emchy: (Default)
i wonder if its possible to feel the emotional toll of my home state from so many miles away
today to see the article the michigan has the highest unemployment in the country
to know my brothers job is tied to construction and thus the economy and thus is super tenuous and his is the main income for their family of six and two dogs
to know how many people of my chosen and of origin family are looking at hand to mouth and struggle and some serious worry about ends meeting

my heart feels tired
and i feel like my insides are running between the states
trying to hold some of the energy together
so it doesn't all just fall apart.
emchy: (Default)
i like that i am being forced to slow down this morning
i do not like that the slow down is at this point looking like i will be late for work
like later than the late i had planned for
i got some great art news this morning which is big with the happy making - more details as they are realized
i feel like - lucky and blessed and like shit hold on hold on hold on to how that feels because how my mind works it can fall away and feel invisisble so fast. i am out of my medicine for like the past week. my emotional rollercoaster is in full swing and i am trying to stay on the upswing of the hill and not let the dips get me down, pull me down, make me trainwreck.

i keep thinking lakes and trees. one of the things i forgot to mention was that the park in fairfax on sunday. there was some tree somewhere made it smell just like michigan. broke my heart in the good ways. it was my second crying of sunday. the first was when i heard the voicemail from my mom. crying from the wishing that here and there could be in the same place. crying from the longing and the missing. crying from the beauty and the love wrapped up in my family of origin and wondering why when i am so close and full of love for people i start pulling away. feet in the grass looking over a stream smelling michigan in fairfax i shed some tears for both what i can't have and the beauty of what i got.
emchy: (Default)
the rain this morning looks like michigan. driving down michigan avenue thrifting for cobalt glass with judi. cigarettes muddy from the rain. cold air in with the stale heater on. our coarse knit sweaters damp and scratchy. there aren't grand river avenues so much here. same grey concrete romantic with rainshine. i want her shoulder to lean on. shake our hair out together. glittery raindogs. cozy in adventures.
emchy: (Default)
antlers. guns n roses. muscle cars. lakes. heat.
i think i am missing the home in michigan. all of the stuff that came up for me around the home show. having to dig into stuff and not having the time. having my home here thrown into something much less homey while the wife lives across town. i want to go back up to lake berryessa - which is kinda right - but not exactly - and smell the water more. the swimming hole we usually hit where the water smells just like the lakes of my youth was dried up since we have had so little rain this year. the main lake - it smells good - but much less alive. the water levels were so low that when wading it was all rocks and no muck. which seems like a good thing - but it makes the water smell drier. i got an email from my mom today. short. how you doing email. i didnt call for fathers day / dads birthday / their anniversary (all happen in this one week). i guess that makes me bad. what is really makes me is avoiding. i have been avoiding my family a lot for over a year. i miss them but am not choosing to save $$ well to go back there. i might be able to get back in august. but i also want vacations that aren't about family and are still about travelling. but lately. i seem to be making my life here hold more and more of my familiar touchpoints from there. even the ones i wasn't so crazy about when i lived there.  antlers. metal. muscle cars. i even find myself missing my brother and his mullet. there are ways for me to hold these things now that aren't about irony and are all about holding roots that are mine. honoring and not dismissing the joy and smiles that i find when i am drawn into these things. ski boats on lakes and corn burned in bonfires and dust kicking up behind cars. i cleaned the hell out of my car this weekend. and the trunk yesterday. took steel wool to the hubcaps and really just went to town. this is my father. this is how he showed love. this is me unconsciously showing myself some love and care in the ways that he showed me by taking care of the car. in rainbow on monday - i discovered that they brought my favorite lilac brand back  in. i bought the soap (heaven) and the sachet for the car. my car smells like late may in michigan. sweet and full of promise. when i drive out to the ocean i smell the sharp salt of my home here. as i get to pacifica i smell the sweet grass hot in the sunshine and that's the sweet full promise of summer here. i love my life here. i love my life there as a glimmering relflection of water on a hot blacktop highway.  i am going to keep indulging the pull towards these touchstones of my past. i just wish they weren't pulling from quite so far away.
emchy: (Default)
So I have a lot to say about lakes and water and class and St. Helena and local routes vs tourist routes and how not to water ski and lake etiquette and sun burns and chicken bones and what i want in life and and and

but a picture is worth a thousand words right? that and trying to sleep with no pillow on rolled up jeans means i am so tired right now. but this morning i walked down to the water and swam in my pajamas. yay.

these are from our right on the water campsite. taken with the cell phone. more over on flickr.com but - the cell phone died - so i only got pics just before it got dark. sadly no photo evidence of the pajama monkey swamp monster arising from the 8am waters. :)

emchy: (Default)
yayz- omg - to celebrate eight years of happy happy monkey time - so far - i'm getting some bfast made for me - woot! and rooster said last night - instead of going out for dinner i have an idea. folks - we're going to lake berryessa and we're goddamn camping overnight. i am so excited. i has bucket.  squee. woot. yay. LAKE MOTHERFUCKING LAKE. ok - yayz. there are boat rentals there too- but i bet the dog can't go on them. someday maybe i will have a pontoon boat on a lake and all yall can come and relax and we'll putter around the lake @ 5 miles per hour with tasty drinks in hand and the dog happy waggy and it will be teh awesome. for today though - i get to SWIM and it's the happy. i like anniversaries.

hafta call dad on the way there and wish him happy fathers day.
i miss his calm reserved practical happy. my best memories of him are sitting with him on the boat with the beach boys on and we're just enjoying the sun and the water. not talking. not anything except just being there. funny to say boats. boats here are so different than in the midwest. in california they sound wealthy and usually mean yachts or sailboats that cost a gazillion dollars. in michigan - it's anything from a rickety rowboat to a nice ski boat but even then - it's accessible to middle class folks. people who have desk jobs and factory jobs and work for the fire department. it was crazy common to have had at least one friend with some sort of water or lake access or boat type thing.

lakes. dads. family. love.
it's all about today.
emchy: (Default)
I want to give a public thank you to the awesome people who made last nights show possible. It was a little crazy at some points to realize - it was going - it has started and i couldn't pull it back in and stop it. You made the ride smooth and awesome and really when you all came together on that stage and made those hearts on your sleeves bleed - you made some serious magic.

First to the most awesome of performative title card bear/ers - [personal profile] imnotandrei holy crap. you were so good. absolutely just awesome. both with your charm, sass, and dandyness on stage - but also with the pre-show grounding of the host. you made the night in so many ways. thank you. thank you. thank you.

HumilitySwim - you made words into movement. You pulled it all together. You got innovative and evocative and powerful and damn I love dance. Thank you for bringing your skin and souls and muscle and blood and sweat and awesome to the stage. Hot damn.

[profile] stramdagger - damn you made me cry. damn you made me feel. damn you just fucking nailed it. family and love and all of the parts in and around and between. i love working with you. i loved watching you. your words and music and how you brought them together gave me chills and goosebumps. wow. Thank you.

[personal profile] mollena - holy shit gurl. i knew what you originally planned to read. and when you started i knew you had picked a new path and your words knocked me over. you made me laugh - you always do - but you made me cry too. and you made me so happy for your journey and for me getting to be a part of it. you brought so much naked to that stage - literally and figuratively :) thank you.

[personal profile] final_girl - is it possible that you impress me more everytime? Your words and the film touched parts of my core that I usually shy from - but you touch them and they burn beautiful. I loved what you gave the audience. I loved how you gave it. Every person there got some magic to take home and grow into beautiful things. Thank you for planting the seeds. Thank you for caring so incredibly much. Thank you.

Sabrina Alonso - the things you do with film. oh my god. thank you for your awesome images and how you brought them together and used language and text and everything to create something with final_girl that is haunting me in the best possible way. Thank you.

[profile] bionicfemme - You were a total pro up there. You read so well, you got laughs and sighs of understanding, and the breath intakes of people being touched and you did damn good. Thank you for sharing your stories. You broke hard to get those adventures - but without the talent in your heart and text, they would just be stories. You make them more than that and you make them beautiful. You were great. I am honored to have curated your first feature. Thank you.

[profile] justin42 - It was such a joy to me to have you on that stage. Your words are so often on the page for me. To see them realized and aloud and turning ordinary air into these glittering moments of intense and soft and hard and painful and amazing and perfect... it was so warm on my heart. It made me smile in so many ways. I can't wait to see you do this more. I am glad that I got to be your first public reading(a while ago) and your first feature (tonight). You brought so much of your raw self to this. You were so good. Thank you.

[profile] justin42 & [profile] stramdagger - ok damn - awesome - and thank you for sharing your bro-mance. Words actually kinda fail me for how much that made me feel. just. damn. thank you.

and lastly - a HUGE thank you to the Maestro of Tech - Chris Dunaway - she rocked, she rolled, and the show wouldn't have happened without her. THANK YOU! OMG.

and one more last - of course - thank you to the National Queer Arts Fest for putting this on. To the Queer Cultural Center for giving the show a grant so that we could make it as uber awesome as possible - and to Pam Penniston personally - for being so incredibly supportive.
emchy: (Default)
my heart broke in a lot of ways tonight. good and bad and melancholy. but it's a good sign when you put on a show that hits even the curator below the belt in good ways and brings up tears and memories and big deep stuff. we packed the joint - thank you for that. every performer was amazing. really really amazing. kqed is going to air some of it on pride weekend (performers be ready to sign releases soon). and i am just so impressed. by the audience. by the readers. by the tech person and the bear/er of title cards and just so much good. thanks. you brought it home. good fucking job.
emchy: (Default)
I am really excited about the show tomorrow. Home Queer Home kicking ass taking names and inviting you into the bosom of our hearts as you hear about how we feel about home. How we lost it, found it, are still looking. How it formed us, held us and seriously fucked (at least me) up. How we make home and family and all that stuff as adults and how much different it is now from what we were sold as kids. Wow I am impressed by what my comrades are bringing to the table. It's gonna be teh awesome.

Other people have noticed too. They're getting excited. And... well... word on the street is that advance tix are actually a really good idea. (plus there are door gifties for the first 60 people)
You can hook up your tix HERE http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/15916

From Today's SF Station

Home Queer Home: A queer cabaret exploring the journey from family of origin to Family.

Queers come from all over the country to live in San Francisco. In cars, on busses, planes, but what happens along the way? Who do our travels turn us into and then what happens once we get "home"? The journey of gay isn't just coming out. It's moving out, defining out and somewhere in our travels - redefining family and what exactly home means. This show seeks to examine the transient culture of queer and home with stories from writers, dancers, singers and artists from around the country. From New York City to Michigan to Stockton to San Francisco natives - everyone has their own journey to what home is.

Join us at this multi media cabaret featuring dance, film, spoken word, stories, songs, smut and more as we all try to work out, define, examine and create a new vision of home.

Featuring: Cindy Emch, Daphne Gottlieb (including a collaboration with filmmaker Sabrina Alonso), Storm Florez, Justin Kolling, HumiltySwim, Esther Zinn and Mollena Williams.
emchy: (Default)
Tonight I read over at the Urban Art Gallery in Oakland. It was for an Art for Autism Benefit - and it was cool. Good crowd, poems, art, cheese, wine, etc. [profile] aranyamei  came with. She is the awesome.

Now I used to live in West Oakland and honestly love it quite a lot. I am protective of it - of how wonderful it was and how family and generations of people living there and I saw my old apt again and the house looks the same and good old Eloise is still living upstairs and a lot of it is still just what I remember. And there are other good parts that are new. The shoreline park finally got finished. The messed up pothole heaven of 8th Street got fixed. But folks. Other things broke my heart. I saw old Victorians in ruins like I haven't seen since I was last in the ruined West Canfield area of Detroit. With gorgeous facade husks and burned out interiors without even a roof to their centuries old credit. Some of them in West Oakland had been like that since I lived there. Some were more newly ravaged. And in sharp contrast are the shiny expensive gated loft / condos. It felt like they were shining with a promise of what the residents can't have. They hulked above the other neighborhood architecture and stood out like sore thumbs, Mandela Gateway, standing next to the new projects and the old victorians and the legacy of a neighborhood in their wake.

Ah but really - the biggest part of the upset isn't about lofts. It's about loss. I tried to go to my favorite store ever. In the world. Cooper Bros. A charming awesome teeny tiny store attached to a huge yellow house where Fred Cooper would fresh roast peanuts daily, sell veggies that he got weekly from local farms and sell sodas out of old school ice chests from the 50's.

Cooper used to sell me my american spirits and give me free lettuce for my dragon (iguana). He loved to talk and tell me stories and as about the iguana and how i was doing over on 12th St up there and he was the awesome. Whenever I was in the neighborhood I tried to come by and buy something jsut to say hi again. The past few times - the store has been closed, but that was usual, it seemed sometimes like he opened when it was good for him so I didn't think too much of it.

Today the house was falling apart. With a chain link fence all around and the store boarded up. I got home and googled and Fred is gone. With him a neighborhood loses a whole lotta heart. I am so so sad. It's slightly possible that the house is being rennovated and just looked bad since Fred started Historical Landmark processes for the house and store in 2003, and the site was approved to move forward. Maybe someone is making it what it once was?

Here's what they wrote in the Oakland Tribune. He passed away in 2004.

OAKLAND -- Through good times or bad, fair or foul weather, South Prescott neighbors could always count on Fred Cooper to dispense fresh produce, warm peanuts and good conversation from his ramshackle corner store at Eighth and Center streets.

But "Coop's" corner is strangely silent since Freddie Lee Cooper Sr., or "Coop," as most everyone knew him, died July 25. His passing has left an unfillable void in the neighborhood.

"Cooper was a very dear friend of mine ... I miss him terribly," said David Carter, who lives in the South Prescott area of West Oakland, near the BART station.

Carter gathered with a few other neighbors at Cooper Brothers Market nearly every Friday for the past five years. It turned into a social hour, with the friends talking about politics, community concerns, sports, world events and whatever was on the front page that day.

"For me, being somewhat sentimental, it's the passing of an era," Carter said. "I got to tell you, it was like the old 1950s neighborhood where everybody knew everybody. That's where I met my neighbors ... now I don't even know who my neighbor is."

Coop was tall, with a broad face and big hands. He would often stand on the corner, dressed in his trademark blue coveralls, apron and roll-up hat, greeting neighbors and passersby with a warm smile, inviting them to stop and chat or peruse the array of fresh vegetables on display outside the market. He would travel to Brentwood or the San Joaquin Valley every Monday to buy his produce,direct from the farmers.

Carter said he first saw Cooper at a community meeting, where he didn't say much, but what he said made an impression.

"I was a newbie (to the neighborhood), and he was real quiet," Carter said. "But he said a few things that kind of impressed me. He had what you call gravitas. I thought, 'I like this guy.' Then I heard he had a vegetable stand, and I went by and we just clicked."

Coop was Carter's portal to people of West Oakland who might not otherwise give him the time of day. As long as he said, "Coop sent me, I'm his buddy," he was OK.

"He had a dossier on everybody, in his head. If you had lived there for over 10 years and had been by his place, he remembered," Carter said. "(Mayor) Jerry Brown stopped in one time and said, 'What's going on, Coop?' and Coop said, 'I'm paying you to tell me.'"

Cooper's funeral in East Oakland was filled with friends and family. But there are still members of the community who are just learning of his death, probably because his store had been closed while the street was torn up for construction. Then again, Cooper wasn't one to complain.

"It's so sad, I didn't know," said Oakland City Councilmember Nancy Nadel. "I first met him when I was working in San Francisco and I parked my car (near his store) and he watched out for me and we became friends."

He also helped get her elected to her first public office, the East Bay Municipal Utility District board, by putting her sign in his yard. He would come to her house with a little bag of potatoes or oranges, "out of the blue," Nadel recalled.

Dorothy Jenkins, church secretary with Zion First Church of God across the street from Cooper's house and store, said he was always doing nice things, making small, unexpected gestures of kindness for people. She first met him in 2000, when he offered her some roasted peanuts in the shell.

Cooper was a faithful member of the church, and his name is on the cornerstone, which made some chuckle because they only saw him in his coveralls, Jenkins said. But he would always dress for church.

"He would be so dapper with his suit on, and he would say, 'Sister Jenkins, my mother said you need to give God some of your time,'" Jenkins recalled. "He would be so cute, holding that little hat.

"When word spread (of his death), people were very hurt," she said.

Freddie Lee Cooper was a native of Red Bird, Okla. He followed his sister west in 1955, right out of high school. He was drafted a few years later, and served in the Army in both Fort Collins, Colo., and Fort Hood, Texas. He returned to Oakland in 1960.

Cooper and brother Sidney bought the large Victorian rooming house and corner store in 1962. They started out selling potatoes and onions, but by the time the store closed, you could find just about anything inside, from milk to its signature "Cooper's Hogs Head Cheese."

Mr. Cooper is survived by his wife, Mary Cooper, of Oakland.

Etta Jones and her husband and children moved to Oakland 35 years ago from Houston. She said Cooper kept a nice store, and she would often stop in to buy a few items. Seventh Street still had a number of thriving businesses and clubs, and Cooper knew everybody, old and new, she said.

"I'd go there and shop and do a little yakking," she said.

Business dropped off after the Westwood Gardens apartment building across the street was torn down. And once the city started tearing up Eighth Street to make new sidewalks and bike lanes and install lights and plant trees, Cooper closed the store, most thought temporarily.

Jenkins said he would have loved to see how nice the street looked now.

"I wish Mr. Cooper could have seen this, the trees and all of that, but he's in a better place now, no pain, no suffering," she said.

"It's really sad, but he was at peace with God; he had got his soul right," she said.

emchy: (Default)
mr_heathen asked about home. this is what i said.

it's been flipping around for me lately. the definition of home. i am starting to think it isn't where the heart is - but where it isn't. home has become about longing and nostalgia and the sort of rose colored glasses - remembering only the good parts that whatever home i am living in at the moment could never live up to.

home in michigan right now smells cold and brown and wet. rainy with the ground soaking up the wet just in time to freeze extra hard. nothing feels soft. feet crunch on every surface, the wind and air push back hard against your skin when you walk outside, and the trees have given up the last of their colorful affectations and just reach up to the sky waiting to hold bushels of snow.

home in san francisco is nights lost to a smoky apartment in berkely hiding behind whiskey bottles. home is a musty apartment in the western addition with dark windows and bright paint in the kitchen. it living with cat hair tumbleweeds in a huge flat across from the lexington where we would turn out the lights and open the windows. because you can heard street noises better in the dark and there was always drama outside of the bar. it is living off of haight street and trying not to deck the tourists that walk too slow when i am just trying to get the groceries home. it's living in the sunset, on the one corner where the fog doesn't block the ocean. where even when it's overcast the house feels bright with daytime because there are so many windows and it takes no work at all to feel like i have lived here forever.

and tomorrow. home will feel like the warm houses that i go to. where everyone has their own personalities that will cross over and interlap and mix up with everyone elses. and we will share food and stories and love and cranky. it will be rushed and madhouse and relaxing and family.

come friday - i will find the nostalgia about all of these things and then they will be home.

by request

May. 17th, 2005 10:05 pm
emchy: (Default)
from childhood i have only a few distinct memories of my dad. he worked so much and such long hours, plus did an entire host of community things, like bowling, the elks club (he was even exalted ruler once) that he wasn't home a lot. some of my friends thought my parents were divorced he was away so much and i never talked about him. but there are some good memories there.

one of the most interesting things for me is that I get my creativity, my poetry, my lust for life and art from his side of the family. I did not know that until I was in my twenties, but it was there waiting for me to know it. My grandmother on his side was a published poet, though no one has been able to find what books the few poems she published were in. She was the sort of lady that when she was in her 60's living in Florida, she wore fushia hot pants and roller skated down the street. I wish I had known her.

But hearing stories about her from my mom, I started to see (and be directly told) how much like my dad's mom I am. and how that drove us away from each other.

It is incredibly important to him to be accepted socially. To be a part of a community and even set an example therein. From a fraternity to theElks to setting up scholarships for poorer kids to go to college from our town, he always wanted to lead by example. I found out from my mom some of the core reasons for this. When dad was a kid, they lived in a super small farm town near the Michigan / Ohio border. Everyone knew everyone and even now when they have high school reunions, everyone is invited, from all the graduating classes. That sort of place. So my uncle, a few years older than dad, fell in love when he was 13. He fell in love with an 11 year old. She got pregnant and they got married and found an apartment in the town. Scandal of immense proportions ensued, and while some may have handled it differently, my dad reacted by proving that he wasn't like 'that'. He has spent the rest of his life proving that he isn't that, he is an upstanding guy. He is good people by the most conservative and family focused definitions.

It probably didn't help that he had a liberal poet mom, an artsy aunt who liked to gather large parties and do sing a longs on the piano to bawdy songs, or that his own twin sister was a lesbian. Also didn't help that when his father died, his mom married his fathers best friend within months (with her husbands blessing).

Recently when I was home I asked him about my grandfather. All he said was that "well he was a lot like me I guess. worked a lot." My dad tends to talk in as few syllables as possible. Most of what I know about him I know from my mom. A couple of years ago I got back in touch with his sister, my lesbian Aunt Judy. She told me how she loved to visit with my dad. How they just laughed and laughed. My father side of the family holds all the passion (my mothers holds the temper) but with us, his kids and his wife, my dad's humor never came out. he was always tense and terse and like he didn't have a lot of time. I remember running into his elks friends when sometimes dad would take me around town for a ride in his corvette (he always loved fixing up old corvettes, even when he was the most poor and in the army with a new wife and baby) and he would talk to these old local guys, and I would be so proud. my dad would have them laughing and smiling and charmed. When he would get back in the car, he seemed happy, but quiet again.

To see that part of him, I would sometimes be intentionally late for school. So late that my school teacher mom couldn't drop me off, so he would have to. This always meant a sit down big breakfast meal at mcdonalds with him. somehow we would run into he work friends there. I got to see dad in action, charming and social, and so proud to introduce me.

When I was in college, he didn't trust my desire to major in english, so i had to prepare a presentation for him about "what i could do with an english degree" I made charts and graphs, photocopied articles, and wrote out a thesis on what path i wanted to take. i just remember wishing so hard for that approval.

i am always so tied in to how much like my mother i am, but as i write this, i am seeing something else. how i shut down like him. how this week i have been friendly and charming, making people laugh and have been cold and terse at home.

so much to learn. to much to remember. more memories later. per redshrike. :)
oh - he loves the beach boys.
emchy: (Default)
i am stopped at the end of a dirt road. the dust of my past is blowing past the front of the car. i have to turn right or left and i have no map. both ways look right. but one isn't. i don't even have a coin to flip.

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