29 August 2011

on chivalry

there are a few things in Boston that are going to take some getting used to after living in Pittsburgh. i've thought to write about them, but one in particular has grabbed my attention lately.

it's so great to live in a city with functional mass transit. they have the T system really well worked out here: trains run frequently, fares are reasonable, and you can use them to get pretty much everywhere. but the subway cars are always crowded. the seats are arranged like a cross between the D.C. metro and the NYC subway, with some facing forward/backward and a fair number along the sides of the car. there's plenty of room for standers as well.

here's what i've noticed: the only people who offer to give up their seats to anyone are women. one man did offer his seat to me last week, but he was middle-aged and clearly from out of town (visiting his college-aged daughter and her boyfriend, who were both seated near him and his wife), and only after i offered my seat to an elderly woman who got on the train a few stops after us. outwardly-appearing male people under the age of 40 never offer their seats to anyone. not all outwardly-appearing female people do, but with that one exception, all the people i've seen do so have been women or girls.

this gets me thinking. ever since i figured out that gender roles are not black-and-white, i've tried to be chivalrous. that is, i try to treat people with respect, and i try to treat women with a special level of it. part of this is the lesbian in me, hoping she will notice, and part of this is the gender rebel in me, trying to make people go what-the-fuck. but i never expect other women to behave this way; i always expect that men should.

if there is one seat left on the train and Chance and i are together, i always get to sit down.

the conclusion i'm drawing is, chivalry is not dead. chivalry will not die as long as there are butches.
the subsequent question: how does this relate to the still-foreign concept of outwardly heteronormative women performing chivalrous acts that their masculine counterparts do not?

16 August 2011

on emotional misconduct

i started writing this months ago about one emotion. then when i picked it up again, that one turned into two. the two are so closely related that i feel no need to adjust my use of nouns.

i'm glad i know what pure, all-consuming hatred feels like. it's not a comfortable feeling; i don't like it. i'm glad that i am able to experience the full range of human emotions in all their depth, and i like learning about them. i believe it is my purpose as a human being to live the fullest human experience i can, and emotional experience is a big part of that.

hate is ugly. it makes me an ugly person, and i don't want it in me. and the truth is, i don't know why it's in me. i've heard it said--mostly by religious people, which always makes me suspicious (even though in this case i suspect it's true)--that forgiveness is the cure. but forgiveness is hard, especially when you can't identify what it is you need to forgive a person for. or when it's so many things that it seems impossible, or their behavior is so consistent that it seems the person will never change and it won't be worth the effort.

it's not always possible to deal with anger productively. edit: it may not always be simple to do so. what if the person or people with whom you are angry is/are not receptive to anything you have to say? yelling doesn't work. even in writing--i've written pages i can't even flip past anymore without feeling heat bubble into my face.

so my response, at least recently, has been to leave it behind. this may or may not be the same as ignoring it. i can admit that i'm angry, i can admit that i feel hatred, but it seems to me that there's no need to invest energy in those negative emotions. so i don't. the problem is that this leaves a lot of things unresolved. it would be much easier if letting go meant letting go, but anger is a stubborn beast. if there is no resolution, no explanation of what made me angry and no indication that the situation will change (or, at the worst case, absolutely nothing i can do about it), the slightest thing can trigger a descent right back down that slippery slope. stupid facebook with its old pictures in the right-hand column. a shared name on a television show. someone of similar stature or bearing seen from behind. adrenaline, heat, and frustration. what do you do? what am i supposed to do?

i don't think that experiencing anger, or even hate, is in itself somehow unenlightened. but i think this lack of understanding of how to deal with it, this uncertainty that my method will work, shows there is a lot i have left to learn. and i think it's terribly unfortunate that there are people who want to keep me in those emotions--even moreso that in so doing, those people are keeping themselves there. (what's really funny is, in so doing, they've accused me of the same.)

i hope this is a conversation i can continue to have with myself. it needs to be.

09 August 2011


i've been meaning to write some thoughts on the wedding i went to as part of the Epic Road Trip, and here i sit having found about 2 dozen jobs to apply for and wanting to submit nothing until my signature is on a piece of paper that confirms i will have a Boston address, so i might as well.

it's interesting to find yourself in a collision of people you knew well a number of years ago, whether that number is few or many--it's all relative. some of those people have clearly kept in better touch than others. it's always interesting to take a field trip to your past.

the wedding ceremony itself was probably my favorite that i've ever been to. admittedly, that number is small. i loved the combination of "christian and pre-christian traditions" that resulted in some of the most honest & meaningful promises i've ever witnessed. i felt privileged to be there. particularly striking:
"will you burden her?" "i may." "is that your intention?" "no."
"will you anger him?" "i may." "is that your intention?" "no."
"you cannot possess me, for i belong to myself, but while we are living, i will give you that which is mine to give."

i wonder what it's like to be someone to whom the words "husband" and "wife" have meaning. they don't to me, really.

when he approached me at the reception and asked, "what did you think of the ceremony?" i believed that it mattered.

the moment of pride upon learning--and sharing--that the three of us were the reason there were no titles (mr., ms, mrs.) on anyone's placecards. there is still work to be done in this circle (to anyone who may wonder whether it's appropriate to invite a transwoman to a bachelor party, or whether she "disqualified [her]self": the answer is to treat her like every other woman you know, because she is one.), but we have already made such a difference. (memory: "so, you swing?" "...sit down. we are having this conversation right. now.")

and of the woman mentioned above: i have so much admiration and respect for the strength and resilience it must have taken to walk into that place, completely yourself, and surround yourself with the boys who knew you as he, the ones you shared living space with in a college dorm, the ones who knew you when.

08 August 2011

life update

i'm pretty sure that i need this license to get a job, but i need a job to get this license.

we thought we found a place to live, but by the time we got around to the paperwork, somebody else had already put down a deposit. back to square one.

if i am at least smart enough to figure out how to ask for help with the parts of this process that confuse me, don't treat me like an idiot. there's no excuse for rudeness over the phone.

vacation was nice. i'm trying not to prolong it too much.