Monthly Archives: October 2010

make a little money, take a lot of shit. feel real bad, then get over it.

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i just re-read that drunk blog post, and i was impressed by how non-embarrassing it was. a little on the intense side, maybe revealing things that i wouldn’t normally, but i didn’t say anything that wasn’t true. i didn’t even really have any typos, and i am delighted that there is an editor who lives deep within my brain that never gets drunk or falls asleep at the switch!
yesterday i went to a haunted hayride with a bunch of loud queerz about 1/2 an hour outside of pgh. a lot of the ghouls/spooks/poltergeists/what-have-you who worked there were making fun of our gender identities. mostly it was really confusing. one person called robin (cute, tough alterna-butch with nary a shred of facial hair) “a bearded lady with a six-foot beard.” even more confusingly, some guy told jen that she reminded him of “one of those guys who takes birth control pills to fit into his skinny jeans.” it’s like, WTF??!? what does that even mean?
somebody else went up to jen a little later and said, in a “spooky”, witch-like voice, “i can’t tell if you’re a boy or a girl!” to which jen replied, in a calm, sassy, friendly voice: “i have no problem with that!” then the spook said something else, i forget what exactly, but it was along the same lines as her previous comment. and jen said, “seriously, whatever gender you want to perceive me as is fine with me. i really don’t care.” disappointed, the spook went on to look for someone else to heckle.
some of the peeps in attendance had been at the protest against accused rapist ben rothlisberger earlier that day, and said they also received lots of confusing insults all day, like “get a job!” and “you’re losers, i’m a WINNER!” and even “whoooo! PITTSBURGH!!!!!” screamed in their faces by people who were wasted at 11 AM. but, like at the haunted hayride, the insults weren’t that insulting because they were just confusing. because we’re in a different world sometimes.
the last time i saw moe bowstern she was talking about how she spends a lot of time in spaces that are really alien to her, and so her way of dealing with it is simply to pretend that she’s an alien, and think to herself, “oh, isn’t this an interesting planet? and aren’t these interesting people, even though their motivations and desires are totally different than mine?” i’m paraphrasing, of course, and don’t really remember the point that i was trying to make with all this.
maybe here’s the point: a combination of last night + reading alice walker at lunch today made me knocked over with emotion, with love & pride for people who aren’t afraid to be radical. made me remember that even though i spend every day being told that i am wrong for everything i do, in a million subtle ways; even though everything feels so hopeless; even though all the clothing companies and magazines and TV shows say that i am not a woman, that i’m doing it all wrong, even, even after that: i am not fucking ashamed of myself for being who i am, and how i am. i wish i could write specifically what that felt like, after so long spent apologetic & quiet this year. but. i can’t show you, only tell, that it was fucking amazing, and if you haven’t had a revelation like that yet, i hope you have one soon.

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and we were just trying to make something beautiful.

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hi. i am drunk, freshly home, 2:03 in the morning. did i tell you that i am drinking again? i still get letters about the zine i did two years ago, where i talked about being sober & being single, and it’s so the opposite of where i am. i live with my boyfriend and i drink again; but here’s the thing. i know, for a fact, that i am better off alone, even though i love my partner, even though i acknowledge all the ways he’s bettered my life (and the few ways he’s fucked it up, i can acknoweldge those and still, somehow, love) and still miss those days before him, alone in my teal room on a twinsize bed, surrounded by words, living for words and art and activism and love. i miss those days, and i have been trying to relive them, going on adventures by myself, riding my bike long ways alone at night. i almost had an affair this week, with a straight boy (and oh how weird that is, how embarrasssing almost) and it didn’t work out but it made me realize how great it is to be queer, to make our own rules, to be fiercely autonomous and independent always,
i forgot who i was, i forgot for so long, but riding my bike home drunk i thought, it’s a good day to die, it’s a good day to die, not because i want to die but because i want to be brave again. i was brave for so long, and then it was easier not to be, but then i realized that’s not who i am. i’m not meant for safe, for nice, for easy. i have been having adventures lately, sweet times with friends, grated curry beet tacos that are so fucking good i want to eat them every day forever. remember new york? remember those long hours? remember feeling passionate about anything, about everything, outside of your own constrained life?
my boyfriend is watching “six feet under” and i am having a hard time typing because i am trying to plug my ears and hum so i don’t have to hear that boring, annoying dialogue. i loathe that show, and i know many of you (the “you” that read my blog, i’m imagining like five people) like that show. i guess i don’t care, i hate it. here are some other things/beings/people that i hate that most people like: youtube, dogs, gin, children, facebook, the institution of marriage, i can’t think of anything else but i know this list is much longer, time for bed.

why i hate facebook, part #49502

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so. in case anyone reading doesn’t know, i really, really hate facebook. i was on it back in college and i deleted it because i wanted to spend less time on the internet and now everyone’s on it, all the freakin’ time. yada, yada, yada, you know the drill, status update this, farmville that, whatever.
facebook is creepy and frustrating for me for a lot of reasons that i won’t get into here, but i read something in the paper on friday that just seriously pissed me off. perhaps you’ve heard the tragic tale of tyler clementi, the 18-year-old in new jersey who committed suicide after his dormmate taped him having sex with another man. this is, of course, awful on so many levels. but one part of the story really made me sad: before committing suicide, clementi updated his facebook status to read: “jumping off the gw bridge sorry.”
is that a suicide note? or a request that someone stop him? i feel like posting something like that on a public site suggests, at least subconsciously, that he wanted someone to intervene. but when everyone has a zillion friends, posting a status update every time they sneeze, watch “glee” or eat a cupcake, it’s easy for his status update to get lost in the shuffle. and there are so many cryptic status updates it’s easy to think that he was kidding, or that it’s a weird inside joke. did he check his iphone one last time before going on the bridge, to see if anyone commented? to see if anyone texted to see if he’s okay?
it makes me think of something that happened in 1999, when i was 16 or 17. i called my boyfriend-at-the-time and he didn’t want to talk because he was playing video games or something stupid. i hung up, annoyed, and a few minutes later an aloof-straight-dude friend called me up sobbing because some girl had rejected him and it was the last straw, he wanted to kill himself. i dunno how truly serious he was, but we talked for a long time, i let him cry and suggested reasons he should keep on living. after we hung up, i had a chilling realization: what if my boyfriend had actually wanted to talk and my friend had gotten a busy signal? (yes, in 1999 my family STILL didn’t have call waiting!) what if that was enough to send him over the edge? at the time, i would have been happy to talk to my boyfriend. i would have had no idea what i was missing. my point is, if tyler clementi existed in a world where people actually fucking talk to each other, would he still be alive?
don’t be silly, i’m not saying facebook is responsible for his death. i’m saying that every year people talk less and type more. i’m saying that talking is important. i, too, have embraced texting, for the convenience and lowered social anxiety, but i’m afraid it means i’ve forgotten how to call people besides my nearest and dearest. i, too, go on my boyfriend’s facebook sometimes to check on people, because some days it feels like nobody communicates in any way outside of that stupid website, nobody posts their pictures anywhere else, i don’t know what is going on with anyone because nobody tells me because people assume that i read it on facebook. and it’s annoying. and it sucks. and i wish, i wish tyler clementi had used his phone to call someone, or even text someone, before he drove to that bridge and jumped off. i wish his last sentence was at least a complete sentence, and i wish someone had read it before it was too late.

just a few odds & sods

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1. please, everyone, check out this amazingness. it’s a letter my dad sent to my sister a few years ago, and my sister posted it on her blog

ha ha ha. this is a slightly crazier letter than usual (my dad does not do email), but still fairly representative.

2. check out this map of books banned across america. if you click on the little blue markers, it’ll tell you the story of the book and why it was banned. it’s strangely fascinating.

3. also, i have been unable to stop thinking about this, a popular nyc blogger singing a “radio edit” of liz phair’s “flower”. for those of you who aren’t familiar with that song, here it is, with some not-so-radio-friendly lyrics. the new version is fucking hilarious! it’s strange, because i really liked that album, and that song in particular, my senior year of high school, and i all but forgot about it until recently, when i was compelled to listen to it again for little to no reason.

4. i’m reading the collected journals of l.m. mongtomery (a/k/a “that lady who wrote anne of green gables) because i’m a big doooooork, and it’s startling how much it resembles several notorious blogs that i read. the endless petty complaints, the passive-aggressiveness, the meanness, and yet, the inability to stop reading it, even as it’s annoying me. SO weird. does anything ever really change?

5. why do people work in the department of public welfare if they hate poor people? seriously, WHY?!?!? it frustrates me to no end. the hatin’ is a little less at this job than the last, but it still exists, it still annoys and offends and saddens the living shit out of me, and i still can think of no constructive way to address it. sigh.

on names, identities, and the 90’s. plus some other things.

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so, my new job has really been going swimmingly thus far. i think a lot of the reason is because i’m no longer using my legal first name professionally. i’m not going by my preferred name of ocean, because i still feel weird asking people to call me that. i can’t just act like it’s part of my legal name, because i work for the government and they check evvvverything. plus, i really like keeping my personal and professional life separate, and googling “ocean capewell” brings up not only this blog, but a whole lot of things that i’d prefer random middleaged middlebrow co-workers not know about me. (not that i really think anyone’s gonna google me, but you never know)
so, i’ve switched to alice, which is my middle name. i don’t know why this didn’t occur to me years ago. i really, really dislike my first name, not because it is such a bad name in and of itself, but because it is a very real reminder of a terrible time in my life. i used the first name for the first 12 years of my life, when i had pretty much no friends and when absolutely everyone hated me. i was really quiet and considered boring and creepy by pretty much everyone; i was abused at home and tormented at school and was never happy unless i was reading or writing (two activities for which i was routinely made fun of, or which were taken away for little to no reason). it doesn’t sound all that bad, typing it, but it was bad to live through, and once i changed my name my life got interesting and strange, and it’s pretty much stayed that way since.
but, you know, i have to use this name i hate for straight jobs. i’ve definitely had some jobs where i could be ocean, but i’ve spent the last few years working white-collar office jobs. and yeah, i could be brave, but i already have so many strikes against me being weird-looking and not quite gender-conforming, i just don’t want to add another. so i use that name, and it’s weird how much it brings me back to that socially paralyzed, extremely awkward, hopeless place. it’s weird how it seems like the last 16 years of adventures and bravery and gumption have all been erased, and i’m mute again, i’m so afraid and so unable to connect with people. but using “alice” doesn’t bring up any of this, really. it’s a little odd using a name that i don’t associate with myself at all, but ultimately not that big a deal.
some of you readers out there know my legal first name, and that’s fine. it happens sometimes, and as long as you don’t use it in conjunction with me, i don’t really care. and some of you may be wondering what it is. please don’t ask me. i think it’s a good rule of thumb to follow trans name etiquette with everyone who’s changed their name, regardless of whether they are trans or not. (in case you don’t feel like clicking that link, here’s a rundown: don’t ask what my ‘real’ name is. don’t go around telling people my given name if they know it. even if you think my name is stupid, or doesn’t fit, keep that information to yourself and respect that i can make decisions about my life that are important to me. etc.) most people don’t go through all the hassle of a name change–be it legal or informal–for absolutely no reason. we often have very good reasons for keeping our birth names private.

anyway! i have more to say on that subject but i am tired of writing about it. kind of weird that i have used an “illegal” name for 16 years now and this is the first time i’ve really written publicly about what it means to me emotionally and my frustrations around having a name that i’m legally tied to but absolutely can’t stand. (i have not been able to get a legal name change for various reasons)
okay, but really, new topic! another reason why i like my new job is that there is a very relaxed dress code. today i showed up looking kind of like harmony korine in sassy magazine from, like, 1995:

and nobody breathed a word, or even seemed like they noticed. i also wore my ridiculous bright red fake fur coat that i love SO much, and i met amanda for lunch, and i said, “isn’t it weird how i have a real job now but i still look like a total weirdo?” she said “yes” and we giggled together. it was really great.
speaking of the 90’s, i may be a little late to the party, but this “you may be a 90’s woman if…” post totally made me laugh, and realize that i am more of a cliche than i realize. i could relate to every single one of those, except that silly list of people to crush on. i’ve never been the crushing-on-celebrities type. what an odd note to end this post on, but i really have nothing else tonight.