Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore ‘s The End of San Francisco; a Review

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end of san franciscoPublished by San Francisco’s iconic City Lights and winner of a Lambda Award for Transgender Non-Fiction in 2014, The End of San Francisco is first-rate Resistance Literature.

 Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore refuses to separate the personal and political, capturing the creation (and in some cases disintegration) of radical communities in a way that will be familiar to those who were there and enlightening to those who weren’t.

At breakneck speed, the stream-of-consciousness narrative tears through a decade of personal discovery and anti-assimilation activism. It examines the intersection between pain and activism, the broken child and fearless agitator, while struggling as we all do with the desire for trust and intimacy in the communities we’ve built outside the prevailing culture.

Mattilda's critique of the mainstream LGBT movement cannot be ignored and this unmistakable, unrepentantly unique voice is one that should be amplified.

[For more trans voices, check out The Reading List]

 

Okay is the New Great; What to Say to Grieving People

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Sorella di Ira How Are You? – the king of all dreaded questions for greiving people. .

You ask how I am and I say Okay and you furrow your brow and ask, What's wrong? And I know you don't really want to know that I have struggled for six years to get to this honest Okay and for me,  Okay is fucking fantastic.

One of my co-workers lost her husband this week after 38 years together. I cannot begin to fathom the monumental loss she's experiencing right now. The condolence cards make the rounds, finally landing on my desk this morning. Both cards are chock full of stock sympathies because nobody knows what to say to grieving people.

Even other bereaved people.

Some of the well-wishers have mentioned her husband by name. That's always nice. There's a lot of sorry for your loss and in my prayers. One truly thoughtful bit comes from an unexpected source, reminding me that we only ever see the surface of nearly everyone we meet.

I stare at one of the few blank spaces for a long while before I write the following:

It's okay to not be okay for as long as you need to.

What I want to write is that I know it feels like you can't survive this separation. You can. You are going to carry the grief with you wherever you go for the rest of your life, but it will feel lighter as you get stronger. After a profound loss, we don't have to strive for Great.

Some of us are just working to be Okay. 

The Vagina Doctor

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vagina doctorI have a long-overdue date with the vagina doctor today. I've been ducking Kaiser's reminders for so long that they finally scheduled the check-up for me without my consent. 

"You're OBGYN appointment with Dr. Pappy Schmear is at 9:30 am on January 28th. If you must reschedule this appointment, please call (yada yada yada)"

It's smart on their part. I mean, the do-nothing part of me that didn't bother to schedule the appointment in the first place is most likely going to do nothing about rescheduling and therefore also likely to show up at 9:30 on January 28th for the scheduled vagina inspection.

Oh come on, what else can you honestly call it? 

She probably doesn't need much work, but I thought I'd check. Honestly,  I hardly ever take her out anymore. Maybe a Sunday drive here or there, but ...

Ever since I was old enough to be in charge of my own doctoring, I've insisted on a female vagina doctor. Maybe Kaiser knew that. Maybe I just got lucky, but hey, thanks guys, for hooking me up with a lady doc for my lady parts.With the exception of Mindy Kaling's Danny Castellano, I've never quite trusted a man who chooses girlie bits as his professional specialty. A vagina doctor should have a vagina. Period.

Oh yes, periods. We should talk about that. What the hell is going on with all that? I'm suddenly as irregular as one of those $3 t-shirts in the bin at the grocery store.

 All this Bajingo talk makes The Mr. uncomfortable. Really, he's such a prude. But before he left for work this morning, he elbowed me awake, looking concerned.

You're just going to the doctor today because it's time, not because they think something;s wrong, right? he asks.

I'm going because it's 12 years past time. Nobody thinks there's anything wrong, but then again this is the doctor who would know that, so… and I suddenly feel the weight of just how irresponsible I've been. Twelve years between checkups is ridiculous.

If you own a vagina, don't be stupid like Jules.

Go see the vagina doctor when you're supposed to.

There's really only one thing I still can't figure out. What the hell am I supposed to wear? Comfey clothes? Something professional? A skirt with no panties? Ladies, help me out. Time is ticking.

Note: The writing of this post was soundtracked by Tori Amos because – vaginas.

 

The Times They Are A-Changin’; Tales From Up Front

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Up FrontSuper Receptionist just got scooped up by another department. I guess that makes her Ex-Super Receptionist or Super Ex-Receptionist. Either way, this is good news for her and for the Receptionist TBA. In the meantime, however, I am holding down the fort and/or holding court Up Front.

I've got  Keaton Heston, Norah Jones and Nick Drake wafting through the speakers and a fully stocked candy jar. For myself, there's an icy Cherry Water in an insulated cup and Maria Balinska's The Bagel: The Surprising History of a Modest Bread on my Kindle.

We're gonna be just fine.