EVERYONE KNOWS UTOPIA MEANS NO PLACE
I was a very poor impersonator of myself in public. —Pamela Lu, Pamela: A Novel
G wants to write about the leaking. G wants to write about how the boredom dribbles down from orifices, dripping off eyelashes, leaking down earlobes, making sticky black bubbles when G opens G’s mouth.
G only wants to write when G should be doing something else, like sitting in a seminar, like listening.
G sat in the grad-school seminar and, instead of listening, wrote about how the sticky boredom had flooded out and covered the classroom full of undergrads that were expecting to learn . . . something.
G had no idea what they would learn.
G had no idea what G had learned
G had learned it.
G wasn’t even bored though. G wasn’t even teaching today. G wasn’t even writing anymore. G was listening to learn something. G was asking too many questions without answers. G was sitting in a fiction-writing seminar really, really enjoying the sound of the teacher’s voice booming from the microphone and relishing that all of the jokes the teacher was making about everyone overheating on the ninety-degree day didn’t relate to G because G was sitting directly under the air vent. G was relishing in the fact that when G spoke up to point out that the details of the story didn’t add up, the teacher said, yes, some of us have a higher threshold for details than others; maybe you could have done with less.
But G could have more because G did not write fiction. G’s details always slid right into place. G always fits in right where G belongs.
G isn’t a reliable narrator though.
G isn’t in the fiction seminar;
G is the fiction.
G wants to know how high your threshold goes.
Is G sitting in a café thinking about how G’s keyboard keys aren’t as
nice sounding as C’s,
Didn’t click with the right click
or clack with the right clack,
And how that was really a terrible, terrible pity?
Is G a collection of personas
slipped on and off like a face mask in a coffee shop?
So very, very visible.
On Saturday, G went full J.
Slipping outside into the dark heat.
Sitting curled up in the wicker.
Waiting to be noticed, as if G was J and not twenty-seven.
As if G had remembered what it was like to lose voice.
And the story goes
that the lovely friends slide out the door in a ruckus.
And G says, go on ahead, friends, set up the shit, give me forty-five
seconds to lock, load, and slither back into the persona. Give me forty
five seconds to remember which G to be.
Is G preoccupied with the woman in the café who won’t shut the fuck up? This woman who had learned to project her voice through the whole space, who probably didn’t even think of words like streams, who probably couldn’t even slip or slither or slide into fifty personas and talked about African American patients as categories and groups and said things like:
Disadvantaged, dropping out, a can of worms to open, a discrepancy in her findings. The method didn’t change. The analysis changed because of
How it all came about.
Because, if we’re being real, the drip was never boredom. The stick was never a truly aloof nonchalance. It was never a city girl slurring her speech into the most uninterested sounds possible. Never something like:
Well, look at the idea I could even care,
just like always.
Because, if we’re being real here, mostly, G was scared. If we’re being real, mostly, G only wanted all the eyes when it took effort to hold them there. Because here and now and always, G believed only one thing. G believed that true freedom only existed where the tension between effortless and over-affective stung.
G wanted to scream, Please come to my class and talk about literature and show me what the hell I am doing!
I will teach your class how to spot the color of an essay or which soundtrack will make the words make more sense! I will remind them that now at night, it is cold enough to shiver for the first time in months! I will have them lay on the floor and scream their heads off! I will have them lay on the floor and scream their heads off in unison while the class next door wonders if they are missing out on all the fun or just lucky to be missing out!
But I cannot teach my class how to interpret literature! I cannot teach them how truth is variable, how a fiction can tell a truth, and a truth can tell a very, very convincing lie!
G wears a mask while they teach. I do not mean the mask of authority. I do not mean the mask of persona. The mask covers the bottom of G’s face, and they are grateful for it because they do not have to rip the hairs from their chin every day before class. They do not have to rip the hairs out of their face obsessively so as not to cry at being seen by so many eyes, all watching. G’s best friend had to teach last year when G was lazing their days away with a fellowship. G’s best friend got new front teeth today and is a great teacher, and she can do without teeth what G can’t even do behind a mask.
G is collecting best friends. This is not really a problem. This is only a problem in the way any story is, where we just need to keep things straight. This is only a problem because G believes that true freedom stings. This is only a problem because G doesn’t always know which G to be. This is only a problem because G is never straight. G is crooked. G is not a reliable narrator. G is never straight. G is fiction. G is fixated on projecting their voice throughout the room, straight through the walls. G is queer, and G is slipping and sliding; G is slithering out of 50,000 different skins. G is not a reliable narrator, and you can’t leave it all up to us to keep reminding you. G is collecting best friends, and G needs to keep the story straight, so G has to know which G to be. G is always open for applications; just write G up and say you have a wonderful new way to complicate G’s story, to make G ever more unintelligible. G promises they will respond promptly between the hours of noon and 4 a.m. Depending on if you are looking for a yes or no answer or would just like to hear G philosophize about a ceiling fan. G will not ask which you’re after, so we’ll all just have to wait and see what you get. One is endlessly more preferable than the other. I dare you to take a guess at which one this is. I guarantee you will either be lucky in the next room or wondering why you’d ever want to do more than miss out.
G has been screaming their head off. G is probably screaming now. G wants you to know that they are supposed to be writing, but all G can write about is how G can’t teach. All G can write about is how the boredom drips and dribbles down their faces. How G wants to be awake at 3 a.m., but their new meds make them tired for the first time in their life. How they make their bedsheets smell like cigarette smoke or laundry detergent or whoever else has been sleeping in them. How G drinks water from a Burger King cup and tries to feel hydrated even though they haven’t had water in going on three days, and how that’s never, ever bothered G. What bothers G is admitting it. What bothers G is having such a lack of control, and G thinks teaching is about control, and G is wrong about this, like G is wrong about so many things, but G still feels the lack the way G feels most things, painfully and sharply and in a way that makes G have to take pills that make G very sleepy, that make their bedsheets smell like cigarette smoke.
When G was an undergrad, a man let G hit his blunt while wearing lipstick because he thought the prints were aesthetic. What the fuck does that even mean? G dropped their cell phone seventy-two times that night. Dropped their cellphone so many times everyone involved felt ridiculous, and it wasn’t anywhere near haha funny. You know what G means by very, very visible, like their hands shaking. After, he lay in G’s bed and asked their favorite Kanye song, and G thought about how it is to be seen through lipstick and under bedsheets.
G doesn’t paint pictures that way anymore. Now, when G asks someone to enter their body, their hands are similar in shape to a prayer. Now, when G lies down, they just go to sleep.
G hates the word woman, cannot read anything seriously that deploys it too much. This has nothing to do with what the writing is about. This is because it makes G’s skin slither, makes G run off looking for another word, leaving only shed skins and fingernails bitten ragged. G needs another word for a lot of things, but G never needed another word for perform. G and performance are synonymous. G is on a tightrope and likes it that way. G is on a tightrope, and the air stings their skin, and the eyes will all turn if they do it just right. If G does it just right, G won’t have to worry that the birth of the teacher is the death of the author because the death of the author is the birth of the reader, and the birth of the reader is the birth of the writer, and the birth of the writer is the birth of the artist, and really G never needed another word for that anyway.