My world exploded when an old friend sent me a funny story because she thought I could use a laugh after I’ve been through so much pain on this
verbal vomiting journal web site. She was right. We talked about everything from old inside jokes to the government’s surveillance program through the cunning use of microwave popcorn. If there’s anything I could use right now, it’s laughter.
Yesterday I found out that my stepmother is having heart problems, another thing to add to the pile that the universe seems to be dumping on my family. I don’t actually believe that the universe cares one way or another, but it seems to be the best explanation for all these random very bad things happening at once. I am one step away from “the little baby Jesus doesn’t love me anymore.” Which is, in fact, also a load of crap. Jesus doesn’t cause pain, he relieves the pain already inside you through the meditative nature of prayer…. the Responder and not the Actor. Sometimes bad things happen to good people, many things at once, in fact, and prayer is the only way I can seem to stay calm in the middle of the storm. Well, that and Klonopin…. better living through chemicals.
The scariest thing was that my stepmom needed a full cardiac workup, and couldn’t be admitted to the hospital because they didn’t have a bed free. She’s in good hands, though, because my dad has a handheld EKG monitor where he can read the pqrst strips at home. All of this is hard to sit and watch from my perch in DC, but we all keep each other well-informed. For now, that is enough. Someone will tell me when it’s time to worry, and perhaps take a road trip so I don’t have to rent a car once I’m on the ground. I’d rather have my own car than something unfamiliar, because I hate change during stressful situations. Most of my friends have moved away from Houston, because they think that they’re too young for their parents to have deep health issues until they’re old, and thus, need to move back in order to help take care of them. I have been in the same boat. My parents are only in their early to mid-60s because my mother had Lindsay and me when she was fairly young. The fear of being far away wasn’t supposed to pop up for what I viewed as years.
As Texas gets more and more oppressive toward the GLBT community, I can’t imagine moving back at this time. Getting out of the Bible Belt has been a blessing every single time. No one is stopping me from using any restroom I want, because even though I’m not trans, sometimes people look at me as if I could be. In my world, clothes have no gender, but not in theirs. Plus, I haven’t had my boobs removed in order to make my clothes hang right to actually look like a man, so you’d think that would be a tip-off…. reminding me of an old girlfriend who told me the first time we made love, ohhhhhhh…. you got the boobs I always wanted. In short, they’re hard to miss, and yet people do it all the time based on the way I dress.
Case in point, though I’ve mentioned this before…. walking around a theme park in Florida and getting weird looks as I went into the women’s room, because as the other women came out of the stalls, you could see the looks on their faces as they tried to decide whether to say something or not, if I’d obviously just walked into the wrong room.
One of these days, some asshat will come after a female soldier, who will tell them that there are people who choose to die to protect their right to make their dumbass comments. If there is justice in the world, I’ll be there to witness it. The female soldiers and policewomen I know, whether gay or straight, choose to wear their hair close cropped as not to be grabbed by the hair in the heat of conflict because long hair makes an excellent dragging device….. a totally valid reason why even straight women should be afraid of the ridiculous backlash of bathroom bills being instituted across the nation. Unless said straight woman is wearing a dress, they’re just as vulnerable as I am, mislabeled in order to make a shortcut to acting punitive and vindictive.
In the South, the bullshit is piled so high that I feel nervous even going there, and even though Maryland is under the Mason-Dixon line, it doesn’t act like it. Virginia is a different story, because it is where the Deep South begins as you go further and further away from the DC area. It reminds me a lot of Oregon, where Portland and Eugene are fine, but outside of that crunchy granola area, you are dealing with the same redneck problems with which they seem to have great pride. In both Portland and NoVA, they tend to act as if the rest of the state doesn’t exist, which is probably a sanity necessity. I’m sure that in some ways, Maryland is the same out in the sticks, but it’s so small that the DC area overrides conservative voters all the time. In Oregon and Virginia, there are just too many people in conservative areas that override the rest of the state, which is why living in the DC area but having Richmond control the laws there makes it anger and outrage-inducing to live in places like Arlington and Alexandria.
I imagine it is the same living in Austin, as the extreme left watches their rights come apart at the seams a few miles from their houses. I am sure it is the same in The District, because even though it is incredibly blue, having the GOP in full power in their backyard, the Congressman that actually are supposed to look after them fail them mercilessly. Eleanor Holmes Norton is trying hard to push for DC statehood, but is not having an easy time of it. When she tried to hold a rally at the DNC, only 60 people showed up. At the RNC, there was a grand total of one.
The reason the GOP fails The District so hard is that they couldn’t care less about what the people want, because they have no true representation. It’s so difficult to get deep blue ideas across to a red Congress. The mayor, Muriel Bowser, has made some strides by implementing District laws rather than federal, but it is just not the same, and as it has been proven over and over, separate but equal isn’t.
As for me personally, living in Maryland was the right choice, but I live in an unincorporated city governed by the county…. neither bad nor good, it just is. Local politics are broadened to an enormous degree, inversely proportional to living in the city of Alexandria, the side that’s not governed by Fairfax County, which is where my last “DC” house was zoned. The one truly weird thing I remember instituted by the city was a 4% “meal tax” levied on top of sales tax…. a modern day Stamp Act, which has never led to rebellion, but stood out to me as a total pain in the ass.
Though DC has its problems, unless disaster strikes, Texas and I are never ever ever getting back together. I can’t believe I just quoted Taylor Swift. What is wrong with me today? I hope my microwave will forgive me….
As a lesbian, I feel there are so many people who don’t know and/or don’t care how hard it is to live in a state that would rather you not exist… or portray homosexuality, bisexuality, and gender dysphoria as mental illnesses that can be “cured.” Worse yet is thinking that it’s a phase one grows out of. I came out in middle school, so this is officially the longest phase ever, as I will be 40 in September.
Living outside of oppression allows my own pqrst waves to remain deep and even, because I don’t have to spend my days worrying about things that don’t matter. I live in a post-gay microcosm, where gays and straights live on the same street with equal rights and no one bats an eye because it’s not a thing and never should have been in the first place.
Homophobia and transphobia are all learned constructs, and for the oppressors, it’s not that they’re scared of us. It’s an excuse for violence, emotionally and physically, because we don’t fit into the strictly enforced gender roles that have been passed down from generation to generation. If people were actually scared, they’d just keep to themselves and go out of their way to avoid us, because that’s what fear embodies. It doesn’t perpetuate the idea that it’s okay to beat someone to death… That’s anger and aggression toward something they don’t understand and are unwilling to learn.
It’s a fight I became unwilling to have, because I could have stayed in Texas and tried to fight the system. Eventually, I realized that it was a losing battle and to just GTFO. It sounds entirely sheepish and selfish, but when so many of my friends are actually scared about the direction their lives may go, I decided not to be one of them.
It just happened to be terrible timing, but there’s no way I could have predicted everything that’s happened over the last few months. If I could’ve, I would have felt too guilty to pack up and leave and swallowed my pride. I love my friends and family there, but the lack of state protections for “my people” often makes me feel like a Texas exile. One of the main reasons Dana and I left Portland was so that Dana could get a teaching degree without having to go to grad school. One of the main reasons we were sad that we left Portland was that we flushed our state domestic partnership rights down the toilet. It was a terrible choice all the way around, because there were pros and cons to each.
Leaving Texas was an equally hard decision, but in the end, I decided that I needed to protect my own heart as easily as I gave myself away to protect others.’
One pqrst at a time.