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Posts Tagged ‘difficulties’

Somehow the least awful moment of the whole brutal day was when he went to his knees and then laid himself down and died. It was so quiet, and so–not painful, not panicked, just body down and head stretched out, and it was such a damn relief and so fucking sad.

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When I was a little girl, I started riding at the stable round the corner, and almost as soon as I started I was warned off one of the horses as unreliable and untrustworthy. It wasn’t until I was a lot older that I worked out that it was less Bad Nature and more Poor Training (with a healthy dash of Sliiightly Inbred thrown in there for good measure), and started ponying him around in an idle manner, getting to know him. I was eight when we met, and he was already twice my age with ludicrous conformation and atrocious ground manners, a bug-eyed, long-maned, stargazing, absent-minded Arabianish chestnut gelding.

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My mother rode him on trail rides, and he was my barn-sister’s first 4-H project; for him we invented a whole new way to put a horse on a trailer–involving two long ropes knotted together, gloves, leverage, and some serious patience–that drew stares at every show we went to. We always told people he was a little bit gay; he adored my gelding and was crazy about Justin, the horse he was raised with, before Justin passed away a number of years ago. He didn’t see well, had a tendency to whip his head back and forth when moving any faster than a trot which we never worked out an explanation for, and was deeply uncomfortable to ride bareback due to distressingly high withers. He had cataracts and string halt and Cushings, all of which made him look a little funny but never got in his way. And he was old. He was born at the farm, a mistake and a surprise, and we called him all sorts of things, Beetle and Beasley and B, Brian Timothy’s Surprise! and Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Doofus and BT.

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This morning, as I sat down at my desk, my phone rang and rang and rang again, and when I looked down at who was calling–Meg, my barn sister, my best friend–I knew. 45 later minutes I was out of the office and on the train, up the stairs, getting changed, and in her car on my way home. One look at him in the paddock told me that this had to be the day. He didn’t look unhappy, but he looked old and sick and ready to go, and one of the things I was taught growing up as a young horse-mad girl was that we owe the horses we love an end that is dignified and free of pain.
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We spent the rest of the day following him around, telling stories, petting him and feeding him cookies and carrots and hay and his favorite mushy-pellet lunch, sitting outside his open stall and talking and trying not to cry, and crying, and smiling through it because he had always been a weird, weird horse who licked you with the back of his tongue and did not respect your personal space because he just loved being near you too much. He stood on Meg’s toe and smacked me in the face with his nose and we laughed and shooed the flies away from his legs for him so he didn’t have to move his hurting feet to kick them.

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While we waited for the vet we put on his new halter and walked him down to the Long Field, where a grave had been dug for him next to where his mother, Huda, and Justin and Jenny and April and Pal, and all the dogs, were already lying underneath the hill. He wasn’t worried or upset, and stood for us to trim his mane until we all had a braided lock to put in our pockets or cling to, and then wandered around lipping at grass as we followed him as if he were leading us. All the pictures of those last few minutes we are smiling, because this was something he always did, walked those circles around us and into us, and because he deserved his last moments to be in the sunshine, with the people who loved him showing him that everything was alright. And then the vet came, and we all said our goodbyes in whatever way we needed to, hands against his shoulder, his neck, the sides of his long thin face, and then stood back to watch and wait and witness.

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Meg and I held him while the vet did what she had to, soothing him with our hands beneath his chin and with our voices, and because above all we are good horse people our hands were steady and somehow we did not cry until it was time to step away and let him go. But after that we clung with our arms around each other and sobbed as if our hearts would break because sixteen years ago we were little girls together watching BT through the fence.
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When he lay down to die he did it without fear, and when we knelt to stroke his face we knew we had done right. I was the one to take the halter off, and without it he looked calm and half-asleep, the pain that we had seen every line of him gone. And then one by one we got up from our knees, and walked away, listening to our vet tell us stories of death and birth and love.
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Some horses are good at telling you it’s time.
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I work at a camp two days a week (or rather, I’ve just finished working there). Once in a while one of the kids will ask me if I have a boyfriend. I never know what to say. Mostly it’s little girls, between, oh, 8 and 11, and one of the best ways to put them off is to ask if they aren’t a little young for boys? They inevitably ensure me that THEY do not date boys because boys are ucky, but they have these friends, right, and they date boys, and it’s all very dramatic. It’s an excellent diversionary tactic.

Two weeks ago was my last day, which was good because working at camp is pretty exhausting. So this little girl (who has been to the workshop I’m teaching twice already, and seems to be rather fond of me) has already commented on my pretty rainbow belt (shut up) and listened to me tell her how bad I am at being a girl because I was never any good at braiding gimp (SHUT UP). After a while she asks me where I got the belt, and I laugh, and say half under my breath that my girlfriend gave it to me (sorry, Jim). She either missed this or misinterpreted it — but she gave me another shot to out myself within ten minutes, although I didn’t think of it like that at the time.

“Do YOU have a boyfriend?” she asks. And I sort of blink at her, and then I think of Jim. About seven times out of ten I’ll call Jim my boyfriend, or my gentleman, and it feels a little odd to call hir her; if I’m not talking to my parents I usually use the masculine pronoun. Although I will tell people I don’t know well that I have a girlfriend, in my head I have a boyfriend. I’ve always been wildly attracted to androgyny and masculinity in females, so this isn’t as startling as it might seem to people who only know me as “the lesbian.” (I’m queer, guys. There’s a difference.)

The moment with the little girl has passed by now, and that’s fine. Because inasmuch as I glory in having this handsome funny gentleman of mine, I also really hate appearing straight to other people. Like. Really hate it. I’ve had for the last four years an enormous amount of lesbian street cred, and I’m something approaching a Gold Star lesbian (has never slept with a man and has no intention of ever doing so), and I’m a combination of appalled, amused, and puzzled by people who want to sleep with people of the opposite gender. I don’t want to be seen as straight because my queer identity is super important to me, and because I don’t like the idea of BEING straight. (I am aware that I am being – to a degree – intolerant, but fuck y’all, this is MY being.)

But I love Jim.

And Jim looks like a guy. Ze passes excellently and is really handsome and that is a big part of why I love him. I respect and like hir gender identity. We talk about it a lot and I’m right there for hir, whether it is a skirt-and-bra day or a binder-and-boy-pants day. In fact I rather prefer the latter! I just. I am very secure in that I’m queer, and fuck what people think, but it does scare me a little, that I could spend a whole day out with my boy and people would think I was straight. It feels like when I first came out, but in reverse.

Let me also make very clear that this is completely my problem, and not Jim’s. I hate people who make their issues someone else’s fault and responsibility. It’s my job to work it out in my head, the same way I first worked out how I felt about dating someone who wasn’t exactly a girl, when I’m a lesbian. It’s already starting to feel like it’s not a problem. I love who I love, and I know what I am.

And that’s got to be enough.

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This morning I got dressed without really thinking about it, like most days. I’m not at my best at 7:30 am and usually pick up whatever is topmost on the floor or in the laundry basket. This morning it was my khaki-green shorts (men’s department, Walmart, aren’t I classy?), my green Goliard shirt (not fitted at all), the usual bandanna (red), flip-flops, and Jared Steed’s belt (which he stole from his brother, who stole it from his girlfriend, who stole it from an ex). I stumbled out the door, to my car, and blearily watched two chubby golden retrievers wander about the yard. It wasn’t until after I came home, drank some coffee and ate my breakfast that I finally got a look at myself in the mirror. I looked – not really boy, not really girl? I sort of blinked at myself and then, somewhat startling myself, I said out loud, “I like it best when I look like this.”

I’m not a feminine girl. Not really. Jim, talking in terms of how our relationship is set up, calls me his femme, but that’s different from being a femme. (Likewise, he’s my butch, but that’s different from being butch.) I like skirts and low-cut shirts, I like the way my legs look in heels, but ninety percent of the time I wear jeans and tee-shirts. If I’m going to idly grab something to wear, that’s what I’ll grab… because it makes up a lot of my wardrobe. When I do wear skirts, I’m pretty bad at it. I walk big, I sit with my knees apart, I stand on one leg and run and climb trees. I wear sneakers with them. I also don’t think about what my body looks like. Twice in that last week, someone has commented on how I look, and I’ve been absolutely floored, because I had no idea! I don’t know when my chest is unusually uh… present, as it was the other night dancing, because I pay no attention to it. I just don’t think about it. My body isn’t something I consider, I don’t check it in mirrors, I don’t follow that stereotypically feminine model of primping and worrying about my appearance. I don’t really consider myself as much of a girl, although I mostly love being one.

(Except for my period. For a week every month, I despise being female. I wish I could be something else, I hate my body, I’m uncomfortable and out of control and angry and upset. That’s the only time I feel dysphoric and like my body is wrong. For a really long time, I had a lot of trouble believing that any XX person could welcome or enjoy or even be neutral about having their period. It continues to horrify me every month.)

I’m not terribly masculine either, though. My hair is too long, I like skirts too much. I enjoy flirting my hips and although I am dying to borrow and wear Jim’s old binder (I long for a degree of androgyny some days), I love my curves. I can never quite bring myself to shave my head, and although I love my boy’s clothes, most of what I own is pretty fitted. Although I walk big and firmly, I swing my hips quite happily. I’ve recently discovered the joy of well-fitted bras and how good they look. I don’t own a lot of plaid (and yes, there is my stereotypical lesbian comment for you).

On the lesbian spectrum, I lie between butch and femme. There isn’t a word for this, really, but I think there should be.

On the gender spectrum… I’m female but not necessarily feminine. I consider myself a girl – although solidly a tomboy, because I don’t subscribe to a lot of the things that are considered girl/lady traits. I don’t want to, so I play with my gender. I think about how I present it.

But… for me, this is still a casual thing. It’s just that – a playground. At the end of the day I’m a cisgendered queer female. (Cisgendered simply means your physical sex matches your gender; therefore, not only am I XX, but I’m a woman.) And I present as such most of the time, which is what gives me the freedom to sometimes mess with it. There aren’t going to be consequences because it’s not a permanent way of living, it’s just something that gives me a lot of pleasure to occasionally delve into. I am not trans, I’m not genderqueer. I am comfortable in my body most of the time. I like it, I like the way it looks, the way it feels to be inside it.

And I feel like gender isn’t something I should be talking about, that it’s weird for me to talk about playing with my gender when there are people who struggle with it every day. Jim deals with it all the time, trying to figure out how to present, and whether it’s okay to change his name, balancing personal need and family opinions, who is actually trans. It’s weird to say I don’t really want to be just be a girl, I want to have elements of male and female. Do I have the right to want that?

I think I do, though. I think everyone should be able to play with what they are, and how they present themselves to the world at large, whether they’re cis or trans or something entirely else. I’m just a person who wants to be in a way that makes them comfortable. I want to sometimes bind my chest and pass as a boy — not because I want to be a boy, but because I want to acknowledge what is masculine about myself.

Weirdly, it’s dating Jim – who is a transgender/genderqueer-tending-male individual who looks very masculine and passes on a regular basis – that has let me start thinking about my own gender and playing around with it. He offered to lend me a binder, is going to help me dress boy, talks to me about how he thinks about gender, and lets me work out how I do. I really value it.

I am so much more aware of how I do gender these days.

Later: heteronormativity, horse shows, and humming.

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Chalkey and I are apartment hunting. We’re hoping/planning to move to Boston in the fall, and this means spending a lot of time on Craiglist, HotPad, and the phone – not to mention the street, both through Google Maps and physically. Location-wise, I live about 45 minutes outside the city right now, so I can actually go and look at places.

It also means I can actually PICTURE where we might be living. Now, I love Chalkey, but he does tend to email me suggestions located in, say, Springfield. Or Worcester. And there ARE jobs all over Massachusetts, but I want to be within spitting distance of Boston – preferably on the subway system, but I’d do commuter rail as well (I think Chalkey wants to be within spitting distance of SOME GIRL ;DDD). All the jobs I’m applying for are in and around Boston, and I have a lot of friends there. There are some Wooster grads – both Chalkey and I just graduated – and a big student community, and music, and art… Boston’s just a good place. I think we can both be happy there.

…and I must admit that the opportunity to be close to Jim, who’s going to be living in Norwood, is a major draw for me.

The most frustrating part of this whole search is what the ads don’t include. I require certain knowledge! Here’s what I would, ideally, like to know:

  • Where is it? What street? Is it close to public transportation?
  • How many rooms is it?
  • How much does it cost per month?
  • Is it furnished?
  • Is heat included? How about water? Or electricity?
  • Are pets allowed? What kind of pets?
  • Is there a finder’s fee?
  • Who owns the building? Does the owner/landlord live there too?
  • What’s the move-in date? Is it flexible?
  • What is the neighborhood like? The other tenants?

HOWEVER.

The only thing I really, REALLY get angry about not knowing right up front, every time, is this: are utilities included in the rent?

I have no idea why this is left out so often, and not specified either way! It drives me up the wall. Like, flailing. I am forever asking Chalkey, on the phone and through email, “Why does it never say anything about utilities? Isn’t this supposed to be important?”

WHAT IS WRONG WITH THESE PEOPLE.

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