Bicycles in the Desert

Last night I dreamed we rode bikes through the desert, from the evening through dusk and into the morning. It was beautiful. I mentioned how beautiful it was. Dream-me knew beauty, and me-me thinking back on the dream knows it was beautiful too. We discussed how orange the oranges in the sand were, which blue the blues overhead, the sunsets blazing purple and pink and blood and honey into the clouds, the sky on fire, dawn warming the frozen out of the air. Gazing at a scrubby city from up on a high hill, its grid of empty streets, spackling of lamps going out as the sun floated higher. The air like the cool side of a pillow. The dust crackling quiet beneath our tires. The road barely a hum in our frames.
 
Then we got hungry and went to a Papa Johns but nobody would look me in the eye or answer my questions, and I kept going from person to person asking to pay them for food they wouldn’t provide. I didn’t know what was up until we were on our bikes again. It was because I was visibly trans, and my visibility made everyone uncomfortable. The realization made me feel we were in danger.
 
We got on our bikes and headed back to the car, and I lost you almost immediately on a particularly dark patch of road. You took a turn before I did, a car passed between us, and you disappeared. I figured you rode ahead. I rode through a grassy small town for a minute, hit a steep hill, got off the bike, and stared at a beaten down house. White paint peeling off the weatherbeaten clapboard, little weeds growing up through the porch, an off-kilter telephone pole slacking the lines in the backyard, shingles slowly lifting against the hot wind. I looked back, couldn’t recognize anything (the desert was gone), and woke up.

WTF at the UWM

Angry post: heartbroken that a trans sister had to go through this in the name of bullshit nazi free speech rhetoric on campus. I’m reading the student’s letter to her college president and being like, “yes, preach it sister,” and also being like “why can’t so many cis people see the difference between harassment and free speech when it comes to blatantly transphobic attacks like this?”
 
So, cis people: read her account of what it’s like to be constantly and actively misgendered toward the letter’s end. Then tell me I’m making too big a deal out of people getting my name and pronouns right (family has told me this). Tell me I shouldn’t spend money on lasering my beard off (family has told me this, former friends have told me God made me a certain way and that shouldn’t change). Tell me I need to be more patient with my misgendering family members (family). Tell me I should just “smile more” to life hack my way into something resembling improved mental health (friends). Her account is better than anything I’ve ever tried to write about being misgendered.

http://overpasslightbrigade.org/hates-insidious-face-uw-milwaukee-and-the-alt-right/

On (Alternate) Realities

*Note* this post is in parts reflective, in parts analytical, and dwells in the abstract

Yesterday I canceled my subscription to the Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game I play (Eorzea, I miss you already).


Partly because I want to do other things. I miss reading casually, new stuff, in the afternoon, in bed late into the night. I miss being fit, and doing fit person things, a casual jog, a quick walk after dinner. I miss eating well. I have been wanting to learn to cook new things, for years: Thai food, Mexican, Greek. I miss my real life friends. I miss having what feels like a real life. I have let the game consume all these things.

Partly because the appeal of alternate realities, alternate identities, alternate systems of effort and reward…I think I have let them color my real life more than I was aware.

Party because I want to stop believing that not-reality is superior to reality.

Rather than participate in an alternate reality as an attempt to attain what lived reality does not provide (gender congruence, financial stability, no fear of discrimination, direct recourse against it if it occurs, cisgender privilege and/or passing privilege, feelings of independence, of strength, of toughness, of forward motion, of control, of accomplishment, of esteem, of belonging), I want to take the energy I devote to the game and apply it to my real life again. I want to locate those things within it, and not need to jump into a proxyverse to get them. I want to get them in the life I wake up to instead of the life I log in to.

Here is my bias: waking reality is garbage, overall. We’re duped into trading our health, our youth, our time, our labor, our lives, for pittances that don’t provide what we are promised they will. Industrialized societies force humans to partake in sociopolitical systems that dehumanize, isolate, exhaust, and break us, as individuals, as groups. The few benefit at the expense of the many. We work and work and get nowhere and nothing changes. American life is a scam. Our species is destroying the biosphere in the name of cheap profit–we cannot live without a biosphere; profit is meaningless without a biosphere; yet on we march deeper into suffocating oblivion. The legal system, the stories we tell each other, the expectations we are taught about people, the language itself, our American culture has no room for trans people in it. We are fighting for room. We are making it, slowly. The constant fight sucks. It frustrates. It exhausts on top of all the other exhausting things.
 
Still, knowing all this, I also know I used to enjoy reality much more than I have in recent years. I want to believe I can do that again. Even in these apocalyptic times, I want to believe reality can sustain me, like it used to. Even with all the garbage.

I am not sure how this will happen. I keep thinking of that line from Rogue One, “rebellions are built on hope.” My rebellion here is returning a significant portion of my being to reality. My hope is that reality will not crush me and drive me away like it so often has. Or that if reality crushes me, I will become better from the experience of learning how I fall apart, and how I come back together, and how to remain coherent in all this disorienting madness.

Forgive me for being abstract and figurative. I suppose I am rather abstract and figurative.

Redistributing my realities means more than “I’m stopping playing video games for a while.”

Staying as deep and as long in game as I have means more than “I haven’t been the same person since my father died four years ago and I used video games to create some form of solace after, and I miss the person I was before.” More than “I get to be as close to cisgender as I will ever be, in-game, which consoles my gender dysphoria in a significant way.” More than “The small achievements I earn in-game convince my major depressive disorder to cool out.” More than “Social interaction from a relatively safe place at my keyboard behind my avatar in a world designed around cooperation and sharing helps my anxiety disorder avoid triggering.” More than “I get to be around affirming people in an affirming environment as long as I stay logged in.” More than “In-game realities have, for years, made more sense than out-of-game realities, so I stuck around.”

Leaving that behind means I am attempting to reclaim my lived experience from a force I consciously sacrificed much of it to in exchange for comfort.

This experience, then, will be necessarily discomforting. I hope the discomfort will be useful. I hope, after some time, I can learn to feel more like myself again, without the necessity of an avatar.
~Z