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A few weeks ago I was on the phone with Ruth when she said, “You know, it’s been far too long since I’ve been in the forest.” To which I replied my standard reply, “Listen Ruth, at your age there is no good reason to put things off.”
Last weekend I spent my time in a cabin on a mountain in the woods with my mom and my godmother. I still smell a bit of camp fire and imagine my mom’s explosive laugh is still ringing through the trees, the giant, stoic trees that surrounded us. Ruth always has a content glow about her, but last weekend it was really something to see. Staring at Ruth amongst a sea of springtime forest, somehow, makes more sense than most things.
Happy Earth Day, everyone. Give her a kiss and make sure she knows you love her.
This simple tale will only require your needing to know two and a half things about my mother.
1. She is terrified of bees. Ridiculously, irrationally afraid of them in a way that makes all things with wings something to dramatically flail away from while screaming and swatting furiously.
1.a. All of the James’ are a tad dramatic by nature and we are all certain that the exaggeration-gene comes from my mom.
2. My mom is very cute and small and blonde and smart, with big blue eyes and a smile that turns heads. She also has this amazing ability to sneak swear words into a sentence and somehow make it sound sweet and appropriate. I will tell her some good news and she might say, “Honey! That is just great! Fucking great!” Or I’ll tell her something she finds surprising and she might say, “No shit!” I don’t know how exactly to explain it, but on her, swear words work. They are necessary at times really.
Yesterday we were on the phone for a bit as she was driving home from work. Right as she pulled up to the house some very small animal with the ability to fly flew past her face and that is all she saw before she hopped out of the car with a big squeal.
mom: “Well. Something just flew into the car. Hm.”
me: “Mom, it was nothing, don’t worry about it.” And I continued on with what I was telling her.
mom: “Better not have been a bee!”
me: “It wasn’t a bee.” And I continued…
mom: “Well, I don’t see it. Hm. That bee better not be in my hair!”
me: “Nothing is in your hair, mom. Are you listening?”
mom. “Yes. Of course. You know what, hang on honey, let me put the phone down for a second while I freak the fuck out.”
me: [waiting while hearing distance sounds of her flapping and rustling around]
mom: “Well damn it, who knows. But if that bee is in my car tomorrow morning…
me: “Mom! There is no bee. Knock it off.”
mom: “Because that will just scare the shit out of me.”
me: “There is no bee in your car, mom.”
mom: “Oh sure, you can say that. You’re not the one who is going to get stung to death on the way to work tomorrow morning.”
I was at a (the) lesbian bar in Seattle listening to a show when I found out. I was in the restroom, checking twitter, like I do, when I saw a few folks saying goodbye to you. And. my. heart. broke. When I went back out Violet leaned in and said, “What’s wrong, JJ? You look sad.”
Dixie Carter has always been a favorite of mine, for many reasons, but namely her character on Designing Women (of which I’ve seen every episode and realize that this does not surprise any of you but thought I’d put that out there.) Julia Sugarbaker was important to me. She was one of the first influences where my little jesse-self consciously and intentionally decided that I wanted and needed to be more like her. I idolized her. Watching her allowed me to realize that being well spoken trumps anything else (a hint of southern charm and dramatic flare only help). There is no brawn, no brain, no intimidation, laws, politics, bigotry, hate, or injustice that could outdo what it was that Julia Sugarbaker had to say.
I can very clearly see her walking down the staircase towards the end of the show, classy, intact, mad but with a confident and startling calm, towards whomever it was that had wronged her or her friends. She would start to talk slowly, simply, “You know, Mr. Henderson, it isn’t nice to call someone names…” until eventually the speed and intensity of her voice crushendoed, never losing composure. And there was a feeling in the air, a buzz of electric energy that was only a few final thoughts away from the final punch. And when she said, “…and another thing, Mr. Henderson…” you were totally frozen, gripping the arms on the chair, ready to stand up and explode in cheering. Because you might be the tallest, strongest, meanest, smartest man in the world, Mr. Henderson, but you have NOTHING on the intelligence, vocabulary, dignity, confidence, and articulation of Julia Sugarbaker, with her precisely polished ability to deliver what it is, exactly, that needed to be said. And now that she just told you off and where to go in the most charming, seductive, intimidating, eloquent way- you apologize- the crowd goes wild- and the credits roll.
That is what Julia Sugarbaker could do. That is what Dixie Carter could do. That is what a beautiful, intelligent, strong woman looks like. And that is what I want to be like when I grow up.
Thank you, Dixie Carter. May you rest in peace.
This video requires a warning: Not only does Cher look even more remarkably fabulous than she always does, but she is incredibly playful and adorable and kitten-cute to a breaking point in this video that may be too much for some, myself included, which is why I am watching it over and over. I am warning this mostly for those of you in the office right now so that you will be prepared for your uncontrollable oohing and awing while clapping your hand profusely like a little kid who all of a sudden hears the ice cream truck coming.
This song was not chosen randomly. You dig?
Happy Friday-eve, y’all! Happy Cherday!
Here we go again folks. And I apologize in advance to all of you who miss the simpler jljj blog days when I wasn’t so angry and ranty all of the time (they are bound to return, just not today.) Sorry to all of you who would rather hear funny stories about how the Seal ate a whole bag of glow in the dark stars a few days ago and has since been pooping constellations. Or how I got in one of the biggest twitter battles of my life this weekend because lesbians cannot handle reasonable fashion policing, even from their own kind (oh no she did not just say that! Only I just did.) If you are thinking “Enough with the newsworthy queer-rights-gone-wrong political ranting!” I suggest you click away now.
Because once again, I AM FURIOUS about the latest happenings in regards to Constance McMillen and the unbelievable, undeniable, blatant, in-all-y’alls-queer-faggot-dyke-faces hate that has gone on and ceases to astound the safer, well-armored pieces of my being.
Now, here’s what happened:
Constance McMillen was invited to a fake prom. Constance, her girlfriend and 5 other kids, two of whom are being recognized as having “learning difficulties,” were invited to a, since realized, ‘fake’ prom, in which Principal Fuckall Wiygul and a few teachers chaperoned, but who I’m sure were all more than happy to stand there proudly while watching the homos, the freaks and the slow kids dancing alone, knowing full well that the rest of the entire senior class, with the good, normal, god-fearing children and parents, were at a secret, different prom: the ‘real’ prom.
That is what happened.
That was their response as a community. That is how the school district, the town citizens, neighbors, friends, students and parents decided to deal with this one lesbian girl who wanted to bring her girlfriend to a school dance. Yes sir, they duped a teenaged girl and a few of the slower kids into attending a fake event while everyone else knowingly attended the real one. That is what they did.
And I know after I take a few deep breaths, after a few days I’ll find myself once again capable of having a reasonable conversation about my philosophies for possible systemic change and positive ways to influence community at a grassroots level. Maybe. But right now? Right now I am so beyond trying to swallow this one.
Every day I get up and for some reason or another, in some moment or a few, I have to fight a little, stand up a bit at least, JUST TO BE ME. I’ll call Violet sweetie in the grocery store and when that guy stares at me, well, I’ve spent years now practicing how to be brave enough to stare back and not to let myself look away until after he does. And just peeing in a public place, anywhere, for me is a sort of non-consensual act of activism: me with a full bladder versus your idea of ‘female’. And I am not whining here, most of us do this in some form or another, for a million different reasons, everywhere, every day. Every single day. We wake up, we brush our teeth and then we put on some combination and specific variety of armor that let’s us walk out the front door without dying, so that we can take the blows if and when they come. Fine. That’s life and that isn’t the point here.
But sometimes I feel like my anger just falls over a breaking point and it shatters and I don’t even feel it, like right now. I’m just so profoundly sad that I feel like I can’t get enough air into my own chest. Like right now.
Right now I just want to put my hands up in the air and trade in my rainbow flag for a white one so that I can wave it back and forth and say, “You know what? Fuck it. I am so exhausted and I am not willing to fight half as dirty as you just did SO YOU WIN. Now please… please leave me alone.
And the worst part? I know that all of this anger I feel towards all of you who pulled this fake prom shit on Constance, that let Matthew Shepard get beaten up and murdered over and over, again and again and again, that have little kids killing themselves because no one is stopping the homophobic bullying, that protest and vote and preach against queer rights, my rights, this blind rage that I feel, and I do mean rage, that I have and hold and carry and wear all of the time, all towards all of you who do this, aimed right at you specifically, without giving a shit about who you are or your story or what your name is even…
I know that’s how you feel about me too.
That’s how you feel about Constance. And so when you hurt me, when you kick us down, scare us, scar us, piss us off, taunt us, harass us, warn us, threaten us, intimidate us, and bully us, when you get us so upset that we can’t sleep, like tonight (this morning)- you won and I lost.
And then, when some gay-marriage rights pass in some state we won, you lost
And then you’ll fire my friend from his job because he’s trans and you’ll get away with it and you’ll get excited and go after the next one. And I’ll turn red in the face all over again, unable to do anything about it except put my hands up in the air and shake my head, back and forth, back and forth. Like right now.
And round and round we’ll go… where we’ll stop?…
Right now, today, my hands are up. You got me. Holy shit, you got me. Eventually my hands will find their way back to my hips, and when they do, watch the fuck out. But today, my hands are up.
What are you doing on April 13th? Because if there is any way you can possibly be in New York for the debut of this new reading series you are luckier than me.
One of my very favorite things to do is find a swanky/comfy bar/pub/cafe/living room, settle in with a hoppy beer and listen to smart, preferably attractive (let’s just be honest here), interesting people saying exciting, witty, thought-provoking, well put together poems, spoken word, rants, stories, and/or anything and everything in between.
Is this another classic example of my lesbian tendencies? Yes sir, but remember I will have walked to these events listening to Cher so figure that one out.
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Alright, here is all the information you’ll need to be apart of what is going to be THE PLACE TO BE on April 13th:
Sideshow is a new monthly reading/performance series in NYC. Featuring some of the very finest queer (and queer ally) writers and literary performers out there. “Serious literature for ridiculous times by freaks, jokesters and outlaws.”
Premiere event April 13th @ The Phoenix
447 East 13th Street at Avenue A,
East Village, New York City
Doors, 7pm. Reading, 8pm. FREE!
Follow them on Twitter! @sideshowseries
This month’s theme is Secrets
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F.A.Q.s (that I’m just assuming you are wondering):
Will I turn into a gay if I go to something like this? You might, but you also might not.
But what if one of the readers totally makes me hot and they’re the same-sex as me? Well, that’s a little gay, but it is also natural, these folks are professionals and daaamn good at what they do. Let it go, have another beer.
What if I’m not queer? Can I still go? No… JOKING. Of course you can. Just don’t wear white socks. That is never ok.
Why can’t I wear white socks? Because then everyone will know you are (probably) straight and (definitely) single in that way where straight and single aren’t cool. Just trust me, no one gets laid in white socks.
Can anyone appreciate such an evening with these sorts of going ons? Yes, anyone can and most good people do.
But wait! I have more questions! Well, I’m done with your questions. Email Sinclair.