Where can we find your work?
Oh! You can find a lot of it on The Establishment.co, a site I co-founded—holy moly—about two and a half years ago. There’s also a lot of my non-fiction writing on Ravishly—which I co-founded around 2013. I’ve also done a lot of local journalism work here in the Bay on the SF Weekly and the East Bay Express. And because it’s all just a lovingly shameless lady-plug situation around here, there’s also a short film—Puppets—I produced with one of my collaborators Rossella Laeng about an aging master puppeteer, which won Documentary Super Short this summer at the Chain Film Festival in New York. (We got the laurels and everything!) I’m also the lead singer in a very scrappy rock band—The Shattucks—which is basically three of my closet pals and a wonderful randomer (now dear pal) who lays down bass, just getting weird with one another and playing our favorite hot jamz from Bowie and ’90s grunge. I’m also working on a queer rock opera adaptation of Pygmalion; this is a project I’ve literally been wrestling with since graduate school, something like 6 years now. The story haunts me and bringing it to fruition in this particular manifestation—confronting the sexual violence, the role of art in rendering men as demigods, the potent catharsis of music—is like a host of thrumming insects in my chest. I’ve got to finish it and get it out there.
I am woman who often feels—and is told—that I am too much—so the dream of my sex writing is that it emboldens other women to be big and bright and unrelenting in their pursuit to be seen and heard and celebrated.
What part, if any, do you think art plays in times of political duress?
Oh god, oh god, this is something I always ask artists and I always feel badly because it’s such a doozy. In short? Yes, yes yes, I believe that art can serve as a vital catalyst for social change. Not only does its creation lance psychological blisters for the creator themselves, allowing them to process their fear, rage, disillusionment, sense of betrayal—a purging of pain which I believe is necessary to keep fighting—but it emboldens others to create as well.
Beyond the cyclical beauty of that almost archetypal dialogue between creator and consumer, art is subversive. It perverts and undermines and complicates and takes aim at the hierarchies that dominate our life and sense of collective self-worth. It also urges us to slow down, to foster revolution using a different kind of urgency, an urgency that isn’t necessarily swift; by engaging in something seemingly superfluous, I am reminded to slow down. It sounds trite, but life is relentless—it asks so much of us—so allowing yourself to linger in creation, to allow the consideration of a painting, a poem, a lilting melody, is no small gift. It reminds us that our individuality is worthwhile—our thoughts and self-expression are tools of insurrection, but if we never give them the time of day…they’ll rust and corrode and become useless.
The Establishment really has grown into a incredible community—a place where people cross-pollinate their genius and rage and find ways to hold one another up and keep fighting the fight. And certainly we’re not the only ones doing this work—we stand on the shoulders of so many—but joining that chorus has been amazing. I’m so thankful for it.
I was living in my first Brooklyn apartment with my best friend from boarding school and had taken Itty—our very old, blind, and almost mute cat from my childhood. I thought she could just live out her days sleeping on my very ugly plaid sofa alongside me in my fledgling adulthood. Instead, the first night we move in—we’re drinking bodega champagne from plastic flutes—Itty starts moaning…loud. Then louder. Then she’s HOWLING. Blood is dribbling from her eyes and matting her face fur. She is in agony. Something snaps inside me. I gently lift her in the bathtub—blood is everywhere, streaking across the white porcelain—and I find a hammer from the living room. I’m wielding the hammer, crying, hysterical, when my friend says, “No one is bludgeoning the cat in the bathtub tonight.”
She finds an all-night emergency vet and we spend a fortune on a cab, careening down the street with Itty inside a duffel bag screaming. The cab driver asks what’s happening. “My cat is dying…she kind of exploded,” I choke out.
Itty was cremated and I never collected her ashes, it made me too sad. But now I know it’s even far, far sadder that she was thrown away. I should have faced the urn. And that’s what they call wisdom I guess.