Gaily forward

I asked casually the other day if anyone else said or still says, when giving directions, “gaily forward” instead of (or to correct) saying “go straight”. We said this a lot in the 80s and 90s as part of queer culture, and then I haven’t heard it all that much – though I still say it. To my surprise over 100 people answered and said they also did it, still do it, heard it, or are teaching their kids to say it! Amusing! Others seemed to agree the 80s (even the early 80s) was when they started saying it, and there were many more women than men, but that may be an side effect of my age and the concentration of my friend groups. I wondered if it was something which just spread naturally (“like herpes”, Sean said helpfully) or if it had some canonical source – From the early 80s, that would hardly be a tv show, but possibly a movie or a book. I mean even then what fucking book would it be – I can’t see Beebo Brinker joshing about gaily forward in her Packard on a cross country trip, or whatever, can you???? Or some wounded gay poilu giving Stephen Gordon jolly instructions in a World War I ambulance? I THINK NOT. In this FB thread, Vicki suggested it may be from a song by Judy Fjell, who she called into the thread. I got very excited & started listening to Judy’s songs (women’s music, country style, from the early 80s onward).

Just checked back on this and Judy answered – and added she thought it might be something mentioned in a song by Judy Small, though not necessarily as an origin, but documenting something that was commonly said.

OK, that amps up the amazingness even more because a) Judy Small is Australian and i didn’t realize before this she toured all over the US and Canada in the 80s b) She is also the author of one of my favorite amazing songs, The I.P.D., which I first heard on a mix tape Johanna Lee made me in like, 1991 or 92 (lots of womyn’s music sarcastically interspersed with riot grrrl fare and the tribe 8 song that satirically quotes alix dobkin ) and then when the tape broke I went on a quest to find it again every few years FINALLY succeeding (it was not anywhere i could find until quite recently!)

Maybe I’m overly obsessed with this song but I do get particular music running through my head and I need to hear it again – and this one, I could hear perfectly over two decades without having it anywhere outside of my own brain. If that’s happened to you then you know the pleasure of finally hearing it with your ears again!

Adding to my happiness – she also has a Wikipedia page. Also – unexpectedly, her day job is being a judge.

The song that touches on our original topic, “Turn Right, Go Straight” never says “gaily forward” but does have a biting commentary on going straight.

Anyway – no conclusion to make here other than, I am adding this to the things that are part of queer culture, like the (international and cross-linguistic) gay “lisp” which is really a sort of intonation pattern more than an actual lisp.

A low down on the bro down

This conversation in The Stage Mirror spoke to … well to younger me, particularly this bit,

. . .it’s so interesting to me to think about ways in which butchness opened up a new (if not necessarily desirable) type of relationship with straight cis men for you. I experienced something similar-but-distinct, I think, in my late teens and early twenties, as a mostly-feminine-but-with-a-weird-underlying-vibe girl, where I would participate in similarly surreal locker-room type experiences, but at my own expense. Since I wasn’t butch but I was desperate to bro down (or at least get them to like me enough via broing down that I could eventually isolate them and try to trick them into emotional intimacy, like a very needy apex predator desperate to connect with the most vulnerable-looking wildebeest), that connection would have to be founded on either dismissive, dude-style commentary on women in general or myself-as-a-woman in particular. It was, unsurprisingly, often quite painful for me!

Whew.

Major lessening of pain

Every day that I wake up and I’m not in crushing pain it’s so amazing. I run though a little inventory and my arms aren’t burning and aching, my feet and knees have the mildest ache, I can take a deep breath because my spine isn’t fucked up. I do a little tai chi or do some housework or go swim, and feel a *healthy glow*. Fucking bizarre, I love it. Instead of burning willpower like rocket fuel as I try to achieve escape velocity in order to get through daily life, I’m just… chilled out. There’s so much more room. I am trying to keep myself in check so I don’t fuck this up. Gradually building up strength is the goal here! Doing just a bit too much takes me down for a day or a few days or a week, not months…. if only this lasts.

I want to do ALL THE THINGS right now. My huge greed and ambition, restlessness, desires to do everything, to make stuff, to pull marathons (of making stuff obviously not literal marathons) all need to remain CHILL.

Cannot take this good spell for granted so I’m trying to just appreciate it for what it is without being too goal oriented. Slow & steady.

Two excellent essays

From A Future Worth Thinking About (a blog with a great tagline – Thinking about magic, cyborgs, robots, and artificial intelligence–and why some of those words could use changing–since 1982), “Heavenly Bodies: Why It Matters That Cyborgs Have Always Been About Disability, Mental Health, and Marginalization.

And Making Kin with the Machines, which I enjoyed so much I started laying it out as a tiny zine (it would make such a nice small book for a pocket and it is creative commons licensed.) We’ll see if I actually do it or not… maybe… if i get the layout to my satisfaction.

Art expedition

The other day I took the afternoon off and went on an expedition with friends for Tara’s birthday. We went to the Museum of Craft and Design first – two exhibitions, one of large pieces that kind of explored different materials, and the other of ceramic sculptures by Wanxin Zhang. I liked both exhibits. In the first I especially felt happy looking at the giant mat of tangled pink thread by Mi-Kyoung Lee. It was so viscerally soft and fluffy and I thought about how you’d make it and the skill to spread it evenly and get an interesting texture. I could practically feel the process in my hands. The coral-like ceramic extrusions with light behind them were also pleasing – going back and forth and seeing how they changed depending on perspective.

The ceramic sculptures were great. Tara remarked that she doesn’t usually like representations of women made by male artists but these were great. I agreed – he not only avoided the usual annoyances but had something interesting to say in the sculptures. The female figures were profound. Here’s one called Mulan (Pussy Hat II),

mulan ceramic sculpture

I liked studying the textures of the ceramic & how they were finished in some places and then became rough and slabby and thumbed-looking.

The museum curator or docent giving us a tour mentioned that the sculptor often creates people in this pose with their hands somewhat held away form the body but at their sides and that it is homage to the Tank Man of Tiananmen Square as he carried his grocery bags. Once she pointed that out I really saw and felt it! Wow.

We had ice cream, then went to the Minnesota Street Project galleries which are spacious & beautiful. They were setting up a very fancy looking catered dinner in the central space and as we rolled around to all the galleries (keeping in mind we were hot, disheveled, and all 4 in powerchairs and I had my boots off, attractive pedicure in the breeze… perhaps a bit disreputable) we realized that the fancy dinner was for Christie’s which had some sort of special event coming up with the world’s fucking fanciest paintings, which I admired (Renoir, Monet, other fancypants stuff) Also caught a whole gallery of amazing photos by Louis Stettner and a Ferlinghetti exhibit which were mostly trash (but, fine, homage to the beats and hippies…. ok) The only good Ferlinghetti painting was 20K but… weirdly i could have more or less afforded some of the Stettner photos. Then I thought about, if I were going to buy something amazing yet might possibly be able to “afford” it, what would it be? (Answer: Something by Francesca Woodman and/or Sandow Birk.) Fortunately our cyborg bohemianism was welcomed by the fancypants gallery people and I did not (despite great temptation) steal any of the flower arrangements from the catering carts.

It was so lovely spending the day with friends despite that we all nearly died of heatstroke and the bad pavements of the Dogpatch.

crip crew

Extra sizzled smell

It took most of the day but I successfully got across town and got this wart thingie removed from the edge of my eyelid. I had two injections in the eyelid to numb it (novocaine eyesocket!) and they did a lot of other confusing and scary stuff and then neatly, quickly, cut out the wart. The tiniest little weird shaped forceps! Then it was cauterized. And swiped with mysterious substances.

All the way home on the bus I could smell it, too — like singed hair and extra crispy bacon.

I was trying to think what it reminded me of because I was having a vague proustian memory feeling and then realized it was when I got that brand on my arm, but also the time that I first lit a gas oven when i was 17 and burned my own eyebrows and bangs off, and then wayyy back to where I got on my friend pam’s older brother’s motorbike and burned the fuck out of my calf on one of the tailpipes (I still have just a trace of the scar).

While the surgeon was doing his thing I began to babble from nervousness and to get my mind off of creepy steel instruments coming towards my eye. I asked him about his practice (out of UCSF where he does reconstructive eye-related surgery) and then was like “Oh you know I read an interesting book about the clinic in World War I run by the guy who basically invented plastic surgery, Gillies, by this guy who was a pilot and had his eyelids burned off.” Somewhat taken aback the doc said, Yes, he knows about Gillies! and there is a procedure still named after him. This was ridiculous, but I couldn’t help it – it just popped into my head and it really does help me stay calm to get an interesting conversation going. In retrospect as I look at the Wikipedia entry I think I am actually mixing up at least 2 different books, one about Gillies’s clinic and one the memoir of the RAF pilot much later about the Guinea Pig Club, called The Last Enemy.

It took a ridiculous amount of time to get to the clinic and back (note to self, next time, take the 24 and just scoot half a mile, because, the J is a PITA and the 22 is possibly the worst slowety-ass bullshit bus, somehow) and I also had to wait very long times in between mysterious Things happening in the eye surgeon waiting rooms.

Eye surgeon waiting room was very full of older people hobbling painfully or with walkers or being pushed in those hellish “transport chairs” that give you no autonomy (and parked by their relatives/caregivers in humiliating places) Anyway older people with not very good mobility looking me up and down having some thoughts. Like planning to chairjack me I’m sure! You… yes you… you too could have this freedom…. take the wheels! *puts on mirror shades, fake-smokes a long candy cigarette* Don’cha wish your walker was hott like me, doncha wish your crutches were wheels right nowwwwww, doncha… I wish I could pep talk and liberate them all. Lovingly….

I worked a little when i got home but my eyeball feels weird. My eyes both keep watering and my eyelid on the formerly-warty side feels swollen and unpleasant.

So glad I got this over with! I’ve been putting it off for 2 years. Next up, a painful wart on my finger and then the dentist (way worse than eyeballs – dental phobia – I am going to try a new super nice sounding dentist who specially focuses on disabled/ phobic people hoping that I won’t throw up and cry when they even do the xrays and also I don’t want to be molested by any more creepy dentists and it’s an all women office, whew…)

Familiarity

It’s so nice, and comforting, to be with familiar people who you’ve known a long time. They may be very different from when you knew them in other phases of your life but it’s a good feeling.

I was just saying to yatima today that I’m glad we have known each other in this time of our lives through our 40s raising children. Thinking about that a bunch tonight, in general (also because I was thinking about this kind of thing, and long relationships, knowing people for a long time, for the APAzine I am part of). I have had a very lucky time in life in general.

Today I worked more on my sidewalk tree and repotting some plants, wrote a little bit, checked up on work, went to Oakland, met up with a nice writing group, came back to Danny making a whole lot of nice food for the week. Ada came back from Eastover with abomination bunnies (melted and weirded up chocolate rabbits with like, 6 eyes and 2 heads) and Danny and I watched Game of Thrones. Fittingly for my train of thought they were all having meaningful buddy conversations. (In Winterfell just before the Enormous Horrible Battle with the Dead.)

Beach day

Spent a late afternoon at Aquatic Park lying in the sand. It was gorgeously warm, and then a thin river of fog started pouring past the Golden Gate Bridge. Perfectly sunny in our little sheltered cove while the fog river got thicker & streamed in further, cargo ships blaring their horns as they emerged from the mist — I also watched them on the Marine Traffic app.

Best trick – brought a stretchy skirt to put on over my jeans. Then took off the jeans. Instant beach readiness. I also had on my new sandals (with socks in my bag for evening) so I could admire the little flower and jewel on my super glam copper painted toenails in the sun.

liz in sunglasses

I love watching people get into position to take photos of their day with loved ones & friends. It’s specially beautiful.

A little girl spent about half an hour running up and down the beach after seagulls, waving a stick, screaming “Please be my pet! PLEASE be my pet! Maybe YOU want to be my pet!” She didn’t give up hope! I love her!

Many people don’t know how to be at a beach with small children. Please, stop yelling at them not to get dirty or wet! Just take off their shoes, socks, and pants and let them run around. OMFG. Yes – I’m judging! Then brush them off and put their clothes back on, problem solved. Nobody cares if they see your 5 year old’s underpants at the beach!!!!! (To be fair I basically grew up on a beach so…. maybe it just doesn’t occur to them.)

One mom who did exactly this was in the “brushing off the toddler and his older sister” phase. Having spent really too long cleaning the smaller one, she focused on the sister while the drooling toddler flung himself face down back into the sand right next to me. Total sandface. I was lying with my face in the sand myself and as the mom gasped in horror I demonstrated to the baby that I too had sand all over, and we stuck out tongues at each other. Best mom . . . as she didn’t yell at her children … and didn’t mind my exchanging saucy facial expressions with the baby.

Later at home I realized i had gotten sand everywhere and I could magically hear my grandmother’s voice in my head from 40 years ago. “Ugh!!!! SAND!!!!” I’d be thinking, you have 2 kids in your beach house… at a beach. Duh, there is sand. It’s amazing how you can hear someone’s voice in your head, even when they are long gone. Sometimes when I’m lying in the sand I also think of my Aunt Gilda who would take us with her to the fancier part of Town Beach (Canonchet) where she had a cabana to change in (oh, so fancy!) She seemed so old to me, and probably was (she was my grandma’s aunt, really, so my great-great aunt) but she looked super glamorous in her beach chair, very tan, huge floppy hat and sunglasses, chain-smoking.

At my other grandparent’s beach house which they bought when they moved back to the U.S. there was an outdoor shower which sprayed onto a huge rock with a distinctive shape, sort of flat and good to stand on but with an unevenness in the middle, and I would stand on it thinking that it was from a glacier, so if I were able to travel in time I would be actually inside the glacier and then in very slow motion would sink down, down, while the glacier melted around me. There were similar rocks in Wesquage Pond just across the street where my uncle and cousin and sister and I would play a game where we each owned a rock for our home base. To go on someone else’s rock you had to pay a certain number of reeds. I wonder if these rocks are underwater now or if you can still hop from rock to rock… (inside a glacier of course.) The outdoor shower was much better than my other grandma’s house where you had to get brutally hosed off on the lawn before going inside. (Really, so much sand. And, while I’m complaining, I’d like to give a special mention to the way that even little kids bathing suits had a sort of pocket in the crotch (why???) which would collect FISTFULS of sand.)

Well, anyway, Danny came to meet me after work & we wandered around – ended up having fish & chips at a pretty nice place – and a giant mai tai.

Notably, I am feeling a lot better! Better enough to go off on an expedition in the afternoon (hour long bus ride) and stay out in the evening a little! Much improved.

Another pleasant day

No earthshattering thoughts here. I’m up to 1917 in the Morland Dynasty books, I did a ridiculous amount of bug triage, then took a friend to late lunch and got my toenails painted (copper colored with black and gold flowers on the big toes). Also worked on the sidewalk tree garden but not too hard – I did half of it and left the other half for tomorrow.

Early to bed with my book – that’s the plan – I feel a little boring today! But nice!