Archive for June, 2016

More Or Less

Like many folks, I’m excited for the season finale of Game of Thrones this weekend. It’s been fun watching the women take the reins this season, even as it’s had some missteps, and I’m curious to see how they will shape affairs heading into the next season. But I’m also excited because that means the last thing I want to watch is over for the time being. Sure, I’ll come back for Last Week Tonight later, but that isn’t exactly appointment television as much as it is television I can watch. Which means I can call Comcast bright and early on Monday and tell then I’m canceling my cable.

It’s been fun to have. I watched a lot of hockey this year, and it was great to be able to watch Sharks games this season. But like many things, I wonder about the cost. Cable is not cheap, and my time with Comcast is nearing an end anyway as Sonic rolls into my neighborhood quite soon and I can leave behind their middling internet for gigabit fiber (and apparently a home phone?). Sometimes living on the west side pays off, and in this case, it’s a boon to be in the Richmond or the Sunset. I look forward to not only getting faster service, but paying less for it.

I also look forward to moving away from my television more. The thing about having cable is it’s very easy to start using it. It’s insidious how it pecks away at one’s time. It’s fun to believe the internet invented that phenomenon, but it’s existed as long as we have had convenient distractions. Perhaps you don’t have that issue, but I certainly do. And even if it’s just Sportscenter on in the background while I’m doing something else, it’s on, it’s there. Streaming services may have perfected the “one more episode” model of sucking us in; add that to all those channels at your disposal. I feel like there were quite a few shows I added to what used to be a tighter rotation of what I was watching in previous years. Because I could. Because I was paying for it. To say nothing of the many, many hockey games on most nights. I enjoyed it, but now, I feel it’s time to renegotiate my relationship with television.

Given that time is finite, what do I want to do with the time I’m allotted? What will I do with the time I get back because I’m not watching a baseball game I really don’t care about that much as I surf the web? What else should I be consciously trying to change about what I’m doing? I don’t like making completely intangible goals, though some of these inevitably appear that way. Like, sure, be more present is a great idea, but what does that mean? And why are we judging whether we’re using a device as being present? Maybe I’m talking with a friend half a world away with my phone while at a show? Maybe that’s a cool thing too. What I’m looking at and thinking about are more tangible uses of time and what I have here. Moving to San Francisco, I winnowed out a lot of stuff, but it builds back up. And some of it I never use. What should I do with those board games that collect dust? What about the books that do the same? With that in mind, here’s some things I’d like to be better about going forward.

Listen to records more

I have a decent record collection; I like it; I don’t play it all that much anymore. It’s hard to listen to a record and watch tv. There’s lots of stuff I own that I don’t have digitally. There’s lots of stuff I never think to play when I’m using my phone because I don’t see my collection in the same way. It’s time to find some of those records I forgot I had, to spend more time with those records that I cannot listen to any other way (that goes for the tapes too). I have it because I like it. So I should use it. This is a pretty easy one because I feel I’ve barely been listening at home recently. It may also finally give me the motivation to either get wireless speakers or a shitton of speaker wire and some Goodwill speakers for the kitchen too.

Read more

I should qualify this. I do lots of reading. I think most anyone in this day and age does. But I’d rather do more in-depth reading. Novels, non-fiction, whatever. I’d rather just spend time with a topic beyond a few thousand words at the most like I do on the internet. Some topics only require a few thousands words; many require much more. I have books on my shelf that I’ve been meaning to read for years now. I have a library card. I live walking distance from both Green Apple locations. I should be able to do this. One of the projects I stalled on was the Hugo/Nebula winners. It’s time to get back into that. Another easy one, since I haven’t spent much time reading anything of length recently, which I’m ashamed to say as an English Lit major.

Run more

The funny thing about television is how it can dictate a schedule if the main reason you have it is for live sports. That’s the main reason I had it, and those game times are set. I can catch up with a show in a couple days, but that’s not how live sports works. That’s why they charge the most for that package. The funny thing about living on the West Coast is that sports are on at weird times if you grew up following an East Coast team, like 4 pm. Which is awesome, it’s fun to watch a Caps game and still have my night, but something’s gotta give in that equation. One of those things that gave more often than not was going for a run. Then you might have a couple beers, and then you’re like, should I really go for a run? And then you don’t. While my mileage is up from this time last year (254 miles at present) I’d like to up that. I’d like to become more consistent about how many times I’m getting out in a week. I’d like to become more consistent about running when I’m on vacation. Can’t hang that all on the tv. But it’s one more excuse at times.

Bike more

Two weekends ago, I took the ferry over to Alameda and biked down to Hayward. It was a nice ride along the Bay, through quite a bit of land I’d never really spent much time in. There’s so much I haven’t seen in the Bay Area, not that you can do it all in three years by any means, but there’s so much more to explore. I still need to figure out a random weekday to go to the Pulgas Water Temple. John Muir’s home is calling my name. I still haven’t tackled Mount Tam. It takes a little more planning, but it’s easier to bike to many more places than you think much of the time. My mileage is down from last year (only 1,592 miles at present), and it only looks that good because of a really strong past few weeks (thanks Vancouver!). I have a slightly shorter commute now (cut about 1.5 miles round trip) so some of that is to be expected. But it’s time to start making that up on these longer summer evenings and weekends.

Write more

I always say this. It’s always true.

Drink less

I enjoy a fine adult beverage. But I feel I’ve probably been having more than I should recently. Sometimes it’s just saying no to that last one of the night that you don’t really need. Sometimes it’s just not having one at all on a night like tonight. I’m still gonna go to Novel Brewing tomorrow because it sounds awesome and I’m gonna be in Oakland for work. I’m still going to try lots of new and exciting breweries and distilleries and bars and visit old favorites. I will still throw back a few with you the next time we see each other (if that’s something we do together). It’s just cutting back on the reflexive drinks. Especially now that I rarely ever drink soda, it’s very easy to just order a beer with a meal or open one at home. And that’s not a problem. But everything is a balancing act. I feel like I may have gotten a bit out of balance on this front over the past few months. It’s just something to be cognizant of.

Put things off less

It doesn’t really take that long to do the dishes. But some nights, I was racing to get dinner in before a show would start, and after sitting on the couch for an hour, I’d lack the motivation to finish up the dishes properly. I don’t think that’s magically going to change, but not having something like that I’m dedicating my time to should make it easier, no? I hope. And sure, some nights I’m just barely getting the laundry out of the machine before rushing off to a show, but most nights, I have the time, I just don’t use it for those little things that take 10-15 minutes when I should. I should figure out what I’m bringing to work the night before instead of the morning of. I should wash the dishes as they come up so I don’t have a nightmare scenario like I’ve had this week (in fairness, I made a lot of brunch). I should put my laundry away in a timely fashion because dammit, I just should. Living alone is nice, I don’t have to worry about pissing anyone off with that kind of stuff. But sometimes it’s nice to have someone light that fire under you. I gotta do it myself. I’ve been abysmal at it recently, so it time to be better.

Sleep more

I get enough sleep. But I could stand to get a little more most nights. I should be in bed by 11:30 unless I’m out. Instead I fritter away who knows how much time in front of a television. TV is weird like that. Granted, I can still do that with the internet, and probably will. But a girl can dream.

Get out more

It’s been a while since I made it back to Corona Heights. Or Tank Hill. Or McLaren. It’s been too long since I made my way to Mount Davidson. Or Mount Olympus. I haven’t stopped by Retrofit in a while. Or any of the other fun vintage shops up and down Valencia. San Francisco has a lot of nice parks and quirky little spots, I’ve been to a lot of them. It’s time to get back to some of them again. It’s time to take advantage of these longer summer evenings, and since our weather is broken, that goes double for the outdoor stuff. The tv is still gonna be here when it’s dark and the shops are closed.

Sometimes it’s just a matter of learning how to renegotiate our little habits. And change is a good opportunity to examine other ones. I am a big proponent of the fact we should always been examining our lives, making tweaks and changes, big and small, as appropriate. We can’t just wait for January 1st, and besides, that’s an arbitrary date. I’ve been looking at some of the little things I’ve been doing and thinking to myself “why am I doing that?” I’ve been asking, and I’ve had some reasons, or more likely, excuses; now that some of them are gone or will be soon. I’ve been awful with the deck this year, though I have been doing it. It’s designed to make me do some of those things outside of my comfort zone and make me reexamine my relationship to some things. I should pay more attention to it. I should pay more attention. Perhaps with one fewer distraction, now I will.

You Were Not Always You

I haven’t done this every year. But most years, June rolls around, I count to a new number, and I reflect. Some years I say it better than others. I’ll always remember June 2nd, 2008. It is a tangible date made whole, the culmination of actions and decisions and truly it will always be one of the most realized days of my life. Though the act of coming out, of truly being yourself, has more than a single date attached, I hope some day this is something most younger people will never understand. But I don’t think we’re there yet. And there are always going to be folks who just need more time to figure out who they are, even in a more open world. Perhaps you have never had a date like that, perhaps you will never need one, though it is worth remembering that is not the case for everyone. That’s why it’s important to be openly and visibly trans, to foster a world where, if you do not yet know that date, even if you are not aware that is how you will be yet, hopefully the date you get to be your best self is coming soon. Not everyone gets to show up and just be themselves. Most of us have to find ourselves, in a world that still does not want us to do that.

If you are so fortunate that you’ve never had to think about anything like this, perhaps reflect on those who will never be fortunate enough to be themselves. Perhaps reflect on that cost. Perhaps reflect on that loss. We have a lot of work yet to do to create a society that allows each of us to show up as ourselves. When I talk about showing up as myself, that doesn’t mean I’m always walking into a room waving a trans pride flag. Part of being who we are is just as much getting to bring all of who we are as it is not having to put that forward if we choose not to. Much of that gets back to agency. The same agency to be ourselves applies to telling our stories or how we show up to anything. Some of us have less choice in that matter, of course, not fitting into the strict rubrics of what we expect from the gender binary. That’s what causes that tension, that’s what makes it so hard to be ourselves. That’s why it’s so important to tell our stories if we choose. That’s why it’s so important to not fit in, to be not who everyone has told us we should be but who truly are, in whatever way that is.

The past year has been a pretty good one for me personally, but in the broader scope, it felt like a backwards slide. I finally changed my birth certificate and passport, finishing off the last tangible documents I needed to take care of, which I assure you is no small feat. But it feels like much of the world around me is moving in a different direction. As trans visibility increases, the reaction is not celebration, but reactionary fear. Cities and states reject expanded equality protections on the grounds they include trans people. Some places have gone so far as to outright criminalize the act of using a public restroom while trans. I feel like I see more people baselessly comparing trans women to predators. And while I’m heartened by the lack of success and pushback I see in some places, there are still far too many outlets that do not challenge these lies about who trans folks are. They uncritically promulgate fear without facts, failing to mention there has been no instance of anyone pretending to be trans to do this. And as even respected media outlets continue to fumble in their coverage, promoting outright hate, it’s trans folks who pay that price. It takes a toll. For me it’s just a mental one; for less fortunate trans folks, particularly trans women of color, it’s much more than that.

Perhaps I’m just more aware of it. I am definitely more aware of my relative position within the overall community than I was eight years ago. One of my goals in the past few years has been to get more involved, and I feel like this is a year that I have finally done a good job of realizing that goal. Not that there is a right or wrong way to be involved. Sometimes it’s the conversations over a dinner or a drink, personalizing while also highlighting I have had a fairly exceptional experience in most regards. Sometimes it’s just taking a few hours a week to volunteer at the SF LGBT Center. Sometimes it going into a space that ostensibly is supposed to include you and doing the work to make sure it is more inclusive, which is why I recently got involved with PRIDE through my employer  again.

That, perhaps, is the best extension of where I am now. I still take care of myself. The whole idea of coming out, of being my best self, it’s been about self-care. Hopefully, I take better care of myself at 35 than I did at 27 because I’ve put in that work. But I am less centered on taking care of myself than I ever have been. Because I don’t need to be anymore. I was not always me and lots of other folks helped me become the person I am now. You were not always you, either. We all need help sometimes. Perhaps more than we would like to admit. Though, I think that is more something we need to change about our society. I could have never done any of this by myself. I am the beneficiary of the hard work and sacrifice of many trans people who came before me. My life may not be easy, but it is certainly easier because of the work of many people I can never properly thank, many people I never can or will know. The only way I can think to thank them is to keep doing that work in whatever way I can. Even if it’s better than it used to be, it’s not nearly good enough. There is still more to do. I can’t wait to see where we’re at next year.

 
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