Tuesday, March 10, 2015

A Quick Thought on Current Politics

Thinking about the Mikulski senate vacancy, and Van Hollen's bid for her seat, I am reminded about how Van Hollen's current congressional seat was held by a woman before he won it.  I have never been happy about how Connie Morella was voted out of office as some sort of punishment for Newt Gingrinch and the Contract with America.  Morella may have been a Republican, but she was so good at representing her constituents, most of who were registered Democrats, and if my memory serves, didn't even sign the Contract with America.  If we lose another female representative to Van Hollen again, I'll be very unhappy.  Plus, one can trace the current polarization and gridlock in Congress to the sort of behavior that allowed Van Hollen's rise to national politics, a need for both parties to vote out moderates because politics isn't about the country's best interests anymore, but a game to be won at all costs for one party or the other.

Look, Morella is the only Republican I have ever voted for, and I am no moderate (having changed my party affiliation back to Democrat from the Green party only so I could vote for Heather Mizeur in the governor primary), but the current political landscape is doing none of us, conservative, moderate, or progressive, any good.  This is about the only thing left that I have a care about when it comes to politics, making sure our representatives are as diverse as the communities they represent.  Which is why, no matter how good he may be, I won't be voting for Van Hollen for senate, since another white guy is not what the senate needs.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Sad Trombone

I don't write in this thing very often.  As is obvious, and unlamented  Today I would like to complain, and do self pity in a way that spectacularly reflects my decades of training in self pity.  You're witnessing a master in self pity, so sit down, get your pens out, and take notes in this class.

I'm trying to find a job.  Jobs are not trying to find me.  They run, screeching and sweating in panic, hoping I won't catch up to them.  So I figure, maybe play hard to get, isn't that some sort of reverse psychology BS that works in romantic comedies?  When I play hard to get, the jobs just mock me, pantomiming my sucker face at the moment I reach for that outstretched hand that intimates the "you've got a job" moment, only to have the hand jerked away at the last second.  What a dupe I am, fooled again.

So, at the advice of a wise person, I signed up for LinkedIn.  I don't quite get how it is supposed to help me find a job, except that it aids in 'networking.'  I can't even find the skills to meet up with someone for coffee, and I'm expected to 'network' on a social media platform that so far is just reminding me that all the students I taught back in my GTA days all have good jobs and are living adult lives, while I almost live the reality of residing in my mother's basement and trolling the internet all day in my underwear, drinking Mountain Dew.  I put on sweats when I troll, & its diet Mountain Dew, thank you very much.

I look at all these jobs ads, and I can barely figure out what they want from someone.  They list 512 things they expect the person to do, and yet 437 of these things are things I've never done before.  Then I'm supposed to fall all over myself on the cover letter as if I've dreamed of nothing in my life except working in that exact position at that exact workplace.  99% of the jobs I might be qualified for, I have no enthusiasm to give other than "I can do this job, I'll be on time, I'll get the work done, and I'll be pleasant to work with."   For the jobs I have enthusiasm for, all I'd add is "I'd enjoy doing this job at this place."  Whatever childlike passion and dedication and mindless devotion to a duty I used to have were burned away by reality a long time ago.  Didn't somebody once say something about cynicism being the inevitable result of do gooder, wanting to please optimism?

Jobs don't love me, even on Valentine's Day.  So much of the discourse around this day is about reminding people who are single that they are loved, they are special, valued.  All important things, and something good for me to hear when I was single.  I am blessed beyond measure that I have a life partner who loves me immensely, and I have a loving, supportive relationship with my parent.  I am also lucky to have friends and colleagues who care and interact with me.  I do not take these things lightly.  However, I get no love from the society I find myself in.  I look around, and I have no community of misfits like me.  I've never felt much a part of queer/lgbtq culture, and that has been a big sadness for me.  I don't follow the narrative put out to the world, and I feel like I have to deny that in order to be part of the gang.  I have no interest in pretending my life experiences didn't happen, or accept that they're somehow not as worthy as other lgbtq narratives, and as a result, I bite my tongue so much I'm surprised I still have one.

Let me say this here, so you will hear (even though almost nobody reads this, and I'm not going to let folks know I've written this), I was not 'born this way.'  I have been socially constructed by a female hating, fat hating, gender non conforming hating world.  My sexuality developed over time in my youth because I internalized the 'fat is ugly/unlovable' trope, as well as the 'boys only like girls who look and act like girls' trope so much that I wasn't sure I'd survive if I didn't find some way to experience love as giver and receiver outside the accepted routes of heterosexuality and romantic love.  As a result, my 'sexuality' changed from heterosexual to bisexual with a preference for women.  In addition, my gender life narrative is at odds with prevailing narratives about trans identities.  From a very early age (which solidified when I was roughly 7 and learned it was possible via a news report on Renee Richards) I knew I was a boy, and that I needed to not be a girl.  I prayed for this change, I secretly cross dressed when nobody was home in some boys clothes we received as hand me downs, and I counted the days until I was an adult and could have surgery to be male.  Funny thing is, as I got older, I became less and less sure that this was what I wanted.  I recognized that there were many ways to live gender, and that nothing about my likes, desires,clothes, etc, meant I had to change my body, my name, my appearance in the world to live truly the way I felt.  Funnier thing is, the first time I read Judith Butler, I thought right away (well, the first thing I thought was, how do I define these words she's using?), "yes, and?"  I guess the rest of the world couldn't see outside the gender binary, the so-called naturalist essentialism of how girls were, and how boys were.  I had lived it, and eventually, after much struggle in a world that has no use for girls who look like boys, fully owned that I was a woman who looked like a boy and liked sports and 'weepies' and didn't care what anybody thought about it.

So, yep, I don't fit in the lgbtq world, and while I identify as queer and not so much as b, (and not really as t unless it is in service to strategic essentialism that makes the world better for trans folks), I don't have a community of people with similar experiences, with similar ways of going through the world as it is today.  I feel erased every time I read a trans narrative that ignores my childhood, that assumes all trans oriented kids grow up to be trans adults, and a gay/lesbian narrative that is all about "I knew coming out the womb I was attracted to girls/boys, I've always felt this way, and while I'm at it, when did you have to figure out when you were straight."  I'm tired of being ignored in my own community, of having to play along with people who assume I'm a lesbian, or proto transman,, or wrapped up in butch/femme dynamics.  I'm none of those things, although at times when I'm desperate to belong, or don't have the vocabulary to explain who I am in twitter length clarity, I may present myself as those things.  Self preservation makes people do crazy things.

What is even more infuriating, though, is the way both inside and outside of lgbtq/queer circles, my fat identity is marginalized and dismissed.  I'm supposed to have been born as a sexual and gender minority, but I can change being fat at any moment, it's not an identity, it's just a matter of will power and self control.  Bullshit.  I've been fat for my entire life, and assholes think I'm a thin person trying to dig out of a fat body?  How can that be, how can an identity that existed and formed long before I thought I was something other than straight, or before I even had an idea of gender differences, be fake, and identities that I can trace from the moment they popped up in my life can be real?  They can only be real because, yet again, I' meant to erase my life, ignore it, and believe something else just because it is the dominant narrative.  For a civil rights and social justice movement that has always worked to dismantle dominant narratives, the ease, and eagerness, that lgbtq/queer people use to embrace anti fat narratives is stunning.  I have no time for people who won't grant me the same bodily agency as a fat person as they do for me a a member of the lgbtq/queer tribe EVEN with my atypical narrative.  If there is anything in my life I was 'born that way' for, besides my whiteness, its my fatness.

I fit in somewhat better in fat land, but since fat land is so small, so little of it gets to be part of my daily life.  When I go to the internet for fat community (which is where the majority of fat social life is), I run into a femme land or a HAES land that I have no need of.  Plus, I have absolutely no desire to debate food and weight loss and all the other crap that we bring into fat land from the outside world.  Taking the idea that I should be the change I want to see in the world, I begin to create an online presence for fat folks who want to see themselves, and talk about their issues and look like me, masculine appearing, and I feel like I am the only one who needs this.  What a downer, a demoralizing kick in the gut to realize that nobody needs this corner of fat land but me, and I'm not strong enough or talented enough to make this corner become something people will crave.  Maybe if I had the capability to create something of value on the net, like a snazzy website with ads and professional looking photos and witty guest columnists, but I have no funds, tools, skills to do this.  One of the detriments of being a working class fatty is I am a very late bloomer to the internet and computers and I have a cheap ass smartphone that is less than a year old and won't let me download instagram.  Ugh, first world problems for sure, but if I want to connect with like minded souls, where else can I do that but the internet and the social media platforms people are skilled at using?

The thing is, I get that I have special snowflake syndrome, that I have some deep seated need to be different, and to have that difference accepted, that I have something of a persecution complex about being invisible, unappreciated, ignored, without value or worth.  I imagine many people have similar feelings when their family, their friends, their teachers, their doctors, their bosses, their politicians, many people who look just like them, and all of society tell them they can not continue to exist in the body they have always had and expect to be treated as an ordinary, typical human being who deserves the same good and normal things other humans deserve.  I am doing the best I can in the body I was born with and the mind I was born with, and I don't expect other people to do otherwise in their own lives, so why the hell do I have to keep so much of my lived experience on the down low?

*and yes, I know that is a tuba, not a trombone