strange fire

books. poetry. paganism. feminism. queerness. blog.

la vie en rose September 30, 2006

Filed under: Uncategorized — andygrrrl @ 12:37 pm

Close, attentive readers of this blog (and I’m sure you are legion) will have noticed that the last couple of months have been an emotional rollercoaster for me, even aside from moving and starting over in a new state. I’ve been in various stages of lovesick on this blog, and I let slip over at Roro’s that I’m in a long-distance relationship. Air Pollution went and unknowingly gave me the perfect opportunity to explain what the heck’s going on. He’s got an intriguing post on love and queerness, where he quotes both me and Winter confronting just that issue in a blog meme. What he doesn’t realize is that we’re talking about each other.

I met Winter back in May when I was traveling in the UK. I thought, since I was in the neighborhood, I’d say hi, we’d get some coffee, hang out, compare feminist notes. Apparently the Universe had other plans for me. I saw her in the train station in Cardiff and I knew I was in trouble. She was lovely, and warm and intelligent and I thought “Oh no, please, I don’t need this right now. This is really inconvienent.” Over 48 hours I tried desperately not to fall for her like a ton of bricks, and failed miserably. I tried to cleverly disguise my turmoil by alternating between blushing, tongue-tied stammering and inane babble (I remember sitting on her couch, trying to impress her by quoting Frank O’Hara and over-eagerly attributing it to Randell Jarrell. I’m still mortified by that). I panicked (we both did, as it turns out). This wasn’t supposed to happen. I didn’t want to fall in love. I was perfectly satisfied with the casual affairs I’d been having. This was not casual, this was overwhelming, “this was something huge, feelings taking the form of a hot, wet gas…and I had to move through it…wading through the fog of my heart”, as Michelle Tea put it.

So, like the mature, reasonable woman that I am, I left a note, skipped town and jumped on the next train to Liverpool. I didn’t know what else to do. So I’d keep traveling, keep busy, and I’d forget all about her and be fine. Which didn’t happen; I got home and I was still thinking about her. My poor friend Chanteuse has been my shoulder to lean on this whole time, urging me to confess how I felt (someone give that girl a medal). But I couldn’t see the point. Every time I’ve fallen in love it’s been unrequited and painful and why should this be any different?

This blog is usually my space to vent, but I didn’t have that any more. So when that meme came along, something had to give, and I posted my answers, against my better judgement. Winter sent me an email in response and…well, the rest is history. I’m almost unsettled by so much happiness, it’s a new experience, one I plan on getting used to. I’m not about to let a little water and some large landmasses get in my way. And while the physical distance is the biggest problem in our relationship at the moment, the blogs presented another twist. It’s a public platform, how do we negotiate this? What do we say, how much, and when do we say it? How does being romantically involved influence our blogging? It felt really odd, leaving these polite comments and then exchanging these long emails in private. So, when Air posted on his blog, we decided to take advantage of the opportunity.

So, in short, I’m bragging that my girlfriend blogs as Winter over at Mind the Gap and Desperate Kingdoms.


ETA: Winter’s got her her side of the story up as well.


hot for teacher September 28, 2006

Filed under: Uncategorized — andygrrrl @ 3:44 pm

In Which I Rant About Annoying Straight Girls.

I’m not the one with a TeacherCrush, this time around (my sign is ruled by Venus but it seems she’s cutting me a little slack). It’s three or four of my classmates. AND THEY’RE DRIVING ME INSANE.

My anatomy and physiology class is taught by a young guy, late 20s early 30ish, who is quite nice, rather funny, and very attractive. And they’re completely ga-ga for him. I don’t know whether to refer to them as “young women” or “girls” because despite the fact that they’re all in their early to mid-twenties, they act like they’re fourteen. Clearly, the impression I had that I had left junior high years ago was merely an illusion. They’re constantly flirting with him, giggling inanely, the whole routine. Every class I’m in danger of straining a muscle because I’m rolling my eyes so much.

It pisses me off, partly because I’m trying to learn here and they should act like fucking grown-ups. But partly because gender norms dictate that a straight woman communicates her interest to a man by acting like a total idiot. This is supposedly what men find attractive, according to The Rules (or whoever’s dictating het relationships these days). And the power dynamics of the situation–a male teacher with a overwhelmingly female class–irritates me. I can’t possibly imagine the reverse situation–male students fawning, speaking in high-pitched voices, asking millions of simple questions to show how in awe they are of the teacher’s superior wisdom. Male students, even with TeacherCrushes, get to be people, and women turn into this…this BarbieDollGirlMonster thing.

And you know what just occured to me, another reason it pisses me off: it’s shoving their sexuality in my face. They get to be annoying and waste class time and I’m not even sure that anybody else notices or minds. How come they get to flirt outrageously with the professor and I gotta do this complex social algebra to even figure out if I can hold my girlfriend’s hand in the street? (Rhetorical question, I know how come). You got a thang for your teacher, ask him out for a beer after you pass the final exam. Just once, for a few hours, could you give me a freakin’ break?

The teacher, to his credit, doesn’t encourage them. In fact I think he’s fairly oblivious to it, because I’m 98% certain that he’s gay as a picnic basket (my male gaydar, for whatever ironic reason, is much better than my lesbo…dar, though that seems to be improving recently). Which I take a wicked delight in. All that effort, only to find you’re barking up the wrong tree. He’s not a fey, limp-wristed stereotype (though he is performing in a local production of The Importance of Being Earnest. I had to cover up my snort with a cough when I heard that), which is probably why these women are making clueless fools of themselves. I’m slightly tempted to burst their bubble, but it’s probably best to keep my mouth shut. This is why I have a blog, so I can bitch safely here and not loose my everlovin’ mind.


balance September 23, 2006

Filed under: Uncategorized — andygrrrl @ 1:29 pm

So today is the Autumn Equinox. One of the eight major Wiccan holidays; I didn’t celebrate the last one, Lammas, mainly because I was busy pulling up roots and taking flying leaps of faith, but also because I don’t know what it means, to me, today, here and now, to someone who doesn’t practice traditional forms of Wicca, someone for whom the usual mythology and symbolism doesn’t resonate. And until I figure out what it means, I won’t just go through the movements.

But today is the equinox, or Mabon as some call it, and I’ve always liked this one. It marks the beginning of fall, a point on which the year turns to the future, a moment of transition. Fall is my favorite season, partly because of my birthday in October, mostly because I love those liminal moments in time, between. I love the atmosphere of fall.

So it’s wierd, trying to maintain my spiritual practice when the ground of that spirituality has changed so completely. I’ve always lived in temperate climates; the desert is an alien world. It doesn’t feel like fall to me, it feels like endless summer. It’s fascinating and discomforting. So I’ve been putting off marking this holiday, put off my usual habits and practices, because I feel displaced. And I’m busy, I’ve got to go shopping and get this and that and the other, I need to study, I need to practice, I need to clean my room, I want to watch this movie and read that book etc etc ad nauseum.

But, I ran into Dianne Sylvan’s blog today, and I remembered that the Equinox is about balance. It’s a pause, a breath. And as a Libra I do nothing but balance, everything in my life and the world I live in, much to my own annoyance. Balance is hard. Harmony is work. But I know the price of not doing that work. So I guess today I’ll cancel my plans, put on my hiking boots and hit the trail behind my house, the one that leads up into the red mountains, and introduce myself, say hello, here I am. Just let myself be for a moment.


not dead, just sore

Filed under: Uncategorized — andygrrrl @ 12:46 pm

ow. I need to practice, and work out more, giving a massage leaves my client relaxed and me achy. I’m the butchest one in my class, which includes a long-haired gangly Nice Guy from North Carolina, a statuesque blond from Iceland, a Navajo girl who grew up off the res in New Jersey, of all places, and a Japanese boy who speaks very little English. It’s the most challenging thing I’ve ever done. I have to learn how to learn in a non-book-centric way. For once, I’m not automatically the head of the class without trying. I’m enjoying it. It’s kind of refreshing.

Live in the desert is good. I dumped the ice cream shop for a cafe and am now the hip barista I always wanted to be. I do not, however, speak Starbuckian, so if you come in asking for a double tall frappacino, I’m just going to look at you blankly. I know how to make real coffee, not spiked milkshakes. (Starbucks is CRAP, people! When will you see the light! It’s coffee for people who don’t like coffee!)

My housemates are still wierd hippies who drink fungus tea (you don’t want to know) but I like them just fine.

There are more things to talk about, but I’m afraid I’ll have to leave you wallowing in suspense.


Public Service Announcement to the creepy guy sitting next to me September 12, 2006

Filed under: Uncategorized — andygrrrl @ 11:29 am

If you’re going to troll the internet looking at icky websites for Asian mail-order brides, do it at home, and not on the public library computers, okay?

I am a graduate of the Hotheaded Paisan’s Finishing School for Girls, jerk. Just so you know.


celebratory book blogging September 11, 2006

Filed under: Uncategorized — andygrrrl @ 5:16 pm

Huzzah! Am gainfully employed as of next week, in an ice cream/coffe shop. It’s a high school job, but the hours are right and the pay’s decent. Unless I hear back from Snooty Spa and Resort, in which case I’ll be kissing ass at the front desk, because that one offers health insurance.

So I thought I was justified in picking up Adam Bede at the library sale table (the sale table here is TO DIE FOR. I better develop some self-discipline right quick). And Phyllis Rose’s Parallel Lives: Five Victorian Marriages. I’m also trying to convince myself that I do not need a third copy of Portrait of a Lady, even if it is a Norton edition with footnotes (mmm, footnotes) and critical essays in the back, and it’s only three dollars. No. I will be good. I’ll blog about Michelle Tea’s Valencia instead, which I finished last night.

Tea had me from the very first page:

This was no mere crush, this was something huge, feelings taking the form of a hot, wet gas that filled the bar and I had to move through it with my drink, wading through the fog of my heart.

Oh yes, I thought, currently floundering through my own emotional fogginess, and I felt that recognition and relief when someone articulates so precisely your own experiences. Lynnee Breedlove calls Tea “the Mission’s poet laureate,” and she is a poet, Valencia is more like a manic prose poem than a novel, spoken-word-performance on speed, it begs to be read aloud. You get a parallel high off her words as her characters trip out on ecstasy. I’m a sucker for a good metaphor, and Tea has that rare talent of originality.

We sat outside on the front stoop, a great place to sit, maybe the best in the city. You were connected to the absolute hub of 16th Street, but you sat in a dark corridor, apart, quieter, like 16th Street was this incredible secret and my street was the moment before you told it.

I described the plot to Winter as “fucked up people fucking,” which it is; because it’s not so much about action as experience, what it’s like to be high, or drunk, or hungover, in love, in lust, heartbroken, just plain broke, working shit jobs and dancing and hooking and being lonely on Greyhound buses to Tuscon. It’s the queer girl underground in San Francisco’s Mission district in the early 90s, riot grrrls and anarchist bike messengers and I find it both seductive and disturbing. I’ve had a taste of that no-tomorrow hedonism in Paris, minus the drugs thank you, and it’s addictive. When you’ve got nothing you’ve got nothing to lose and everything is possible and nothing matters and nothing’s mundane, you’re either blissed out or crashing down. I can’t help wanting more of that, just a taste of that experience in San Francisco, because it does make you feel rebellious and revolutionary, even if you’re really not. And mostly you’re not, you’re fucked up girls who hurt themselves and others, in abusive relationships, on drugs, on the street, and it’s not romantic, and Tea doesn’t hide the dirt and desperation of life on the edge like that. Shades of Henry Miller and Jack Kerouac. Some of it’s kind of gross, and much of it is so sad. The dykes in Valencia have a tragic beauty to them, and there aren’t really any happy endings, though there are some lovely moments. There’s tons of humor too, thank god, witty and cynical and absurd. “My heart was broken“, she states at one point, “I couldn’t be held responsible for my fashion.” And later:

I just get a bad feeling off her, Petra said, shaking her head. I hated when people pulled this psychic shit on me. Like, we’re all suposed to honor each other’s intution and Different Ways of Knowing, but don’t come at me with esoteric warnings about someone I have a crush on.

I actually stopped a quarter of the way through, flipped back to the beginning and started over, so I could underline these classic one-liners she just tosses off: “In the corner store we pulled fat bottles of water from the shelves. No one thinks it’s weird that we have to buy clean water, and that’s how I know we’re going to hell. “
So I guess the moral of the story is that Valencia is a place I’d like to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live there. I’ll probably be reading it again and again, and agonizing over how I can’t afford to buy the rest of Tea’s work. Yet!


alright, since everybody else is doing it

Filed under: Uncategorized — andygrrrl @ 11:32 am

The “where were you when?” question:

I was in bed, my roommate woke me up. “Anne, I think you need to watch this.” It was Tuesday, I remember this because I didn’t have class in the morning and could sleep in. I was confused, wondering why my roommate was: a) talking to me, and b) had the TV on, neither of which were typical behaviours. I was an 18 year-old freshman in college. I saw the second plane hit, and then there was a massive wall of dirt and dust, and the Pentagon was on fire.
And then I got up, and took a shower, and while I was rinsing my hair I remember thinking that we were probably going to be bombing some obscure corner of the map before the week was out. I went to breakfast, it was a gorgeous day, I’ll never forget how surreal it felt, such a beautiful blue sky, not a cloud in it. Birds were singing. I went to class. The professor looked at us. “Do you guys want to talk about it?” We just sat there. What was there to talk about, besides the usual “why?” 98% per cent of us had never seen New York City. We were rural farm kids, or midwestern suburbanites. New York City had never existed for us as anything but a place in the movies. The World Trade Center didn’t mean or symbolize anything, it was just another skyscraper in another indistinguishable eastern city. I remember hearing the students in the ROTC jogging early in the morning, wondering how many of them would get sent overseas, how many would come back.

And that’s about it. Now I have to get back to looking for a job.