Live Deliberately

Maybe this time I’ll get it right. No, no, that’s not the right approach. There are plenty of things in life you will not get right the first time. Perhaps I shouldn’t foist that upon you, but I know there are plenty of things I didn’t, haven’t, and likely won’t get right the first time. It’s taken me a long time to come around on tenets that comprise the core of my being, whether that’s as a vegan, a non-driving city dweller who wants more city for everyone, or as a woman, to mention a few key ones. Each of those has taken me years to refine. It’s never about being the best. What’s best, anyway? It’s about being a better person than I was yesterday. Sometimes I don’t do a good job with that. We all have our bad days. Hell, some of us have had bad lives. Perhaps a younger version of me would have blamed a lot of people for that. The current version knows damn well a lot of us are doing the best with what we have and some of us don’t have nearly as much as we should.

As I become a more realized version of myself, though, I live in a world that does not seem prepared for it. I trundle through a city with laughable bike infrastructure, wondering about what the next pothole or trolley track or car might do to me, aware that the article would inevitably point out that I was not wearing a helmet like that excuses the body count of our car-first culture. I watch as your jaw drops a little when I say I don’t really miss bacon at all, because that’s a difficult world for so many to comprehend. I stand mortified, afraid to correct a co-worker who misgenders me because I hope against hope that no one else even noticed and then my heart drops when I realize they probably didn’t notice because that’s how they think of me too. I used to think they were all demonstrably different aspects of who I am, the cyclist, the vegan, the trans woman, and in some ways, they are but they aren’t really, inasmuch as they are all elements that very much set me apart from the mass of men who lead lives of quiet desperation,  trapped in their cars, trapped in their masculinity. Efforts to push against that will not be tolerated.

Of course, in some ways, they are demonstrably different. People give me strange looks when I say I bike to work, they look like they pity me when I say I’ll pass on the milk chocolate, but they give me downright hostile looks just for assert myself as a woman. There’s a slim chance I’ll get in an accident riding, and I might go hungry for a meal, but being trans is enough to put your life in danger. Less so for me than for many others, less by virtue and more by luck, but it is still a more real possibility than any other danger I face. Some days, I feel I am living less deliberately and more defiantly, though that is just a function of a society that treats any deviation from the norm as defiance. We may encompass vast ranges, but so much comes down to binary choices: yes/no, man/woman, black/white. Ours is not a culture of nuance. It is barely a culture of change. We stake to calcified opinions that we do not question. It’s hard to change your mind on something, and it’s even harder to share that with the world. It always requires an explanation, and even then, we still hold old versions of ourselves over each other. Even as I have changed so much, I still do it. I know this is something I have struggled with and continue to challenge myself on; I understand it is difficult. I know it’s easy to forget how everyone else’s life is in motion just like our own when everything appears static from the outside. I get that our realities complicate and compromise our best efforts to live deliberately. So many things outside of our control affect it. I get that we all have to make choices with the finite time we have. I get that what is right for me may not be right for you, as there are so many different ways of living. Or at least I get that now, though I doubt I understood that nearly as well even a few short years ago.

It’s not about getting there first. I want to live in a culture that celebrates trans realities, and if you are already there and realize that trans people are just that, people, cool. But there’s no special ribbon for getting there first. And it’s also worth remembering there was a time when perhaps you didn’t think of it that way. I don’t take that as a sign that some people are more evolved or anything like that. I take that as a reminder that there are areas that I probably don’t challenge myself on that I may come to realize in the future are absurd. I take as a reminder to be open to thinking another way. I may have once struggled to see myself as the woman I am, but now I can’t see myself as anything but. The act of living deliberately isn’t about questioning every little thing all the time. We still have to function on a daily basis and it can be paralyzing to always be like that. But it does mean we should engage those questions. Being trans is really great preparation for that. Perhaps you have a different teacher in that regard. We can’t change the past. But luckily, we aren’t those people anymore, even if we see ourselves and others that way sometimes. I know it’s hard. I know other people may not understand, perhaps now, perhaps ever. I know it’s a lot easier to look back and ascribe a purpose to all of it than it is to see in the moment. Maybe I will finally get it right this time. But if I don’t, then how am I going to be better tomorrow?

More or Less

More or Less

Less concern about what others think

More concern for others

Less drinking by myself

More drinks with you

Less television

More reading

Less half-scribbled thoughts

More writing

Less collecting records

More spinning ‘em

Less reunion tours

More the first time around

Less buying bread

More baking it

Less excuses

More running

Less travel elsewhere

More California

Less crankiness

More sleep

Less noise

More focus

Less worrying

More adventure

Less blame

More acceptance

Week 4: Explore a neighborhood you haven’t previously.

25) Explore a neighborhood you haven’t previously.

San Francisco is 46.87 square miles. Given its roughly square shape, that is the source of the 7×7 appellation (if you’ve ever wondered). As for the number of neighborhoods? Your guess is as good as mine. Wikipedia indicates over a hundred, but then, it’s Wikipedia, so you take what you can get from it (though it does seem to be pretty good as Wikipedia goes). The San Francisco Planning Department shows a much more conflated number, defined by the neighborhood group associations, which is a different metric altogether. But that is a conflated list itself, and they will tell you to go to the neighborhood groups themselves for more details. I live in a pretty clear cut neighborhood (I think we can all agree Inner Richmond exists and has fairly defined boundaries), but you can find more nebulous examples out there (Is Jordan Park really a neighborhood? Many people don’t even really know the neighborhood it is conflated with, Laurel Heights. so…?). In addition, there are many disputed areas that share names, Nopa and Western Addition (which is what it is, c’mon) being a prominent example. So how many are there? I don’t know. I just know that even after almost three years, there are several I’ve never really spent much time in. I work in the Financial District, and I spend a lot of my free time in the neighborhoods that have venues, Fillmore (not just a clever name), the Mission, whatever part of Hayes Valley/Civic Center the Rickshaw gets lumped into, Portero. I have spent a fair amount of time in many others, especially the ones with parks, like Bernal, the Sunset and the Richmond, and that even gives me a good excuse to go to further flung ones occasionally like Crocker-Amazon and Bayview. Some are just neighborhoods I pass through but never stop.

For this card, I decided to go to one of those places: The Marina. While I have certainly been around the edges of it, biking along the Bay, stopping by the Palace of Fine Arts, I have never walked down Union or Chestnut. And there are a lot of shops and bars and restaurants over there. It’s just…not my scene? The neighborhoods here are very defined entities. Which is true of every city. But here, they feel hyper defined by the type of people who choose to live there. While that metric has been screwed (and probably always has been to some degree), there’s a reason you hear people complain about the same businesses in the Mission that appear long established in the Marina, and that’s because the Marina has already been gentrified, if it ever wasn’t. That happened a long time ago. Or no one cared. I’m not sure which. The Marina doesn’t really have much of a history. Certainly there was likely class displacement, but it’s not the Hispanic hub of the city (though that was Rincon Hill until they were all displaced to make way for the Bay Bridge). Of course it’s not on top of a BART station either (and may liquefy again like in 1989, but hey, whatever). It’s just a place where rich, young post-grads drink whatever rich, young post-grads drink and do pilates and whatever.

Of course, it’s not. That’s just a reputation. If you want to dispel that kind of stereotypical thinking, the easiest way to do that is go and see for yourself. But there’s just not a lot there to pull me there. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure the bars and restaurants are fine, but I don’t know anyone who lives there, and it’s not the most convenient neighborhood for me to get to. The shops looked cute, and I did have a good piece of chocolate banana walnut bread from a nice little vegan cafe, but I hardly ever go to the very similar nice little vegan cafe five blocks from me. A little crunchier than I tend to gravitate toward on my own. I saw lots of parents with strollers, lots of people watching the Warriors game, and the occasional car with doors that opened up. It didn’t really feel all that different than wandering down Valencia these days, which puts the fear that many people had about what the Mission’s becoming (has already become?) in stark relief. But let’s be real, that’s a deeper problem than one neighborhood’s or even one city’s here in the Bay Area.

If there’s still some quirkiness left to a place like the Marina, which seems to have long since lost and probably never really wanted that edge, it’s definitely along Lombard, with its magnificent stretch of motels. These days they look like most motels look (kind of run down), but it’s a reminder that used to be a gateway to the City, with people coming in over Golden Gate and driving along that stretch until the 101 turns on Van Ness. And while some of them are Super 8s or similar sorts of affairs, most of them are their own unique entity, each vying to lure you in with a heated pool and free Wi-Fi. Of course, they all had vacancies. We don’t stay in hotels any more. We stay in Airbnbs. It’s another vestige of a world that is slowly disappearing, perhaps a last vestige over there in a neighborhood that has no apparent interest in standing out or drawing in outsiders. No one comes to the City to go to the Marina (I mean, I’m sure someone does, but work with me here), and perhaps that’s the way they like it. Which isn’t to say that it’s a bad place. It’s just to say that it is probably (rightly) not the neighborhood for me. Though I wonder sometimes how much we are defined by where we live and how much we live where we are already defined. But that didn’t look much like a place that was interested in asking it.

Week 2: See a band you’ve never previously listened to live

31) Week 2: See a band you’ve never previously listened to live

Like I said last week, I ended up getting behind pretty much right away. January has…not been the best. But hey, I’m an adult. You get back up off the mat and get back to it. That’s all there is to do. That or stay there. While I definitely have some decisions to make about things in 2016 as I try to make some better choices about where I’m going and what I’m spending my money on throughout the year, the deck becomes something I can channel my energy through in terms of finding outlets. Perhaps it has a different purpose than last year. Last year it was an excuse not to stand still and to keep exploring San Francisco. This year, it becomes the thing that gives me stuff to do while I figure everything else out.

 

Part of that is remembering the shows I enjoy most. While I certainly appreciate legacy acts and reunion tours, they come with quite the price tag, and for all of that, it’s the small rooms I love most. I imagine this year will feature a lot more Rickshaw and Hemlock than the Fillmore and Warfield. It’s just hard to stomach $300+ festivals and $60+ gate prices in the big rooms over and over. I still want to support bands though. And here’s the thing, as much as I love bands that are selling out rooms like The Fillmore, that’s just it. They are selling out The Fillmore already. They are going to with or without me. And good for them if they do. But those are expensive tickets. In my heart, I am the kind of person who loves getting a ticket and a beer for less than $20 if I can. I like being there with 50 other people. Perhaps it’s just a desire to get there first, or perhaps it’s just fun and worthwhile to support bands in those positions. I don’t know. I love First Ave and the Entry equally, but I can tell you which room I spent more time in (and probably more money).

That is to say, it’s fun to be in those small rooms as bands are cutting their teeth. To see them their first time in a city, or to see them go from 50 to 200 people even is something. It’s something to see them sell out to 1,600 people too, but it’s a different something. It’s one of those things I cannot adequately explain, but I just know about myself. The intimacy of small rooms and sell-out arena shows can both be excellent, but I know which I prefer. It’s with that spirit that I got a ticket to see PWR BTTM on a Monday night. I had heard many things about them, as venerable local label Father/Daughter Records had a hand in their new record and they just seem to be catching some good press recently.

On the one hand, they are wholly unremarkable, just another duo singing songs about the post-college doldrums of loans and shitty jobs, looking for love, or just looking for a good time. Plenty of bands have and will continue to sing songs like that. On the other, how many queer bands are there out there doing that? Why does it still sound so unusual to hear someone sing songs about shopping and boys when that singer is a guy? Because that just doesn’t get played out much, and it certainly doesn’t get the attention of so many people that frequently. Not that there haven’t been awesome and awesomely queer bands prior to this, just that they are catching the right thing at the right time. They aren’t just queer artists, they sing very queer songs, and it’s something that you just don’t hear about as much. But that’s still where we are at. They aren’t the first to do it of course, but sometimes it’s just about timing. Being in a fairly full room with a lot of people who I can’t imagine would have been at the show 10 years ago, that was something to see. Much of it is on me for not finding and support artists like them sooner, because they have been there and you just don’t hear about them.

But I guess none of that matters if the songs and the show aren’t good. The songs and the show were both beyond good. It’s something you need to see and experience, something that would be a different experience every time. This isn’t about the setlist and precision, about how the show will generally be the same from night to night. I imagine it could oscillate wildly.  I hope that somewhere down the line queer loves songs become more normalized to listeners (myself included in the sense that they still sounded so refreshing and unheard), though I doubt you’ll ever see a band like PWR BTTM be anything less than who they are. A couple guys in drag crushing it on stage, telling good stories, having a good time, and making sure we do too. I said it at the time. I am usually feel like the queerest person at many a show I go to by default. Which is more of an indictment of the kinds of shows I see and the kinds of crowds they attract. If I learned anything, it’s that I want to be at more of these kinds of shows. That these kinds of shows tend to align with my goal of spending a little less to see a little more is just a nice bonus. You can still be surprised by the shows in the bigger rooms. I know I have been. There’s magic there too. But I’m not seeing the bands I want to see as much make it to those rooms. Perhaps it’s just time to get back to it. Someone’s gotta help support those bands until they get to the Fillmore, after all.

Week 3: Go to a City, County, or Regional Park site you’ve never visited

08) Go to a City, County, or Regional Park site you’ve never visited

So you may notice Week 3 came before Week 2. I’m working on that. January has presented some…challenges in other areas of my life. So don’t worry, I have plans for Week 2 this upcoming week, and I’m sure I can manage to squeeze Week 4 in as well. Anyway…

CranebowThere are not that many parks in San Francisco I have not visited. It’s less a brag and more a statement of things that matter to me. I was the same way in Minneapolis and Saint Paul, too. I love to explore the outdoors, to see different vistas, to find not just the parks that everyone says are great like Land’s End but the hidden gems that people really ought to get to but don’t as much, like Bayview Park. For every Minnehaha, there’s Shadow Falls. Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy immediate access to Golden Gate Park and the Presidio. They are amazing places. But sometimes it’s good to go see if other places are amazing too.

The TownWith that spirit, I rode my bike over to Heron’s Head Park, one of the last parks I haven’t made it to in the city. Bayview and Hunter’s Point are not the easiest to get to, a legacy of freeway construction and poor transit options dividing a city. You can either bike through the tangle of Cesar Chavez (officially: Cesar Chavez-Potrero-Bayshore-US 101 Interchange) or come down through Dogpatch. The 44 will get you there, too, but it’s a long ride to Evans. Oddly, Bayview has some of the best protected bike lanes in the city. You just have to get to them first. Heron’s Head, and the greater India Basin are, are tucked away by Hunter’s Point, which, if we’re being honest, doesn’t have much because the rest of us in the city neglect it. It doesn’t have to be that way, of course, and won’t stay that way as the redevelopment of India Basin on the whole and whatever is happening with the shipyards and Candlestick, change is coming. It might not get as much attention as what’s going on in neighborhoods like the Mission and Soma, but gentrification will likely be just as ugly there.

Looking back at the CityThe neighborhood I found now, though? It was a pretty quiet ride through low-rise commercial, by the main Post Office and Speakeasy, near some of the few still active shipyards of the city. I don’t want to sound like some bumbling asshole “discovering” it because I certainly didn’t. I just think there’s something about the quiet over there, something about the fact that even if it’s a small city, at least by square mileage, there’s a lot to this city, a lot you might never see if you don’t challenge yourself to get out there and see it. The park itself is basically a little marshy peninsula jutting out into the Bay, with excellent views of Oakland and the flattened remains of Point Avisadero that the shipyards rest on. I stumbled upon an open house about the future of India Basin with multiple firms there to pitch their plan for the future. So perhaps that future is sooner than we think for Bayview. As for the present? Get over there and see for yourself.

 

A Little Light

I noticed a little light in the sky as I rode up Market just before 6 pm. Not much, mind you. But a little. It may not feel like it between the waves of clouds and rain, but the days are getting longer. It’s one of the underrated aspects of January. It can be hard to appreciate in the dead of winter, I understand that, but it’s true. The evidence was right there over Twin Peaks and Diamond Heights.

January has always been one of my favorite months. I like summer, but I’m not really a summer person. Everyone loves fall and spring, sure, but winter is my season. I get this is not everyone’s opinion of winter, but give me frozen waterfalls, downhill skiing, the heart of the hockey season, and a good winter beer. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy the other seasons. I just really enjoy winter. And I particularly enjoy January because the days are getting longer again, because even if I had nothing to do with it, it’s a damn fine month to be born in. Even if it’s arbitrary, watching the calendar roll over and the sense of recrudescence it foments (even if it is short-lived in many cases) because it’s a new year is pretty cool. Perhaps it would make more sense to time that with spring, but who ever said the Gregorian calendar made sense?

The 2016 edition of January has not been my favorite so far. Work has been…not that great. I missed applying for the job I meant to, have been working way more weekends than I ever want to, and I’m finding myself burned out. And the short-term ramifications are that I find it harder to get done the other things I need or want to do. The dishes pile up, the laundry doesn’t get put away, I’m not cooking as much as I’d like to. Thankfully, I’ve managed to keep some other things in motion. I’m still getting my running in, and there’s still time for trivia and I am taking care of myself okay, but not as well as I’d like. I find I’m making more mistakes in little things too, at work, or in the kitchen, almost putting in the wrong ingredient or running out of something I could have sworn I checked on before I started halfway through. That’s why I missed applying for the job I meant to, I saw the email, it didn’t magically mark itself as read, I just didn’t really see it. I’ve felt that way a lot this month.

We all make mistakes. I’ve learned to own mine. Sure, there are a lot of other unlucky little things that happened, but the first mistake I made was missing something I said was important to me. I didn’t take the proper steps to ensure I took care of myself. There’s not always going to be someone to catch you when you fall. In this case, there wasn’t. While the ramifications feel bigger right now, everything just feels a bit more exaggerated. And it feels like the lows have been lower. Or perhaps not lower, but just way more frequent than I’d like. Lots of little indignities piled up on each other. It’s just been one of those stretches where I find myself muttering “of course” a lot. And it’s easy to get distracted by the fact that if I’d received an offer for the job (strong possibility), that would have meant more money, more prestige, I don’t know, whatever you imagine goes along with that kind of stuff.

But mistakes also present opportunities. If I’m feeling overwhelmed doing the position on an interim basis, why do I want to do it on a permanent basis, while adding an hour to my commute each day? Is it worth it? Is this really the best opportunity for me right now? Sure, some of that is spin, bargaining as I work my way through processing the mistake I’ve made. But that doesn’t make it any less true. Perhaps this isn’t the right fit for me, or the right time. How do I juggle a longer commute and more responsibility with still wanting to have the flexibility to make it to the Hemlock on a random Wednesday? Time is a finite variable. What gives in that equation? How can I use my time more fully in ways that I want to? Money is not the only measure of success, and due to a fair amount of luck, I’m doing just fine. I won the lottery when it comes to my living arrangement. How much do I want to actually enjoy living in San Francisco? Even in its (current/constant) broken state, it’s an exceptional place. I am exceptionally lucky; I have a good thing going on right now. How much do I want to disrupt that?

Of course, I’m not just thinking about present me. I’m thinking about future me. I turn 35 tomorrow. Which is not old. But it’s hard to call myself young anymore. How many more shots am I going to get at that next chance? Do I want to delay it another year? Well, now I don’t have much of a choice. I did delay it, at least for the indefinite future. But that also creates new choices.  I can evaluate the path I thought I was going down and ask myself why I really was. And the answer is…I’m not really sure? Because it seems like the right thing to do? Because the rent doesn’t pay itself? Because it allows me to do the other things I want to do? Because it is the right thing to do? It’s probably all of those things, and a few more.

As I pivot, I applied for something else. Now I can wonder if that’s the right fit. There are different challenges to that position, as it’s a lateral move, not a move up; it does not present any immediate financial reward, which let’s be real, never hurts. I still need to be offered a job before I get too far ahead of myself. But that position is where I thought I was heading if you’d asked me a year ago. And then some things changed and I thought I was heading somewhere else. Now I may be heading back to where I thought I was going all along. On the surface, it plays to my professional strengths. While it may be short on the immediate bump, perhaps it is what’s best for me professionally in the long run. There’s not really any way to know that, of course. Perhaps they are all justifications. What isn’t? When I write it out, it’s a ridiculous thing to be hung up on. But that’s a reason to write. It helps me step back and remember I am objectively a very lucky woman. I am mad at myself for missing this opportunity, but that I had it at all would have been hard to fathom even a few years ago.

Perhaps that’s the clarity that comes with acceptance. It’s still real a couple weeks later, but I’ve processed it. Not 100%, of course. I’m in no rush to say that I’m past this, or I still won’t feel the effects for a while. I will. We live with our mistakes. They are not our sum, but they inform who we are. How we respond, who we are in the face of them, who is there for us when we make them, how we move past them. Hopefully, we learn from those mistakes. We make changes. We become more fully realized versions of ourselves. We explore new opportunities. We take new chances that lead to new mistakes, and through this cycle, we continue to grow. It may not feel like everything is going the right way right now. But there’s still 10 days left in January, still time for it to be the month I know and love. Sure, it’s gonna rain tomorrow. But we need the rain. And behind the clouds, it’s only getting brighter.

Week 1: Attend A Live Sporting Event

A new year, a new attempt to document things. I tried last year, but Tumblr just isn’t my thing. I have this space I pay for, so I am going to do it here. If nothing else, it’s an excuse to put myself down in front of the keyboard a little more, and perhaps be surprised by what else happens besides short recaps. But for the time being, I’m here to talk about Week 1 of the 2016 edition of Oblique Activities.

01) Attend a live sporting event

I swear I shuffled the deck. But as it turned out, the first card out of the deck was #1. I was hoping it would wait until a bit later in the year as baseball is a little easier to get to, but it wasn’t meant to be. I thought about basketball, but it’s not really my thing, Golden State tickets are too rich for my blood, and all the local college teams seemed to be out of town this weekend. I got a bit lucky, though. The Sharks were not only in town, but the Sharks-Maples game on Saturday started at the rather unusual time of 4:00 pm. Most Sharks games start at 7:30 pm, which isn’t too late for me by any means, but it’s a 2 hour trip and Caltrain’s last train during the weekdays is 10:30 pm and may leave early. An NHL game is typically about 2 hours and 40 minutes, so it’s possible, but tight. In addition, it’s a $22 trip down and at a minimum a $35 ticket. So it takes some forethought. What I’m saying is one does not just go to San Jose on a whim. That’s one of the reasons it was so difficult to complete that card last year.

Still, with all those factors on my side, it was hard to pass up. Not only did I get a Mike Ricci collectible locker, I got to see a game and not feel pressed for time. Still, it’s a haul. I left my place at 12:40 pm to make the 1:15 pm to get there over an hour early. In retrospect, I could have taken the 2:15 pm, but live and learn, right? 7:00 pm back and I got off at 22nd just in time for it to start raining on me just after 8:30 pm. That’s a lot of my day. Still, I love hockey, and I don’t see nearly enough of it live for how much I enjoy it. I only caught the Winter Classic and Djurgården-Hoveå last year in person. I had a lot of built-in excuses not to go, and sure the dishes didn’t get done, but there are always dishes to do. Not an excuse to let them pile up forever, just a reminder that there’s always something else you could be doing. And some nights those things are the right things to do. But last night, the right thing to do was watch the Sharks post a 7-0 victory over the Maple Leafs. How can you pass up a double anthem night anyway? Not saying I’m gonna go to a Sharks game every week for the rest of the season, but the first one is always the one with the most built-in excuses to not do. Now I know how long it takes to get there. Now I know how close it is to the Caltrain terminus. And now that I know, what excuse do I have not to do it all again when the Sharks host the Caps on March 12 on a Saturday night when the last train is far less of a concern? Sometimes the best reason to do something is just to see that it is possible.

The New 52

Last time, I looked back on how my year of doing activities drawn from a deck of cards went. There were some successes, some failures, and more than a few surprises. It’s with that spirit that I’d like to look forward to 2016. There’s no right way of expanding the way I think about my city, my life, my time, and who and what I choose to spend it with. There’s nothing wrong with failing sometimes. After all, failure is a catalyst to evaluate what went wrong, to make changes, or to think about what we might have been able to do better. With that in mind, here’s the new 52 for this year. I’ve swapped some out, tweaked some wording, and left many untouched. I’ll provide a bit of notation about what I’m thinking, and more importantly, a bit of logic behind this should you want to make a deck of your own. There’s no basic breakdown, no four suits of “activities”, or anything like that. It was the first iteration, and only perfect in the truest sense of the original Latin in that it is finished (well, almost finished). Perhaps those sorts of things will come along as I codify it better this year. But I digress. Mine have to do with things I’m passionate about: music, being active, trying new places, enjoying an adult beverage or two, writing, cooking. Perhaps your taste in arts and hobbies differ? Well, then it’s an excuse to substitute doing some sketches for a week instead of writing poems. Perhaps your budget is more constrained in terms of going out? Turn toward more of the lower cost activities like parks, hikes, and such. Perhaps you don’t drink? There are plenty of fine non-alcoholic beverages to explore too! Perhaps you don’t like the outdoors? Actually, that one I don’t have much for. But you get the point. Think about the things you’re passionate about, areas where you’d like to push past the complacency in your life, things you enjoy but you just don’t do enough. And see where it takes you. You do you. As for me…

1) Attend a live sporting event.

No change

Broad enough to be completed any time of year in a place with plenty of options.

2) Try food or beverages you haven’t previously tried when ordering out.

Old wording:

Only order things you’ve never tried anywhere you go this week.

The old wording was clunky. Same idea, just a cleaner statement to not order the same thing every time. The this week is implied in the entire mechanic of it.

3) Play video games with friends.

4) Play board games with friends.

Old wording:

Have people over for Tetris.

Have people over for games.

Two goals here, broaden the location and broaden the activity. Perhaps Street Fighter II Turbo Championship edition at an arcade or Super Mario Bros. at your place. The constraint of unique game and a unique location is a tough one, so I’m freeing that up a bit while still obviously being able to do exactly that, should that be something people are up for. Doing the same thing with the games one, clarifying the difference.

5) Purchase music at a shop you’ve never previously purchased anything at.

Old wording:

Buy a record at a shop you’ve never been to.

Never been to is needlessly constraining, as is just saying record. Showing tapes some love this year in the deck too.

6) Go to a National Park Service site you’ve never visited.

7) Go to a State Park site you’ve never visited.

8) Go to a City, County, or Regional Park site you’ve never visited

Old wordings:

Visit a National Park Service site you’ve never been to.

Visit a State Park site you’ve never been to.

Visit a City/Regional Park you’ve never been to.

No real change, just cleaner wording

9) Revisit a National Park Service site.

No change, I got one right

10) Revisit a State Park site.

11) Revisit a City, County, or Regional Park site.

Old wording:

Revisit a State Park

Revisit a City/Regional Park.

Again, cleaner, most consistent wording within the card type.

12) Go for a hike.

No change

13) Order a drink at a bar you’ve never visited

Old wording:

Visit a bar you’ve never been to.

Go to a bar essentially means the same thing, just better wording in my opinion.

14) Always order the third beer on the list as your first drink.

Old wording:

Order the third beer on the list anywhere you get a drink this week.

Again, just trying to make this more direct and consistent with other cards

15) Visit a brewery.

16) Visit a distillery.

17) Visit a winery.

Old wording:

Go to a brewery.

Go to a distillery.

Go to a winery.

Cleaner wording, and I decided I’ll give wine one more shot this year.

18) Have brunch somewhere you’ve never previously had brunch.

19) Have lunch somewhere you’ve never previously had lunch.

20) Have dinner somewhere you’ve never previously had dinner.

Old wording:

Visit a restaurant you haven’t been to for brunch.

Visit a restaurant you haven’t been to for lunch.

Visit a restaurant you haven’t been to for dinner.

More open wording. Now it could just be dinner at your place.

21) Go someplace you’ve never been in Alameda County.

22) Go someplace you’ve never been in Marin County.

23) Go someplace you’ve never been in San Mateo County.

24) Go someplace you’ve never been in San Francisco County.

No change, I’m happy with the specific location with great flexibility of these. For those not in the Bay Area looking for a tweak, this is SF and its three most adjacent counties, so that’s the idea. And yes, SF County and City are one in the same, but whatever

25) Explore a neighborhood you haven’t previously.

No change

26) Explore an iconic San Francisco location.

Old wording:

Explore Treasure Island

Just trying to open this up a bit, though there goes the backdoor trip to the Island should I be in Minnesota when it comes up.

27) Try a new type of exercise.

No change. I just need to actually do it this year.

28) Enjoy a homemade brunch with friends.

29) Enjoy a homemade dinner with friends.

Old wording:

Have people over for brunch.

Have people over for dinner.

Now this one is similar to the other ones, but it still puts the emphasis on having people over while opening the location up a bit. So maybe I can work magic in your kitchen instead.

30) Visit a venue you’ve never seen live music at before

Old wording:

Visit a new venue

New makes it sound like it needs to have just opened.

31) See a band you’ve never previously listened to live

Old wording:

Go see a band you’ve never heard of

Again, just tinkering with the English to get more to the spirit of it.

32) Watch a sunrise from an iconic location

33) Watch a sunset from an iconic location

Old wording

Watch the sunrise from Mount Davidson

Watch a sunset from Grandview.

I could go to Mount Davidson again. Or Grandview. Or Angel Island. Or I could be someplace else in the country or world. A single location can make things quite difficult, even if they are beautiful locations.

34) Visit an art museum

35) Visit a history museum

36) Visit a science museum

No change

37) Attend a non-music event at a bar or venue.

Old wording:

Go to an event at a bar that is not live music.

Better living through better English.

38) Read a book you have not previously read.

Old wording:

Read a new book.

Longer, but more what I’m saying. It could be an old classic I just haven’t gotten around to. No more implied “new to me”.

39) Reread a book.

Old wording:

Read an old book again.

Don’t make it longer than it needs to be, Jane.

40) Write a short story.

41) Write a poem a day.

42) Take a ferry somewhere.

43) See a movie in the theater.

44) See a play.

No changes

45) Carry an actual camera around with you.

Old wording:

Hang out in Dolores Park for an afternoon.

This is one of the few I’m scrapping entirely. In its place…well, something I don’t do enough. It’s great that we all have camera phones but even my years old camera gives me so much more control than an iPhone. This is another good one to spark creativity.

46) Do something you haven’t previously done in Golden Gate Park.

Old wording:

Do something you haven’t done before in Golden Gate Park.

Just a minor wording change. The same, but different.

47) Surprise a friend with something unexpected.

No change

48) Do something uniquely San Franciscan.

Old wording:

Do something in San Jose.

San Jose is difficult to get to without a car. In its place, an open-ended city one. I’m thinking things like walk across Golden Gate bridge, go to Alcatraz, ride a cable car.  Do the touristy stuff. Some of it as actually pretty neat. And it’s amazing how we stop doing those things in the city we live in even if they are cool.

49) Volunteer for something.

50) Bake a cake.

No changes

51) Try recipes you have not previously attempted.

Old wording:

Only make recipes you haven’t tried when cooking this week.

Again, just cleaning up an ugly sentence from last time; no change in substance.

52) Ride at least 100 miles this week.

No change

That’s it. That’s 52. If you do decide to do this, let me know! I want to see what other people are want to do in 2016.

Oblique Activities: An Epilogue

 

At the end of 2014, I hatched an ambitious idea to make a deck of cards with a list of activities to do on a weekly basis. I really enjoyed it, and though I didn’t necessarily capture every card with a picture, and certainly didn’t end up doing every one, it was a nice challenge as I made my way through 2015, one that I intend to repeat in 2016. Though the deck is due for some tweeks. To figure out what I want to do differently, though, it seems worth it to look back at what I ended up doing, which ones ended up being more difficult than I thought, which ones I didn’t try hard enough on, and which ones I got just about right. Before that, though, some thoughts in general:

  1. This was a really fun idea and I’m glad I did it because it made me do several things I said I was going to do but kept putting off. That was one of the points I made last year.
  2. Getting people to come over to my place is hard. I don’t have the most ideal place or location for hosting. I make up for this with quality food.
  3. The biggest mechanic shift worth making would be to shift drawing the cards to Sunday night. Too often, I was rushing out the door on Monday morning and I just forgot the cards, which often complicated some of them. They aren’t necessarily time sensitive, but giving myself Sunday night (normally a fairly chill one) to plan and execute some of the ideas seems to be more reasonable. And more likely to lead to quality results.
  4. Instagram ended up being the easiest way to keep track of it. I end up with a memory and a bit of accountability when there’s a picture and a few words. I set up a Tumblr, but it was just this other thing to keep track of, so I stopped posting there altogether eventually. It’s just worth admitting that Tumblr is not how I interact with the people in my life. That said, it does at least deserve a hashtag.
  5. You should do this too! This is more of a wrap-up, but I’ll be back with another post to codify the nature of the deck a little more, or look at the balance of activities, as I set it up again for next year. But there’s no reason you couldn’t swap Saint Paul for Oakland if you live in Minneapolis, because chances are like many folks in San Francisco, you might not ever go to this other amazing city right next to you. The locus doesn’t matter. The idea is to embrace the malleability of the concept. So perhaps it’s not going out to venues that matters as much to you, perhaps you don’t drink. Perhaps it’s a small gallery you’ve been meaning to check out, and or some exotic kinds of tea. The point is to challenge oneself to expand those horizons, whatever they may be.

In card order, here’s how I did:

1) Attend a live sporting event.

Lindsay and I went to a cold, cold game at O.co on Day 2 of the MLB season. Oakland vs. Texas. It looked nicer than it was weather-wise. They don’t have HD tvs in the concourse, but they have a surprisingly good craft beer selection. This was one of the easier ones to do, one I will definitely do again.

2) Only order things you’ve never tried anywhere you go this week.

I largely solved it by going places I’d never been previously such as The Mill, the finally open Diving Dog Brewhouse (I think the opening soon sign had been up since my first trip to Oakland), and Woods Bar & Brewing. Though I also used it as an excuse to get something different at Analog and Tony’s while I was down in Los Angeles I would have gone to Donut Friend anyway,  but let’s attribute that to the card too. This was not hard, but forced me to rethink rote orders. It earned its spot.

3) Have people over for Tetris.

I mentioned getting people over for things was difficult, yes? This is one I eventually completed, but not the week it came up. The idea behind these was to challenge me to try and change that. But I can’t singlehandedly change commute times. This one could easily be fixed with slightly different wording such as “play Tetris with other people”.. Also I’m pretty sure everyone thought I was cheating at Tetris, so perhaps I’ll make it more open-ended game-wise. It did give me a good excuse to make borscht though…

4) Buy a record at a shop you’ve never been to.

Another straightforward one. This is one of those ones that I appear to have missed posting about other than when it came up, but I can tell you I went to Jack’s Record Cellar at Page and Scott, which is only open from 2-7 pm on Saturdays, and I walked out with a 12” of “Take Me Out” by Franz Ferdinand. I even have the record to prove it.

5) Visit a National Park Service site you’ve never been to.

There are 59 National Parks, many of which I have never been to, and California leads the way with 9, but that’d be a tough goal. There are, however, many more National Park Service sites. They include things such as Alcatraz, Golden Gate National Recreation Area, and the John Muir homestead, and that’s just in the Bay Area alone. I was able to scratch off one that’s a little hard to reach with the help of Maya and Anthony, Muir Woods. It was nice. I would go there more if there were any way to get there without a car that made sense.

6) Visit a State Park site you’ve never been to.

California has a lot of parks. Some of them are not quite what they used to be. I biked down the beach on a rainy Sunday to the remnants of what the once accessible Thornton Beach State Park. You could only access this overlook, and while I’m sure you could hike around the old trails, I had better things to do than hike on coastal grounds that were probably closed because they can do things like collapse without notice. I want to be alive to explore another park next year, thank you very much.

7) Visit a City/Regional Park you’ve never been to.

The cards have to be specific enough that I don’t feel like they don’t mean anything, but flexible enough that I can satisfy them a variety of ways. For example, in addition to a quick trip over to Middle Harbor Shoreline Park in Oakland, it was also a good excuse to go to the International Rose Test Garden in Portland. I also appear to have somehow done this one two different weeks? Not sure how that happened

8) Revisit a National Park Service site.

This one just came up this week! I haven’t been to Golden Gate Bridge in a bit. Seems like a good NYE activity if we get a half-day again.

9) Revisit a State Park.

This was the first one that came out of the deck. I felt like hell, I remember that, but I went to Angel Island again. Because everyone should go to Angel Island once a year.

10) Revisit a City/Regional Park.

Kristy was visiting this week. So I went to many parks that I’ve been to before, because you gotta show off a view like Bernal. No pictures, though. Saved those for Outside Lands.

11) Go for a hike.

This was a back-door excuse to do something else I’d never done: bike up to the top of the Oakland Hills. I met Paul and Erin at Sibley Ridge Volcanic Preserve. It’s a nice park, and I’d revisit that Oakland Hills ride one other time in the service of the deck later on.

12) Visit a bar you’ve never been to.

I’m sure I did this one. But I don’t have any honest recollection of where I went, and I didn’t post about it on the interwebs, so it must not have been a very memorable one. I can tell you I saw a lot of live music that week. I had cake for breakfast. I was cat-sitting. And I must have been to some bar, somewhere, at some time. That’s just on me to have a more memorable choice lined up for that one.

13) Order the third beer on the list anywhere you get a drink this week.

This was a fun little one that came up relatively early in the rotation. I didn’t end up with anything too questionable that week (Green Flash, Prohibition, Lagunitas all came up), and again, it’s about shaking one from the torpor of rote decisions we all make all the time when faced with the paralyzing nature of making decisions by…replacing it with another rote mechanism, but hopefully one that made me think?

14) Go to a brewery.

It was early. I still had the energy to write it up. I haven’t actually been back to either, but I have high hopes I’ll see more of that side of town in 2016.

15) Go to a distillery.

I go to a lot of breweries. I drink my fair share of beer. But I don’t really go to distilleries, and I haven’t honed my hard liquor preferences quite as much as my beer preferences. Thankfully, we have a wonderful small distiller right here in Alameda in St. George. There are others too, but that’s where I went. It was awesome. And it’s right next to Faction. And I had Souley’s brunch for the first time (I was actually the first customer for that). All in all, I have a lot of fond memories of this day.

16) Go to a winery.

Here’s one I didn’t end up doing. You know why? Drinking wine is difficult as a vegan. Still worth keeping in there possibly, but this one might get recycled into something else. I could stand one less drinking-based one anyway.

17) Visit a restaurant you haven’t been to for brunch.

I didn’t take any pictures of brunch, but Lindsay and I went to  Venus, I can tell you that much. And I have this picture of this Bloody Mary I had afterwards…

18) Visit a restaurant you haven’t been to for lunch.

This ended up being surprisingly difficult. There are not that many places that have any vegan options worth my time near work that I hadn’t already been, so I went to Underdog over in Inner Sunset on a weekend. The sausage was great, the tots are just alright. I have confirmed that since this trip.

19) Visit a restaurant you haven’t been to for dinner.

I went to Gracias Madre on a disastrous date. But I went to Gracias Madre. Let’s go back so I can replace that shoddy memory because the only thing good about the date was the food.

20) Go someplace you’ve never been in Alameda County.

There’s some fun flexibility to this one. Obviously adapt as your location requires, but I suggest this one. It might be too open ended. I ended up at Redwood Regional Park. I learned there’s a fair amount of elevation there, especially if you end up going down along the creek. Another good Oakland Hills ride, though. And great views.

21) Go someplace you’ve never been in Marin County.

There are somehow two cards left in the deck. I think I needed to turn over a week and do double because of when I started, but I also dropped a week when I was in Sweden, basically. Anyway, this is one of the two that didn’t get flipped. I did end up that way a couple times, and scouted out ideas, but I can just save them for later.

22) Go someplace you’ve never been in San Mateo County.

This came up the week of Noise Pop, which is a great week to do something like this, but a suspiciously tough week for a lot of other ones. You know those towers you see south of the city in the hills. Yeah, I went there.

23) Go someplace you’ve never been in San Francisco County.

I know, I know, this is phrased strangely, as San Francisco the City and San Francisco the County are the same thing. But it has to do with the wording of the previous ones. There are three Diego Rivera murals in San Francisco. Thanks to 2015, I’ve now seen one.

24) Explore a neighborhood you haven’t previously.

I actually just did this one today, though it came up weeks ago. I kept thinking I’d finally get over to the Marina, but really, why would I want to do that when I could get magnificent brunch and wander around a cemetery in Piedmont?

25) Explore Treasure Island.

One that I reshuffled into the deck because it came up the week of Treasure Island Music Festival, which was not the point. It came up again a couple weeks ago. It’s an odd, dilapidated, asbestos-filled place where you could probably film a post-apocalyptic movie, but there are some top-notch views of the Bay Bridge and a host of different angles to see the entire Bay from.

26) Try a new type of exercise.

This one came up a long time ago, and I just never got around to it. The intention is fine, the execution was poor. That’s on me.

27) Have people over for games.

Another one I didn’t manage to pull off. I have a decent, if dated, collection of board games sitting inside my coffee table. I’d love to use them again some day. But I have had trouble meeting people to play games with. They aren’t everyone’s favorite thing to do, and…well, I’ve written about it elsewhere, but playing games while trans is a fraught thing. I may remove this from the deck, but I have some different ideas about getting this idea off the ground in another fashion.

28) Have people over for brunch.

Not even arguable. This was the most successful one that involved other people and my place. I need to figure out some better ways to host everyone again, because this was a hit. Maybe I’ll just get lots of pillows for us to sit on? Until then, I’ll keep finding ways to turn all these ingredients into delicious vegan food.

29) Have people over for dinner.

This one came together quite easily, as it happened. I made Julie Hasson’s veggies and dumplings, because…well, just make that recipe and get back to me.

30) Visit a new venue

This is the other one left in the deck, but I don’t need much help getting out to live music, and it’s actually difficult to do this because I do go to a lot of venues of my own volition. Still, there are more to explore, so it may stay, but I don’t feel strongly about. I’m not sad I missed it like the Marin County one.

31) Go see a band you’ve never heard of

I took this one to heart and went to an open mic night at Neck of the Woods. I didn’t see anything that I remember anything about, but there was this amazing sense of community that I felt I was almost interrupting by being there since almost everyone was an artist performing at it. It was an honor to see that aspect.

32) Watch the sunrise from Mount Davidson

Mount Davidson has a lot more mosquitoes than you think. Also, it’s beautiful any time of day. Only change I would make to this one is to broaden it somewhat, something like “Watch a sunrise from an iconic location”.

33) Visit an art museum

Did you know the Legion of Honor has a suspiciously good view of downtown on a clear day? It’s true! For whatever reason, I kept putting off a trip there, even though admission gets you into both the Legion of Honor and the de Young, which I am honestly five minutes from. But that’s why the deck exists. So I can see this. Or this. In person if you’re lucky enough to have the opportunity.

34) Visit a history museum

Oakland has some cool stuff. Like the Oakland Museum of California. I need to get back because I didn’t really get through all of it, but I did get through most of the history portion. Just another excuse to get back to Oakland, I suppose.

35) Visit a science museum

I went to Cal Academy a couple times this year, but not when this card came up, when I was on vacation in Sweden. I didn’t really quite do a science museum while I was in Stockholm. I saw some art. And some transit history. And the effing Vasa. And quite a few more. But nothing that was quite science. An oversight that I will have to go back and correct, I assure you. I think I satisfied the exploratory spirit if not the wording.

36) Go to an event at a bar that is not live music.

Some cards were fortuitous. This, for example, led me to the Riptide for some Saturday Night Bingo, which sadly burned down a few months later. But worry not! The Riptide shall return, and perhaps I’ll revisit once again to satisfy this card next year.

37) Read a new book.

This was the second card. I read California because why wouldn’t you? Edan Lepucki wrote a good read, and it triggered some curious ideas on my part. Which is the point of reading, after all.

38) Read an old book again.

I’m not gonna lie, I don’t remember what I reread because of this. Hawk by Steven Brust, most likely, because for some reason I hadn’t reread it already, which is unusual for me vis a vis Brust books. Or it could have been the first Amber book. I really don’t remember. I do remember it was definitely not some Huxley because I’d probably still be looking up words from that.

39) Write a short story.

This turned out pretty alright. Can you tell I was listening to a lot of Pulp when I wrote it?

40) Write a poem a day.

An old idea. I remember a lot about 2005. I wrote a lot of shitty poems, mind you, but writing every day will lead to that as well. It was nice to write some clever and openly trans poetry, though, that’s something I didn’t do much of before. They were okay, but honestly, the one I wrote at the beginning of the year is the strongest of the batch I shared on here last year.

41) Take a ferry somewhere.

This ended up being one I did differently than I imagined. I drew the card, thought I’d do a ride through Marin and have a little fun going around by Tiburon on bike. Instead, I booked a last minute trip to Minneapolis to drink Minnesotan beer, see some frozen waterfall action, and play some VFW Bingo. But I took a ferry to Alameda and drank some California beer first.

42) See a movie in the theater.

Before 2015, I’d never been to the Castro (the theater, not the neighborhood). They have a man playing an organ that sinks below screen level before the show! What is there not to like? I saw The Lineup, a 1958 cop movie that was all shot on location in San Francisco. Anyone with any interest in old San Francisco should just see the amazing sequences shot at Sutro’s, among other things in the film.

43) See a play.

I never see plays. But I did see one this year. It was called Stupid Fucking Bird. I liked it. A lot. But I still didn’t end up seeing any more theater this year. Just not my thing without a little nudge. Keep nudging, I suppose.

44) Hang out in Dolores Park for an afternoon.

Here’s another one I never got around to. I don’t know. This is just not me. But perhaps I will get around to it next year. It deserves another shot. One of the points is to do things outside of my comfort zone, too.

45) Do something you haven’t done before in Golden Gate Park.

Golden Gate Park is big. No bigger than that. Nope. Still bigger. It’s over a thousand acres. There are bison and fishing ponds and windmills and a giant cross and a fake waterfall and horseshoe pits and…well, I could go on. There’s a lot there. I finally went to the Conservatory of Flowers. It was a good idea.

46) Surprise a friend with something unexpected.

The pie looked really good in the picture, but it did not mail well. Better luck next year, I suppose. If that’s the surprise I choose at all.

47) Do something in San Jose.

Lots of good intentions behind this card, but without a car, getting to San Jose is a ridiculous mess. The timing just didn’t work out for this one.

48) Volunteer for something.

This one took some time to payoff, hard to plan to do something like this the week it came up, but I did finally start volunteering at the SF LGBT Center, so it worked.

49) Bake a cake.

I baked quite a few cakes this year, but this one was special. I veganized my grandfather’s old recipe for chocolate easy-iced cake, and I’m not sure my family would have known the difference. I’ll have to give that a shot the next time we’re all in one place.

50) Only make recipes you haven’t tried when cooking this week.

This one just came up recently. I made some things that turned out okay. I don’t need too much motivation to try new recipes and ingredients, but it’s a fun card.

51) Watch a sunset from Grandview.

It’s a beaut of a park, isn’t it? And the winter sunsets are totally different than the summer ones. Again, I don’t need a ton of motivation and I might shift this to a watch at an iconic location one.

52) Ride at least 100 miles this week.

I am just over 3,600 miles, which works out to just about 70 miles a week. But 100 miles weeks happen sometimes without extra motivation. In this case, I already had a trip down to Santa Clara to see Jerry in a rainbow, but I ensured I cracked 100 with a trip across Golden Gate up to San Rafael. It’s easy to say I’ll ride tomorrow because I will, but I wouldn’t mind getting in a few more rides like that.

That’s it. Another memorable year (almost) in the books. Thanks for coming along with me! Now to fine tune this for 2016.

Ameliorate

Today it was no one. Yesterday it wasn’t anyone either. In fact, I have to think back a few days to the last time someone misgendered me. But it’s never long. This is not new ground for me. I doubt there will ever be truly new ground when it comes to dealing with gender in our society, at least for me. Perhaps you never have to deal with this. But I am not so lucky, and I never will be. That’s not pessimism, that’s seven plus years of being out talking. If there is a time when society catches up, when it’s ready to accept gender not just because you happen to be cis or “I never would have known you were trans”,well, I welcome it. But some people have had over seven years and can’t manage to grasp that I’m female. I may be binary, but I’ll never be all that conforming. I didn’t change so much as you never asked and I didn’t find the means to say otherwise for a long time. Quite a few people I know can’t tell you my dead name. I don’t even have any legal docs left that have it. The only tangible evidence is the constant inability of people to respect who I am. It’s why I’ll always have at least one coworker who ends up misgendering me at some awkward moment (aren’t they all though?). For those that don’t screw up, there’s steps beyond you’ll never get, like why I dislike calling branches unless I absolutely have to. It’s why I always have to be vigilant, even when I’m relaxing with friends, because really, it takes a long time to build that trust, and less than a second to destroy it. And if I don’t know you that well? I guarantee it’s on my mind. I guarantee I heard you. I guarantee it affects what I think of you since you just showed me what you think of me.

I go through phases where I try to be better about calling people out on this. Because people quite obviously fail to grasp how to respect other people on their own. I vacillate every time someone screws up. Is it worth the effort? Are you worth the effort? Should I for whoever’s next, even it does nothing to ameliorate how I feel now? I can see it when you write James on my order at a restaurant, when I don’t explain firmly but simply it’s not sir. The wounded cis look that says it’s what you said or I was just trying to be polite is a look I’m more than familiar with. It’s a little different than the I’m just an asshole cis look. People with that look think they are so clever, denying who I am, but assholes like that aren’t usually worth the time. They bother me in as much as they comprise a significant amount of the population, but not so much as they are people who don’t seem to want to be better. Of course, not caring about them doesn’t mean I don’t have to spend my time dealing with them. I do. All the time.

Do you ever wonder what people say about you when you’re not in the room? I try not to spend too much time thinking about that, but how can I not? What good is it if someone is just playing along? It’s hard not to feel that way with so many people. It’s hard to really know. In fact, it’s something I’ll never know. But I’ve learned to let that go. I cannot control that. But I worry nonetheless. How we think about people matters, the words we use to describe each other. If people don’t think of me as a woman, then they are never going to get it right. The problem is, it’s not just the assholes that do that. That’s longtime friends. That’s my fucking parents. It all feels like an elaborate dance sometimes, like only peacockish displays of gender conformity get some people to go along. But there’s a difference between being feminine and being a woman. Wearing a dress shouldn’t affect how you address someone one. I don’t wear them for your benefit. I wear them for mine. Even those overt, highly gendered markers fail much of the time, though. Which isn’t to say that you should automatically see someone with a purse and think they’re a woman, because you don’t necessarily have all that information, but it is a bit naive to not think it’s at least a clue. Frequently, you don’t really need to know someone’s gender. But if you do? It’s better to ask than to guess, I can tell you that. If you’ve already asked, then why is it such an issue to get it right? It’s not magic, you just have to make the effort.

Some might think it something that eventually goes away, that the longer you’re truly you, it’ll get better. But that’s a lie. It doesn’t get better. You make it better. I spend significant amounts of energy navigating existence in a world that just as soon wishes I were no longer here, that I were never here to begin with. That’s why I try to call it out when I still have energy left, but frequently I just don’t have it. I’ve spent that dealing with all the other bullshit that goes along with being trans in our society, or the bullshit that goes along with being an adult, or living in San Francisco, or whatever. I get you’re dealing with a lot of shit, too, but that’s why you have to try. You can call out that kind of behavior too, cis people. On the Internet, with your real, live trans friends, wherever and whenever. I guarantee they’ll appreciate it. It’s a rare thing, I’ve found, someone else coming to my defense, and always welcome. I can take care of myself, I assure you every time it comes up I’m doing the calculus in my head, but I can’t be there for every conversation. I can’t correct you when I’m not there and you use a slur to talk about me or intentionally misgender me. Maybe you are there. Maybe you can. As an added bonus, I bet it’ll make you more aware of that with the trans people in your life, your friends and coworkers and loved ones. It’s not much I am asking you to do. It’s the same thing I try to do every day. Be better.

 
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