Matt Bernstein Sycamore gave a reading from Dangerous Families: Queer Writing on Surviving at Bailey/Coy Books on May 6. We asked him to write about his audience at Bailey/Coy and the people he met on his way here.

I was gonna start by talking about how the Greyhound got stuck in Williams, CA, and where's that? We'd barely gotten past the sweltering station in Sacramento.

But instead I'm gonna start with the end, waking up at 7:00 a.m. in my San Francisco apartment and literally starting to cry. Because my mattress is too hard, I turned on my side while I was sleeping. And my body is so fragile because of all this pain that started in my wrists and ended up everywhere.

But let's go back to the Greyhound--not to say that pain isn't relevant because Dangerous Families is about the ways our families fuck us and fuck us up, and all this pain left in my body is one of those ways. But the Greyhound, right? The Greyhound gets stuck in Williams, CA--by the gas station that has a Shell insignia but it says Quality Fuels. We wait for a new bus to show up.

Surprisingly, there are several hot guys among the passengers and I try not to watch them too closely. I call Steve--there are a few people here who don't go to our church but they should. Steve says it's Monday, people don't go to church on Monday. No, Steve--our church. Oh--that church.

The boy I spotted back in San Francisco, the one who was gonna be my Greyhound romance, turns out to have a girlfriend but he likes my pink luggage and we have a great conversation about inspiration and art and Terry Richardson's photos where he comes all over preteen girls' faces, which luckily I haven't seen yet. Our conversation is almost like romance except without the tension. Later, on the new bus, I rush to the bathroom five times to vomit. I don't know why.

In Ashland, Mark gets up to drive me to the 5:30 a.m. bus. We listen to country music to stay awake and also because it's in the CD player. In Portland, someone I haven't met leaves me his room so I can take a nap and when I get up, there are cats there. In Olympia, I watch Showgirls with Alix at 3:00 a.m. --I go to bed before the end, but--no question--hands down, it's the best worst movie I've ever seen.

In Vancouver, Michael asks all these careful questions at the reading about style and craft and truth, then afterwards he wants to know what I think about community. I say for me it's the people with whom I'm actively working on projects or family-building. My community, he says, is everyone on the bus. I wonder if he's been going to too many faerie gatherings.

In Seattle, at Bailey/Coy Books, there's a sparrow trapped in the store and a baby crying, but the rest of the audience is quiet as snow. I'm nervous about the bird (and the distracted audience), but glad the baby is there because the kids need to learn about dangerous families early on, right?

Let's just say that as soon as the reading ends, the baby stops crying and the bird flies out the door, because that's how stories work. On the bus to Bellingham, this drunk middle-aged woman puts my hand on her breast and wants to know if I know Willie in San Francisco--he was as cute as you, 20 years ago. Her drunk companion wants to know if I'm gay, then he wants to know if I have a Prince Albert.

Bellingham is the surprise. I wasn't sure whether anyone was gonna show up and then suddenly it's packed, the audience is loud, everyone wants to hear about assimilation. But that's my next book, which comes out in the fall: That's Revolting! Queer Strategies for Resisting Assimilation.

Back in Seattle, I go to QFC to get 2:00 a.m. groceries so I can cook for the 22-hour train ride back home. This guy comes up to me, over by the coffee grounds, he says, Excuse me, but you look a lot like Matt Bernstein Sycamore. He's read my novel, Pulling Taffy, and he tells me I'm inspiring.

In line, someone wants to buy five hundred lottery tickets, but I've already won.

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