Filed under: Musings, S/Alexander | Tags: homophobia, men, minus ned, straight, the boys in the band, white
Straight white men were never been my target audience. Before this blog goes any further, I understand that I just alluded to myself as if I was a soft drink or television program – but those analogies aren’t too far removed from the truth. How many of us, myself included, change the way we behave in certain instances to be liked more, to make friends? In high school, the only time where I had considerable one-on-one interaction with groups of white males, I feared their presence. The white girls found me adorable and the black kids didn’t pay me any attention, but the white boys were the ones who commented on the nascent swish in my walk. They whispered “Faggot” in the hallways, and tried to pick fights with me in class. During one particularly traumatic lunch period, three white men stole my book bag and spun it over their heads, tossing its contents onto the ground, while everyone else laughed. While I’ve managed to forget most of high school, no doubt as a defense mechanism against a therapy bill I am too poor to afford, I have never managed to forget my distrust of straight white males. This all changed recently when I managed to befriend the Boys in the Band.
These boys are not to be confused with the bitchy queens from the camp-tastic 1970s movie. They are straight and white and border, occasionally, on the frat-ish. They all went to school together, or knew people who went to school with the others, or simply were from the same town – in all honesty, their connection has never really mattered that much to me, as their connection to one another seems as divinely ordained as if they were brothers. They finish each other’s sentences, order for each other in restaurants, bum cigarettes from each other’s packs, and live in what should be a pool house together, except for the fact that there is no pool. They spend their days working regular jobs around Los Angeles, and their nights and weekends as members of an up-in-coming blues, pop rock band.
We met months ago in the front apartment, spent some time drinking together, and somehow (against all odds) I managed to make friends with them. I write about it now only because I am surprised at how easy the entire thing went. Our mutual friends fostered our friendship, praising each other’s virtues as if willing us to be friends. From the first moment there was none of that “fear-the-queer” shit that you usually get with straight white men, nor were they the lease bit curious about my being gay. More importantly, I didn’t find any of them personally attractive, which has been the doom of so many possible friendships. Instead, we talked about music, went drinking, and I hung out at their place. They became fans of the blog, with one of the guitar players (at a friend’s birthday party) reciting his favorite lines between cigarette drags. In return, I went to one of their shows, preparing myself for a horrid lie that I never had to tell. They were actually talented, and I bought their CD the next day – the first time I’ve bought music in the last decade.
I don’t know if this post has a point, besides my own curiosity about my own shift. Had I become more palatable, or had there been some change in the personalities of straight white men that I had failed to notice. Sitting across from them this weekend at a bar in Hollywood, I couldn’t help but feel relaxed in a way that high school Stefan would have marveled at. In between cigarettes and beers, we talked about movies and music and I managed a clever sports reference that didn’t make me seem horribly out of the loop. In short, we hung out, and (not for the first time) I realized how far I had actually come.
James Blake – Limit To Your Love
Jamie Woon – Night Air
Filed under: Musings, S/Alexander | Tags: free love, marriage, open marriage, racialized, sex, threesomes
“Wait, she invited you into her marriage?”
It all seemed entirely too surreal. She met my roommate through the mutual experience of being a person of color in a graduate program at USC – something which has tended to bind all of us together this year. They met in coffee shops and outdoor patios, chatting about race and writing and Robin Kelley and the Harlem Renaissance. Their interactions, from my stand point, resembled the making of some Nicholas Sparks monstrosity. Two minorities on the come-up meet in graduate school, become friends, start dating, get married, pop out some children who get raised in the suburbs while their parents teach rich, white kids about race at the local University. However, all of this seemed a bit too premature. During one of their lunches together, she casually mentioned that she was married, and that her marriage was open – whatever the hell that meant. Her husband opposed this set-up at first, but eventually gave in to her demands and, she told my roommate over drinks, she had chosen him to be her first lover. They spent the day feeling each other up in his car outside the home she shared with her husband, and then returned to tell me the tale. But the adrenaline of the forbidden had slowly started to wear off, and the entire thing became a series of questions. Was he going to have to meet the husband to get final approval before he fucked her? Was he going to have to host all of their trysts? Did the husband want to watch? Was he going to have to play with her and the husband? What were the rules associated with guest-starring in somebody’s relationship?
For my friend Annie, there doesn’t seem to be any rules at all. A few weeks ago I was chatting up a gorgeous “straight” man at a party hosted Hollywood’s latest up-and-coming band. The boy, a comedian claiming to have a dick as thick as a coke can and a tounge that could reach a woman’s g-spot, was entertaining me with crude jokes and stories when Annie ambled towards us in the living room. Unfiltered by the alcohol, Annie proceeded to declare, with absolute certainty, that she wanted to have a threesome with two men before the guy she was sorta/kinda seeing returned from Europe. The boy, whom I had met at a party I hosted at my house, was wonderful and incredibly attractive, but apparently distance had may the girl grow hornier and she wanted two dicks before he returned in December. The comedian made a clever quip and I laughed along, but for the rest of the night I couldn’t help but dwell on the randomness of Annie’s statement. I remember feeling embarrassed – not because she had said what she did, but because there was so much honesty behind it. In a room filled with strangers, she had no problem announcing her willingness to take two cocks at the same time – something which I had assumed was still taboo. I waited for the eventually joke or quip from the comedian but it never happened – making me think that the concept of a girl with a boy abroad seeking a MMF threesome was somehow becoming the ordinary.
My own experience guest-starring in somebody’s relationship had been anything besides ordinary. It was accidental and unexpected, and tinged with a sort of racialized objectification that I had forgotten could still exist. I met him at the Los Angeles Public Library a few months ago, and we hit it off instantly. He was smooth, blonde, tan, and a bottom. After an hour of casual chatting about anything and everything he casually mentioned his boyfriend – and I relegated him to the island of unattainable men. But, a few days later, while working from home, I saw that he had texted me a very sexually suggestive message. After a few volleys back and forth he casually mentioned that his boyfriend was at work, and that he was lonely in their apartment without him. I am sure I made some nervous joke, but when he pressed me to come by I couldn’t help but oblige – even if it meant driving to the Valley. Seeing him again, I was completely enraptured. Naked on his living room floor, I was too busy exploring every inch of his body to hear the key turn in the front door. What would plague me afterward was the realization that I was more than willing to be one man’s mistress, but less willing to be two men’s stud.
In my ear I heard the boy whisper, “Keep going! Play with my cock! He has always wanted to walk in on me with a black guy.” Confused, I gave the boy the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps this was just the heat of the moment. I know from experience that things said in the bedroom (or in the case – on the floor of the living room) didn’t always directly correlate to reality. But over the next two hours I was subjected to objectification after objectification. Laying on my back, the bottom’s ass on my face and his boyfriend sucking my dick, I heard them whispering about me as if I weren’t there. They commented on how thick my dick was, how big it was, how large the head was – the accolades reaching the point of fetish. When the bottom announced that he wouldn’t let me fuck him I left. He thought my dick was too big to fit in his “white ass,” and I refused to let his Latino boyfriend fuck me – knowing from experience that his dick was too small to bring me any sort of pleasure. We had reached a sexual impasse. When I got back to my car I put my lube and condoms in the glove compartment and headed home feeling as if I had been duped somehow. What had been advertised as cheating had become a threesome, with me playing the part of the black stud brought in to spice things up.
In all honesty, I don’t know why Annie wants to fuck two men before her boyfriend returns from Europe, and I don’t know why my roommate has been invited into an allegedly open marriage. I didn’t know why I was invited to what turned into my first threesome, but I know it was fun for everybody except me. I know it wasn’t easy. I know that guest-starring in somebody else’s relationship means you abdicate control of the situation. It stops being your sexual needs, and it starts being about their’s. I do not mean to cast judgement on anybody. Everyone is different, and everyone is into different things, but what does it mean when one person is no longer enough? What does it mean to take a lover, and is that different from a mistress? When does the line between “free love” and whore get crossed, and how do you find your way back? Can you get back? I don’t know the right way to counsel my roommate, and I don’t know what to say to Annie – but I do know that feeling I had driving back from the Valley was one I had rarely felt before – shame.
It is Autumn.
How strange is that? How strange is it that I am only now feeling the change in seasons here? It’s different on the West Coast this year. Last year it stayed warmer, longer and we didn’t get the weeks of rain until January. Now, we are getting the rain here everyday. Obviously, I don’t mind the rain. I’ve always loved the rain and you used to feel the rain coming in your knees. Don’t worry, there isn’t really thunder or lightening here. Remember when I was a kid I wanted to sit on the front porch during thunder storms and watch the lightening and the thunder? You’d yell from your bedroom for me to get into the house. After we got Chrysler you’d make me come inside because the dog was afraid of the loud noises, but I knew it was really because you were afraid I’d be struck by lightening one day. You always tried to protect me, even from the improbable.
I guess I’m writing because I’m lonely – and this is a lot better than holding it all inside. I think that is the biggest problem with you not being with me anymore. When you were a phone call away, a plane ride away, in the next bedroom – then I knew I had an instant ally. You were my person and now I have no person. And while I am slowly learning to be on my person, to be my own friend, to support myself and believe in myself as fiercely as you did – it’s just not the same as having someone else believe in you. I hate to say it – and I know it sounds codependent as Hell, but Momma, I need someone more than myself to be amazing for – to perform for, live for. I know that I need to keep going. I know that I am supposed to want to do these great things. But the truth is that I love myself, but I loved you more, and I’m not sure that I am enough of a motivation to do for.
But it’s too late for sadness. I wanted to let you know that I gave my first lecture last Monday and it was great and I felt great. I got rave reviews and I am really, really happy about it in after thought. I met one of my academic idols on Friday, and she loves my project and wants to stay in touch with me. My advisor approved my applying to the big conference this year, so I am going to give my first, official paper in March. My students didn’t do their reading last week and it hurt my feelings, and I know it shouldn’t have but it did – and so now I have to be stricter with them because I think they think I’m an “easy” TA and I don’t want that. I don’t want to get taken advantage of that way. My roommate and I are fine; getting along fine. He is sort of a space cadet though and I have to keep reminding him when bills are due and what his portion is – and I know what you’d think but it’s not like that. He is genuinely not effected by things like that, and he used to live in an apartment where all of those things were taken care of in the rent – so this is a new situation for him.
Today the Cousins are organizing a group 3-way which will, if everything goes correctly, include 7 different people. We have decided that we want to talk with one another – be more in contact. I told Jane on the phone last week that you are the only person who maintained close contact with all of the cousins, and without you the adults have retreated. Mema is dealing with Pepa being sick and Phyllis is – well – being Phyllis and Jane has done so much I think she deserves a break from playing hall monitor in everybody’s lives. And Karen, well, you know. There are no more adults in this family – just children. So I think we cousins are going to start talking to one another and organizing family activities for the next generation (Aiden, Eli, Ethan, and Wes). For instance, Sara is having Thanksgiving at the house. You always wanted that, but you were so ashamed and so proud and it just, it just never happened. But it is happening this year. I won’t be there but I hope it goes well.
And I know what you’d say, you’d accuse me of “running away,” but it’s not like that. I just loved you so much, and there is so much there that I am feeling, that I can’t go back to the house and eat Thanksgiving and see my dog and see my family and have the day that you always wanted but never got. I can’t do it. I’m not strong enough. So, instead, I’m throwing a “Friends-giving” and cooking at my apartment. I think it will be nice. I hope it will be nice.
Alright Momma, I have to go because I need to print some things out. But let me say this before I go: I love you. I love you more than the air I breathe. I love you so much. Please, give me the strength to get through this.
I can’t blog about the kids that I am TAing – it’s not professional.
I can’t blog about my family, because their stories are not mine.
I can’t blog about sex, because I am not having any.
I feel like my hands are tied trying to grow into this scholar I feel myself becoming. The “F” key on my keyboard is broken, preventing me from typing “Fuck This” and “Fuck You” on these busy-work assignments my professors are assigning instead of realizing my brilliance and letting me wander off into my own mind; a mind where fashion and executions and death and culture and couture reign supreme and where my work has no giants to persuade me I’m wrong. Why care about the book when I could care about clothes? Why care about the counter-reformation when people were dying in my primary sources and instead of crying they begged for smocks to cover their guilt and comfortable shoes?
I’m choking on the words I can’t speak in class when I see us decend into race-wanks where every other word is a seemingly endless stream of cliches and neo-africana/chicana/gender theory broken down and re-assembled to mask the fact that history is not neat and tidy, easy to digest, or comparable 100% to the present. I do not wish to unpack a motherfucking thing, and I don’t care to grapple with the complexities and implications of this man’s book title which neglects to mention indigenous peoples, african slaves, women, or indentured servants. Especially when that wasn’t the book the man wrote. You want to juxtapose? Cool. You want to contend with the racist implications? Fine. I’m going to sit on my tounge and kiss my own ass and meet with professors and pretend I love discussions when I would prefer people with more knowledge than me school me on the books we get assigned.
No, I am not going to measure my intellectual dick against your. I refuse. Why? Because if you aren’t going to put it in me then there’s no use in me seeing it. Stop showing off, I’m not. I sit and listen as you twist and turn conversations to the things you know, neglecting the things you don’t, and insisting somehow that you are the most promising amongst us. You aren’t. You will be famous for being boring. You will be tenured for being predictable. While you grade papers turn on the history channel and see my face narrating my book-turned-special-turned-soon-to-be-television show on Showtime staring whatever has-been actor decides to revitalize his career by playing the King in my drama. This isn’t jealousy and I haven’t drank a sip of haterade since I hopped the first plane out of south carolina, landed in Rhode Island, graduated from an Ivy and found my ass at the table with yall.
But it is fine. This is the text. This is the do I really want to be here moment and those are the moments I always pass with flying colors. Those are the moments where you see just how far this gay, black, fat, southern, smoker can run without needing to catch his breath. So I’m gonna give up my life, for the time being. I’m going to hunker down in this apartment, drink bottles of red wine, grade these damn papers, clean my motherfucking room, do my independent research, write my fellowship applications, and be a fucking STAR.
Filed under: Music, Random YouTube, S/Alexander | Tags: 19, adele, last request, little lion man, make you feel my love, mumford and sons, onerepublic, paulo nutini, sara barellis
It’s nearly midnight on the West Coast.
These last few weeks have nearly broken me, but I have managed to pull the pieces together – to keep the pieces together. I am still whole. I am still breathing. But it is midnight on the West Coast, and my apartment is empty. My only company is a half-empty bottle of wine, a copy of Homme +, and these songs – which are looped on my iTunes. Some of them are new, and some of them are older. All of them are good.
So take a moment to reflect for a moment on all the places you’ve been this year – and all the places you’ve still got left to go.
Adele – Make You Feel My Love
OneRepublic ft. Sara Bareillis – Come Home
Paulo Nutini – Last Request
Mumford and Sons – Little Lion Man
Filed under: Music, Musings, S/Alexander | Tags: death, friends, keane, somewhere only we know
Oh simple thing, where have you gone
I’m getting old and I need something to rely on
So tell me when you’re gonna let me in
I’m getting tired and I need somewhere to begin
– Keane, “Somewhere Only We Know”
Time keeps marching forward. The day after my mother died, I remember laying on her bed with the dog. I had come home from the hospital the day before and fallen asleep in the bedroom where my mother had spent the last five years of her life confined. I could still smell her on the sheets, on the pillows. The cup beside her bed had a layer of water at the top from where the ice had melted in her sweet tea. Her computer chair was piled high with papers and yellow legal pads. Her ash tray was overflowing with cigarette butts, because towards the end her hand shook too badly for her to finish an entire cigarette in one sitting. But, most of all, I remember that the television in her room was still on. I remember hearing about Obama and the deficit and the Tea Party movement and a million other news stories that did nothing more than confirm for me that the world had kept turning. Somehow, people had gotten out of bed. Somehow, people had gone to work or dropped their kids off at daycare or gone shopping or a thousand other things that had nothing to do with the grief I was feeling. My mother was dead, why wasn’t that on the news?
But time soldiers on.
This week was the three-month anniversary, and the shock and grief of it all has, for the most part, passed. I know now that I am strong enough to do it on my own, even if I don’t believe that any twenty-three year old should have to do it that way. I am an adult, and while I am still young, experience has made me old. I know enough to get myself out of most situations. But there are still moments when my carefully constructed house of cards begins to sway and I start to panic, thinking that everything I’ve built is about to collapse, and I realize that – in the grand scheme of things – I have very few people I could call for help.
That is not to deride or dismiss my friends. I have a lot of them, and they are caring, smart, funny people. They are capable, and I imagine that they are going to do amazing things with their lives. But, with the odd exception, my friends and I have led radically different lives. They feel younger than me – less jaded, more hopeful for the future. They lack a certain amount of lived experience. Ask them to go shopping or explain a primary source or about a relationship, and they are amazing. But ask them the best place to bounce a check in order to get the $25 cash back (non-chain grocery stores) – or how long it would take for that check to post to your account (2-3 business days) – and they are stupefied. None of my friends know that the power company cannot disconnect your power, no matter how late your bill is, so long as you have a medical necessity for keeping the power on. This isn’t something I judge them for, and I wish I had grown up in a house where I didn’t know that the best way to steal from a grocery store was through the self-check out line, or that PayDay Loan places don’t check your credit report when you apply for a loan, and that the maximum loan amount in the state of California is $300. When you are staring down the barrel of a gun, and you need someone to pick up the phone at 1:21am on an idle Tuesday night, you don’t call your friends – you call your mother. When financial aid is trying to screw you over and you don’t remember if you had to file taxes or not and the Bank is trying to take money out of your account and the landlords are upset that you’re a smoker and the car is making a fucked up noise and you have to choose between buying $536 worth of books for school or buying groceries – you don’t want to call your friends; you want to call your mother.
But I can’t.
My mother has been dead for three months now, and I have never felt older in my life. Why have I not gone gray? Why don’t I have wrinkles yet? Why isn’t this aging, which feel so all encompassing, not visible to anyone other than me? “I’m getting old, and I need something to rely on.” It is a simple line from a song released years and years ago, but it gets me every time. That line, that one expression of defeated hope, of silent prayers expressed, of genuine hurt and need is enough to send me over the edge. From the first moment I heard the song, I have always teared up at that line. “I’m getting old, and I need something to rely on.” It has meant different things at different moments in my life. It was about my fear of being single. It was about my lack of close friends. It was about a forgotten birthday. It was about every unmet or failed expectation. And while none of these are wrong, I think what I think about it today is closer to the truth. It is about the sinking feeling that comes when you feel time moving on without you; when every thing and every one is changing, and you witness it only from a distance. I am getting older; every day, every minute, every second I feel myself aging. Not just my body, but my spirit. “I’m getting old and I need something to rely on.” I feel myself getting weary. Every set back, every hussle, every lie I have to tell myself only adds to the weight on my shoulders; I’m slouching towards something that I’m sure I’ll ever get to.
Something I’m not sure I can get to by myself.