When Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World came out, I was in one of those token depressive moods, and I went to go see it in the mid-afternoon, alone, and I was sitting there during the opening and then the blaring Beck song came on during the opening credits and I realized, you know what, it is gonna be…
I knew from the moment she said she was ready that this was going to change my life.
Admittedly, I was drunk. The special kind of drunk where you don’t know up from down so you kind of decide to keep spinning so that way you’re not even really falling, cause you’re not technically down. There was a distinct moment where I looked at the few remaining dollars in my hand, and knew that spending the last of them on another beer was going to be a mistake that I was going to regret later.
But that was later. This is now.
For a moment, I held her in my hands. I held her in a way reserved for babies and kittens. I knew, right then and there, that nothing was going to be the same, and you know what?
I didn’t care.
Her soft, delicate coverings came off with the smallest bit of effort. The soft whisperings of discarded wrappings pierced the silence in the room, and in a small handful of moments, there she was. Naked and glistening in my hands.
The strangest thought filled my head. This was the one you take home to mother. This was the one you show to all your loved ones. Not out of envy, not out of spite, but of pride, and to reinforce the frankly insane notion that this… creature is in your hands, right here, in this moment, right now. That what you hold in your hands is perhaps the brightest thing in your dark, drunk, sad little life.
I opened my mouth, and filled myself with light.
Man that was a good fucking burrito.
I’m never quite sure why I bother to do my makeup before therapy.
Maybe I always have the (false) hope that maybe I won’t be a disgusting, sobbing mess by the end of it.
… hm, well. Hasn’t happened yet.
i’m sitting at work and everything is okay. i’m getting through my stuff, i’m trying to figure out a story i want to pitch to xojanedotcom, thinking about maybe going dress shopping before meeting up with a few friends, and then i hear it.
no, not that word yet, i’ll get to that.
a little background: i work in an office that’s directly on market street in san francisco. i usually keep the window open because it gets warm in there on beautiful, sunny days like today (was). the thing is, if you’ve been to market street, you know how there are buskers everywhere. but there’s this one kid in particular who sings (not… that well. sorry, kid.) outside on the street.
it’s quiet, and like clockwork, i hear his voice cut through the peaceful quiet in the office, the shrill, little-too-high notes of bruno mars’ just the way you are looping over. and over. and over again.
people go over one of the windows, someone flops onto the beanbag, and they start joking around.
'oh god, it’s summer, he’s going to be singing constantly now.’
'he really should get a job, seriously.'
'or at least move to a different corner. his voice is so shrill.'
'haha, yeah, working a different corner, maybe he should consider becoming a tr*nny.'
i feel like i’ve just been stabbed, and my heart suddenly starts beating twice as quickly, twice as hard. i’m looking at my monitor, but not really looking at my monitor at the charts and graphs and words that suddenly don’t make sense to me because when you read them, they all say the same word.
tr*nny. tr*nny. tr*nny. tr*nny. tr*nny.
the next moment, everyone’s laughing at the joke, and then everyone’s getting up to go to a meeting like nothing out of the ordinary happened, the joke-teller ahead of the pack smiling and laughing to himself.
you see, that’s the problem with the word tr*nny.
it’s not that someone used it as a slur, which is still pretty fucking awful, but it’s the quiet (or not, if you count laughing) acceptance of the word as if it were something to be rewarded with laughter.
on the surface, it hurts. someone used a slur, well within earshot, to make a joke. the word’s power and its implications are running through my mind, and nothing good comes up. it’s haunting in its effect, because try as i might, nothing can stop me from revisiting that moment over and over in my head.
but deep down, where the real problem lies, is a realization that comes later. it comes when you sit and you realize that everybody laughed at the joke and nobody thought to stop them. not a single person who heard it had a moment to think that maybe someone should say something, or maybe that word isn’t a good word, or that using it to make fun of someone maybe wasn’t such a good idea after all.
no, they all laugh. and by doing so, they offer this weird sort of tacit acceptance of a trans* woman sex worker as someone to be laughed at. someone to be ridiculed and despised. someone to be thought of as other because let’s laugh at the thing.
the power of language is something that i’ve come to respect, most deeply. words often affect so much more change than a gun or a sword, and words, too, have the power to cut and make us bleed. when we use words like the t-word, or any other slur, in a hurtful joke and then don’t say anything about it (regardless of whether we know someone there is affected by it or not), we enter into this agreement that what they just did was okay, and that those words are all jokes anyway.
we make it okay for them to think that these words that carry such weight with them aren’t hurtful or can make someone feel like their world is crumbling down.
and believe me, worlds crumble down.
you see, i thought i had surrounded myself with people who understood, at least, if not accepted me for what i am. i believed in the people around me to know that something like that wasn’t okay, and i guess my problem was in thinking that they wouldn’t find a joke like that funny, if not downright say that’s not okay.
the world i had built around myself, a world that i thought contained people who understood my struggle, started to fall apart. suddenly, this space that i spend many of my waking hours in, is no longer a safe space.
the people are no longer safe people.
now, i can’t help but wonder what they think of me. i can’t help wonder if those many days spent eating alone at a lunch table in the kitchen were because of the way i look, or the way i talk. i can’t help but think about all those times people have gotten up from where they were sitting because i sat down next to them. i can’t help but think about all those weird looks, those quiet, furtive glances in my direction, those whispers, those words, those smiles that seem too genuine to actually be genuine, those rooms that suddenly go silent when i enter, all of it.
suddenly i’m thinking about how i look and the only image that pops into my head is my old self. just a dude in women’s clothing, pretending to be something he’s not, because let’s face it, if this is the world i have to live in, a world full of people who don’t see anything wrong with this anxiety, this fear, i’m probably never going to be what i want to be.
i’m at home.
i don’t remember getting home. i remember bursting into tears the moment i call for an elevator, silently praying that nobody is in there when it arrives (no such luck). i remember trying to subtlety wipe away the long, shiny ribbons of water left behind by my tears.
i rub makeup onto the sleeve of my cardigan, and this little bit of beige sits there, taunting me, reminding me that this identity that i thought i held on to so well can still be so easily taken away from me.
i feel like a fraud, and nothing, all at once. my negativity takes over and i’m beating myself up, wondering why i thought of myself as strong if i can’t even confront a co-worker about a shitty slur. i’m trying to command myself to get a grip, and feeling worse for every second that i can’t because my god everything i thought was safe was not, anymore.
and i’m in bed.
the door’s closed. i don’t know what to do, and i start crying. again.
you see, the trouble with tr*nny isn’t coming from us. it’s coming from everyone who insists that it’s a harmless word.
when it’s really anything but.
I’m laughing in that weird, bitter way you do when you just said something you regret but you know isn’t really hurting anyone except yourself. She’s sitting across from me, on the other side of the room, the massive shag carpet at our feet separating us like a goddamn redwood forest. I’m looking everywhere except her face because I don’t know if I can stand that inquisitive look she always has that’s always so passive and yet so aggressive at the same time.
But wait, no.
I’m walking into her office, the tall marble hallway so evocative of whatever drunken planner decided that the interior of a building should look like you’re walking through a fucking Hitchcock film. The tall ceilings remind me of just how small I really feel. I’m looking up and trying to figure out how far away I am from the top, oh, there’s a little old Asian lady swinging her arms and trying to get in a workout, walking around the floor faster than any person has any right to walk in such a narrow corridor.
But wait, no.
I’m walking out of my office building, hoping that the cute girl who just walked into my elevator doesn’t think that my nervous eye twitch isn’t me winking at her like a sleaze. I’m staring at my phone, trying to pick something to listen to, except I’m already listening to something, so when I go to unlock it, Elliot Smith is staring me back in the face and I wonder if she saw that and now thinks I’m just some sap who’s way too into quirky singer/songwriters who are all up in movies and shit and hey how good was The Royal Tenenbaums man that was a great movie oh shit it’s my floor bye.
But wait, no.
I’m sitting at my desk and I’m staring at fucking Facebook and wondering what the hell I’m doing while I’m waiting for something to be finished and sometimes it makes me nervous to have downtime so I sit and I stare at my phone instead as if I’m working but really I’m just staring at Secret and wondering if I should be genuinely honest or Honest™ about how I feel about some people but I never really am either so fuck it I’ll heart this comment about how shitty San Francisco is now, and the other comment about finding true love and sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever be lucky enough to have such dumb good problems like oh no I’m in love, poor me.
But wait, no.
I’m staring at the brushed silver base of the lamp next to her, an island off the cost of the shag carpet redwoods, and I’m telling her everything I just said, but I’m not really there. I’m telling her everything that’s bothered me about my day, but I can’t listen to myself and I drone on because I know that if I tried to listen to what I’m saying, I’d just end up getting embarrassed and leaving.
So, I mean. That’s how it’s going, doc.
Sorry, what was your other question?
have you ever rolled over in bed, looked at all the pill bottles on your nightstand and wonder what happened to your Saturday?
ha ha, yeah, me neither. ( ._____.)
today I learned a few things.
1.) a costco bottle of bulleit is not to be trifled with.
2.) I have some amazing friends and people who I love very dearly.
3.) seriously why did I drink all that whiskey.
4.) I’m bad at this thing humans call ‘flirting’ and never know when it’s being done to me.
5.) (related to 4) I think a lot about people who were trying to do #4 to me but thought I wasn’t interested and just didn’t get that I’m totally oblivious.
6.) wow I’m really drunk right now so drunk so drunk
You will have so many nights where you just won’t know what to say.
You drank too much, too fast, and your words are falling over themselves trying to escape your mouth, but are only getting caught between your fiercely clenched teeth, like the ocean’s incessant waves crashing on brick walls. The alcohol hasn’t had time to wear away the thin enamel protecting everyone around you from the terrifying specters stirring in your gut, becoming ever larger, ever more frightening with each passing moment, passing by still so excruciatingly slowly.
You want to cry and laugh and get angry and stay in bed and get up and walk and run and stop and fall down to your knees in the middle of the street because you don’t feel comfortable anywhere that you are supposed to, so what’s the point in even bothering, fuck it all anyway. No safe place exists to rest your fear-laden head, so you find yourself on a subway train headed to somewhere, anywhere that isn’t where you were a minute ago, praying that you might be able to wake up not just in another place, but in another mood, in another disposition that is less ‘give it up,’ and more ‘don’t give in,’ but you know deep, deep down that a place like that doesn’t exist. So you wonder why you should exist.
You have conversations in your head with the people important to you, but it’s less conversations and more apologizing, as if your mere thoughts were loud enough for them to hear, enough for them to feel the tendril of pure, unadulterated, self-sabotaging frustration that you logically know they don’t deserve but you can’t help but feel anyway.
Your teeth are aching because you’ve had too many sugary sweet cocktails, sweet, sweet lies hiding haunting spirits that possess you to say and do things you never ever meant to do, and think things you never, ever want to think. The walls are coming down, and every angry word pushes out, trickling down the front of your shirt, running past your chest, over to your arms, and press down on your fingertips, making them ache with the complete and utter desire to be written down and given to someone, somewhere just so they exist, as if existing would be enough to give them credit and make them real feelings.
You aren’t breathing air, anymore.
You’re breathing fire.