On One Hand

November 30, 2004

New Pictures

Filed under: Uncategorized — ononehand @ 5:43 pm
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I took these pictures a while ago and just thought I’d give everyone an update on how I look, since my hair is growing out again. When I post pictures I get lots of comments, which is always good, and the surge of interest tends to carry over into the next few entries, which is also always good. So that’s why I’m posting these. Besides, I want everyone to know how good pushups have been going for me.

You’ve Got What You’re Looking For

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Chapter Seventeen

Filed under: Uncategorized — ononehand @ 1:08 am
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I got an A on my essay, the one that drifted drastically off topic, and believe me, I’m as surprised as anyone. The essay was for a GLBT literature class (it was more of a mini-essay than anything, only three pages long), addressing a book called Stone Butch Blues (Leslie Feinberg, 1993, 2003) about a very masculine lesbian-turned-transgender who works in a factory and organizes several strikes. (The novel also goes through her rocky relationships and experience with the butch-fem dichotomy in the bars in the sixties.) The book was great, but I thought my response drifted too far into politics and away from the literature. Evidently drifting is OK in literature classes; once for a Women’s Lit class I talked about why women writers are predisposed to suicide and insanity (it wasn’t as controversial as it sounds), instead of addressing Kate Chopin as I was supposed to, and got an A on that one too. Since I have nothing better to write right now I’m posting my entire GLBT lit essay here.

Matthew Pizzuti
LGBT Lit.
Essay on Stone Butch Blues.

Chapter seventeen of Stone Butch Blues describes a worker strike at an unsafe computer chip factory. Though Stone Butch Blues is a novel of gay and lesbian issues, chapter seventeen discusses workers’ rights more than anything pertaining exclusively to GLBT people, and draws both groups together. Like gay rights, workers’ rights are a part of a movement that was active during the time that the book was set, riding the wave of social reform that shook the entire decade in which it took place.

Today in the aftermath of the 2004 elections…

November 27, 2004

Thanksgiving

Filed under: Uncategorized — ononehand @ 12:41 am
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Thanksgiving was a hectic day: first my family and I drove up to my father’s parents’ home in Berthoud (a small town about 40 miles North of the Denver Metro Area), and then at three in the afternoon we drove back down to Westminster (A suburb of Denver) to be with my mom’s family for dinner.

My great Grandmother on my Dad’s side of the family is in the midst of Alzheimer’s disease. She was there at my Grandparents’ house, wandering around, oblivious and incoherent as usual. My father and aunt had gone to pick her up from the nursing home because we wanted her with us for the holiday.

Despite my great-grandmother’s condition, she still loves to talk. “I remember this time I, uh… oh… yes!” is something my great-grandmother might tell you. I’ve learned that when you’re talking to someone with Alzheimer’s disease, you have to be very in-the-moment. Hoping to hear what the poor woman is trying to tell you, you plead “Go on! What do you remember!?” but it’s already gone. “Oh, I forgot!” the old woman will say, smiling. The moment has passed, and you just have to let it go. Alzheimer’s is a sad disease, but I still think my family is lucky. Many people with Alzheimer’s are bitter, angry, and scared, making the long years very difficult for the sick person’s family. Great-grandma Shirley is, instead, in awe of the world, smiling at everyone who passes and telling people she just met how much she loves them. But the condition is hard on her daughter, my grandmother, who is terrified of getting the hereditary disease someday. You can see the frustration flash across my grandma’s eyes when my great-grandmother gets too confused. The small, bony woman with thinning hair will exclaim, “Oh, I love how you are!” grinning broadly, eyes lit up with childlike wonder. Her plump daughter, also showing her age, will shake her head solemnly, emphatically saying “terrible disease. Just terrible. Isn’t it?”

Since it’s only noon, Thanksgiving dinner is more aptly described as Thanksgiving lunch, and the winter sun is still streaming in on us through the big South-facing windows. Grandpa is talking about surgery, telling us he’s only had it three times in his life. “I had some sort of sebaceous cyst cut out here,” he says, pointing to the space behind his right ear, “and another here,” he points to his left. “And then,” he goes on, “when I was about three days old, they cut off about half of my tallywhacker!” He guffaws, pleased with his own joke, while I grin at how much it sounds like things I’ve said before. “Oh, Nick!” Grandma disapproves, but I still think it’s funny. Grandma Shirley, the one with Alzheimer’s, laughs along, but doesn’t know what she’s laughing at. “Oh, I just love this,” she tells us. “I get so lonely in the place.” She’s referring to the nursing home, where she lives in the special Alzheimer’s wing. “Nobody’s there sometimes.” We all look down with sympathy, ushering in an awkward silence. I poke at my salad, pushing a piece of limp lettuce around the plate in trails of oil and vinegar.

My grandmother pipes up to break the silence. “Angela!” she says to my sister, “Tell Lizzie (our aunt) about what you saw in the pool hall!” My sister smiles excitedly and begins her story. My sister has a new boyfriend and went to a pool hall with him a few weeks ago. She explained that on the wall of the pool hall was a picture of Clint, our cousin. Clint was Liz’s son, who died suddenly in a car accident a few years ago at age twenty-one, leaving his mother childless. I shake my head at the impeccably awful timing that put this story right in the middle of dinner. My aunt begins to cry, pushing her bite of mashed potatoes over to the side of her mouth, then reaches for her glass of water to clear herself. “Good,” my aunt whispers after swallowing, nodding her head. “I’m so glad they have a picture. That’s so sweet. Good.” Her eyes are still tearing up, but she’s smiling. Unlike the women on my mom’s side of the family, who sob sentimentally at so little as one of the kids reading a poem about being a vegetarian, my dad’s sister is very rarely emotional, so this is an unusual moment. “The picture wasn’t that good,” my sister goes on, a little too honest as she often is, explaining how Clint has a serious, angry look in his face. Grandpa calmly says “yes, that’s how they all look,” and we all laugh again, including Great-grandma Shirley, who still doesn’t have a clue what we’re laughing at. My family has suffered a few shocking deaths in the last few years and the poor old woman doesn’t understand who’s gone. “Where is that boy!?” she’ll sometimes ask, pointing at a picture of Clint or of my uncle David who died of HIV the same year Clint died. “I haven’t seen him in so long! Is he here?”

November 26, 2004

Filed under: Uncategorized — ononehand @ 4:20 pm
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I don’t know why I take it so personally when I see one person do or say something mean to another, considering that I’m not involved in the situation and don’t need to be butting in. But no matter what I do or say about what I see, I still feel as if I’m the one who just got dissed. Consider anything from the bad singers being ridiculed on American Idol to a gorgeous guy turning down a geeky girl in a cruel way on the street – when I see it I pause for a moment, nose slightly wrinkled, jaw slightly agape in an apprehensive hurt and disgust, then walk away as if having recieved a crushing blow to my ego. I always long to be in the place of the asshole, saying to myself if everyone loved me that way I would be so much nicer, and I always identify with the one who was turned away.

Maybe my problem is that for far too many years of my life I was the kid who always got picked last for the soccer team, and who, even if picked, got thrown off the team when a more popular person came out to recess because there were only so many slots. I never got to sit in the back of the bus with the cool kids, and never tried, and guys would tease girls by saying that I, the skinny girly guy, had a crush on them. I accepted the way things were and didn’t expect them ever to change. My social position was just another fact of life, like rainy springs or the flu – not anybody’s fault and probably never going to be any different. I eventually stopped hanging my head when I got spat on because I figured that’s just the way it is for the gay kid. I rarely got angry about it. It wasn’t humiliating to be low down if you accepted your place and stood in it. It was humiliating only if you thought you were worth something better, by running for student council or asking some attractive person for a date, putting the rest of the world in a position to tell you no.

All these years I assumed nothing would ever change. When things eventually did change, it was nice, but it never erased the pain completely. There’s still a part of me that flinches whenever I think of playing soccer.

I hate those communities on livejournal like “nonuglygayboys” or “toptenonlivejournal”. Even if I could get in there (and I honestly don’t know if I could or not; I know I’m much more attractive than I was in middle school but I surround myself with nice people in pereson who woudln’t tell me if I was ever shooting too high. I never get honest criticism, and offering myself up for cruel rejection is not a way to get that criticism) I don’t want to try. I just look at the fact that such a group exists and automatically feel rejected by it. I spend a lot of time in life trying to climb to the top of the social ladder so I can right things, assuming that it’s much easier to fix it from the top. But trying to climb also puts me in positions I don’t want to be in, so I shy away from all that. Ah, the connundrum of life. Maybe next time will be better.

November 24, 2004

Stories

Filed under: Uncategorized — ononehand @ 11:28 am

My mother’s side of the family is the big Catholic kind, the kind that oozes out to absorb anyone a current member marries. (RESISTANCE IS FUTILE: YOU WILL ASSIMILATE: WE ARE FAMILY.) We’re all Irish and Italian, and since neither cultural identity can dominate we’re pretty much all just culturally Catholic, or more accurately, Catholic-American. During holidays my mom’s brothers and sisters, parents, and in-laws gather in the living room of my Grandparents’ house while the kids play downstairs. Since I was fourteen I’ve gone with the adults, who are always telling stories. I love to hear the stories, and often provoke my aunts and uncles to bring old memories up, hoping I’ll catch one I haven’t heard yet. The three sisters aren’t aware of the way they compete with each other, wondering who can embarrass the others the most, while the brothers look on and laugh, sometimes adding stories of their own. Then my grandpa tries to seem intellectual and does a poor job, but his memory reaches back the farthest so everyone listens to what he says. We forgive him when he says something borderline racist, since he’s old, though occasionally I’ll use my college-educated liberal elitist laungauge to explain how he’s wrong, and then I feel like an ass for it. His life is more steeped in Catholic dogma than anyone’s (Irish Catholicism is much deeper and more guilt-ridden than the Italian Catholicism of his wife), and although he’s hardly religious anymore, every story that isn’t about coaching sports has a priest or nun in it. My grandmother, the matriarch, pipes in almost in tune with the three sisters, exaggerating more than anyone, but her exaggerations are amusing so we let them slip by. Most of the stories are about children.

Once when my two aunts were children, they formed a little trio with a friend from across the street. The friend’s family owned one of those old-fashioned, motorless mechanical push-lawnmowers that spun and cut the grass on human energy. (This is one of my favorite stories.) One day the three girls decided to play tag with the lawnmower, in a game that ended as quickly as one would imagine. One of the girls needed stitches in her heel and after that they went back to playing house.

From what I gather, the Moores were a wild bunch. Almost everyone in my family has that funny hypermetabolism gene that makes you ridiculously skinny (I have it too), so people in the old neighborhood used to wonder if my grandparents were having a hard time feeding five kids on a very limited income. (My aunts will tell you that they grew up poor, while my grandpa will vehemently disagree, but considering that my grandpa grew up in an Irish-American ghetto he’s judging poverty against different standards.) My uncle got in trouble with the law for the first time at age three, when he and his brother went around the block stealing gas caps off all the cars and were spotted by a police officer. This would be the first act of a long career in this sort of delinquent activity, and there are stories upon stories of my uncles’ run-ins with the nuns at St. Anne’s. The Presbyterians down the street were reluctant to let their kids play with the Moores who were Catholic – a reluctance that was only exacerbated by the family’s out-of-control appearance, mimicking all the Catholic stereotypes of the place and time. I can picture my mom and uncle as children, both redheads, freckled, with pale Irish skin and covered in dirt, recklessly racing down the street in their bicycles. The memory, which isn’t mine, is tinted in the grayish brown of old photographs and aged film. They came from a different time, a time when it was safe to let your kids walk across the neighborhood alone and you weren’t afraid they’d be kidnapped by pedophiles. The risk was probably the same then as it is now, but attitudes are different in the age of sensationalist news and fear of shadows. Now our paranoid parents keep their kids at home getting fat on Doritos and video games, which I would say is equally, if not more, dangerous, but feels safer and lets parents feel loved all the time by their increasingly disrespectful children.

I love holidays like Thanksgiving, meeting up with people I see every two weeks and acting like it’s an annual family reunion (“Matthew your hair is getting so long! wow,” “yeah, just like it was two weeks ago.”), where everything is funny even if it’s too stupid to be funny so we tell it again and again. We’re all very close, to the chagrin of my father, who sometimes feels suffocated in a closeness he didn’t grow up with in his own family, but they all love him and accept him into the family as one of their own. We tell the same stories again and again, and things that happened almost twenty years before I was born are burned into my mind and consciousness as an inseparable part of my own identity, as if I lived them. That’s what it means to be part of our family; that you care about these things, and as the children grow increasingly American, generations fading into the insignificance of being great-grandchildren of immigrants, the only hope of saving the stories is that they be written down. I guess that’s where I come in.

Thought of the Day

Filed under: Uncategorized — ononehand @ 1:48 am

I have seen some pretty shitty writers get into magazines *coughXYmagcough* and books and all sorts of media for publication. Inversely, I have read some pretty good writers in my creative writing class and other classes around school, and even in livejournal, and none of these writers are published. This validates an ongoing revelation I’ve had about life: sucess is much more about how you sell yourself than it is about actual talent or skill. Viva la meritocracy. To give more evidence for that opinion: I have this not-so-bright friend who was looking for a job a few months ago. (By not-so-bright I mean naive as all hell. We all kind of laugh at her endearingly, keeping her around because it’s funny what she doesn’t know. We once told her you can shove food up your butt and you’ll poop out your mouth, like in South Park, and she called back three days later, saying “OMG my boyfriend doesn’t BELIEVE you guys!” Another time we told her that if you fall asleep on a satelite dish people can see your dreams, and she asked where one might a satellite dish big enough to fall asleep on.) So a few months ago she was saying she woudln’t accept a job at Dillard’s because she wanted to work for “a company.” I replied, “Huh? Dillard’s is a company.” and she didn’t get what I was saying, telling me “No I mean a company.” I think by “company” she meant “office job.” She said she should be working for a company instead of a store because she “knows computers, like windows 95 AND 97, and can even type in Word and stuff as specialized as Power Point.” She added that whatever she doesn’t know she can learn from her boyfriend. I rolled my eyes and said good luck with that, as I always say when someone hopes for something crazy, thinking she would still be trying to get her coveted job at “a company” months or years from now. But lo and behold, she got a job as an insurance agent a week later. A damn good paying job, too. It wasn’t that she knew what she was talking about to get that job, since I figure she obviously didn’t know what she was talking about, but that she was so naiive and optimistic that she really sounded like she knew what she was talking about during the interview. And that brings me to my thesis: it’s all about presentation, more than anything else.

So if I want to be a writer (in addition to other things) I just need to insist that I’m good enough. My biggest challenge is to write something pertinent, since most of my blurbs and poems and thoughts and journal entries don’t fit what any magazines are looking for. “Send us your thoughs on weeping willows!” probably won’t come up in any medium any time soon. Next I have to actually figure out where to go to get published, and finally I have to go do it. I don’t have to be a good writer yet, I just have to present myself like I am. People will believe me. Besides, people tell me they like to read what I write; whether it’s high-quality writing or not they still enjoy it. So I need to figure out where to go and get started on it. I tried to get on the Campus Press (they take anybody) but that’s a first-come-first-serve organization and the newspaper staff was full. Now I’m on to specialty magazines and letters-to-the-editor, for now. This might take quite a bit of failed tries before I finally get through. I wish CU had a class on “how to get published: how the whole damn publishing system works and how to sell yourself into that system.” I’d be signed up in a heartbeat. It would be nice.

November 22, 2004

Sagittarius

Filed under: Uncategorized — ononehand @ 5:21 pm

Sagittarius came in today, moving in as Scorpio moved out, and I hardly felt it. Scorpio can be a hard season. It’s the season of disillusionment, the revelation of deeper truths to shatter what you believed in before. It comes to detriment of image, of ego, of whimsical optimism, of pride, materialism, and a false sense of freedom.

I saw myself on a video camera the other day, which is usually humbling. You see yourself in a video, you think, my nose looks like THAT?! and my voice sounds like THAT?! and my clothes fit like THAT?! and THAT’s how I walk?! You realize all the things you can’t see through your own eyes. Worst of all is how your face looks from the side. I only see myself head-on in the mirror, with the yellow tinted lights shining down flatteringly from overhead. From that limited perspective I look pretty good. But of course that’s not how most people see me. Not that I care.

Scorpio’s revelations can be good or bad, but since the ego tends to elevate the self rather than depress it, Scorpio leads to insecurity and disappointment when you haven’t had time to accept what you just found to be true. Oh fuck, do I have to lower my standards?! you wonder, unhappy with the likelihood that this is true. My writing took a hit from Scorpio, as did my sense of style.

So what does Sagittarius bring? Like I said, today I hardly felt a change. After I looked at my phone and realized the date I thought I might have felt different, but one can suggest oneself into any illusion, especially when the disillusioning season of Scorpio is over.

Sagittarius is supposedly an adventurous sign (I hope so – I’ve been so bored) and compatible with my own energy. It’s creative and forward, strong, idealistic but not ideological, and philosophical. I’m looking forward to it.

To change the subject, my dad asked me to review his cover letter for a job application yesterday. He’s dissatisfied with his current job working in the environmental department of a utility company. As the environmental auditor, his job is to monitor the compliance of all the plants and buildings that the company owns, ensuring that they fulfill environmental standards set by the government. His position exist in hopes that the company won’t be fined for breaking the rules. My dad catches problems before the government can: his position exists based on government-driven economic incentive. But as the only one in his office that actually understands why environmental regulations are in place (the average economics major knows approximately SHIT about environmental science) he catches a lot of flak for telling people to do their jobs the right way. The formerly Colorado-owned utility company merged with a Texan company and then a Minnesotan company, laying off employees and cutting benefits each time. His department was flooded with conservatives in the last merger and my dad talks about being the only Democrat there (I’m not completely certain but I gather that there are about forty people working in his office). His co-workers call him a hippy, which I think is absurd, because c’mon now, this is my DAD. He is NOT a hippy. He’s hardly left of moderate. He’s much more conservative than I am, and I’m not even that liberal.

Since the utility company’s retirement prospects are retreating faster than my dad is aging to catch up to them (when he got hired over twenty years ago the company was considered one of the best in the state for retirement and benefits, and he would have been able to retire by now if it weren’t for the perpetually retreating retirement requirements. I consider that sort of a breach of contract in a way, but it’s all legal), my father decided he’d rather work for the public instead, and is applying to be environmental auditor for the Jefferson County Public Schools. That’s where I come in. My dad asked me to look over his application for him. I thought it was odd and cute that he would ask me. Three years ago he was helping me edit my stuff for school assignments, now it’s the other way around. “Wave your magic wand,” my dad told me; an endearing comment he’s uses whenever he has me edit something and is always surprised when I have a page completely rewritten in ten minutes. “Wave your magic wand,” heh: I want to ask if he’s trying to call me a fairy, but I won’t. It would be a cute joke but it would make him uncomfortable.

Filed under: Uncategorized — ononehand @ 5:05 pm
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I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror today. Pale, bloodless white skin and reddened eyes, swollen with disappointment. Unshaven, crude dark stubble standing out unkempt. Hardly the beacon of youthful charm I’d hoped to be. Hardly the beacon of life and hope and friendship and all the happy things I wanted.

Outside the night is glowing, white with city lights reflecting back down on on the world from far, far up high in the depths of the sky, by a million snowflakes working their way downward. They’re slowly drifting down to cover a sad Earth with a blanket of ashy forgetfulness, wiping the world clean, clean and white, white and cold.

November 19, 2004

Drag Night

Filed under: Uncategorized — ononehand @ 12:18 pm
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Last night the gay frat at CU put on a drag show at a small club/bar in Boulder. The Yard is a small queer hangout place distant from campus, and has a comfortable, cozy, aged feeling to it. For my part I kept tickets in a bucket for a raffle drawing later in the evening.

There were quite a few old people there, who had a right to be there because the Yard is, after all, usually their club (the young kids take the busses down to the bigger clubs in Denver). I was thinking what a terrifying prospect it is to be a fag and old. I saw the older men sitting up on the high bar stools, chins tilted toward the bar in their gray hair, thinning ponytails and combovers, looking so lonely. They eyed the younger guys descreetly and jealously, either wanting or wanting to be. I felt sorry for the older men. I wanted to hear their stories. But I didn’t want to be molested, so I sat in a chair near the seating area away from the bar and dilligently tore tickets.

“Well I’m sure I’ll be married by the time I get that old,” a friend told me when I brought up my concerns. “I hope so,” I replied, speaking for both of us, “but I’m sure they once hoped so too and look how it turned out for them. Not too many gay people actually couple for life.” He said that our generation might be the one to change that. I said I certainly hoped so, speaking for both of us.

It’s not so much old age that scares me as it is that aging is a one-way street. If you got to be old for a while then young for a while, I might feel differently. If there is any truth to reincarnation than I guess you WOULD get to be old for a while then young, but I don’t know for sure if I believe in reincarnation. I just know that once you’re old, you don’t get younger; you’ll have to be that way until you die.

The drag show whas a hit. The small bar was packed solid, with probably around two hundred guests, leaving me wondering if we were violating a fire code regulation. Everyone was there. I saw people I went to high school with, who I never even spoke to during high school and hadn’t spoken to since, having no idea that they weren’t straight. I saw my sociology professor from my freshman year in college. I saw the former resource officer from a high school near the one I grew up in, who I had seen in the scene many times before. His story is interesting because even in my own highschool there were rumors that the popular resource officer at the other school made out with a guy. I was skeptical until saw him at a gay coffee shop, where he gave me his number, and then I found him in an old 1993 yearbook from my own highschool (I was still a senior at the time, with access to old yearbooks as a member of the SLHS newspaper staff) as a graduating senior. I don’t remember if he was prom king or if he was student council president, but he was one of those in 1993.

After the drag show everyone danced for a while. I tried to flirt with someone I thought was cute but did a bad job of getting the message across, to shy to really get the message across. But I enjoyed flirting nonetheless. Then we were warned of an accident outside, the bartender telling us we would have to go out the back way since the street was blocked.

Christine came and told me when we were on our way out. “Did you hear what happened?” she asked, a serious, wide-eyed expression on her face. “Yeah, about the accident?” I asked, blowing it off as a normal thing. “It was a hit and run,” she told me. “Somebody hit a pedestrian crossing the street and then drove off, and they think the guy who got hit is probably dead.”

I freaked out for a second when she said that. How easily could that have been me? How stupid would my fears of being an old man be if I died right now at nineteen getting hit by a car? When I think of death I think of getting cancer, being bedridden for months with a terminal disease, scared of the prospect of death but making peace with it nonetheless. I don’t think of a flash of headlights, screech of brakes, and everything going black. I hope it was nobody I know. The yellow police tape was visible from the door of the bar outside, cops everywhere, two or three cars pulled over getting DUI’s, pedestrians solemly making their ways to their vehicles to go home, stars brightly shining: Perseus and Gemini, red and blue lights flashing.

November 17, 2004

Whispers

Filed under: Uncategorized — ononehand @ 11:25 pm
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So this guy has the sexiest – THE sexiest – whisper voice in the world. It’s not so much sexy in the instant-hard-on way as it is in a tired-and-happy-as-your-heart-bubbles-up-through-your-chest sort of way. I’m not sure if it’s this guy’s voice that gets me so good or if it’s whispers in general. Though quiet, a whisper adds incredible power to a spoken word. It gives speech a sense of honesty, of affection, of go-for-the-throat intimacy, a tone of confidence and trust. Whispering makes you want to cut the crap, saying only what’s most important to you.

We had a whole conversation that way; just whispering. The dopamine levels in my brain were through the roof. We talked about our lives, about what we wanted. We talked about marriage and love. He asked if I’d keep my last name or take my lover’s, and I said I couldn’t give up “Pizzuti,” which is so epitomic of my personality and character. He said he’d give up his name in a heartbeat. He thinks that it’s interesting that I want a family and kids, saying something to the effect that it would be scary for him to let someone like a lifelong partner or a child – a person who has so much power through your love for them that they can kill you with rejection – into his life. He said he was terrified of loving that way. I said I was terrified of not loving that way.

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