Sunday, April 26, 2009

Bored and Bad

I am a girl who just happens to be a boyfriend.
I am a boy who just happens to be a girlfriend.
I know, and those things only make sense when said just like that. If I had to choose, I'd say I'm her boyfriend because I've never been a good girlfriend. I don't know how to be a good girlfriend, but I'm pretty sure I have some clue about how to be a good boyfriend. I know someone who just says friend every time he refers to his boyfriend, but I'm sure that has a lot to do with his relationships to the people with whom he is talking. I keep trying to tell myself that it doesn't matter what they call me, but I have this horrible obsession with knowing things and having definite answers, and the fact that I can't tell people what I am anymore is really getting to me. The truth is that I am a lot of things at once, and I always have this feeling that whatever words are used neglect the rest of me at any given time. I wish there were a word that could capture that kind of person. Since there really isn't, I'm trying to form a combination of my own. Obviously, this goes way beyond boyfriend or girlfriend and gets all the way down to boy or girl. Maybe I'll never find the right words. If that's really the case, then I have to start looking for a way to be okay with that.
Telling my parents is becoming a bit of a problem. More specifically, I'm having a difficult time communicating with my mother. (I'd say that communication with my dad on the matter is almost non-existant.) I want her to understand, but a huge part of me knows that she will never fully understand this and thus may never fully accept it. Her beliefs, which have been shaped and beaten into her by this wretchedly backwards atmosphere from the time of her youth, contrast so sharply with mine, and the definitions she uses are so outdated to me that I can't even imagine opening up for discussion. I desperately want to be able to talk about this kind of stuff with her because I have been able to talk to her about absolutely everything else that happens in my life. It's a huge part of me. It's basically who I am. If we can't talk about that, I'm not sure what that says about our relationship.
I thought I'd have a few more insightful things to say. I thought I'd be able to articulate this way better than it seems I have. I'm sure I could eventually. I guess I just picked the wrong time to write.
I had a few other things I wanted to write about, such as the past semester, AF crap, and a situation related to the above that involves my future as a possible parent, but I don't think I can do justice to those topics either, at least right now.
I may come back to this later.

Monday, April 20, 2009


"The color [green], when combined with gold, is seen as representing the fading of youth..."

My high school colors were green and gold.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


I don't have much time, but I need to drop this line:

But you don't understand
I sing with my hands.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Long-Time Coming

I'm currently in the midst of another pointless Physics lecture on topics most likely unrelated to material covered on the final exam, and I'm thinking that there's no better time for a frustrated premed student to write about putting on fake facial hair and prancing around on a stage in schoolboy shorts and barely anything else. Yes, I know it's been a few weeks, but I'm finally going to write about the Drag Show.

As I recall (to use a phrase that has become so trite that it has lost almost all meaning), that Thursday began with hellfire and fury, rape-saucing me to the brink of exhaustion with two major midterm exams and an annoying homework assignment for a Neuroscience class taught by a senile old man who has a plaid fetish. Anyway, I somehow made it through that day alive, though drowsy and in deep desire of some solid slumber. I let my mind wander throughout my last class of the day, which would not have been the last class had it been any ordinary Thursday, allowing it to pursue its grandest confabulations of how the evening would unfold, and I'm sure there were moments during that span in which one would have caught me smiling and spurting sighs of satisfaction for seemingly no reason. I remember that I dressed like a girl that day, wearing a waist-fitted shirt whose message contained a minute irony understood only in the context of the events that were to come, and a pair of my best girl pants, hoping to shock, stun, slam, flatten, and floor friends and strangers with the transformation that had taken place.

Kelly and I were the only people in the Kurtzman room for the first hour or so, and while she was pining about the pangs of womanhood, I was gathering up all the masculine energy I could muster, and I was getting antsier, angstier--getting into the role, if you will. It was a snowball of a process, really, kicked off by the kicking-off of the monopoly shoes and the shedding of those girl pants. Red high-top chucks and little black schoolboy shorts, reminiscent of the attire of a 1950s adolescent boy who thinks he's way cooler than he actually is, became a part of me, and from these objects I drew more energy. I wasn't sleepy anymore. I was wide awake and with these shoes I just had to jump right out of them, it seems, so I ran around the room a few times and starting kicking at the air. Isn't it weird how things can change when you change what you wear?

Half-dressed at the time, I shifted my mind. Attend to the faces, we both agreed, and we knew the place we needed to be. It wasn't the door to the left but to the right, at least for tonight. So I stood there as she becoming he pasted hair on me becoming me, and when it was through, nobody knew that I wouldn't have belonged there in a week or two.
I needed to run, just a little bit more, and time was winding down, and people started coming in, getting ready to come out in a whole new gender. I ran through a crowd of well-dressed young people back into the sanctuary that was the Kurtzman room. Boys becoming girls and girls becoming boys and maybe a few people like me all gathered together for their transformations. There was tape, tape, and more tape. Goodbye penis! Get an ace bandage and goodbye titties. Is it really as much an illusion as we try to tell ourselves? And what about me? No. No ace bandage here, but I had a sock in pants, and that night, maybe I didn't even need that.

The line wrapped around the building, and as more human energy filled the William Pitt Union, we the performers, sponges for life that we are, absorbed what we could. The anxiety began to hit. The doors opened. People filed in. Sanity filed out, and Joseph, dressed in his best butler attire, introduced the first performer of the evening, the King of Wishful Thinking, Christopher Crash. I was watching him and watching the door, waiting for my skanks to arrive. We had practiced the night before for several hours, and that's when I knew without a doubt that it'd work out. I absolutely knew what we could do. The numbers flew by, and shortly they arrived, practiced for a bit then wanted to sit. Dominique absolutely ruled. Let's go see what Dylan can do.

The two of them on that stage, in the time between the double D's, collecting money and making jokes, seemed to take an amount of time exponentially longer than any other span of time between numbers that evening. Part of that was true, as they ran around the audience collecting tips from those too small and shy to approach the stage. "I swear this kid's been a drag king all his life. It's just that nobody thought to put a stage under him before. Dylan Dickhersoon."

Then the music started and I ran, and the light was bright--brighter than I remembered--and there was screaming and laughing at my attire and ma' prance. The rest was a blur pieced together much later, only by stringing together a series of pictures taken from various angles and by various audience members. I rubbed my body with dollar bills and threw my tie to the hills. I did a white boy strut and duck-walked without fucking it up. Then the breakdown, build-up, and off comes the shirt--into the darkness a strip of white and my chest is exposed. "WTF" they say, and I don't know if they're reading or not. Screaming so loud the music was drowned out, but I knew the music in time, so I kept with it, confident. I took a walk back, with my arms outstretched as the cue for my girls rang through the hall, and they joined me to dance and to flaunt. A few seconds left, I made my way back, and I struck my bad-boy pose that showed off my back.

And that was it, and I could barely breathe. It all seemed like a dream. It was as if I had just emerged from a panic attack minus the panic and full of way more attack. The rush was ridic, and it took me a bit to come all the way down. I walked back into our sanctuary and changed into street clothes, grabbed a can of root beer and a fake cigarette, and I emerged with that little plastic guitar slung over my shoulder and with that cocky smile on my face, knowing in my head that I, yes I, totally owned that place.

Then I don't know when it was, but he walked onto the stage, guitar slung over his back. He approached the microphone and began to speak, and tears welled up in my eyes. The song began, and I fought my way to the aisle and took a seat beneath the light that had to be killing his eyes, and when he was done, I rose and placed a dollar in his hand. A high five sealed the deal because, you know, that's what guys do. And then I walked back to the corner for the rest of the show.

We ended up at Fuel and Fuddle. But we were definitely in way more places that night, even if we never had a chance to leave Oakland.

So, that's what happened. How do I feel? That may be more or less complicated, depending on who you are. I felt like me. I wasn't really acting in the role of a stereotypical male. You're right when you say that drag is not pretending to be someone else. For me, drag is getting to show the rest of the world another part of myself. For me, this other part of myself is the part that isn't nervous around people. This is the part of myself that knows he's funny and smart and good at so many things. He exudes confidence, and you can see that. What else is in me? There's a lot left mixing around. There's a lot of anxiety and awkwardness and uncertainty, and for one night, in front of a crowd that would have made the other part of my huddle in a corner and cry and beg to be spared, the Dylan part of me emerged triumphant. Cory came up to me immediately after the show. He didn't say anything at first. Then he spoke: So you can do THAT...but you can't play drums in front of people?!? Is this the same girl who couldn't play legatos without freaking out? No. But Yes. What have I learned from this experience? Everyone has always told me that I need to be more confident--that I know what I'm doing, even if it's tough, and that I should trust myself and just do what I know how. But no one has ever told me that I already had this confidence somewhere inside of me. No one has ever been able to show me where it is or how to find it and channel it. But I think I've got it now.
And you know that Dylan part of me? Well, there's the Elise part of me too, right? And do you remember how in high school chemistry, they taught you about emergent properties? I am not just Dylan, and I am not just Elise, just as water is not just hydrogen and oxygen sitting down next to one another. I am these things, yes. But I am so much more than that.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Monday Through Wednesday

Everyone knows the feeling that something that happened only a few days ago seems a lifetime away from the present. Significantly fewer people understand what it feels like to live outside of your own skin, or at least live outside of the skin that you thought you had to wear. The past week has been the first of its kind for me. And I let go of everything holding me back, even if just for this week, in order to get a look at what it would be like to be happy and fearless in the skin underneath my skin. You see, the skin on the outside is bruised and pale, but let's scrape it off little by little. I mean, you can't rip it off all at once like a band-aid. That'll scar you. But let's peel away the layers to find the red-like-sunburn self just below the surface. Some people don't get it, but I think it's beautiful. But just like that the exposure's gonna change it and make it just like the old skin. It's a constant fight to keep yourself fresh and alive, and sometimes, yes, it is easier to hide. But this time, I didn't.
Monday. We walked into the Bellefield Gym to a group of "obviously" straight guys playing basketball, though we had reserved the gym for the evening. You have no idea how nervous that made me. In situations like that, I'm used to running away, asking for help. But there was no one there to help me. In fact, people seemed to look to me to solve the problem. I tried to stall by inquiring at the security desk, but that just pissed me off even more. I hate incompetence, but even more upsetting to me is rude incompetence. I stormed off, up the stairs and back to the gym, agonizing over what I could say and what I would say in the likely events of disrespectful disregard, and laughter. So there we stood in the corner, exchanging glances that always came back to me, and I knew my response, I knew what it would be. I knew it would be indicative of the rest of the week. So I did what I had to do, scared shitless and too afraid to admit it. I did what any guy would do. I pretended I was fine and threw out my line. They all stopped moving. And they listened. And within five minutes, the floor was ours.
For what? Well, we played dodgeball. It was the most fun game of dodgeball that I have ever played because I didn't have to prove anything. Every time we played dodgeball in elementary school and high school, I rarely got the ball. Some boy would run in front of me to grab it, or maybe people would just laugh when I missed someone or tripped because I didn't have the right kind of shoes for the gym floor. So, like everyone else walking into the gym that evening, I was a little concerned about the repressed emotions that might rise to the surface once the game began. But it was so different from those days. Maturity is a funny thing, and it's ironic that its presence should be so strongly felt in a game designed for the prepubescent crowd. I ran, sweat my ass off, and pelted queers and straights alike with bright yellow balls. It was glorious.
Tuesday. I was already beginning to feel the pangs of sleepless nights that I had only heard about in years past, but I trudged into the Kurtzman room for the second event of the week, expecting to be bored to death. I mean, I'm not usually a fan of listening to people read poetry because most of them end up sounding the same to me. Alix Olson floored me. I think she's the first poet who has ever made me feel the rhythm of the words I was hearing--the first I've heard who grasped the concept of the musicality of poetry, and of language in general.
Wednesday. This was the day before the Drag Show. It was also the day before my two exams of the week. I felt like I was going to collapse, but I knew I needed to work on all three of those things, so I found it necessary to skip the event, a showing of Paris is Burning. I was so drained from the first half of the week that I locked the door to my office at work and slept on the floor, with my head resting upon my backpack and my cell phone alarm set for a time ten minutes prior to my usual departute, for about two hours. Later that evening, I spent three hours at the Pete with my backup dancers, and I knew that everything would be just fine. I spent the rest of the night studying Physics furiously and frustratingly, and I knew everything would be just horrendous. I'm sure that I failed. And this deeply upsets me because it makes me feel stupid.
Thursday. This day really just blended with Wednesday due to the lack of sleep. I pushed through my two exams, feeling thoroughly abused, hating the idea of going to my next two classes. I handed in the homework for Snaptic Transmission, fully intent on staying for the entire lecture. After thirty minutes of listening to Dr. Wood tell me things that I could very obviously read online the next day, I packed up my belongings and scampered out the back door into the sunlight. And so I went to get a tan. Say whatever you will about that, but it's a wonderfully relaxing process, and the results are pleasing. I felt slightly more energized as I seated myself for my final class of the day, though with dim lights and an old movie playing, it became just one more obstacle for me to overcome.
This needs its own little section. I don't really feel like I can write about Thursday or Friday at this point. I need a little more time to collect my thoughts on those nights, and I'm not in the best of physical health right now. I'll save those days for another time.

What else am I thinking about? I'm obviously stressing over the amount of work I have left to finish before the semester comes to a close. But who isn't?