Self-promotion is a bit of a challenge for me, so I didn’t post about this before it happened but I did a reading with Vivek Shraya (whose book She of the Mountains is truly fantastic and should be read by everyone) and Sambuddha Banerjee (whose writing about coming out is just stunning). It went really well! I read two texts, posted below.
This first text was written at the writing workshop facilitated by Vivek and hosted by Melanie Carroll and the Mount Royal University Pride Centre. The prompt was two parts – first, make a list of your identities. Then, write about those identities without using those words, starting with “I am…”. This is what I came up with (and then edited to read at the book launch).
I am passionate and purposeful and playful and complex.
Political and critical and always too intense.
I am Facebook fights and 25 tabs open in Chrome.
Hashtag activism and curated media consumption and demanding diversity.
I am tired of straight white men writing, producing and performing in all of the shows and movies that they market to themselves.
I am Pitch Perfect as self-care.
I am pictures of puppies and bunnies and kitties and all things little and cute.
I am audiobooks and podcasts and music.
Amanda Palmer and Beyonce and Janelle Monae and MIA, living room dance party.
I am stopping to pet the dog, any dog, every dog – as long as it wants to be pet.
I am consent-focused with partners and pets and kids and friends and family and everyone else.
Except when I’m not. Fuck internalized rape culture, fuck the normalization of coercion.
I am long lazy mornings in bed making to-do lists and planning events.
I am incapable of relaxing because I am getting shit done.
I am flying alone to San Francisco to eat seafood and attend Naked Girls Reading Neil Gaiman at the Centre for Sex and Culture, to drink coffee at Wicked Grounds and shop at Mr. S.
I am emailing Maggie Mayhem to geek out about porn.
I am hosting porn viewings.
I am analyzing my media – compulsively, critically, through multiple theoretical lenses.
I am really annoying to watch movies with.
I am wearing a costume and delivering tea after a bad day.
I am gelato deliveries.
I am candy stashes.
I am the clomp of four-year-old feet on the stairs and my neiphling hollering “AUNTY FIFFY, I have tandy?!”
I am rootbeer floats.
I am seducing you with pie and homemade dinner.
Did it work? Do you love me?
I am reading Andrea Gibson out loud to my lovers.
I am reading erotica out loud to my lovers.
I am writing erotica for my lovers.
I am sexting and posting tumblr pictures and reading Quickie New York and I am pretending that my sex is easy and accessible.
I am starting a Year of Sexual Recovery.
I am more talk than moan.
I am shame and fear and already feeling the rejection.
I am doctor’s appointments and Epsom salt baths and seeing my counselor twice a month.
I am “shouldn’t you be on anti-depressants?”
I am “are you sure the fibromyalgia isn’t just depression?”
I am a former morning person.
I am being pulled off the balcony railing.
I am self-harm as self-care, breathing as self-care, tea as self-care, texting as self-care, compassion as self-care.
I am love as a verb. Do it even when you can’t feel it.
I am the slide of black gel ink across the ivory page.
I am the click of laptop keys and Parks and Recreation in the background.
I am crying in the bathroom for six hours.
I am London Fogs and ginger molasses cookies and too many bookshelves and too many books.
Or maybe never enough books.
I am falling in love.
I am wearing my heart farther out than is strictly recommended.
I am relying on my ribcage community.
I am reading erotica to a room full of strangers.
I am reading porn research to a room full of strangers.
I am guiding a room full of strangers through a trauma recovery writing session.
I am lucky.
I am grateful.
I am surrounded by more love than I could ever have imagined.
My second piece was a short piece of (not explicit or graphic) erotica.
If you sit beside me on the couch, and glance sideways at me with just a flicker of desire, or maybe more than a flicker, maybe a tentative but tangible interest, then my heart will stumble and my breath will catch and I will be a cliché on the couch beside you and it will be awkward and delicious and I will stay very still in an attempt to hold the moment captive.
But it will not be enough to stay still.
I am greedy, gluttonous, gloriously insatiable and so I will inch my knee closer to your knee, and place my hand, so casual, on the couch between us, and when our eyes meet I will flush pink and look away because it’s just too fucking awkward and I want to…
And your hand might also be casual on the couch, pinky finger twitching, an unbridgeable chasm of endless millimeters between us, caught like my breath on the edge of the leap and then there! Touching. Sliding over, fingers on fingers and eyes on the floor and knees now touching and if I don’t breathe I might pass out but how can I breathe when you are taking all the air.
So I will, maybe, ask for it back. The air. The oxygen. Breath from your mouth on my mouth and hands moving now and the cliché is not just heart and lungs but also stomach flipping and my body wanting your body but we’re just here on the couch, just holding hands, just kissing.
And then breathing, leaning back, grinning goofy, trying to be cool when I am anything but cool and will we talk, then? Maybe. Make a joke, take a drink, remember to breathe. And your hand will still be there, on my hand. And I am greedy. So maybe we will talk, and maybe we will do something else.