I started this website because I want to start taking myself more seriously as a writer.
A writer was the first thing that I identified as. When I was a child, I wrote with the most dedication and fervor I’ve ever had. Completely entranced, writing until my little left hand hurt. My uncle gave us an old computer, the kind that needed DOS disks and a dot-matrix printer, and I typed furiously on it. When I had to answer the landline phone, which rang constantly, I would snarl, “WHAT?” instead of saying hello. The phone was rarely for me but it was my duty to answer it and I was so annoyed at being pulled from the magical world I inhabited.
Eventually, I learned politeness. Those of you who know me in real life might snort, as I am known for having “no filter” and saying what is on my mind and offending people left and right. There is actually quite a lot I filter out and quite a few instincts that I don’t act on.
Anyway, now I am doing very little with my life, as are many people in this global pandemic. I have been doing very little, writing-wise, for a long time. I quit writing and performing in 2016. The world felt like it was on fire and I felt like I shouldn’t be taking up space, as a housed white American, with my words. I remember the last reading I did in the Bay Area. Someone I knew had invited me to fill in at some event that was in a really fancy space in Oakland–I think a hotel? [content note: police violence. to skip go to the end of this paragraph] Everyone I knew was busy so I went to it completely alone. I don’t remember what I read, just that the audience didn’t like it and I had a huge anxiety attack. The Pulse shooting had just happened; several high-profile police shootings had just happened, and a few days before I had stood with a crowd of about 100 people in San Francisco while the police stood off with a mentally ill man and we all screamed for them not to kill him as they shot bean bags at him and fired sound cannons. I hadn’t been able to cry about any of it but I was able to cry as I biked through the streets of Oakland, super-fast, filled with all these emotions that felt like they were eating me alive.
I decided to buy a pack of cigarettes when I got back to my neighborhood, since they were the only readily available thing that could make me feel better when I was in this state of high anxiety. I bought a pack and was smoking one while pushing my bike. An old man came up to me and pointed. “You’ve done all that work on your heart, just to throw it away?”
“What?!” I asked, sure I’d misheard him. Was he an oracle? Did he know how much I was struggling with my C-PTSD, how much work I had done in simply staying alive and semi-functional, how much I had tried to heal?
He pointed at my bike. “You’re riding that bike, making your heart strong, and then you’re smoking a cigarette?” Oh. I forget what I told him. I kept walking, shaken. I always feel like the universe speaks to me through weird people. At the time, I thought the universe was telling me to stop smoking (often a great idea). But now I think the universe was telling me to keep writing. I had decided, reading to all of those blank faces at that last reading, that I should take a break from writing or at least from sharing it with the world. That benefited no one, as far as I can tell. The world continued to be fucked up and accumulate trauma and injustice. My lack of writing harmed me, and possibly those who have found solace in the things I have to write.
So, here I am. I am here because art, however imperfect, is part of what’s right with the world. I am here because creating it is meaningful. It’s not going to be meaningful for everyone, and that’s totally fine! You don’t have to read it. But I owe it to myself to make it.