100 Bottles of Rain on My Soul, 100 Bottles of Rain! [5 Feb 91]

Someone recently asked me if I make up any portion of Little Pam’s letters. I told her that, sadly, I do not. The look of shock and pity on her face… I won’t forget that.

So it’s probably a good thing I’ve gotten you accustomed to what I was like at fifteen before I found this unsent letter.

Okay, I have to assume it’s unsent. I want to assume it’s unsent. I’m going to at least pretend it’s unsent, and ask you to do the same. Because the truth is it’s a print-out from a dot-matrix printer, which means I wrote it on my Atari ST, which means I probably printed it twice, and gave one to the intended recipient. And then kept one physical copy for myself, because apparently I didn’t trust my computer’s hard drive enough to keep it safe. I’m sure it’s not because I did something smart like delete it. Honestly, the only thing that kept me from several embarrassing situations with that computer is that I was the only person in the house who knew how to use it.

Behold what might be the most embarrassing thing I’ve ever found from my past. Continue reading

chapters

All this rehashing of my high school years might be undoing years of therapy. I think I can safely blame Facebook for part of it. I’m new to it. Look, I had a Geocities account, whippersnappers. And I made it safely through both the Friendster and MySpace Administrations. But Facebook, that’s where you all are. So here I am finding people I haven’t heard from in decades at the same time I’m finding things I wrote back then… and possibly I’m trying to find meaning out of coincidence, but I don’t really believe in coincidences.

You know, this started with me wondering why I’ve hoarded all of these letters and notes, and then through Facebook I get back in touch with friends from my freshman year Latin class (For those of you who have seen the Little Pam fanpage, that’s four of us (Latin was held in a Spanish classroom by a guest teacher)). So the other day I found a six-page print-out of our inside jokes from Latin class. Why is there a six-page list of Latin class inside jokes? Because I made one. I also have one from seventh-grade gifted class, and a two-year high-school relationship. I’m listy. I hoard memories, remember? Continue reading

Little Pam Gets Personal

Oh, man. I don’t know what was going on with me the winter of my fifteenth year, but I was wrestling with some serious hormones.

20, Jan., 1991

Look at me. Look into my eyes. Let me look into you. Let me look beyond that mask you wear into your real feelings — your real fears, your real worries, your real joys, your real sorrows, your real wounds, your real pride, your real goodness, your real honesty, your real gentleness, your real peace, your real turmoil.

I’m truly worried I’m writing to someone who doesn’t actually exist.

And look, I know Alanis Morrisette cornered the market on songs that are really just lists, but as you can see here, I was way ahead of her. Continue reading

Notes from a “lump” of Houston Sheraton Town & Country Stationery, circa 1990 or 91

Just so you know, I got an email from 200-page boy, who got an email from one of you asking, “ARE YOU 200-PAGE LETTER DOUGLAS THAT PAMIE’S WRITING ABOUT?!?”

Small, small world. He was writing to let me know that he does, indeed, still have that letter. My first book! (Speaking of books, the galleys are in for Going in Circles. Are you someone fancy who writes blurbs/reviews and would like to give me a blurb/review? My publicist would love to send you an Advanced Reader Copy! Email me.)

I looked through my high school box of letters and stories, but couldn’t find another word about Homeroom Boy. It appears that saga quickly came and went. I did find this bundle of stationery from the Houston Town & Country hotel. It isn’t dated, but from what I’m talking about it’s sometime either at the end of my freshman year or maybe during the summer before my sophomore year. That makes me fourteen? Fifteen? I don’t know.

But I do know it’s mortifying and hilarious. Continue reading

20, Nov., 1990

Let me start by saying I am appreciative of all the attention Little Pam has received. It’s not just the emails, the letters and poems you’ve unearthed and started posting on your own websites, or even the Facebook fan page someone started for LP (seriously), it’s this shared feeling of mortification and anxiety I’m causing. One of my favorite sounds is hearing an audience go from slight horror to laughter. I might not get to hear your actual reactions, but I can tell by your comments and emails that I’m getting the desired effect.

So I might as well continue with the embarrassing confessions. Well, actually, let’s get the first letter out of the way. Yeah, just like last time, there’s more than one letter from November 20th. By the way, the entry titles are exactly how I dated these letters. All those commas aside, I don’t know why I thought it was so much cooler to date things like that back then. But you guys, I really thought it was awesome. Continue reading

13, Nov., 1990

It’s raining outside and I just finished my chores. Seems only fitting to dive back into my unsent teenage love letters.

When we last left Little Pam (LP), she had found a new fixation on which to Velcro her weepy heart. Five days later, she grabbed a red pen and then this happened.

13, Nov., 1990

Why are you doing this to me?

It is all your fault, you know. You have to be so damn beautiful. So damn perfect in any way. You made me fall in love with you. You knew what you were doing from the beginning, didn’t you? Don’t flash those innocent brown eyes at me, I know how well you manipulate.

I wonder if I imagined this boy reading this letter and being flattered by it. Because the weird coy hostility here isn’t working at all. LP’s got no game.

You’ve brainwashed me, that’s it.

You guys, I’m sure as soon as I was finished writing this — and oh, believe me when I say it’s a first draft and there are almost zero corrections. I’ll be sure to let you know whenever I changed my mind mid-genius — I’m sure as soon as I finished the last loopy scribble I flipped back to the first page and read the entire thing out loud. Because even then I knew that if it didn’t sound right, it didn’t read right. So I’m wondering how I performed this one. I bet I was so creepy, reading it with what I assumed was a sexy smirk. You know, I’m not one to advocate teenage sex or any kind of adult behavior among the little, but maybe if by fifteen I had at least an idea of what sex or sexiness was that wasn’t solely acquired by watching Cinemax in the middle of the night I’d have made, like 32% less of a fool of myself. Maybe. Maybe 12%.

But back to the cheeky sex kitten. I believe she was blushingly accusing her beloved of the amorous act of brainwashing. Continue reading

8 Nov 1990

I don’t even have an introduction to this because I’m just so… in awe of how much passionate heartache I was capable of feeling all by myself.

Oh, man. Here we go.

8 Nov 1990

It doesn’t matter what I try to do. Every time I try to do something you start to take control again. You creep into my soul — you’ve perfected it by now — and occupy my every thought, every move, every emotion.

What is this, five weeks later? You guys, I’m talking about a completely different boy here. A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT HUMAN BEING. Continue reading

1 Oct. 1990

So I found this stack of letters I never sent from twenty years ago that appear to chronicle a month-long, rather one-sided relationship I had with a boy who may or may not have ever known that I thought I was in love with him.

This would be a good segue to explain why I cannot watch the show Hoarders, because while all of you sit back and judge and cluck and wretch, I am breathless with anxiety, clutching my throat, thinking, “How can they just throw out that entire box of old onesies without asking which five are the most important?! They don’t even know why she saved them! There’s a reason!”

But instead, since I’m going to just go ahead and hoard my hoarding confession, I figure I’ll post these letters. I can’t do them all in one post. They’re kind of lengthy, and… well, I think that would be too damaging for my self-esteem. That’s one thing I can’t seem to stockpile: dignity.

Here we go. Enjoy. All letters are typed exactly as written, typos and all. Continue reading

My Friend Ragan Is Crazy Talented.

I’m proud to pimp the poetry book of one of my dearest friends, Ragan Fox.

exile in gayville is everything I love about Ragan. Spot-on hilarious, yank-your-marrow honesty, clever-clever without a hint of “i-mean-if-you-can-understand-but-i’m-sure-you-can’t,” and the next thing you know, you feel like you’ve always known him, and you’re grateful for everything he shared with you.

But, you know, fancier people said it better:

“Ragan Fox’s searing chronicle of growing up gay is an anguished autobiography composed of poems unerring in their ferocity and their truths. These stanzas, which seem to be scraped directly from the surface of the poet’s skin, are both gut-twisting and impossible to turn away from. No edges are blurred, nothing is held back. Sharpening a creative signature that already sported a razor edge, Fox grants us
witness to the crafting of an unapologetic life.”

-Patricia Smith, four-time individual National Poetry Slam champion and National Book Award finalist for Blood Dazzler

“In a post-Will and Grace world, there is something freshly anarchic about the poetry of Ragan Fox. In the service of the story, Fox isn’t afraid to get ugly, to be the mean girl, the irresponsible son, the nervous guy who can’t keep track of his f*ck list while filling out forms for his AIDS test. Fearlessly exploring every aspect of his life — from the trials of his love life, to the death of his father, to the TV shows he uses to escape — Fox approaches the reader with a joke on his tongue, a glint in his eye and hook in his hand for your heart. And that’s what makes his latest collection sing: that no matter how hilariously raw or painfully voyeuristic the verse, Fox finds a real tenderness, a true humanity in the chaos. With his latest collection of poetry, Fox doesn’t just walk the thin line between the shock and the awe, he swaggers all over it.”

-Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz, author of Words In Your Face: A Guide Tour Through Twenty Years of the New York City Poetry Slam

“Exile in Gayville probes the root of our glittering, American paranoia as it attempts to organize the detritus of the speaker’s past into a comprehensible mythology. Fox methodically plays pick-up sticks with the fragments of his formative years in a way that is more detective-like than confessional. Declarative, essayistic, playful, and vividly descriptive, Gayville reads more like a fragmented experimental memoir than a collection of poems. At times surreal, language-y, and often heartbreakingly funny, Fox mans multiple forms (micro-play, curriculum vitae, ballad, litany, epistle, flarf, index) in order to fully navigate the gay gyre. In this way, the poet manages to gauge not only his own pulse, but that of a post-Prop 8 nation.”

-Karyna McGlynn, author of I Have to Go Back to 1994 and Kill a Girl

my archived heart.

Looking through a high school yearbook from 1991. Turns out I was quoted on the “Valentine’s Day” page.

Of course, if you happened to be in the unfortunate position of being, well, unattached, then Valentine’s Day can be a little depressing. Pam Ribon describes the occasion this way: “Valentine’s Day is a cess-pool of a black and disgusting wasteland and a paganistic ritual that only ends up smashing my heart into a bloody, massive pulp. Happy Valentine’s Day!”

— Katy High School Yearbook, ’91. ([sic] x a million)

I suppose this could be considered my very first Valentine Poem. I must have been a blast to hang around back then, huh?