This website was archived on July 21, 2019. It is frozen in time on that date.

Sonya Mann's active website is Sonya, Supposedly.

Romance Novels & Stigma

“[T]he long history of Harlequin does a lot to explain why ‘no no no OK actually yes’ became such a popular trope. It’s very easy to forget how hard women had to fight over the course of the twentieth century to feel they had a right to sexual pleasure. And so, while romance is often treated as a static genre, I prefer to think of it as a sprawling, decades-long intergenerational discussion (sometimes polite, sometimes a bare-knuckle brawl) among women about what constitutes love, how one finds a partner that’s worth putting up with the occasional tantrums and dirty socks. Scenes that disturb the modern reader nevertheless paved the way for the more sex-positive genre we enjoy today.” — Kelly Faircloth

Antique Romance Meets Prophylactics

“I get the lubricant, he the prophylactics. Sometimes we’re old-fashioned people doing the best we can.”

Quote from the short story “Business Talk” by Max Apple, which I read in a collection edited by Rob Ford: Blue Collar, White Collar, No Collar. “Business Talk” is about a tired New York couple with a baby. The wife suddenly decides to be an entrepreneur, opening a froyo place with a not-very-close friend. It goes dubiously well and gets kind of absurdist near the end. Recommended, but don’t trip over yourself finding the story. In my opinion that quote is the best part.

Lube and condoms are the accoutrements of a modern relationship. I love the juxtaposition with the tedium of married-with-kids sex—I guess I should say supposed tedium. Putting these clinical matter-of-fact fiddly bits next to the idea of being “old-fashioned people” tickles my fancy. The word “prophylactics” really sells it.

Grab a Condom Embroidery Hoop Art

Grab a Condom Embroidery Hoop Art

Embroidery by Hey Paul Studios.

Wheels Rumbling On: Notes From The Road

The following was written on January 21st, 2015, when I still intended to make a second issue of my perzine Semi Sonya.

I just got back from a long road-trip with my boyfriend Alex. It wasn’t the longest road-trip that anyone has ever taken, obviously, but for me it was really long. January 4th to January 19th, from the San Francisco Bay Area to Seattle and then back again. By the 15th I was like, “GOD, I’m so tired, I wanna go home, let’s get out of here!”

Traveling can be exhausting. But the trip was also brave and interesting and I loved spending that much time with Alex. I’m glad that we went.

Great Oregon Outback
Photo by Sally.

Last night was the first time I’ve slept alone for more than two weeks, and while it’s nice to thrash and drool without worrying about the other sleeper, I missed my warm cuddly man. I texted him good night but it wasn’t the same, you know?

Anyway, here are two of my first journal entries from the road, lightly edited for readability:

1/6/2015, early evening

I haven’t been journaling as much as I wanted to, as much as I thought I would. Road-tripping is busy busy busy, driving around and seeing people, like Adi [one of my close friends] and Alex’s family. I am tired. Plus it all seems somewhat mundane. Occasionally I notice a moment and think, “I can describe this like a scene in a novel,” but mostly life just feels… normal. Ain’t that always how it goes?

1/7/2015, 10:30am

Currently waiting for Alex’s friend to pick us up and take us out for a pizza lunch in Keizer, the town where Alex grew up. It’s a suburb of Salem, where his parents live now. Their house is walking distance from the Oregon State Hospital, where One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest was filmed.

I watched that movie in my high-school psych class, after we learned about the guy who invented/modernized the prefrontal lobotomy (ice picks in through the eyes, basically). In the movie they break into Jack Nicholson’s skull and saw off part of it, which always bothered me because there’s no way that the doctors actually would have chosen the more laborious and dangerous version of the procedure.

I said “where” a lot in that previous paragraph and I think it indicates that this sprawling trip has me thinking about space, about geography. The placement of people, memories, and experiences. The process of searching, of finding, and hopefully of stumbling onto what you didn’t know you’d find. What you wouldn’t have guessed was on your path!

Alex mentioned that there are parallels between our journey and the archetypal hero’s quest. What goes against the trope is our lack of a specific goal, and the fact that we’re a duo with no protagonist/sidekick hierarchy. Of course, we’re each the main character in our own minds, but we’re determined to hold hands and walk side-by-side, or at least to switch off leading when we’re marching single-file.

I’m disturbed to find myself using military language, disturbed to notice the less romantic parallel to colonial Europe’s “discovery” of America. I don’t want to be a traveler who arrives at each destination full of ideas and even requirements, but to a certain extent it’s inevitable. I was about to say, “At least the Pacific Northwest is a lot like home,” but maybe I just don’t seek the experiences that would be novel and edifying.

Hence the importance of stumbling along the way. I am a romantic again, wanting to trip and be caught by strangers who will show me how to tread securely on local land.

Illustration: I Could Bring My Shame

The Weeknd Abel Tesfaye mini-zine images

I made a mini fanzine about The Weeknd. For those of you unfamiliar with the artist, this is how I described him in SPURNED:

“Abel Tesfaye, better known as The Weeknd, is perpetually melancholy. He sings with tremulous vigor. He addresses themes that are common in rap and rock ‘n’ roll: money, drugs, sex. Identity-building through escape. ‘Bring your body, baby. I could bring you fame.’ Tesfaye’s groaning melodies evoke summer nostalgia, the queer ache for a better connection.”

During the past few months I have listened to a lot of The Weeknd’s music, over and over again. Naturally that made me want to produce art about him and his lyrics. I wasn’t pleased with the printed version of I Could Bring My Shame, so I decided it would work better as a blog post. The content is mostly drawings, but there is a written section.

The Weeknd Abel Tesfaye mini-zine images
The Weeknd Abel Tesfaye mini-zine images
The Weeknd Abel Tesfaye mini-zine images
The Weeknd Abel Tesfaye mini-zine images
The Weeknd Abel Tesfaye mini-zine images

11/22/2014, 10:56am

Last night I dreamed that I was at The Weeknd’s concert, probably one of the pair he did in San Francisco although the dream did not specify. It was a dream so it didn’t make proper sense. He was swaying to the music, not really performing, and in the dream I flashed to my mom and said, “Electro concerts are awkward because the artist just plays the recording.” My mom wasn’t there, in the blue-purple-grey smoke of the venue, but back in our muted limestone-tiled kitchen at home. The limestone is red-brown-orange. In the dream I could teleport but I didn’t think about it. It was time smooshed together, all the #snippets blending because of the pressure, the force applied.

Surely at his real concert, The Weeknd crooned into the mic and all the girls swooned. I swooned in my dream even though he was just lounging, just standing there really. His crazy hair was extending everywhere, growing up and away from him, leaving the stage and curling around the crowd. I’m lying; it didn’t happen like that in the dream. My awake self is making it up.

I don’t only exist on Thursdays, unfortunately. I looked at The Weeknd’s Instagram once and some girl commented on a random concert photo like, “Please love me, Abel! I promise I’ll only exist on Thursdays.” I was embarrassed on her behalf but I can be like that too. I’ve hit on at least one rapper via Twitter. It was pathetic. I think I deleted those posts but I’m not sure.

“Don’t make me make you fall in love. Don’t make me make you fall in love. Don’t make me make you fall in love with a [man] like me…” Okay, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to make you, but you’ve made me anyway, and you don’t really exist, not like I imagine you. I’m sorry.

He makes us all fall in love, all of us with self-esteem from Lana Del Rey lyrics. (“Dear Lord, when I get to heaven, please let me bring my man. When he comes, tell me that you’ll let him in. Father, tell me if you can.” I should have capitalized “heaven” but it wasn’t my first impulse.) Those two artists are linked in my head even though The Weeknd doesn’t sing about Lolita, I don’t think. Does he?

I’ll admit that I’m self-conscious. Who am I kidding? I always admit that. Okay, I’ll admit that I’m telling myself, “They thought they were going to read about The Weeknd but they’re reading your stream-of-consciousness trash diary about how lyrics mean too much to you. Lyrics mean too much to everyone. But we all know they’re writing about themselves, the goddam narcissist artists I love.” I mean, fucking Morrissey is the best sad-kid example, right? And he’s clearly writing about himself.

I only write about myself.

“Louis V bag. Tats on your arms. High-heeled shoes make you six feet tall. Everybody wants you; you can have them all. But I got what you need.” Six-inch heels bring me up to six feet…

The Weeknd Abel Tesfaye mini-zine images
The Weeknd Abel Tesfaye mini-zine images

Collage: Ain’t I Good To You

My partner Alex and I like to laze around watching TV and making paper collages. It’s one of my favorite things to do with him. Ostensibly, these sessions are for working on Emeryville Ethereal, but usually we’re just goofing off and assembling semi-random art. Nevertheless, we often produce good content. Alex’s style influences me, making my work more interesting (and I hope vice versa). Last time we watched Aqua Teen Hunger Force. Here are two of the miscellaneous collages that I produced:

hey baby, ain't i good to you? party collage
high fashion & circus clowns collage

I may need to re-scan that second one. I’m not sure why the magazine grain is so prominent…

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