Monthly Archives: February 2014

A Review for a Disappointing Book About Dragons and Gender Identity and Shit

I posted this thing on Goodreads first. Goodreads where no one reads my good Goodreads reviews. Heh. Info about this book down here: it’s written by Alison Goodman, it’s about identity and gender nonconformity, and WAIT! Before you dive out through a windowpane, it isn’t as bad as you’re imagining. It has dragons and shit.

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Review

I did a review for this a long time ago, but it feels outdated now, and besides, my perspective has changed a lot since back then. I always was interested in this book, but now it relates more sharply to my own identity struggles, so I think I’ll be able to wring out a better review.
So, I got the book many a year ago, courtesy of one of my friends for a birthday present. He probably read the sleeve where it says how Eon, our conflicted main character, is a girl under the guise of a boy in order to compete in a thingy where you may or may not go home with a dragon. But not in the way you’re thinking. Goddamn it, I hate sexual innuendos. Anyway, he must’ve read that, and immediately hooked it up with me – fair enough. I like dragons, I dress like a boy. It’s cool. You know what? I AM a boy! And that’s where my great issue with this story comes into the light…
Immediately I sympathized with Eon for her difficult situation. Gotta be a boy, gotta get that training done, gotta win that dragon. (Gotta catch ’em – all? No, don’t put that reference in here, why would you do that?) She’s struggling with an identity that, sigh, has been forced upon her, and that she didn’t necessarily want to accept. Also she happens to have a crippled leg, and so that makes it extra hard for her to keep up with the boys in the training sessions she’s going through in order to… mm… right, be the Dragoneye. Gotta win that dragon.
However, she does it. Mustering her awesomeness, she gets through the training – and SPOILER! – happens to win not just the wussy Tiger Dragon’s favor, but the super cool MIRROR DRAGON’S favor, which is a dragon that’s been – like gone or something, for a long time. I can’t remember the specifics, but it’s a honking big deal. So now, with all the attention on her, all this business of passing herself off as a boy becomes of paramount importance. Because girls can’t have dragons, and they can’t be important, and they can’t do anything, really. We’re in ancient Japan-China here, I should mention; people aren’t totally nice or accepting.
So it would be horrible if anyone found out she was a girl. So she drinks fancy moon tea to deal with the period thingy that girls have, and pretends to be a eunuch so nobody finds it weird that she looks like a twelve year old boy, and will forever. She goes to this palace for some reason I sort of forget and that’s where the BORINGNESS hits.
It had me pulling out my hair. It’s so boring. Do you like – paving stones? BOY, I hope so! There’s certainly a lot of them! And drinking tea, and long pointless rituals, and a few totally uninteresting deaths, and soooo much nothing happening that I just don’t even know why it really happened in the first place. This book’s thick, you know, like five hundred pages. And it really doesn’t have to be.
But, if you struggle through the three hundred-odd pages of blank boredom, you’ll be rewarded with some small high points. For instance, Ryko the eunuch and the transgender woman (I forgot her name), and – no… that’s all. Okay, Ryko and her.
Honestly… Eon/Eona is not very wonderful. She’s a bit cold or something. Her personality doesn’t exactly shine and sparkle off the page – it just sort of sits there, bland and somewhat interesting. She has no sense of humor and that bothered me. Certainly she’s in a very bad spot, and her life hasn’t been easy – she’s an orphan, crippled, and unhappily struggling to just get through things while having to suppress her identity – but come on. One joke? One light observation? That’s all I really want here.
However, the book is well-written. No doubt it is. And there are enough action sequences to at least make up for maybe a quarter of all the boringness. What I didn’t like was the magic concept – it wasn’t well introduced, or well flushed-out, and frankly, it made no damn sense whatsoever. So some boys compete to be the favored apprentice or something of the magic dragons that correspond to the Chinese zodiac – … but why? As far as I understand it, after you get them you just sort of sit around drinking tea for the rest of your life.
That’s great.
If there wasn’t all this crap about magic, I think I would’ve liked it more. Which is odd, because usually I hate realistic fiction – but this story would’ve benefited from less dragons and auras and general badly-explained magicky weirdness. I think I get that it’s supposed to be a part of the world, subtly in the background, but it was too difficult to understand, and didn’t really fit in with what was going on.

The two best characters were Ryko and the transgender lady. Both defying the norms of gender, which I really enjoyed, and both honestly more likable than Eon herself. Also I think there’s a romance brewing, or previously brewed, between them, which was interesting – waaaay more interesting than Eon’s fleeting crush on the prince. Luckily by the end she elbowed him in the throat and that was that.

So, on to the biggest part. My major, all-consuming gripe with this book is that at the end (spoiler) Eon accepts the identity of herself as girl. I found it annoying, because I thought that it was really all one big drawn-out buildup into her accepting herself as a boy. And then, nope. She’s really a girl. Wonderful.
But not wonderful, because that’s where I lost her. Up until that final resolution where the Mirror Dragon accepts her once and for all (not so subtle message for accepting oneself!) I’d been completely relating to her, inside and out, on every level (even while not completely liking her personality). Here was the ancient China-Japan magic dragon-world equivalent of me. Finally I was represented truthfully and respectfully in a real book, and it made me happy. Then at the end she goes and wants to be a girl, after all the trouble she went to – and fine, shut up, most girls stay girls all their lives. But some don’t, like me.
So, Eon/Eona, I’m sorry to say I’m not happy with you. What’s this book about, if it’s not about defying gender norms? I mean there’s already a transgender character in here, why can’t you be that, too? I almost feel like Alison Goodman bailed out at the end, like she was really thinking about keeping Eon a boy but then something stopped her. Or maybe her plan was just to do what she ended up doing all along. Either way, it displeased me. Displeased is a good word. Sebastian, make me some tea.

At the end of the day, I guess Eon is a good book. The messages are all correct and good, and the truthfulness of everyone’s problems is actually astounding – Alison Goodman doesn’t shy away from going into detail about how people are feeling and suffering. The transgender woman is not treated respectfully. Eon is distrusted for being a cripple. This author, much to her credit, faces down issues that most authors would swerve right off a bridge to avoid. For that, Eon has my approval, even though I don’t like how it turned out. 3 stars, therefore.

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Cellarboy the Overlander (also Jake Bugg)

I’m tearing through a series of books by Suzanne Collins about a kid who visits an underground world and has to save them a bunch of times from utter doom, because why would you want an army or a police force when you’ve got unassuming twelve year olds? It’s written for young kids (not Doctor Seuss young, although that would be terribly amusing), more for the 9-12 age-range, hence the books’ placement in the 9-12 section at Chapters. I feel a little weird picking them up, but then again, it’s sometimes equally embarrassing wandering the teen section. Have you ever looked at that shit? It’s the fastest way to completely crumple up your faith in the world’s goodness.

In these books, our inexplicably successful hero falls down every once in a while to the underground world, where he rides giant bats and fights mean creatures that want to kill him, eat him, or dismember him. (Reference to scary alive jungle vines.) One of the things I really like, though, is how he never comes out unscathed – sure he always wins, but people die, get sick, and generally are worse off than they were when they started out. His dad was missing for years, held captive by rats, and his mom, in the last book, suffered from a plague and nearly died, forcing a time limit on him to go find the cure. He also has a baby sister who is, I must admit, ridiculously adorable, and there’s also a romantic intrigue in there, (a somewhat unlikable warrior girl) although Suzanne Collins doesn’t make it cheesy or stupid, and thank God for that, because everybody knows how insufferable those 9-12 romances can be. Hey, you guessed it, Rick Riordan.

The story isn’t fantastic, but it makes me happy, and it’s hard to be happy these days. My mom has been in the hospital for the past couple of days, but she’s doing better and they’re pretty sure it’s just an awful infection – and that they can fix it. I went to see her a few hours ago and she was sitting up, and she could walk again, and she laughed at my stupidest jokes, which is a sign that either she really is doing much better or that the narcotics she’s on are really working. Either way is good.

I missed school all last week, and this week I haven’t gone, either. My anxiety has been attempting to build a spiky building of some kind inside my stomach, and any way I move, it hurts. I don’t know if it’s completely because of my mom, or a mix of several things, including her of course, but I’ve been having troubles. My obsessive compulsive stuff keeps me up an extra twenty minutes or so every night, and it’s at the stage where I dread getting up even if I have to go the bathroom, because I know I’ll get stuck doing some ritual or other. And grandma, please stop coming into my room – especially if it’s because of the unripe red bananas we got at the grocery store. I miss being at home, because there’s less people – just me and my mom, and my cat – and therefore less chance for interruptions. Not as if I mind interruptions all the time – but when I’m sunk deep in my writing, and it’s about the bananas – I just need that couple of hours where I can be on my own. To decompress, as my mom calls it.

The Suzanne Collins books are starting to get uncannily relatable, because of the fact that the main character’s parents are both having issues, and he has a little sister, and there’s, you know, jungle vines that would happily dismember him, that being a metaphor for my problems. His mom’s sick, my mom’s sick – his dad’s sick, my dad’s sick. He has to face horrible things that he hates and wish would go away. I really feel like we’re in the same place, even though he’s twelve and not real, and I’m sixteen and real. I think. Let’s not get existential again, though. I’m too tired for that, fuck.

And you know, I got ten hours of sleep last night! Funny, because I feel exhausted. The world gets a nice long middle finger for that. At least ten seconds, maybe fifteen. Why don’t you make some sense sometime, eh? I’ll buy you a chocolate bar or something.

Maybe it’s psychological. It probably is. I had to go to the hospital myself, in the endocrinology-something section, where they were finally able to set up my Lupron injections. My grandma brought me because she knows that I’m transgender now – and she was extraordinary about handling the news. A quote from Nana: “She is just ‘he’ with an ‘s’ in front of it.” Well, shit. You don’t find grandmas like that anywhere, do you? She grew up in the 50s and 60s when being gay wasn’t accepted, and she takes this news like, I don’t know, even; like an extraordinary person. My uncle knows too, after seeing a pamphlet about transgender stuff that I left by the computer, but we haven’t talked about it and besides, he’s my uncle. Find the most understanding and accepting person you know, and increase their awesomeness by 10, and you’re still several notches below my uncle. He has some sort of Asperger’s-like condition or other, so he’s different than other adults – but more wonderful than other adults, too. Nah, I don’t worry about how he’s taking it.

So, I sat in the endocrinology-something place for a few hours and was brought in to see the first doctor, a pregnant woman whose name I missed. She asked me some stock transgender questions, and was really nice and awesome; she reminded me of one of my best friends. One of her questions I found really funny – she asked me what my idea of masculinity was, and asked me to tell her what person I saw myself as; I thought that was a bit tough, because there’s nobody I really see myself as, but I said Win Butler, and so she Googled him. Then she said I looked like him. Then I died. The ultimate honor! I look like Win Butler! Holy shit! After that I told her to Google Jake Bugg because, if I look like anyone, it’s him, and frighteningly so. If my music career falls through I’m going to be a Jake Bugg impersonator, because I feel there’s money in that, or will be in the future. Anyway, the whole thing amused me greatly, and I told my mom today about it. She suggested the reason that the doctor asked me that was because they want me to have reasonable expectations for what testosterone and surgeries can do – so no Arnold Schwarzenegger body, in other words. The doctor even asked what my expectations were, and if I was thinking about rippling biceps – I said a very passionate and honest “No way, ew” and then directed her to Win Butler and Jake Bugg, who are, let’s be honest, somewhat girly men. It’s no secret I can be somewhat on the girly side – or what do you call it when it’s a boy? Flamboyant perhaps. A moment while I shake the rainbows out of my hair.

When I can joke about this stuff it becomes less stressful. However, I don’t know how I can joke about the needle they’re going to stick in my leg next week when I get the first Lupron injection – because that isn’t funny. Surrounding the idea is a cold haze of unpleasantness, similar to how I felt about my blood test a little while ago. And apparently I have low levels of calcium and vitamin D, but at least that’s a normal thing – so now I’ll just be sitting around force-feeding myself four glasses of milk a day to account for it. Or taking the supplements, which is what they actually prescribed.

Fuck my room is cold. I have this suspicion that the two outside-facing walls are just a sheet of drywall, some tissue paper, and another sheet of drywall or something. I have four blankets, count ’em, four blankets, and they actually kept me toasty last night – I felt like a caterpillar on a summer’s day. It was nice. I’ll do that again tonight.

Probably going to stay up too late again, too. Last night I was so tired I had to go to bed early, and by eleven I was out like a light, not to wake until ten thirty the next morning. But my usual thing is to stay up far too late into the strange twilit hours of the morning – I’ve shredded my way through an entire series of anime and 12 episodes of another one, plus a lot of writing and internet-messing-around. The anime series I finished was really good, I wish I could say great, but meh – a little too much inconsistency to win a wonderful mark from me. Plus it constantly felt as if it was going to turn into some kind of porno, even though, ah thank God, it never did – you have all these good-looking men standing around leaning in close to each other, and after a while you just sit and accept that if it’s going to be a porno, it’s going to be a porno. You should note that the Japanese are surprisingly and somewhat uncomfortably free with exploring the sexual aspects of things – and sometimes it gets pretty grating. In this anime (Kuroshitsuji, or Black Butler) nothing actually happened, but so much almost happened that I came away from it relieved and vaguely disappointed. What I really liked about it, though, was how they played around with gender – there’s actually a transgender character in there, even though he’s kind of stupid and ridiculous; but I appreciated it, at some level.  Not to mention whoever does the story seemed to thoroughly enjoy sticking the main character, who’s a boy, in dresses sometimes, maybe in a comedic way, or maybe not; and the other main character, the sexy butler guy, is not exactly masculine. Plus in his demon form he has high heels on, so you know. Hey, shit gets real when the sexy butler wears heels. And it’s true.

I’m looking around for another anime to watch now. I was into Sword Art Online for a while, but it’s starting to taper off and get less interesting; and I tried Attack on Titan, but I hate the main character, so I can’t watch it. I find it impossible to enjoy something when the main character is difficult to sympathize with. Unlike in Gregor the Overlander (Suzanne Collins) who I can completely sympathize with. I have the fourth and fifth books, and I look forward to being happy by reading them – I’ll take my time to appreciate them more, too. I usually just speed my way through everything and then only remember half of it, including life, I think. I should really slow stuff down a bit so it doesn’t keep passing so quickly, as I barely get my feet down in one month before the next one’s come up on me. For instance, it’s nearly March, and I’m pretty sure it was just January.

Spring’s coming, though. I can feel it a bit in the air, seeping into the dark winter chill and breathing some freshness back. It’s still cold out, but not bone-chillingly, and there’s more sunlight – I’m looking forward to the spring, for the first time in years, thanks to the magical boa constrictor I wear around my chest. And that first Lupron injection is coming, it’s almost here, and then I’ll go through menopause. Sounds really fun, doesn’t it? Sixteen years old and psychologically a boy, and I get to have menopause! But seriously, that’s what it is – my evil little girl-hormones are going to get the shit knocked out of them, for about three months, until I can procure my Magic Boy Drugs, otherwise known as testosterone, and hopefully then face the new school year in a better place, a much, much better place. But first I get to be a middle-aged woman.

I really hate that idea, and I bet the spam bot reading this thinks it sounds weird, which YES, IT DOES, I fully admit that it’s weird. Talk about your weird puberty. Go from regular female puberty to menopause and eventually to non-regular male puberty, and then fuck knows where, I guess I’ll just be a Jake Bugg impersonator.

I think that’s all I have in me today. Thank you for getting this far, as always.

– Brynn

jake bugg

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(I couldn’t resist, my apologies, spam bots. Also the fact that our haircuts are exactly the same is amusing but not intentional.)


I’m Not a Happy Lizard on a Warm Rock

Tell me why tomorrow is school, please – I need a philosophical explanation, not just a “Well it’s Monday, you see.” I know that, thanks. I want to know why, after all the thousand years of human civilization, after the big bang and the slow creation of galaxies and stars and universes, after the culmination of endless decisions – tomorrow is school. I want a graph. Make me a graph that says why.

But shiiiiiit, is there anything I would possibly desire to do less than go to school tomorrow? Perhaps run across a field of hungry crocodiles. I say perhaps. Look, I sit here going through the motions of life, and somehow it all boils down to the same thing: school. Ecole. I could dress like a gypsy, buy a horse, and ride all over the American southwest doing card tricks and busking on street corners, and I think I still wouldn’t be able to escape the omnipresent whisper in my ear, “school.” Like a nagging itch – school. How about I just kick people’s shins all over the school board until they give in and hand me all the rest of my credits.

I was looking at my report card on Friday (I did well, surprisingly, in both my subjects) and was horrendously disheartened when I saw that there’s still about fifty gamillion credits to get. Fuck – I’m in grade eleven. Next year should be my last year of high school, and then I can throw my schoolbag off a cliff and hold up my middle finger to the world in general and just be OUT of there. But I can’t physically squeeze in all the credits I need by the end of next year, not even if I actually LIKED doing this crap. It’s hard enough to actually force myself out from the warm safety of my bed in the morning, they’re also asking me to toil in the agony of classrooms and social situations just to wring out the credits that I need to continue on with my life, where I’ll be expected to work somewhere just for the pleasure of staying alive until I eventually die one day. And I know some people would kill to be able to go to school, who live in countries where education isn’t guaranteed – and I’d give them my spot in a heartbeat. For sure, take my education, go ahead and go to my stupid snotty high school – you might even like it. Me, I will sit in my room typing out angry blog posts and scribbling fantasy novels while The Doors plays sadly but inspirationally in the background.

Tomorrow is school. Yes. Thanks to the fathomless workings of the universe. Why couldn’t I be a lizard sitting on a warm rock somewhere? No educational pressure or social pressure or Asperger’s or gender dysphoria or ADD or OCD or whatever the fuck when you’re a happy lizard on a warm rock. I want a graph that explains why I’m not a happy lizard on a warm rock.

Sometimes I read over what I’ve just written, and have to cringe a bit. I swear I’m not completely insane.

Jesus, though, does it ever get tiring – school five days a week, with the brief respite of the weekend, which is just a short breath you take before plunging back into the water. Really cold, nasty water, too. And the world expects you to do all that and LIKE it, too! “Look, unsuspecting five year olds, you get to go to SCHOOL now! Isn’t that great?” No! Not ten years down the road, it isn’t. Not when you’re sitting there in the classroom feeling like your stomach is going to spontaneously burst into flames from anxiety. Sorry, world – I don’t do twelve years of school without complaining about it. No one should have to! Fuck! The stress of it is unbelievable. And then they expect you to do university or college afterwards, like stuff didn’t suck enough already. Human beings, with beautiful intelligent minds, shouldn’t be stuffed into large buildings five days a week and made to sit unmoving for hours at a time forcing their brains to learn things that are, first of all, barely ever interesting, and second really only serve to get you a job later in life, not to make you think or learn anything useful. I mean, I certainly understand the need of doing Bohr-Rutherford diagrams until you want to throw up – because when one day a man is bleeding out in the middle of the street, SOMEONE’S going to have to figure out HOW MANY ELECTRONS ARE IN A HYDROGEN PARTICLE.

The work itself is bad enough. I could stomach the work, I think, if it weren’t also that I’m sitting there in stuffy rooms surrounded by kids I can’t talk to, and who don’t talk to me, and so I am therefore floating there in a state of semi-conscious agony hoping that things will just be over quickly. Fuck I hate the social part. I haven’t made any real friends this year, unless you count Borong, but she’s not even in my classes anymore. So I’ve made no friends, none at all. And I still go, because why? Because credits? Fuck credits. Patti Smith went to New York instead of credits and became a rock star. No shits are given over credits. The school board can take their pretty credits, and stick them places.

I think I’ve said it before, but here: if I can tie my shoes and navigate a grocery store and dress myself in the morning, I don’t need my credits.

Part of the reason I still go is because of my mom, and how much she cares. She thinks it’s a good idea – and yes, she’s right. It’s probably a better idea than not going, but it’s also infinitely more painful to make myself do it. It’s like purposefully stepping on hot coals.

Whatever. Fuck. How do I make friends? Is that a thing I forgot? I think I used to do it pretty well. And then girl-puberty and social circles jumped on me like a rabid animal and I can do shit all about it, at least until the stupid people at the stupid hospital set up my appointment to “talk about Lupron injections.” How about, here’s an idea, how about we skip the talking, step on the talking, and actually DO shit. I have no idea where I exist in the confusing, grotesque social circles of high school anymore – not as if I would have any pleasure in existing in those circles – I just want to not be the weird “unknown” anymore. I’m trying really hard to be happy about myself and I feel like I’m actually losing ground for some reason. Being pleased with who I am is so close I can taste it – it’s like a carrot on a string. Really not a very pretty method, but it’s there, it’s spurring me on – and I’ll keep running for it. I’m so fucking close. In the meantime, I just whine a lot about stuff to the spam bots.

So, God – God, who most probably doesn’t exist – could you fix things for me? Turn a switch up there or something. Or just adjust the dial slightly from “pretty fucking awful” to “sucks, but bearable.” I figure you must have those powers, if you exist. Which you most probably do not. That’s too bad. I wish God was real just because you’d have someone to blame – and it’s really hard to blame the universe, because the universe seems to have no consciousness, and is a big infinitesimal game of chance. So you got an awful life, eh? Well, the universe doesn’t care. It just makes stars and stuff.

In a perfect world, I’d be lying on a green lawn somewhere, on a cool summer morning, with a blue sky and clouds, and trees with inviting shadows under them. There’d be water down below, a big sparkling plate of blue, and I’d have sunlight all around me and from somewhere Arcade Fire would be playing, because you can’t have paradise without Arcade Fire. There’d be none of this silly being a girl business in this perfect world, and I’d be drinking iced tea and feeling at my awesome sideburns. I’d be barefoot but there would be no glass or rocks to worry about. And my cat wouldn’t be banging his head against the door wanting to come inside my room at ten o’clock at night. He’d just be sitting with me, enjoying the sunlight as the world rolled peacefully on, devoid of any trouble or anxiety or agony.

Woo, but unfortunately, the universe is not so kind. You need a little everyday shittiness, or you just start taking things for granted. And maybe that’s sort of a kindness – a paradise would be great, but without bad things, you wouldn’t appreciate the niceness. But I think, if I got landed in paradise right now, I’d never stop appreciating it, after the shit I’ve gone through.

Not so say my life is worse than yours. Don’t think I ever think that. But I’ve had my fair share of shit, from evil stepmothers and otherwise. I deserve at least one day on a sunny green lawn, I think.

And I feel like I ought to stop writing now, though I wish I didn’t. Every time I sit down to write, I inevitably reach a point where the inspiration starts to ebb and drain away – unfortunately. I’d love to just sit here and write until the cows come home – weird expression, now that I think about it, and that would probably take FOREVER, seeing as I don’t think cows have ever lived around here.  But I wish I could just etch out my thoughts, until there are none left and I could feel empty and satisfied and fall into bed without having to worry about anything. Of course that won’t happen, and I’ll have to touch things a million times like always, because of all the rituals I can’t help. Heating grate ritual and rug ritual and tap ritual and computer ritual and checking for monsters ritual and etc. Being a happy lizard on a warm rock would be so very nice, even for just a little while.

Hey, you know what tomorrow is? School. But as a fortune cookie once told me, ‘Your creativity will create a phenomenon’, so you know – maybe things will be all right.

Why I have to go to school tomorrow


The Wheels Are in Motion

Words, as inadequate as they are, could not properly express how much I don’t want to go to school tomorrow. In my defense, school just took a steep turn downhill – in fact, it even broke the fence and went plunging down off a cliff. I’m taking math and science (because that’s the epitomeeeeeee of fun, twitch, twitch) and I don’t have any friends in either class, despite some vague acquaintances in science. I shouldn’t complain, because there are several good things going for me this term – but I’m complaining anyway. You can suck it.*
I mentioned it all briefly last time, I think. But I can’t even remember most of what my last post was even about. (Again, reference to the gaping hole my brain has become.) So I’m going to talk about it again.
I’ve had a weird couple of weeks; there’s been a lot of things going on, but at the same time I feel oddly disconnected from it, like I’m seeing it all happen through a lens. It’s a familiar feeling to when I lived at my dad’s house and my stepmother was mean to me – they call it dissociation, I’m fairly sure. I think it’s your brain refusing to accept the difficulty of your situation, and so it puts a veil between you and the world so things don’t hit you quite as hard. That’s my theory. I think it’s why, even though all this stuff is happening, I can only feel it at a distance – or that could be my medication, which I’ve always had the suspicion makes me a little fuzzy. Maybe it’s both. The thing is, this time, my brain is trying to protect me from something that isn’t necessarily bad – the thing being coming out to the world and letting them know I’m transgender, and that I actually plan to go through with it. It’s not bad, it’s just momentous. The stuff with my stepmom was bad, yes indeed – and this isn’t, it’s just I feel vulnerable, and if someone turns their back on me, whoever that person is, I don’t know if I can take it. So far, there’s five people close to me who know – my mom, my dad, my grandma and grandpa, and my aunt. (Not counting the therapist, doctor, school counselor, etc., etc.) We’re five for five. But now my other grandparents, my uncles and aunts, and my friends have to receive the news, and I’m downright terrified of what it’ll change. Hopefully nothing. Probably something, and what the fuck do I do about that?
Six close people, my bad. Zoe knows. I already said that last time, didn’t I? Well, she knows, and her reaction was fine, even though I hid behind the couch again when I had to tell her. I haven’t seen her since, and I’m worried that next time I see her something will be different; although she’s Zoe, one of the most wonderful people on earth, so I can’t imagine anything major will have changed. I want to go to look at the dumb ice sculptures at Winterlude or something like her dad was suggesting, just to put my mind at rest. Then I can say “Look, a dumb sculpture” and not have to mention being transgender ever again.

Why are supposed good things bad? I’m only doing this so I’m not miserable. If I had to live the rest of my life like I am now, I’d go insane. I don’t WANT this – I mean I don’t WANT to be transgender, it would be really damn great if I liked my body in the first place – but because it IS the case, I have to fix it. Someone with a broken arm gets a cast. No one argues with that. Really it’s the exact same thing here, except it’s in my mind, or my DNA, or wherever it is, and people think it’s crazier for some reason. At this point I have no time or willingness to listen to anyone arguing against it (not like anyone close to me has); I just want to do the whole stupid treatment, and be happy, and never have to think about it again. I hate going through this, of course, but I almost hate having to put other people through it more – because they suffer on my behalf. They probably worry, and don’t quite understand. Or just the act of <em>trying</em> to understand is hard. I don’t want people to feel bad.
But moving past that, even if they do, I can’t just turn back and forget about it – the wheels are rolling, like my mom says, and we’ve started down the track; now, and here’s the thing, now I’ve just got to impale myself with a needle for the rest of my life. Nice payment for happiness, right? I didn’t know that you have to do testosterone shots your entire life, but apparently you do. Apparently you do.
Fine, though, I’ll do it! I’ll hate it, but I’ll do it. All this because I was tossed into a body I hate. Thanks a lot, nature, God, universe, whoever’s in charge of these things. You did a beautiful job with me, you certainly did, thank you muchly for your time.
I could get spiritual about this. But my spirituality would eventually boil down to “if God’s real then he’s a GODDAMN IDIOT.” Which I think is true. It’s not enough to throw the daily pains and agonies of life at a human being, you also have to be in the wrong body while you’re at it.
Not to say my life is worse than everyone else’s. Certainly not so. I live in a nice country with nice people, and the only evil people in the vicinity are my evil stepmother, my crazy aunt, and my crazy uncle – otherwise, it’s clear sailing, as far as I know.

Then moving back to school, because it’s tomorrow – in twelve hours, about, all the poor souls in this city will drag themselves pitifully out of bed and meander to their morning class. I’ll meander to my first class after lunch, when I meet my friends, who are ignorant of the giant flashing sign hovering over my head that says BOY, which everyone politely ignores, even though it’s bright enough to sear their eyeballs. Except Nathan, that terrible package of intuition, has intuitively begun to figure out what’s going on with me – or that might have been the transgender sticker I had on my bag last term, which I forgot was there, and also forgot I would be bringing to school. Anyway he made a reference to some teacher who has a trans butterfly tattoo at lunch the other day, which is MUCH too coincidental to be a coincidence, if you get what I mean. Nathan is undoubtedly on to me.
What do I DO about that? My instinct is to hide. Behind the couch, if I can.
Except there’s no couch out in the big scary world (unless it’s one of those couches people leave on their lawns to be picked up by the garbage truck.) But one day, possibly soon, I’ll have to let my friend know. I have no idea how I’ll do it, especially without something to hide behind, but I have to do it. Fuck all this. But I still have to do it.
And in the meantime, wonderful math and science, with teachers I’m not totally sure are going to honor the guidance counselor’s command to use boy pronouns. They seem fine, and they haven’t thrown chalk at me or gave me angry, bigoted stares yet – in fact I like them both a little already, and am pretty amused that the science guy looks so much like Jack Black – but it’s too early to know. They haven’t even referred to me yet, since it’s only a week in, so I don’t know if the pronoun thing will be used or ignored. The thing is, I don’t feel, outwardly, much like a boy – on my own, in my room, you can bet I do – but out there in the world, it’s different. You get extremely conscious of every aspect of what you look like. I may have shortish hair and I may be wearing the equivalent of an angry boa constrictor around my chest, but I’m no GI Joe here – I don’t have rippling muscles and five o’clock shadow and size thirteen boots. I feel little and skinny and the farthest thing from manly when I’m there in class, surrounded by twenty-odd people who don’t give any shits at all what I am, and at best write me off as that weird androgynous kid who scribbles needlessly terrifying monsters all over their math folder. That’s not the worst thing ever, but well, you know. I aspire to at least be like that short Icelandic guy which nobody knows about but that I’m referencing anyways – cool and interesting, short, but clearly not a girl. That’s all. Thanks. Short Icelandic guy, that’d be really great.
Look at all the nice whining. Well, nobody has to read it, that’s all right. Or the spam bots can, if they’re so inclined; just again, I ask for no more women’s weight loss websites spam. I understand some women would find that helpful (well, probably not, since it’s spam), but I for one do not require it, and it also wounds my unreasonably sensitive sense of self, which is, right now, hovering painfully between some weird boyish lesbian and a short Icelandic guy. It’s not pretty over here.
Well, <em>sometimes</em> it is. When I convince myself the girl with the glasses at Shoppers thinks I’m good-looking. And that’s only in moments of sudden pointless optimism.

Whatever, whatever! Be positive, I can do it. Grrrr. That was a manly growl, by the way.
I can get through it. Yes, I can. Five more (five more??) god-freaking months of school, and then summer, glorious summer, rendered all the more beautiful because I can wear t-shirts again, thanks to my boa constrictor – and, assuming the system doesn’t screw with me like always, I might get the Magic Boy Drug in about three months, after I finish with the pointless Lupron stuff. Then it’s clear sailing, man, all the way to glorious September 2014, where I’ll be headed into school again, guns a-blazing, wielding my three months of testosterone and what I can only assume will be an even better Jake Bugg impersonation, and bam! With a great explosion of rainbows – no, not rainbows – shrapnel and hot coals! – I’ll be headed down the long path of Life as the actual me.

Sounds wonderful, but that’s six months away, and I haven’t even heard back from the doctor about Lupron yet.
So, we’ll just sit here reading manga, then. Lots of manga. I’ve shredded my way through seven volumes already since yesterday (they’re pretty thin, though, maybe 100 pages, and mostly pictures, of course), and I’m one volume away from finishing the whole series. Although, naturally, the library doesn’t have number 27. Just, because. I expect nothing less of the world. Also I need a new series to read, not manga, just of anything; I feel like I’ve exhausted Earth’s supply of good stories by now, but I may be wrong. I just have to carefully comb the library or the book store now to see what comes up next – and if someone tells me it’s that one about the secret society of teenagers living underground and fighting demons again, I’m just not going to believe them.

And school? Yes, yes. It’s tomorrow, which is a surprisingly short amount of time from now – and after that, guess what! More school, you’ve got it – unless I run away to Alaska. It’s getting awfully tempting.
I wonder if things will stop sucking soon. We can hope, as unlikely as it seems. I have to keep that image in my brain – that one of me going to school next year, not as Brynn the Girl, or even Brynn the Androgynous Kid – but as Brynn the Boy, well and truly, for once. And when that happens, Jesus Christ, someone’s going to get a huge kick in the shin, I don’t know why, exactly – I feel like running up to everyone I’ve always disliked or not gotten along with and just smacking them good. As if to say “There! You’re an idiot but I’M happy!”
Or something. Well, here we go, beginning down the track – the wheels are in motion.

 

*Sorry.


No Apocalypse So Far – and if we make it to September, I get sideburns.

Lying in the darkness last night, in the comforting stuffiness under my blankets, hugging the wall and feeling the hazy beginnings of sleep, a thought hit me, strong and immediate and intrusive, jerking me suddenly back into the waking world: Is the fucking grate closed? 

Sorry, that was it.

Then I went and checked it, of course. Of course I did. And you know what? It was closed. But I had to touch it several times just to make sure, and then a little later, mercifully, I was able to fall into bed, bury myself under my weighted blanket (Weighted Blanket: Crushing Away Your Anxiety – Since 2012!) and sleep like a petrified log until the morning. Today I faced my two new classes, Math and Science (or Jekyll and Jekyll, heh heh), the first time since the new term started on Monday. On Monday I missed school because my appointment getting the blood drained out of my arm went late, and on Tuesday I skipped it because my anxiety was making things feel apocalyptic – and that’s never a good feeling, apocalyptic. You want post-apocalyptic, at the least, but preferably pre. So on Monday, I just walked around in the chilly sunshine until three, when I caught the bus back home. My mom wasn’t mad like I thought she’d be, she just suggested I not try the morning co-op anymore, and focus on the afternoon classes. That’s what I’m doing now, and I think it’s all I can handle without an apocalypse forming in my head.

If the subjects alone aren’t enough to daunt even the stoutest of hearts, Science and Math prove to be daunting on other levels. For one thing, I don’t have any friends, despite some vague English class acquaintances in Science and a nice old lady with a Scottish accent but who’s apparently British who sat next to me all throughout math. I initially believed, as is well-founded if you’re me, that she was one of those learning support teachers, dragged out from the blue to help me and make it obvious to everyone in the vicinity that I have issues – but she wasn’t for me, she wast just a general class helper. Oh thank God, by the way, for that. But she was certainly nice, and although I must’ve looked tremendously stupid fiddling with the scientific calculator and pressing the wrong buttons because I thought I could do shortcuts (all those six times), she didn’t necessarily treat me like a moron. I did a quick look-through of the class when I came in to see if anyone looked friend-worthy, and received a staggering instant crush on a boy with green in his hair. This is completely bizarre, first because I’m usually attracted to girls, and second because I never like people like that on sight. It always takes some getting to know them, and even then, it barely ever happens – the other person I’ve liked this year is Claire from History, but she was on a separate plane of existence than me, and that proves difficult when liking someone. Anyways, that kid is ludicrously handsome. And I mean that. I don’t toss around “ludicrously” just when I feel like it.

Imagine me noticing a handsome boy! No, it doesn’t happen. 98.7% of the time the looks of male life-forms flies right over my head. 95% of the time I like girls. (Maybe I should mention the guy is 100% gay.) But it’s so strange. It could be my accursed girl hormones talking, or it could just be how I like certain splendid things – trees, blue skies, nice paintings, Math class gay guys – but it’s certainly a thing now. I almost wish it wasn’t, because I think he’s a bit annoying; if he was five notches more socially anxious and a pinch more alternative, I think I’d start drawing up plans to crawl my way slowly and painfully onto his plane of existence, like I completely failed to do with Claire – but I don’t know. I’ll think about it. For now I’ll just stare at the back of his head.

And oh, he’s gay, all right. His hair is too pretty, for one thing, and the streak of green, and the skinny jeans – we could go on all day like this. However, I’ll keep in mind the fluidity of gender; and that makes me wonder if he’s transgender and I’m sniffing that out. If he is I’ll feel better, I think, because life is less confusing when I only like girls.

So, the next order of business would be to explain all that’s happened since I did the last post thing – but rather than writing it out carefully, I think I’ll just do it in point form.

– Zoe knows I’m transgender

– (She said “Oh. Cool!”)

– They drained six or seven phials of blood out of my arm at the hospital, to check things out before I start Lupron (whenever that might be – hopefully quite soon, and preferably before March, and apparently you need lots of phials for that shit.)

– The new term started

– The teachers have been asked to use male pronouns

– Despite how much I look like a girl

– And that’s the most stressful situation I feel I shall ever experience, next to the apocalypse

– Which hasn’t happened so far, on the bright side. Rejoice!

Yes, and also, well, that may be it. I don’t know. Things happen, but I forget them; they all kind of seem to fall into the void, the smaller things, so that my memories are large flashes of momentous experiences, dotted in between with tiny randomly-remembered things. I cried during my blood test, which I feel stupid for, but it was better than the alternative, which was flinging aside the curtain and running away. And I got an x-ray for bone density, and got a look at my skeleton, head to foot – I said it looked freaky, and the guy laughed. It wasn’t supposed to be funny, it was just the first thing that came to my mind. To think that’s somehow me, below all the nice stuff, is horrifying, so I’ll stop thinking about it. I’ve worked out how far I’ll have gotten (in an ideal world), by the beginning of the next school year, September: three months on Lupron, which is the bare minimum of time before testosterone, and then three months on testosterone before school starts up again. My mom and I have been joking about me growing sideburns and being distinguised, but I’m serious, in a way; I want sideburns. My main goal is of course to be able to get happy about myself – but figuring into that, honestly, is the ability to have sideburns. I’ll make all my friends uncomfortable, probably, but it’ll be worth it – and I don’t mean little fiddly half-assed sideburns, I mean it’s going to be serious. Like Aaron Weiss early-mewithoutYou serious, and then I’ll be in a band and write great songs. Joe Sideburns and the Beardless Boys, we’ll be called. It’ll be like a gimmick.

I hope people know when I’m not serious. Anyway, tomorrow is more school, and after that – hey! – more school! And then more school, later! Oh, wow!

How come society isn’t satisfied when you have enough knowledge to tie your shoes, speak in decent English, and understand that money can be traded for goods and services? Why all the extra crap? As long as I can stumble through life with reasonable ease, I don’t feel as if I need to know exactly how to use a scientific calculator and write a good Science hypothesis about ski wax. Unless I’m going to be a ski wax applier when I’m older, in which case I’m sure writing a good hypothesis about it would at least be helpful to have as a skill.

It’s latish now, so I should possibly go to sleep. I don’t really want to, because sleeping means waking up, and that means school in the afternoon. It means dealing with a classroom full of people I wish I didn’t have to sit around (just because they’re people), and it means thinking about work, and possibly doing the work, and definitely being frustrated because Math always goes too fast. English, though, always goes at a nice, comfortable pace – I’d rather have that, of course. Not understanding math makes me feel stupid, but I really can’t do it – back when it was easy, I actually enjoyed it; but now we’re fiddling around with a+bx3xa and are expected to understand the most outrageous loads of complete nonsensical crap. I miss everything and what I do understand I can’t do anything with. There’s no leeway with math, and that’s what I find hard, probably; in English class it was all about ideas and thinking, and math is thinking without any ideas. It’s computer work. Make a fucking computer do it, then, not me. My brain won’t go like that, or if it will, only after I push it into places it really doesn’t want to go – for instance, those horrible algebra things, the equations that are just letters and things stuck together to make people go crazy. Why am I doing that? My mind objects greatly – as I think it has every right to.

But anyway, I’ll still go to math, and probably just sit there making friends with old Scottish ladies who are British. But that’s all right. At least I’ve got people on my side, and it isn’t just one big mess of annoying kids who I can’t make friends with for whatever reason. And Science is going to be easier to suffer through, I think, because for one thing it CAN be vaguely interesting, and also I don’t mind some of the people there, who I know from English class. Meanwhile at least I see my friends at lunch, and that’s the one thing that keeps me from running off to the library every day to sulk.

And that’s it for now. I’m tired, and there’s stuff to wake up for tomorrow, as much as I wish there wasn’t. I’ll muddle through – I manage to muddle fairly well. I’d say it’s my specialty.

Thanks for reading, if you read. You have won a very fine, imaginary distinguished handshake.

~Cellarboy