. I know it's shitty and I know it's annoying it's like bad food it's sickening I know I'm aware but I have to say it does feel personal. It seems pretty clear to me that there's some kind of consensus about me, about not including me. About writing me out.

There are people who want me to feel bad and they're winning.

5/3/16

When You Were All About Yourself

Last weekend was the opening for SLEEPING BEAUTY & THE BEAST, a new ballet by Katy Pyle and Ballez. There are five more performances beginning on Wednesday at La Mama. I play a Dying Swan. My part is not big, but ballet dancing is excruciating and difficult and I'm excited to be part of this. It's huge, sprawling, very Queer, heartbreaking, sexy, dangerous, funny, sad, and gorgeous. I can't say enough about it. In a way it's an interesting thing -- getting what I want in so many ways. To be part of something so fulfilling and supporting and engaging and challenging and important and social. I feel tremendously proud to be part of it and I hope you can come see it.



It's an interesting thing, too, to notice that even in situations such as the show, and some other places, where things are good, what parts of me still beat blue. What part still beats black. Where the red parts are. I feel at once bigger and smaller than I reckoned. Simpler, more straightforward, and much more complex than I thought I would be.

I know it's only natural, it's regular and ancient but I feel myself noticing how loud the birds are. It reminds me of the first night in Berlin, staying in the flat in the all-female building where Stevie was living on Oranienburger Straße. The birds were insanely loud and kept me up all night (all morning). I marveled at how loud German birds were, that anyone could sleep through them. Now I often find myself turning off my music to better hear the birds near my apartment. Anywhere where I'm walking or sitting. I want so much to be distracted. Pulled up and out.



Yesterday I had an hour in between work and analysis, so I went by DSM to see if the Golden Week merchandise was out, as it is in CdG's Japan stores. The theme is "collage".



The new collection wasn't there yet, but as I was leaving, I saw Rei outside the store. She was surrounded by assistants, staff members, and her husband, who was gesturing to the entrance where something was probably going to go. She was wearing a long black skirt and a golden leather motorcycle jacket. She did not seem small or diminutive and was impossible to miss. She had an energy, an aura, or something. I was shaking. I smoked a cigarette up the block and watched her wordlessly interact with those around her. She did not smile. It was beyond surreal. I spend an inordinate amount of time reading about her, looking at photos of her, wearing her clothes, looking at pictures, thoughts, etc. that come from or relate to her. To see her as just a person up the block was disorienting. My Elvis. I wanted to interrupt her, give her a copy of my zine, ask if she would hire me, kidnap me, save me. I wanted to say "Thank you, Rei, for all of your hard work. It means so much to me." I was too shy, I didn't say any of these. Besides it would have had to go through her translator and she was surrounded by the staff members who certainly didn't want me butting in. I was wearing head to toe CdG, as I often do, because it makes me feel strong, makes me feel good. Active. Energetic. I feel so bad in so many ways and that's one way I feel good. I don't feel guilty about this.

Of course I can't calm down. I'm thinking that there's something I ought to worry about. I feel it prudent to worry. I wish I could harness, identify, control, locate, redirect whatever impulse or energy it is within me. I cling so hard to this: to this beating myself up. The only truth I feel confident holding onto is the one, the premise or world-view in which I am reprehensible and worthless. I was telling my Analyst I literally do not know who or what I am without this feeling, without this premise.

It's what I know, and all I know.

And I feel so frustrated. As if I've been working at a cross-purpose with myself. There is no self, no ego to believe in. What constitutes a person?

I feel a sense of urgent doom. Impending deaths, of all kinds. I feel as though I've abdicated. I've been toppled. I have assassinated myself. I've achieved power through a military coup of my mind. I've been trying to kill myself in fits and starts and I'm not done yet.



I ran into a someone a few weeks ago at a performance and we were catching up. It's a friend, someone I like a lot and whose work I've liked a lot and who I'd hoped likes me too. They were talking about someone else, someone who's moved out of town or come back into town or something. They kept talking about the like I knew them. I said I'm sorry I don't know if I know who you're referring to. They looked perplexed. Apparently I had met the person years ago. I said maybe I would remember if I saw them but the name doesn't ring a bell. They said "Oh, that must be it was because it was during the period when you were all about yourself."

What period was that, pray tell? Any who's known me for any length of time knows I've never been particularly about myself. I don't know. It's frustrating.

All I can do is be this thing that repels people, makes people angry/hate me. Taken in aggregate this is how, in part, I arrive at the worthlessness, right? All I can accomplish is upsetting people, driving them away from me and into each other. I spoke a lot with the Analyst, again, about radiation, about radioactivity.

I feel that I am radioactive. Maybe there's potential but as it is I feel myself being slowly poisoned. Unable to wrangle, contain or harness the energy burning me up. I can't even touch it. I just
know it's there.



5/2/16


A thought too horrible to remember. Not worth writing down. As soon as I try to put it into words I think: “is this worth remembering? Probably not, no” then the task becomes one of forgetting, soothing, erasing, blotting out, superimposing something nicer onto, ignoring. To make weeks, seasons of this. It’s exhausting.

I feel like I’m always fighting a little. It’s that heightened state of panic. I worry about my health. I think it’s not good to have constant low-level inflammation I think it’s bad for my to always be fighting a little, for my glands to always be a little bit swollen.

I woke up this morning and I thought I should look I should check but there’s no good news. Only more shell. More debris, more sharp things. What was I going to forget again? Oh yeah.

I’m here I’m cooling. I’m your girl bunny
skin glue.
I’m boiled hoof. I’m waste I’m just here to combine to exist in interstices. Everyone wants to know each other around through against me. Why be connective tissue. Why be plumbing. Not that it lacks glamour but it’s just so nowhere.


I thought these worth thinking of, writing down, but no. I mean why even bother trying to make something beautiful.
Ocular migraine. Seeing spots.

My body's subtle revenge. Corpse sabotage. My eyes quitting. My body quitting.

Hot flashes of jealousy. anger. Where is my love and attention. Who can care for me. Why do I make myself so ugly. Why am I so eager to regret. I tried running into it and I stayed there. Why can't I be fascinating. Why can't I matter to myself. As if having an itch. As if made of dried wood. Feeling nervy and flammable.

I woke up and I said I wouldn't I did I regret it.

I want so badly. I am aching for it and I know I'm going to fuck it up, again, and again.

4/28/16

who walks through a forest or a field or an ocean floor and doesn't feel thesmelf exposed? Who is so delusional, what animal doesn't care about it's own self-preservation? I don't anything of my own just everything everyone else has. Why am I never the one asked to be the opening band? Why am I never invited to be the one, one of the ones. Why does it feel so futile, more and more. Why did I -- what did I do wrong?

4/26/16

I don't need an underground machine smashing atoms to tell me the way the universe is constructed. I don't need to know the details of the whole system to notice that time has stood still, backtracked, shifted directions and become a loop. A torus. Utterly flabbergasted. How is it that I can stay, as I am, in stasis. How is it that my heart can break over and over again and stay breaking and yet I don't know why. Why am I overcome with the urge to cry. Why am I unable to cry. What is wrong with me. Why am I in so much pain. What am I so upset about. What is it I want. I don't have any of these answers. Would I know it if I saw it. If was secretly okay, if I was secretly happy, if I was secretly strong, optimistic, resilient, present, not doomed-- wouldn't I have some indication? Wouldn't I have betrayed it to myself, at some point? At one or another of these points, days/weeks/months when I've backed myself into a corner, clawing out of a well. If I had it to give wouldn't I have given it? If I had something within myself, something solid, something "there" wouldn't I have recognized it? I'm fucking starving, I'm not withholding. The theory, the story is that not only do I deserve to suffer but it's all my fault anyway and I'm not even trying or not trying hard enough. No optimism. It's like it shouldn't be possible. At some point I should by rights hit the ground, change direction, stop, lose inertia.

It's like magick. Part of the reason I do feel cursed or something. I feel very certain that there is a cabal of people who are indeed out to get me.

That party photographer, for one, who makes a point of never photographing me.
Look: I don't even like having my photograph taken. But when you do a show and they take photos of literally everyone else who performed except you. You know?
It's not subtle.

And I don't blame them- I want you to know that I agree. Who else can I apologize to? I feel so wrong, so bad. As if I couldn't do enough to make up for it. I'm so miserable I feel weak.

3/14/16

Asking for my own worst enemy

I feel like I'm getting sick. I feel like there's nothing important enough to write down except when I'm getting sick or something. My reactions to the new collections that were just shown in Paris. My feelings about the Presidential election. My allegiances to pop stars. My sex life.

Perpetually frustrated. I mean I guess I'm curious too. It's like, I felt like I had to trap myself. Not gonna waste everyone's afternoon describing it. But I've waffled for so long as to whether or not "knowing why" was either possible, useful, avoidable. Like I was telling my Analyst I don't really know if digging is helping. Like will I ever find a satisfactory explanation for why I'm so fucked up? isn't looking for an explanation-- doesn't that become a distraction at some point? Just another way to torture myself? I guess the conclusion we came to is that there's some amount of analysis that's necessary and inevitable and unavoidable so I might as well be the one in charge.

Being of two minds. I mean ignorance is such obvious bliss that it seems suspicious. Dying seems like a drag but being dead sounds pretty fucking cool, in a way. Hear me out: what if one's experience of the world was fundamentally suspicious, anxious, circumspect? How would you bear that? Asking for myself, asking for a not-friend. Asking for my own worst enemy.



Like does it matter why. Does the how matter. Does one how or why matter more or less than another how or why? I don't really care. I mean, maybe I should feel guilty for not caring, but no. I don't feel terribly burdened by this (or most things) so I feel free to share it (and most things) here: looking at pictures of myself from when I was a kid bums me the fuck out. That, I guess, is why for most of my adolescence I never let my parents take my photo. Some chagrin when I let strangers take them, as a 20 something, right? But like no: I don't know "what that says about me" or something I don't really care. Does paying someone to hear me ruminate on it make me feel any differently about them? No. I still wish my mom wouldn't send them to me. I mean it's sweet but it bums me out. The way everything more or less does, is. But yeah no, no shame, no regrets, about sharing here. I mean: constant shame, like white noise. Here being history. Here being online. It's like hiding, I keep saying that.




It's as if on some level

It's as if in an alternate universe, I took chemistry the summer in between junior and senior years and in some alternate universe I never stopped. Everything feels continually experimental.

I mean what else, right? What isn't an experiment to a greater or lesser extent. What even is certain. My reflex is to equivocate. My only impulse is to doubt, to freak out. I evolved to panic. Maybe we at some point needed something like this, a canary in search of a coal mine. A singer for a stage. What's the way in, to fit in or feel useful or something.

Is it a matter of knowing the right people? Wanting the right things?

Desperate for some vague abstract sense of success. I wish I had a book deal. I wish I had a book party coming up. There's nothing I want to write a book about. I don't really want to feel like or know that anyone's reading my book. I just mean I wish I could have the idea or desire to put something into the world. That's corny as hell. I wish I had the desire to be in the world? Also corny.



I mean here we are halfway between eclipses and everything else is changing it feels like I'm just not in the driver's seat. I'm in the divers seat ha ha ha. Yeah I guess I like music. I guess I like feeling good. it's okay. I mean nice work if you can get it right? Speaking of.

Not gonna talk about grudges. I was pissed this morning but then I had breakfast. Felt good. It always feels good to do something important for myself.

To not leave myself enough time.



It's just like that Bikini Kill song. It's so fucked up getting sick. Feeling like I'm getting sick. Like





when you're a smoker, everything feels like it's your fault.

3/3/16

Sense Memory

"When are you gonna start?"



What time's the show. Do you know when you're going on? Is this part of the act? I guess I've already begun. I have some notes from when I was here last. You know, breadcrumb trails and all. Sense memory.

I realize that I've stopped reading my horoscope. It occurred to me this morning as I was eating my oatmeal that I had no idea what was supposed to happen to me astrologically. I don't really care. My fortune doesn't concern me, and I'm not quite sure it should. Do normal people think about their destinies? Is there such a thing as normal people, or destiny for that matter.

I remember in college taking the train into New York from Westchester and seeing a huge portait of Lumidee on the side of a building in the Bronx.



Been mostly not flipping coins either. Weather-checked religiously but out of necessity. It doesn't really matter what I wear or where I go or who I am.

Shopping. Shop instead.

Practice choosing. Make a practice out of decision=making. make taste make you. make what you love define you, your world, your objects and your desires. Make art environmental. Philosophy is climate. Change your dosage.



It feels as though I have open wounds. As if my veins terminate in waterfalls. I'm just wasting, spending, endlessly emptying out. That pseudo-factoid I remember from childhood; that the human heart processes enough blood each day that it could fill a swimming pool. To not matter. To be a vessel, machinery. To be broken, to be fixable. To be fixed. To be made of part. To change states; to go from solid to liquid to gas and back. To multiply.

I feel so keenly the sensation of letting go and I imagine that this is the emptiness I've been trying to cultivate. But it's excruciating. There is nothing there, nothing left.

2/23/16

Birds I'd Never Heard Before



I got to Austin Texas on Wednesday the morning, delirious. I can't sleep on planes and I was too excited to sleep the night before.

Dana picked me up from the airport and drove me into town, talking about New York and Austin and moving and New Orleans. I arrived at Lapland, where I was hosted by the lovely Jacob. Lapland is a legendary queer house in Austin and was gorgeous and spacious and better than any hotel in the world. The house was home to four cats and one dog and I loved them all as if they were my own.

I was in town for the OUTsider Festival. It was like a dream. The festival was incredibly well organized and had fantastic programming and the whole community around it was so welcoming and truly inspiring. I feel like I was at some magickal queer art summer camp or something.



I took a little nap and woke up in the afternoon and met my housemate Star Amerasu, who was also staying at Lapland. Star is an artist from Oakland who had briefly lived in Austin. She was very sweet and funny We walked up the road to the festival's opening night reception and ran into Star's friend Mia Tu Mutch, an artist, activist, and future first Trans mayor of San Francisco. We went to the opening reception at Mi Madre's and I was a bit intimidated. On our way to the performances that night one of the women had to run an errand so I went with them.

I always want to be around the cool girls. It's all I want. I had just met Star and Mia and they were catching up and gossiping about dates and including me in the conversation and we were walking the roads of east Austin where there are no sidewalks and I was chain smoking (cigarettes are cheap) and the weather was warm and the night was loud with bugs and birds I'd never heard before and it was perfect.

I was a little late to the Salvage Vanguard Theatre, where the show was. I saw almost all of the opening night burlesque show, which included LaWhore Vagistan, Chola Magnolia, Foxxy Blue Orchid, Lola LaStrange, Maxxy Radd, Queertini Time and Jasper St. James and La Chica Boom who headlined, and did a fucking amazing set. Went to bed early.

The next morning the "Conference on the Couch" hosted at organizer Curan & Pj's home was about queer bodies in art and activism, and was moderated by Evan Garza and featured Bug Davidson, Shannon O'Malley, Drew Riley, Beth Consetta Rubel, Alyssa Taylor Wendt, and Keith Wilson. I can't sum it all up except to say that it was a really cool, engaging, stimulating, welcoming and exciting way to talk about academia, art, politics, philosophy, sexuality and identity. Bug made this really mind-blowing comment about how there is a kind of "nostalgia of gender", which was so cool. There was excellent food at everything. I got to hang out with my big gay sissy sister Jim Fouratt, which was a real highlight of the festival. He introduced me to Annie Sprinkle (!!!) which was a trip, and I accidentally broke a houseplant, but I think the plant survived.

That night the shows were THE LOST BOYS, a dance created by Kevin Williamson, and featuring Julio Medina, Kevin Le and Raymond Ejiofor. It was fantastic. Sad and smart and funny and dark and bright and kinky and... great. The entire theater erupted into a well-deserved standing ovation. After that performance, I saw Tara Jepsen and Beth Lisick's performance, Uncorking the Butt of Jokes (And Success!). It was sort of a retrospective of their work together over the last 17 years. It reminded me that i saw them when I was 14 in Olympia Washington as part of the first Ladyfest. I think they are hilarious and brilliant and it was a thrill to see them again and get to geek out like olden days. They also showed their hit movie Rods and Cones, which features Jibz Cameron and dear heart Erin Markey.

The next morning the "Conference on the Couch" was about Sex in Public, and was moderated by the legendary Ann Cvetkovich, and featured Marcus Cruz Sanchez, Julie Gillis, Rockie Gonzalez, Jonesy, and Travis Mathews. Another fucking fantastic time, I must say. Friday evening I also saw The Gun Show, an installation and durational performance by the legendary John Moleteress, about mass shootings in America. It was scary and beautiful and oddly, surrounded by children. I was and am impressed by any performer who can think so clearly and beautifully about such difficult feelings and subject matter.

That night I went to see Annie Sprinkle and Beth Stephens accept the Legacy Award presented by OUTsider, and see them do a slideshow presentation of their work together and apart. It was definitely surreal to see Ms. Sprinkle, who I've long admired, speak so openly and generously about her work. Hugely inspiring, to think of how to connect yourself to a large world. How to make sense of your passion and make your love work for you. I felt enriched, for sure.

Friday night was ALSO the first night of SHABOOM! The official afterparty for the festival, hoseted at the secretive Museum of Human Achievement, featuring hobo clowns, cardboard glory holes/tickleboxes, an onstage "let's play doctor" exhibit, booze friends and lots of excitement. At a semi-secret warehouse location. Who could ask for anything more?

Friday night I had an incredibly scary and vidid nightmare, which I very rarely do. It was beyond affecting. Took me more than a little while to shake it off.

Saturday I sound checked my performance, a re-vamped version of The Good Daughter. I ended up missing most of the programming that day, sadly, in an effort to try to focus on the show that night.

My performance was fun and funny. I got some good feedback from people who recognized, or didn't recognize, my references. People made comments along the lines that they weren't entirely sure what I was doing, etc. I'm not trying to be mystifying but I am (or was) trying to make something new out of something that's familiar to me, so in that measure I succeeded. To be honest I've been so inspired and excited by the other artists in the festival I felt really intimidated! I don't know how I feel about that work of mine anymore. I've been feeling really weird about myself lately, and am beyond grateful to have the opportunity to try this stuff I've been thinking about.



Saturday night saw the second evening of SHABOOM!! but to be honest I was a little wiped out (and dehydrated) from performing, so I didn't stay too too long.



Sunday morning Lapland where I was staying hosted a beyond-epic brunch for the OUTsider artists, cooked up by the lovely Jacob (who hosted me) and his friends. It was maybe the highlight of the festival. Amazing vegan food, drinks, coffee, endless cats, partying, community. All in the glorious house where I was staying. I found out that Jacob and other of his housemates are Leos (like me) so that explains part of themagickal cat energy. I mean honestly, when in my life would I ever be sitting in a room with Annie Sprinkle and Nao Bustamante eating muffins? Never in a million years did I imagine my life would be like this.

Sunday afternoon I saw short performance art pieces by elements, A Shining Attribute and Little Stolen Moments. Again-- beyond inspiring. I felt so lucky to get to be in the room with these fucking people. It was like... I can't really explain it enough. Excuse me.

Sunday night was the closing night party at Cheer Up Charlie's, featuring music performances by Stanley Roy Williamson, Ah-Mer-Ah-Su, Theo Love, Kegels for Hegel, L E S B I A N S, GAYmous & DJ JD Samson.

You guys.

I knew I liked Star as a person when I met her, but seeing her perform was next level. I'm pissed that she's based on the west coast because Ah Mer Ah Su is my new favorite performer. I have not fallen in love with a live performance that way in a long time. It reminded me of the first time I saw people like the Blow, Pash(ly), Tracy + the Plastics, all my favorites. Her songs are deep, beautiful, dark, shiny, resonant, funny, funky, and are stuck in my head.



We need to talk about Star Amerasu more. Her website is WWW.MAKESTARFAMOUS.COM and we need to do this right fucking now.

Here is a loop of part of one of her songs "Little Bird" which she closed with on Sunday. I woke up to her practicing it in the shower that morning and it has been stuck in my head and in my heart.



Star: I love you.

ALSO performing that night were L E S B I A N S, the project started by Jenny Hoyston (!!!) and Tara Jepsen. Singing songs about being Lesbians, about the Goddess. Again: I was totally blown away by this band. I wish they were here, in New York.

Some additional faves from Sunday night and in general were Kegels for Hegel, featuring L Klotz who I went to college with, and GAYmous, who blew my fucking mind.

I was having amazing vegan cocktails at Cheer Up Charlie's all night and feeling so inspired. It reminded me of why I started playing music, making art in the first place. These are the feelings and passions I have and I want to connect with people about. It was dreamy, it was inspiring. It was too short.

I went home but didn't get any sleep and I came back to NYC and I'm struggling to reintegrate myself.

HUGE THANK YOU to Curran and PJ and everyone at the OUTsider Festival, everyone I met in Austin, and the other artists I got to encounter. Especially John Moletress who hipped me to this scene to begin with!


Very Grateful.

2/11/16

Marzipan Tin Foil



It's like there are two states: frozen and on fire and of course they overlap. I wish I had an idea. I wish I had a feeling.



What a fantastic time for my skin infection to come back. It did over Christmas, when I was home in California. And now it's back, just in time for Valentine's Day and then my trip to Austin. I'm going to try to go to the doctor's office to get oral antibiotics instead of topical ones because the topical ones take too long, I think. It's not only unsightly (it looks like my skin is burning off) but it's also really painful (it feels like my skin is burning off). My lymph nodes are really swollen and painful. This is all gross. It's funny because given how much complaining I've been doing lately and how publicly and shamelessly, it might seem counter intuitive but I don't love to complain. I don't like to be in pain. I guess that there are more than one ways to be sick. It feels like my body and my mind, my heart are going through the same thing. Oh yeah, this bacteria. This same old stupid painful awful thing that rears its ugly head every once in a while. Too often. Is there a cure? Not really.



As of today I am taking doxycyline, mupirocin and chlorhexidine gluconate. Don't ask. Trying to burn this shit out of me. The very sweet doctor who said she could "work with me" in prescribing oral versus topical antibiotics asked why I keep getting the same infection over and over again. I said I didn't know. She looked in her doctor database an it said that factors leading to recurring infections are: poverty, crowding, poor hygiene and being a carrier for staph. I asked if there's anything I can do to stop being a carrier, she said no.



I spend all my time packing. Wondering what to bring with me. Making lists instead of a story. Things I need to buy, things I want to buy. Marzipan. Tin foil. List of things to worry about. Endlessly interrogating myself. What should I wear for where I'm going. Where am I going. My new year's resolution was to stop flipping a coin, stop equivocating. I did this mostly, obsessively, with deciding what to wear. Both the most and the least important decision a person could make. I've only broken the resolution a couple of times.



Presents I meant to buy. Give. Compliments I meant to send. Thank you notes. I mean there's no rush it's not like anyone's going anywhere.

But still a body does reflect a mind, is like a drum for the heart of something. It reverberates outward and I do feel a bit as if I'm being buried alive. Now by my physical body as well. What bright contrast in taste and texture. I can't act as though it's not strange that other compartments of my life seem to be going ok. I mean I am for real in love. It's amazing.

It's like I know and I don't know what to do. I know what's wrong generally: I feel bad. But beyond that... it's like I don't even know what I want until I see it elsewhere. Like oh shit, I'd love to perform. I do love to perform. I'm glad I get to, to the extent that I do. I want to, more. It's so hard. Some optimism instead of ambivalence.

I feel drained. Boiled. I feel very much that I'm struggling to get somewhere, get out of somewhere, get to somewhere. I can't shake the feeling that something is wrong. I mean I know it's a matter of perspective, and I can look away.

And I've been looking away. And I've been taking a break. I've been working on me. I've been taking care of myself. The self I don't think I really have. And as I get a little bit calmer and a little bit more stable. As I begin to feel like I'm making progress. As I begin to feel like I'm ready to go off my antidepressants. The doctor congratulated me on going off of them (slowly). As I feel like I know where I should be looking. I turn and face the void again and it's as scary as ever! It's like there's no middle ground between just sleeping and being in denial and turning myself off and dying.



I am holding myself hostage. I don't know why.



2/2/16

cookie time

I can't believe I'm here. I mean you are too. I can't believe we're here, together. The new year drew to a close and I got my shit together. I mean I didn't; I've been a mess, but making progress. I haven't known for the last few months, and I still don't know, what's worth saying, thinking, feeling, noticing, remembering. For who, even? Right?

I did Dry January and there is romance in my life and I feel much less urgently hopeless than I have in maybe a year. Retrospect is funny. I'm still really frustrated by some things though. I wish I was performing more. A weak, stupid part of me wants attention for the sake of attention. What part of the person, the personality, is it that craves identity, existence. What evolutionary impulse was perverted into narcissism? Which biological imperative has mutated such that I don't know if I exist anymore?

That's not fair. I know I exist I'm just not doing it the way I have been and I feel alternately awful and great about it.



I want to be doing more readings. I want to do more poetry readings and performances but maybe
with a mask on? I want to do more ukulele shows. Read more. Talk more. Just... I don't know. Show up more. Disappear less. Have somewhere to disappear from, and to.

I'm performing in Austin, Texas this month, where I've never been and am quite excited to go. I'm doing a revamped version of The Good Daughter. With only the best songs. My idea for this performance is also me working through a question my therapist asked a few weeks ago:

Why Make Everything Harder for Myself Than It Needs To Be?

Why not just perform the things you want to perform, right? Why go looking for trouble? There are legitimate reasons, I guess, to look for trouble. In general. But for me, right now. I don't need to. Being cautious, cognizant of risk, that's not the only affect that I have inside of me.

Went to see the Mickalene Thomas show Muse at the Aperture Foundation last week. I'd mostly known Thomas as primarily a painter and have long liked her collage work as well. The photos in the exhibition were awesome.


Racquel Leaned Back

The photo set used as a background in many of the images was installed in the gallery. A wood-paneled, cat-decorated carpeted living room, seemingly straight out of the 1970s. Replete with stacks of records and fake houseplants. To the extent that I'm familiar with her work I really love Mickalene Thomas' art. It's vital, exciting, and gorgeous. She also has a penchant for the Comme des Garçons clan (she named her kid Junya Rei), so I feel an affinity there as well. If I were to decorate my own room/fantasy photo studio, it would probably look a look like the space she used. It's a fantastic show and it's up through March 17th and worth seeing.


Negress with Green Nails

I feel like the last year I was so worried about how bad I was. How worthless. And I don't feel contrary to that anymore, but now I feel sort of stupid in a good way. Like; I might have a use. I might be good at something and I don't even know what it is and I might find out. And that feels good.

Some things feel good. Really good. Maybe even too good to get into here, yet.

Speaking of Comme des Garçons I liked seeing the new collections from Paris last week. The COMME DES GARÇONS HOMME PLUS Fall collection had the theme/title "Armor of Peace":





It's complicated, the continued explorations of armor, peace, war, etc. I'm not crazy about the sleeves but I AM crazy about the floral flower-power hippie shirts and I hope she makes a t-shirt version. It's weirdly moving. Not weirdly. Just that it's so much, it's so immense, if you think about it. The scale of the creativity here. It's in a way admitting it's limitations, reveling in them, even.




and the COMME DES GARÇONS SHIRT / SHIRT BOY presentation:










Like, what even is a shirt, right? I'm really into the crazy tartan SHIRT BOY things that opened it. I like the feeling of basics being expanded, being blown open and redefined. I like the extent to which shirts can become a kind of metaphor or symbol for youth, masculinity, identity, history, whatever.





thanks mom




as I was finishing this thought, the Girl Scout cookies I ordered arrived.



I'm thrilled.

11/30/15

Pinocchio's Diary



Thinking a lot about the nature, the character of desire and, his sister, disappointment. It seems to me that to disclose a desire is to admit a kind of weakness. I'm all about debasing myself. I'm really interested in the process of becoming, remaining, being abject. Yet somehow the revelation of a desire feels existentially dangerous. It means to admit that I want something I don't have and might not get. Some people say that the first step in getting what you want is admitting what you want but I'm not so sure. I think that admitting you want something is admitting that you are incomplete, somehow. Does that make sense.

But then on the other hand to conquer desire, to achieve desire, to get the Thing You Want is equally dangerous: it's a death, in a way. I wonder why the only viable way of being that ever occurs to me, or the mode of being that somehow is my most reliable fantasy is one of constant disappointment, exclusion.



I have to put myself on the fire because then I know where I am. If I torture myself I can locate myself. I'd rather be pinned down than potentially lost. It feels like everything is so fragile and will blow me away.

On Thanksgiving Teebs and Kayla and Chantal and I hung out and we did some writing and we made martinis and watched TV and ate pie and played mad libs. One of the themes for one of the madlibs was "Pinocchio's Diary" which I found oddly resonant. Something about Pinocchio always feels really important to me. I feel (I'm sure I've said this before) like a reverse Pinoccio. I'd so much rather not be a real boy. Pinocchio, for me, is about the desire for subjectivity and the inherent danger there. Maybe I should do a show about Pinocchio? Somehow the notion of Pinocchio's Diary seemed really cool to me because I imagine that if Pinocchio had lied, his nose would grow (we know this) and then writing his diary would be an exercise in bringing his nose back to normal. A place to tell the truth, or something. In his Diary. Do I tell the truth here? For the most part/basically always.



I don't know why but lately it seems like I'm making a tiny bit of progress. Everything still kills me. I'm still painfully insecure and jealous and feel pretty worthless every day but these symptoms seem to be lasting shorter periods of time. Like I'm watching myself torture myself. I have an iota of leverage to stop, at a certain point. Usually. It just sucks to be in pain. My health insurance is changing and I think I am going to go off my meds (with a doctor's help). I don't know if they've been helping, and it's been a year and the biggest change is I don't feel like it's important to say but the big change is that I feel less... creative? Maybe I'm just less creative. Maybe I should quit more.

Saturday night Erik took me to a very nice, extremely fancy dinner of Peruvian food (nouveau-Peruvian, I should say) at a new place in Williamsburg. It was totally excellent, and maybe the fanciest and best meal I've had since lovely Sugar Baby took us out in Berlin to that restaurant underneath the pied-a-terre. You know, that really really really really nice Italian restaurant owned by the lovely old German gay couple. That place was so fancy that they put a fresh astray at my left elbow every time I finished a cigarette. It was really beyond. I wasn't allowed to smoke during the Peruvian dinner but they did give us some really nice dry sherry after the meal in one of these annoying effete little glasses.


I want everything to be salty and bitter and strong. To wipe out a dream with a toothache.

I thought it felt like kind of a Salon des Refusés being at a gallery opening in New York City last night. Being among the ones who're not in Miami we're the one's who're not at Basel. We're at an art opening for NOT A PHOTO paintings and art inspired by photos. It was great, of course.

Shoutout to Adam Parker Smith whose painting (installation?) Crush kind of stole the show, to my mind:



Seems to be a pretty perfect way out of painting, drag, love, etc. I just stood in the middle of the gallery watching the hair being blown by the fan. Watching people take videos of the hair. I took a video too but it didn't come out well enough for me to post it here.

Before the opening I went to Prada and bought these shoes I really wanted that were on sale. I felt dizzy, like I was buzzing. I had gone to two different stores yesterday looking for these shoes in my size. Not helped by the fact that they have their own idiosyncratic sizing... system. I don't know how much to write about this thought process without making myself seem/feel like an asshole. I was immediately reminded of that Wayne Koestenbaum essay about buying a Prada suit. I bet he's in Miami right now. The shoes were on big sale and I swear I'll never buy anything else ever.



To blow off steam I went to the gallery opening but I was there with a big Prada shopping bag and it was Humiliating. No, really. If I was actually wearing the shoes I bought I'd look fine, but there I looked I just looked like someone who swung by this art opening after shopping at Prada which was true. Thinking about the difference between wearing and buying. Shopping and being, having. Knowing and hoping. Can't I do both? Why not?

Thinking of the new Comme des Garçons bags, the laminated shopping bags. I almost bought one. Like a permanent customer. Weird.



So then what, dear Billy? So he didn't call you back. Or he didn't call you back fast enough or enthusiastically ENOUGH so by the time he did by the time he did you had woken yourself up and taken yourself out to console yourself with something lasting.

Thinking about that passage in the Grace Jones memoir: “I never ask for anything in a relationship, because I have this sugar daddy I have created for myself: me. I am my own sugar daddy. I have a very strong male side, which I developed to protect my female side. If I want a diamond necklace I can go and buy myself a diamond necklace.” It's weird. I feel complete, done. Fine. Peaceful? Sure. I feel sure. No I feel less uncertain. Hmm. Maybe that's not entirely true.



Felt a bit better after five glasses of free wine. I don't pay for wine. And now the anxiety of care. Now that I got my Dream Shoes I enter the panic of parenthood: what kind of wax do I need to put on them? How much longer will I have them before I ruin them? How can I live up to my new shoes? Having something nice, expensive, cherished is so unusual for me. It's a way for me to measure myself against my life. That time I went to the Prada store and just walked in and bought a pair of shoes, like an asshole. That one time. I think about boys. The only things I want or let myself think I might admit wanting: love, desire, shoes, food. Cigarettes. Something adjacent to being alive. I want watercolor sets. I don't want paintings I want art supplies. I don't want an actual lover I want a pile of scribbled phone numbers. Who am I kidding.

Tonight I'm going to the gym and then I'm going to make mujadara to eat the for rest of the week.
I wish instead of torturing myself or lavishing myself with un-earned love, accolades, punishment whatever. I wish I could treat myself as something other than bland. I wish I didn't have to hide, obliterate myself with hot sauce.

I am mourning, in a way, the death of my senses. I think I know what's been weakening them-- chemicals? How to be critical, engaged, and not be paranoid? And not be untrustworthy?

How to find a sense of self, power, direction in admitting or charting desire. How to have a map where I locate myself instead of a record of places I've been and cannot return to. How to convince you to fall in love with me. How to be less reprehensible. How to take care of fine Italian leather.

To pick out a book. To carve out time in your day to quietly reflect. To just make lists, just take notes. It might not take much, just recounting little details, tiny bits of it until my nose shrinks back down to a manageable size.




11/13/15

Can I Show You

It's fall. I'm falling. I'm into it.

I'm really excited about this new art book project. If you're in New York, please come check it out.



DARK LEVEL

Art by Julia Norton
Text by Max Steele
Published by Art Vandelay Press

Release party with reading 11/17 at Endless Editions (191 Henry St Brooklyn NY)

Facebook Event

I am beyond thrilled to collaborate with one of my favorite artists and dearest friends, Julia Norton. She asked me to contribute text to a project she was working on, and which she describes like this:

"The idea behind Dark Level started as a coping mechanism. This past year I began living alone after a lifetime of living with others. Sleeping in an empty apartment at night, I was wary of every sound and every dimly defined shape. I tried to remember the countless times in my life where I have felt scared in the darkness - in the woods at night, on an empty street, in a laser tag arena, falling off the rainbow road - and what it took to overcome those emotions. In a parallel way I have also felt at home in the dark - perhaps at a nightclub, dancing carefree. Darkness can change its implications depending on so many factors. It shields you, it blinds you, it makes you vulnerable, it frees you. In the end, for me, it comes back to risk-taking; walking into the unknown, daring to be yourself." -JN

Curator Rick Herron gave the project a sweet shout-out on the BRIC blog:

"Julia Norton makes paintings about the architecture of childhood nostalgia. Her work functions as urban planning for space colonies, or blue prints for a vast bio-dome to usher in a neo-Cambrian explosion of unimaginable flora. In a new series of photographs called Dark Level: Process, made in collaboration with artist Max Steele, detached hands reach in from the edge of the frame to stretch, tear, and pull at a thin veil of fabric appearing to distort the fabric of the universe itself. Created to accompany written works by Steele, Norton’s Dark Level series doesn’t so much illustrate the text as haunt it."

The party will be fun and we'll have this gorgeous book available. Please come.




ALSO, I am excited that a piece I originally wrote a long time ago, MY DREAM DATE WITH DAVID WOJNAROWICZ is now published, truly, on DANDY DICKS.