The Banal and the Profane: Sarah Sarai
“…since my defenses are coming down after a week of tete-a-tetting, I freely tell you, I’m a dyke.Â And tomorrow is my birthday!Â So maybe the glow from birthdays is already glowing.Â And my hair still looks good.Â And I’m going to work on another story in a three-story series no one wants to publish.”
â€śThe Banal and the Profaneâ€ť is a monthlyÂ Lambda LiteraryÂ column in which we lift the veil on both the writerly life andÂ the publishing industry. In each installment, we ask a different LGBT writer, or LGBT person of interest in the book industry, to guide us through a week in their lives.
This monthâ€™s Â â€śBanal and Profaneâ€ť column comes to us from Sarah Sarai.
Sarah Sarai’sÂ poetry collection, The Future Is Happy, was published by BlazeVOX [books]. Her poems haveÂ appearedÂ in Boston Review, Threepenny Review, Â andÂ Lavender.Â Her stories haveÂ appeared inÂ South Dakota Review, Storyglossia, Fairy Tale Review and others. Find links to her poems, stories, interviews and editorial services at My 3,000 Loving Arms . Sarai has an MFA in Fiction from Sarah Lawrence College; lives in New York; misses Los Angeles.Â She also publishes as Sarah Gancher Sarah.
Dear Diary. January 21, 2012
It’s Saturday, snowing and quiet, a good day to come out.Â I have to come out every day, maybe because I am a late-onset dyke.Â But I heard that from a friend who’s been out since foreverâ€”that she has to come out every day. It’s not just me.
Though it’s odd because the fact is, given the choice between being queer/ dykely/ lesbiana/ a hom-ette and being straight, I’ll take queer/ (and all the rest) every time.Â More fun and more fun than the norm, whatever that is.
As far as the day’s events go, no glam, unless tonight’s combo book party and Roberts Burns’ birthday fete sends sequins shivering down your spine. In honor of Scotland’s national poet, Scotch will be served. And there will be haggis (Google it).
As for writing, when not staring at the snowy airspace, I will submit.Â It takes a peculiar energy to batch and send poems and select stories and send them out.Â It’s what must be done.Â I don’t have an agent, not that poets do.Â I’m a street-level, storefront writer.
Who is going to skip the haggis tonight.
Sunday, January 22
My coming out was highly accessorized.Â The processâ€”there is always a processâ€”took several monthsâ€”or a lifetime, depending on your perspective. One special night, however, I yanked on old jeans and matching jacket on which a friend fixed a pink ribbon (that’s an old reference, now). My hair was too short to make a single braid, but we tried. That was my sweet dyketeen party.
Tonight I go to the atrium at 60 Wall Street for a meeting of Occupy Poetry, a working group of OWS. We’re staging a Poetry Assembly on Thursday at the Bowery Poetry Club, reconfiguring the Zuccotti Park readings for in indoor space.Â On my way to the atrium (where police and politicos chat with each otherâ€”hello, America), I pass George Washington’s weighty bronze statue, high up and kitty corner from the Stock Exchange, and say my prayer for an equality he may not have anticipated but I suspect he’d celebrate.Â Honestly, I’m concerned more about race than gender identity, but that said, I believe in my heart, Beyonce meant to shout out, All the dykey ladies, ALL the dykey ladies.
Today’s Writing: Editing of poems. Got a new one going by use of a recent ploy. I open a collection of poems by Argentinean writer Jorge Luis Borges, read until I’ve got the fever.Â Then I steal a few wordsâ€”just nouns, and poety ones, at that, like â€śnightâ€ť or â€śmoonâ€ťâ€”and somehow a new poem presents herself for consideration.
Monday, January 23
It’s Monday morning.Â Please check back in tomorrow.Â Please know your attention is important to me, I value your business, I look forward to writing for you. On Tuesday.
Tuesday, January 24
Criminey, I’m late!Â I’m a freelancer.Â I copy edit, proofread and research.Â I have a morning slot at an ad agency and am racing out the door.Â Sorry, Dear Diary.Â As for a mention of gender preference or coming outâ€”what’s the point.Â Today I die.Â Die, yes, die in afternoon taken up with three hours (count them, every last second and minute) in a dentist’s chair with a student dentist (who is wonderful, true) at NYU Dental School.Â I suffer from tooth terror and so when I finally work through it enough to get â€śscaling,â€ť the sessions are lonnnnnnng.Â (But I scored a new toothbrush, tooth paste and two (count them) flosses. We New Yorkers are quite the sophisticates.)
After that, believe it or not, I get a hair cut and it is terrific, at Astor Place Hairstylists.Â Go there. Do it.Â My great-niece, who is in a nearby Theater Conservatory, and all her fellow actors get it done there.Â My girl (she’s my girl and that’s that) works magic and doesn’t yell at me for coloring my hair a bright red, courtesy of a seven dollar product from Ricky’s.
There is nothing left to say.Â I am numb from the novocaine, yet wondering why every strange and lovely woman doesn’t throw me to the sidewalk with passion.Â I like my hair.
Wednesday, January 25
Coffee, shrugging on my long, navy wool coat which is so sleek and cost all of twelve dollars at a thrift shop.Â Searching frantically in my wallet for my Metro Card to take a subway to an office I could easily enough walk to.Â But it is a work morning and work mornings have a life of their own.
My friend is sick so I go to the Lambda extravaganza tonight alone.Â It is at Heathers in the east village, and jammed and packed and jam packed.Â And there is William Johnson, who gives me a William Johnson hug.Â (Sigh.) The event is in celebration of new work from Ellis Avery, Cris Beam, Sarah Schulman and Laurie Weeks.Â Women!Â Yay!Â (Not that I don’t Yay! Men!, it’s just, well, hey.Â Women!Â Yay!)
The womens they were wonderful, all of them. I fell in love with Laurie Weeks, a wee slip of a bad girl, funny, warm.Â There is no real chatting up at an elbow-to-elbow bar, but there is the great promise of friending on Facebook.Â Oh goddess, thank you for Facebook.Â Like many of your creations, it is so annoying, but so very useful, too.
Thursday, January 26
Yowza and Aargh!Â I have a job interview in the Bronx for part-time work, so early morning is taken with grooming my fabulous new haircut and printing out of resumes and attendant material.
I left the interview feeling great, though I worry about the only thought that kept flashing:Â â€śMy hair looks so good!â€ť
Tonight is the Poetry Assembly at the Bowery Poetry Club.Â Score another one for the 99 percent. The club is filled with poets in sloppy concentric circles, to avoid the stage/audience scenario in favor of the sacred campfire. Some poets used the people’s mic (example: Poet:Â â€śI’m writing a diary for Lambda/â€ť The Crowd:Â â€śI’m writing a diary for Lambda/â€ťÂ Poet:Â â€śHave I told you yet I’m gay?/Â The Crowd:Â â€śHave I told you yet I’m gay?/).
After all the communal work, great success; even a subtle light show from Occupy the Light.
Friday, January 27
I am seven days queerer than when we first met.Â And, since my defenses are coming down after a week of tete-a-tetting, I freely tell you, I’m a dyke.Â And tomorrow is my birthday!Â So maybe the glow from birthdays is already glowing.Â And my hair still looks good.Â And I’m going to work on another story in a three-story series no one wants to publish.Â Dyke narrator.Â Here’s the opening:
â€śThere is nothing I love so much as a fat person, or admire.Â The largeness of their soul demands abundant sufficiency of casing and, further, because they are so grand of psyche, so much more than those who are skinny (not I!), they needâ€”requireâ€”that formidable heft to anchor them to our earth.â€ť
I will not stay anchored to the earth if I don’t get on with my day.Â Tra la.