Healthy decision-making

Until I find a therapist willing to call me on my bullshit, I've decided to quit therapy and instead passively post YouTube videos that summarize my fleeting emotions at YOUTUBEMOODRING.

I'm half-joking, which means I'm half-not.

You're welcome.

Tricky Martin, Psychic Friend

I dug up this letter today. It's a 2005 psychic prediction from my friend Mateo:

"Most of the sad patches are over for you. Your mission is to not become a big hard shell. It's your blueprint for yourself. You are testing your own mettle and it seems sucky but apparently you are reaching your spiritual goal early in this lifetime, which means more time for the good stuff. In February you will have a REALLY AMAZING connection that will open a major door for you. You won't know it when it happens but its like flicking on a switch and having the light come on a couple seconds later. You will have a Homer Simpsonesque comeuppance so don't forget your friends. You won't stay the year in California and that is a good thing in the long run."

Mateo had all this telepathy shit going on and he loved to cold-read his friends. Some loved it, others were afraid. I always looked forward to his prediction letters. The 3 AM phone calls with urgent messages from my dead mother? Not so much. I'd be like, "Mateo, can't you turn that that shit of sometimes?" and he's just mutter No, like he couldn't believe I had the nerve to ask.

As usual, his 2005 predictions were correct. I did leave California before the year ended. I broke up with this amazing person I considered the great love of my life for someone who sparkled a little louder. I'll call them Big. Big, I'd decided, was the real great love of my life. We actually just said fuck everything and ran away, knowing there was no safe way out, no net to catch us. We'd both survived so much trauma that nothing seemed scarier than boredom. Big and I ran some scams, bought a tiny pop-up camper, and left Oakland forever. And we couldn't stop moving. We skipped sleep so we'd never miss the next big thing. And when you have two traumatized queer hedonists with questionable values scamming their way across the United States, it's really just big thing after big thing.

Big and I passed through Chapel Hill on our way to a non-scandalous political action. Chapel Hill is where I introduced Mateo to Big. Twenty minutes into our meeting, Mateo dragged me out the door and down the street. He was shivering.

"If you don't get away from this person quickly you're going to die. I'm not fucking around, Nikki." 

"Shhh," I said, worried that Big would somehow hear us from the apartment a block away. See, Big had anger issues. And what made Big the most angry was when someone other than Big told me what to do.

The Big thing is a whole other story, man. One day.

I fell out of touch with Mateo, and everyone else I loved, soon after we left. Big and I got a place in a new city. Big ordered me not to tell anyone where we'd moved or what we were doing to stay alive. I fended off those pesky calls from Mateo, who'd always demand I go somewhere alone to talk to him. He didn't understand that I was never alone. Big didn't let me go anywhere without them. When Big was home I had to do what they were doing. If I tried to get out of bed as they slept, they'd wake up and... oh wait, a whole other story.
One night, Big passed out on the kitchen table in the middle of screaming at me. I took that opportunity to check my email. There was a long one from Mateo, detailing everything he knew was happening in our apartment. He had it all mostly right, and there was no way he could have heard about it from anyone else.
So yeah, the 2005 prediction letter. That whirlwind began in February and ended in May 2007. I can't say I had a "comeuppance" but I did check way out, and I did forget about my friends. Including Mateo.


Mateo and I met in 1999 but didn't grow close until 2001. When I met him he was TRICKY MARTIN, a young Cubano drag king living in the deep south. He was a Virgo, a prolific zinester, and an avid collector of autographs from the casts of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and everyone's favorite sci-fi daytime soap opera Passions.

These are some of my favorite autographs from Mateo's collection. I wish I could share them all, but most were written to a name he stopped using some time ago. That's why you are not seeing my favorite of them all, which is obviously David Duchovny as Special Agent Fox Mulder.

Bea Arthur
the cast of Passions

autographed photo of siegfried and roy with white tiger
pre-attack siegfried and roy

In addition to bonding over a bunch of things I could never type here, we also bonded over Freestyle music, which set the soundtrack to both of our childhoods--his in Miami, mine in Jersey City. Our mutual love for Cynthia and Johnny O led us to marathon hangouts, copious pot-smoke, road trips, shit talk, and getting caught drinking at riot grrrl conventions. I crashed on his couches so many times that each of his apartments felt like a second home, even with years between visits.

Mateo introduced me to karaoke when I visited him and his at-the-time partner R in Memphis. We went to this weird lesbian bar called Madison Flame, to a karaoke night that kicked off when the summer sky was still bright. I think it was 2001. R and I climbed onto an actual stage to sing "The Boy is Mine" by Brandy and Monica to a crowd of 5 or 6 older butches in theater seats. Mateo sat by himself a few rows back, cheering us on. As we sung, we noticed our front-row butches sat tight-lipped and angry, arms crossed at their chests. At the last bridge, the butches stood up and started yelling, booing, giving us the finger, all of that. We stumbled through the final chorus and then, as we realized they'd been reacting to us because we were femmes singing about boys (oops! invisibility!), we changed the words to "The... Girl... is Mine" without missing a beat.

The butches cheered and we scuttled the hell out of there.


According to the internet, I sent Mateo this message full of references to one of his favorite songs, "Two-Way Freak" by Three Six Mafia, on December 23, 2013:
"So I'm listening to the soundtrack for CHOICES and I tried to find your number because I was going to send you these TWO-WAYS: 1. You was on my mind. 2. God damn 3. I wanna fuck. 4. What are you doing? 5. Who's beeping you?"

He called me that night and we talked for four hours. We caught up on gossip and he brought me to speed on his health issues. I was having health issues as well and it felt so good to talk to someone wasn't sick of my bullshit. 

We hadn't talked in over a year. I'd moved up to Portland, he was in Raleigh with his new husband. They had the type of relationship where they were up each other's asses all day, every day, and were still passionate. Like, the two were on fire for and about each other. No secret resentment, no underlying guilt or indebtedness, just powerful, heart-melting adoration. I never thought a love that close could be a happy love, and still, to this day, I've never known another couple happier than those two.
We talked about New Year's Eve plans, as the holiday was approaching the next week. We both planned on doing the same thing: Being our introverted earth sign selves, avoiding crowds to get stoned with our sweethearts. He promised to get started on my 2014 predictions a few days after the new year.

On New Year's Eve, Mateo texted me at 9:02 PM PT (12:02 AM his time):
"Happy 2014 Sweet Nikki! xoxo"
That night, at the very last minute, my girlfriend at the time went out with a friend instead of keeping our plans. I wasn't invited. Newly planless, I half-heartedly tried to figure out where my friends were and then settled into bed, feeling disposable. Mateo's text lit up my phone at just the right time.

The next morning, I randomly found a (physical) photo I took of his old cat Officer Friendly who had the worst fucking breath. Officer Freshbreath. And, according to the internet, I put it on Mateo's Facebook page on January 2nd. 

He never responded. And I never received his 2014 prediction letter.

Mateo and his husband died not long after I received that message. They died in their sleep, together. Their bodies were found days later in their bed. They were holding each other as they died, remaining entwined into the week. I'm told the physical death process wasn't painful for either of them, that they felt nothing but the sweetness evident in their sleeping position.

Their death wasn't intentional, but it happened. Mateo, Tricky Martin, my Psychic Friend, fell asleep with the love of his life and he's still sleeping.


I think about those 3 AM cold-reading phone calls when Mateo visits me in dreams. I understand the urgency now.  It's not like I can just turn him away. And though most of his dream-visits are just him singing Mellow Man Ace or Pajama Party, they feel like predictions. I'm hearing what he's saying and I'm paying attention. 

Last night was a doozy.
I got the message, my friend.
I'm on it. 

Local Crazywoman Cracks the PMDD Code

Check out my article about Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder on Medium. I'm new over there and have no idea what I'm doing.

What I do know is that a combination of magnesium, vitamin B-6, and vitamin D has literally saved my life. If you suffer from PMDD and don't know where to turn, give my lil' regimen a try.

youtube as a mood ring

i just realized that if someone were to somehow find my youtube history, they'd learn every single thing there is to know about me

sleeping with the dictionary

by harryette mullen

every time i read this poem i fall deep for language like it's the first time.

if you love the dictionary and aren't familiar with mullen's work, buy yourself a copy of Sleeping with the Dictionary (the book that houses the above poem of the same name) RIGHT NOW.

from UC Press's description of the book:

"Harryette Mullen's fifth poetry collection, Sleeping with the Dictionary, is the abecedarian offspring of her collaboration with two of the poet's most seductive writing partners, Roget's Thesaurus and The American Heritage Dictionary. In her ménage à trois with these faithful companions, the poet is aware that while Roget seems obsessed with categories and hierarchies, the American Heritage, whatever its faults, was compiled with the assistance of a democratic usage panel that included black poets Langston Hughes and Arna Bontemps, as well as feminist author and editor Gloria Steinem. With its arbitrary yet determinant alphabetical arrangement, its gleeful pursuit of the ludic pleasure of word games (acrostic, anagram, homophone, parody, pun), as well as its reflections on the politics of language and dialect, Mullen's work is serious play."

actually, buy everything harryette mullen has ever written because it's all perfect and she deserves your entire paycheck a thousand times over

come on, get it! by Fred Moten

A newish poem by Fred Moten, in collaboration with Thom Donovan, Malik Gaines, Ethan Philbrick, and online sources. Featured in Feb. 19 edition of The New Inquiry.
"2. Is bewilderment an expression or a refusal of the epistemic? Is bewilderment in line with other notions—such as techne or doxa—that are said to deviate from the epistemic? Or is it something like the unconscious, or the aesthetic, that might be best characterized as deviant within the epistemic? Is coloniality, or modernity, the episteme of the episteme, where the constrained motion of from and within indicate a common terroir, the general field of scientificity, which is space time itself, produced and then discovered?"

i'm not thirsty daddy i'm hungry

i sit on the floor and aim the remote, press down down down down until a lion chewing through a deer’s neck nabs my attention. the lion’s beard is foam and blood as he sucks the fight from his catch. the deer’s head surrenders and its face, now half-missing, shows solace. its hind legs kick the sky like a dog dream until they, too, concede. the lion tires of red-wet meat and maybe, just maybe, i get hungry. i get hungry, maybe, and i plan menus in my head: bones tossed in blenders, crushed like ice. livers coated in sand. i hadn’t felt hunger since you left and now i salivate.

the killing time, unwillingly mine

"in starlit nights i saw you,
so cruelly you kissed me
your lips a magic world
your sky all hung with jewels.
the killing moon
will come too soon.
up against your will
through the thick and thin
he will wait until
you give yourself to him"

perils of solo-rolling

this winter i wrote 89 pages of a novel but then trimmed it to 37. the page count then grew to 58, down to 7, up to144, and then plateaued around 46. the story became so real to me that two prominent people in my life asked me to throw it away. i'd frozen over in the real world. my whole heart became tied up in fictional characters, especially one. i fell for her, maybe. can you think of anything more narcissistic than falling in love with someone you created?

i scrapped the story mere weeks after scrapping relationships with everyone who begged me to do so. my story is dead and my love is dead, i killed her. i do better on my own. i do better on my own. i do better on my own. say something enough times and it becomes real. that's how affirmations work.

i do wish i could hire someone to go through all of my half-written works, tell me which are near-done, brood menacingly over my shoulder as i shape them into stories, and then submit the finished pieces to publications on my behalf. i'm tired. i have two jobs and a wobbly, walled-off heart.

Leonor Fini

Leonor Fini was an Argentine artist whose work reflects preoccupation with dreams, Jung, Freud, feminity as power, sexual tension, and the psychic synergy of woman and cat. She was disguised as a boy for the first seven years of her life to avoid kidnapping. She learned to draw bodies by hanging out in morgues.

Fini went blind as a teenager, but later regained her vision. As an adult, she attended art openings in elaborate costumes, draped in feathers and tulle, with hair glowing unnatural blues and golds. Other times, she dressed in full male drag to avoid recognition.

Red Vision

Fini once said, “Marriage never appealed to me, I’ve never lived with one person. Since I was 18, I’ve always preferred to live in a sort of community - A big house with my atelier and cats and friends, one with a man who was rather a lover and another who was rather a friend. And it has always worked.

Dithyrambe, oil and paper on canvas.

I came across Fini's work and story a few years ago while researching mythological bird/woman similar to my favorites, the Alkanost and Gamayun of the Slavic pantheon, and the Greek Harpy. Since then, Fini's birdladies have become my favorites thanks to the thickness of their thighs.

I've decided this painting, Tres Gracias, is about her desire for two beautiful service bottoms (who may or may not be the aforementioned lover and friend).

"While she claimed categorically not to be a lesbian but open to everything, the temperature rises only when two of her elegant and immaculate girls are involved. On the other hand her men (or, to be more accurate, youths) are balletic and androgynous, lounging about lethargically, toyboys in a precise sense. It is the tall and seriously beautiful women, more often than not self- portraits, who one feels will direct or have directed the action." 1996, George Melly

Cortège, oil on canvas. When I tried to research this piece, I found nothing but references to the male surrealist painter who purchased it.

Leonor Fini's costume designs puts today's Met Gala to shame. Some believed her gowns, headpieces, and masks were a little too risky--when actress Margot Fonteyn refused to wear a feline-influenced mask designed by Fini, Fini threatened to burn down the theater.

The two women later became close friends.

preparing for a masked costume ball

My Mother's Death Won't Kill You

My mother said she never shot up. She feared needles so instead used her nose.

I love needles. I love a bad blood draw. My defiant veins stonewall the most practiced phlebotomists. I love a bitter brow and I love the attention. I love purples and reds and blues all at once.


I used to tell new dates my mother died of cancer.

The first time I told a date my mother had AIDS we were on his dirty couch, me stuffed in his arm-crook, him flipping through channels with a comically large remote. We were nineteen. It was World AIDS Day in 1999 and he’d sped past a dramatic unfolding of the AIDS quilt.

I said, “You know my mother had AIDS?” and his body went stiff. He dropped the remote and slithered from beneath me. The TV was set to the surgery channel, thick skin and fat peeled from a forehead, meaty. A facelift.

“You let me fuck you without telling me that?” he said.

I said, “Chill out, I don’t have it, I swear.”

And it was true–my mother didn’t contract HIV until long after I was born.

But I was lying, because at that point, I hadn't been tested. And not only that, I’d convinced myself I definitely had AIDS and wasn’t ready to hear how soon I would die. After all, I’d used my mother’s razors when she’d said not to. She’d scraped schmutz from my lips with mouth-wetted fingers. I smoked cigarette butts she’d left in ashtrays. I was sure I had AIDS, so I made that boy and every boy use condoms, even when he begged, even when every boy begged, which was every time I fucked with boys.

Everyone I knew with AIDS, most of whom were involved in raising me, had died. They died after years of sickness and incoherence from the “cocktail,” and they died from neglect. After watching my mother’s painful death process, which happened to accelerate right after diagnosis, I couldn’t bring myself to get tested.

I was furious with that boy, with all boys, with everyone who perpetuated the stigma of people with AIDS as poisonous monsters.

My own role keeping that stigma alive didn’t occur to me until to me until much later.


I assumed the results of my first negative HIV test were wrong. I tested elsewhere, negative again. And then I became obsessed. I spiraled into frequent, too frequent, testing at various anonymous testing centers. Sometimes more than once a week, for something like five solid years, whether I’d fucked anyone at all. I’ve never told anyone until now.

In my early thirties I dated someone who “got” me. She “got” me and she “got” how the world really worked. She “got” racism and classism and fatphobia and mental illness. She “got” my background. My strange obsessions. My relationships with ghosts.

She was so right-on that it hurt that much worse when she had the same reaction to my mother’s AIDS as my teenage boyfriend in 1999.

“How often do you get tested?” she asked, trying to keep her voice steady.

“Every three months,” I said. I said this even though she already knew the answer. She knew the answer because I’d told her so many times.

After that night she fucked me different. Shallow, pain-free, even though we always used gloves. Every time I asked for more she pretended not to hear me.


I am not HIV positive but several people in my life are. I still encounter people who think and speak about AIDS the same way I did in 1999. Except it’s 2017 and these people, most of whom are queer, are a lot older than nineteen.

Imagine if queers fought for improved AIDS education, services, and research with the fervor they reserve for gay marriage.


My mother spelled my name N-I-K-I. I changed the spelling in school to better blend and now I misspell my name every day.

The things I miss about her are different now. They are selfish things, things more about me. Like I wish she could rub my head when I’m sick, and I miss making someone proud. They are selfish things but they are real things.

The least I could do is spell my name right.

knocking the hustle, or lack of

I’m in their homes with their dogs in their neighborhoods in their doorman buildings, sweating in their microfiber sheets. Their TVs have three clickers and no buttons called On. I assure them I’ll adjust my life to their dogs’ rigid schedules, but don’t ask how they work or fuck with dogs that require so much tending. I weigh powders and lay pills on pet tongues. Twice poisoned by raw pet food but I leave that out in interviews. I locate their cameras and remember no nose-picking, no chin-plucking, no crying. If they check their internet logs they’ll see my Otis Redding kick. Do they know Otis Redding kicks mean endings? Are their condos always this clean and do they really live here? And how do they find books on shelves organized by color? So many beat poets, and Infinite Jest. It takes until the end of each stay to determine whether they’ve read Infinite Jest. When their shelves are organized by color they probably haven’t read Infinite Jest, or Joyce, or the beat poets.

But what does it matter? I haven’t read any of that either, not Infinite Jest, not most Joyce, and very few beat poets. I’ve tried and bored quickly, instead devouring the words of women of color. That’s why I’m a pet-sitter with an MFA in Creative Writing instead of a writing professor.


The bridges in other cities, DC, New Orleans, San Francisco, they’re different. In other cities you get on the bridge and you leave. In Portland you get on the bridge and you’re still in Portland, you’re always in Portland.


The dog I’m watching humped a husky at the park. Both the husky and the shepherd, “my” dog, stared at me, horrified. The next time I criticize myself for not being grounded I will meditate on this image.


I’ve fallen in love with this shepherd, even though he ate the cat food and dropped diarrhea all over his person’s light gray almost white carpet. This dog’s a “traveling pooper,” which, if you’re not a pet-care professional, means he keeps walking as he shits. I counted fourteen shit splats. After hours in panic mode, crying, sopping up shit with vinegar, terrified I’d have to pay for an expensive new carpet, I got it all out. The carpet looks brand new. I still expected to lose this recurring gig with my new shepherd love once his person learned what’d happened. The owner’s response was not to blame me, however. Instead, she said, “Thanks for the cleanup. Seems the cat food is too rich for his stomach.”

When I catch myself thinking “Why am I like this?” I don’t allow myself to answer.


I’ve been saying “yes” to every opportunity. That Shonda Rhimes thing, just say “yes.” Obviously I need to be more in the moment. Except now I forget to eat and sleep and write and kiss my girlfriend because I’m too busy yes-ing.


I once overheard a woman tell a friend, “We don’t say ‘no’ in our house.” That woman had a five year old son. A five year old son who never hears “no.”


In other news, the cat I’m watching is very Bauhaus.