i am writing because it’s late

i am writing because it’s late



Coincidences are not coincidences per se, they are simply flows of events in which every other possible event is simultaneously happening in infinite other worlds.1

We met on your first day in New York City. The flowery long dress you wore, my silly red t-shirt. At work I kept leaving my post, desperately evading fluorescent hours indoors. The first-year students hadn’t arrived for orientation yet, we were still preparing: printing name tags, making posters. Usually there were long lulls. I marched to the lobby, planning an escape to retrieve some coffee from my favorite place up the street. At a long table beside the door you sat, your smile big and welcoming, chatting up a coworker. I stopped by, drawn in by your warmth, asked if I could get you a coffee, too. You lifted your smile to me, my synapses firing, I beamed. Sure, you offered, I’d love that.


I am writing because it’s late.2

It’s late and I want to go to bed. Fall into your arms, let my muscles, sinew, bones release one another in a total surrender. But here I am, I write, I let the white of the screen seep into me, keep me wired. I stop and consider my hands, those things doing all the work. Long fingers you call graceful, strong fingers I sink into you.

I soon abandon the screen for a pen and paper, less cruel to the eyes. I write: So much exists outside our boundaries. Write it over and over, mix myself up in these words like soup. Draw my boundary lines, color outside them, visualize in literality.

Borders actively structure an inside and an outside, a hierarchy of what is visible and what is not, a material boundary line that denies access to rights, and a limit between that which is remunerated and that which is considered unproductive.3

I am considered unproductive. I consider myself unproductive.

I am generative. I consider us generative.

The rhythmic pulse of the feminine.4 We remain in motion,

Ceaseless (re)creation.

please, please

break            (me)           down           and           reassemble           (me)           differently


I stay up all night looking at images, images, images of bodies. Cut up, reassembled bodies. Changing bodies. Impossible bodies.

(let them fall deep inside me, drown themselves in acid, gain strength in my muscles, fall, evanesce, their ash burrowed always in my cells.)

They work me over, cradle me, crush me

The endeavor of slicing away what’s not mine.


Today I’m on the bus. A Hasidic Jewish man is yelling in the back. Through my headphones I hear reverberations of his deep voice, so I take one headphone out and turn around, gauge the situation. He is looking at his phone, playing a video game.

A few minutes later he gets up and walks toward me. We briefly make eye contact, and he asks if he can sit next to me, where my backpack is currently positioned. I say no. He sits across from me, and begins lamenting that people ignore him in public, that they act as though he doesn’t exist. All I’m asking for is a friend, he says. Gentler moments are broken by disagreeable comments (Staring for too long at my body, Saying, You have such strong legs). We reach Flatbush, my stop, and we both get off the bus. On the street, now standing, he looks at me again and asks in earnest, Are you a boy or a girl?

After a moment of reverie, I respond: I’m a girl.

Oh, he says, So you’re a girl that looks like a boy.

Right. There is a magic aspect.5


I’m eleven years old and driving down Judah street with my dad and sister to pick up some Mexican food. It is raining lightly, an unceasing mist, Vintage Sunset. I scurry into the restaurant with cash in my hand, sporting an oversized Camp Tawonga sweatshirt, sagging my dad’s Giants-themed pajama pants, my hair in a low ponytail. Hey, Camp Tawonga! the cashier says excitedly. I used to go there. Have you ever done one of those panty raids in the girls’ bunks with your buddies? he asks, with one of those male-solidarity head nods I’ve never before received. No, I say giggling, returning the foreign head-nod gesture, hiding my confusion. I haven’t.

This borderland, my borderland, a vague and undetermined place.6 How to traverse these sullied waters, dive in deep and learn to breathe down there.


This love is liminal, a deep friendship. My want exists everywhere, and nowhere; it is between our hands, we hold one another. How to begin again. I hold my small heartbreak. Little choices here and there. How to approximate the intimacy and immediacy I want.7 Long and longer and interminable?

Heart pounding, pounding hard, falls outside my body, on the floor still pounding.

What is unknown in this known space?

The unexpected often generates (cruelly perhaps) bizarre excesses (something amorphous and wandering), which in turn become a resource, something to make with.8

What will you make with me, this bizarre excess of yours?


Oh, we exceed our skins.9

Hand me a knife, I joke to you. I’ll cut them off. I laugh, I’m not really kidding. You know I’m not really kidding. Only, I have no desire to slice and see blood. The idea bears a thickening fear. Maybe if someone else had the knife, maybe if the knife were a scalpel, maybe if the scalpel could carve my chest into something unimaginable. So yes, I too am afraid of going home.10

(The freedom is in the movement, the in-betweenness

Pero hasta cuando no lo soy, lo soy.11)

Is the true self neither this nor that, neither here nor there, but something so varied and wandering that it is only when we give the rein to its wishes and let it take its way unimpeded that we are indeed ourselves?12

We do not all come at once, and we do not come once and for all.


When I was thirteen we lost our home.

It was a castle with a white and brown turret above a rusty metal balcony. In our last days my dad frantically painted our living room ceiling with the ornate detail of church stained glass. He wrote a bible quote in Latin on the wall, Ad Maiorem Dei Gloriam (For the Greater Glory of God), even though we were Jewish most of the time.

He spent those days in extremity. He was manic, painting for twelve hours straight, not stopping to eat or drink, only to smoke. Then he was depressed, despondent, unresponsive to my pleads that he take care of himself, have a shower. I remember going out to get him a sandwich, afraid that I couldn’t remember the last time he fed himself. I timidly put the sandwich on offer, set it down on the coffee table (brown with dark wooden beams shaped in a big plus sign, a cross), hoped he might at least react to its presence. He didn’t move, didn’t say a word, his eyes were open wide and fixed on the ceiling.

(I fell deeper, deeper. So dark, things lose their shape. I’m not telling you a story so much as a shipwreck—the pieces floating, finally legible.13 Bleeding, nebulous, my body could be all the right pieces.)

A short time later our landlord, Mrs. Singer, sent the SWAT team to our home. It was early in the morning, maybe seven, and the men barged in with their camo pants and AK-47s. Obliged to stand in our driveway while the men made unknowable revisions, marred my castle with their brutal hands and wild gesticulations, I was embarrassed to still be in my pajamas. We all were, standing there in our thin, useless armor. Mine were light purple, lavender really, markedly ripped from the crotch all the way down to the middle of my thigh; a pink tank top, I was cold. Another one of those foggy Sunset mornings. I held our dog, Oliver, tightly in my arms, my hunk of home, my living, breathing, snorting shelter. We stood for many minutes, tense, electrified, while the men swept our house for a bomb. She must’ve paid extra for that, my dad said.

The next day my friend Mia and her family came over to help us pack. They lived a few blocks away, on 29th and Rivera (or was it 28th? I could never remember). I lingered around the artwork. We had so much of it. Piles and piles of drawings I’d made in first grade, cartoons I’d written in fifth, they lined the house. My dad’s spectacular paintings, decades’ worth: a vast collection.


Today I scheduled a consultation for top surgery. They need pics, naked pics, to see what they’re working with, I suppose. I position my phone on the second shelf behind our bathroom mirror. It’s nice lighting in here, really. Quite pleasant. I play with the angle a bit, gotta get a good shot for Dr. Mosser. My shirt is off already, a preferred state, unusual for folks with dysphoria I’ve gathered. I set the timer—ten seconds to contort myself—and move about until I get it just right: full-frontal, titties out, cut off at the neck. A Modern Day renaissance painting, oh so feminine, malleable.

When the camera has done its work, I take my phone down and open the picture to see what I’ve captured. Damn, this is… voluptuous, bosomy, some Jewy goddess energy for sure. Really, I think to myself, it would make so much sense, if it weren’t mine.


When you hold me, my body is recognized. By you, by me, my body can hold itself long moments in this recognition. When you draw your hand down my spine, up my thigh, over my breast, those parts are no longer parts but whole. This wholeness is not mine alone, it is between us, among us, within us.

This is a freedom we keep on developing,14

A freedom through which we begin to grasp each other.

This is intuitive, Our own feminist architecture, A queer love tunnel of total desire.


Summer, gut-wrenching, hot-and-sticky-summer. I wake up in a small pool of my own creation, true and unwelcome, big hello. Shower, shower, blast me awake and tighten me up. In my towel in front of the sink I’m already sweating again, maybe I never stopped, the shower’s wetness and my own became one.

It’s 98 degrees and its 7am.

I hop right outside, hoping to meet some latent coastal breeze, but in vain. Coffee, I need it. Jaunting down Bay Parkway I am deferential to a cacophony of aroused birds—they, like me, love to chat most in the morning. I’m sticky. My skin is some sultry, impetuous goo. Slowly, surely melting.

The outdoor tables of my chosen bakery on 86th are, as usual, settled by seven elderly men. They smoke cigarettes, drink their hot coffees in cool white tanks and shoot the shit.

Hello, one coffee please. Iced? No, hot please. No, you need iced, it’s too hot. Okay, iced. Milk? Yes. Sugar? No. Thank you, thank you, have a great day.

God damn, that’s delectable.

That there is the best coffee in this city, I sing-song out to myself, the birds, delighted.

The cold bitter coffee on my tongue only serves to remind me of the heat currently permeating my limbs, my forehead, my underarms and breasts. I am nearly nauseous. I fumble my keys and jam one into our broken lock, turn it at least twenty times before succeeding to break in. I’m sure the thing is getting worse each time we do this. Shoes, off, keys, down, body, collapsed. Sweet mercy.

I make it two hours of reading before the oppressive muggy Gods give me no choice but to give in once more, fall deeply asleepy sleep in their arms. In my dream, I am strapped to an office chair with neon green rope, naked and covered in fresh fleshy black tattoos, my chest is flat, I have a dark beard. Is this even me? Yes, yes. We began to get glimpses of what we might eventually become.15 I do not try to escape, in fact, I realize, this is sexy, I am wet. I am so wet that I’m dripping down my strong soft thigh, the length of my body, all the way down to the grass beneath me. I am outside, a vast field of verdant foliage, all is green. Now when I look down I’m standing, the chair is gone, and I’m still naked, holding the rope in my left hand.


Thank you. Thank you for laughing with me. For taking risks. For holding me at night, and for wanting me to hold you in the morning. Thank you for your big eyes, your full lips. Thank you for keeping your office door open, for refilling the coffee rio bowl, inundating me with them. Thank you for the way you open me. For your thorough attention to little things. For showing me the single long hair on your shoulder. Thank you for keeping me gentle company while I tried on bras. Thank you for cooking me dinner. For asking me to do the dishes. Thank you for your ease, your power. Thank you for offering to walk me to the door, even if we only ever make it halfway. Thank you for always having a band-aid and anti-itch cream in your purse. For buying me a new pair of jeans, and a belt too. Thank you for asking for help. For moving with grace, with anger. For reminding me I can feel angry. Thank you for trying to eat grilled cheese at three in the morning. Thank you for holding my hand. For grooving through every doorway, leg up on the hinge. Thank you for living. For loving me. For holding all the truths, honoring each of them.


Hot sun, salty salty skin, naked skin. Streaked with bronze lotion my belly soaks up the heat. I am wearing jeans, not sure why, a tank top I’ve already removed. I biked a long way here, knocked myself out a couple times, thrown off my seat; I hit some rocks. It’s peak afternoon now, all blue: sky and sea. Slowly I graze my belly with my hand, carry it lower to my hip. I squeeze, tickle, scratch, relish my tender nerves.

I have a little company on the sand. Two older women sunbathe together in eyeshot. They are both naked, epic breasts in rare stillness. I envy this; decide to join them. Soon I am naked too, unleashing my ghostly skin to the fierce sun.


  1. Harry Dodge, My Meteorite: Or, Without the Random There Can Be No New Thing (New York, NY: Penguin Random House, 2020)
  2. Gloria Anzaldúa, Borderlands/La Frontera (San Francisco, CA: Aunt Lute Books, 1987)
  3. Jacqui Alexander, “Groundings on Rasanblaj,” interviewed by Gina Athena UlysseEmisférica Volume 12, Issue 1 (2015)
  4. Gloria Anzaldúa, “Speaking in Tongues: A Letter to 3rd World Women Writers”
  5. Harry Dodge, My Meteorite: Or, Without the Random There Can Be No New Thing (New York, NY: Penguin Random House, 2020)
  6. Gloria Anzaldúa, Borderlands/La Frontera (San Francisco, CA: Aunt Lute Books, 1987)
  7. Gloria Anzaldúa, “Speaking in Tongues: A Letter to 3rd World Women Writers”
  8. Harry Dodge, My Meteorite: Or, Without the Random There Can Be No New Thing (New York, NY: Penguin Random House, 2020)
  9. Harry Dodge, My Meteorite: Or, Without the Random There Can Be No New Thing (New York, NY: Penguin Random House, 2020)
  10. Gloria Anzaldúa, Borderlands/La Frontera (San Francisco, CA: Aunt Lute Books, 1987)
  11. Gloria Anzaldúa, Borderlands/La Frontera (San Francisco, CA: Aunt Lute Books, 1987)
  12. Virginia Woolf, “Street Haunting” (London: Penguin, 2005)
  13. Ocean Vuong, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous (London, UK: Penguin Group, 2019)
  14. Macarena Gómez-Barris, The Extractive Zone: Social Ecologies and Decolonial Perspectives (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2017)
  15. Gloria Anzaldúa, Borderlands/La Frontera (San Francisco, CA: Aunt Lute Books, 1987)
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