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When I was sixteen years old I broke up with my first boyfriend, Jesse Case. But before the real break up we had a week long break, break-up during which I went for a walk to the half-shell and then therapy with his best friend John Munch. I think we talked about being freaks at school and The Eagles. Someone was committing infidelity of some kind. Then Jesse and I got back together and then we broke up for real and he started calling me and saying some pretty mean stuff which I think I mostly ignored. Whenever I would engage him to defend myself or to try to hear him out or comfort him, our exchanges would devolve into pure pain. His. Mine. Eventually he discovered the thing that would get to me. He wrote me an email that read: Dear Rebecca, I’ve been talking to my friends about you and everything and we’ve decided that you need serious help.

I was devastated. I was also a little confused since his friend had actually walked me to my weekly appointment of serious-help just a few days earlier. After a lot of crying and worrying about it, hating myself, and believing I would helplessly repeat all of my parents’ relationship mistakes I did a funny thing. A funny thing that in almost every other situation has been a major mistake but this time actually panned out. I went to my father. I told him what Jesse had said and without taking even second to think about he explained that Jesse was just upset and was trying to get to me. This just hadn’t occurred to my optimistic, 16 year old mind.

I was still trying to protect Jesse as much as possible and felt horrible for wanting to break up. There wasn’t any real reason to break up. He didn’t do anything terrible or even unkind or boring. In fact, our relationship had been a pretty healing one– for me, I know, and I think for him as well. He had lost his father a year before we started going out and we talked about it a lot. He wrote me three songs on his keyboard– all in different keys with violin interludes and some charming forever-love type lyrics. We watched The Abyss and ate a lot of Chinese food and had sex. And then it was over. I just didn’t really desire him anymore and I desired other people and that love we had had was over. I felt selfish about wanting to be out of our relationship but decided to break up with him even though it was the selfish thing to do. Even more selfishly I wanted to maintain a different kind of love so that all the healing we had done wouldn’t be unmade simply because we weren’t going to get married and go around together forever.

Now it’s been about seven years and I’m doing it again. Breaking up, I mean. And I know a lot of you already know it. If not because I’ve told you or the internet has told you but through intense radio-silence buffered only by midnight bleatings of all sorts.

A series of invectives and accusations has been launched and I don’t know what to do. I could rebuff each one. Defend, explain, and apologize. That seems to make it worse. And today we reached that tipping point where I got an email akin to “my friends and I have all decided that you need serious help” and it was all I could do not to think about Jesse. It would never have occurred to me to lob the particulars of his father’s death, his own traumas and histories, at him. Even now, even though I meant to write more specifically about them, I can’t. Even though Jesse does not read my blog and even if he did, he might not care. I’d rather maintain the possibility that that healing was actually healing and that means not chasing him around with accusations of my own. Even though our relationship did not last forever I am still faithful to the confidences we shared then. Without knowing where he is with all of it it would feel like a major betrayal to post them on the internet. In a way I’m not doing it now to prove that I was serious then. Which I was.

I mean, I wasn’t going to do any of this really. I was just going to keep diligently working on an essay I’m writing about butch/femme and break-ups and privacy and healing and confidentiality and concealment. You would have liked it. It was also about the 1780 shipwreck HMS Ontario which was recently discovered under 500 feet of water in the great lakes, remarkably more intact than it should have been.

And look where I am now. Doing all those things. Even kind of talking about The Eagles.


The monster child– the unbearable.

We’re leaving for Morocco in just one week. In Arabic, I’m informed, Portugal (or “Bortugal”) means “orange.”

The flavor or the hue?

You must try getting up from the table
And sitting down relaxed in another country
Wearing red suspenders
Toward one’s own space and time.

After I was dead I lost my taste for raspberries. Other fruits, too, but raspberries stood out. We had stopped once to pick them on the side of the road in California but had been disappointed to find that the bushes had been picked clean. Probably by children and black bears. In just a few steps I watch those same bushes blossom, the hips of the flowers swell into round, green pockets and the soften—turning read, pulling on the branches until they dipped to the ground. Time has been smoothed the same way into a discrete, watery, orb—ready to burst, ready to drop, ready to be swallowed whole. Not, By Whom? Don’t. I have seen baskets of them grown and eaten and lost by now.

DF had a whole pint of them washed and waiting for me for our birthday dinner. How Was Your Walk? She asked as I sat down, exhausted, at the table. I immediately wished I hadn’t come. I’d rather be at home, asleep by now. But DF is insistent about maintaining birthdays and this isn’t the way to break her heart. She spoons the raspberries onto my plate and I know she means them to look velvety and decadent but they fall short. The plates are too large for that kind of richness and some of the drupelets are squared and leaking from travel. I push them around with my fork and they leave enviably fuchsia trails along the plate. I Wish I Could Puddle Like That. DF isn’t taking her fair share of the berries. It seems she wants me to eat them all—either because she likes the elegant pile or because she, too, has lost her taste for them.

DF has been dead six years and one month longer than I have and that fact we both remember. For our birthdays we go on like it never happened. Remember That Year I Wanted To Pay For Your Coffee For Your Birthday? I do.  I wouldn’t let her. You Mean Your Last Year. Well, Look At You, All Doom And Gloom. She slipped a five dollar bill between the cup and the single-ply corrugated coffee sleeve and then failed to catch me when I tossed out the cup on our walk home. I’m still sick about the five dollars I accidentally threw out. I Still Want To Pay You Back, I plead. Forget It, It was Your Birthday! She says again. Well, I Want to Give You The Difference At Least. My coffee hadn’t been five dollars. On My Birthday. She tells me. I nod. The words seal the fruit like a toast and we begin to eat them solemnly.

I can leave once they’re gone, I think, and continue to pick them off. But once their gone DF tells me that there is still more. Much More. I have to contemplate the bloody mess on my plate until she is done with me. It’s the least I can do.

I think Nora was taken aback by how much pain. We watched a bike with one white rim and speculated about the owner. I had a throat full of steelies that I would forget about for a few minutes. But you can’t get very far into any sort of dialog without being affected by a mouthful of heavy, marbles– so close to slipping without warning. Our conversation would hit some secret hold– some gentle, felt, indentation to a drain and I had to violently tip my words away from it because I knew they would fall in. Do I swallow them hard? Do I spit them– indecorously on the table and cry out? I am no longer curious about what’s inside. They are silver, heavy, carcinogenic, reflective, dense, slippery, and wet. I inhale hard and think it would feel better to suffocate on them. After a while my neck got sore from twitching it upwards and away as if to incline the field and loose the marbles from their ill-fated orbit.

Elsew/here: I don’t know how you’re feeling. I think you are dyadic, precarious, longing. On Sunday I thought that you’d simply come out of it. That this was some wild, ridiculous moment that you could escape from. We would pass through it and work on it later. I misunderstood. I think I know better. You are Halfway absorbed with some other thing (work) and then fall, sometimes, to thoughts of me but not like I do. You are not sucked and dropped– but instead flip yourself over as if you’ve finished the page and are now interested in attending to the next one. I live in a pothole universe. For you– something linear. It isn’t (like me) that your stomach drops out and you have to tip the tray. You go into it on purpose, stepping into me and then immediately you claw and panic for air. I wish I didn’t make you feel dropped in a well. We’re both drowning of different things. You feel compelled to finish the book, to check sources, to array the translations and read all the criticism available. Then you want to produce something original and incisive. At the same time, you would be relieved if you could close the text and hurl it hard enough that it wouldn’t come back.

This, suffused with dire sadness, is about as appropriate as I can get. PythagoraSwitch! Indeed.

You’re right. Suffering is so 2007.

Text Message from NY: “Sat in on brother’s religion and sexuality class. Phrase of the day: ‘forced, but not in a rape way,’ re: spousal (non) rape.”

Please stop. Please stop. Please stop!

In case anyone was in danger of forgetting my awesome storming style, I made a dramatic exit from my religion in American film class this morning. I know some of you are probably nostalgic for my old antics. Who could forget the semester I walked out of a presentation on gender in Tribal Africa (as gleaned from one film by six, white, American girls) , a scintillating experiment about what it was like to be a tranny in Dorchester (performed by a male student in sad drag), and a play about trafficking women all in one, glorious, semester! I had almost forgotten it was something one could do.

It was the least I could do after a conversation about Edward Norton’s movie Keeping the Faith turned into a full-scale defense of Perfect Rich Jewish New York and the charming race-relations that make the city “so great.”

In the film Ben Stiller and Ed Norton play a charismatic rabbi and priest, “the God Squad,” who are refreshing everyone’s feelings about faith by divorcing it (except not really) from religion. Jenna Elfman plays the female lead. The boys’ friend in childhood, she returns as a high-powered executive who is goofy, smart, and sexy. Both men fall for Elfman and she dates the rabbi, causing problems with his family and congregation. For the priest, Elfman’s character is deployed as a test of faith. In the end everything is resolved when Elfman, fearing her ticking biological clock, converts and the guys open up a Jewish/Catholic senior center in an old gay disco.

I could have said a lot of things. And by that I mean I could have just talked about some Backlash b.s. or I could have brought up the homo-erotic? closeness between the two men and the implications of moving religious seniors into ex-gay space.

I should have known I was in trouble when I mentioned that the romance and comedy obscured the underlying Doctrine of the Normative Family and my classmate said:

“Well, but this is what women want. Everyone wants to get married and have children. Don’t you?” And since I was already involved I had to say, No. And she said, “Well, that’s abnormal. Don’t you think that’s coloring your misinterpretation then?”

Which would have been okay. Stupid, sure. But fine. No, no, no. She has to go on to tell everyone that as a New York Jew she understands this movie better than anyone. That we don’t understand how nice it is to take the train uptown and see black guys playing basketball with rabbis and priests confiding in Muslim-Catholic-Sikh bartenders. The professor productively tried to shift our perspective to wealth, asking us if everyone seemed rich.

Of course She answered: “No, there’s that little Spanish boy. I think he shows that the Jewish community is rich and the Catholic congregation is poor. I mean that’s what they trying to communicate when they put in that off-the-boat kid.”

Really. I’m not joking.

Someone else tries to save it, “There are a lot of bilingual people in the U.S. and that doesn’t mean they’re ‘off-the-boat.'”

She persists. The movie is NOT fucked up, she tells us, because it’s perfectly politically correct. She cites this scene as proof. She argues that this scene is great because it’s just what Chinatown is like. “They go there because it’s cheap!” She explains. (No, I’m not sure how this explains ANYTHING.) I argue with her for a little while before she tells everyone to hold on and then addresses the only Asian student in the class. She asks him if he was “personally offended.” And then says if he wasn’t offended then obviously this is just really funny and also more proof of how charming and close-knit and mixed New York is.

I made one final attempt when she pointed out that at the very end one very minor character comes to an event with a black date, thus proving that this is a film about everyone.

F: That doesn’t prove anything.

S: What you want her to come with a woman?!

Professor: If she came with a woman no one would understand it was a date. Or it would just be in there as titillating.

F: Right, so we should maybe think about why that is. Why it wouldn’t be legible as a date if it were a woman. But that’s not even what I’m talking about. That guy she is with is wearing a sweater vest and khakis.

S: It was a nice event! That’s what you wear!

F: No, that’s what the Jewish guys are wearing! You’ll notice she didn’t come with one of those basketball guys.

S: That’s because it’s a nice event. THAT is what you wear.

F: You can wear other fancy clothes to dress-up. Her date looked like a really palatable, educated, rich, black man.

Several more slurs are thrown. Bilingual-defense guy tries to tell her about how people code language between communities.


Abrupt isn’t as queer as you think it is. Did it feel good for you too, baby? I think you did it for me. By that I mean, I’m getting accustomed to it, it hardly surprises me anymore and I don’t know if my sedation belongs to a history of abrupt or a history of mellowing abrupt down around the edges until it’s a row of soft, white, neat packages to line up– hide: Pack: expel.

In middle school I was voted (euphemistically? ironically? by dint of hanging chad?): Most Talented.

I’ve refined it now and realize I haven’t changed at all (popularity! irony! fraud!):

I award myself Most Denotative Use of Anal.

On election day, a coincidence, I polled you about what mythic/fantastic creature you would be in order to compensate for an assignment. The answers rolled in.

Nora: mermaid (she defends: no shell bra! majestic centaur of the sea!)

Sam: windigo (at least someone cops to carnivorous desires if not to blatant carnivorous tendencies)

Ken: not a centaur, centaurs are played out. A ___? Instead.

Femmephane: a centaur (no shell bra!). Fallback: vampire (my motivations clarified– camp)

Galen: “A goat creature? No. A Kraken. The Kraken is really metal.”

J: Cyclops

( F: No! Please, not a cyclops! I wouldn’t be with you!

J: I would be a big monster. I would make you!

JimmyHank: You wouldn’t be able to catch her without depth perception.)

In honor of elections (in allegiance to OneCountry) I elect Jimmy Hank: Most Talented.

* From Johnson, Barbara. “Nothing Fails Like Success,” A World of Difference. p 15.

I implore you to stop thoughtlessly using expressions like:

“…which is exactly what the Judeo-Christian faith, at least, promotes…”(names have been changed to protect the person in my Lit Theory class)

What do you mean by Judeo-Christian faith? In this case she actually means the major monotheistic theological beliefs which she feels comfortable talking about. But how about using “religion” instead of faith. Or how about saying Jewish and Christian instead of Judeo-Christian. Judeo-Christian has become nothing but a handy hyphenation to throw around when we want to swiftly reference the moral and legal structures that we feel are implicated in something mysteriously related to religion.

While we’re at it can we please refrain from referencing the following TERMS as if they are the PRINCIPLES ON WHICH PRACTICE IS FOUNDED:

Virgin/Whore Dichotomy – your way of referencing why life is hard for women

Honor/Shame Society – your way of explaining why MENA has those familial                                     structures. Oh! Those!

I’ve only had cable for a few flu hours but, thanks to jazzy dancing pharmaceutical logos, I already know:

-which contraception I would use (were I at risk for spontaneous pregnancy)

-what might actually be wrong with my vagina (whenever I feel a pesky itch as I shop with my girlfriends)

-how to get rid of raw chicken related odors and leave my kitchen worthy of my cleaning timid husband and sons (should that contraception fail)

*from a fortune cookie

Okay. I feel a little guilty reporting this fact to you, public. But it IS available to anyone Googling.

It recently came to my attention (and here I’ll leave the chain of contact out) that Diesel’s new cafe, Bloc 11, is a little more unfortunately named than I had originally thought.

Block 11 was the name of the prison ward at Auschwitz.

This seems particularly dangerous given the extreme likelihood that innocent strangers will search for Block 11 instead of Bloc 11.

I am hoping that, however difficult it might be, the owners will be pursuing a name change. Whoops?

True to form I received a letter “to the parents of [Femmephane]” from the J.Crew ad I call my school on the day after Thanksgiving:

Looking for the best Christmas gift for your graduating student? Want to get him something practical that he’ll really love? Want to get him something he’ll really need after he graduates?

Because it was coming from University himself and not, say, BalfourClassRings– I indulged. These are, after all, the same people who tell me when my classmates die tragically and when they’re retroactively hiking tuition.

What does he, the graduating Tufts student, need need need? A bigger cut of Southampton in the Will? A Hybrid with four-wheel drive for those ski trips when he just didn’t want to borrow the Benz? Perhaps some castration?

Anyhow. The answer: a $318 diploma frame from UniversityFrames.

Included in the envelope was an alarming little notecard, folded in half, which read “A note from mom…” in some gentle Baskerville italics. Inside was a heartwarming anecdote about just how grateful one mom’s daughter had been to be the first of her friends to receive her diploma frame. “It really meant something to her that she was the first person she knew to get one. She had it waiting for graduation day in December!” And I’m excited for her, too.

I also think it’s a nice touch to include “a note from mom…” in a letter addressed to “the parents of,” ensuring that the only students who receive the message are people who don’t have mothers to receive (let alone send) Baskerville Old seasons greetings.