Weekly Open Thread with Toys in Trees

This week our open thread is hosted by these toys of mysterious origin which adorn a country road between Canberra and Bungendore. Please natter/chatter/vent/rant on anything* you like over this weekend and throughout the week.

Gum trees near Canberra with soft toys attached to them, reason unknown

Roadside soft toys by Hil, on Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

e.g. What have you been up to? What would you rather be up to? What’s been awesome/awful?
Reading? Watching? Making? Meeting?
What has [insert awesome inspiration/fave fansquee/guilty pleasure/dastardly ne’er-do-well/threat to all civilised life on the planet du jour] been up to?

* Netiquette footnotes:
* There is no off-topic on the Weekly Open Thread, but consider whether your comment would be on-topic on any recent thread and thus better belongs there.
* If your comment touches on topics known to generally result in thread-jacking, you will be expected to take the discussion to #spillover instead of overshadowing the social/circuit-breaking aspects of this thread.

Similar Posts (automatically generated):

85 comments for “Weekly Open Thread with Toys in Trees

  1. A4
    April 26, 2013 at 6:27 pm

    My friend has mitochondrial disease and she’s in the hospital again for heart failure, which happens fairly often for her. She puts on a brave face and says things like “It’s nothing, I’m fine. I’m having one of my heart failure episodes but I got here before going into my shock state so we’rd good. Just need some blood”. It’s heartening that she can be so optimistic and she is currently in her last semester at MIT studying quantum mechanics and was just accepted to an MIT grad program. It’s so amazing she can do these things with all of this pain and injury but it is also all so scary. I don’t know how she does it but I so very much want to go to her graduation.

    On a lighter note, I’ve been having a great time posting selfies to facebook. I don’t let myself retake them a million times because I want to think my face is cool and that however it looks is pretty great.

    • EG
      April 27, 2013 at 1:14 pm

      I’m very sorry, and wish your friend a swift and smooth recovery, and you strength. It is very difficult when somebody you love is in danger.

      • A4
        April 27, 2013 at 11:38 pm

        Thank you, I really appreciate your wishes. She will never recover. All of her nutrition is delivered intravenously. She has 3 extra holes in her torso with tubes sticking out of them that she uses to administer to or drain various organs with various medications and fluids. She cannot walk unsupported down a hallway without great difficulty. She does not know when her condition will worsen and cause her death.

        And she’s graduating from god damn MIT this semester with a degree in physics, specializing in quantum mechanics, and headed to grad school to study theoretical physics. She’s fucking awesome beyond my comprehension.

    • A4
      April 27, 2013 at 11:31 pm

      I got to spend a lot of time with her today. She is such an awesome person in so much pain. We made a balloon chain out of surgical gloves and drew faces on them. She’s hoping to get out of the hospital by the end of the week.

      We talk about everything very frankly, and I love her for it.

  2. April 26, 2013 at 7:34 pm

    I’m taking my kids shopping tomorrow for some new stuff for summer. Looking forward to a fun day with just the three of us.

    Taking on a new role at work and a little nervous about it. We have four divisions and right now my job straddles two of them. The idea is to get me just supporting the one division and hiring someone to cover the other one. I’m not so worried about the “new duties” but more of letting go of the old. One of my co-workers who I really like wrote me a really nice email about how much I help her and it makes me sad that I won’t be working as closely with her and a few other people. So a lot of mixed emotions there.

    My youngest daughter is trying to teach herself to play guitar. It’s cute as hell. She’s doing really well on picking but is frustrated that she can’t do chords yet because her hands are so small. I’ve got a beginner sized guitar I’m going to string up for her and hopefully that will be better.

    • EG
      April 27, 2013 at 1:15 pm

      Congrats on the new role at work–I’m sure you will adjust to it with grace and aplomb.

      • April 27, 2013 at 7:18 pm

        Thank you EG

  3. April 26, 2013 at 8:15 pm

    I found out a few days ago that I’ve been accepted by UC Santa Cruz. I was so happy when I found out that I nearly cried in front of everyone in the library. (I eventually had to leave.) The admissions decision from UC Berkeley will be available later today. If I don’t go to UCB, I’ll definitely go to UCSC.

    If I go to either university, I’ll finally get the chance to move out earlier, which for me means that I may be able to move out by the end of this year. And Berkeley is at least an hour away from where I currently live (San Jose), so I’ll be far away from my religious family. Going to either school will also mean that I’ll be able to start HRT even sooner than expected because both schools cover trans* health in their student health care.

    Even think about all of this now is making me tear up. Maybe that’s silly, but getting into a UC school means a lot to me as my educational history has been mostly sub-par. I grew up with no formal education whatsoever until the age of 16. I have horrible SAT scores. But now I finally got accepted by a university I’ve dreamed about going to for ages.

    My only worries are 1) whether my religious elders will allow me to live in Santa Cruz or Berkeley by myself (my father doesn’t want me to move to either place by myself unless I stay with a religious Muslim male roommate) and 2) whether I’ll have some kind of backup plan in case my father withdraws his financial support once he finds out about my HRT (he’s paying for my education ATM).

    I want to focus on the good news, though.

    • April 26, 2013 at 8:23 pm

      Oh, and because of this news about my acceptance, I’m going into overdrive now to learn all I can about the programming languages and other stuff I need to know for web development (JavaScript, jQuery, Twitter Bootstrap, etc.). Because I need to try to get some kind of income soon, and I can try to do that by becoming a freelance web developer.

    • April 26, 2013 at 9:01 pm

      I’ve just received my admissions decision from UCB. I was rejected.

      Oh well. It looks like it’s UCSC for sure, then – not that I’m complaining.

      • April 27, 2013 at 7:03 pm

        I was really hoping you’d be accepted at Cal, and go there so we could be going to the same school, BUT I’m still really happy for you, because UCSC is a great school. Go Banana Slugs!

        I hope that some sort of acceptable roommate solution presents itself.

    • GallingGalla
      April 26, 2013 at 9:10 pm

      This is good news. I’m happy for you, not least that you’ll be able to get some distance from your family and be able to start HRT.

      Good luck with the web development! It’s a good career path, I think.

      • April 26, 2013 at 9:35 pm

        Thanks. In truth, I’m only going into web development in order to start getting income – my actual career interests are completely different – but it’s certainly a decent career. And it’s even fun on occasion.

    • April 26, 2013 at 10:30 pm

      Congratulations! I’m so glad to hear it, and I can’t wait to hear how things go as you make your move. All the best wishes.

    • Li
      April 27, 2013 at 2:20 am

      Congratulations Aaliyah! I’m really happy that you got into one of the schools of your choice.

    • khw
      April 27, 2013 at 10:32 am

      Excellent news!

    • EG
      April 27, 2013 at 1:21 pm

      Aaliyah, that is so wonderful! I’m so happy for you that there are literally tears in my eyes! Yes, there will be difficulties, but consider the far worse difficulties you have been negotiating up through now–these new ones will, it sounds to me, be less intense and you will have more freedom in handling them! And UC-Santa Cruz–perhaps there is a religious Muslim man, cis or trans, who would support you and satisfy your father without giving away any of your information before you’re ready. The world is full of possibility for you, Aaliyah–you are young, smart (I don’t care about your educational background–I deal with undergrads everyday, I read their writing and listen to their thoughts, and you are very, very smart, so I don’t want to hear any argument on this), and kind.

      The world should be your oyster, and it sounds like UC-SC is finally going to help you pry it open! (Weird metaphor, I don’t know, it felt right when I wrote it.)

      So many congratulations to you!

      • April 27, 2013 at 3:00 pm

        Regarding the possibility of living with a tolerant Muslim, I appreciate the fact that you want to see my situation under a more positive light – I really do. And I’m not offended by it in the slightest.

        But I’m afraid I can’t share your optimism in that regard. As an ex-Muslim, I know very well that all kinds of Muslims exist because they’re, well, fully human. But from the same perspective, I have also learned that the majority of religious Muslims I know are, unfortunately, people around whom I can almost never feel safe. I feel almost constant anxiety instead. When I see a religious imam, my first thought is not something like “Hey, this person probably has no problem with the fact that I’m trans*” but rather something like “Aaliyah, please keep pretending you’re cis male – for your own sake.”

        I say this not because I’ve met every single Muslim in the world and so am qualified to make blanket statements, but because 1) the most pro-LGBTQ Muslim I’ve ever known and met is a scholar of Islam who believes that Muslims should be compassionate towards LGBTQ people only because LGBTQ people are living “misguided lifestyles” and need to be corrected and 2) I literally know only one practicing Muslim who doesn’t have some problem with LGBTQ people. I’m not saying that all Muslims are like what I’ve described – quite the contrary – but this is coming from experience. And experience matters to me.

        I believe that this isn’t because of some inherent trait these Muslims have, but rather because Islam itself, as it is followed by most people, across all mainstream interpretations, discriminates against anyone who isn’t cis, straight, gender-conforming (by its own standards, at least), and male. And I have reasons to believe that this correspondence between LGBTQ attitudes and actual beliefs is real; after all, the reason I know so many progressive pro-LGBTQ Christians (in fact, the most pro-LGBTQ religious person I know is Catholic) is that they believe in something like “Jesus didn’t say anything about homosexuality.” But the Muslims I know categorically condemn anything not heteronormative and patriarchal. Even the Muslim feminists I know have some very problematic views.

        I believe most Muslims I know are, like most people, well-meaning. Many are very kind people – some of the nicest people I know. But their benevolent intentions don’t change the fact that they also happen to be bigoted in all sorts of ways. And they certainly won’t make me feel less anxious. I mean, being away from my religious family members and living my life they way I want aren’t the only reasons I want to move to Santa Cruz. I also want to get away from anyone else who is religious and (most likely) intolerant of who I am. And so if I really do move in with devout Muslim men, chances are that I will be just as happy as I would if I stayed with other family members who are equally intolerant. Which, as you know, isn’t saying much. How could I possibly be happy around people who will, more likely than not, prove themselves to be completely intolerant? I know that it’s possible for me to live with a religious Muslim roommate who isn’t an asshole because, again, I’m well aware of the fact that plenty of nice Muslims are out there. But so far my experiences are making me very pessimistic. And they also happen to be experiences that many apostates like me share.

        If I’m making myself sound bigoted towards Muslims, I apologize and I’ll take the time to reconsider my beliefs and stop being bigoted. But this is how I feel about living with a religious Muslim roommate. And while I’m willing to change my perspective if I need to, I have yet to see much that contradicts what I know so far.

      • I.M.
        April 28, 2013 at 3:31 pm

        Have you tried contacting Muslims for Progressive Values (http://mpvusa.org/)? They say that they’re pro-queer and pro-trans, and I’ve heard of trans guys who are involved with them, so they’ve at least heard of trans people (though I have no personal experience with this group, so I can’t vouch for theoretical principles vs. actual reality), and they might be able to get you in touch with somebody around Santa Cruz who could be or knows someone who could be a roommate who doesn’t make you uncomfortable and whom your parents might be okay with (maybe avoid saying where you met this roommate, and tell a few white lies about religiosity if needed…). I know you’re wary of living with someone who is Muslim, but this might be a way to make a compromise that both you and your parents can live with?

        I really, really hope you can work out a housing situation and have an absolute blast at UCSC. I was going to go there (but got a scholarship to go somewhere else, so off I went), and it’s awesome. Congrats on getting in!

      • April 27, 2013 at 3:17 pm

        I have a longer comment in moderation. But thank you for your encouraging words, EG.

    • April 28, 2013 at 1:07 pm

      Congratulations, Aaliyah! I’m so happy that you’ll get into a uni that offers you the HRT you’ll need. ^_________^

      About the housing issue: there’s a tumblr called http://queerhousing.tumblr.com/ that, IIRC, lets people advertise for roommates who are also queer. IIRC again, I believe they have a significant number of SF-based requests/offers, so they’ve got a tag for it, too. I’m sure if you made a post on there (I think they take anon submissions, I didn’t look too closely on it because I don’t have a housing issue atm), you might be able to find a Muslim roommate – maybe even a cis gay guy or a fellow trans woman! Stranger things have happened, and I highly doubt you’re the only LGBTQ Muslim attending the university, given its size.

    • ch
      April 28, 2013 at 1:29 pm

      Woo hoo congrats! I know I’m like 98% a lurker on here and you probably have no clue who I am, but I still wanted to give you my good wishes. I grew up in Santa Cruz and my mom is a UCSC professor– it really is a great city and school and I think you’ll do wonderfully there.

    • Mirshana
      April 29, 2013 at 5:45 pm

      Congrats on UCSC! It is where I went to school and I quite enjoyed being there. Such a beautiful campus.

      On a side note, if your father does withdraw support (which I hope he doesn’t) look into declaring legally that you are independent for your FASTFA paperwork. This will generally lead to getting more financial support.

  4. Donna L
    April 26, 2013 at 9:44 pm

    Congratulations on the good news, Aaliyah — I’m staring into my crystal ball, and see wonderful things in your future! I’m so happy that moving out is now, finally, on the horizon.

    • April 27, 2013 at 2:18 am

      I hope your predictions are true. I really do. My crystal ball says otherwise so far. But maybe things will change.

  5. Donna L
    April 26, 2013 at 9:50 pm

    Speaking of changes, it just so happens that it was exactly 8 years ago today that I transitioned socially (in the sense of beginning to live full-time as myself, under my present name, and going to work as myself for the first time) — and exactly 10 years ago today that I first went out in public as myself (or, at least, the first time since I was about 7 or 8 years old!).

    It’s difficult sometimes for me to believe that it’s been that long — I certainly don’t take my good fortune in having been able to do what I did for granted, ever, and even after all these years I still notice it (in a good way), for at least a tiny fraction of a second, every single time someone calls me “ma’am” or uses “she” or “her” in referring to me, or I’m with another woman at a restaurant and we’re collectively addressed as “ladies,” as inconsequential and commonplace as those things may sound to someone who isn’t trans. Those small reminders that it isn’t only me anymore, and that other human beings see me as I am, have always meant a lot to me, and still do.

    But it’s equally difficult for me to remember (not that I really want to rememver!) what it was actually like “before,” and to remember how painful that was, so much of the time. It’s “difficult” in both senses — it hurts to think about at all, but, perhaps fortunately, I’m not able anymore to remember exactly what it felt like. In other words, I no longer have any true sense-memories of what it was like to live in the world as a guy and to be generally perceived as one, let alone what it felt like to have the body I used to have. I don’t know the reason why I can’t rememver — it’s probably some sort of self-protective blocking out, preventing my mind from going there (just as I stopped being able to remember what my mother’s voice sounded like, within a year or so of her death all those years ago) — but whatever the reason, it’s a good thing.

    My life hasn’t necessarily been easy the last 8 years, or the last 10 years, for all sorts of reasons. But being me isn’t one of them. That part of my life has been good.

    • EG
      April 27, 2013 at 1:23 pm

      Happy anniversary, Donna! In some ways, it sounds a little bit like a birthday, so I wish you many happy returns–and a long and happy future!

  6. Donna L
    April 26, 2013 at 9:58 pm

    In case anyone’s curious about what it was like for me that day 8 years ago, I dug up what I wrote back then on a private trans-related message board where I was and am a member, both the evening before and the evening after going to work as myself for the first time:

    Monday 4/25/05

    It seems really overwhelming to think that something that once was an unattainable dream, and, even after I decided to do it, was always somewhere off in the future, is now here. And that when I get up from behind my desk later today and leave my office, my 20+ years of practicing law as a man will be over. And that in a few hours, when I walk into my building and say goodnight to the doorman, and go up in the elevator and into my apartment, and close the door behind me, nobody will ever see me as a man again, and that part of my life will be over forever, in that moment, after all these years.

    When I put my 15-year old son on a bus to Boston this morning, and he hugged me goodbye (in more ways than one), and told me how strange it felt to him to know that I would never be with him again as a man, I felt the same way he did. As happy as I truly am, none of this is easy. I’ve been in a fog all day; nothing seems very real, somehow . . . . I wish I had something profound and philosophical to say as I sit here thinking about all this, but I don’t.

    What do I really expect to happen tomorrow? Well, I do know that it’s going to take a really substantial act of will on my part to go in the main entrance, and to walk past the receptionist and everybody else on the way to my office, with my head held high and a smile on my face, instead of giving into the temptation to sneak in the side entrance 10 feet from my office, go in, and shut the door! Other than that, my only expectation is that people will be civil to me, and not act any differently towards me from the way they always have. Sure, I have hopes – that the day will come when people at work will actually see me and think of me as a woman. But I’m not “expecting” that; not right away, maybe not ever.


    Tuesday 4/26/05

    OK, I guess after all this buildup for the last year, I owe people a report!

    So far, so good.

    Personally, I’ve felt wonderful. Euphoria? Maybe, but it seems more like just contentment and quiet joy to me. No more hiding, no more pretending. Just being me.

    Everyone has been perfectly pleasant and polite, except for the one person I mentioned to some of you , who still seems reluctant even to look at me, let alone say hi.

    When I walked in this morning, the receptionist started to ask me who I was and why I was there, but then suddenly recognized me and smiled and said hello.

    My secretary gave me a big smile, and even came out from behind her cubicle so she could take a look at the “entire me.”

    Two of my fellow litigation associates (male), going down in the elevator with me at lunchtime, asked me to join them at the place they were going to, so I went.

    On the street, we ran into a corporate associate from another floor (also male – like just about all the lawyers here, except me!), whom I’ve met and spoken to many times before. He smiled, said “hi,” and started to introduce himself; I said “we’ve met before”; he looked totally confused, until someone said, “this is Donna.”

    The head of the firm’s management committee called me to ask how my day was going so far.

    I’ve used the ladies’ room on my floor a few times. No problems, but then again no one else has been in it the same time as me.

    If I’d known it was so much nicer than the men’s room on my floor – twice as big, clean, a separate vestibule with a big mirror and a sofa – I think I would have transitioned years ago!

    So, it’s not like people have been falling all over me, but that’s the last thing I expected or wanted anyway. So far, everything’s pretty normal (except that I’ve really gotten almost no work done; it’s just too hard to concentrate!), and I just hope it stays that way.

    And Helen [Boyd, whose message board it is], it really does feel, as you said, like this is the first day of the rest of my life. I am very happy.

    • Donna L
      April 26, 2013 at 10:07 pm

      I have two rather lengthy comments in moderation: in case anyone’s interested, I’ve posted excerpts from what I wrote contemporaneously about my experiences, 8 and 10 years ago, on a private trans-related message-board/forum — the one founded by the author Helen Boyd, who’s been teaching at Lawrence U. in Appleton for the last few years — where I’ve been a member for a very long time, and a moderator for five or six years now.

    • April 26, 2013 at 10:25 pm

      Donna, thank you so much for sharing that. It’s really moving. I’m glad things went so well for you that day, and I’m glad you’re here now. (Is it okay if I cracked up a little bit at the bathroom thing?)

    • April 26, 2013 at 10:34 pm

      I hope my experience of transitioning socially will be as pleasant as yours was initially. I mean, of course I’ll feel happy about being myself for once, but I’m personally terrified by the idea of people scrutinizing my body, looking for things that make me look like a man. And I still have this internalized transphobic narrative in my mind that “You’re just fooling everyone” – it’s extremely distressing. I also have a fear of being identified as trans* and subsequently dealing with hostility from less tolerant people.

      Thinking about all of that makes me want to crawl up in a hole. But I’m happy to hear that you’ve had such good experiences.

      • Donna L
        April 26, 2013 at 10:42 pm

        I’m personally terrified by the idea of people scrutinizing my body, looking for things that make me look like a man. And I still have this internalized transphobic narrative in my mind that “You’re just fooling everyone” – it’s extremely distressing. I also have a fear of being identified as trans* and subsequently dealing with hostility from less tolerant people.

        Please understand that I had every one of those fears, once upon a time, as overwhelmingly as anyone could. For years; for decades — I was more than 40 years old that night 10 years ago when I first went out as myself, and fear was the reason. And I don’t have those fears anymore. And I have a feeling the same thing will happen to you one of these days. When you’re ready, whenever that may be. Not that I think the internalized transphobic narrative that I spent all those years — most of my life — taking in from the world around me, ever goes away completely for most people. But please know that I’ve been where you are, and I get it, and I”m on your side. I’m sorry if what I wrote upset you in any way — I couldn’t help thinking today about what day it is, and what it represents, and certainly didn’t post it to make you or anyone else feel bad.

      • April 27, 2013 at 12:59 am

        Oh, please don’t worry – it’s not your fault. What you said did trigger some of my anxieties about transitioning, but I know you mean well.

      • Donna L
        April 27, 2013 at 2:25 am

        I’m not sure that “meaning well” is the right phrase there, Aaliyah. That kind of implies that I was directing what I wrote towards you, but said the wrong thing despite meaning well. What I wrote wasn’t directed to you in particular at all, as I’m sure you know. I was simply talking about myself and my own life and feelings (hey, I still have them even at my advanced age!) and the significance of this date for me, and I simply didn’t think about the fact that what I wrote would trigger your own anxiety about the subject. But even if I’d known that that would be your reaction, I think I still would have said exactly the same things, although I would certainly have added some sort of explicit warning. I do understand your reaction, since for years before I transitioned, I found it very difficult at times to read the stories of others who had already transitioned, even though I simultaneously was encouraged by them.

      • April 27, 2013 at 2:41 am

        Oh, by “well meaning” I meant that you weren’t directing it at me. Sorry for being vague!

        But yeah, reading what you’ve said on this thread definitely has also been encouraging in some ways. I tend to see everything very negatively these days, but I’m trying to focus on the good, and I’m happy to hear that you are yet another trans* person I know who has had some good experiences.

  7. Donna L
    April 26, 2013 at 10:03 pm

    And this is what I wrote 10 years ago:

    I went out in public as Donna for the very first time on Saturday
    night (and did it again on Sunday). I apologize for
    being even more long-winded than usual, but I’m having
    a very difficult time finding the words to articulate
    what it meant to me. This was a really big deal
    emotionally, not just a fun thing for me; it’s about
    my future and my whole life and how I may decide to
    lead it someday. After all, despite feeling
    gender-different since I was 3 (or younger), and
    always being completely transfixed by anything I ever
    read or heard (fact or fiction) about changing gender,
    and taking hormones for the last 2 1/2 years
    (something I started because I knew I couldn’t go on
    with my life, hating my body as much as I did), I was
    always completely convinced that I could never be
    remotely “passable,” and could never go unnoticed. So I
    never ever truly believed until I actually did it that
    I would ever go out in public. When J. [my partner
    at the time] first suggested to me that it was possible,
    two years ago, my reaction was “me? not in a million years,
    you must be joking.” But now I know it’s possible, because I’ve
    done it. And knowing that I can do this without getting “read”
    by every single person who sees me is not just exciting,
    because I want it so much, but actually a little scary. Because
    now all of a sudden the possibility of publicly transitioning
    seems real.

    Not now, because I have a child, and a job I need to
    keep, and I’m in the middle of a remarkably unpleasant
    divorce, but maybe someday. In the meantime, though, I
    know there’s no going back for me. Because I
    understand now that I can be me, not just in private,
    not just with J., but to the world. . . .

    In terms of the actual experience itself, I guess the
    most surprising and notable thing to me was how normal
    it felt; after I got over the initial terror of
    getting outside my apartment, down the stairs, and out
    of the building, I just felt like me, no “different”
    from the way I ever do. Sure, it took awhile to get
    used to little things like walking down stairs and
    stepping off curbs wearing heels without breaking my
    neck, and getting into a car sideways the way you’re
    supposed to while wearing a skirt, without banging my
    head on the car roof on the way down (something I
    stupidly did, all 5′ 2″ of me, not once but twice!),
    and remembering to take my bag with me wherever I
    went, but those were just details. Basically, in a
    physical sense, it didn’t feel strange at all. Not at
    all like I was wearing a disguise or pretending to be
    something I’m not. I was just being me.

    Of course, even though I think I’ve always paid
    attention to my surroundings, and avoided deserted
    streets, and tried to stay away from anyone who looks
    menacing, I need, as J. wrote, to learn — like
    all women, especially women as small as I am — to pay
    even more attention than I already do to safety
    issues, and to be hyper-vigilant to my surroundings,
    and the people around me. Especially to men. I also need
    to remember that even though it’s ok to walk
    arm-in-arm with J. in the street, or even to hold
    her hand, because women do that kind of thing, I can’t
    just stop and kiss her twice on every block if I want
    to (which I usually do!), not because we’re
    embarrassed about people thinking we’re lesbians, but
    because depending on where you are, it isn’t
    necessarily safe to draw attention that way.

    In terms of that whole issue of feeling “validated” as
    a woman, I won’t deny that it felt good to be told I
    looked nice, not just by J. (hey, she’s
    prejudiced, she says that all the time!), but by Helen
    and Betty (whom I met for the first time as Betty, and
    Joanne is right, she’s beautiful). They’re such sweet,
    lovely people. Anyway, I know self-acceptance has to
    “come from within” and all that, but given how
    difficult it’s always been for me me to believe
    anything positive about my appearance (as male or
    female), a little positive reinforcement helps too!

    Without question, the most “validating,” and truly wonderful,
    experiences were walking in the street for blocks and
    blocks, both nights (including before it was dark),
    without a single person out of the hundreds we passed
    giving me a second glance, so far as J. or I
    noticed. (For the first time in my life, it really
    helped to be as short as I am; I’m actually much more
    inconspicuous that way as a woman than as a man, and I
    literally pass under people’s radar, I think). And
    wandering around an extremely well-lit Rite-Aid
    without anyone looking at me, and paying for nail
    polish myself (I wanted J. to do it, but she made
    me!) without the clerk blinking an eye. And eating at
    an Indonesian restaurant on the lower east side last
    night, full of guys and “het” couples, without anyone,
    staff or customers, acting like they noticed a thing.

    It’s that kind of experience that gave me hope that
    maybe I really can “pass” unnoticed, at least some of
    the time, and makes me want very much to do this again
    — not just going to specifically “trans-friendly”
    restaurants or bars, but walking all around manhattan
    and eating in any restaurant we want to, just like
    “normal” people!

    The last thing I want to mention is that despite what
    one reads about some transgendered women feeling
    validated as women by being paid attention to by
    “admirers,” I felt no “validation” at all from that
    when we were at the trans bar [a then-famous locale
    in the East 20’s, called the Silver Swan — stodgy German
    restaurant by day, trans bar and club at night] . . . .

    Actually, the whole experience of
    being “checked out” and looked up and down in the kind
    of predatory/proprietary way some men do (including by
    one guy who must have been at least 80!), and having
    some guy actually grab my arm, felt really creepy
    (after I got over my extremely brief initial amusement
    at the very idea of men “looking” at me). As J.
    wrote, it was probably good for me to experience for
    the first time what that’s actually like. But even
    though I was never actually frightened, because i was
    with j. and b. and h., it certainly didn’t
    feel “good” at the time; I really did have that knot
    in my stomach J. describes. Especially when the
    four of us were standing outside getting ready to
    leave, and this large man who towered over me started
    to talk to me. He was so drunk he was slurring his
    words and I really couldn’t hear him, although J.
    says it was something about “sucking.” when I said I
    didn’t hear him, he said something like, “you know
    about sex, don’t you,” and reached out and cupped my
    chin and told me how “lovely” he thought I was. I
    couldn’t believe it; I completely froze in panic and
    had absolutely no idea what to do. Strange, because if
    anyone put their hand on my arm, let alone my chin,
    while I was a “guy” — not that anyone ever would! —
    I wouldn’t hesitate to say “what are you
    doing?” But, as a woman, I froze, and just stood there
    waiting for him to let go. All this gender stuff is
    interesting, isn’t it?

    • April 27, 2013 at 12:20 am

      Thank you so much for sharing, Donna.

      • khw
        April 27, 2013 at 10:40 am


      • April 27, 2013 at 7:17 pm

        Yes, thank you for sharing.

      • Willard
        April 29, 2013 at 2:57 am

        Thank you for the share.

    • Computer Soldier Porygon
      April 27, 2013 at 6:24 pm

      Just echoing everyone else I guess- thank you for sharing.

      PS – Did you ever work out how to remember to take your bag everywhere? Haha. I am SO bad about that. I feel like my whole life is this haze of WHERE DID I PUT MY KEYS OH SHIT I LEFT MY BAG AT THE RESTAURANT WHERE IS MY PHOOOOOONE

    • IrishUp
      April 29, 2013 at 7:09 pm

      Thank you for posting these, DonnaL.

      I hope you were able to celebrate with abundant joy, as you deserve.

  8. April 27, 2013 at 1:20 am

    Quiet weekend for me. I need to rest my knee – torn meniscus (minor, should be fine with conservative treatment) and a fissure in the cartilage on my tibia, not so minor. I have to see a sports doctor/surgeon about that, which worries me. Not because of treatment, but because I’ve no idea how much even the consult will cost, and whether Medicare or my private insurance will cover it.

    Fun note: when they inject glue-type stuff into you for healing such tears, it’s common or garden superglue dyed blue! I had this bit of trivia from my osteo.

    • Willard
      April 27, 2013 at 8:13 pm

      Superglue is awesome on cuts as long as your skin isn’t sensitive to the solvents that evaporate when it dries. Way better than those silly little butterfly bandages and works great on fingertips.

      • April 27, 2013 at 10:57 pm

        Luckily I only get paper cuts (ow ow ow) and the occasional cat scratch, skin-wise, and they’re fine with bandaids and ointment. Don’t know that I’d want to try glue, I tend to get very dry skin around my nails and I don’t think it’d do well.

        It’s less the treatment than the cost of the treatment I’m worried about with my knee. :(

  9. Li
    April 27, 2013 at 2:31 am

    This week a friend of mine (L) outed a mutual ex-partner of ours (B) as a perpetrator of domestic violence. I’d already been aware of this (he’d disclosed to me a while ago) but it becoming public to all of our social circle (which includes, for me, B and his friends) has brought up a really messy bunch of feelings on my part. Especially since my relationship with B entirely overlapped with the period in which L and B were dating. And B’s public response has so far pretty much done nothing but set off alarm bells in my head.

    So I’m kind of in a weird place in the moment. I want to be able to support L, but because of my personal shit I can’t really offer more than expressing that I believe him.

  10. April 27, 2013 at 3:03 am

    Ha! I was just feeling a bit home sick – and there it is. A road very familiar (and hilarious) to me. Thank-you for giving me a little bit of home in the form of a road with trees filled with fluffy toys!

  11. thinksnake
    April 27, 2013 at 7:09 am

    On Monday I’m going to be assessed by a nurse as to whether my mental illnesses and other neuroatypical issues are enough to qualify for the disability support pension. These assessments I have heard can go really well, or really poorly. No apparent middle ground.

    • EG
      April 27, 2013 at 1:25 pm

      Good luck, thinksnake. I have a friend who’s had to do the disability assessment (for different reasons–work-related injury), and anticipating it was very stressful. I hope it goes well.

  12. Chataya
    April 27, 2013 at 2:14 pm

    Loving my IUD! Installation wasn’t too bad, and only had cramps for the first two days.

    • Computer Soldier Porygon
      April 27, 2013 at 6:25 pm

      Which did you get? I’ve been waffling over hormonal v copper coil for aaaaaages and I just need to get it over with I think.

      • whistlewren
        April 27, 2013 at 9:07 pm

        I went with hormonal. I was a little worried, because my only other experience with BC pills was very bad in the form of constant PMT-like feelings and panic attacks. I got the progesterone IUD and it hurt to get put in, but now my periods are much, much lighter and I don’t think I have had any pain during periods since. Apparently copper IUD’s tend to have the opposite effect, and make periods heavier, but YMMV.

      • Computer Soldier Porygon
        April 28, 2013 at 2:10 am

        No mood stuff, though? That’s what I’m worried about with the hormonal IUD. And of course the internet is full of the worst horror stories… so that’s encouraging to hear! I don’t think I can handle heavier/more painful periods than I have now which is the risk I don’t want to take with the copper coil.

      • ch
        April 28, 2013 at 1:50 pm

        I had very mild mood stuff when I first got my mirena (the hormonal iud sold in the US, for non-US folks). It was mainly just grumpiness exacerbated by other stressful life stuff going on at the time, and was nowhere near as bad as what I got when I was on the pill/the Nuvaring. And since I already take zoloft for anxiety, I just got my psych to bump my dosage up by another 25 mg for a couple months of the settling in period, which helped a lot, though that’s probably not workable for people not already on psych meds. And now, six months in, it’s awesome. My periods are practically non existent, although I do get irregular and unpredictable spotting, but it’s rarely enough to even need a panty liner. And I get occasional cramps, too, but not bad ones. But it’s stress free, mood altering free, pill free birth control, which is awesome.

      • GracieGrace
        April 28, 2013 at 5:36 pm

        I’ve had my Mirena in since February and it hasn’t been bad.. Except the past couple weeks I’ve been getting lots of spotting :( but I’m just happy I don’t have to deal with periods!

      • Chataya
        April 28, 2013 at 2:14 pm

        I had to go with the hormonal one. I get severely anemic if my periods aren’t controlled, so the copper IUD wasn’t an option.

      • Mirshana
        April 29, 2013 at 5:52 pm

        I have hormonal and <3 it so much!

        If you can do so, as for a local anesthetic for your cervix. It worked really well for me and I didn't feel the IUD going in at all, just a small prick and then numbness.

  13. Caroline
    April 27, 2013 at 3:36 pm

    That infuriating reverse-discrimination short film “Love is All you Need?” is now going viral on my Facebook news feed thanks to my well-meaning liberal friends. I’m going a little crazy trying to explain to them why it makes me angry.
    The horrific bullying and discrimination in the video already happens. Why should it need to be a straight person for people to get up in arms about it? Are they somehow more deserving of sympathy because they’re “normal”?
    I wish all of my friends read feminist blogs. >.<

    • matlun
      April 27, 2013 at 5:58 pm

      I don’t agree. I actually think this kind of “reverse discrimination” pieces are good.

      I would like to be able to take your attitude and say that people should react to actual homophobia without needing this kind of illustration with reversed roles. But people do not work like that. For very many people, the emotional response becomes stronger when the wronged person is someone like themselves. The identification and the effect becomes stronger.

      And in this case, since the translation is so obvious, the meaning will hit home and it will cause those people to really reflect on homophobia and what it actually means to the victims.

      It is a good effect, even if the need for the movie is somewhat annoying.

  14. April 27, 2013 at 7:25 pm

    I hope my girls remain always as excited about bathing suit shopping as they were today. I hope it never becomes a fraught, dreadful experience of self-loathing for either of them.

    They have so much confidence in themselves, even the one that’s going through puberty, that it makes me cringe to think of how much society trains us to hate ourselves and that in a few short years they may spend most of the time picking out things to critique and feel shame for.

  15. April 27, 2013 at 7:34 pm

    (content note: self-harm)

    Okay, uh, a bit of TMI. I’m having a rough time staying on the self-harm wagon this week; it’s a stress-relief thing, but also a self-loathing thing right now. I’ve got a pretty decent handle on direct self-harm (I tend to scratch, bite or punch myself), but I’m having a harder time with the indirect (deliberately not taking pain medication I need, “forgetting” to eat/drink enough water, or not massaging out seizing muscles etc). Does anyone here have any experience or knowledge of how to deal with these issues? The eating/drinking thing is a particularly bad one, because alarms/time-specific eating don’t seem very effective, and if I don’t eat regularly, even small amounts, it causes massive headaches and sugar lows that leave me trembling and disoriented.

    Thank you.

    • Willard
      April 27, 2013 at 8:32 pm

      “forgetting” to eat/drink enough water

      I’ve had issues with this, mostly in a depressive “I don’t really deserve it” kind of way. I have caches around my apartment when on the upswings so when the troughs came on I’ll have a distributed supply of brackish water and healthy shelf-stable snack foods. Obviously actually eating/drinking the stuff is another story, so not knowing how you’re relating to it means this might not help at all. In my case I can go through the mechanical stuff, but the thought of leaving my bed or wherever to get stuff from the fridge can be really anxiety-ridden. Less so now, but I do keep a jar of peanut butter and a water bottle handy for days I’m a bit under.

      Sorry to hear you’re having a tough time. :(

      • April 27, 2013 at 11:44 pm

        I’ve had issues with this, mostly in a depressive “I don’t really deserve it” kind of way.

        This is basically what goes on in my head, so I’ll try your tactic of having food Just Sitting There, definitely! My jerkbrain hates wasting food because childhood programming, so it’ll probably succumb to that tactic. Thank you!

    • April 27, 2013 at 9:06 pm

      Mac, I’m afraid I can’t help you directly in regards to self-harm as I know very little about it and I’ve never had it myself, but I have a few things to say about self-loathing.

      Sometimes, little acts of self-care can at least calm me down and so put me in a state of mind in which I can at least deal with my self-loathing in a more positive way. By that I mean things as light as taking a nice shower, drinking tea, or listening to certain kinds of music.

      I’m not sure if that will help, but I hope you get well soon.

      • April 28, 2013 at 1:04 am

        Thank you, Aaliyah. I did take your suggestion, and it seems to have helped. ^__^

    • PrettyAmiable
      April 27, 2013 at 9:25 pm

      I’m not sure if this will help at all, but I’ve had other mental owie issues this week. My shrink made a point of saying that these mental owies aren’t any less real than if I had a physical owie, and if I had e.g. sprained my ankle or contracted the flu, I’d make a point of treating myself like a rockstar (rest, vitamins, etc). The anxiety thing, though – if harming yourself is the only thing that’s helping you deal with it, I’m not sure it’s a useful mindset. I thought I’d share though in case there’s something in it for you too.

      Take care, mac. Thoughts are with you.

      • April 28, 2013 at 1:13 pm

        PA, I didn’t reply earlier because I wanted to give your suggestion serious thought. I don’t think it’s the same for me – self-harm makes the anxiety worse in the long term even if it’s short-term relief, and I’ve actually been much better off mentally since I stopped. This wasn’t always true for me, but it’s become so, over the last couple of years, so…there’s something. I did manage to get in meals yesterday – a proper amount, even.

        Please take care of yourself, too.

      • PrettyAmiable
        April 28, 2013 at 7:55 pm

        I’m glad to hear yesterday was a good day for you. All the love and support I can offer. <3

    • April 27, 2013 at 10:14 pm

      I wish I had some good advice, but I don’t. My thoughts are with you.

      • khw
        April 28, 2013 at 3:28 pm

        me too

  16. April 27, 2013 at 7:41 pm

    Roller coaster week for me.

    I was officially 100% done with my old job as of Monday, and can now 100% focus on my new job (same company) and it’s weird to feel sort of incompetent, after almost 5 years in the other position, and having mastered it for the most part. But that’s a good thing, because it means that I have room to grow again, finally.

    I was fortunate and privileged to get to see Prince perform at a very small venue in San Francisco on Tuesday evening. It was a fantastic and once in a lifetime type of experience, as Prince really is an amazing musician and performer. However, it was very nearly ruined by a man who took advantage of the small space and packed crowd in order to invade the hell out of my personal space, and there is a very angry rant about that forming in my mind, which will hopefully make its way onto my blog this weekend.

    I’ve been getting a lot of work done on my novel, if not actually adding word count to the manuscript. Mostly been working on development exercises that will help me to write the actual novel. Feeling really good about how that’s going.

    I got a typhoid shot which I need for my upcoming vacation.

    And, finally, unfortunately, I think I am breaking up with a friend. So, yeah, that sucks.

    • PrettyAmiable
      April 27, 2013 at 9:28 pm

      Ahhhh I’m thinking about breaking up with a friend. Who I had sex with, and is currently otherwise occupied, and is breaking my heart. It sucks. Let’s do what’s best for us.

      • April 27, 2013 at 10:05 pm

        Mine stayed with her ex for nine months after he molested me. And now, after over a year of being too busy with her job (supposedly) to hang out with me hardly at all, she has dropped everything to spend three weeks in UK with her new long distance bf.

        So clearly boyfriends are more important to her than me. Which sucks, but you know, good to know.

      • PrettyAmiable
        April 28, 2013 at 7:58 pm

        I am so ridiculously angry for you. You deserve better. I understand that sometimes it’s hard for people to see people they care for be capable of evil, but that doesn’t make it okay. Hugs, if you care for them.

    • April 28, 2013 at 1:15 pm

      Ugh, friend breakups are the worst. >_> Yours sounds like a prize, oi. I hope it goes as smoothly as friend breakups can…? I know that’s not much, but still.

      (And thanks for your wishes above, Peggy. ^__^)

    • April 29, 2013 at 1:38 am

      PA and Mac, thank you so much. It’s rough because it’s never just one friend. It’s always a big group. So there’s very few people who know what really happened, and even fewer that I can talk to.

      And I keep feeling like I have to give her a chance to make it right. I’ve been pretty quiet about how the molestation affected me. I’m so used to being abused, I’m sure it didn’t look like it bothered me from the outside at all. So, I think I should at least explain.

      But I keep coming back to what my therapist told me, “Pay attention when someone shows you who they really are.” And it does seem pretty obvious that she’s a person who wants a boyfriend more than she wants my friendship.

      So I don’t know.

      It is nice that someone is angry on my behalf.

      • April 29, 2013 at 2:22 am

        Peggy, I’m really sorry this is happening to you. :( If you do feel very strongly that you can’t dump her without explaining, maybe a short note/email to the effect of “Action X + Situation Y = Consequence Z, allowing for the possibility of Redemptive Act G”. I mean, obviously I don’t know what details you want to trust her with, etc. But if she feels really bad, she’ll probably get in touch with you with apologies, explanations, wev.

        Also, speaking as a survivor who Handled It Really Well, nope. “But you’re doing so well” is not an excuse. Nope. Never. Anyone who offers it should immediately be barred from conversing with human beings forever.

  17. AnnieD
    April 27, 2013 at 10:16 pm

    Hey all. I’m more of a lurker than a commenter here, but I’d really like to discuss something that happened to me yesterday. I’m a sailor and am currently learning my way around a new class of boats and have been sporadically attending coaching sessions run by K and my state’s laser sailing association. Now K’s a 50 something man who gives me the creeps, and according to my friend M I’m not the only one — it’s apparently a running joke around the club.

    What K actually does is quite insidious. He stands way too close when talking to me and pays more attention to young girls in the group than to the guys. Yesterday I was rigging up, getting ready to go out and K came over to chat. I kept working in the boat while he talked and when he headed off, I was bending over fiddling with something at the base of the mast. He came around behind me and, as if he were patting me on the back, put his hand on my lower back and slid it down to my bottom. It felt incredibly deliberate.

    Afterwards I told M about the incident, and he asked me why I hadn’t confronted the guy, and I couldn’t explain it. I still can’t, but I’d love to hear from someone who’s dealt with something similar. There’s no other training opportunities on offer and I don’t really have enough evidence to be taken seriously if I complained.

    • PrettyAmiable
      May 2, 2013 at 10:48 pm

      I can’t speak to what happened to you in the moment, but my own thoughts would be the following: what if it escalated? What if everyone thought you were exaggerating? What would the repercussions be for you if people didn’t believe you? What would the repercussions be for him if you just misjudged the situation?

      This is the bullshit you’re socialized to believe. Aside from the first, it’s empowering when you can throw the middle finger in the air to anyone who tries to make you feel badly about drawing your own boundaries (that this buttface violated). I wish I had an answer for the first that wasn’t somewhat reckless.

      I’m really sorry you went through that.

  18. khw
    April 28, 2013 at 3:34 pm

    I’ve been seeing a number of European movies (the Euro Film Festival here finishes today) and it’s been fun to try and see how much German I can remember from school and how many Dutch words I can learn! As I live speaking Spanish and English (and translate between the two), it’s been interesting hearing different sounds.

    Mind, after Het Zuiden (South) and Nadine (both Dutch films with Monic Hendrikx), I am officially over movies about women with their biological clocks ticking who kidnap babies.

    The other movies were generally really enjoyable, though.

  19. April 28, 2013 at 5:04 pm

    We just had a yard sale, and as I was digging things out of storage to sell, I came across a box from my grandmother’s house that I’d never even opened because, as far as I knew, all it held was a bunch of wool yarn that was unusable because it smelled so strongly of mothballs. But when I opened it, I found (in addition to the stinky yarn) a bunch of patterns, a bunch of sock needles and stitch holders and stuff, a full set of needles in a zippered leather case, and a half-finished sweater she’d been working on.

    Granny died a few years ago, and it was a really traumatic experience for the entire family due to family politics, history, resentments, strong personalities, and a dozen other things. It was only last year that I finally managed to come to terms with it myself. So finding her knitting things — particularly the sweater — was unexpectedly emotional for me. I think I’m going to try to finish the sweater for her, and then I don’t really know what I’ll do with it, since she was tee-niney. But I’m glad to have it, and I’m glad to finally be in a place where I can feel glad to have it. (And the smell came out of the yarn pretty well after a couple of hours in the sun.)

    • PrettyAmiable
      April 28, 2013 at 8:03 pm

      Finishing something your grandmother started sounds like an amazing way to reconnect. This sounds absolutely lovely. Maybe you’ll have a better idea what to do with the sweater once you complete it!

  20. Willard
    April 29, 2013 at 12:58 am

    Stuff about suicidal thoughts, though not a lot.

    This past week I had a couple scary days. The last couple of years have been tough, with my academic career grinding to a screeching halt while my student debt building career really took off. Now with everything so close to finally paying off the progress and work I’ve been so proud of got some “objective” attention from my jerkbrain. It crops up every once in a while, but this time it came right after a super stressful day at school and work and I couldn’t knock it off in time. I spent the day in basically one long panic attack that turned to a debate between various methods of just ending it all to spare myself and my family the continued pain and disgrace (no friends to worry about, thanks depression and self-loathing). Called said family in the evening and we managed to kick the little asshole in my head out of the driver’s seat.

    A few days later I went into another emergency dive after hearing nothing from a professor I emailed about concerns. It wasn’t fair to me and it wasn’t fair to him, but my anxiety really latched on to the fact he sent a class-wide missive the day after I tried to get in touch. My jerkbrain demonstrated some creativity this time, a river, a bike, a length or two of chain, and some garbage bag floats took home the prize for best use of physics curricula. Again, family chat, cooling off period and all was back on a mostly even keel.

    So for the weekend I said fuck it. There’s an Ewan McColl song I love that has a line “I may be a wage slave on Monday, but I am a free man on Sunday.” For a while now my gender identity has been moving out of the Schrödinger box I packed it away in, so I decided to hit the mall. Shoes, a new bra (the racerback makes me feel like I’m throwing on a shoulder holster), some accessories and a board game for whenever I get the strength to spread the good word of Game Night again. Just doing nice stuff for myself sent me over the moon. I got a bunch of work done this weekend, did my usual shaving routine plus forearms, which was new. I always hated how it looked like I had a permanent farmer’s tan.

    So batteries recharged and refreshed, a bit ahead of the curve on my upcoming homework, and finally doing my little black sweater dress justice with a pair of matching ankle boots. Fuck depression, fuck anxiety, and thanks for this place. It’s lovely and the opportunity to share is wonderful. I always tend to listen more than I talk and that goes double online. The ability to just wipe away things I’ve said before anyone else hears them is dangerously seductive.

    Also, this week’s Dr. Who. Complete fail on the Bechdel test, give it a solid “meh” on all other fronts.

  21. DouglasG
    April 29, 2013 at 12:31 pm

    What was supposed to be about an hour and a half of routine car maintenance (on the plus side, I got the weekly Mind Bending Killer Sudoku done in under an hour) turned into nearly three. That wasn’t so bad, but the waiting room would have the television tuned to one of those mainstream media pop culture programs. Until this morning, I had been blissfully ignorant of that ghastly(?) new phenomenon, the Promposal.

    I wish I could just chalk it up on that great list of For Those Who Like That Sort of Thing, That Is the Sort of Thing They Like, but suspect it might take a while.

Comments are closed.