I’ve always understood the allure of the road. A chance to play at something else, something bigger, get swallowed up, get away.
My childhood was filled with curly lipped churchgoers who spoke in tongues, an aunt with curious hands, a stultifying fatphobia that ripped my tongue out of my mouth, and an unstable mother who liked meth houses.
I survived this through the pathological pursuit of achievement, a rabid dick-hunger that activated an ancient understanding of pussy as barter, and the most meticulously crafted isolation—a rococo house with no doorknobs. I built a road out of my past one trophy, one fuck, one stifled meltdown at a time. Roads—metaphorical and literal—are precious to me, representing motion, change, and the promise of a novelty that touches me and awakens my heart.
I’m about to hit the (literal) road with seven other writers and artists for the Sister Spit 20th Anniversary Tour. Started in 1997 by Michelle Tea and Sini Anderson, Sister Spit was a brazen response to the dude-saturated open mic scene of 1990s San Francisco. The tour is legendary for having started as an all-girl lineup traveling the country by road and bringing provocative observations about the strange world that had built itself around them—stories of sex and love and survival and the million ways a country can disappoint you. Continue reading
Activism & Herstory
“We really felt like there needed to be a space that people could relate to that didn’t blame black people for conditions we didn’t create,” explains Garza in “Meet the Woman Behind #BlackLivesMatter”
Illustration by Forsyth Harmon
What does it mean to be a grown-up? I’m 32, and even though part of me still feels like a teenager, I’m slowly accepting the badge of “adult” and trying to wear it proudly. Whenever I feel like I don’t know how to be a grown-up—scared that it might mean trading in my sparkly nail polish, Baby-sitters Club obsession, and love of staying up all night writing—I look for guidance to the trailblazing feminist writers and artists that inspire me. Near the top of that list is Michelle Tea. Ever since I learned about Tea’s work in college, I’ve been drawn to her always-honest, often-hilarious, and usually heartbreaking memoirs, fiction and poetry that capture exactly what it’s like to be a working-class teen girl on acid in the suburbs, or a twenty-something queer punk navigating 90s San Francisco, infused with so much energy and intelligence and humor that it’s downright infectious to read. Michelle started the legendary all-women performance group Sister Spit in the 90s (and later the publishing imprint by the same name), built the SF-based literary organization/reading series RADAR Productions from the ground up, blogged about trying to get pregnant (and then about becoming a mother!) in her 40s, and founded a totally rad mothering magazine. She’s edited several fantastic anthologies, wrote a YA fantasy series, and so much more. Tea’s new memoir How to Grow Up details her beautifully unconventional path to where she is today—offering advice on jobs (“jobs are for quitting”), relationships, money (“I imagined the spirit of money as a tenderhearted fairy who longed to share herself with everyone”), battling addiction, and more. It may just be the guide to embracing a happy, healthy, uniquely awesome feminist adulthood that you, and I, need. Continue reading
With the new year comes a new crop of totally amazing reads. Here are some I can’t wait to get my hands on:
1) Where the Words End and My Body Begins by Amber Dawn
(Arsenal Pulp Press)
Amber Dawn’s known for her award-winning memoir How Poetry Saved My Life and her novel Sub Rosa, which reads like a feminist pulp novel/fairytale about sex workers. Where the Words End and My Body Begins, Dawn’s first book of poems, pays homage to legendary and emerging queer poets including Gertrude Stein, Christina Rossetti, and Adrienne Rich with a series of poems written in the 15th-century Spanish glosa form.
2) Houses by Nikki Wallschlaeger
I love how Nikki Wallschlaeger’s poems travel from building to building, room to room, from the exterior to the interior, from the often female-embodied everyday to the vast and looming social world that surrounds us, filled with problems and possibilities: “I have children that need lunches in the morning so I love them best. I also love lipstick and Europe, and the things that dead men say.”
Wallschlaeger’s first full-length book Houses is coming this May. Until then read some of her knockout poems here and here and here.