Monday, December 27, 2010


Rebirth Brass Band is one of the most well-known brass bands in NOLA. They can bring anyone to the dance floor -- yo mama, yo girlfriend who don't dance, yo second cousin twice removed you haven't seen in ten years. This is exactly how I feel about being back in NOLA today :)

Sometimes, it doesn't hit me that I live here until I'm driving down St. Charles or Louisiana and I'm struck by the majesty of the oak trees... or I'm walking through the Quarter, or headed to a Saints game, or dancing in the streets at a festival, and then, it's like lightening strikes -- how could I want to live anywhere else?

Home (after) the Holidays

I'm home in NOLA for two days, then back on the road again. My kittehs are attached to me; they insist on staying by my side and sleeping on top of me. Either they missed me or they're cold, who really knows? It's nice to have some unconditional snuggling, though. The cold is bitter this winter. It always feels like it goes straight down to my bones, and I find I struggle so much to get out of bed or leave the warmth of my house, especially after dark.

This holiday season was something between great and a mass fiasco, depending on the day. Argh. I wrote a short story back in 2006 about struggling to go home to see family over the holidays, and four years later, every word still rings so true.

My mom and I have such an on/off relationship. I'm formally estranged from over half the family -- haven't seen my father in almost ten years, and haven't seen his parents in at least five years. But Christmas usually means going to Shreveport for my mom's family, and there's a huge gap there -- they're pretentious, racist, sexist, homophobic, and always eager to put down everyone around them for their own advantage. I'm not perfect, by any means, but I try to live a life in opposition to all of those values. It's stressful and painful to be around them, to suck up my queerness and keep my mouth shut, which is mostly because if I run away or get angry, my mother freaks and our relationship unravels even more. I hate going home to listen to them bicker and moan about each other, especially on the one day of the year that everyone should suck it up and get along. I avoid seeing family for all these reasons, and it's not helpful that my mother still hasn't come to terms with my being queer, and insists that I hide that part of my life from my family. Hiding? I'm over that shit. We just don't talk about it. But of course, when my degree and my career and pretty much my whole life has to do with social justice, sex and sexuality, trans advocacy, HIV/AIDS prevention, and addressing public health disparities in sexual minorities... well, there's a bit of a gap in "approved" conversation topics. I hate that I can't be genuine around my family. I hate that being around them makes me miserable. But that's just the reality of it.

To make things more complicated, this is the first Christmas I've been single in years and years. I usually have a girlfriend to call or leave to hang out with. When I lived in Shreveport, I could check out and go home when I needed a break from too much family. But when I'm visiting and staying with my mom, I don't get that time to check out and center myself. I could justify suffering through family because I was so looking forward to spending time with my girlfriend. But this year, not having that excitement and that distraction sort of sucked.

To put it in a nutshell, my  mom got pissed at my brother and I on Christmas Eve, then proceeded to not talk to us for 24 hours. She got drunk at Christmas, acted like an asshole to everyone, refused to open her presents, told us we were going on a family trip as a gift then flat out refused to go with us, and refused to talk to us about why she was angry. To top it all off, because she's passive aggressive as hell, she left Christmas without telling us, locked herself in her room, then called me the next day to ask why I didn't talk to her on Christmas. I swear, it was like my mom was fifteen. I was so, so, so glad to leave town and head back South.

On top of all this, my cousin started asking her brother if I was queer a month ago, and he contacted me, asking if I would talk to her. So, for Christmas, I got to come out to my little brother and my youngest cousin. Thankfully, both were cool about it. My cousin is turning out to be really awesome; we had a great conversation about how she's pro-choice (yay!) and keeps getting in arguments with pro-life kids at her Catholic school. Plus she's made it a point to stand up for her gay friends who are harassed by Catholic kids and told they are going to hell. So good to know that even in the soul-sucking atmosphere of my family, my generation has some hope. It's awesome that I'm finally breaking down those walls, and I feel like I am forming stronger relationships with my brother and my cousins, even as my relationship with my mother seems to be deteriorating again. Yeah, yeah, God and windows and doors and shit.

The saving grace of this holiday season, though, has definitely been my friends. I saw so many old college and high school friends in Shreveport over the holidays, which was amazing. I'm so very looking forward to this week, but I can't write about it until after the fact. I think my real Christmas was not the 25th, but the holiday parties at friends houses, the night of Solstice at my house, Carrolling in the Square with 8,000 people and dinner afterwards at Green Goddess, Thanksgiving with friends, decorating with my roommate, and all the other moments when I could be the most genuine, when I was surrounded by people whom I adore and respect. Over coffee and drinks, over homemade gumbo and Whole Foods brie wheels, over cigarettes and movies and crab cakes and brass bands, over Saints games and phone calls, over laughs and tears and brutally honest, soul-baring conversations... that was my Christmas. A mess of holiday moments, all spread apart and unconventional, but genuine and rejuvenating in their own way.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


The steam is climbing the windows. I glance up and realize that I can’t see out of the back windshield anymore – the glass is coated in a thin layer of condensation. With my pointer finger I draw “I Love” into condensation, but “You” doesn’t fit. Water runs down from the letters, as if they’re leaking. You watch, carefully, eyes rimmed in black eyeliner. You lean across me to write “you” across the other letters, and then scribble them out, all together, blending into one big mess.

We laugh at our creation, and settle across from each other, backs to opposite sides of the Suburban.  Even in the dark I can see the soft contours of your naked body, peeking out from the blanket, reflecting in the low moonlight. It’s freezing outside; the weather has fallen from seventy degrees to fifty in a week. Inside, we’re in our own world. You crawl across the back seat, toward me. I’m leaving kisses in the condensation on the windows, careful to rub them out so my mother doesn’t see them in the morning. You catch the hair falling in my face, brush it back, and land your lips on mine. I love the pillowed, satin touch of your lips. There’s a hint left of those round mints that you carry everywhere, tucked inside your hand sewn bag.

I pull you down, off your hands and bony knees, down into me. Down, down, down. “I’m cold…” There’s a hint of whine in your voice.

“Pull the blanket around you, silly.”

“What happens if we get caught?”

“We won’t.” I’m not confident in this fact. I never am. But I won’t convey it.

“You always say that.” I punctuate your sentence with a kiss.

I haven’t really thought about what happens if we get caught. If we were straight, the cops would call our parents and drag us home, leaving our parents to punish us for our sins. But I haven’t the faintest idea what a Louisiana cop would say to two sixteen-year-old girls, parked far out in a rural field, playing around naked in the back of an SUV. In all honesty, I don’t ever want to find out. But it’s a risk I’m willing to take. It’s the only way I get to touch you, to taste you, to wrap myself up in you. I crave your hands on my body, hourly, daily, and in those few hours we get alone together, I want nothing more than to spend every moment burying into you.

I move to change the subject. “Are you still cold?”

You look at me as if you’ve forgotten you ever had a complaint. “No…?” It’s hard not to laugh at your indecision. I try to hold it back, but it comes out as a snicker.

“What.” This time, the whine is clear.

“You’re cute.” A smile peeks out.

“And you know it.” She laughs. I’m playing with her, all in jest, with a hint of truth.

Our bodies are side by side, wrapped in a blanket. I kiss you, again, running my tongue across the tops of your bottom teeth. My hand finds your hipbone, protruding, the sharp points where the curve of your side stops before diving deep into your stomach. I push against your hips, slightly, and you fall over onto your back. I trace my tongue down, run the tip around your areole. I can barely make out the soft pink skin in the dark. I’ve almost got the buckle undone on your studded belt, when you slide the patched jeans straight down your hips without bothering to unzip them. Showoff. I slide my hand up the inside of your skinny thighs; no wonder you’re freezing, there’s no body fat to keep you warm. But the core of your body is radiating heat, your cunt unfazed by the cold night air. I can feel your cunt sweating through your thin panties, in the space between your hips, and a part of me wants to lap my tongue there. But we’re still young and stupid, so inexperienced. I don’t know what I’m doing yet. I run my finger around the soft outer labia, and you jump, sensitive, shorn, but then come back, melting into me. If you were a kitten, you’d purr so softly. But instead I get a soft moan, very quiet. I haven’t yet learned how to ask you what you like. You haven’t yet learned to ask for what you want. It’s a tender dance, reading your body, and I’m learning how to fuck you inch by inch, day by day, at times groping in the darkness.

I pull my sweatshirt off and my jeans, trying hard not to lift the blankets. You curl up, trying to hold in what warmth you can. We can’t help but laugh. There’s nothing more ridiculous that scurrying in and out of clothing, in a space barely four feet wide and three and a half feet tall. I lay my body over yours, intertwining our legs, and I can feel the heat of your body feeding into mine. I’m amazed by the simplicity of our bodies, how easily we can connect and disconnect, jumbling into a mess of arms and legs and cunts.

We don’t talk, but our mouths spark together in the dark. I get dripping wet, just from kissing you (a trick I’ve still managed to maintain, years later). I can get lost in your lips, as cliché as it sounds. I worry that I’ll crush you, but my hips fit neatly, interlocking with yours. Your come falls so close to the lips of my cunt, dripping down my inner thigh and igniting nerves I didn’t know I had. You’ve got your hands all over me, so fast that I can’t even keep up, grabbing and stroking and sliding. I feel awkward, trying to remember to touch you as I kiss you, to divide my attention between doing and feeling, giving and receiving. I can feel the tips of your fingers, and I’m grateful you haven’t clipped your nails too close every time you dig them through my back. (I still love that.)

Under the blankets the heat is rising, atoms of our bodies vibrating against each other, skin rubbing together, creating friction and force. I reach down to touch you but you stop me. I haven’t learned how to penetrate you the way you like it yet. God, I’m still so new to this. But we don’t know yet what we haven’t learned – instead, we’re still in love with what we know, in love with the way our bodies create heat. You’re dripping down my thighs, soaking wet, slippery wet. My clit hits the edge of your hipbone, and I grind into it, instinctively, nerves shooting off haphazardly. You taste like heaven and powdered sugar, whatever the hell that means, and you pull away to bite down into the thick muscle on the side of my neck. (I know now that I learned what I like early, and I owe you for some of it.) I’m fucking helpless, melting into you, muscles tensing, and I can’t help but let out a high, long moan. Your body stiffens in response, and I giggle and move my lips closer to your earlobe, where I can moan straight into your ear. No one can hear us here; it’s only our own insecurities that hold us back.

The blanket has encompassed us, enclosed us, and I shift, grinding against you, grinding into you, slowly, rhythmically. The heat is rising, rising, and our bodies become slick and slippery with sweat and come mixing. When your cunt touches my thigh, the nerve bundles combust, turning the soft, sensitive skin into satin. My moans become higher, louder, out of my conscious control now, and when you moan softly, too, I can’t stop, I can’t hold back, it’s climbing and climbing, and I can feel your body stiffen as mine does, and the light burns so fucking bright as we come at exactly.the.same.time.

Talk about choreography.

I can feel your heart beat, and simultaneously, I can feel mine. Yours is faster, jumpy, like popcorn kernels in a frying pan. Our hearts are separated by only a few thin layers of skin and muscle, a handful of ribs. My head fits so comfortably in the cradle of your clavicle. I feel like you can take all of me in your arms, your body wrapped around mine, even though I outweigh you by a good twenty pounds. Oxytocin washes over me, and I fall into a half sleep, warmed in your bare skin and the soft, sugar sweet emotion of being so completely immersed in you. There’s no doubt, no fear, no anger. That comes later, in another time, another universe, another life. But for now, there’s just here. Now. I can feel you chest rise and fall as your heart slows to a simmer.

I wake from my drousy state at the sound of “Reveille” playing on my cell phone, the signal that my mother is calling, the signal to jump up and answer or face a litany of questions and anger later.


“Hi.” My mother’s voice comes cold, sobering, across the line.

“What’s up?”

“Where are you?”

“At the coffee shop. We’re leaving soon. I’ll be home in a few, I just need to drop the girls off first.”

“So you’ll be home before curfew.”

“As always, mama.”

“Ok. See you soon.”


You’ve risen and begun to dress, slowly, methodically, still fighting off the haze. I slip into the driver’s seat, balancing precariously, and wipe away the steamy condensation that covers the windshield. Through the dirty windshield I can see the stars forming a giant map across the sky, so clear away from the city lights. There’s nothing around us but cattle fields for miles and miles. I can see the straight twelve miles to the horizon, where the earth seems to fall away, illuminated by an almost full moon. You climb across the backseat, falling clumsily into the front, knocking over my cell phone and our purses. You’re slow to retrieve them, but you find yourself and get settled. I reach over to run my fingers through your hair one last time. Then I turn the car keys, listening for the turning of the engine, and drive back into the city, toward our separate homes and the coldness of two empty beds. 

(Oh, to be seventeen again)