Sunday, April 13, 2014

The City That Never Sleeps

I have figured out why New York has been called "the city that never sleeps." It's because it is the city that won't be quiet at three o'clock in the morning. Who can sleep through all this racket? Long-time residents, apparently. Alas, for a poor San Francisco / Chicago transplant, a good night's sleep is only a dream - a wide-awaking dream.

Car horns, screeching tires, and wailing sirens make me feel like I'm living in a live version of that "Grand Theft Auto" video game. Add to this mix barking dogs, shouting people, and blasting music at all hours of the day. And the icing on my noisy cake are my upstairs and downstairs neighbors.  The woman above me lives in high heels, and the guy below me runs his wall-sized TV at max volume 24/7.

Some of my readers may recall that I had a noisy neighbor problem once while living in Chicago. Then, my foresightful month-to-month lease and an abundance of vacant apartments to which I could relocate made moving easy. My next apartment wasn't perfect, but it was totally livable, and I stayed there until moving here. Unfortunately, finding a new apartment in New York is not so easy. In fact, in my price range, I'm lucky not to be living in a converted subway tunnel.

I asked the lady next door, who also relocated from quieter realms three years ago, how she managed to cope with the ambient racket. She said, "Oh, don't worry. You'll get used to it." However, the fact that I had to ask her the question three times, and very loudly told me the real story. "Getting used to it," is a euphemism for "slowly going deaf." 

Luckily, New York is also the city where you can get anything you need at any time of the day or night. So, the last time I was woken up in the middle of the night, I threw on some clothes and trotted down to the 24 Hour drugstore and grabbed a box of earplugs. Ah, sweet relief. 

I trust that I will eventually get used to the noise and/or lose a big chunk of my hearing. But, when you're wide awake at three a.m., that seems like a small price to pay for a good night's sleep.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Change of Venue

As I mentioned in my previous post, one major accomplishment during my blogcation was finishing my novel Further Adventures of Sissy Van Dyke.  Another major, major accomplishment was moving  from Chicago to New York City. Well, not New York City exactly, which most people think of as Manhattan. I currently  live and work in Queens - Flushing to be exact.

If I had known how descriptive the name Flushing would be of my dating opportunities, I might have opted to rent the closet I saw in Prospect Park that was disguised as a studio apartment. Queens is a nice, family borough, which makes the shortage of dating opportunities self-explanatory. Seems that most single lesbians in NYC are biased against women who live in Flushing, including lesbians who live in Flushing. Of course, this might just be my way of justifying myself for not having had even a coffee date in the three months since I've been here.

Part of the problem has been that I've been hella busy with the reason I moved to New York in the first place. 

Four months ago Elston Cann, my boss at the Best Guess Testing Center, asked me,  "Sissy, how would you like to move to New York City?"

"Is that a trick question?" I asked back.

"I'm opening a test center out there, and I'd like you to manage it."

Of course I said "Yes," before the offer had gotten out of his mouth good.

It's been really cool working with Elston to get the new test center off the ground. My office is only a short bicycle ride from my apartment. So, between getting into the office early and working until late, I hardly ever have to leave Flushing. Whoopee - not!

Still, the move couldn't have come at a better time.  After having been engulfed by flame in my last two breakups - which happened within a week of each other, I make it a strict rule not to date any woman more than twice. For me, the third date is a charm... a bad luck charm. The third date is like a relationship vestibule, and I am done with all that for the foreseeable future.

In Chicago, dating at a rate of two per woman, you can burn through the supply of single lesbians pretty quickly... in six months to be precise. So, the move to New York City is right on time. I'm sure it will take me at least two years to be totally dated out.  Who knows, maybe by then I'll be ready to use the "R" word again. 

Now, all I have to do is find someone who wants to have a first date to get the ball rolling. In the meantime, thank goddess for my new job and World of Warcraft.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Excerpt from Sissy's New Novel

As I mentioned, I took a break from blogging to work on other projects. One of these was my second novel in what I hope to be a long series of Adventures entitled Further Adventures of Sissy Van Dyke. Here is an excerpt with which I hope to lure you into buying and reading the full novel. 


What does a lesbian bring to her second date?

Hey, the name’s Sissy, Sissy Van Dyke. It’s not just a name, it’s a lifestyle.

By now, most people have heard the riddle, “What does a lesbian bring to her second date?”

“A U-Haul.”

I have laughed at that joke many times, especially when I’ve witnessed so many of my lesbian friends sharpening their teeth on that old saw. But, the joke is not all that funny when you’re looking at it from the inside out, as I so recently have been. Today, I just finished driving a U-Haul cross country, from San Francisco to Chicago to stay with Ava Nesta, a woman who I met two months ago. I say, “stay with” rather than “live with,” because we are both agreed that this is just a temporary arrangement until I find a place of my own. Although we are both lesbians, Ava is not my girlfriend. I will admit that our relationship isn’t strictly platonic, since we’ve had sex a couple of times, which makes Ava somewhat of a romantic complication.

But, I repeat, she is not my girlfriend.

Folks who’ve known me for a while would be surprised to find me in a situation like this. I have an aversion to long-term relationships, monogamy, and U-Haulishness of every kind. If I were describing myself in a personal ad, I’d write that I’m a cute, physically active, 25-year-old Black lesbian, in search of single lesbians for fun times, good conversation, and casual sex. Ava claims to be looking for the same things, although I’m the first person she’s slept with since she broke up with her lover of 10 years— six years ago. I didn’t find out about her long, dry spell until I practically had one leg in her bed, so I decided to give her the benefit of a doubt. Besides, at that point, we were living two thousand miles away from each other. What could go wrong? Well, that remains to be seen.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Back from Blogcation!

            Hello readers, old and new, I am finally back from my long blogcation.  I have several (not so) good reasons (excuses) for my tardiness, that I will lump together with the term writer’s block (laziness).  During my blogcation I came to three important realizations:

            1) Writing is hard and often hellish.
            2) Not writing is easy and usually fun.
            3) Writing is better than not writing because… it’s a mystery.

            When I first went on blogcation, I thought, “This is just a little break.  I’ll work on some other things, then jump right back on the Post button with new and interesting adventures to report.”

            As the days and weeks passed, and my unblogged adventures began piling up, I told myself, “You know, you really should be writing this stuff down.”  Unfortunately, that feeling came and went, and not writing got easier and easier.  So easy, in fact, that I find myself over a year later with so much to report that I don’t even know where to start.

            As the wonderful David Rakoff pointed out, writing is the only thing that doesn't get easier with practice. “Unlike cooking, for example, where largely edible, if raw, ingredients are assembled, cut, heated, and otherwise manipulated into something both digestible and palatable, writing is closer to having to reverse-engineer a meal out of rotten food.”  In my case, the ingredients of my recent adventures have been fresh, tasty, and very raw. They've also got a whole new flavor, since I've relocated my kitchen from Chicago to New York City.  The problem is, I'm the only one who can prepare this meal, and there's no take-out except in a library.

            Today, I've got my apron on, and I’m ready to start serving up the stories. Over the next few weeks, I hope to entice you back to my blog table with a broad selection of my recent adventures.  I hope you will find them palatable, if not delicious.  At the very least, I hope they will not make you sick…

Bon Appetit!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

On Blogcation

Hi Readers,

I will be on blogcation for the next few weeks: regrouping, chilling, and working on other writing projects.

Stay tuned because Sissy is about to have a serious venue change in the next coming episodes.  I don't want to give too much away, but it's the city so nice they had to name it twice.  And, if you guessed Oklahoma City.... 

Have a wonderful summer and Happy Pride!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Dead End

I stood in the middle of my living room for a long time, where I'd been standing when Faith left me on the arm of her husband, Dagwood.  It felt unreal, like I would wake up in a minute with Faith still sleeping beside me.  We would continue the conversation we'd been having all weekend, planning our future life together.  This was the conversation we'd begun in high school, interrupted for ten years by her gay conversion and descent into religious life, by her loveless marriage, and by betrayal after betrayal. 

I was suddenly surprised to realize that I wasn't surprised at all by the way things had played out.  More than that, I didn't care.  I couldn't believe how numb the whole experience had left me feeling.  I tried poking myself a little with thoughts like, "Wow, I can't believe I fell for it again," or, "How could I have ever believed that Faith really loved me," but I felt nothing.  It was like whatever mental wound I'd received had been instantly cauterized by rage at the male, heterosexist privilege that Dagwood had exercised, so casually, not just in my presence, but in my home.  It was stifling.

As I walked around my place, opening all the windows, I realized that this feeling might just be the calm before the storm.  But, I didn't think so.  If there were any injuries, they were internal, and that's where they were going to stay.  I was sick and tired of wallowing in self-pity.  This time, I was going to put on my big girl pants and move on.

With this thought in mind, I checked my Meetup calendar for Sunday.  I saw that the Chicago Queers-R-Us social group was having a picnic at Foster Beach that afternoon, weather permitting.  I looked out the window, and saw that the weather would definitely be permitting.  It was a beautiful day and one not to be wasted pondering the implied threat in Faith's promise, "I'll be back."

I changed the sheets, threw out the trash, and erased the remnants of the weekend from my apartment and from my mind.  I took the uneaten hummus and crackers I'd purchased the previous Friday and put it in my backpack before riding my bike to the beach.  I think I pulled off the socializing part pretty well.  I laughed, joked, and even flirted a little, but I have to admit, I didn't feel nearly as delighted as I appeared.  In fact, I felt nothing, neither pleasure nor pain.  I was numb, but no one seemed to notice, and that was fine with me.

My friend, Betty, had brought her portable karaoke machine, and we took turns making requests and singing.  When it was my turn, I sang Nellie McKay's, "Identity Theft," followed by the similarly themed "Fuck You," by Cee Lo Green.  Both renditions got nothing but applause.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Déjà vu

Sunday morning, I was laying in bed with my formerly estranged girlfriend, Faith, when her currently estranged husband, Dagwood, showed up at my door, all the way from Oakland, California.  I knew this would not end well.

"What should I do?" I asked Faith.  "Do you think if we wait, he'll just go away?" 

Faith shook her head, "No, he won't."  Her beautiful face was hard and her eyes were dark and calculating.  "Let's just get dressed and let him in."

"Do you think that's wise?"

"It’s the only thing to do.  It would be much worse to have him lurking around downstairs.  God, I hate that smarmy, slimy man.  He is like a cockroach.  When you think you’re finally rid of him, here he comes again."

As if to emphasize the point, the door buzzer began to ring nonstop.  Faith pushed "Talk" on the intercom and shouted into it, "Wait a goddamn minute, will you, Dagwood?" Then she grinned at me.  "He hates it when I take the Lord's name in vain, which is exactly why I do it."

How she could grin at a time like that, I had no idea, but where I felt stressed, like there was a noose about to be tied around my neck, she seemed as untroubled as if we were going for a lakeside picnic.  "Listen Sissy," she said to me, fully serious, "I know I've given you plenty of reasons not to trust me in the past."

Talk about your understatements.  As recently as two days before, she'd admitted to having secretly read my journal.

"I really need you trust me right now when I tell you that I love you, and only you," she went on.  "You are the only person I have ever cared about, and I want to spend the rest of my life with you.  Can you please believe me?"

"Yes," I said, and I wish I could have sung it.  We kissed, long, hard and deep.  As though Dagwood could guess what we are up to, he rang the buzzer again, but only once.

"OK, let him in," Faith said. 

"Should I have a weapon of some kind handy, just in case?”

She laughed at this.  “No, Dagwood is way too cowardly to try anything physically abusive.  That is not his strong suit.  He lives through mental intimidation, and he’s a master at it.”

Encouraged by her sincere seeming profession of love and armed with new confidence, I buzzed Dagwood in.

When I opened the door, I expected to find some cowardly, skittering human cockroach outside.  Instead, I was faced with the most gorgeous man I had ever seen outside of a GQ magazine.  He looked sort of like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, only with his good looks marred by a sneering swagger, that masqueraded as strength.

“You’re Sissy, huh” he said in greeting, looking me up and down – mostly down, since he was over six feet tall.  

Without waiting for my reply, he strode past me to face Faith, who was sitting impassively on the couch.

“Well, I hope you’ve finally got this lesbian thing out of your system.”  I had no doubt that I was the lesbian thing to which he was referring.

“Now, wait a minute…” I began

He glared at me.  “No, you wait.  Can’t you see this is between a man and his wife?  Oh wait, this is Illinois.  You people don't have the right to get married.  Well I have the right, so just keep quiet?”

He turned back to Faith.  “You know, if you weren’t so stupid, you’d be dangerous,” he said, picking up her cell phone from the table and showing it to her.  "Didn’t you realize how easy it would be for me to crosstrack any number you dialed, not to mention the built-in GPS?  Sure you did, because sinners like, you always secretly want to get caught."

"Listen, I don't care who you are.  You are not going to speak to her like that.  Not in my place," I warned him, with a glare that I hoped was a menacing as my mood.

Dagwood looked around, visibly unimpressed by his surroundings.  "You're right, Miss Van Dyke.  This is your place.  So you just stay in it.  I'm going to take my wife home."

"She's not going anywhere with you."

"Oh you think she's going to stay here, with you?" Dagwood laughed.  "You obviously know nothing about me if you think I would let you and her raise my child."

Here, I saw Faith visibly start.  Dagwood smirked.  "Did you really think that your girl, Shirley, was your friend? She has been up on my jock since we got married.  Of course, as a Christian man, I wouldn't give her that chance.  But, she could not wait to come to me with your little secret as soon as she heard that you'd run off."

"What if I have an abortion?"  Faith asked, simply.

Dagwood dismissed the notion with a wave.  "Sister, please!  You and I both know you want a child too badly to do any such thing just to spite me.  And you know me.  You would never get to keep it."

Faith broke down at this, hiding her face in her hands.  I went and stood beside her on the couch, resting my hand on her shoulder, and I could feel her body trembling with sobs that almost sounded like hysterical laughter.

Dagwood checked his watch.  "OK, let's get out of here.  I've got a cab waiting in the alley, and we're booked on a two o'clock flight to Oakland."

Faith didn't say anything, just nodded her head slowly, her face streaked with tears.  She picked up her coat and overnight bag, that had been sitting unused at the end of the couch since she'd arrived Friday evening. 

Dagwood smirked at me, and took Faith's arm.  Since he had set out to fetch her, he obviously had not considered for a moment that he would return home empty handed.

I stood stunned, swept up in the wave of déjà vu.  The only difference being that the last time she'd walked away from me, it had been on her father's arm.  Unlike the previous time, however, Faith turned in the doorway and looked at me.  Instead of grief, I saw that her face was lit up with an enormous grin.  "I'll be back," she mouthed silently and winked.  Then, she was gone.