L to R: DJRang (Ranganathan Rajaram), DJTurbinator (Montek Singh), Saleem Reshamwala, Jeetu Singh. Photo by IWP Photography.
Friends: the second installment of New Suns is HERE.
It’s about an Indian dance party in Durham that’s so good, it forces a new definition of U.S. pop culture.
It wouldn’t have been written without my patrons. Wanna be one? ;) Just a dollar or two once a month, and you get behind-the-scenes dishing, extra video and audio, and hand-written postcards from abroad. Sign up here. <3
Photo: still from Game of Thrones, Season 4 Episode 8, “The Mountain and the Viper.”
When I was in South Carolina, I sat down with Jenny Colvin for an interview that’s become one of my favorites of all time. We talk about the magical air in Belize, what theatre can do that literature can’t, and why I adore watching Game of Thrones—and, almost as much, watching other people watch Game of Thrones.
Jacaranda trees in Addis Ababa. Photo credit: renzo59, Flickr.
I made two mistakes in The Girl in the Road that will be corrected in future editions. One is minor, the other isn’t.
The first mistake was saying the purple-blooming trees in Addis Ababa are “hyacinth trees.” I somehow got that word stuck in my head while I was there—it might have been a mishearing or misunderstanding on my part—but they’re actually jacaranda trees (and SOOOO pretty!).
The second mistake is when Meena is describing her trans lover, Mohini, on page 19: “Mohini, by the time I left, had fully changed into a woman with woman-parts,” and on page 159: “We had sex as woman and man only once.” I could say that these sentences actually show Meena’s lack of savvy, but the truth is, that’d be really out of character for her. It’s on me. At the time I submitted my final manuscript, I still didn’t fully understand that gender and genitalia had no correlation, and that the words used to describe a person should be the ones they choose. Mohini was always a woman and Meena always knew the right words for her. Most of the book reflects that, but these sentences don’t. Mohini was never a boy, just like the jacaranda tree was never a hyacinth tree.
Thank you to the reviewer who mentioned this. I think she was on Goodreads. I know some authors are like “STET!” on anything they publish at the time of publication, but I want to honor the fact that writers mess up and learn better—in my case, thanks to Janet Mock, Keffy Kehrli, Laverne Cox, and so many others—especially when it concerns such an important moral and human rights issue. The words we use matter.
Image: From My Only Sin is Being a Woman, by Belizean artist Briheda Haylock.
My first NEW SUNS column is out. It’s about lushness in art, tourist gaze, and feather collecting. It’s about the badass corps of Belizean artist who are turning their world upside down, forcing new orbits and new centers of gravity. They’re talking about LGBT youth, domestic violence, gender construction—all new territory in a conservative pop culture. They’re forcing their country to listen. They’re creating their future.
And writing about them was made possible by my patrons. Intrigued? Join here. Patrons get all kinds of goody extras, including behind-the-scenes dirt and postcards from abroad.
Writing this piece was deeply instructive. The funny thing is, while I was writing, I kept casting about for points of reference and sources of authority. How to justify writing about THESE stories and not others?—and I’d gravitate toward Belize being English-speaking, or being a favorite of USian retirees. In other words, falling into the exact same white-proximity traps of “justification” and “newsworthiness” I observed as a freelancer all the time.
So, funny thing: I’m still finding my own orbit, too.
Thanks to those of you who are helping me.
Hier ist mein Roman auf Deutsch. Ich liebe das Bild—die Wasser und der Himmel, es ist wie der Mond. Meine Großmutter war von Deutschland, oder ich soll sagen, ihre Familie. Ich will denken dass sie ganz stolz ist.
Und jetzt, ich stoppe. ¡Es muy dificil, recordando mi alemán, pórque mi mente tiene solo español ahora!
(P.S.: Google Translate is your friend. It is mine, constantly. :))
This year, I made a New Years Resolution to wear all of my dresses in public at least once and document them, or I had to get rid of them. I’m happy to report that PROGRESS IS GOOD. Here‘s the full album to date.
However, there are issues. First, I’m behind pace, as I’ve only reached the halfway point now. Second, I’m starting to forget which ones I’ve worn, and accidentally repeat (case in point: #16 and #51). Third, I’ve gone through all the “normal” dresses now, and it’s just going to get weirder and weirder from here on out.
Residents of Durham: CONSIDER YOURSELF WARNED.
I shared my balcony with wasps for three years, peacefully. It never occurred to me to get rid of them because they never bothered me. I liked watching them come and go on their errands while I read or wrote. We were co-working.
Then one night last week, I was getting up to go inside, and put my foot down right on a cluster that had fallen, and got stung to kingdom come. The wasps went crazy. Two of them flew into my apartment. While my friend took care of those (with a copy of The Ethical Slut, no less), I put ice on them, washed them, daubed a traditional Belizean ointment on them, took two Advil and an antihistamine, and by the time I went to bed you couldn’t even tell where the stings were.
I felt like some unspoken treaty had been violated. I got a can of Raid. When I used it for the first time, the jet startled me so much I almost dropped the can. Wasps flew in every direction like fireworks. I hurried back inside and closed the door. But I could see them writhing on the ground.
Now everything is quiet.
I was out there, just now, and saw a single wasp fly in, as if to check whether anyone was home. No, nobody home, the nests are empty. She flew away again.
I feel bad.
This is the closest shot I could get of the main cluster. Somehow it resists the focusing action of my smartphone camera, like a scattering glamour.