Sunday, December 30, 2007

apathy and boredom in mequon

The boredom has really only struck today. And it's only apathy in the sense that I reached the point of boredom where I don't really want to do anything. Well, more like nothing sounds interesting even though I am open to the idea of doing something. Instead I've been reading, playing mahjong on the internet and taking care of the poodles. I also did go for a walk which was nice. And it wore out Zeus which is also good. It's not fun to deal with an energetic poodle in show cut.
I'm reading a Tom Robbins novel today, or attempting to. It's called Fierce Invalids Home from Hot Climates and is fairly good. After reading a few Tom Robbins novels I've come to the conclusion that readers either love the books or hate them, and that he probably writes while under the influence of some sort of mind altering substance. In either case, I can really only handle reading him for 20-30 minutes at time, then I need to take a break. Which is actually what I'm doing right now. I've been meaning to blog for the past few days, but just haven't done it so I figure now is as good a time as any.

Anyways. On Wednesday my friend Sumner came up to visit for a few days. We played a lot of guitar, watched a few movies, went to the guitar center and played their guitars, generally had a good time. She actually ended up staying an extra night because we had a ridiculous amount of snow, so that was fun too. We recorded a song as well, but unfortunately my computer is being an angry teenager and corrupted one section of the vocals. *sigh*

Yesterday a friend of mine who graduated from Luther last year was in town for a wedding. Well, the wedding was today, but she got her yesterday and we got to hang out. We drove downtown to Brady Street, which was an adventure in and of itself. We went to my favorite coffee shop/tea house in the world (Rochambo's), ate dinner at the Apollo Cafe, and went on a quest for boots for Katie. She wanted leopard print boots, which we didn't find, but we found her some kickass boots at Mr. Shoe instead. We also went to the Exclusive Company, which is a new and used music and movie store. They have an excellent collection of records, but I don't have a record player. It's still fun to browse. Later on in the evening we went to the midnight showing of the Princess Bride. We went with some of my good friends from high school who I haven't seen in a year or so because of extenuating circumstances. Mainly that Luther has Jterm and many other schools don't.

Today I downloaded the soundtrack to the movie Juno from iTunes. It is quite excellent, so much so that I am going to turn this blog post into a mammoth by including the track list. So, great joy was had while I brushed the dogs, drank my tea, and listened to this soundtrack.

01. "All I Want Is You" Barry Louis Polisar
02. "Rollercoaster" Juno Film Version - Kimya Dawson
03. "A Well Respected Man" The Kinks
04. "Dearest" Buddy Holly
05. "Up The Spout" Mateo Messina
06. "Tire Swing" Kimya Dawson
07. "Piazza, New York Catcher" Belle & Sebastian
08. "Loose Lips" Kimya Dawson
09. "Superstar" Sonic Youth
10. "Sleep" Instrumental - Kimya Dawson
11. "Expectations" Belle & Sebastian
12. "All The Young Dudes" Mott The Hoople
13. "So Nice So Smart" Kimya Dawson
14. "Sea of Love" Cat Power
15. "Tree Hugger" Kimya Dawson and Antsy Pants
16. "I'm Sticking With You" Velvet Underground
17. "Anyone Else but You" The Moldy Peaches
18. "Vampire" Antsy Pants
19. "Anyone Else But You" Ellen Page and Michael Cera

I've been thinking more about tranny gender stuff. I am not nearly as stressed about it as I was when I last posted about such things. I've been realizing that I don't need to get so bent out of shape all the time. Sometimes it's good to be struggling with all of the issues that go into the situation, and sometimes it's even better to just try and live. I mean, at the end of the day I want to be happy with who I am. And most of the time I am happy with who I am as a person, so I shouldn't get so uptight about what body I'm in. Don't get me wrong, as soon as I get the money together the breasts will be gone. I just don't need to get worked up about all of it in the meantime.

I have also been realizing that since I've started down this path of genderqueer tranny-ism I have changed. This is thrown into sharp relief when I come home from college, visit my relatives, even when I hang out with friends who aren't quite up to date on my adventures in the world of gender identity. It's a rather strong metaphor, but it's almost as if I have two personas, Amy and Dylan. I'm not becoming schizophrenic, but it does feel different interacting with people who know me as Dylan or know that I'm changing my name to Dylan and people who only know me as Amy and don't necessarily even know I like primarily like dykes. I'm a lot less angry and frustrated with the world, which is a relief. I've become more calm, more sure of myself as a person. I've also become less cocky, which I think is good. Either way. I'm getting to a good place with myself.

Right now I'm trying to decide what to do with the rest of my evening. I'm thinking a little reading, letting the dogs out one more time, maybe some more tea and a movie. I also would like to point out that I've been writing the post (albeit while taking a bathroom break, playing a few internet games and chatting with folk online) for the past hour and a half. Ridiculous.

Well. I think that's everything for this blog post. I'll leave you with a Tom Robbins quote from Fierce Invalids Home from Hot Climates.

"The Devil doesn't make us do anything. The Devil, for example, doesn't make us mean. Rather, when we're mean, we make the Devil. Literally. Our actions create him. Conversely, when we behave with compassion, generosity and grace, we create God in the world"

Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas Eve service

We just got back from the Christmas Eve service at church. For some reason, attending church at home has the ability to bring out these strange Mary Daly-esque ideas and urges in my head. Church other places, I'm fine. Church at Christ Church in Mequon, Mary Daly sneaks out of whatever deep crevice in my brain I've hid her and starts whispering in my ears. Stuff like "all religion is patriarchal and evil," "remember that sermon on homosexuality pastor gives? all these people think you're gonna burn in hell because you are unnatural and sinful," "jesus was poor and even if he was god he wouldn't have come just to give all you wealthy people more money. blessed are the poor means people who aren't going home to open piles of presents." and "look at how those hymns tie masculinity to dominance and control." And I try to tell her to shut up and go away and just let myself enjoy being with my family. I think about Christmas's past. And I try to ignore my sister asking me why I'm not singing, why I'm not going up for communion.. etc. But sometimes she just slips through anyways.

Tonight some of it might be the fact that I had to wear a particular pair of flared black pants that my mother strongly encouraged me to purchase under duress. So I had been a little irritable to start with. The whole experience caused me to break into tears in Macy's to give you an idea of the situation. It was later that day that I ended up coming out to my parents (again). Still. I have the pants. And it's not physically the pants themselves, its just the memory of the buying situation and the fact that my mother insists on telling me how nice I look in them. I keep wanting to tell her "Mom, no matter how often you tell me I look nice as a girl, or how happy I seemed as a child, I don't want to 'just be a lesbian' so please stop it." But I think that would be the wrong response.

One of my favorite Christmas memories was when we lived in Ohio and the Sunday School kids all put on a Christmas pagent. I got to be Herod and I think it was my favorite church play role ever. I got to wear a green toga, a nifty belt, a crown of fake leaves, and sandals. My one line was "There shall be a census." I was pretty proud of my 12 yr old gender bending self.

Either way. We're off to the annual church Christmas party that occurs between services. Hurray.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

learn from the mistakes of others

It is a horribly stupid idea to read the book "love is a mix tape" by rob sheffield when you've recently broken up with someone you had a long term relationship with. It's an even worse idea to read it while it's raining. I am willing to bet it will make you feel like shit. Also a bad read if your significant other has died recently I would think. It's about how Rob, the author, met Renee, his wife. They get married after a year, then five years after that she dies instantly one morning of a pulmonary embolism. Rob's life goes to shit for a few years. And that's what the whole book is about. To add an extra twist of the knife it's interspersed with track lists from different mix tapes he and Renee had made. It's just fucking depressing. If you are an idiot and happen to read the book, there really isn't anything to be done but maybe sneak a few shots of vodka out of your parents' stash and try and read something cheerful and optimistic. Or dry and boring.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

The Scarring Party

So The Scarring Party. I have recently discovered them, thanks to Mugsie. They've basically created a new genre of "end time music." They're dark, a little macabre, and the lead singer uses a home made copper microphone that makes him sound like an old victrola record. And there's a banjo, an accordian, and a tuba. What's not to love?

Happy Solstice

Happy Solstice everyone. The days are only getting longer from here. More sunlight, hurray!

Juno and other stuff

Today I saw the movie Juno with my friend Mugsie. We originally were trying to go see the annual showing of "It's a Wonderful Life" at The Times but unfortunately the people that gave them the rights to play I Am Legend said they couldn't play any other movies while I Am Legend was running. So sad days. We ended up going to Mayfair Mall, where I bought new earrings and got a third hole put in my ear lobes. We wandered around before deciding to see Juno at the AMC theater in the mall.

I haven't enjoyed seeing a movie in theaters that much in a long time. For one thing, within the first 5 minutes of the film I developed a slight crush on the character of Juno, played by Ellen Page. I think it was the rainbow belt and the liter of sunny d. The film basically follows her teen pregnancy in the town of Dancing Elk, Minnesota after she seduces her best friend Paulie Bleeker, played by Michael Cera. She ends up deciding not to abort the baby, and is planning on giving it to this supposedly perfect couple who live in St. Cloud. The movie is full of wonderful one-liners, phones shaped liked hamburgers, and is set in Minnesota so go Midwest. While it has dark moments and does cover the touchy subject of teen pregnancy and teens having sex, it also does a good job of not being too heavy handed about the subject. It also has one of the best soundtracks I've heard in a while, featuring Belle and Sebastian and the Mouldy Peaches.

I also went to the library today to pick up some books. I have been extraordinarily bored in Mequon. I picked up two Tom Robbins novels, Book Lust, Love is a Mix Tape and the Unbearable Lightness of Being. So hurray for the library. I also paid my sister's 25 cent library fine. I am such a wonderful sibling.

When I was driving through Thiensville to the library I noticed that there is a new store open, a record shop. I am planning on stopping by tomorrow after going to the high school where I hope to help out with stage crew again. Last Saturday going in was fun. I saw Randy, and also just enjoyed being backstage again. The crew they have right now is slightly pathetic honestly. Not that we were all mature and intelligent individuals at all times when I was in high school stage crew. The difference seems to be that we were passionate and wanted to do the best job we could possibly do, while the crew that they have now is just kinda there to mess around.

I actually realized that it's entirely possible that I figured out what I love to do in high school and that going to college and getting a degree in sociology and women and gender studies might not have been the best course of action. I mean, I do enjoy sociology and women and gender studies. I have loved being at Luther, and I have become a much more intelligent person by going to college. But I also realized that I was happy doing stage crew, and I excelled at it. So it's a good thing I'm seriously considering going to Full Sail after doing LVC.

Anyways. If you have the money to spare on a movie in the theaters, I really do suggest going to see Juno. At least go rent it when it comes out on DVD. And check out the soundtrack, for it is a collection aural delight.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

a list of recent discoveries

1. I just discovered Google Reader today and it is a lovely thing. Basically, you subscribe to all of the blogs you read by entering in their urls, and it will tell you when it's updated and you can either read it in reader, or go to the page. I realize that I'm a little slow on the technological update, but I am still very excited about it.

2. Sumner has convinced me, I do believe that the Taylor 810ce is quite possibly one of the most wonderful guitars. When we went to the cities we got to stop in a Guitar Center and played on the acoustics. It was good times. I also am fiercely coveting an acoustic bass guitar. I still need to look around and compare before I know which one exactly. All of this guitar talk is actually quite useless because I am not going to be able to afford another guitar in a long time. But it's fun to dream

3. I am really not looking forward to writing my senior paper. I know, it's nothing like writing a thesis or a dissertation, and as long as I start working on it in January (or even over break) I will be fine. Still doesn't mean that I actually want to research and write the damn thing.

4. I lost my library card to the Mequon-Thiensville library and there is no record of my ever having a card. Which is rather astonishing considering the amount of time I spent at that library when I was younger. It's ok, my sister was with me so I could use her card.

5. Facebook a tetris application. I am going to have to delete it when I go back to school if I am ever going to complete homework next semester.

6. Finally, I need to make myself go interact with people more often and remember that my friends actually do like me and aren't going to suddenly start disliking me if I ask them if they want to hang out. I feel happier when I interact socially, which isn't a novel concept but one that is good to remember. So, if anyone in the Milwaukee area wants to hang out, get coffee, go to the art museum, whatever, let me know.

Monday, December 17, 2007

more stuff i've been thinking about

Ok, so this is gonna be another one of those tranny posts. I seem to be making a lot of them lately, but I've been thinking about it a lot so I suppose the tranny posts will happen. I am currently reading "Sex Changes: Transgender Politics" by Patrick Califia, and it's giving me a lot to think about. The chapter about violence, legal battles, all of that depressing stuff made me tear up.

Honestly, I am getting a little overwhelmed. I feel like I'm stuck. Not stuck in the wrong body, just stuck. I got to a point where I was able to say yes, I want to have top surgery and now I need to wait to save up the money, get the letter, schedule the surgery, all of that. It will be several years, at the least.

I feel like I am thinking about it all the time and it's starting to feel detrimental to my ability to function. Sometimes I just want to put it all away for a few years, and then when I have more resources, dust off the whole tranny thing and worry about all of this then. I don't think I can continually rehash money, family issues, surgery, therapy, legal issues, all of it and be ok. I'm exhausted by continually questioning myself.

End result, I don't think I'm gonna finish the Califia book right now. Instead I'm going to re-read the Golden Compass. Or maybe watch crappy TV and knit.

Friday, December 14, 2007

drive through banking

I have to say that the best part of my day was when I went to deposit my paychecks at the bank in the drive through. I drive up, put my deposit slip and checks into the little canister, they whoosh away and the bank teller does her bank teller thing. On a sidenote, when I was little I thought the whooshing canister system was the coolest thing ever. It seemed like something out of a fantasy/sci-fi book and I wanted one in our house so my brother and I could zoom messages to each other.
Anyways, so the bank teller gets me stuff out, gets the cash back for me and says "is there anything else I can do for you today?"
"No, that's all, thank you"
"Is Amy in the car with you, sir?"
"No, that's me.."
At this point the bank teller, stands up and kinda peers over the edge of the counter inside the bank, looks at me really hard, and you can see the lightbulbs going off in her head.
"Oh! Well, I'm sorry, you know these intercoms and all... well.. have a nice day!"
I pull away, laughing extremely hard. I'm pretty sure the people in the lane next to me thought I was a little psychotic.

I also had a really good conversation with my sister today. She just got her temporary license and she likes to drive whenever she can. My parents are going out to dinner this evening with some friends, so Natalie and I went to subway for dinner, then got coffee at Starbucks before driving over to drop her off at her friend's house. Anyways, we talked and had a real conversation. About Rob, about driving, about alcohol and drugs actually, about the boy she dated for three weeks this summer (woah high school drama), and about our parents. It was really enjoyable because usually all I can get out of her are monosyllabic answers or rants about "why do you have to be so weird."
I'll leave you with some direct quotes from our conversation. =)
Natalie: Your shifter is so difficult to use sometimes.
Me: It's easier if you hold it from the bottom instead of manhandling it from the top.
N: I like manhandling things
Me: You would.
N: I am like, all over your car.
And then we don't get out coherent words for a few minutes cause we are laughing too much.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

one year back from tanzania

A year ago today I returned from my semester study abroad in Tanzania. Honestly, I'm not sure what to say about it. I was re-reading the blog I wrote when I was there, just remembering and thinking. I learned a lot from my experience, but how could I not? I learned about the World Bank, the IMF, East African history. I learned some swahili, I learned that I don't live as simply as I think I do, I learned how to wash my clothes well by hand. I learned what it feels like to be a visible minority, but this was complicated by white supremacy. I also learned how to empty out the nicotine from a cigarette and remove the filter to use the paper for other purposes, =) I learned that I don't need computers nearly as much as I think I do. I learned a lot of other things, but I need to cut off this train of thought somewhere and here's a good place.

I have learned a few things since I've gotten back though too, from my own experiences and talking with the other people on my program. I decided to make a list because sometimes lists are just satisfying.

1. You can only tell "one time in Tanzania" stories so many times. And then you have to stop or you become that person who always talks about study abroad and is kinda annoying and snooty about it.
2. While it is different to go from being in Tanzania to being in the United States, not much has changed while you were gone. They had huge interstates, grocery stores, malls and hot water when you left, don't be so surprised when you get back.
3. Cultural relativism is harder to detect in your own culture. Also, cultural relativism is one of the those words you whip out when you are trying to impress your family.
4. No matter how many times you remind them, some people will never remember that you went to Tanzania, they will always remember that you went to Africa.
5. Don't idealize your study abroad experience. It's not healthy for you, for people you talk to, or for your ideas about the global community.

Anyways. Here's to hoping I keep learning more about what it means to be a wealthy white American in our crazy world.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

oh the weather

I really miss the sun. I mean, the sun still rises every day and all that, but I miss having more sunlight in the day. This weekend I've really just felt like sleeping all the time, and I've been feeling grouchy. It's probably also a combination of the end of the semester, going home, feeling stressed, all that stuff.
Speaking of going home, I'm a little nervous about it. I love my family, don't get me wrong. I believe that part of my anxiety about it is that I feel my parents think I'm just going through a tranny phase. I feel like I have to keep bringing it up with them, and I don't really know how. I don't know how to talk to them about it. I understand they need time to adjust and all, but that doesn't make it any easier. I still feel kind of invisible to them. Not to mention, I want to tell them that I've picked out a name. I want to tell my brother and my sister, but I can't imagine that they would take it well. Rob might be ok with it, but Natalie? I have no idea how she'd react.
And hell, sometimes I wonder if I'm just going through a tranny phase. And if so, how do I explain that? "Sorry everyone, I was just kidding" doesn't really seem to cut it. I am so scared of losing.. something.. if I transition. I'm not even sure what it is I'm scared of losing. I'm worried that I'll have to date straight women for one thing. And I don't want to do that. Maybe I just took the easy way out of having low self esteem by blaming it on gender. Or maybe I just read so much in the HQ section, and in classes and just adopted it because it seemed cool, or because it would make people like me, or think I was interesting?
Either way. There are things that I am looking forward to over break. Playing guitar with Sumner, hanging out with friends from high school, seeing the stage crew guys again, going to the cities, New Year's Eve. I just have to make myself actually get my school work done first! =)

Friday, December 7, 2007

The Golden Compass

If you haven't read the book The Golden Compass, feel free to attend the movie. You will probably find it enjoyable, though perhaps slightly confusing. If you have read the book, you might want to reconsider.
The movie is visually very beautiful, and the effects are very well done. But unfortunately the movie falls short in the plot and following the book department. I do understand that when they make books into movies they have time restrictions and all of that jazz. But to end the movie at a point that is about 1/8 of the way from the end of the book? I feel bereft, and slightly cheated.
Yes, the movie does hit all of the major plot points. Yes, it is technically well done. But I feel like by adding even half an hour to finish the plot, or by using that half an hour to explore some of the more intricate aspects of the plot in the book, the film would have been better.
I guess the lesson is that I should never expect as much out of a movie as I do out of a book.
His Dark Materials, the trilogy that The Golden Compass starts was one of the most influential books in my teenage years. I remember doing pursuit book club discussions on it, and being extremely excited when the next two books, The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass, came out. The books challenged my rather basic undeveloped beliefs about god, free choice, and the ideas of good and evil. The books are wonderful. And the protagonist is a brave, intelligent girl which is really rare even today in fiction.
Either way. This isn't an extremely coherent or thought out post. I just wanted to get out a little of my irritation at the movie. But really, it's ok, because it's just a movie.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

caf entertainment

I had a hilarious meal with three of my cluster mates, Athena, Seth and Jasmine. Special highlights included discussion about vaginal mucus, removable sphincters, Xena subtext, anal expulsive personalities and an in depth discussion on how Wooblies reproduce.
In case you are wondering, Wooblies reproduce by one Woobly putting done a coating of mucus, then another Woobly putting done another coating. Then a plant grows out of the mucus and blossoms into a baby Woobly.
After that we were walking back to Farwell and decided it might be a good idea to roll chunks of ice and snow down the hill. And it was. There really is nothing quite as entertaining as an after dinner snow rolling competition.
Ok, yes, we were being ridiculous and probably a little immature, but that's ok. I laughed so hard I shot water out my nose.

Monday, December 3, 2007

the queer zoo

Today was the annual GLBT discussion in Harv Klevar's American Diversity class. Some of you may be familiar with these lovely sessions. Harv puts us up at the front of the class, we talk about our coming out stories, the class stares at us or avoids looking at us, it strongly resembles a zoo exhibit. Usually they make me feel like I'm whoring out my queerness for money. Which I guess is kinda what happens, we talk and Harv gives pride money..

Anyways. So today I was actually pleasantly surprised by the discussion. For one thing, at pride when we were asking for volunteers we decided that we didn't want to take forever telling our coming out stories. We wanted the class to be structured more as an organic discussion than as us queers telling the heteros how life is. We also made sure to clarify that our experiences are ours and ours alone. We don't and can't speak for anyone else's choices or experiences. We also were upfront about the fact that we wanted to field questions from the class.

The results were good, at least in the hour I went to. We got asked questions about Luther, how we interact with conservatives or people who think homosexuality is morally wrong, when we knew we were queer. One question that was really insightful was how important is the gay community at Luther to our lives, and whether or not we feel isolated from the rest of the student body. Honestly, I don't. I feel integrated into the Luther community. I don't feel like I have to hide anything about myself to feel accepted anywhere on campus.

I got asked some questions about trans stuff too. Like, after I have surgery will I date straight girls or gay girls. Also just nuts and bolts questions about surgery and the whole SRS process. And questions about binding.

In the end, I think it was fairly successful. I hope that the class was able to actually see us as people instead of tokens, and realize that our queerness doesn't encompass our entire identity, it is only a part of our identities. I also realized that in past years, I think what has made me uncomfortable has been how Klevar interacts with us, as if we are representative of all queers, and as if we are somehow inherently different people with inherently different culture than heteros. But it was a good experience this time. And pride got $100 for it so hurray.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

broken binder

A great tragedy has occurred. My binder, which I have not even had for a full 12 months, has been damaged in such a way that it will not function in an effective manner. I trustingly lent it to a friend for a play that she was in, and it came back to me with rips by both side seams. It's not that the seams themselves have been ripped, it's the fabric. Even if I have someone stitch up the sides, now that the fabric itself has ripped it will be more prone to accidents in the future, and it will also have two bulky seams that will itch.

Really, the good thing is that I am going to have help converting it to a shorter binder, not the full body tank top style it was. Still, I am saddened by the loss, and the "conversion experience" won't occur until winter break.

I am freaking out a little bit because I'm finding it difficult to function without the binder. As the semester has gone on and it's gotten colder, that binder became my second skin. Unfortunately, since I've been stressed out and a little depressed this semester I have been letting myself get bogged down in feeling negatively about my body. And I know, that's not good to do. I'm doing what I can to not beat up on myself. Thinking negatively will not change anything.
Nonetheless, I do need to figure out something for the really bad days, and I don't want to go back to using an ace bandage. It's really bad for my back muscles, I've already bruised my ribs using that method before, and it is difficult to breathe if you don't wrap it properly. Still, there are just some days when the sports bra, although the two i have are mighty indeed, just aren't enough.

Oh well. On the upshot, I will be getting my october paycheck soon so if I decide that I want to have two binders, I can consider purchasing another one from underworks. Until the time that I have a binder again, I will try and think happy thoughts and also try and think of alternatives to the Ace bandage.

Monday, November 26, 2007

tiny revelations

Today when I was walking to the Union to drop off some mail and eat before class I got hit with a big gust of wind and I realized all of the sudden that I am alive. This might seem a little obvious, but it's also something that I've forgotten somehow. I had forgotten how wonderful bodies are, that I somehow start a signal in my brain, which travels down my spinal cord to my legs and tells them to move, that my lungs breathe air, that my heart beats. Then there's the fact that we have the capability to learn, and to create. The fact that humanity can create music, art, literature, philosophy, architecture. Remembering that floors me in a way that reminds me of how I felt about god when I was younger, which now I realize was not so much feelings of joy about god, but joy in being alive.
After my little revelation this morning, I was trying to think back in my childhood to the first moment I remember being alive. The first moment that I was self-aware of my existence. I haven't remembered it yet, and I don't know if I ever will. Either way, it's good to think about. I've remembered a lot of little events in childhood I didn't remember before. Like laying on the hill behind our house in Illinois looking at constellations and feeling vertigo, like I could go spinning off into space.
This evening I was walking across campus and realized again how amazing it is that the gravitational pull of the earth keeps the moon in orbit, and causes the waxing and waning of moon, and that the moon causes tides, and that the earth orbits the sun, and that our solar system orbits in our galaxy, which is speeding through the universe. Crazy.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thanksgiving Pineapple

So it's Thanksgiving again. While the origins of the holiday remain questionable, school lets out for a few days, and people are generally a little nicer to each other for a few days.
One of my favorite Thanksgiving memories is from sophmore year of high school. First, you need to know that my dad loves to cook. He will watch the Food Network with pen and paper nearby so he can take notes on his favorite recipes. He's quite easy to shop for, any time I buy him a gift I just go to a culinary store. This particular year my dad thought up one of his craziest cooking schemes yet. He decided that we were going to get a huge turkey because we were having around 30 family members over for Thanksgiving. Personally, I thought it was a little crazy. Either way. My parents get turkeys every year from the Schmidt's who do the whole free range turkey and chicken thing. I think they also raise goats and one cow a year.
Either way. So at the beginning of October my parents find out this turkey is probably going to weigh in at over 40 lbs. This turkey isn't going to fit in our oven. So my dad decides that we are going to cook it luau style. So over the course of October we dig a huge hole in our backyard. This thing is about 4 feet deep and wide. Thanksgiving Day we get up and set a fire in the bottom, put a grate over it, and put the turkey on top of the grate wrapped in foil. Then we put a sheet of metal over the hole. And then we wait for the turkey to cook.
So around 11:30, my friend Monica shows up at the door with a surprise for us. We let her in, exchange pleasantries, she tells us all to close our eyes and pulls out a pineapple and gives it to my dad. I had told her about the whole turkey cooked in a whole in the ground thing and she decided that the perfect thanksgiving present for us would be a pineapple. Every year after that we've gotten a lovely thanksgiving pineapple.
Luckily, the turkey in the ground thing actually worked. Also luckily, my father hasn't ever tried cooking food in the ground ever since.

Monday, November 19, 2007

morning questions

I'm taking a quick procrastination break from my paper. I thought I'd blog a few questions that have been running through my head today.
Have I made a mistake?
Will I ever find someone like that ever again?
Is the distance worth it?
Was I too hasty?
Why am I such a procrastinator?
Could I skip my classes to finish this paper?
Should I really go to grad school?
I don't think I'm as smart as some people think I am.
Why do I feel the need to lie to my parents sometimes?
Where did I leave my coffee cup?

Sunday, November 18, 2007


I've been realizing lately that I have problems opening up to people. I don't have problems making friends, or caring about people. Dont' get me wrong, I care deeply about a lot of people. At the same time I like being able to hold people at a distance, to keep parts of myself from other people. I think it's partially because I'm scared that if I open up to someone completely, I won't have any defenses left. I also think that part of it is also that I have a bad tendency to just close off and shut down when I feel out of control, or threatened, or scared. It feels easier to shut down and not feel anything than to feel hurt.
For example, my dad called today. We talked about the fact that I am flat broke, mainly why I didn't tell my parents I didn't have money. He asked me how I was doing, and I just shrugged it off and said that I'm doing fine. School is busy, but I'm fine. What I really should have said is that I'm going through a rather difficult time emotionally, I have no motivation to finish school right now, I'm trying to talk to people about it so I can work through it and function again but it's difficult for me to ask for help. It's difficult for me to admit that I'm having a hard time. But I didn't. My parents love me, I know this. They managed to survive me coming out to them three different times, which is quite astonishing as it is, and they have always supported me in many many ways. If anything I should be able to open up enough to just say that I'm having a hard time but I'm getting through it. But I couldn't.
And of course the strangest thing is that I'm willing to just throw this up on the internet where anyone can read it. There's something to be said for a sense of anonymity I suppose.

Monday, November 5, 2007

bad body days

Just a warning, this post may be a little whiny, a little emo, and possibly a little self-centered though I'll try to keep it to a minimum. So if that's not your thing, you've been warned.

Today has been a bad body day. Usually, I'm able to get along with my body pretty well. I can ignore that I have breasts, and the day goes pretty well. Unfortunately there are days like today where I just feel them all the time. They shift around, they feel like they are bouncing all over the place, they itch, they generally feel huge and cumbersome.
Days like this are just really hard. I try to remember that there are many people in the world who have it a lot worse than I do, and my problems are small potatoes compared to a lot of shit people deal with. Still, it's difficult. It's hard to have a good day or even an ok day when I can't stop thinking about the breasts. And unfortunately my binder is getting ragged and stretched out so it isn't as effective. I still have my ace bandage, but that does horrible things to ones back. I've gotten bruised ribs before and that's just not comfortable either.
I've been realizing more and more this year that there is a huge disconnect between what my mental image of myself is and what I see when I look in the mirror. Its rather disconcerting. I know that that's me, but some days its like "oh right, I have those breast things."
Either way. Tomorrow will be a new day.


This semester I finally settled on a name. Instead of the rather feminine first and middle name I was given (Amy Elizabeth) I wanted something different that wasn't exactly masculine, but certainly wasn't that feminine.
On more than one occasion I've enlisted the help of my friends to think up names, and that was very helpful in thinking up options. Eventually after much consideration, I settled on Dylan for a first name. According to one book on name meanings I read it means "born of the water" which I think is a good meaning. Some of my earliest memories are at my grandparents house when they lived on Lake Arrowhead in Wisconsin. When I was in high school and I was stressed out, I would go to the park that overlooked Lake Michigan to think. So I thought Dylan was a fairly appropriate name. It also was the first name that really felt like it fit.
My middle name gave me more difficult. Elizabeth is a family near on my mother's side. Her great-grandmother was named Elizabeth. When I was at my grandmother's earlier this year, I was looking through her genealogy stuff and decided that I would use Moss as my middle name. Moss was my grandmother's maiden name, and it was my great-grandmother Elizabeth's last name.
It's kind of a strange middle name, but it's better than the options on my father's side of the family where everyone's middle name seems to be either Gene or Jean.
I did consider coming up with something completely new, but over the past year I've been realizing how important my family has been to me. It's not like we're perfect or anything, we definitely have issues. Even so, my biological family is part of who I am, and I don't want to erase that.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Oh Estelle!

So this evening I had the joy of attending a concert at the Steyer Opera House in the Hotel Winn. It was Charlie Parr opening for Erin McKeown. Charlie Parr plays really amazing blues/country/folk solo stuff, he's a great guitarist. Erin McKeown is an amazing jazz guitarist/singer. The concert made me feel like practicing and just playing my guitar more, which is always a good thing. She played some of her stuff that I had heard before, and some I hadn't. I really liked one of the songs she ended with that I think was called "Oh Estelle" that had some lovely call and response sections that involved punching the air with one's left hand.
She played Slung Lo which made the night for me.
I think partially what I really enjoyed was being able to just dance around, get some tense shitty feelings out of my body. This year, really starting with the summer, has been my year of re-learning how to dance and enjoy it without being intoxicated. I went to a lot of Highlandville dances and that was excellent, and I've also been doing some dancing when I go out before I drink/only having a drink or two, and it's good. I remember being little and dancing around and not caring, so it's nice when I can dance like that again. Not that I'm anything amazing... but it just feels good to move. So basically, if anyone ever wants to have a dance party, let me know, we can rock out.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Grandma Vreeland

My maternal grandmother is an amazing woman. She is wise, strong, and generally one of the greatest people I know. My grandmother was born during the Depression, so she saves everything. My father always jokes that my mother became a pack rat because she learned it from my grandma. My grandmother has had cancer twice already and she also has osteoporosis and has shrunk 5 inches. She tells some of the best stories, and taught me that it's ok to be a book junkie and read almost anything you can get your hands on. She's always reading a few different books at a time, one up in her room, one in the basement, one at her easy chair, and occasionally a few more in case she gets bored with one of them.

My Grandma went to college back when everyone sat down to eat together and there were curfews for the female students. She married a man who flew crop dusters and had two children, my uncle Tom and my aunt Amy. The crop duster ran off and left her when my aunt and uncle were very young, so she had to support them herself for a while. She worked at the same paper mill that my grandfather worked in. It was quite the drama when she and my grandfather decided to get married. In fact, they weren't allowed to be married in the main sanctuary of their church, they had to be married in the chapel because my grandma had already been married. My grandparents had more children, my aunt Peggy, my mother, and my aunts Cindy, Holly and Betsy.

My maternal family is a close knit bunch. You can run out of money, get into college, go on a date, or simply go see a concert and the entire clan will have been notified within the next twenty-four hours. Family gatherings are always interesting, with rehashings of childrens relationships, political discussions, photo sharing, card games, planning vacations that most likely won't happen but are fun to dream up, huge amounts of food, and of course a little alcohol. And my grandmother subtly smoothing out arguments, making sure everyone eats, correcting my father's martini making, keeping track of relationships, birthdays, anniversaries and all the other little things everyone relies on her for.

Like I said earlier, my grandmother is a bit of a pack rat. She saves newspaper clippings, photos, tickets, programs, paper scraps, plastic cups and cutlery, even the stubs of pencils. You can move through the rooms of her house and find all sorts of exciting little treasures. For example, last week I was visiting with my grandparents before flying out to Albany for fall break. I sat down in my grandmother's easy chair, and found a rubber banded packet of slips of paper. On the paper were lists, memories. Books she wanted to read, names of presidents who have served while she's been alive, classmates from grade school, all of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren's birthdays, stories about her childhood. When she was little, her father would tie a rope from the top of the tree to the ceiling because their cats would climb in the tree and knock it over if it wasn't tied up. Or when she was at college, the courses that she took and the names of her professors.

A few months ago my grandmother had a melanoma removed from her cheek. Recently the doctors discovered that the melanoma had gotten into one of the lymph nodes in her neck. They removed all of the lymph nodes in her neck, and luckily only the one had melanoma in it. Still, she is undergoing radiation therapy just in case. Her last radiation treatment is next Wednesday. It's painful for her, and it wears her down. It's been a little scary for the rest of us, when my grandmother passes away there will be a huge void in our lives. Everyone dies though, and even though my grandmother seems to have won this particular medical battle it still reminds me not to take her for granted.