#2059| Full Circle

My girlfriend: do you feel like years of blogging has prepared you for this
Me: one hundred percent absolutely yes

I’m now a columnist for NY-based socially distanced publication, No Contact Magazine. New CNF piece every Monday Eastern Standard Time – it’s been really fun for me to have a space to explore a variety of forms and techniques, especially in a space separate from my regular writing (fiction, long-form). The first piece was structured as a bingo card, and the second was in second-person, which is a criminally underutilized form. Though I must say that I did read an excellent second-person piece recently, the 2008 Natalie Diaz short story, How To Love a Woman With No Legs, in Volume 38 of The Iowa Review, which left me gasping for breath.

Read Curbside: Between Two States.
Read Curbside: Limited Permissions.
Read the far superior Natalie Diaz’s How To Love a Woman With No Legs.


#2057 | Creepy McCreepz

SmokeLong was putting together a playlist for the issue, and asked me to pick a song to represent “Waiting”! IT WAS THE MOST FUN I HAD ALL WEEK.

Shortlisted songs:

It ended up being between Paloma Faith’s Only Love can Hurt like This, Blondie’s One Way or Another, or Heart of Glass, another Blondie song. I wanted something a bit upbeat and crazy, but with undertones of hurt. Blondie’s One Way or Another is super fun, iconic, and worked the stalker aspect, but Paloma’s paired with the story would play into the nuances of love between friends that can often hold as much, if not more emotional power than that of the romantic narratives we are raised on. I’m interested in female friendships, the richness, complexities and devastation that they can hold, and lyrically, Heart of Glass was the perfect fit: Once I had a love and it was divine / Soon found out I was losing my mind / It seemed like the real thing but I was so blind / Mucho mistrust, love’s gone behind. Hiding hurt behind upbeat punk pop; harboring feelings of betrayal and hurt behind action and obsessiveness. Mmmm. Yum.

I couldnt stop laughing, imagining the editors’ faces if I sent the Paloma song in. In the end I chickened out and sent them all three, and asked them to pick. I’m not good at choosing where to eat either, can you tell?

The issue’s playlist is here.

I was hyping up with my girlfriend Jenna through the entire song selection process – she’s always had excellent music taste, and then got way excited and went down the rabbit hole later that night, with this as the result…

yeah baby

I kid you not, when I made this playlist I got so excited I couldn’t sleep till 8am the next morning – I was bouncing off the walls. I’d forgotten all about most of these songs! I later introduced them to my baby sister, who agrees that they are, indeed, a bop. The music of my teenage years was so sincere – it’s all stuff like, man, i like this girl, but she doesn’t know i exist, etcetera. Nowadays, on the other hand…


PS. I also did an interview with SmokeLong about the story, which you can read here.

#2056 | Waiting


People have been trying to take down the Influencers for some time now but I have my eyes fixed on just the one.

Been keeping this one in for a while, but I have a new story out, which interrogates the fixation on influencer culture within the fictionalized context of a quarantine, in dream literary magazine SmokeLong Quarterly, news which caused me to shriek and give Athena a great big scare when I got the email over a month ago. I wrote it back when COVID-19 first hit, and it was my first attempt at flash because the form seemed to suit the high strung panic of the time. Of course, the global panic has only increased, what with the magical thinking people are engaging in now, but that’s off-topic…

Anyway. I sent it out to a bunch of places but didn’t expect much, you know, since I have more or less been rejected approximately fifty times a year… a writer’s thick skin is her best asset, her own form of magical thinking, I suppose. And a couple of weeks later I got the news that it was longlisted / shortlisted / a finalist for their SmokeLong Quarterly Flash Fiction Award 2020!!

Long story short this was my first ever international acceptance and I will forever be grateful to SmokeLong for giving my baby a home. Now excuse me while I go off and have a celebratory beer, teehee.

Read Waiting here; author interview here.


#2053 | Watercolor girls

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Once upon a time we went painting in the botanical gardens and @martinhong.mov watercolored a very flattering and totally inaccurate portrait of me which has been stuck to my dresser ever since. Today I have a piece out in @nocontactmag about the ways art suffers from unconditional love, which is totally not a passive aggressive statement on our friendship tehe love u boo x ⠀ ⠀ This issue of No Contact begins with a brilliant editor’s letter about the state of America right now, accompanied by a comprehensive list of resources where you can support the Black Lives Matter cause through donations, petitions, and time, as well as a list of linked Black-owned restaurants you can order from if you’re NYC based. Please start with the editor’s letter before the rest of the issue, and thank you for reading x⠀ ⠀ All digital illustrations in the magazine by the wonderful @hi_fidelliot ✨🌱

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I was invited to write a piece for No Contact Magazine, and I did, to which my girlfriend said: I can’t believe you wrote about deviantartists and one of my boyfriends said: the sad thing is nobody takes watercolorists seriously, like compared to oil painters and such and I said: I cant believe no one got the joke that when you use too much watercolor the paper tears and the artist is perpetually crying and my other girlfriend said: but jem your jokes are not funny.

Tough crowd.

Anyway, I do have a favorite watercolorist, thank you for asking. His name is Marcos Beccari and Shane who is far more cultured than I am introduced his work to me.

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Segunda-feira, #aquarela #watercolor.

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I personally have no artistic talent, information I feel compelled to lay on the table, because someone read Watercolor Girls and reached out to ask if i were depressed, at which point I had to explain the difference between fiction and non-fiction.

Read Watercolor Girls here.


#2051 | dirty

A few things:

1. Corona has messed with my hair real bad, not even going to pretend this is a look anymore so much as it is a sign of the times.

2. All i wear now are various sets of pajamas – I now have a rotating wardrobe of fancy pajamas, chill pajamas, and i’ve-given-up pajamas. This old star wars t shirt and pj shorts are basically part of the last category.

3. the other day, as i was working in the living room, my dad looked at me and asked why i type like im fighting enemies off in some video game. so i guess i know now why my back hurts all the time. it’s because my posture sucks and i left the orthopedic love of my life in new york.

4. i was sick all weekend – not pandemic sick, just stress sick i think – and so hibernated nonstop, essentially, and just emerged from the haze of slumber to the very happy news that i’ve been awarded the Felipe P. De Alba Fellowship at Columbia University, which is the first time i have been a fellow of anything, except for maybe when i was 10 and sorted into Yellow house in primary school, and all my friends in the Green house laughed at me for being a yellow yellow dirty fellow. Well, now i am the dirtiest fellow of all, so jokes on them.