Archive for December, 2015

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.

Need Is A Funny Thing

My credit card balance is at the exact same place it was last year. Then again, I have done a lot this year, so it’s not that surprising. Some of it was overdue, like finally updating my birth certificate or getting a new passport. Most of it was purely for fun, like all the trips to see friends, music, and the occasional foreign country. A lot of it has just been in my kitchen, but hey, I have an immersion blender now, so I can make all sorts of fancy soups instead of going anywhere at all. I’ve accumulated a lot of kitchen gadgets and a few more records, but most of my money went to experiences. I started the year at the Winter Classic and visited several other cities after that. I booked a trip to Minnesota on a Tuesday and left two days later. I saw quite a few familiar faces along the way. I know I am fortunate to be able to do those things and still make sure the bills are getting paid because a lot of other people don’t have those opportunities; however, being fortunate and having a fortune are not quite the same thing.

After over two years of living in the exact same apartment, my longest stint since before I left for college, stuff begins to pile up. Moving, while a tedious affair, does force one to occasionally look at all that stuff, even if it’s just to move it. It also forces us to consider some of the intangible stuff. Cable, internet, those sorts of bills most of us don’t necessarily think about all that much any more in the age of auto-pay. It’s been a while since I’ve taken a long look at what I really need from my cell service compared to what I pay for, to provide an example. And things are always changing. Do I really need to be able to watch new episodes of Game of Thrones right when they drop? A year ago, I needed cable to do that, now I don’t. We accumulate the intangible stuff just as easily as we fill the space we live in. And much like the physical stuff, it’s important to ask ourselves periodically: do we really need this?

Need is a funny thing. I know someone who works at a high end restaurant. Like, $500 a person high end. We can’t really conceive what it is like to have that kind of money for a meal. We need that money for something else. Even in San Francisco, that’s a decent chunk of rent to a lot of people. But I don’t even think about my cell phone bill when it comes. It’s on auto-pay, and the price (to me) is inconsequential. I need a cell phone to participate in modern society, and a smart phone with a good data plan at that. Or at least I perceive a need. But do I really need it? Of course I don’t actually need it in the most basic sense. And to many, what I spend on that is exorbitant. It’s important to remember where you are relative to everyone else. I’m not the one percent by any means, but I am better off than a lot of people. That’s important to remember when I make the decisions I make. I don’t need to have cable, but I like having it. Having it again means I watch a lot more shows, or keep up with them without buying them, or waiting for them to hit Netflix. Time is just another way to pay. I have it because I can. But it’s not like I just sat around thinking to myself, why don’t I have cable? I used that time for other things before I had cable, and I would fill it again if I get rid of it tomorrow. It just happened to be at a cost point that made sense to me at that juncture. It felt worth it at the time and I had the means.

As 2015 winds down, it’s a natural time to look at the past and try and apply what we’ve learned to the future. Of course it’s entirely arbitrary. That’s not the point. I’m big on making changes whenever one feels they are needed, not holding oneself to calendar days, years, etc; we can all look at changes in our lives that happened on once insignificant days that now matter much more. I’m sure you can think of a few in your life. I know I can quickly think of a few in mine. Still, it’s a natural demarcation as defined by our society, and that makes it worthwhile. As I forecast where I think I’m heading in 2016, one of the aspects I’m trying to keep in mind is a simple question: is this what I want to do with my money? Beyond that there are a host of related questions: Do I truly want to support the businesses I shop at, the brands I buy? How do I do a better job of getting what I’m looking for and getting that money to things that matter to me? I support the bands I like by going to their shows and buying their records; I support those venues by having a drink while I’m there. I support the restaurants and food trucks that I want to continue to see here in the Bay. I know it’s a tenuous balance, and it’s not necessarily that much of a difference, but it is a difference. Am I not working to do the things I want to? Am I not working to support what I think is worthwhile along the way? Is it money well spent?

I’m a big fan of precision when it comes to the words we use to describe our lives. Because how we frame and discuss issues, even in our own minds, affects how we look at them. I’m also a big fan of tangible goals. Unfortunately, this is the sort of thing that’s a bit hard to make more tangible without more work. But it does lead me to good questions to ask going forward. I wish it weren’t just this inchoate idea, that I had specific numbers or plans, but right now I don’t. Perhaps that manifestation is a budget as I try to figure out how to direct as much as I can to doing what I want. But time can be like that too. Sometimes I spend the money because it’s easier than spending the time, or because I’ve convinced myself it is, at least. Sometimes I’d just rather use it for something else. I’d like to watch less tv next year, listen to more records, see more bands, see more parks, and just do more San Francisco since I’m lucky enough to be here. I’d like to give more of my time to things that matter to me. Perhaps that manifestation is just better planning. No matter what it is, it’s an opportunity to look at what I’ve convinced myself I need and ask if I do really need it. If I do, am I paying the appropriate cost? Those aspects shift, but that leads to the precise question I should always be asking: is it worth it to me? I don’t think it’s the kind of thing one can ever completely maximize. There are a lot of variables to consider. Too many, in most cases. But if my credit card balance is in the same place it is now next year, I hope that more of it goes more to what matters to me. Or that I am at least more conscious of where it’s going and where I’m going. I know I cannot possibly control for everything. But I don’t need to.

 
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