The Inevitable Typo

Over the last few days or so I have been going back through many of my older posts and making slight revisions here and there. In some cases, I have rewritten an entire paragraph … or two. It’s a distressing thought because as careful as I try to be when I’m writing, typos inevitably turn up in my finished work.

There is something intensely humiliating about typos. I’m sure I’m not the only one to feel this way. Even when I edit my work I frequently miss typos, which only become glaringly obvious after I have published and shared it with others. Occasionally, people (mostly my husband) point out these errors to me and I correct them as quickly as I can but even outside scrutiny isn’t enough. Plenty of my past posts have grammatical issues and a few seriously incomplete or muddled sentences.

Of course, I cannot expect other people to be my editors. I mean, I’m not exactly compensating anyone for it. So, I’ve come to a solution, one which I have often considered but never implemented until now. In the past, I have published new posts very soon after completing them but I am much too careless and insensible to my mistakes when I’m eager to share what I have been working on. Instead of publishing immediately and risking errors, I’m going to hold onto new posts for a day so that I can read through them with a fresh, critical eye and make any necessary corrections.

It won’t be easy because I get very excited when I finish a post but it’s about time I put some of the skills I have learned in school to the betterment of my writing on here.

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The Funny Thing About Productivity

The summer break has passed and so too has most of my free time. Normally, this would upset me but this summer was a bit different than the last three or four.

I have never taken any courses over the summer break, initially because my college had made cuts and consequently did not offer any of the courses I need over the summer semester, and I have kept to this rule even after I transferred to a four-year university. I took the summer breaks, and the free time they afforded me, as an opportunity to focus on personal projects, such as reading books, writing for my blog or other things, and social engagements.

I typically get a lot done over the summer but last summer was a different matter. I wasn’t nearly as productive as I usually am during the summer break and I failed to  complete, or even begin, some of the projects I wanted to work on. I felt very disappointed in myself but, on the other hand, I got plenty of rest and saw friends and family frequently. Sometimes the simple things are enough.

Productivity is a funny thing. I know a lot of it comes down to commitment and perseverance. You can’t just wait for inspiration to motivate you. You have to motivate yourself. I often find this to be a problem for me and a especially difficult problem during the long summer break. The other problem is the illusion of time. Whenever I have lot of time on my hands to do things I tend to put them off, thinking I can always do it later because I have so much time, but in actually, this lends itself to perpetual delay.

Oddly enough, I often feel like I can get more done during the semester, when I have more work to do and much less time for anything else, and I believe this comes done to how I perceive time. Because time is strictly limited and I want to work on personal projects, it is easier to motivated myself because I can’t really procrastinate, and when I need ti put off my personal projects it is typically for very sound reasons. I can be productive even when I’m not working on my personal projects because I have also important work to do for school but during the summer I don’t have this to fall back on.

Next summer may be  a different story. One of the courses required for my major includes a internship, which I suspect (but have as yet not confirmed) may be off-campus, and rather than take it during the Fall or Spring semesters, where the demands on my time and energy are strong, I may take it during the Summer semester. I don’t know whether it will help to improve my productivity but I intend to make it so.

Everyday Horror

Some writers of horror begin with something mundane and make it frightening but Shirley Jackson, on the other hand, reveals what is genuinely frightening in the mundane.  This thought has been on my mind for several weeks, as I have been trying to think of a way to describe something that happened to me a month ago.

The short version would go like this:

A man on the bus sexually harassed me and was unusually solicitous about how it made me feel.

The longer version would go like this.

As I was riding home on the bus after a long and tiresome day at school, I noticed a man sitting near the front of the bus occasionally looking back at me.  That happens to be frequently and, while it made me feel uncomfortable, I tried as best as I could to put it out of my mind and focus instead on my reading.  As it just so happened, I was reading a story by Shirley Jackson, entitled Paranoia.  Now you know where things stand.

With every deliberate glance from this man, I began to worry whether he might do or say.   Strange and frightening things have happened to me on the bus before.

I was right.

After a short time, he came over and sat down in the seat beside me.  Not being one to talk to stranger, I tried my best to appear aloof and unreachable but he, almost immediately, spoke to me.  He introduced himself and I followed suite, reluctantly.  Much of what he said after this point was difficult for me to hear over the noise of the crowded bus.  I tried, as difficult as it was, to hear him and nodded politely in recognition.

“I want to show you my cock,” he said, leaning into me.

I couldn’t believe my ears but I had heard him clearly despite all the noise.  I quickly told him I did not want to see it.  He asked me if that had made me comfortable.  I told him it made me feel very uncomfortable and added, proudly, that his behavior was very inappropriate.

Luckily for me, my stop was coming up. I wouldn’t have to put up with this man any longer.  As the bus stopped, I rose to get up and the man got up to let me by but as I passed me, he angrily said, “I’m not your ass! I’m not your mouth.” Not bothering to stop or respond, I stepped of the bus with great relief. For moment I worried whether he might followed me and look back periodically to make certain he had not.

I was right. He hadn’t.

My Life So Far

When I think back upon my twenty-seven years of life two things come to mind.  Oh, dear god, I’m nearly thirty!  and the fact that I have been living openly as a gay and gender-fluid person for a full decade now.  The last ten years have not been easy but I count them among my happiest yet because I was able to live them as myself.

Often a Mistress but Never a Bride

When I look back on my love life prior to meeting my husband I cannot help feeling uneasy about discussing it. My love life was almost void of physical interactions yet it was filled with emotionally intense interactions that shaped how I perceived and evaluated myself. My first boyfriend lived many miles away and over the seven months of our relationship (and the year of strained friendship that followed) we only spent three weeks within touching distance. A friend of mine at the time dismissed it, insisting that the distance did not make it a real relationship, but despite my friend’s objection, it felt very real to me. We were emotionally involved and committed to a relationship, even if it was primarily long distance and dramatically shortened by mutual discontent. It may not seem like much to other people but these experiences have had a significant impact on my life. Strangely, it was the lack of activity in my love life was a part of a more complex and personally painful problem.

I got off to a slow start. I wanted to date more than anything after I came out but I was rather shy about. The internet helped to compensate for my social anxiety and connected me to many people I would never have known without it. However, even as I was making friends, I wasn’t having much luck meeting guys and it was largely due to my purposefully androgynous appearance. I did not fit the masculine type these men wanted. That I preferred to wear skirts instead of pants was enough of a reason to reject me outright. This kind of rejection is always painful to me and has frequently intensified my gender dysphoria. On a number of occasions, I was bluntly told, “If I wanted to date a woman, I wouldn’t be gay.” The fact that I was and intend to remain physically male did not make a difference to them.

My first boyfriend was not exception. He liked me at first and flattered me with many compliments but all throughout our short relationship he frequently tried to turn me into the kind of man he actually wanted. He openly told me that he thought I wasn’t cute enough and discouraged me from wearing women’s clothing. f course, he wasn’t always as mean as this and we had our good times but our problems never went away. It became increasing clear to me that he would never accepted for for what I am and this hurt me considerably because I sincerely believed there would be no one else for me. The pain became so bad that I started cutting myself, punishing myself for not being the person he wanted me to be, and even spent two nights under psychiatric observation after I stabbed myself with an X-Acto knife.

The only men (apart from my ex) who expressed an earnest desire for me were what are colorfully known as “tranny chasers.” These are men who are specifically attracted to transgender women or crossdessing men. At the time, I thought little of it. I was young, inexperienced, and eager to make a connection. Their attention gratified my need to feel attractive and wanted by men but interacting with these men quickly became unsatisfying and even humiliating.

Our interactions were pretty simple. They would send me a message, complementing my appearance and bluntly asking for pictures or for an exchange erotic emails. I was young and assumed this was typical for gay men. After a while, it became clear to me that the exchange was unequal, tilted forever in their favor because I was eager to gratify their desires for the mere promise of reciprocity. Many of these men became hostile when I refused to continue with these types of communications and several harassed me online for months afterward. (That’s in addition to the daily onslaught of harassing messages I got at the time from perfect strangers on social networking sites.) One man, in particular, pursued me for more than year. Of all the men I interacted with online, he was the only man I ever met in person or slept with. I took his consistent interest as a positive sign and, fortunately for me, he turned out to be very nice. Even when I broke promises to meet him again, he never became hostile or angry. However, as nice as he was, his interests were still exclusively sexual and was, to me, just one of many reminders of my undesirability. I was the mistress and nothing more to these men, without much hope of ever becoming the bride.

When I talked to a few of my friends about these experiences, they encouraged me to take it as a compliment. To be honest, I dearly wanted to take it as a compliment. To some extent it was nice, as sex often is for many people, but at the end of the day, it was all that I had or felt that I could expect. The inevitable disappointment this type of sexual contact entailed haunted me every day but I could not entirely draw myself away from it because my loneliness always returned. Although I stopped interacting with “tranny chasers,” I still sought out casual sexual encounters. Since I lived with my family at the tome, could’t drive, and had little money, I rarely ever met any of men with whom I made plans. When I look back now, I’m glad my circumstances had prevented me from taking on easy hookups. At the time it frustrated me but I do not doubt that the alternative would have been much worse.

Memories of my sexual past still evoke some pain but the wounds I once carried with me have healed. Time can heal some wounds but love is by far the stronger remedy and I found that with me husband. He gave me all the things I had always wanted but could never get from other men—romance! He took me to restaurant and bars, gave me gifts and introduced me to his friends. He wasn’t embarrassed to be seen with me. For the first time, I felt genuinely and completely appreciated and loved. He did not make me feel ashamed of my appearance as my first boyfriend had but embraced it. Before I met him I did not think I would ever find such a person, and I couldn’t be more grateful to have him in my life. With him by my side, I can finally close an unhappy chapter in my life and live as I always wanted to, a valid person worthy of love.

Our Second Wedding Anniversary

DSC02131Today my husband and I are celebrating our second wedding anniversary. It also happens to be the fifth anniversary of our first date. It’s a great convenience having only to remember one date for two significant events in our lives. It wasn’t entirely intentional either, as it was the earliest time we could schedule or civil ceremony following the repeal of Prop 8.

Our civil ceremony was very simple. We went down to our local courthouse, alone and without any friends or family, and tied the knot. Some of our family members were upset by our not arranging a ceremony but having one was both beyond our means at the time and not the most appealing option.

Speaking for myself, I’m not one for elaborate ceremony. They make me nervous. Nevertheless, I do somewhat regret having the opportunity the throw the bouquet. I can just imagine my best friend shouting at me from the crowd of our friends and family, “Gene, you’re not supposed to aim!”

For my husband, our civil ceremony holds a special meaning. His maternal grandparents both served during World War II and got married as soon as they could after the war. They weren’t even officially discharged from service and went to the courthouse in their uniforms; and since they had come alone, a witness (an old man who hung around the courthouse precisely for this reason) was provided. Coincidentally (or perhaps providentially), their wedding anniversary also falls on July 23rd.

They marriage didn’t require much to be special and that’s how my husband and I felt about ours. We love each other utterly and we felt confident about our future together pretty early on in our relationship. My sister-in-law frequently makes beeping noise and announces them as the “perfect relationship alert” whenever she observes us being affectionate towards each other. I don’t think she’s far off. I could not have asked for a more supportive and understanding husband.

My androgynous appearance and preference for women clothing, rather the conventionally appropriate dress for my sex, was a problem for my first boyfriend and frequently discourage a number of homosexual men from ever considering me seriously as a partner. My husband, on the other hand, appreciates my sense of style and finds it compelling for many reasons. My husband had not been very lucky in love either and fear, as a result of too many disappointments, that he would never find anyone who could tolerate him.

Even as same-sex marriage has been universally legalized throughout the US, it remains a controversial topic—even among queer people. Some reject it as a symbol of middle class values and the perpetuation of systemic power structures while others regard it as meaningful expression of their commitment and a necessary legal provision.

Personally, I do not regard civil marriage, as it currently exists, as the final or best form. Marriage should not be the means to gaining citizenship, healthcare, or financial support. We can and should do more to provide for the fundamental needs of all citizens. With the current health care system in place, we making important stride towards fulfilling these ideals but we still have a long way to go. Nevertheless, civil marriage establishes a necessary legal relationship between two individuals. It makes your spouse you next of kin and gives them the responsibility for making medical decisions when you cannot. While these privileges can be given through wills and advanced directives, it is convenient to have them specified in one legal document. For queer individuals without supportive families, this legal provision can be of consequence. Civil marriage won’t solve many of the social problems affecting queer people but neither will it’s abolition.

Of course, there are those who oppose same-sex marriage on the unreasonable notion of heterosexual superiority but those opinions are hardly worth discussion here, as they have been so widely discredited by intellect far greater than myself.

My attitude toward civil marriage is fundamentally practical and pragmatic. Aside from certain legal provisions and rights, I demand little else. The rest is between my husband and my self, the love we feel for one another and the life we intend to share together.

Stripping: A Much Misunderstood Thing

It may sound rather taboo to say this but I have recently taken up stripping.

Get it? Stripping ... linoleum.

Get it? Stripping … linoleum.

Actually, I find it rather apPEALing, if you know what I mean.

Hopefully, the reader will excuse my dreadful punning and find some consolation in the fact that I use up most of my puns on my husband as a test audience.

Ever since my parents bought their current house in 2008, we been busy gradually fixing this and that. Stripping the linoleum off my bedroom floor is one of the ways I’m trying to help my parents out with the repairs. Unfortunately, in the last four years, college has intervened and made it more difficult for me to complete the task–but finally, at long last, I am beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel! Most of that ugly stuff is gone and the original wood floors are looking pretty good. The only other problem is getting the dried glue residue off. So far the best method is sanding but that can be very exhausting. Totally worth it though!

In the last three years we’ve managed to, as Quentin Crisp might have said, riddle our home with standards of living. When our water heating broke, sending hot water flooding into my closet and damaging some of the hardwood flooring, we had to go four or six months without hot water. The doom that came to our water heater had some something awful to the hot water pipes as well! Fortunately, we live in southern California and this catastrophe occurred during the spring and summer. We had the plumbing totally renovated the following fall and just in time before cold showers would have been just unbearable

We  have also had a few broken window replaced, the wiring complete redone, and central heating and cooling installed. Although the house once had radiators, they were gone by the time we arrived, and no other systems were every incorporated. I have spent several unbearable summers in this house because of it. Ironically, I’m currently in the process of gradually moving in with my in-laws (I much prefer the word invasion), so I won’t have as many opportunities to enjoy the cool air. My in-laws have central heating and cooling but it use is a rather controversial subject between my mother- and father-in-law. Well, unless my young niece is present and then it goes on.

C’est la vie, I suppose!