Thursday, April 2, 2015

National Poetry Month 2: "Tell Us a Little About Yourself"

“Tell Us a Little About Yourself”
Jack Garcia 

What do I say?
Do I tell the room that I’m afraid of matches,
or that I get uncomfortable around big dogs
that like to jump on me, or that my favorite cocktail
switches between a Coke and Rum or a Margarita
or a Long Island Iced Tea depending on the night? 

Do I tell them that I’ve made out in a baseball dugout
or that I’ve had four teeth pulled
or that my biggest fear in life is that I’ll amount to nothing,
or worse, that I’ll amount to the wrong thing?
Do I tell them I watched every season of Glee,
even when everyone hated it? That I can’t whistle?
That I don’t care?
That I sometimes talk to myself when I’m alone?
That I stand in the mirror, pinching my stomach rolls in disgust?
Do I tell them that I’m not sure about God anymore
because if He exists, then He’s just one more person I’ve disappointed? 

Do I tell them I once saw a little girl
get run over by a produce truck in Chile?
Watermelons fell out of the back
when the driver hit the brakes,
breaking into pieces—smashed
red pulp like the little girl’s head.
The neighbors sprayed the streets down
with their garden hoses and the water flowed
like pink lemonade around my shoes.
Do I tell them how I wanted to cry?
How I wanted to go to her
and with the power of the Spirit
raise her from the dead?
Heal her?
Anything? 

No.

I say I’m from Colorado and sit down.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

National Poetry Month 1: Moving Pictures


Moving Pictures
Jack Garcia
 

“You’re not doing it right,” he said,
packing the powdered herbs more tightly,
lighting the fire that will start
the moving picture show. 
“You need to inhale deeper.
With your stomach, not just your chest.”

I try again, coughing, laughing a little.
The smoke scratches at my throat
with its vaporish claws.
Dust-smeared images flicker
on the torn screen. Faded
Technicolor slows down
and slows down
until it stops with a rip
in the film and a cigarette burn. 

All life is on pause.

Then, slowly, the colored lights return
and in slow-motion I unwrap him,
his clothes like rolling papers,
and we laugh at how funny our movie is.
I inhale all of him, not just with my chest,
but with my whole being
and he tickles my throat.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

God Rest Ye, Merry Gentlemen


"Gentlemen and Birds" by Patric Bates
Who are these merry gentlemen?

In the poem “Lone Gentlemen” (or “Gentlemen Alone” depending on the translation), Pablo Neruda writes of the “gay young men” who, like everyone else it seems, spend the night like “raucous cats that cruise my garden in the shadows,/ like a necklace of pulsating oysters of sex/ surround my lonely residence,/ like enemies lined up against my soul,/ like conspirators in bedroom clothes/who exchange long deep kisses to order.”  By the light of the moon there is “an endless movement of trousers” and in the movie theaters “the heroes are studs or princes mad with passion.”

Are these the gentlemen?  These gay young men?

Under the flashing colored lights pulsating with the rhythm coursing through our bodies from the baseline in our foot soles to the vibrating fingers to the buzzing of our teeth, we dance.  Brian and I.  Two gay men in the middle of a straight night club in downtown Provo.  We laugh, we sweat, we live.  Tired, I lean against the stage and Brian, tired too, rests his head on my shoulder.  The blue and green lights move about the dance floor in the shapes of stars—restless constellations refusing to be charted.  A pair of boots, jeans, a belt buckle and finally a scruffy-faced man in a cowboy hat has fully approached us through the stars.  Brian removes his head from my shoulder.  I tense as I’m suddenly face-to-face with this stranger.  His hand moves forward; I flinch.  “Keep being true to you,” he mumbles quietly.  I shake his hand.  He tips his hat.  And just like that he’s disappeared in the shadows of the endless movement of the night.

Surely this man was a gentleman.  So are my male friends who tell me the strange symbol on my dashboard means my tire pressure is low and then offer to fill them up for me.  Gentlemen like my friend Austin who tries so hard to schedule double dates with me and Brian and he and his wife.  Or Dink who helps me with difficult watch repairs, even though he works at the jewelry store across the hall.  Or guys like Jordan who go out of their way to tell me that I'm a good writer, even though I don't know him that well.  Gentlemen like my father who ministers to the poor and the needy, telling them that God loves them no matter what... even if they are gay.

In the Patric Bates print “Gentlemen and Birds” which hangs on my wall at home—the one I bought from the artist himself at the Provo Farmers Market this summer—the central figure is dressed in a top hat and scarves that wrap around his neck and shoulders and arms like a straightjacket.  Others in the crowd face him.  They seem to suffocate him with their stares and their bird beaks and their hands like claws.  The man’s eyes are full of sorrow.  The sorrow of the world, it seems. 

God rest ye, merry gentlemen
Let nothing you dismay
Remember Christ, our Savior,
Was born on Christmas day
To save us all from Satan's power
When we were gone astray
O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy.

Two nights before Christmas, Rusty and Maxwell, two gay men in Salt Lake City, experience a similar night of dancing under the pulsating neon lights of the club.  Only this club is a gay club—Club Jam.  Tired and sweaty, they leave the club, like raucous cats, and cruise the streets in the shadows.  “Hey, faggots!” they hear.  They continue to walk home, which is just across the street, ignoring the childlike taunts of their tormentors—the jabs of the beaks.  They arrive at their own driveway.  “Get out of here, faggots,” one pursuer shouts.  “We live here,” they say, voices trembling cold under the stars.  A punch to the head and Rusty falls to the ground.   Another man jumps on Maxwell, hitting him repeatedly with his fists—a steady baseline to the furious rhythm of his hate.  Only sadness in the eyes of the gay young gentlemen now.  Their arms are strapped down, not by scarves but by other hands—hands like claws—hands of their enemies mad with passion.

O tidings of comfort and joy. 

When can we ever find rest?  Or merriment?  We were promised it long ago.  Must we forever be gentlemen alone?

Friday, September 12, 2014

Thoughts on Being the Class Queer

Brian, Mia, Tiffany and I watching the Crowley County Days Mud Races.

In case you are unawares, I've been feeling older than dirt lately (assuming, of course, that dirt is only 27 years old).  This fact was highlighted for me when I attended my ten-year high school reunion.  Class reunions are decidedly for old people only.  How on earth did I graduate a decade ago?  And what have I done since then?  Yikes.

I can't remember who it was, but somebody asked me, upon returning, if any of my classmates had problems with me being gay.  I wasn't "out" in high school so, to be perfectly honest, I was a little afraid of that as well.  Of course many of them are friends with me on Facebook so it wasn't a new thing.  But still, seeing that an old acquaintance is gay via social media is not the same as hanging out with him and his gay husband for a weekend.  People might be stand-offish, right?

Wrong.  Nobody gave a shit.  Obviously my more liberal, Denver-living, pot-smoking, Obama-voting classmates didn't care.  Not surprising there.  But neither did my "I listen to Christian rock stations every morning as I drive to work" classmates.  Or my "I'm still living down here, working the farm" classmates.  Not even my "I stabbed a guy once, served some time, and now I work at a gas station" classmates.  Seriously, nobody cared.

This made me happy.  And I truly had a fantastic time at my reunion.  We gathered together on a Friday night out at Mia's family home near the lake where we grilled hamburgers and hotdogs, reminisced over old yearbooks, met people's significant others and children, got reacquainted, drank beers, built a float and danced a little out in the barn.  That's how small towns do reunions.

The next day was Crowley County Days, a big celebration in my little hometown of Ordway with a parade and everything.  Our class won "Best Class Reunion float."  Suck it, Class of '64!  And later on, watching the good ol' boys race each other in beefed up trucks through pits of mud, me and my gay husband sat in the back of a pickup truck amongst Confederate flags and the most hillbilly of hillbillies, feeling absolutely content with the world.  At least I did.  Brian was probably wishing he were back in Utah and far away from Confederate flags ("We're not even in the South!" he exclaimed in astonishment).  But yeah.  It felt pretty good to be home.

Would I ever move back?  Hell no!  But still... it felt nice.

Not long after that, back in Provo, some friends and I took a night drive in a yellow convertible.  Cruising down 500 West, laughing and feeling free, singing along to the radio we heard the unmistakable shout of "Faggots!" from the vehicle in the lane beside us.  It looked like a man was driving with his wife beside him.  In the backseat, a high-school-aged boy had the window rolled down and yelled at us again.  His parents laughed.

My friend shouted "I love you!" as we sped ahead.  We blasted Lady Gaga's "Born This Way" for the rest of the drive back to my house.  Of course we just laughed about it.  The whole thing was pretty ridiculous.

But I'm still a little shocked and a little saddened that hatred like this still exists.  That parents would encourage that kind of behavior.  That bullying is seen as okay.  I'm reminded of how much work needs to be done to make Provo a safe place for the LGBTQ community.  I'm reminded why I ever got involved with the Provo Pride Council to begin with.

Next weekend is our Second Annual Provo Pride Festival and this year I'm festival director.  That means I've met with the mayor and various city officials to get permits, shot off emails to the police department in terms of security and barricades, drawn up the festival map, met with a guy who can get us food trucks, contracted port-o-potties, and met with the rest of the amazingly dedicated council week after week to insure that this year is even better than last.  All this I try to do between college classes and full-time hours at work.

Why?  Because Provo needs it.

Last Sunday I watched a high school kid win a youth drag show that we put on.  He's a kid who regularly gets bullied for his fashion choices or his actions.  Who gets bullied for being gay.  And in that moment of coronation--of recognition and respect instead of judgment and ridicule--I saw his happiness.  I felt his tears.  I wore his smile.

It felt nice.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Swallowing It

If you've somehow missed the news, the jewelry store I work at was the recent scene of a crime. A coworker was showing a diamond ring to a man who said he was waiting for his girlfriend to arrive in any minute. He kept looking towards the main mall entrance, until suddenly, ring in hand, he booked it outside.

"Help!" my coworker screamed as she ran around the jewelry counter, chasing after him. "He stole a diamond from us! Call 911!"

And do you know what? Several bystanders did just that. Someone else saw the guy get into a car--a white Pontiac G6 with pink sticky notes covering the license plate--driven by a woman. Within a half-hour they were found by police but the ring was not. At least not until after some questioning and an x-ray proved that the woman had indeed swallowed the ring. You heard me right. SWALLOWED.

I, for one, struggle swallowing any pill that's bigger than an ibuprofen. It often takes me multiple attempts with plenty of water gulps before I achieve success. Sometimes the pill has already partially dissolved in my mouth and I can taste the awful medicine within. Sometimes I have to give up entirely and just stay sick. I honestly cannot imagine swallowing something of that size and shape. It boggles my mind.

Yet she did it. She swallowed it. For whatever desperate reason, she swallowed it good. Police say they are now waiting for the ring to pass.

This was not my only run-in with law enforcement this weekend, although I wish it was. One of our roommates broke a rule that for others in the house was a definite deal-breaker. When it was discovered, all hell broke loose. Through miscommunications and quick judgments, the situation snowballed  into one of shouting and screaming and fear. Compromise seemed unreachable. A lifestyle change, impossible. Forgiveness, out of the question. My friend was left standing there broken and vulnerable and painfully aware of all the many times he had felt wronged, or cheated, or robbed of that thing called happiness he so desperately sought after.

Depression is real, my friends. As is addiction. And sometimes life isn't anything more than a series of grab-and-runs.

When he stormed out into the night, with the threat of suicide still hanging in the air, we were forced to call 911. In less than a half-hour, our friend was found by police. He was alive. He was safe. We held each other in the stairwell and cried. I couldn't hold onto him tight enough.

"I thought this was my safe haven," he said through tears.

"I wanted it to be."

But now he's staying somewhere else, once again feeling betrayed. Once again reevaluating his future. Once again starting over.

He's just swallowing it.

Monday, August 25, 2014

I Should Be Something

"I love reading your blog," my Aunt Laine mentions as we're chit-chatting in the park, waiting for Holman family photos to be taken.

"I hardly ever write it," I admit, slightly embarrassed.

"But when you do, it's awesome," she smiles.

And then another month or more went by. Looking back, my last post was in May. No June. No July. Where have I been? What have I been doing all summer?

The answer is nothing. Not a damn thing. I was going to read a lot over the summer. I'm two-thirds of the way through a memoir called This Boy's Life by Tobias Wolff.  I've been reading bits and pieces of it for months. I was going to write a lot, with the ambition of finishing another draft of my ongoing novel. Nope. I was even going to participate in Camp NaNoWriMo (the summer version of November's National Novel Writing Month), but I didn't. I reworked the first few chapters for the umpteenth time and that's about it. Do I want to tell the thing in first person or third?? I can't decide! I was also going to draw another season of Chihuahua Comics, chronicling my relationship with Brian and our marriage (since the character versions of us haven't technically been married yet), but I roughly sketched out the first few panels and decided I didn't have time. And who reads it anyway?

Maybe that's also why I haven't written on the ol' blog. Who the hell reads it anyway? And even if some of you do, does it matter? What's the point of documenting my life here on the interwebs? What's the point of sharing photos or anecdotes or comics or poetry? Maybe that's my problem. I just don't seem to get the point.

I turned 28 last Wednesday. To some of you, 28 isn't very old. I still have my youth. My whole life before me. That's what some say. But to me, 28 feels very old. 28 feels like I'm holding onto the leash of some very large dog that comically takes off after a cat and drags me along behind scraping in the mud. The audience laughs. There's going to be a sequel. But I can't shake the feeling that I should have accomplished more in part one. I'm not ready for part two. I feel like I should be something by now.

But what should I be? Or better yet, who?

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Mormon Housewife

They jokingly refer to me as the Mormon housewife, and I'm not quite sure who should be more offended. The Mormon?  The housewife? Regardless, it bugs me because it's true, except for the parts that aren't. I'm baby-hungry, but a horrible cook; I spend my free time doing laundry or sweeping the floors, but only to an extent. Only because I have to. I do, however, enjoy strolling the home goods aisle at Target, convincing myself we can afford one more end table. I can even make myself think it's a necessity. Yet when the home is complimented and praise directed to me, I defer. I understate my involvement. Why am I so bugged to be called housewife?

There are lots of bugs in this house.  Spiders that crawl quickly out of sockets, flies that bang blind into window panes, and beetles that look bored as I paint or stain or whatever womanly project I've undertaken. Womanly. What happened to my feminism? My rejection of misogyny? A tiny black beetle crawls slowly over the throw pillows I've so carefully chosen, considering pattern and color, yearning for style yet restraining myself to what I consider a masculine color pallet or a bold pattern. Perhaps this is why I'm uncomfortable when my roommate dons red heels and boasts of his shapely legs. I want to crawl away and hide in the walls of my own do-it-yourself, follow-the-instructions gender norms.

I gently lead the bewildered beetle into a glass cup and carry him outside to the grass. And just like that, over time, I remove the unwanted parts of me from the presentable household I'm keeping.

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