Thursday, January 28, 2010


Before I started my new job, I was very stressed/depressed over my financial situation. I felt like I had little control over my situation and my fears over what could happen snowballed into terrible worries. I had difficulties sleeping, concentrating and enjoying anything. Starting my new, full time job has greatly helped because I'm making steady money now, I'll get benefits in 90 days, and it's distracting. It makes me too tired to worry; I want to use my energy toward activities more fun/leisurely/productive than worrying now.

Before I got the job, I finally began to understand one of the reasons why so many poverty-stricken people are very religious. Religion is a constant, it's distracting, it gives you hope that something better awaits you and it feels better to surrender control to a higher power than to collectors.

my girlfriend thinks i am an awesome sexy pants

Thank you, Kelly. <3

ANYWAY! I was reading "Self-Made Man" by Norah Vincent at the time and, while she masqueraded as a man, she spent a few weeks in a monastery. I was disappointed at how little of her report included, you know, SPIRITUALITY, but it was very interesting. I looked up monasteries and convents online to learn more. The websites focused on spiritual journeys, the "Call," and doing manual labor as meditation.

Honestly, giving up on the material life and focusing on something higher is appealing. The dogma and utter obedience, however, are unappetizing. And the accounts of read of monks and nuns have so little to do with actual spirituality and focus, instead, on rules. THAT IS NOT THE POINT!!

My material possessions and obligations feel shackling. I knew the whole time I lived in WI that I wanted to come home to Chicago and that, as soon as I would, I'd want to travel everywhere else. I'm so happy to be back here, but all I want to do is to go to new places. The feeling of being trapped is there, but I'm ignoring it because there's nothing I can do about it except to work towards ending my debts.

Related to the want to see and experience new things is a need for spiritual fulfillment. In Dogma, it's stated that spirituality is like a cup of water that constantly needs to be refilled; when you're little, the cup is small and it grows as you do. During that tough, financially stressful period, I did turn to spirituality a little; now that the intense worries are subdued, that need for spiritual fulfillment stands out more.

I don't quite know where to turn for it. I'm too wary of communities, rituals and most clergy because of past experiences. I went to my first Sunday Mass in years a few months ago and I knew the Jesuit; it was wonderful and he said things that need to be said (service, compassion, love, peace). He has since soured in my eyes, though, as a school administrator who has strayed from that message.

And I'm well aware that this need for spiritual fulfillment is probably an aspect of this need to see/experience new things. How to fill those glasses in my obligated situation, I don't know.

Monday, January 18, 2010

"Self-Made Man" by Norah Vincent

I just finished "Self-Made Man" by Norah Vincent. This book has been on my reading list for a long long time.

I was expecting a lot more queer/feminist/etc theory, but was refreshed to discover that this isn't the case. Vincent is much more blunt and honest about her experiences as a man. It is clear, from her report, that nobody benefits from the current gender norms. The "men's movement" and other efforts to "reclaim masculinity" aren't at all like the "White Power" movement: they focus on becoming more whole persons rather than masks of hypermasculinity.

The one downside was that Vincent went into this project with a lot of bias, particularly about working-class, straight white men. The year and a half she spent posing as a man nearly tore her apart because her concept of reality and her place in it was so dramatically altered.

More evidence that nobody benefits from privilege.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

"shoes make the man"

I'm starting a new job that requires simple, all-black shoes as part of the dress code. The only all-black shoes I had were heeled and I'll never wear those again, so I made a trip to Payless. Fortunately, I fit into children's shoes, which are far cheaper. I bought

I already own some "men's" shoes but they look androgynous. I wore these news ones to soon-to-be-old-job today and, for the first time, really paid attention to what people wear. I was feeling pretty spiffy, physically and socially comfortable. Then I got into an elevator with a bunch of men who . . . how shall I put it . . . have a very intimidating masculinity? A lot of trans/genderqueer people report feeling like imposters or discomfort-bordering-on-fear in such situations, but I had a hard time empathizing until the elevator experience. Having just finished reading "Nobody Passes" which had essays on this kind of experience, I was reassured that this wasn't unusual. I'm most comfortable in queer/mixed spaces, comfortable in some men's spaces, comfortable in almost all women's spaces, and not comfortable at all in the intimidating men's spaces. I just can't navigate there.

Another topic in "Nobody Passes" was the near-revulsion a lot of trans/genderqueer people experience when they realize that they're read as straight/bi/gay men/women. The idea of being read as a straight/bi/gay man seems so . . . WRONG. As incorrect as being read as a straight woman, but much more foreign. The bi/gay woman appearance is most familiar and the time spent there was healthiest and happiest until I outgrew it.

Being read as just an odd individual with a love for the Beatles is perfect.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Take Control!

Today, the federal court begins going over Prop 8. New Jersey and NY voted down gay marriage, New South Wales in Australia refused to pass gay adoption, and a guy on the train just a few blocks away from me was recently beaten while being called gay and a slew of other slurs. Obama kept one promise by passing the Matthew Shephard Act and one of my coworkers has admitted that he is "extremely homophobic, but only about men" with no reason (but we all know what the reason really is, it's not difficult to figure out).

Apparently, though, saying "that's gay" is more likely to get you called out on and it's cool to have a gay relative/friend/etc. Individual acceptance of individual gay people is on the uprise . . . but it's still a long way up from in the negatives.

As a group, we are still not respected as complete humans. What defines us as a community is what makes us second-class. For the past 6+ years, that has been our strength as well in keeping us together. Those of us in the community can see how diverse we all are, but outsiders, those who don't want us as equals, either can't/won't see that or will use that to divide us.

It's difficult to see where to go from here. Eugene Debs, socialist extraordinaire, said “I cannot do it for you, and I want to be frank enough to say that I would not if I could. For if I could do it for you, somebody else could undo it for you.” We must take our rights, we must take control.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Holidays are OVER

PICASSO Pictures, Images and Photos

I'm actually pretty relieved that the holidays are over. They were a lot of fun, I really enjoyed them (particularly because they were the first ones spent out of school, independently in Chicago, and away from insanity), but I'm ready to go back to regular life now.

Klimt Pictures, Images and Photos

My creative energy was thrown into the holidays during December, meaning almost no "professional" artmaking was achieved. Now that all of that has passed, I can return to painting! My wonderful half-sisters gave me membership to the Art Institute, which will greatly add to my motivation, creativity, and drive to go to grad school there; not to mention will be AMAZING!! If my career/life/etc. ends up revolving around the Art Institute, I would be ecstatic.

William Victor Higgins