Filed under: "Can I Sit With You", Cindy Emch, Liz Henry, Michael Procopio, Queer Open Mic, Sarah Glover, SEPTAR, SJ Alexander, special education PTA
Our first-ever Can I Sit With You? event was a smashing success! Liz Henry, SJ Alexander, Sarah Glover, and Michael Procopio all read their stories from the Can I Sit With You? book. Then we sold a gazillion copies of said book. And then — in an act of generosity that would have gotten Shan teary even if she hadn’t knocked back two beers to combat severe stage fright — host (and CISWY author) Cindy Emch donated the entire night’s proceeds to SEPTAR! All told, we wrangled $400 for those adorable kids and their families and teachers. *Sniff*
If you didn’t have the good fortune to attend, check out our brand-new Flickr photostream for documentation. If you were there and took pictures, please link them up. And don’t forget to add us as a contact.
We gots the videos, too! (Please excuse the Cinéma-Vérité camera action. Again, there was beer.) Have a look at the excerpts:
Liz Henry reads from The Sex Change of Zyax II:
SJ Alexander reads from All’s Fair in Love and Mucus:
Sarah Glover reads from Love Hurts:
Michael Procopio reads from The Sound of Musicals:
Thanks again, everyone. More events and more authors will be coming, so if you couldn’t make this one, stayed tuned.
Filed under: book reading, CISWY News, Liz Henry, Michael Procopio, San Francisco, Sarah Glover, SJ Alexander, Three Dollar Bill
It’s the first reading for Can I Sit With You? It’s just all so darned exciting.
If you can make it in to San Francisco this Friday, January 25th we would love to see you at Vince and Pete’s Three Dollar Bill Cafe
Queer Open Mic
1/25/08 8pm $1 – $5
at Vince and Pete’s Three Dollar Bill Cafe
1800 Market Street • San Francisco CA, 94102
Come meet a few of the authors including Sarah Glover, Liz Henry, Michael Procopio and touring contributor SJ Alexander, who will each be reading.
A little bit about the Open Mic Night, from host Cindy Emch:
Queer Open Mic is a twice monthly gathering of poets, performers, writers and artists of all types to come together and share art. Proto-feminist and genderqueer in scope, QOM aims to combine raunchy enthusiasm, warmth and community, unapologetic queer, radical politics and sweet rhythms to create a space for spoken word, poetry and performance that is multi cultural, multi gendered, completely inclusive and dynamic. QOM is hosted by Cindy Emch and Mollena Williams. Please show up around 7:30pm to sign up on the open mic list. You’re encouraged to read one piece of work that is five minutes or less. And by encouraged we mean threatened with spankings, shoe throwings and general hilarious tantrums if you don’t follow the rules.
About the Performers:
Liz Henry lives in many intersecting communities, as a feminist, poet, translator, blogger, science fiction fan, queer & genderqueer writer, and computer geek. She’s had work published in Parthenon West, Xantippe, Lodestar Quarterly, Poetry Flash, Two Lines, Cipactli, caesura, other, Literary Mama, Strange Horizons, and has been publishing zines and little books since 1986.
SJ Alexander lives in Seattle, avidly follows the doings of Britney Jean Spears, and is a Kennedy Administration buff. SJ writes almost daily at “I, Asshole” online.
Sarah M. Glover is a recovering C.P.A. who lives and writes in San Francisco. She is currently using her young children as guinea pigs while manically scribbling away about ghosts and fairies. Hopefully, the scribbling will make it into a book before they leave for college.
Michael Procopio lives in San Francisco, but has yet to figure out the precise name of his neighborhood. He is a food blogger who dislikes the word “blogger” almost as much as he does the words “moist,” “classy,” and “slacks.” His likes include the drawings of Edward Gorey, Cotswold cheese, and the musical stylings of Jacques Brel. His websites are http://www.word-eater.blogspot.com, and http://www.kqed.org/weblog/food .
Both of my parents came to the United States with the hope of prosperity. My mother and father, both doctors, met each other in New York and shortly after, got married. I have one brother who is four years older.
I still vividly remember the first years of grade school with horror. Growing up in India, my mom always had long thick black hair that was made into two braids like Pippi Longstocking. So in turn, she dressed me the same way for school in the United States. It was difficult enough to have a different name than everyone else, let alone I was the only girl in first grade to have long thick black hair and two braids attached to my head. Let’s just say Pocahontas was my newly established name. All of the other first grade girls had simple and pretty names like Sarah and Julie. They had short blonde hair with cute barrettes and ribbons. I pondered time after time why couldn’t my mother see this? Was she blind? At that moment I didn’t want to be Indian, I just wanted to be a normal first grader. Every day I would beg my mom profusely, to please, let me have one braid. I would have done anything: eat my vegetables, do my homework, anything to get rid of the dreaded two braids. But no. Every day she would put those two ugly braids in my hair and off to school I would go.
I had one trick up my sleeve. As soon as I got on the big yellow bus to go to school, I would wrap one braid around to the other shoulder to give an illusion of one braid. It was pathetic, yes, I know, but all I wanted was to fit in so desperately. I remember one time in particular when I had school pictures. My mom, as usual, made two braids in my hair and even got a little fancy with pink sparkly barrettes and a little rouge on my cheeks. This time when I got on the bus, I got the courage to take out the braids completely. Finally, for the first time, I felt like everyone else. I took my first grade pictures confidently with my hair free and flowing.
A couple of months later my mom received my school pictures. She didn’t say much but the look is one I will never forget. It was a look of hurt and disappointment. A look of pain that only a mother could have. At the time I did not realize what the big deal was. I thought my mother’s goal in life was to make me miserable. What was the big deal if my hair was in braids or just let loose?
I am twenty-one now and I believe just recently, I have understood why this meant so much to my mother. The braids were meaningless, but the symbolism of them was everything. You see in my mother’s eyes her little girl was denying her culture. Every time I asked her to take out my braids it made her feel as if I was embarrassed of her and where we come from. My mother knew that over time I would lose certain parts of my culture but I don’t believe she thought it would begin so early. Perhaps this is why she held on to the braids. She wanted me to have piece of who she was. She never asked me to put the braids in my hair again, and to be honest I was not about to ask her to.
Today, I still have a tough time looking at myself as the world truly sees me. When I look at myself, I see me as I see everyone else around me; sometimes I forget that I am not Caucasian. I am Indian. No matter what I do I can’t run from it or deny it. Not even freeing myself from Pippi Longstocking and Pocahontas can help me run away from who I am. I am, and will always be, the little girl with long black hair and two braids. I will always have the name no one can pronounce, the name that stands out. There will never be a time when I can be the girl with blonde hair and blue eyes. I won’t have the family who drinks milk with their dinner and – I am happy for that. Even if I don’t look, act, or sound like everyone else, that’s okay. There comes a point in each person’s life when they can either use their differences as an advantage or be inhibited by those differences.
Never let adversity define your life.
Filed under: cheerleading, cliques, college, cruelty, friendship, junior high school, making friends, middle school, teasing
Age 12 at the time
The summer before the seventh grade, I received an unexpected phone call.
“Kari! It is Trisha! You remember me, right?”
The voice was friendly but the name was not familiar. I probably uttered a noncommittal, “Um… hi!”
“You mean you don’t remember me?” she asked, her voice a bit sharper. She didn’t wait for an answer, “We were, like, best friends in the third grade.” Her voice sweetened, “You remember… right?”
I refused to say “yes.” My best friend in the second grade had taught me not to lie. And in the third grade she told me music was of the Devil and as third-graders we had to be “mature.” Of course, we also had the Crazy Club in the third grade, and that wasn’t particularly “mature,” nor was being crazy particularly God-approved. I didn’t remember a “Trisha” in that mix.
I couldn’t say “yes,” but I also didn’t want to admit not remembering her if she could be a potential friend.
That best friend from the second grade moved on to a Christian junior high while I went through several public junior high rites-of-passage such as having a seagull take a shit on my head during lunch, being accused of stuffing my bra, and having my locker broken into: the shelves my dad had built for me were doused with graffiti and the cheerful pink striped wrapping paper I used as wallpaper now had, “Kari is a Pig-Nose” written between the lines.
(The Pig-Nose thing was pretty unoriginal, but that didn’t stop me from crying when a group of teenagers with their noses taped up high entered the frozen yogurt place where I worked a few years later. They specifically asked for me to serve their yogurt.)
In the sixth grade I ate lunch with a Chinese woman who wore her old school uniform, a shy Polish immigrant, a girl whose mullet stuck up in the front revealing heavy forehead acne, and a fickle, spacey seventh-grader who repeated the seventh grade. Eventually, Mullet Girl decided she was too cool for me, so I stuck with the folks who didn’t speak English.
If “Trisha” was real, maybe I would have a shot at a friend who was cooler than those others.
“Um, well, we must have been in different classes,” I finally said to the voice on the phone.
“Nope!” Again, the voice was super-cheery and expectant. “Look… I am moving back into the area, and I wanted to see if you would show me around.”
“Um, sure!” Finally I could answer in the affirmative. I could be bouncy, helpful, and friendly.
“Why don’t you meet me on the steps on the first day of school!”
“You better remember me by then,” she cautioned, and then laughed, “Bye!” Was that a giggle and snort I heard in the background?
I was skeptical and worried. If “Trisha” was pretty, she’d be snapped up by the “popular kids.” And if she wasn’t… well, then she’d be yet another person that I ate with because nobody else would.
The first day of seventh grade, I waited on the steps close to the location where eight months later I would overhear the football team telling their coach that if I made cheerleader they would all quit the team. I had made finals; they were panicking. I didn’t make cheerleader.
I waited for Trisha.
Perhaps there were giggles. Perhaps there were people hiding alongside a building, peeking out. But I didn’t notice them.
After the second bell, I ran to class. Of course I was late, but I hadn’t wanted to miss a potential friend. I didn’t want her to think I had stood her up.
That evening, she called, “Um, sorry. I couldn’t make it this morning.”
I promised to wait for her again the next morning.
Of course, nobody came.
The call that evening was, “Where were you? I waited for you!”
I knew she hadn’t arrived, had she?
I half-apologized, half-accused, “Well, sorry if you are real, but if you aren’t, stop bugging me.” I hung up without waiting for her response.
Fed up with public school life, I ended up at a private high school. But “Trisha” hadn’t forgotten me the way I had apparently forgotten her. That familiar voice phoned me shortly after my sixteenth birthday to inform me of a new dating service in the area. She didn’t identify herself as “Trisha,” but I am pretty sure it was the same person.
“No thanks, I have a boyfriend,” I shrugged.
The shock in her voice was noticeable, “Well keep us in mind for when he dumps you!” I heard plenty of snickers in the background.
Two years later, the phone rang. “We are from the premier dance academy in the country. We saw your most recent performance and are interested in having you apply to our school. To where should we send the admissions materials?”
This was a joke, right? Still, I couldn’t be sure, and I wanted to be polite, even if I had no intention of attending their school. I gave the voice my postal address.
A few minutes later, the phone rang again, “Oh, so sorry…” and then I heard a huge guffaw. The voice composed herself and shushed the peanut gallery, “It turns out that you are not the dancer we are interested in. There are many better than you. Best of luck with your college applications.”
“Actually, I’ve already been admitted to Brown University. But thanks for your well-wishes,” I responded. I knew their call was a joke, but my statement wasn’t a lie.
They called during the holiday break after my first semester of college to taunt me again with the fictional dating service. Fortunately, I was able to respond that their services were not necessary.
The next holiday break, the only calls were from my boyfriend.
I met a real “Trisha” years later. She is a gorgeous, thin, multi-talented woman. But she is also someone with a heart.
Mullet Girl is now quite beautiful and holds degrees in law and genetics. We are long-distance friends via holiday cards with occasional phone calls where I know the voice comes from a real person.
Christian Girl returned to the fold of our Crazy Club and we are now Crazy Mothers together.
Winter break is over and our kids are finally back in those lovely, wonderful schoolyards.
Now that we have half a moment, can we say how nice it is to hear that your list of New Year’s Resolutions includes writing a story for the second edition of Can I Sit With You, and poking your friends and family to do the same? Thank you. For our part, we promise to publish at least one story per week in 2008, starting Wednesday, January 9th.
If you have half a moment yourself, please check out Jen’s interview about the making of Can I Sit With You?, on Blooking Central.