Do you remember when I first complained
about the size of my hands?
You might not, because I do it all the time;
but that first day
when I laughed and I said:
"they’re just too small!"—
you grabbed them
and said they were perfect
and I loved you, I loved you, I loved you.
One of my own most intractable expectations is that poetry written by queer poets will inevitably emphasize “coming out” as a central part of the poetic narrative or image system. I like coming out poems as a rule, and I have needed them as an emotional and aesthetic touchstone in my own life upon and beyond the page. At the same time, there is a subtle danger in assuming that queer poets’ primary work is, should, or must be centered in the past. What happens after you come out, a reader might ask? What about the present, the future? What does a queer life look like in practice?
Four out of five times they’d let me finish my spiel and say, Yeah, but I want my money to just go to Haiti. There was fighting in Somalia, a refugee crisis in Pakistan, a malaria epidemic in Burundi, but this was not on the news. The woman who’d called and said, “We only give when there’s an emergency” hadn’t known there are emergencies everywhere all the time.
Yr Rumblr editor wrote about The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation.
It was jarring to hear this fact so plainly spoken, though its one I have understood for most of my adult life: that the United States is a country built on blood, constructed from blood, watered with blood. I think perhaps somewhere in the back of my mind I had hoped, wished for, another country; a shadow version of the United States not fueled by the economic engine of human suffering, of genocide. Andersen here makes explicit that even this private, shadow country — this better version of the nation of my birth — can never have existed. Everything the United States is or ever has been came with a profound and inexcusable cost. It is not a case of despite, but because of.
I used to be sad that stories and novels actually end. Now I realize they don’t really have to. That the conversation can go on—does this make any sense? If a novel or a story works, you don’t stop thinking about it; it doesn’t truly end.
Rumpus: When did you decide to become a writer?
García: Very early on, I got a sense of the power of the word. I had my own diaries and my mother was always reading my diaries. I would get in trouble. I even hid them in the lining of my coat. It was a cat-and-mouse game. I had a heady power.
How can you help someone who doesn’t want your help? How can you reach out and show that you genuinely care about and show you genuinely care about an individual who constantly pushes you away and expresses no desire to invest in a relationship that he or she ought to care about? It’s a universal notion that family should love each other even it they don’t always like each other. How can you come to terms with loving a family member who seems as if he or she will never love you back, who seems more content to be left alone?
How do I say no? School, family, friends—these are all good things, but sometimes I wish I had more time for myself. I don’t want to skip out on work and saying no to friends too often feels rude. I hardly see my family much as it is, so I can’t cut time there either. How can I have me time when I’m already so busy?
Do you think it’s bad to have high expectations? Lately I’ve come to learn that people think that I have expectations. Why is this a bad thing? They say that I’m hard to please. I never really thought of myself in this way until now, and I am starting to think that people probably call me a bitch. I don’t want to come off that way. I just don’t understand what people mean when they say “high expectations.” Should I just not care?
Hard to Please
Conan O’Brien begged my generation to not be cynical. It’s an admirable goal, I think, because change comes from those who are not, but I just can’t get there. News, politics, people—rarely do I see the good things. I am cynical. Why? And how do I stop?
-Somebody afraid that they won’t ever change anything