Sunday, May 24, 2009

Hammers, Roofs, and Radios: A Subversive Transmission

Construction dyke and techie tranny seek 7-9 curious adventurers passionate about housing justice, manual labor, and quirky documentaries. Participants can expect to build with and interview a local chapter of Habitat for Humanity. As we gather material to make a podcast about our experience, we will be talking about affordable housing issues and embarking on a day trip to Boston for a gentrification tour. Must be ready for:

-life-altering shenanigans
-mind-expanding discussions
-mind-altering connections
and heavy doses of caffeine.
*positive results guaranteed and no experience necessary

Leadership Camp

I packed up my swimming trunks and granola bars and headed out for a post-graduation leadership camp. The occasion was me having designed a 5 day trip for my school’s unique and apparently award-winning orientation program (see next entry for details on my specific trip). I was a little stressed about giving up three days out of my already tight schedule, but I was dedicated to making the trip a success, and I figured getting to know some of the other leaders could prove useful.

We arrived at a low-key place named “Neringa” without having any idea what was to befall us. The campground was actually a Lithuanian nunnery the school had rented out. We stayed in a gorgeous lodge with exposed wood everywhere. The spacious kitchen was lined around the parameter with cabinets laminated white labels no one could read. There were 22 of us in all.

We played a variety of games led by a too-cheery-to-believe woman with obvious new-agey inclinations. I’ll spare you the details of most. Suffice it to say we spent time rubbing strangers, improvising blindfolded, and no one ever won anything. I wonder what kind of person I would have grown up to be if this all were more familiar than awkward.

My main objective in being there was to get to know my co-leader. I had designed the trip on my own, but needed someone else to help make it a reality. There was A, a woman short in stature but bulky in physique. Her face was full of metal, her tongue split, her dreads ¾ inch in diameter. She exuded toughness and had most recently worked as a bouncer to boot. She was interested in the trip for the construction aspect but her father was a sustainable architect in Boston. Our energies and resources complimented each other. I was impressed by how good of a match we were, and found a lot of comfort in her unfamiliar laughter.

Half way through the trip, she sat down on an unfinished floor and got impaled in the ass. Now, I never saw said splinter, but I hear it was an inch and a half long. I was impressed by how she owned it in the middle of the meeting, I mean really, that might be the most embarrassing moment of her life. Several unsuccessful attempts with and without tweezers resulted in a trip to the hospital. After a one-on-one session with a scalpel, she spent the next two days hocked up on vicodin, which was understandable but rendered her pretty much useless. I did all the work with maybe a little resentment but it’s hard to be grumpy in a beautiful place, in one of my last moments of familiarity before I thrust myself into the unknown.

At the end of the training, I left with a desire to spend more time getting to know A, regret that I hadn’t skipped out on a few activity times to explore the land, and a quiet anxiety about whether or not I was the right kind of person to lead one of these trips.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Yo Mama's So White...

Two black teenage girls linger in front of a Boys & Girls Club off of the main drag of a town that is big for Vermont but never the less minuscule. One leans lazily against a brick wall. They seem to be arguing about something interesting enough to animate them but not important enough to take seriously. The conversation soon devolves into a trickle of half-hearted teasing comments,

“You’re mama’s so stupid, she can’t find her way out of the co-op parking lot.”

“Yeah? Well, yo mama’s ass is so big, she can’t fit through the door when she gets there.“

“Yo mama’s ass is so white…” She doesn’t finish her sentence, letting the silence dictate her victory.

I inhale deeply and try not to break my stride. The word “white” sounds like the moment of impact when hammer and chisel meet. Abrasive, like flakes of stone flailing to the ground. White like lambs and judgment and God. I want to tell her that she doesn’t know what she just did. I want to say, “Once you go real, you can never come back.”

I want to talk about how I grew up convinced I wasn’t authentic enough for my own name. About how I spent three months in Peru and yet I still play Anglo when I go into Mexican restaurants. I want to tell her how disappointed in myself I am of all the times I said “she” because I was embarrassed to be asked about my pronouns. I want to say you don’t have to play that game.

You can help one another be brave. Because you’re young people. Because you’re becoming women. Because on this street in this moment, it doesn’t matter how white her mama’s ass is when passersby are thinking nuisance and street crime and holding their purses a little closer to their bodies.

I want to tell her that I fell in love with the first person who treated me like I was real. I want her to know she can be that for someone. It’s a choice.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Website Finished (for now)

So,I have been cheating on this blog with my Transgender Oral History website... . After a couple months of fiddling with it, I am pretty happy at how it came out. I will be uploading content to it and posting on my TOH blog when I do, so you should subscribe to the RSS feed on the blog.

Now to catch up for lost time...

Friday, May 1, 2009

Andy for Editor

I've finally become the quintessential Malrboro student. I bitch and moan about how much I have to do, and then I wake up and over commit myself all over again.

That being said... Vote for me