getting cruised in the Heights

got my hair cut. short. shaved sides. even got my eyebrows did.

ghurl, my shit is looking correct.

i scraped my pennies together and indulged in some self-care. hit up mi hombre, Hermán, at the barber shop in the Heights near my girl’s crib, and got a cut.

ever since my best homegirl passed away, getting a haircut has been this saving grace, one i dive into whenever my reservoir of sanity is running low. a little shave, a little buzz, the hum of Dominican Spanish, the sound of men treating each other with compassion, all of this is calming to me.

breathe in, hair fucked up. spiraling, twisting, out of shape. breathe out. all my lines are sharp. skin smooth.

baby-faced boi looking good.

tip him well. I tell hermán in my broken spanish ‘until next time, papito’.

fresh to death, walk the block, feeling myself.

and all of a sudden, men on the street notice me.

men on the street have been such a constant source of conversation and discomfort for so many of my sisters and brothers and weirdos in the struggle.

videos being passed around all day on all the feeds.

look at these fucken guys. they can’t keep their mouths shut. predators. rapists. women deserve to be left alone. women are people not objects to be groped, shouted at, mistreated. but look at how these men are all black and brown. but what about the white guys? what about them? no one’s making videos about how wall street fucks us all over every day.

i am a feminist. i listen to what women say. i listen to queers. i listen to kids and people and humans and if someone says that something hurts them or doesnt feel good or is fucking assault then I listen. we need to listen.

we need to stop the bullshit.

there is something about street harassment and something about the way men speak and spit game that unravels us.

that’s me summarizing all the points. my feelings fall somewhere in between.

this how my brothers are taught to speak to women, to each other. mad loud on the block.

what up, my N?

yo shawtay, what’s good?

you lookin’ good mami.

oye primo, que lo que? 

oye oye oye

whatever bitch.

yo, son, keep walking for I cut you.

but baby girl, i just wanted to say hello. have a beautiful morning.

stop talking to us. it’s not talk. it’s a threat disguised by a good morning.

fuck your good morning, dude.

should they stop talking to us? not sure how i feel about that.

it might feel different if we weren’t made to feel like we’re always on display.

feast your eyes on this, gentlemen! girls! girls! girls! real women XXXX. look at how she walks to work! sex. all the sex. say hello, say good morning, maybe sex. on display. walking down the street. no one just says hello anymore

but being on display is interesting, and after a shape-up, i’m on display.

who are these men noticing me? who are these men giving me the long, soft stare, eyes holding mine like they got something for me, something they can’t talk about, something only eyes can pass along.

who are these men whispering ‘hi, papi’ to me?

i don’t think I look more male today than I did yesterday.

selfcareselfie post- haircut

#selfcareselfie post- haircut

being cruised by men feels different than being hollered at by men.

i don’t know if the difference is mine or theirs or if this is the difference created by fluids mixing in the air.

but it is different.

being cruised is being let in on a secret. being hollered at is an act of dominance. these are my distinctions.

being cruised is what happens when heterosexism is pushed aside for a minute. it’s what would happen, i imagine, if none of our interests -sexual, spiritual, emotional- were shackled to any sort of expectations. in a world where no one expects anyone else to be straight, people could reach out to whoever they wanted to or not.

now as far as eye-contact or verbal contact goes, for me, i’m not bothered by it, not when it’s a cruise. i’m flattered, first. part of me wonders if they think i’m a pretty boy, especially when they call me ‘papi’. i don’t want to be a man but i’m very comfortable with my masculinity. my masculinity is intertwined with my femininity.

this gender expression of mine is a balancing act between them both and i feel fine.

but somehow, the idea that they might think i’m a boy, excites me. it makes the exchange even more illicit. like, yes homo, all the way homo, you think i’m a dude and you want some and it’s a cruise because you’re quiet and possibly nervous and i wish we lived in a world where you didn’t have to be nervous, homie.

and some days, i hope they know that i’m a flyboi, queer dyke brown badass. i hope they’re besides themselves over being attracted to a masculine woman. i hope they’re having their first gay moment with my tits and my shape up. and i hope it feels good.

it is all illicit but i’m a willing participant. i’m unafraid of being cruised.

i am fortunate so far. none of these men have ever touched my body. none of them have ever spat out threats against my person if I don’t continue eye-contact or follow them when they beckon me to a corner.

mostly these are moments in passing.

she keeps on passing me by.

or maybe this human, cruising me, is as queer as I am. maybe they’ve recognized me as one of their own. maybe i’m stuck in my own world, presuming gender and intent, forgetting how hard we cruise for each other.

i do this. i seek other queers in the world. walking down on the block, riding the A train, at the supermarket, wherever i step, i’m looking. queer is sexy, desirable, community, worth taking a pause in my step. beyond gender, beyond assumed sexualities, being to being.

it’s a thing that happens but no one talks about it. no one talks about the ways in which men respond to masculine women. that is, unless the conversation revolves around acts of aggression or shame, or assault in which the man is attacking a dyke because she looks like a dyke.

that is the only conversation.

it’s an important conversation but there is more. there is always so much more.

i wish i could stop these men on the street, after the looks and the whispers, and ask them what they’re thinking.

if i cared more, i’d ask them how they see me.

as my haircut grows in, the crusing happens less and less. i’m ok with that too.

my signifiers become more dyke than boi, more girl than in between, still so very homo.

maybe no one is looking for me.

a cruise is just a cruise.

i keep my eyes open.
i keep looking for my own.

it’s a strange strange thing. i’m ok with this strange world.

some days.

haircut days.

that Hermán even does eyebrows.

lines and brows forever

lines and brows forever

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Five Easy Ways to Outsmart A Panic Attack

I had 3 panic attacks this week. One occurred in the middle of the night in my homegirl’s crib while I was in underwear and a hanes ribbed tee. That one was fun because I got to sweat from the heat and the panic while listening to car alarms go off in the distance. The second one happened in the middle of the morning while I was getting ready to chill with one of my writer camaradas. I texted her a mini poem about my panic attack and I think my panic attack got pissed off and just went home. The third one happened this morning in the middle of a rush hour mob of grim faced people on their way to work. So I hustled my chunky ass right back around and stripped off my clothes and doused myself in lavender oil and dealt with it like a grown up. Sana, sana, culito and all that jazz.

Pero like, I mean, there are ways to dodge and dip past the bullshit. SO I’ve compiled a muy scientific blog post with todos los facts about how to Outsmart a Panic Attack.

5. Flip up the collar on your shirt or jacket.

maverick-up-close-best-of-the-best

Panic attacks like to consider themselves the coolest kid on the block. By flipping up your collar, you’re saying ‘Hey, I’m the Tom Cruise in this group of fly bois, sucka’. That panic attack will run home so fast you’ll be singing Highway to the Danger Zone in no time!

 

4. Start talking to it in English and then flip into Spanish and then speak again in English.

exactamente!

exactamente!

When a panic attack comes up to you ready to engage in some mental health harassment, flip yo lingo man. Going from English to Spanish and back again to English is like the craziest thing you can do to anyone, especially a panic attack. I mean, it literally confounded and enraged an entire comments section on my friend’s XoJane article. Ay caramba, man, get away from me, coño! See everyone es muy confused now.

 

3. Pat it on the butt, like mad casually.

You ever just been like chillen with someone and then they pat you on the butt? No, of course not, cuz if that happened you’d probably leave on some creeped out I hope they don’t follow me home type of shit. Cuz people don’t pat each other on the butt unless they’re wearing silver leggings and helmets and chasing a ball down a field. Then it’s normal.

not a butt tap but still a very good moment for butts

a little ass and a happy tap

 

2. Tell it that you’re pregnant and that it’s probably the father.

Nothing fucks up a panic attack’s day like being told it’s the daddy of your anxiety baby.

white lady maury gif

 

 

 

and without further ado, the number way one way is

1. Say ‘I see you. I know what you are. I can handle this. You have 5-10 minutes. The rest of the day is mine’.

I did that today. Still cried, still felt mad weird, and then it was over. And now the day is mine again and I know more will come but I also know that every time I acknowledge what is happening, the next one is easier. Ain’t no thang.

i got this gif

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last nite

a beautiful brown boi fell asleep on my couch.

they also threw a tantrum while sleeping, woke up, still technically asleep and then went to sleep for real for real before the witching hour.

 the oven was set to 450 degrees in the middle of a heat wave for the love of french fries.

 a plan was set in motion to uncover the secrets of queerness and futurism forever and turn it into a staged production.

the cashier at trader joe’s asked for my id. her boss wished me happy birthday.

i almost hugged her.

during talks of the sirens that have our hearts, the wind blew hard in the trees over our heads.

so hard that our conversations paused and the women we love washed over us.

added garlic and herbs to french fries, died of foodgasm, came back to life twice.

printed out a short story that isn’t ready for the light or the day which means it’s ready to be thrown into the ocean.

i will dive deep.

the dream to be butch mamas or loverboi papas is strong and real. the wonder why our dreams aren’t supported and protected cuts deep into guts which makes them so easy to spill.

put clean sheet over gently used couch to protect the skin of a boi who is also chosen family.

prayed to Lady Marmalade and La Virgen for wisdom and better dance moves.

debated love debate love debated love love love fight for love know love be loved debate debate debate

we flipped white privilege on its head and dissected tumors of oppression and brutality.

realized we both have extremely small and needy bladders.

put Sweet Action in the freezer. put Sweet Action across my lips and tongue,

down into a belly waiting for a different kind of warmth.

read a text from the most gentle human.

it started with “sweet baby love” and ended with “mi amorcita.”

i am convinced that this is the only language loverbois need.

cold shower cold shower cool off limbs hotter than a two dollar pistol.

recreated Harry Potter from the POV of POC who were unimpressed with some white boy’s rule-breaking bullshit at their prestigious school of magic, who sipped tea the whole time knowing that if they had pulled even half the crap HP had their asses woulda landed in Azkaban so fast there wouldn’t have been time to write even one book let alone 7.

spent 45 minutes writing alongside each other in silence with room for stupid jokes and queer modeling contracts.

remembered why it’s so important to spend intentional time with friends who hold pieces of my humanity in the palm of their hands for safekeeping.

remembered that i am worthy of safekeeping.

 

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