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Posts Tagged ‘dr. bones’

I don’t know that I’ve mentioned this here before, but I’m the oldest child in my immediate family (and the oldest girl among the cousins, but that’s another entry). I have a brother who is twenty-two months my junior. When I was much younger, I used to watch my mother read with and to E; I was much more my father’s child, and a more independent one in general. I’m too like my mother for anyone’s good.

Anyway. Continuing the list.

1. The Wind in the Willows (thanks to a commentator for reminding me of this one). We had a handsome and very small version of these with great pictures. These books are at the heart of my love for badgers and talking animals, although they definitely weren’t the only books that grew that. I love the simplicity of their names and the absolute weirdness of their adventures; Rat (Rattie to Mole) was my favorite. Frog cracked me up. I like how he always gets his comeuppance; a good lesson for a rambunctious kid.

2. Continuing a theme, Frog and Toad are Friends is one of my most wistfully beloved books. I remember hardly anything about it, but I remember the look and feel of it, and it’s a good story for children wondering if they’ll ever have a best friend. If my son is anything like me, and like my brother, then he’ll want that reassurance until he gets his confidence up. Plus, then he and I can watch the weirdest movie ever together, and we can have a nice little bonding moment when he has nightmares. Just like I did.

3. Winnie the Pooh. There’s not even anything to say here. Everyone should have this read to them. It starts a love for poetry early, and a joy in language, and encourages imaginary friends. I want my son to have an imagination as big and complicated and vivid as his mom’s.

4. Speaking of imagination… The final book on my list this evening (though I’ve got more coming up) is Alice in Wonderland. This is a nice segue book for a kid who’s starting to read by himself–read him Wonderland, and let him work his way through Looking Glass alone if he wants to. Plus it has such a wicked archaic gleefulness to it, such an investiture in total nonsense; kids have a streak of that anyway, and I want to urge him to keep that through to adulthood.

Four more to come later this week.

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Let me tell you something: I wrote this so young that I was misspelling my best friend at the time’s name.

That means I must have been within a few months of having met her for the first time, which puts me at no more than thirteen. I’d already been murmuring poetry and stories to the air since I started working at the barn at nine, to soothe myself and my horses. Writing it down was a new thing, at that age, and I had so many ideas, so many wild directions I was going in.

This is the first of those directions. The first step on the first road. The first signpost and dirt path and bridge to the other side and doorway and game track through the underbrush.

It’s also really, really awful. Oh god, it’s so bad.

The first sign of what kind of horror the reader is in for comes in the title: “Year 2017”. This makes me laugh–we’re only six years out from that now. When it was 1999 or 2000, that was forever away. The second thing is that it’s covered in edits, and yet, it’s clear that they were as effective as taking a cup of water and trying to empty the sea.

What follows is all I could bear to type up of it.

It was the late December of the year 2017 in southmost New Mexico. Nearly sixteen years ago, on January 1 of 2002, a scientist established contact with the wolves, who were more intelligent than anyone had suspected. On the same day, a girl was born in a nearby town, and a boy was born on the other side of the same town at exactly the same moment. Neither of them knew.

All you need to know—the entire plot—is inherent in those four sentences. It was super simple: the girl was Lia, the boy was Rowan. Their wolves were Icefall and Shay, respectively. On one level I am so totally humiliated by this. I didn’t understand how to tell a story. How to start and where to go.

But I was learning, moment by moment. It wasn’t a great piece of fiction, but by the end there were glimpses of good dialog and not entirely one-dimensional characters. Later, I would take the plot and gently transpose it onto a different setting, and removed the wolves, and set it in motion to see what would happen.

The best thing, really, is that I didn’t realize it was bad, and no one told me–so I was never discouraged, as a young writer, from doing what I liked, as terrible as it might be. By the time I met and started writing with Melissa, the dearest of all my most darling friends, I was visibly better—and that wasn’t much more than a few months after I began. There’s never a steeper learning curve than the first one, yeah?

Melissa and I were writing these parallel narratives during seventh and eighth grade; totally different characters and plots, but similar in pacing and content. I don’t remember much about hers, but this is mine. It’s called Child of the Dragon; it’s a good 123 pages handwritten. I’m rereading it now, and there are some moments that delight me for the promise they show, and some that make me laugh out loud because they are so very silly. Also, I apparently really liked the word “truly”.

This is also where I started using in media res.

April groaned, and lifted the heavy pail of water, arms straining. She truly hated this job sometimes.

“Need some help, Rill?” Mikel grinned at her, and took one of the bucket’s handles. “Does the mistress even know you can’t lift one of these without my help?”

She shook her head, honey-colored hair just brushing her shoulders. Her eyes flicked to Mikel’s face through her lashes, and he noted with amusement that they were emerald green today. Yesterday they were sky blue, the day before, lilac. The whole village talked about her eyes, saying servants, especially scullery maids, should not be so noticeable, and spreading rumors. Mikel was willing to admit he’d never seen eyes like hers before, but he could not accept the idea the April was anything more than human. Surely a girl with magic or the blood of dragons or demons would not submit to hauling water and scrubbing floors. He had known her most of his life, and though she seemed to sometimes have a flash of wisdom beyond her words, she was in most respects a normal sixteen year old girl.

I love being able to see that I was learning. I don’t write fiction these days anymore, and that’s too bad—it doesn’t come as easy anymore. I’d like to try writing more fiction; I have ideas, and some excellent characters living behind my eyes. I want to let them help me write their stories down.

I think if I were to write that first story again, just the first few sentences, it would be almost unrecognizable. I think there would be the same undertone, the same conflict, maybe even still the same animals prowling through it. Lia becomes a zookeeper’s daughter or a circus-act kid, or, making her older, a conservation advocate—and always a runaway from something; Rowan remains what he is, a loner, solitary and intense and moving steadily away from everything until something brings him up short.

Or maybe he’s a girl now.

It’s an old story, and everyone tells it. But that doesn’t mean there’s not still a way to come at it fresh and vibrant and laughing with glee with the fun of it.

It’s just finding that way again—hunting out that little deertrack leading into deeper woods—that’s hard.

 

(Truly.)

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My name is Bones.

…or Edie.

Or–rarely these days–Talia.

I do have a perfectly serviceable birthname which suits me fairly well, but I decided to leave it off in favor of anonymity. I’ve also gone by other monikers; some of them the proper sort of nicknames that are derived from my the one I was born with, some more along the lines of “short stuff”. I went by Aurélie in highschool, from four years of full-immersion French classes. I picked up bossmare and hyena-girl somewhere along the line. I like names. I like the flexibility and the chance to take on a slightly different personality.

I’ve been moving between names without thinking about it for a long time, not just with myself but with other people. Cris and Liam were the same person, who was sometimes called Dragon; so were Melissa and Byrd, Fey and Heather, Carolyn and Leyna. Kendra was Kendra or Dama or Dee, depending on what year it was. Grace and George are she and he, two individuals in one mind, one body, one personality. We’re all of us in our twenties now–somewhere between 23 and 26, and these were names we took as kids, ten years ago. When I talk to these people about each other, I still use the names we used in those days; so do they. When I talked to my parents, or to those friends outside of that little gang, or now, to my post-highschool friends, I called and call them by the names they were born with. (Except George, who is always George.) This is a way that I show love; private names, private stories, things that are just-between-us-two (or three, or four).

I never even thought about the swapping back and forth, and I rarely slipped up, which considering I was also swapping pronouns was pretty impressive. I was doing things like this within moments; getting off the phone and saying “Bye, Liam,” and then instantly saying to my mother “Cris wants to know if (whatever)”. I lived quite happily in two realities, and although parts of them eventually came crashing down, it’s a skill I kept.

(Incidentally, and for those who don’t know, I was called Talia.)

When I started spending a lot of time online, I ended up in a slightly different but surprisingly similar situation, in that when you’re online, you choose your name. Hapa, Juno, Luna, Winger, Pocky–these were names people went by because they worked for them, because they matched with their identities and views of themselves. We don’t get to choose our names as a general rule; our parents choose our birthnames and our friends choose our nicknames and our lovers choose our pet names (in case you weren’t listening, that’s where Bones is from). But online we choose who we are; there are people who don’t know me as anything other than Edie.

I think what I was trying to get to, in a roundabout fashion, is why it’s easy for me to swap people’s names and genders in a way that gives other people a lot of trouble. I have, sort of by accident, rather a lot of gender-variant friends and partners, and sort of by accident I’m comfortable with swapping names and pronouns over. I’m always annoyed by people who mess up pronouns again and again, who don’t listen for sentence and context clues as to how one should be referring to an individual, who don’t ask, when they hear those clues and are confused, what name and pronoun the person prefers. I used to say, “Who are we being now?” to my friends, and change how I addressed them accordingly; these days I say, “What pronoun would you like me to use?” This wasn’t a hard transition, no pun intended; more like walking over a bridge than jumping a chasm. I don’t understand — and yet I do — why people find this hard.

I grew up like this. Not everybody does.

I’m pretty sure that when I started this entry a month ago, it was supposed to be about gender pronouns and the way the way people around transgender individuals handle their transitions, but it didn’t turn out that way–that’s actually something I’ll handle later. Seven years ago today I lost one of those private identities pretty much for good. I learned what it was like to have to talk about yourself almost as another person, and while it’s not the same as listening to my trans* friends try to talk about themselves before they transitioned, it runs parallel. How do you talk sensibly about someone who is and isn’t you? How do you draw the line between selves, and how far do you let that line blur–or isn’t there a line? Does that self become, at some point, a different person, who you can talk to and understand and remember, but separate, or was it always you at the bottom of things?

These are questions I’ve been asking myself for years. I know this bit of the post at least is coming off self-indulgent and silly, but having a partner who has deeply examined themselves and their identity, in a really meaningful way, can mean you start to do a lot more thinking.

I’m Bones these days, and happy being her. But sometimes, I miss fitting so comfortably into Talia’s name that I didn’t know where she ended, and I began.

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…that I’ve been talking a lot more about LGBTQetc topics than many of you might be used to. I was — all things considered — pretty quiet about them during college, and aside from the constant refrain of “Hello, my name is Bones and I’m a lesbian”, I didn’t start talking about more than the most basic of queer subjects until fairly late in the game. I mean, everyone knew I was for equality (duh), not getting beaten up for being different (duh), and civil unions for all couples, which would have the the same rights as afforded by what is currently known marriage, and then a religious ceremony if you want it (admittedly not so duh).

Part of the reason I’m talking more about this stuff now is that I have more time to actually work through it properly in my head before I say it. Part of it is Jim, as dating him opens up a new section of worries and issues in the queer community to talk about. Part of it is that I’m living with a straight kid now (and more on my living situation later) and find myself having to explain things more frequently, in simple language.

And part of the reason I’m talking more now is because I’m a lot angrier.

I’m angry about a lot of things.

But I am not always angry! I am simply always thinking about things these days. Sometimes I’m confused? Or speechless or flail-y or just hurt. Or I am terribly amused, because something  is just so… I don’t know. Suddenly hilarious in a way it totally never was before? Like, I was listening the other week at work to soundtracks, and I was a chunk of the way through RENT when I started to laugh out loud at my desk. Now as a rule, I can take Rent or leave it (this pun was not on purpose), but there’s some great stuff going on with Tom Collins and Angel that I see as surprisingly analogous to what’s going on with me and Jim. I’m going to use two songs – Santa Fe and You’ll See  – to prove a bit of a point here. Here’s a quote from You’ll See, and then another from Santa Fe.

[COLLINS]
I like boys

[ANGEL]
Boys like me

[Angel]

New York City!

[Collins]

Uh-huh.

[Angel]

Center of the universe.

[Collins]

Sing it, girl.

Angel is, or appears to be (for those who have not actually seen the bloody movie which is NO ONE), a crossdresser or a transvestite. Or possibly transgender — there’s really no way to tell short of asking her, which is of course impossible. Angel is referred to by both gender pronouns through the movie; Mimi refers to Angel as being female and “looking good” when she comes back from her near-death experience where they saw each other. So I don’t know, but now I wonder; Collins is exclusively a gay man, but Angel is almost always referred to as female or feminine. Six months ago I wouldn’t have even though about that relationship, you know? Now I hear how Collins addresses Angel! As his Queen, and I wonder – does he mean that as a queen-y gay man, or as a woman? Does he struggle with his sexuality because of that? Or does love make everything easier?

So that makes my day when I hear things like that. But unfortunately I am more often angry. Here is a list: I am angry when someone does not recognize the difference between gender and sex and swaps back and forth between them in a piece of supposedly scientific writing; I am angry when someone uses hermaphrodite instead of intersex in a piece of supposedly scientific writing; I am furious that people still think it is okay to ‘fix’ intersex kids, and will do so without any compunction; I am angry because my boyfriend is not protected at work by ENDA, but I am (at least in Massachusetts, lesbians, gays, and bisexuals are protected against discrimination in their place of business, but those in the trans spectrum aren’t); I am angry at Glee and how they handled Rocky Horror; I am angry at my mother and family for making assumptions about my sexuality and about Jim’s gender, and how those two fit together; I am furious at those people in the queer community who are cruel to trans people, and who try to decide my identity for me when I date one; I am spitting mad about those individuals who use ignorance as an excuse (more than once; I’m ignorant too, sometimes).

I share a lot of these furies with Jim — the main difference is that where Jim is shy and introverted, I am really, really not.  That means that when I am angry, you hear it and you hear it often. My (straight) roommate gets the brunt of this sometimes; however, this is already a long entry.

But that’s why you’re going to hear me a lot more often these days, talking about gender and sexuality with an undercurrent of poorly-concealed rage. This Thursday I’ll become a contributing writer at the Analytical Couch Potato, talking about Glee and transphobia, where I will be flailing angrily — with Jim’s help — about reader’s response and linguistics and ignorance and fear.

Check it out.

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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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My boyfriend calls me Bones.

I call her Jim.

(…and frequently I find I must inform her that I am not certain pertinent things, and am in fact something very specific. Her tag here is dammit jim; mine, when I talking about myself, is is dr. bones.)

(And yes. All the tags do start with D.)

He calls me Bones after – who else – Leonard ‘Bones’ McCoy, who he has a special spot in his heart for. I call him Jim for James Tiberius Kirk. This all started when I mentioned a family tendency towards drinking gin&tonics and mint juleps (but only on Derby Day), and he began yelping about how I was totally Bones. I was a combination of delighted and utterly horrified – one of the many hilarious text messages I recieved on this theme reads:

I MEAN YES I LIKE GIVING YOU NECKRUBS

BUT JESUS CHRIST

YOUR SHOULDERS FEEL LIKE PART OF THE SHIP, BONES

TAKE A DAY OFF

The only recourse I had was to give in and call her Jim.

The nickname works on two levels for me – the obvious jaded-grumpy-charming-doctor level, and the I-collect-bones level. (I have a badger skull, horse teeth, an unidentifiable rodent skull, some mystery leg bones, a unknown vertebrae, a rabbit skin, a fox tail, an Australian possum tail, and some feathers.) (Jim thinks this is weird, but he totally collects them too.)

Jim is genderqueer, and I’m just plain queer. I consider her to be something between girlfriend and boyfriend; I use the former with my parents, and the latter with my friends. I switch pronouns regularly and call her my Gentleman; he calls me his Lady, although admittedly somewhat less often and perhaps without the capital letter. And yes, for those of you wondering, I’m a girl – and for those of you who are nosy, Jim is not a girl. Or a boy. Not precisely. Not right now.

…Jim’s just Jim. And I’m just Bones. Nice to meet you.

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