Daily Archives: April 19, 2015

James Thurber, Miss Powell, & a Dalek

No matter what I write, this owl will not be impressed.

No matter what I write, this owl will not be impressed.

If you’re on the delayed 12:14 Leeds from Doncaster, and you happen to have a disapproving notebook (above) with you, what happens?

Apparently, if you’re me (1), you write this list:

Why Write?

1) I write because it keeps me sane.
2) I write because I’m tap dancing on the edge of sanity.
3) … because, back in third grade, Miss Powell told me my sentences were “interesting”.
4) … because it’s the only way I’ll find out why someone posted a bone through Sherlock Jones’ letterbox. (2)
5) … because there are worse things to do with my time
6) … because it makes me laugh.
7) …because someday, somehow, I might help someone.
8) … because it may pay me, someday, to stay at home, and read (3)
9) Because the Dalek made me do it.
10) … to be a credit to my family.
11) … because I have a sense of humour  (see 10 above).
12) … because it’s the most fun I can have, sitting down.
13) … because I get to meet lots of interesting people: writers, artists, readers, etc.
14) … because no call centre manager in their right mind would ever hire me. 4)
15) … because I want to be the “writer in residence” at the museum dedicated to American humourist James Thurber
16) … because my mom bought me lots of great books as a kid, and, well, till she died, and I want to justify that investment of money, time, and love
17) … because I did a lot of English back in high school
18) … because I love free CDs and theatre tickets, and that’s why I do reviews
19) Because I want to build a Tardis shed.
20) … because I am frequently left unsupervised whilst there are notebooks, pens, pencils and a laptop about, sometimes for long periods of time.

Another owl: Leeds. The place is full of them.

Another owl: Leeds. The place is full of them.

1) I hope you aren’t … for both our sakes.
2) From the short story, “The Hound of the Basingstokes”
3) Research … it’s all about the research. Nothing to do with sitting in a deck chair in the back garden, drinking tea, and eating biscuits.
4) I certainly wouldn’t, if I were a call centre manager. 5)
5) I hope I don’t ever try and get a job in a call centre, because I’m so going to regret this.


Big Changes Ahead

I’m downsizing in a lot of respects. Due to my financial problems, I’m moving. I’m sad about it, I love my condo but I just can’t afford it along with all my medical expenses. I’m moving into a house with 2 roommates whom I have known for years. I’ll miss my quiet neighborhood and my balcony, but I get space to myself and a full backyard to plant my veggies and flowers in.

I’ve begun the process of going through items, donating what I can and wondering just how I got so much stuff. It’s a weird relief though, to get rid of things I’m not using. A lot of the “stuff” traces back to my bipolar and my manic phases when I’d make all sorts of impulse purchases to get the instant gratification I loved. I’m also assessing which furniture items will be going to my new place, which I’m donating and which I’m giving to my sister for her house. It’s daunting and tiring, but it’s kept me from thinking negative thoughts.

As far as my health goes, I see a rheumatologist this week and I’m hopeful it will help. I’ve been much better about taking my medications as I am supposed to, thanks to an app on my phone and setting a reminder on my Fitbit. My sleep has been broken of late, but a lot of that has to do with the pain from my fibromyalgia. I haven’t been too depressed the last two weeks, just a slight sadness about having to move, but knowing it’s for the best usually helps shake that feeling off. Overall, I’m really proud of how I am handling this emotionally. I’ve been able to avoid getting overwhelmed and looking at this as a new start.

Readers: Is it hard for you to let go of things? Any big changes coming up in your life? Please share in the comments!

Filed under: Uncategorized Tagged: change

How Did You Know You Were Non-Binary?

The photo features the author, Sam, looking down contemplatively.

This is what a genderqueer person looks like!

I was watching an episode of Bones, oddly enough, when I first realized that I might be transgender.

No, I’m not kidding. I wish it were a more exciting story, but I have to be honest. I was just sitting on my couch, watching television, when the light bulb began to flicker.

In this particular episode, there was a distinguished anthropologist who had joined the team temporarily to help solve a case. I remember, vividly, the first moment that I saw this anthropologist on screen. They were androgynous — visibly outside the binary, sending the other characters into a complete panic as they tripped over pronouns and social conventions.

My heart raced throughout the entire episode. I don’t remember the murder, much less who the culprit was, but I do recall how captivated I felt by this character and their androgyny.

And then there was a thought that bubbled to the surface, one that changed my life.

“I want to be them.”

I wanted to be this person. Desperately. No, not an accomplished scientist, though that would be cool. I wanted to be androgynous and have everything that I imagined went with it.

I thought about how I might achieve that androgynous look, to confuse others and exist beyond categorization. But more than that, I wanted the freedom I felt they had — the freedom to be who they were without others forcing a label onto them.

Maybe I felt this way because, for a long time, I could feel so many gendered assumptions being forced onto me.

“Woman” had always felt like a filter that reduced me somehow, like it diluted me or masked me. I felt like an outsider to it, like it was a story I was told but never believed with any certainty. I had been wrestling with my gender, trying to fit in or at least coexist with it, but instead I came up empty and I didn’t know why.

I didn’t know at that time who or what I was. But I had a sense of what I was not. And I had known, for a long time, that I was not what people told me I was. I felt lonely and misunderstood without the words to express why. There was something about being perceived as a girl, and then as a woman, that made me feel alienated.

I often wished that these labels didn’t exist at all; being called a woman was like being backed into a corner I couldn’t get out of, and the sense that I was trapped was, at times, suffocating.

I took baby steps at first. I cut off my hair and immediately felt a weight lifted. I stopped wearing makeup. And I started reading up about androgyny, contemplating my next move. And then something amazing happened — I met someone like me.

I met Ray, a genderqueer classmate who, much like the character in Bones, was spectacularly androgynous. And again, I could feel my heart bursting at the seams. I was envious, too, of how they seemed to blur so many boundaries. I thought of how liberating it must feel. I thought of how much I wanted to be rid of the labels that made me feel so uncomfortable.

Ray gave me resources, guidance, support, and yes, the language that I needed to begin to describe how I felt. I finally understood. I was drawn to androgyny — people like the doctor on Bones, Ray, and other queer people that I met not long after — not because of how they looked, but because my assigned gender itself was making me unhappy.

I realized that I wasn’t a woman because I knew, on an intrinsic level, that this did not align with how I experienced my gender and myself.

The discomfort with parts of my body and how I was seen, the deep longing for escape, the sense that I didn’t belong, the inexplicable sense that I was misunderstood, the painful desire to be “something else” but not knowing what that was, and finally, the uncontainable excitement that I felt each time I met someone who was visibly androgynous made me realize that I felt this way because my gender was something other than what I had been told.

Maybe I had other options. Maybe, instead of calling myself a woman, I could embrace this androgynous space that I felt so at home in.

I was transgender, and at age 19, I finally understood.

I knew that this angst around being seen as a woman, and my fantasies about “escaping” my assigned gender, meant that something was not aligning with how others saw me and how I really saw myself.

It’s hard to explain how we know our own gender. It’s often just a sense of who we are, filtered through culture and the words we have available to us. We know, with tragic cases like that of David Reimer, the existence of third and even fourth genders around the world, and the countless stories and experiences of transgender people, that gender is more than just anatomy.

But with something so intangible, it can be difficult to express who we are. When the language around gender is still evolving, we are limited in what we can say. It’s approximations, it’s our best guess, it’s prodding at the unknown.

So here’s what I know: Each step I took towards the gray — the in-between, the neither here nor there — made me feel more comfortable, more at home, more whole. And calling myself genderqueer has been perhaps the most honest thing I’ve ever said.

Identifying as non-binary was my way of saying to the world, “I know what I am not. And I am on a journey to discover what I am.”

I am still on that journey. And the excitement I felt when I saw that androgynous scientist for the first time is now the excitement I get to feel each day, when I get closer and closer to articulating what it is I feel and who it is I want to be.

There is a conviction I cannot shake, one that urges me forward, a certainty in my bones that tells me that who I am exists beyond this binary. A binary that, no, cannot contain me and no, was never meant to.

Sam Dylan Finch is a queer activist and feminist writer, based in the SF Bay. He is the founder of Let’s Queer Things Up!, his blog and labor of love. With a passion for impacting change through personal narrative, Sam writes about his struggles and triumphs as genderqueer and bipolar with the hopes of teaching others about his identity and community. When he isn’t writing, he’s probably eating takeout and dancing to Taylor Swift.

Connect with SDF: Website ; Facebook ; Twitter ; Tumblr

the effing prestigious blahpolar blog award thingy

Silly Sassfrass nominated me for an award with no rules. I pawed the ground, skipped through a flowery meadow, stopping only to snuggle a llama, and now here I am.

The rules are so mellow that they believe bipolar can be cured by butterflies. Feel free to reject me, my dog and the entire nation of blah by ignoring this award – as long as you’re cool about the ensuing armpit acne that pops up it’s pimply little head within 4.78 days of your failure to comply entirely valid choice. Do what I tell you Feel free to interpret my edicts relaxed rules however you like.

Step right up, using your femurs; you dreamers and screamers and schemers and lemurs and meme-ers, with your misdemeanours in paddle steamers …

nye | blush and do that flapping your hands agitatedly near your chin as though you’re fanning  flames thing.
mbini | prepare an acceptance speech in the style of Sally Field.
ntathu | help yourself to one of the automatically generates handcrafted award images, but only if you feel inclined to do so.
ne | copy my explicit instructions suggestions, if you want to.
ntlanu | insert into and paste on to a fresh new post of your own, if you feel like it.
ntandathu | obey interpret my challenge to you to the letter however you want.
xhenxe | fire a pingback (and by that I mean ‘like to’) at this post if you’d like to ensure my usual bs erudite comments on your post.

20150419045533876Pick one / none / any / many:
tee | describe your first thoughts on waking, in the style of a Raymond Chandler private dick eye.
pêdi | describe the view from your window as though you were imprisoned.
tharo | write a conversation between you and your favourite singer.
nnê | write a poem about your underwear.

And now, *excited rustling of paper and a flirty look exchanged with co host* the nominees are …
Sufferin’ Sassafrass
Dyane ‘potty mouth’ Double-Barrelled Surname – Proudly Bipolar
Donna Spanglishia Quixote – My Spanglish Familia
roughghosts the reviewer
morgueticia ‘smackabitch’ atoms
k ‘gangsta’ bailey

I used my top 6 commenters in order of mouthiness (check stats) to pick nominees, hopefully they’ll be the ones most likely to see this post and might even accept this thingy prestigious award. Also, I love them.

Disclaimer: no unicorns were smacked in the creation of this post.


The Drawbacks of Crystal (A Journey)

The roads always seem to be icy when our lives take a crazy turn ... It's a delicate thing to be immunosuppressed. It sounds so pretty, like pressing flowers in a book...