Monthly Archives: April 2014

Some Thoughts on Equality, Hatred, Cruelty, etc.

Why are people assholes, especially online? Huh? The incredible Cellar Boy gives his rainy, depressing Wednesday thoughts about it. Also he apparently switches to third person for no reason.  Right here.


My dad has a new apartment, and he’s going to move in this Saturday, and I can stay there whenever I want. It’s in the basement of an extremely old building, weathered red brick with some new additions on the front and a picture of the handsome Prince Rupert on the lobby wall. It’s two stories tall, in the middle of the city’s rich downtown neighborhood, about a five minute walk from the canal. The basement smells like death. It’s kind of one of the shittiest places I’ve ever seen. There are two rooms, plus a bathroom; one is the kitchen and dining room, it’s all white with a window looking out at street level, with a latch that’s about a centimeter too far for me to reach, even standing on the foot stool that you need to stand on, no matter how tall you are. I’m five foot six. I should really be able to reach the freaking window latch on a foot stool. The bedroom-living room is nicer, with a wooden floor and a little closet, and another window that I can’t reach, looking out on the street. We have a fridge and an oven already there, and yesterday my grandma and my dad and I went to Ikea (the monstrously huge, three-story Ikea that looms like a blue and yellow space station out in the west end) and we bought a shelf thing to put boxes in to hold our clothes and two chairs for the kitchen table, which is a fold-in slab of wood attached to the wall. My grandma and grandpa will bring their old futon and we’ll get another mattress. I’m thinking about bringing either my record player or my stereo; my dad wants me to bring my Van Gogh print to put up on the wall. He’s been really into Van Gogh lately, ever since I showed him some paintings online – we’re going to be doing a painting class together starting this Thursday, and I’m looking forward to it. I want to spend more time with my dad and besides the thing itself actually does sound kind of fun.

So the apartment is pretty bad, really small, and with its high ceilings it kind of feels like a prison – but I don’t care all that much, and I’m actually looking forward to staying there, because it means I can get away from my mom’s house and be closer to my friends, who all live in my dad’s neighborhood. It’s not as if I don’t like being at my mom’s – of all the people in my family, it’s her I get along best with, even if we argue half of the time and sometimes it feels like she’s got me in a vice grip of parental over-attention. – That’s the reason I want to have some days away, how I feel like she’s always hovering over me. She probably isn’t. It just feels like she is. All of her hovering is well-meaning, but holy shit does it get under my skin sometimes. And I love spending time with her (we’ve watched four seasons of Lost in the past two months or so, and it’s been great), but I NEED TIME BY MYSELF. Holy shit, do I ever need time by myself.

Today I went to that Yu-gi-oh tournament with my friends. It was kind of nice, surprisingly. I haven’t spent much time with them since I left school again in March, and it’s great to know we still get along and everything (like we wouldn’t, for some reason?) I still haven’t told them about the transgender thing. I have to do that. It feels so bizarre to hear them refer to me with girl pronouns, since everyone else in my life is switching, and I myself have long since switched. It also makes me uncomfortable and frustrated, but I can’t possibly fault them. Because… I haven’t fucking told them yet. I need to. I just have no idea how – as always. At the Yu-gi-oh tournament most people seemed to accept my boyness but one guy called me “her”, but he sort of looked familiar so he might have seen me some other time at another tournament when I looked like an X. I felt pretty good at the tournament, in terms of self-esteem; a little shaky, it’s true, when I had to talk, but mostly all right. I lost four times and won once. Another time it was pretty close, though. Although I dare not suggest I’m actually very good at Yu-gi-oh – which is sad because I’ve been playing it since I was six or seven. I think part of it is that everyone else is so good – these tournament guys are pretty serious, and more often than not they really study the strategies, to the point that you literally can’t get a move in before they win the match. So it might not be that I suck, really. I’ll tell myself it isn’t, anyway.

I told my friends about my dad’s new apartment and then Devin asked to come over and play music sometime. (We used to have a band. Nope, I will not disclose the link to our Youtube thing, I personally quarantined it forever.) I was happy to see he still has enthusiasm about the band, and that he wants to hang out with me. I’m a bit embarrassed about the apartment, but it’s not like it’s my dad’s fault, really – he just doesn’t have the money, and besides this was the closest one to the house where my sister lives with my step-mother. I think I’ll try to stay at the apartment at least half the week, and especially when school starts up again because it’s so incredibly close by – just a twenty minute walk, or a five minute bike ride. (As opposed to going to school from my mom’s house, which is across the city.) When I mentioned to my mom that I want to stay there sometimes, she said “Maybe every Friday you can give it a try”, and I think that spells danger. Probably she just wants me to be comfortable, but another part could be that she doesn’t want me at my dad’s house because she doesn’t think he’ll take care of me as well. My dad loves me and I love him, and he would never not take care of me, but it’s true that he would let me stay up, sleep in, and drink pop later than five o’clock (all things my mom doesn’t let me do. I don’t always listen; if I always listened I’d have to kick myself.) My mom and my dad have different styles, drastically different; my mom is the one who gets things done, she’s set up all my hospital appointments that have to do with my transitioning stuff, and she deals just about 100% with the school and everything – and my dad doesn’t do that stuff. He would try, and he would if I asked him to, but he could never be as ruthless and amazingly persistent as my mom is. So I can see why my mom doesn’t want me to stay with him for half the week like I used to. Maybe she also understands the completely fucked-up situation that my dad is in right now, and wants me to be away from that. I want to be away from that, too – but I’ve been talking with my dad about it a bit, and so I’m kind of in the loop already. He told me that my step mom cheated on him. He probably shouldn’t have told me that, it was probably selfish of him to put all that on my shoulders, but I don’t really care, and I want to help him. My mom would say that it’s selfish of him, I am positive about that. And I wasn’t surprised that my step mom cheated on him. She kept going away at night and didn’t want him to come, and also she’s a troubled sort of person, to put it extremely mildly. She psychologically and verbally abused me for about seven years; she’s been abusive to my dad, too. I’ve seen it – I’ve heard it at least a few times. He finally left, I guess her cheating on him was the last straw, and now I hope he stays away. I have no control, obviously, it’s not my life or my problem – but I would encourage him to stay away, if he asked me. For everybody’s sake, his and mine, and my sister’s too, so their problems don’t get in the way of her life, like they did to mine.

The whole situation is fucked, and it’s not fair that we all have to deal with it. But we have to, and at least it’s moving in the right direction, finally. Now I can spend time with my dad on a regular basis, and see my sister more, too. I’ll be back in my old neighborhood, near my friends, and I can get to school way more easily in the morning, and play music with Devin. He already set a date, which is funny – he said Next Wednesday? And I said no, the one after that, because my dad isn’t moving in until this Saturday. It’s awesome how eager Devin is. So if all goes right we’ll be playing music in my dad’s high-ceilinged, nice-acoustics apartment by the Wednesday after next.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday I’m getting my (hopefully last) Lupron injection. But I don’t think I see the endocrinology doctor til the 12th, as I may have said before. And I don’t know how fast I can get my MBDs, for that matter. I want at least two months on the MBDs before September, when I’m thrown back into the world of other people and social situations – enough time for changes to actually happen. I will never again enter a Yu-gi-oh tournament being embarrassed about my voice.

So, time marches past, and life continues. In other news, it’s spring. For real this time.

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Scam Phone Call Conversations, Basketball, etc.

On Saturday I’m going to a Yu-gi-oh tournament, and I’m sorry to have to admit that’s the second most exciting thing I’m looking forward to at this moment. It’s a rainy, grey afternoon, and the air tastes a little bit humid; it’s ten degrees out, going up to fourteen it looks like, and while that might sound pathetic to those who live in warm climates, up here in the domain of the ice dragons it’s actually pretty nice. I was thinking about going up to the basketball court to play sadly by myself for a while, but I don’t want it to rain on me. And I continue to lack a good sweater. The one I have on right now has been worn steadily since the ninth grade, that’s almost four years now, and before that it was my dad’s – and it’s probably going to disintegrate next time a strong wind blows. When I visited my friends yesterday Josh said that each time he sees me there’s less of my sweater, and he’s right. I don’t know where all the fabric that used to be over my arm went, but it’s certainly not there anymore.

It’s the twenty-second of April already, and I think it’s the twenty eighth where I go to the hospital to get my last Lupron shot, and then a blood test right afterwards so that they can check how well it’s been working or whatever. Then I hope I’ll get to talk to the endocrinology gender clinic blah blah doctor, the one I saw once before, and ask her to finally get me my MBDs, before I go crazy. Now that I know what testosterone can do, and now that my conscience allows me to envision how awesome I’ll feel when it starts to work, I’m almost sick with impatience. I’m very used to waiting at this point – most of my life in fact seems to have been spent waiting – but the thing about that is it never gets any easier. It’s always completely maddening and frustrating to the extreme. When I saw my friends yesterday and we were playing Yu-gi-oh and video games and the RPG board game that I made, I was just thinking about how unfair and ridiculous it is that in order to be what they already are I have to stick a needle in myself once every two weeks for the rest of my life. They don’t know how lucky they are, to actually be all right with their bodies, and to feel good in them. They don’t know. And they don’t need needles and medication and anxiety pills because they can’t deal with how it feels. Everyone who feels comfortable as the gender they are takes that comfort for granted; I wish I was like them. It makes me so upset I can barely express myself. So April twenty eighth had better get here soon, and I’d better get those MBDs pretty fucking fast.

So the Yu-gi-oh tournament, as sad as it sounds (yeah, it’s just as sad as it sounds), is the second best thing in my immediate future. The best thing is of course getting those hormones. I don’t really like Yu-gi-oh all that much anymore, I’m sure I’ve said this before, and I only go along with it because I can see my friends more that way. The tournaments are held in this little toy store out in the suburbs, I’ve been there a few times before; what happens is about twenty boys between the ages of let’s say eight and twenty stuff themselves in to the nerdy confines of that place and play for prizes. I pretty much do badly every time, but I’m not hopeless – I’m just not as desperately into the game as some other people are. If I cared more I’d probably do better, at least I hope. But I don’t care. Because Yu-gi-oh is actually stupid, although my friends would argue otherwise.

I like collecting things, and I think that’s what got me into Yu-gi-oh in the first place. It was grade one, a long time ago in the fuzzy far reaches of my early childhood, and I saw some boys showing off their cards at recess. I think I asked one of them if I could have a card, or maybe I was just lingering next to him staring and he wanted to make me stop – so he shuffled through his cards, found one that wasn’t all that good, and said, “You can have this one. It’s a girl.”

I still remember which one it was. Rogue Doll, 1600 attack points – somewhat useless card, given to my six year old self because I was a girl and so was the card. By grade four, at my new school, me and Josh were playing Yu-gi-oh at recess, sitting on the gravelly pavement beneath the looming brick walls of the building, sometimes attracting small groups of like-minded recess-goers. I wish I could go back to those recesses sometimes; they were great.

*

The other day another one of those scam artists from India called our house, and called me ma’am. That’s the second time that’s happened. That time, it must’ve pissed me off quite a bit – the conversation went a bit like this:

“Hello,” said a man’s voice, from a noisy-sounding place.

“Hello…”

“How are you today?”

“Fine.”

A pause here, because he was waiting for me to ask him the same thing, and I never did. Because I didn’t actually care. He said, “Ma’am, we’re offering a cleaning service now for a short time good price mumble mumble something something, how many bedrooms do you have in your house?”

“Thank you,” I began, “but I’m not interested. Also I’m not a ma’am, I’m a boy. Have a nice day.”

Then I felt bad, but sort of proud of myself. I’m really tired of those scam guys calling me ma’am, assuming I’m some kind of housewife. They have no way of knowing, of course, but Jesus, it makes me crazy. I can’t wait for the Magic Boy Drugs so when the scammers call me, I can go “Hi again, India – I dare you to call me ma’am again.”

At least the last scam call wasn’t as bad as the first call, when the guy was talking about some computer virus thing, and he called me “honey.” Hanging up on him mid-sentence felt nice.

Right now it’s raining, but the sky is bright – I like when that happens. Maybe it’ll clear up soon, I really wouldn’t mind going up to play basketball. Part of me is hoping somebody will want to play with me if I go, and I’ll make a friend – it happened once before, some guy on roller skates drifted up and we had a brief conversation, but then he had to go and I never saw him again. I remember feeling desperately self-conscious, because that was before I wore my boa constrictor, and I was all sweaty, and my voice was too high, and there I was just wanting to talk to a guy who was interested in playing with me but it was made more complicated by not exactly knowing what he thought I was, or if he could even tell in the dimness. Now at least one of those problems is fixed – I’ve got my boa constrictor, and that is so much fucking better, even though I get anxious sometimes wearing it while I’m exercising and worrying I’ll pass out. I hear that’s a danger with boa constrictors (otherwise known as binders.) But what am I supposed to do? Not wear it when I exercise? No way. I really need it then, too. It’s just another thing to be anxious about. Just throw it onto the pile, I guess.

I wanted to play sports this year, but that’s also complicated at this point. I don’t want to ever play hockey on the downtown team again, because I know all those guys and they all know I’m supposed to be a girl. I don’t want explanations and I don’t want more awkwardness and anxiety. Also there is no possible way I’m ever playing girls’ softball again, like I did last summer. I kind of didn’t like that very much, anyway. People were nice, but I didn’t fit in there, and felt that usual outsider thing whenever I’m with a group of girls. But I don’t think I would want to play boys’ softball or baseball, not right now anyway, not before the MBDs. I wish I could’ve done that this year, but I guess I’ll have to wait for next year.

Do you get bored, always reading about my transgender stuff? Sorry if you do. It’s just, needless to say, the biggest thing in my life these days (always has been, sort of). It probably always will be. I need to get this stuff out of my mind so it doesn’t drive me insane by staying in there.  But what’s tomorrow? Tomorrow is Wednesday or something. At the moment I still have six days before my next injection, and I don’t know exactly how long before the first testosterone one. I’ll write about that when it happens, of course. And the stupid Yu-gi-oh tournament.

See you later; thanks for getting through all them words.

 


Graveyards, Long Dark Cloaks, and Pretty Flowers

I biked about half an hour in the misty rain today, up a hill, down a hill, and then up a hill again until I got to coast down the last slope to the old strip mall that’s just down the street from my grandparents’ house. I was feeling a great need to procure myself a long dark cloak – and I went in to the Salvation Army (ah, thrift stores, for a would-be actor, thine junk is shimmering treasure to me) and I actually found one, even though I wasn’t really expecting to. It’s great. It goes down to around my knees, and the sleeves are gigantic, and there’s a collar that can be flipped up so it juts out, vampiresque. It was just twenty dollars, and it’s really a great coat – not just good as a costume, but also for rain and stuff. It’s warm, too. When I got home, my mom was busy at her computer; I sidled up to her, waiting for her to notice my wardrobe, and eventually had to say, “Hey. Check out my Vaudeville coat.”

She glanced. Then she said there was dirt on the back, I should clean that up, and also that she wouldn’t be comfortable with me wearing it out in public because I might be mistaken for a terrorist or someone who carries around shotguns. Long dark cloaks are scary, she said. I don’t disagree, but –

Here’s where fiction is so much better than real life.

A couple of years ago, when my depression and anxiety was really bad and I wasn’t going outside, I wrote a book called Vaudeville. It’s about a mean teenage gravekeeper who smokes cigars and Gordon Lightfoot, who’s kind of his sidekick, or just his companion. The main character Vaudeville is pretty nasty indeed, and I think he’s some sort of materialization of all the issues I was having back then. In the end he gets better, and makes friends with another gravekeeper named Etta who drips water on dead people’s heads to get back at them if they were bad people while they were alive (in Vaudeville dead people can come back to life, if they so choose.) So, today when my mom and I went to get lunch, we talked about a possible Vaudeville movie. She suggested I do it in short installments and put it up on Youtube. I thought that would be cool, even though there’s a definite shortage of actors (the cast would be one teenage boy, one teenage girl, one old man who can sing and play guitar, a large number of zombies, a middle-aged man, and a woman who runs a corner store). I don’t know anybody who would want to be in a movie of mine. Nobody gets as excited by this stuff as I do. If I did somehow get the thing set up, I’d play Vaudeville – even though I’m sure there’s some guy out there who could play him way better than I ever could (even though I wrote him.) It makes sense because I’m the only person I know who comes close to what Vaudeville is supposed to be like.

So, I got that long dark cloak at the thrift store, to wear if ever I get the movie set up. (Because in the book he’s always wearing it.) And my mom says it would make me look like a terrorist. Me, though? I’d understand that more if I had a wild beard, a baseball hat pulled low over my eyes, and a big backpack slung over my shoulders – but I’m pretty innocuous-looking, I always thought. It kind of makes me feel bad because I was looking forward to wearing the coat around, and I was excited by the prospect of play-acting a character I loved writing so much. I guess I still can, but only during the movie that will probably never actually get made. I don’t know. Like, I go through life kind of not being able to stand who I am – mostly the “girl” part of it – and it’s better to not be me, sometimes. Maybe that sounds really stupid and bad. I can’t tell. I’m just looking for a way to be more comfortable, and damn, I like that cloak I found. I really like it.

It makes me wonder how much longer I’ll have to listen to my mom. I know that often she’s right about things, and I don’t really mind listening to her, because she’s my mom and that’s the way it is; but eventually I think I should get more say. Although this is different a bit because she said that she won’t be comfortable walking around with me if I’m wearing that coat, and there’s no way I would make her uncomfortable. My grandma said she liked my coat – and so did the lady at the Salvation Army. I don’t know – I don’t look at people in dark coats and think, ‘Ah yes, there goes a terrorist.’ Maybe other people do.

Maybe I’m overthinking this, and I should just hang the coat up and never wear it. But I spent twenty dollars on it. And it’s cool. This is all pretty trivial, I guess.

We also visited the graveyard today, which is what got us talking about the Vaudeville movie. For no particular reason; just because. We both agreed it was a weird thing to do, but we had fun looking at the old graves and finding the weird names. Among the weird names was this doozy of a weird name:

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And of course, Joy Oy.

 

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My mom and I were talking about how it’s a bit weird that graveyards are a thing, that when you die you get put in a box in the ground with a stone above you that says who you were. I think it’s definitely weird, but I get why it comforts people – you don’t want the world to forget about someone, and everyone’s afraid of that happening. Having your name set in stone to sit there for hundreds of years like a stubborn cry against the irrelevancy that death brings is a comfort. I understand.

Meanwhile, believe it or not, it’s actually spring. We had a lot of rain yesterday, and some today – most of the snow has disappeared, receding back into the trees, leaving wide swaths of damp, bleached grass. My grandma’s garden has a little group of snowdrops, sitting with their white heads bowed. There are iris shoots behind them, and the magnolia bush is full of buds. The little birds have returned – the twitchy brown ones are everywhere, and the other day when I was sitting out on the front step the forest was full of birdsong, probably ten or more different kinds singing discordantly. The sun stays longer and the wind has gotten warm.

On the twenty-fifth (or twenty-seventh?) of this month I’m supposed to go to a Yu-gi-oh tournament with my friends. It’ll be the first time I see them in a couple months; I talked with Josh for a little while a few days ago, and he admitted he’d been trying to call me but had been busy or shy – I told him I’d been in the same situation, (just minus the busyness.) It probably won’t be fun – a couple hours sitting stuffed into a small toy shop in the suburbs with twenty-odd other people, all unnervingly similar to me and my friends – but at least I’ll see my friends again. I really miss them. It really helps, psychologically, seeing your friends. It’s like the difference between a sunny day and a cloudy one. In the meantime, I’ll persist with this annoying transitioning business. So far, Lupron has knocked off a good deal of my girl-curves, and my voice seems to have actually lowered a tiny bit, enough so that I’m able to notice when I listen to old recordings of myself versus the new ones. I don’t know how much of that is just in my head, though. I’ve been kind of checking out those STP things (that would basically allow me to use the guys’ bathroom) but they look really finicky and I’m not sure if I’d have enough courage to try and get one to work. Never mind how I’d get one in the first place. I figure my mom, being as helpfully smart as she is, will figure out that I want one eventually – for right now I’ll just continue my lifelong tradition of avoiding all bathrooms, always.

But fuck, imagine how it would feel to walk into a bathroom and feel like you belong? Well, maybe you can’t. But if you can, then imagine it, let the wonderfulness of it sink in. You just walk in, do your stuff, and walk out again, and don’t feel any crushing anxiety or anger or fear. It’s just simple, how it’s supposed to work. Never mind that I’d be going to the bathroom with a plastic thing.

Whatever. I think I’ll probably just muddle through like always, and things will be all right. For now I’ll enjoy my graveyards, long cloaks, and pretty flowers.