Creative Writing

A Chorus of Female Voices

This piece was first debuted as part of The TMI Project: MHI in Ulster County.  Visit The TMI Project’s website to learn more .


Que Será, Será, is Zelda’s (aka Judith Z. Miller’s) humorous, sobering, hopeful multimedia one-person revelatory performance that chronicles her personal story of the joys and challenges of navigating non-binary Queerness from childhood during the 1950’s to adulthood. Zelda is the recipient of an Arts Mid-Hudson Individual Artist Commission to develop the show to premiere in Kingston, NY at the Hudson Valley LGBTQ Community Center on December 7 & 8 as a workshop production. It will include an adapted version of “A Chorus of Female Voices” as well as the previously published “Sheitlestock”. You can learn more about Que Será, Será and support its development here.


TRANSCRIPT:

I’m 8 years old. My parents take me to see the movie “Some Like it Hot” starring Marilyn Monroe. It’s a fancy theatre with plush red seats. We’re in the very front row of the balcony, high over the orchestra.  

A thick shiny brass railing protects us from falling onto the people seated below. Marilyn is singing ​“I’m through with love, I’ll never fall again,” ​and as she​ ​breathes in deeply through her pouted lips to enunciate her words, I can see the details of her full breasts through her tight-fitting, completely sheer gown. I’m standing up, gripping the bar, leaning all the way over the top as far as I can, trying to climb​ into​ the movie — to immerse myself between Marilyn Monroe’s breasts.  

Gender Fiction – How RPG, Fanfiction, and Other Play Paved My Way To Coming Out

By looking at the concept of “fiction gender” and how it’s enacted, its clear that sometimes – in order to understand yourself in a real way – you have to dig yourself a little deeper into the world of fiction!

I’ve always been a nerd.

Whether I was holed up behind my computer screen, running around with a foam sword and a tunic in a field, or rolling dice in someone’s basement, as a child I happily found happiness through fantasy worlds. When I was young I always saw it as a form of escapism from my formidably rocky childhood. As an adult, I’ve been returning to these games I’ve used to play again. I find they are still a wonderful form of escapism from the horrors of our world today – but I also appreciate it as a time for me to stretch my creative muscles and practice my crafts while having some good ol’ sober fun.

It’s become clearer and clearer as I grow older and continue to re-engage with my nerdy roots that the fantasy worlds I evoked were also a play place and learning ground for my gender expression. I am not the only person who did this and grew up to recognize it. I’m not even the only person to write on this topic. Might I suggest another article on this by my dear friend M, who talks about “Roleplaying From The Closet” in their much more comprehensive take on gender in roleplaying games, “Gender At The Gaming Table”? I’d still like to offer up my experiences to the conversation, however. This is because I want to drive home the fact that playing with one’s gender expression in fictional settings is a perfect example of how complicated and winding a road it can be to understand one’s own gender identity.

Young, very closeted me – fully engrossed in character creation

death of the author

every time i try to write poetry, it sounds the same. 

 

procrastinating) fucking with my fingernails and that’s rust not dirt that’s 

from last night, i never minded needles but sometimes i 

still have to get drunk to make myself do the shot and then it 

bleeds bleeds bleeds 

like (not enough of) an exchange 

 

in every mousehole/trashcan/outhouse/pillbottle where i almost glimpse profundity it 

turns out to be another hidden mirror and jesus christ, 

i’ve seen enough of “my” own face i’ve seen 

enough 

already 

 

my favorite scenes to write (genre:fantasy) were ones with daggers (“darksilver”) 

and jewels and mead and gossamer and sacrificial lambs and 

“holy” water and “green” moss and 

CISGENDER men and CISGENDER women i was always 

enchanted by the idea of eating one’s fill. 

 

all art is quite useless but it is so exhausting to think that 

the artist is as well.

SheitleStock

This piece was first debuted as part of The TMI Project: RUPCO.  Visit The TMI Project’s website to learn more .


Que Será, Será, is Zelda’s (aka Judith Z. Miller’s) humorous, sobering, hopeful multimedia one-person revelatory performance that chronicles her personal story of the joys and challenges of navigating non-binary Queerness from childhood during the 1950’s to adulthood. Zelda is the recipient of an Arts Mid-Hudson Individual Artist Commission to develop the show to premiere in Kingston, New York in the fall. It will include an adapted version of “Sheitlestock.” You can learn more about Que Será, Será and support its development here


TRANSCRIPT:

It’s 1999 in NYC. I’m on my way to an annual celebration I look forward to all year long: a party especially for Orthodox Jewish women who are attracted to other women, sponsored by the Ortho-Dykes, and playfully named “SheitleStock,” after the “sheitle,” the wig that married Orthodox Jewish women wear to cover up their real hair.  

Although I was raised fairly secular, every year I anticipate being with a whole roomful of “Ortho-Dykes” sneaking secretly away from their cloistered homes, downtown, to a great big rented room, where the lights are low and the music blasting.  This is supposed to be my first time “packing” in public. Packing a dildo, that is. Tonight I’m feeling good in my male body. And convincing too, in my genuine faded-green Air force flight-suit with a neck-to-crotch zipper pulled down to show off my naked hairy chest. Plus I have my scruffy moustache, both created by gluing on my just-trimmed pubic hairs — totally realistic.

500 Words on Fanfiction

Fanfiction. Yeah, you know what I’m talking about. Not the semi-literary, novel-length type, either, though that stuff is definitely worth checking out. No, I’m talking about the kind that very few people want to discuss outright. A lot of it is pornographic. Most of it is queer. It ranges in quality from abysmal to pretty damn good. And, as an adult in 2019, I believe that its existence is invaluable.

Clues

Nothing anyone told me about being a girl felt right for me.

Who made the rules saying I had to be, like, and act a certain way anyway?

 

I was jealous of girls who had names that could be shortened to boy’s names, like Sam or Alex.

Wearing a name like that felt comfortable, like a flannel shirt in winter.

 

The only Barbie doll I ever owned ended up dismembered under my bed.

I don’t remember ever playing with her.

 

Wearing dresses felt like punishment.

Plus they made it hard to climb a tree.

A Love Letter To My HRT

It’s been six months since the last time I had access to my hormone replacement therapy. Though I was already prescribed and had been on testosterone since 2016, when I moved to a new state no doctor would continue my prescription. Until now…

To my HRT,

Hi.

It’s been awhile.

I’m sorry we haven’t seen each other since October of 2018.  I know you’ve been waiting for me and I didn’t mean to keep you in suspense for so long.

I feel like I owe you an explanation.

Long story short – I moved. Long story long – I moved to a place where the reception was really bad. It’s not that I haven’t wanted to see you – it’s just that any channel I tried to reach you through was static. I don’t know what you did to piss off a whole bunch of old red state doctors, therapists, nurse practitioners, and endocrinologists, but they really, reallydon’t know what to do when I bring up your name. Every day they cut another line and the frequency got a little fuzzier between you and I until finally there was just silence.

2/24/19

In the coffee shop you walk in fast like you own the damn place and pull up a chair before my stomach gets the chance to settle from the shock of seeing you. These days you seem to turn up everywhere, in everything. But here you are for real, finally in front of me. You have the nerve to be sheepish. It’s not like you to be shy. I realize I’m only wearing mascara. Not even the good kind. I avoid looking at you. We talk small. Your hand finds its way around mine, fits like it used to. Then I’m looking at you. Then you’re blurry. Then you’re wiping the wet from my cheeks and tilt your wrist up towards my nose. New cologne, You smile. I like it, I say. I grab your hand again and touch each finger, so I can remember how they feel the next time you let go. Your nails, so long. I know, I haven’t been biting them, You boast. It almost bothers me, I wish you still got nervous like I do. About us, about anything. Can we go to the car? I ask and you hesitate but we go anyway. The door closes and I settle into you. Such familiar comfort, contorting myself around the center console to cry against your chest like they do in movies, but  much less graceful. Then it’s your turn and I listen to the sound of you finally letting your guard down, all too late. I stroke circles on your back imagining I’m carving out some black hole where I could fall endlessly into you, away from you. Someone says I’m sorry. Someone says it’s okay, I’m sorry too. Someone says I love you. I breathe in slowly, trying to learn the smell, the new you. The new you-without-me. The new Us. Out the window the sky begins folding into the earth, and the sun melts against her like a bruise spreading: pink, purple, blue. Night closes in quick as a wink. Someone’s calling your cell phone. There’s a drizzle beginning to dot the windows. I have to go, You say. I stall, but you don’t kiss me before I leave.

 

A Hometown Never Stops Being Home: Growing Up Trans In A Rural Area

I thought my hometown would have my back when I came out as trans…but when you offer up your own truth, you are often met with the harsh truths of the world around you.

Trigger warning: brief mentions of sexual assault, anti-trans violence, LGBTQ hate speech

I grew up in a myriad of little towns scattered across the Hudson Valley. I was 40 minutes from the infamous Woodstock, about two hours from New York City, and surrounded by the exact type of people you’d suspect would exist between those two extremes. It was a liberal area, even if it felt like I was constantly boxed in by the Catskills that raised high above me always, on all sides. Every town I moved to – and I moved a lot – had a different flavor of rebellion and grunge.  In upstate New York, I grew up thinking I could be anybody. 

I knew the Hudson Valley like the back of my hand. I knew what towns I could leave my car doors unlocked in. I knew where all the swimming holes were. I knew what Kingston, my hometown, looked like before gentrification started to plant its roots in the historic streets, sprouting new bars and antique shops and putting up fences so the weeds of the displaced, impoverished many wouldn’t taint the fertile soil. I knew the safest streets to walk on at two AM. My hometown was full of friends and enemies and my past and future and I could read it like you could read the oldest, most worn book on your shelf. 

I felt safe. 

Angels of

Trigger Warning: rape and sexual assault

What no one sees— when rapists and killers walk away— are the boot marks dug into our flesh. Imprints that won’t fade. Manifesting a kaleidoscope of damages. Material. Spiritual. Bodies piling on bodies, as our bodies become foreign, disconnected, dangerous, to live in. As we make our worlds smaller, more manageable, more safe. The windows are shut, the doors are barred. What skies, and valleys, and rain on our skin do we fail to breath in?

We minimize the violence. We have to. If we don’t we go crazy. If we don’t we are crazy. When, and if, we have the chance to pull back the gauze from our eyes, we may not like what we see. When, and if, we let the wound leak freely, we cannot guarantee a blood match. 

My right hemisphere’s inflamed, my lungs full, my muscles locked in rigor mortis. I want to take my hardened flesh and slam against every wall. A battering ram to break the castle doors. Gills to carry me through moats ancient and murky. Ice in my fingertips, to freeze the soldiers’ barrels, poised with hot tar. 

This isn’t about vengeance. This is about rage. This isn’t about violence. This is about restoring the balance. This about screaming on the roof of the world for all the peoples/animals/lands, that ever were/are/will be— defiled by hands that hold all the cards. 

Brace yourselves. Fresh scars bear fresh ways of knowing. The next time you look down from your towers, certain they’ll hold, you may be surprised to see our wings.