My Life and Times

Panhandle Postcard

Panhandle Postcard

The solidarity of evacuation, even if each car was its own small ecosystem of panic, grief, and merriment

This walk at the end of the day was meant to cleanse the palette. But as the sky went from pale purple to deep purple, the roiling Gulf of Mexico disappearing into darkness, we again turned to our phones. First to mine, looking at images of the fallen trees, fallen houses, the map that indicated that power was out in all of New Orleans. Then she showed me her friends’ snaps, the ones who were still in New Orleans, “hunkering down,” in the parlance. “Riding it out.” The snap of water coming into the house, under a door; the snap of the doughy cookies that were in progress when the power went out.

Primary Sources

Primary Sources

That is not how social isolation works, young lady

That dripping nostril was no ordinary toddler snot. That was when you should have known, and stopped working, and stopped drinking from the — write it — water cooler. Fuck. Fuck. When will the wave of absolutely certain regret and terror arrive. Come on already, I can’t wait anymore.

The Afterlife

Revisiting Roth’s promise

My own sense of Roth is that the motive behind his books, his drive and ambition as a writer, has everything to do with his unceasing energy as a seducer—a seducer of readers as well as of living people, friends and lovers. One might argue, again, that the intimate connection between eros and the desire to communicate with readers is true of many writers—but in Roth’s case I wonder if he might have been a better writer, certainly a freer one, if he had been able to unknot the two impulses a bit more.

A Trip to Minsk

A Trip to Minsk

Marches and trials in Belarus

I was in a cab headed to the Courtyard of Changes when my friends texted to say that the police had just painted over the mural. But by the time I got there, building residents had almost finished repainting it. “This is the sixth time they’ve painted over it, and we always put it up again right away,” they told me, laughing.

The Speculator

The Speculator

Six hundred and ten square feet of possibility

My home was a commodity with a life of its own. It operated within DC’s cycle of displacement, increasing in value without much input from me, and regardless of my politics or morals. My income, which in my third year at HUD would approach six figures, made me an economic gentrifier. It had allowed me to pay an absurd amount for 610 square feet.

A Family Affair

A Family Affair

Sometimes we don’t know our limits until they have been breached

Sex work has helped me define and enforce so many new boundaries I have set up for myself: physical, sexual, emotional, and mental. I did not have these facilities when I was younger, but as I began working as a Domme, I saw that such boundaries were vital to this industry. Even in the realm of fantasy, so much of what we do feels real to our clients. Oftentimes, it feels real to us too, even when we know that it is happening in a small compartment of fantasy—even if that small compartment is on display to a consenting audience witnessing a full-on shit storm inside of adult diapers.

Land Noises

Land Noises

I’d stumbled upon the set of the Ronald Reagan biopic

The sky looked precisely like Oklahoma’s license plate, light blue with swirls of what I thought was a white cloud but is actually the outline of a scissor-tailed flycatcher. A lot of the ranch gates had cowboys on them—emblems of a lost frontier. (There’s a cowboy museum in Oklahoma City.) The interstate was built mostly in the 1960s and made backroads like 77 and the towns along it obsolete, and it’s in these towns where I saw the most Trump flags. One county was called Love. A welcome sign said THACKERVILLE AMERICA: WE BELIEVE IN OKLAHOMA. THACKERVILLE OKLAHOMA: WE BELIEVE IN AMERICA would have made more sense, but little did.

On a Seaside Bench

On a Seaside Bench

No wonder coastal Kent is nicknamed Brexitland

Since the start of the pandemic, the seaside bench has temporarily replaced the pub as a location for all kinds of social intercourse. Old friends sit at opposite corners of a bench conversing with each other. They bring a bottle of wine each, together with their own glass. If a third person joins them, they stand at a social distance but close enough for the three of them to feel like they’re buddies. The scene is reminiscent of Moscow alcoholics congregating around a park bench to share a bottle of vodka.