Tag Archives: thoughts

The Cellar Boy Returns In Time for Rosh Hashanah

The title of this post is especially ridiculous because I’m not Jewish and I don’t celebrate any of the holidays or observe any of Judaism. The reason I bring it up is because I spent this evening at my dad’s friends’ house, where Rosh Hashanah happened to be going on – the Jewish new year. I find it funny how I just stumble into these things by chance and am happily accepted. Like the Chinese new year a little while ago at my friend’s house. Chinese? No. Part of the family? No. Guest? Yes!  Anyway, I’d heard of Hanukkah and Passover, but never of this one; I wasn’t entirely sure what it was going in, so I tried to look like I knew how to conduct myself. Luckily for me, the family aren’t exactly orthodox. Basically, I observed all the general rules of propriety, such as don’t double dip in the honey bowl and only take an apple slice when you’re signaled to do so, not before it’s served and while everyone’s still talking. I think I did fairly well. The family consists of Dr. Jen and her wife, who is a writer originally from South Africa, and is possibly the nicest person in the universe. Correction, they both are. They had an ensemble of interesting characters over for dinner, who I kind of delighted in listening to. I couldn’t do them justice here, but it was a bit like a scene from an indie comedy, if you can picture it better now. My dad and I, I realized as I sat there, are incredibly similar. We even sit the same way, with our arms resting on the table, and when either of us was addressed we’d look at the other for help. At one point, the man across from us (in his forties, with a shaved head and a long nose, a vest and tie) said, addressing my dad, “So what kind of music do you make?” (At this point it had been established that both my dad and I were musicians.) At his question, my dad looked at me. I said, after a moment, “Well, you make it, not me.” It went on like that pretty much all night.

The kids (there were four of them, including my little sister) were missing for pretty much all of dinner and dessert, playing outside and upstairs while the adults (and me – I’m an adult. Weird, isn’t it?) sat at the table and talked. Initially it was apparently thought that I was a lot younger than I am. There were two kids my age there, an outgoing, round girl with glasses who let us know in an ironic way that she was allergic to pretty much everything, and her boyfriend, an obnoxious fellow with big arms and a silver watch whose comments were outrageous and rude, who everyone took like he was just talking about the weather. Oddly, perhaps only due to everyone else’s treatment of him, I was all right with what he said. Within the family circle it seemed accepted. He made fun of his mom’s dreadlocks (she sat across from me, a small French woman with glasses), and he made fun of who I assume was his sister, a girl a few years younger than me who sat to my side, wrapped up in a big grey sweater.

Dr. Jen’s wife, the writer (a tall, thin brown-skinned woman with long hair), told us a story about how she’d watched the interview of a serial killer and how fascinating she found it. It would’ve been weird if she wasn’t so clearly nice. I was mostly quiet, but I liked it that way. I was happy to listen to the conversation (and form opinions on the people. It was also kind of entertaining to try and infer their relationships to each other). There were no formal introductions, and so my brain organized them by either their features or their personalities. I’m not sure I could translate that into English; it’s just the feel you get from people. I found it interesting, anyway.

The food was good, dessert especially. It was an interesting mix of things – honey and apple for the beginning (and the breaking of the bread), followed by dahl and lentils for the main course, red and yellow beets in sweet vinegar sauce (that’s a very French Canadian thing too, by the way), with some vegetables, two salads, and then a peach upside-down cake with brownies and ice cream. There was no running theme through the whole meal, which I liked. I figured it was the Jewish, South African, and French influences of those involved at the gathering that had gone into what we were eating, rather than any particularly orthodox Jewish tradition. (My dad brought bagels from Kettleman’s for the occasion. Very Anglo-European-Canadian of us).  Besides the honey and apple and the bread, of course. Dr. Jen said some prayers or chants in Hebrew before we ate at the beginning, and my grandpa described what that was like best: it was like singing happy birthday while you bring out the cake. We don’t do it because we’re supposed to, we do it because we always have and we like to. That’s the sense I got from Dr. Jen as she spoke – it wasn’t overly serious, it was more of a comfort thing, though we all went quiet and listened. Her son Motsumi was impatient to get to the honey and apple but he also seemed intent to make sure the ritual was done, and he wanted to be a part of it. He touched the bread as his mom spoke, and he also inquired about if they would hide presents like in Passover. Once hearing that they wouldn’t, he promptly disappeared to play with the other kids. I thought for sure they would show up at some point for the food but I guess playing took precedent – weird. When I was that age it was food first, play later. Also I ate like a garbage disposal service, but you know. (I’m happy to announce it never made me unhealthy, or even that chubby. Notice how I say “that”. All that method of eating really made me feel was bloated, to tell the truth. And then I grew out of it. Sort of).

It was nice and I’m glad I got to go. I’m glad it wasn’t too formal, or too orthodox for that matter, because I’m not sure how ultra-orthodox Jews feel about atheist transgender people being at their holidays. There’s a world of difference between ultra-orthodoxy and a lax practicing of a religion. I like the lax people the best. The extreme ones make me feel a bit nervous to be quite honest.


 

So that’s Rosh Hashanah. Now should I talk about why I’ve been gone for so long, or why my last post was a negative evaluation of the pointlessness of getting pictures of Pluto? Well, as for the first thing, basically I’ve been gone for three reasons, only one of which is really viable. The first is that I’ve been lazy. The second is that I sort of lost my password. And the third is because I’ve been hellishly, unbelievably busy.

The biggest thing going on right now is that I’m back at school – not only back, but back full-time. This is for the first time in five years. The last time I was going regularly was grade eight – now I’m in the imaginary grade thirteen. I should’ve graduated last June, but you know… going part-time, and then not at all, and then part-time again leaves you a bit behind.

Now I get to wake up at the ungodly hour of 7 a.m and lug my exhausted, unresponsive body out of the house, down a hill, up a hill, into a bus – then keep myself from falling over for half an hour as I hold the bar next to my face, while crushed against other morning commuters – then I stumble out of the bus, and down twenty blocks to my school, by which time I’ll hopefully be awake. Then I fall into a chair and sort of learn for a few hours. Then I take the bus back, and by the time I’m home, I’m ready to curl into a tiny, comforting ball under something, preferably a mound of blankets, and hide. While sleeping. A nice hide-sleep. Unfortunately, I have to stay awake until a little later, or I’ll pop awake at three in the morning like that one time. That one time that didn’t go so well. It’s a tough thing, going from half-days at school (and a whole summer of sleeping in) to getting up when dawn has just broken, and being expected to stay awake for the next sixteen or seventeen hours, most of which are spent needing to focus, of all things. On schoolwork. Of all the fucking things.

It’s a lot. But it turns out I’m doing it – so far. I’ll check back with you in another two months. If I’m not a harried, shivering little ball clutching onto a Macbeth essay sheet covered in drool and scratch marks by then, consider this whole thing a roaring success.

There are more things to say, of course. I have months and months to fill in here – but I did get a lot of that down, just not here on this blog. I keep a journal so all the inane day-to-day things, or some of them anyway, are recorded. In a hundred years, when someone wants to know what the life of an average Canadian transgender autistic musician writer was like, they can check that journal, and they’ll know. However I doubt anyone’d be interested. Fuck usually I’m not even interested, and I’m the one living this shit.

Til next time. And it won’t be that long this time, I hope.

– Brynn


On Seeing the First Pictures of Pluto

I came out of retirement for this.


pluto

 

It was then that humankind realised Pluto is a rather uninteresting potato-hued thing.

I’m not entirely sure what we thought it would look like. The images I recall from my childhood present it as this poor little purple or blue circle, always considerably less impressive than its other heliocentric companions, sometimes with stripes of different color like a morose Easter egg, picked last from the basket because Jupiter is huge and Saturn has a ring! I’m not going to pretend as if I ever gave a shit one way or another about this overlooked planet but I think some part of me understood its relative lonerism and appreciated it, in a very small way. Never enough for me to actually sit back and go “Ah yes, Pluto, my celestial equal”,  but I never had any negative opinion on it, either. It was tiny, extremely far away, a billion degrees below zero—all the things you don’t put on travel brochures. Mars had appeal because it was attainable—still is attainable—and you could imagine what it would be like to walk on it, or terraform it, or whatever. It was exciting to watch Mars Rover documentaries, and even the pictures they sent back could be fascinating if you were able to get your head around the fact that when you see them you’re really seeing an alien planet, millions of kilometers away. A whole other planet. The other planets never had Mars’s accessibility, shall we say—but Saturn, being the coolest, appealed from a “I wish Earth had a giant ring of space dust” angle, and the moon, though old news by my time, was a thing you could also appreciate because people had actually walked around on that one. Difficult to imagine, when you look up at it on nighttime drives and see it seem to follow you, glowing, silent and eerie—but you could watch those old films of black-and-white astronauts bouncing black-and-whitely in that barren, colorless world and feel a surge of amazement, or pride, or pure wonder even at the idea of it, and the concreteness of its actually having happened.

But, Pluto, as the most distant and possibly least hyped-up planet, had none of these things going for it. Forget accessible—no real pictures had ever come back of it. Forget cool, except in the literal sense, of course. One teeny rock, out there apparently by itself, so insignificant that eventually they decided it wasn’t even a real planet, it was a dwarf planet. The poor thing.

Of course I think we tend to romanticise these things. We oughtn’t treat Pluto as if we’ve hurt its feelings, because a lump of icy rock, unfortunately I must say, has no feelings. It’s natural enough to feel a pang of unfairness at the idea that, with what seems suspiciously like a stroke of pure arbitrariness, it was scratched out from the solar system model completely, to leave us with a rather unfulfilling eight planets, as opposed to the nine that I had gotten used to as a little kid—but let’s end the drama there, please. Besides that, people get so excited about the idea of traveling into space; and yes, that is exciting, but let’s not forget it’s taken New Horizons since 2006 to travel this far. That’s nine years—that’s a long time. You can go from a stupid ten year old to a fully functioning, car-driving adult in nine years. And it’s hardly encouraging to consider that getting to the edge of our own solar system takes an entire decade, when everything actually interesting out there is millions of light years away, and that even traveling at the speed of fucking light it’d take millions of years to get to those places. Is it exciting to have sent a probe that far? Yes, it is, but you should remember that it’s getting nowhere fast. The distances it’s covering are miniscule, really. Voyager passing out of the system is cool, but mostly arbitrary—we won’t suddenly discover aliens the moment we pass the “edge” (wherever the hell the edge is supposed to be. I guess it’s where the sunlight doesn’t reach?) My point is don’t get unduly excited. Yeah we’ve got some pictures of Pluto now. And guess what—it’s a potato ice-rock. Hurrah.

 

 


Reasons to Despise Society, Pt. 1

It feels like last time I did a post we were still in the paleolithic age, smacking rocks with other rocks and chasing buffalo off high ledges. A whole lot of stuff has happened since last I took up the metaphorical pen to gift you with the machinations of my often idle mind, but rather than attempt to compact it all into a readable wad of text, I think I’m going to leave it all up to your imagination. You can imagine I was bundled away in the night by a mysterious band of rebels out to protest some awful new law and then became their leader, went on to conduct a completely underground (and successful) rebellion; or you can imagine I was stuck on the top of some distant mountain, barely surviving on bits of trail mix and granola while I waited for the authorities to come find me (while at the same time writing my masterpiece novel); or you can imagine that life has been kind of as it always has. Better, these days, but still not all that much different. I realize I’m hurtling, reluctantly, towards adulthood, and that at the end of this year my friends will be off to the bizarre guessed-at lands of life; and it is a bit daunting, to think that soon we’re all going to get tossed to the winds like so many discarded leaflets – but that’s life, it evolves and the people around you evolve, too. To remain static is impossible, and stupid if you try. You’ve got to kind of ride the waves, man.

I am imbued with some obscurity today, sorry. I think the happier I get, the sillier I get – and when I’m down or depressed I turn into a bad realistic fiction novel. I really do, I’ve read over my previous writings. I think I prefer my writing when it’s somewhere in the middle – not too obscure as to be difficult to enjoy, but not too raw that it starts to suggest the world sucks horribly and everything will be bad forever.

So with that out of the way, let’s look at reasons to despise society. I was inspired by one thing in particular, but I’ve realized since then that there are reasons all over the place, simply growing on the trees ready to pick off, and that I should maybe discuss them. Because as anyone who knows me knows, there are some aspects of society that I just can’t get past, that I feel it is my duty NOT to get past, so that you may understand them, too, and wield your new-found knowledge for the betterment of humanity. Or something; I’ll go with that for now.

What’s the thing, then? The thing is this:

asylum cover

Does it look fairly innocuous? A little creepy, but pretty much innocuous? Hold on to your hats. This is the cover for a book that I happened to see at the store, and when I saw it I felt a narrow look of uncertainty grow on my face, wondering if it was the new sequel to Ransom Riggs’ popular series about weird kids who live in Wales (it isn’t that good in my esteemed and glorious opinion.) But aha, the author is someone new – Madeleine Roux, to be exact – and, because my deductive skills rival that of the well-known fictional detective Sherlock Holmes, I was able to deduce that this Roux person is not in fact Ransom Riggs, and is in fact someone entirely different who just so happened to write a book that is eerily familiar to a certain other book which I didn’t find all that good. Am I overreacting? I’m not overreacting. Just look at the cover to Riggs’ Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children:

peculiar children cover

WHAT HO! Still not convinced? Take it upon my word then that both books use the quirk of including photographs en lieu of illustrations, for I guess a more realistic and avant garde feel. Yes, both novels feature photographs as a way to enhance their texts. There is no coincidence here. Why is there no coincidence here? Because, in the Goodreads summary of this “Asylum” book, it is written: “Asylum is a thrilling and creepy photo-novel perfect for fans of the New York Times bestseller Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.”

THOUGHT YOU WERE CLEVER, DID YOU, SOCIETY? Well, you can’t get that past ME, deductive cynical intellectual that I am! Point goes to the Cellar Boy. Smirk.

This isn’t the first time this kind of thing has happened, naturally. I remember when Twilight was huge (remember those strange, dangerous times? I got through them by hiding in a closet with a pot on my head), a whole bunch of knock offs suddenly mysteriously appeared, with names like “Blue Moon” and I wish I had another example but I don’t. I didn’t really care about them because my opinion of Twilight and vampires in general was so low. But I have, in comparison only, a much higher esteem for Ransom Riggs’ kind-of-neat books, and it actually sincerely bothers me that other authors can publish books that are just obvious rip offs, and then make money off of them. The same thing happened with a book called “Gods of Manhattan”, which was clearly written straight off the fame of Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson and the Olympians. And in film, too, we can observe this annoying practice recurring – (look up Asylum Films. That is beautiful irony right there, that it should have the same name as the Ransom Riggs ripoff novel.) Why do people feel they can do this? More than that, why do they feel they can do it and then get away with it scot-free? Sometimes leeching off of other people’s ideas and success isn’t the most terrible thing (for instance look at the humorous goodness of Pigfarts), and I suppose it’s stupidly subjective of me to forgive in some cases and not in others – but I think, just in principle, that it’s a pretty slimy thing to do. There are fan fiction websites out there for a reason. Put your rip offs on there so random internet-goers can have fun reading them. But for money? Really, for money? O, the green-eyed monster, she who pulls the strings of our desperate hearts.

Now, wait, there are more reasons. Of course there are. I would never just leave you with one. The second one is perhaps even less of a big deal, but what it is is far more prominently displayed in the public light. In fact, it’s so prominently displayed that everyone and their poodle is doing it. It is so prominent that I currently cannot turn my head in any direction without seeing it. At school, it is everywhere, like some bizarre tribal brand signifying that soon the civilized world is going to be overthrown. Even the pompous Canadian politicians in their fifties on the news channel I watch religiously are doing it. It is starting to make me sincerely unhappy, simply because no one seems able to resist it. It is, of course, this.

bad hair

No, not the guy. Well, the guy too. But more specifically his hair. Good mother of all that is holy, everyone has this haircut now. Put down summer and fall of 2014 in the record books as the “Time of the Shaved-Sides Haircut”.  It’s like we’ve crashed hair-first into some Utopian  George Orwell concoction where Big Pop Star is Watching You.

big macklemore is watching you.

I think I’m about to have a nervous breakdown. Such conformism has not been seen since the Time of the Skinny Jeans, and thank Brian that one’s mostly over. It’s not the haircut itself that I dislike, you understand; back before everyone had it I thought it was kind of neat, but since then it’s gotten unnervingly prevalent. I’ve seen fads before, and fads are weird, granted – the one with the hamster teddies on wheels was basically impossible to grasp – but this one is different. It could be because I’m older, more aware, and far more cynical and angry – or it could be that it’s just seemed to hit all at once this time, and with force. I don’t understand it at all. If I see a popular figure that I really like get an interesting new haircut, then maybe I’d consider doing the same thing – if it looks good on him or her, then why not? I can understand that, sure. But you’d think – I mean you would, wouldn’t you? – that after a certain point, you would no longer want to get that haircut, after five out of the fifteen people in your class have that hair, after the goddamn Conservative fifty-year-old guy on Power and Politics has that hair. I mean, I don’t really care, but I do care. I care but I don’t care. If you have this hair, then I think no less of you; it could very well be you weren’t aware of the extent of this fad, or that maybe you just didn’t care. BUT – if you are actively aware of the popularity of this hairstyle, and then you go out and get one yourself – I must ask you why. Why? Do not be a pop star sheep. There are too many of them already, they’re clogging up the classrooms and I don’t have anywhere to sit. I’m a pretentious idiot, aren’t I. I’m just a sheep covered in rainbow paint with a little hat on its head trying to not be the same. Well, I stand by my ethics; I will not wash my wool.

New slogan for 2014.

i will not wash my wool!

Perhaps I should separate myself from Photoshop, forthwith. How silly, why would I do that? I think that’s it for this particular wad of text and bizarre pictures. I have perhaps or perhaps not officially returned from my hiatus. We will see. Do stick around; until next we meet, I am your champion of the obscure blog, he who sits among the sheep, – The Cellar Boy

 

– FIN –


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:

photo (27)

And of course, Joy Oy.

 

photo (28)

 

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.


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.