Faiblesse oblige

Some trial. Lots of error.

Eleven years ago, in June 2002, my grandmother was admitted to the ICU of a small community hospital in Orange County. She had known about the lump for months, maybe years. She’d felt it, thought about it, stayed up late into the night with it on her mind. It was onlyRead full post »

MARCH 12, 2013 5:07PM


At the same age that I am now, my parents bought their first house. One of those big, boxy deals that sprung up in the suburbs of the suburbs of Los Angeles in the 90s and the Aughts. A mini-McMansion, complete with a 3-car garage, vaulted ceilings, stone counter tops, and… Read full post »

FEBRUARY 19, 2013 4:08PM

Body and soul

I saw my first visible stomach muscle on Saturday, in the three seconds between a crunch and a drink of water. I looked up, caught a glimpse in the mirror, and, like the Loch Ness monster, the rogue ab flitted into view and then sank beneath the surface. Up to that… Read full post »

FEBRUARY 18, 2013 12:36AM

Interiors: Faith and Disbelief

In the last days of her life, my grandmother didn’t indulge in reminiscences or last requests. There were no tears. There was no accounting for the past, no confessional pouring out of secrets, no “death bed”. There was her rosary, and the prayers that attended it. There was the hosRead full post »

JANUARY 30, 2013 1:11AM

Of our times

They were people of their time, of their place, of their background, of their class. He: born 1922, in East Orange, full Napolitan’, the first and only son of a 15 year old seamstress with dark skin and dark eyes and a 22 year old of a number of different occupations who ranRead full post »

Ok, so I get it: we’re in the “assimilation” era of queerness. In many parts of the country, gays and lesbians have by now become accepted, all-American, apple pie-eating, integrated parts of the community. Able to be open on the job. Able to go out on dates in traditionally straighRead full post »

Editor’s Pick
JANUARY 23, 2013 2:30PM

The third "S": The President's Stonewall reference

"We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths -- that all of us are created equal -- is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall.”

-          President Barack ObamRead full post »

JANUARY 15, 2013 3:47PM

The unnatural

When I first started teaching, a favorite Latin professor told me that she didn’t think I was at all cut out for the job. “I can’t say I can imagine you laboring in the camps” she said.

I’ve been in the camps for three years now, laboring.

In the… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
JANUARY 14, 2013 2:18PM

Ring shopping

We’re going ring shopping. At least that’s the plan. We’ll be in San Francisco for the Martin Luther King Day weekend and we’ll go browsing for the rings. He knows the designers he wants, the metals, and the overall aesthetic. I know that I’ll probably have a seizure whe… Read full post »

I’ve certainly had those moments. Those moments when a student has written something or said something or done something that has set off alarm bells. My first was two days into my first year of teaching, when one of the freshman boys in my advisory class brought half a dozen bulletsRead full post »

Editor’s Pick
JANUARY 8, 2013 8:51PM

Giving up "the perfect pleasure"

I smoked my first cigarette in Vietnam, in July 2009. Having just endured the Gotterdammerung of my first real college romance, and in the first flush of my second “study abroad” experience, the pack of White Horse smokes seemed like a good idea. They went for around 12,000 dongRead full post »

JANUARY 5, 2013 1:25AM

Juan/Jasmine, at 18

“Juan”* goes by the name “Jasmine” with his friends, though he says the name is just “for fun”. Thin, short, with long black hair to his shoulders, at 18, he is the only “out” gay male at this 99.9% Latino school of 400 students, in the Southeast LA comRead full post »

In a month, when the apocalypse comes, Versailles will be burnt to cinders, and Solvang will be untouched. The collected works of Shakespeare, the oeuvre of Dostoyevsky, the recitations of Homer- all will turn to pulp as they swirl down the sewer and subway lines. The remaining signs of human civiliz… Read full post »

OCTOBER 9, 2012 11:58AM

When the white teacher talks about race

Five minutes into my first lesson in my newly-designed “Readings in Social Justice” Advisory course, I realized the obvious fact that I hadn’t nearly prepared it, or myself, enough to teach it. I had selected the reading for the day- a short excerpt by Chicana feminist writer GloriaRead full post »

SEPTEMBER 28, 2012 12:51AM

East of LA

Our lives are girded by freeways, held together by Starbucks and Taco Bell franchises, by Spanish beer billboards, by strip malls with store names in Mandarin and Korean. Driving east from the thinly-spread, tenuous gentrification of Downtown, you pass through the 30 or so mid-sized cities that splayRead full post »

Speculation regarding the “mystery guest” at the RNC tonight is focusing primarily on celebrities such as Tim Tebow and Clint Eastwood, with Sarah Palin being another possibility. The whole “mystery guest” stunt is one that we’ve seen many times before, designed to gin u… Read full post »

AUGUST 27, 2012 9:56PM

Manhood, a poem

“The making of a man is strength,” he said,

even as he began to slow—

the soles of his feet,

hugging the earth,

and his eyes, behind the thickened bones,

looking less brown than black now.


He was still the man, though,

who cut down other men in Guadalcanal,

who dugRead full post »

AUGUST 26, 2012 12:22AM

Love and expense

“That which we admire, we seek in love. The highest expression of our values: beauty, faithfulness, intellect, truth, gentility. One seeks these things in others just as one hopes to cultivate and refine what is good in oneself. Is it unrealistic? Yes, as ideals always are; the mirrors against… Read full post »

AUGUST 11, 2012 5:06AM

A Reflection on Romney-Ryan

The Associated Press is reporting that Mitt Romney will announce Paul Ryan as his choice for his Vice Presidential nominee in the morning, in Norfolk, Virginia, on the suitably named USS Wisconsin. 


Given Paul Ryan’s affiliation with the Tea Party, Ayn Rand-affiliated, Objectivist (Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
AUGUST 5, 2012 9:11AM

Marilyn Monroe, my grandmother, and the art of seeming

Enough books have been written about Marilyn Monroe to fill libraries; enough films and television shows to run for weeks end-to-end. If we see her at all now, 50 years post-mortem, it’s through the lens of conspiracy, tawdriness, lunch boxes and video tapes and salt and pepper shakers, supposeRead full post »

Editor’s Pick
AUGUST 1, 2012 7:35AM

Gore Vidal: No man's figurehead

Gore Vidal has been dead for all of a few hours, and the eulogies are already pouring in, mostly from sources and individuals that Mr. Vidal himself either publicly excoriated in the past or would have had he found the opportunity. Most of those who commemorate, deride, or celebrate him willRead full post »

JULY 30, 2012 5:50AM

The old novel in the closet

The closet in my old room at my parents’ house has, in recent years, become a museum of my adolescence and early adulthood. There, amidst numerous graduation gowns, discarded jackets, outgrown suits, old videotapes, a dusty Chinese violin, a long decrepit type-writer, and hundreds and hundreds… Read full post »

JULY 25, 2012 4:01AM

In defense of my generation

Having been raised and educated in Riverside, Calif., I’ve had a kind of front row seat for the Great Recession. Well before the rest of the country came to know the phrase “subprime mortgage”, well before we all started talking about over-leveraged banks and bail-outs, well before… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
JULY 20, 2012 5:04PM

The banality of James Eagan Holmes

Like most young adults nearing their graduation from college, we talked about the future. We talked about the great things that we would do, the families we would raise, the businesses we would start, the careers we would pursue, the failures we would endure. No doubt we also talked about whomRead full post »