Thursday, March 26, 2009

Boytown Terror

I'm feeling pretty down-to-the wire with this whole internship thing. I've gotten a few preliminary responses, but when I attempt to follow up by phone and e-mail, I haven't been very successful. I got a call today from a queer youth center in Chicago. Our conversation went well; the woman was encouraging but realistic, and the organization itself seems pretty on top its stuff. She indicated that I would have the freedom to develop the kind of project I wanted but also that I would have support of the staff if I needed it. Sounds great, right?

Here's the catch. It's in boytown. Most of the population is African American males, there are a handful of latinos, a couple of white guys, and a decent amount of transwomen mixed in. As she said this, my face fell. I realized that for all intents and purposes, I meant female-bodied when I said queer. All kinds of questions rushed thorugh my head... What if living in Vermont has handicapped me as far as dealing with people of color goes? Will young me listen to me if I try to teach them? Can I get over my discomfort with femininity enough to bonds with young transwomen? What does my life have to do with thiers? They won' t look like me. They won't talk like me. They won't listen to the same music or read the same books as me. It's exciting but in its own way, it's terrifying.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Banking on Andy

Last week I got my first check from my employer. I had worked for six weeks, but since I didn't see my boss or have any co-workers, I hadn't thought to ask about how I was going to get paid (I know, unique problem, right?). I finally figured out how to write an invoice and got a check in the mail a few days later. I luxuriated in the crisp sunlight as I walked to the bank. When I moseyed up to the teller counter, I slapped my check on the counter and glanced through the picture window.

"Who's Andy?"
"Excuse me?"
"Andy. Who is he?"
"They didn't, they didn't write it out to Andy. Damn it."
The teller squished her face into confusion, and I felt blush dart across my own.
"I'm sorry..umm..I'll fix it." I stared at the floor as I grabbed the check and stuffed it hastily into my jacket pocket. I was shaken.

I scuffled down the sidewalk towards my boss's office. I couldn't believe it had happened, and yet I fully expecetd it to. Mostly, I was upset with myself for not checking first.

As I pulled her office door open, Betsy seemed glad to see me. Her pleaseant demenor and self-consciously encouraging ptter of speech calmed me down, and I explained to her that I couldn't cash a check that was written to Andy. After an unsucesfful call tot he accountant, she told me there was no reason I shouldn't cash it. Dave chimed in that he cashes checks for Dave not David all the time. I wanted to say, but it's different. But I caught myself.

"It's the same thing. It's ridiculous. What did they say?"
"The teller just said she wouldn't." I lied. If not in fact than in intention.

Betsy gave me her card and sent me to her bank. I set off down Main St but as I neared the unfamiliar building, I felt uncertain. Why couldn't I just have another check? What if they asked me why I am called Andy? What if they wouldn't believe me? I knew I'd have to go into my bank again eventually, so I went ahead and did it then. I walked up tot he same teller, and I told her this is my nickname. She called her anager, and after endorsing the check as Andy, I walked away feeling exonerated.

With the proliferation of female Andy's (two that work for the same organization I do and two more at to co-op), my name outs me to only the people who knew anyways. It only has to be an issue if I press it. Last week was unsettleing. To feel embarassed, like I was caught doing somethign I'm not supposed to. To feel as if someone has the power to negate my claim to myself. Some days, I feel more trans than others.

Spring Break Updates

For the first time in a long time, I've been enjoying my time alone lately. This refresher course in why I believe in free schooling that has left me with greasy hands, a full fridge, and a restocked closet. What's been on the menu for break?

-Web design. I have a working template up (when I'm done, my real site name will be The "learn more," "participate," "blog updates" buttons are working. I'd love some feedback on the design and on the writing (hint, hint)!

-Work. I run a small literacy initiative in VT, which encourages kids to write for fun and money. I've gotten a handful of kids to start thier own zines/comics, and am coordinating a program for them to write movie reviews in exchange for free tickets. My second job is helpign publish this book Anatomy of Hatha Yoga, and I've colorized about half the grpahics so far. I've finally made enough so that I don't feel way stressed about ti all the time.

-Shopping. If you know me, then it will come ot no surprise to yout hat I hate shopping. I'm cheap, poor, andsuspicious of new things (basically I am a young version of your grandma). However, I went out looking for a summer wardrobe that is 1) more gender appropriate, 2) could be construed as business casual 3) low maintainance & 4) apparently somewhere between "metro" and "dykey".

-Divestment. There is a gorup of people at my school whoa re looking into our investments. We are having trouble figureing out the paper trail, but I am going to a conference on divestment that will hopefully help us figure out the next steps towards challanging the college to divest from comanies profiteering off of the gaza occupation.

-Hands-on adventure training. Which is to say, I have also fixed up my bike, gone hiking, built stuff, learned to hem, done a photo shoot (for a friend's awesome online print shop), silk-screened, and dyed clothes.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Damned If I Never Learn

So I am at that time of year again, when I feel downright crazy. I’ve spent the last week or two trying to figure out why I feel alternately excited and passionate or obsessive and anxious. My summer plans are starting to fall into place, I’m making great progress at both of my jobs, people at my college are actually taking initiative on a campaign without me having to be the leader, I’m working on community projects that are interesting and fun as well as useful, and post-graduation is beginning to seem more exciting than daunting. When so much is going right, why have the things that bother me been getting at me?

In an odd way, I don’t really know how to deal with having energy. After prolonged periods of being depressed and discourage, I’ve grown unused to feeling as if I am ready and able to take on whatever challenges I my face. When I begin to feel this overwhelming energy, my heart starts to race. I can feel the adrenaline building, and I can only assume I am heading for a panic attack. Sometimes I actually stop myself mid-process, realizing that it is literally the expectation of anxiety that is bringing it to fruition. How much does interpretation justify what we are already feeling and how much does it shift the very nature of those sensations?

I’ve recognized for a long time that that crazy energy makes me more effective at almost everything I am trying to do. I depend on waves of it to sustain my all-too-ambitious lifestyle. It makes me a more dedicated activist, a livelier teacher, a more focused student. Lately, I’ve started seeing a downside to the mania (little “m,” not big). For some reason, it rarely registers to me that I can’t just take up my personal relationships with the same urgency as the rest of my life. A flurry of IM’s inspired by a sudden burst of energy isn’t going to make me closer to the people I care about. I can’t stack people like library books barricading me into my futon. I can’t chart our progress into spreadsheets, crunch some numbers, and have an output ratio. Not all too surprising granted, but damned if I never learn…

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Giving Up

So I've went through stages in my life where I gave up a lot of things: gave up collecting things I don't need, gave up my car, gave up control in unpredictable situations. They were a series of campaigns driven by this bizzare sense that deprivation was inherently strengthening to the spirit. Sure, at times it was a catalyst for personal growth, but mostly they were thinly vailed exercises in self-indulgence. I've become weary of the seduction of asceticism, I even imagine at times that I have given that up.

But it goes further than that, what about people I've given up on? I have this uncanny ability to cut my losses so-to-speak, to choose to not pursue relationships with people who I can logically evaluate are not good for me. It doesn't matter how I feel about them. Choices are about reason in my world. Sometimes I think that unyielding disposition towards the logical is my only instinct of self-preservation. Often, I'm ashamed of it. And, on at least one occasion, someone I care deeply about told me it scared her.

I'm left contemplating times I have voluntarily chosen to give things up because this past week I've finally found myself in the position to give up on something I feel like I have no say in. I've given up on a relationship that means a great deal to me, one that was formative for me, one that has caused me a great deal of pain in the recent past. I'm giving up after holding on too hard, and it feels like a first in all the worst ways--confusing, frightening, dramatic, ill-prepared. However, I can't help questioning if this is a new decision or one I've making for a long time now...