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Sunday, December 14, 2008

Orthodox and Undercover

So I kind of wrote an article about Losers, but it ended up being mostly about me. Go fig.

Six years after my first punk show (The Dead Milkmen, at the Trocadero, $6 if you were under 21) I showed up at a synagogue one Friday afternoon, wearing jeans that were ripped at the cuffs and the only sweater I owned. I stopped checking my email for 24 hours once a week, spent my Shabbos nights reading in the dark of my apartment's living room, and that was it. They say you're supposed to become Orthodox slowly, like wading into a cold pool. I jumped in over my head, and only started sinking deeper. Not that I was losing my individuality or anything—my t-shirts were still geeky and tight, I was still at the gay clubs and the punk-rock shows; I just made my Thursday nights longer and took the next night off.

I don't know what I could have been the poster child for, but I was the poster child for something. When all my other friends who wrote moved to New York, wrapped themselves tight into graduate writing courses, I moved to San Francisco and started teaching myself to write at open mics with a bunch of lesbians, all of whom I had crushes on, and none of whom would look my way. They were the best senseis of all. Michelle Tea, who had about as much in common with me as I had with a hamburger, told me to write about what I was obsessed with. She said to write about whatever I goddamn well wanted to write about.

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