06 February 2009

25 Things

There's been an Internet meme going around Facebook for the past month or so, and recently it has spilled out into the blogosphere. The basic gist is: "list 25 random things about yourself."

I'm going to cheat on mine, and use a similar meme from last year for ten of them. Also, I'm planning to copy/paste this into Facebook as well, where some of the audience hasn't heard from me for 17 years, so not all of this will be new stuff to people reading along here ...

1. I was supposed to become a world-famous concert harpist. My instructor, a world-famous concert harpist herself, so believed in me that she gave me lessons worth $100/hr for free. Unfortunately, it turned out that I wasn't that big a fan of classical music, and was even less a fan of the associated social trappings that went along with being a concert harpist. Me and high society fancy schmancy schmoozing - they don't go together.

2. I was in the children's choir for a production of Leonard Bernstein’s Mass, which we performed for him on his 70th birthday (1988) in Massachusetts.

3. I once stood in the eye of a hurricane. Bonnie came straight up the Cape Fear River in North Carolina in 1998, and she moved so slowly that we were in her eye for an hour.

4. I spent a couple summers helping a fellow grad student do research on royal terns. It involved lots of time on small sandy islands in the middle of the Cape Fear River (their breeding grounds).

One time we were late getting off before low tide, and we got stranded. There's a picture somewhere of us tugging our 8-foot motorboat through ankle-deep water, between the channel markers (for a channel that clearly no longer existed; they'd evidently not dredged recently).

5. The most fun part of the tern study was the annual banding event. Once the tern chicks are old enough to be out of the nest but not yet old enough to fly, they all get herded down the beach into a corral. Then they get metal bands clamped around their legs. They're really cute at that stage - little white fluffballs with feet.

We also did a few laughing gull chicks. They're pretty cute too, if you don't think too much about what they grow into. Laughing gull chicks will fall instantly asleep if you drop a towel on their heads. So, there was much chasing them around with towels after we were done with the terns.

6. I also helped another grad student with an age and growth study on some juvenile groupers. My part in it was to keep them clean and fed in some outdoor fishtanks. While I was doing that for the groupers, I also kept some snappers - since they were the subject of my own research. They were supposed to all die of cold before the winter really set in. The groupers did. But the snappers, whose range is farther south than the groupers, were a lot tougher than anyone expected. So every two weeks all winter long, I put on five layers of short-sleeved shirts, two pairs of socks, two pairs of pants, scarf and winter hat, and plunged my arms up to the armpits into icy cold water so I could suck the uneaten food and algae out of their tank.

7. Whenever I go on offshore science cruises, there's always at least one crewmember who is really big into deep sea fishing. This works out well since we get to eat a lot of fresh fish that way.

One time someone caught a 100 lb yellowfin tuna. It took 45 minutes to reel in. The guy cleaned it immediately after it was caught, and sliced off chunks of superfresh sushi for the rest of us. While its muscles were still twitching, even. It was a bit warmer than I liked, but the next day it got served up properly chilled with the wrong kind of rice, the wrong kind of soy sauce, and tubed wasabi. It was still yummy. :)

8. The most unusual thing I ever pet-sat was a 10-gallon tank of 20ish juvenile clownfish. (The kind that likes anemones.) The clownfish in the biology building's lobby aquarium had spawned, the eggs had hatched, and one of the other grad students had taken them under her wing. They were about half-dollar sized or so when she brought them over and set them up on the floor of my living room for three days.

9. I once swam with a barracuda. This was in the Florida Keys, near the end of high school. Without my glasses on I couldn't see what it was, only that it was long and skinny and fairly large, so I was following it around. Then I noticed that everyone else had fled to the other side of the boat...

10. Every year, the place where I work holds an Open House, where we let the general public mob the place. It's supposed to show off what great science we do, so that they'll want to give us more of their tax dollars. But in practice, most of it is a bunch of games and activities for small children. I've done the rounds to all sorts of things, from manning the check-in desk to helping with boat tours to explaining arcane oceanographic equipment. One year I was dressed up as Plankton from Spongebob Squarepants. It was like being a celebrity. Small children loved me, grownups were confused ("is that a cucumber?"), and the DNR boat patrol staff wanted to use me for target practice.

11. I've been on a horse exactly once. (Not counting the merry-go-round live ponies at travelling carnivals and etc.) It didn't much care for my opinions on where we ought to go, and kept trying to run me into low-hanging tree branches. I was sore for a week after that ride.

12. The most fun thing I saw in Hanauma Bay, Hawaii, when I was snorkeling there last spring was a sea cucumber. It looked like a gigantic fat black worm. It was kind of squishy when I prodded it with my foot.

13. In college we were required to take a foreign language, and the language I took was Tibetan. The first year was awesomeness. The instructor was all about an immersion approach, and we learned things in the same order that we would've if it was a first language - first some hearing and speaking, then the alphabet and reading and writing. I also had fun comparing it to Mandarin, as some of the basic words are similar. I remember a lot more of the basic phrases ("what is this/that? this is a table, where is the library" etc.) than I do anything about French, which was three high school years of grammar drills.

The second year got very esoteric, with an instructor who thought we wanted to learn how to read ancient religious texts rather than be passably conversational if we went there. I lost interest and didn't take a fourth semester like I'd originally thought I would. The only thing I learned there was that I have an excellent short-term rote memory. The exams asked us to translate 2-3 passages of Tibetan into English, given 20-45 possible ones that might be on them. The final exam had a ton more passages than the midterm, I think because the instructor didn't understand how I could've possibly passed the midterm, and wanted to make sure I couldn't do it by sheer memory alone. I did.

14. It was in Montana that I learned just how short my physical limits are. Most of us started out the 6-7 week geology field courses in bad physical shape. The difference was that they became fit, while I did not. I reached an early plateau, and thereafter I had to start walking much earlier than everyone else if I wanted any hope of being not so far behind that I couldn't still see the next farthest behind student when they reached the next station. It was the first I'd ever really run into any limits on things I can do if I put my mind to it. Those field courses are a large part of the reason why I dropped geology, though I still love rocks.

15. My favorite subliminal advertising is Wall Drug.

16. Someday I want to do a grand months-long roadtrip all around the continental U.S. I figure I'd go across on 80 or 90, down the west coast, then across again on 20, hitting all the major national parks along the way.

17. I've been to Bourbon Street in New Orleans, and Tijuana in Mexico, and I didn't drink at either of those places. There was plenty of fun to be had by watching other people having fun, and enjoying the company I was with.

18. When I was ten I wanted to be a writer. Then I was supposed to become a world-famous musician (see #1). Then in college I fled from music into science. Then near the end of grad school I lost all will to live for a while, and passion for doing science along with that. Now I'm working a science job (but nothing resembling anything I studied), and I'm back to wanting to be a writer.

19. I've worked at Wendy's, Einstein's Bagels, and a local-run Chinese takeout. Each time I learned all sorts of interesting things about life, the universe, and everything. Everyone (able-bodied) should do some food service at least once in their lives, especially at a well-managed, well-run one, and see what the world looks like from the other side of the counter.

20. For those who may have missed the memo (or joined us after it), I'm in the T part of the LBGTQ spectrum. This is a social birth defect, not a lifestyle choice. I say "social" because we transpeople aren't mentally or physically defective, by and large - but we have some interesting problems trying to interact with other people. I have male body language and male reactions to things, which nobody expects or comprehends out of a female body. People tend to get confused, some decide that I'm somehow being "rude" though they might not be able to pinpoint exactly why (it has to do with body language microcues), and a lot decide it's easier to just stop talking to me. Online I find it much simpler to present myself as male to people who have never known me in real life. (I'd prefer to not have to specify at all, but some people get really weirded out if they don't know. Also, English unfortunately has gendered third person pronouns.)

21. I love food. I'll try almost anything at least once (by "almost" I don't mean things like balut), and will discuss food at great length at the slightest excuse.

22. I used to be really big into Star Trek. Then when that started petering out, I was really big into Stargate. Now that's petering out too, and I'm not big into any particular sci-fi franchise at the moment.

23. Enya's Orinoco Flow (Sail Away), which I first heard while in high school, was the first I knew that there was any kind of music besides classical, pop rock, and country. I was really big into New Age instrumentals for a while (but not Yanni :p). Then at some point I discovered I liked alternative and metal. And that's where I am now, more or less, with my interests mostly for European metal. But I'll listen to just about anything. Even some occasional hiphop.

24. I'm an awful teacher, but an excellent tutor. Standing me up in front of a classroom of 20-30 students is a bad, bad idea. But sit me down with someone who just needs a nudge in their thinking in just the right place, and epiphanies happen. Partly I think it was because the tutee was of the right mindframe by asking for help, and was therefore listening to begin with. But there's still some art involved in knowing not only what to say, but also when to talk and when to wait in silence for the wheels to spin. Most of my tutees only ever came in once, and then I never saw them again - but then their friends all came. ;)

25. Yoga didn't seem like much when it was my mother doing the poses out of an exercise book when I was a kid. Then a year ago a chiropractor ordered me to start going to classes twice a week. Now I think it's awesome. I'm stretching all sorts of muscles I didn't know I had, and even building some new ones (slowly). And I keep trying to talk everyone else into it too. ;)

Hmmmm. It took me all day to come up with all that, even with help from the previous meme. Now I'm going back to not talking much about myself. :p


mattw said...

No fair, yours are more interesting than mine.

Random Michelle K said...

Thank you for #20. Now I know I've been imagining you properly. :)

And if you feel like looking me up, I'm on Facebook.

John the Scientist said...

"Everyone (able-bodied) should do some food service at least once in their lives, especially at a well-managed, well-run one, and see what the world looks like from the other side of the counter."

Amen. And everyone who goes to college and does not major in science or engineering should also have to do something physical for a job for at least 6 months - plumbing, electrical, factory work, something - to teach them that the things things they use don't just happen.

John the Scientist said...

"I have male body language and male reactions to things, which nobody expects or comprehends out of a female body."

It's my experience that an awful lot of female scientists have some degree of "male" reactions to things: you don't find many girly-girls in the lab. Which is why I find the media's portrayal of fashionable, hot female scientists to be so laughable. Hot, maybe. A few. Fashionable? Extremely feminine? Far, far fewer.

Random Michelle K said...

Which is why I find the media's portrayal of fashionable, hot female scientists to be so laughable. Hot, maybe. A few. Fashionable? Extremely feminine? Far, far fewer.

You're meeting the wrong scientists. :)

My friend Fan is gorgeous AND always dresses to the nines. Song Bi was also always very well put-together.

Of course Song Bi had an MD-PhD.

John the Scientist said...

Two exceptions don't break the rule, Michelle. :p

Jim Wright said...

You mentioned your physical limits, I'm surprised you made to Hanauma Bay.

Christ, the walk down wasn't bad, but the climb back up nearly killed me ;)

(I had stopped in HI on my way back from Iraq, and wasn't in the best physical condition, the walk up that freakin' road was painful).

Random Michelle K said...

Well, that meant in a lab of 10, we had at least one beautiful sharp dressed scientist at any time.

That's an average of 10%!

John the Scientist said...

Take more samples, the number will decrease. :p

Well, it was also well-known that the hottest girls were in Biology and Medicine....

(Absolutely no comments about their smarts, outta me.... o.O)

MWT said...

Jim: let's just say that I took the walk back up reeeeeal sloooow. ;) I had to stop at least a couple of times. Fortunately (for me, that is), my mother was even slower...

Megadeus said...

Skidaway has a "Do Not Resuscitate" Boat?

MWT said...

Heh. Well, there are actually several research/educational/governmental organizations on the campus. DNR has a small office here, yes. ;)

MWT said...

It's my experience that an awful lot of female scientists have some degree of "male" reactions to things: you don't find many girly-girls in the lab.

Yeah, I do tend to get along with women scientists better than women of other pursuits. They grok me a bit better. Not to the point where they'll start inviting me to hang out with them on a casual basis for purely social reasons, though (at least not more than once or twice).

The above was my initial thought when I first read your comment. Later on it occurred to me that you're trying to suggest that I'm really female after all. Thus are the hazards of outing myself, I suppose - half the audience suddenly decides that I'm female and start expecting me to behave like one, and then get offended when I don't. :p

All I can really say to that is, well, you have much better access to research resources about myriad medical conditions than I have. You can already look up what's known about gender dysphoria. I haven't gone for the extensive psychological testing and formal diagnosis, but then again I have no plans to do the SRS thing either. But this is another one of those things like with the psychics thing - I know more about myself than you do. If you want to continue to disagree with me on that basic point, you're certainly entitled to your opinions about gender dysphoria and may express them however you wish on your own blog.

A year ago I was going to write a series of posts about gender dysphoria, before I got distracted by other things. Basically, more of "this is how I see the world." There's at least one regular reader who is interested in seeing me do that, and I'd do it for the whole general Educate Teh Public thing. But man, talk about a tough crowd.

On another note, I have no particular opinion about what anyone looks like or what they're wearing, grad school or elsewhere. My best friend in grad school was a total slob that had a tendency to wear the same clothes for a week at a time, and based on the way he smelled, he didn't shower very often. I didn't catch on to the fact that his clothes never changed until months after I met him, even though I saw him on a daily basis. As for me, I think the world should just be happy that I'm wearing clothes. :p Thusly am I in a non-public-face Academia position, because there's no way in hell I'd figure out appropriate clothing for anywhere else.

Random Michelle K said...

Yeah, I do tend to get along with women scientists better than women of other pursuits. They grok me a bit better. Not to the point where they'll start inviting me to hang out with them on a casual basis for purely social reasons, though (at least not more than once or twice).

What about geeks? (Just out of curiosity)

MWT said...

Well, geeks are easier to talk to than non-geeks because we have more stuff in common to talk about, but that's independent of the gender thing.

Hrm. Yeah. I'm going to have to write that post about social rotes. To boil it down some, every type of social interaction is somewhat scripted, like a ballroom dance. One party has to do the girl steps and one party has to do the boy steps. There's always a bit of negotiating involved in who's doing which parts, and even which dance we're doing.
Some people are flexible about that and others aren't. People who insist that I should always do the girl steps are the ones that tend not to want to talk to me for long, because we never get past the initial negotiations, because I don't do girl steps (don't know how). But some of them stumble onto an alternate dance (say, older/younger sibling interaction), and we can carry on from that approach.

Did that make any sense? I've been ruminating on a full-fledged post about that (or possibly several), which I might try putting up sometime soon...

Random Michelle K said...

MWT, that actually touched upon a comment I started twice and deleted because it came out wrong.
The reason I remained curious about your birth gender is because it tells me quite a bit about the environment in which you grew up.

You're only a little younger than I am, so the way girls were treated in America--and the roll models we saw and expectations from the world in general--we're very different from proceeding and succeeding generations.

It seems to me that when we were raised, the role women played in the world was changing, and that flux (IMO) strongly influenced us.

Additionally, as you said, we do have other roles that we play. if you remember, I was sure you were the oldest sister. nothing I could put my finger on, except it felt right to me, from your attitudes and how you described your family interactions.

The reason I asked about the geeks, is because some geeks I've dealt with are oblivious to social niceties and expectations. (Bless their hearts.)

ALSO... (laugh)

As far as expectations in interaction being met or not--isn't that also true the first time you (the general you) meet someone from a different culture?

This isn't to say that there aren't people that make me uncomfortable just being around them. There's one maintenance guy that particularly squicks me out. However, it's not due to expectations, but because I think he's a lecherous hump.

I find it very unlikely I'd think you were a lecherous hump. :)

Random Michelle K said...

Cripes. Apparently I had more to drink than I though.

Please pretend that comment is actually grammatically correct.

MWT said...

Okay, well, for starters, sex and gender are not the same thing. My birth gender was male too. I was always male. Gender is brain, sex is body. (*adds a Gender Dysphoria 101 post to the list of things to write about*)

Secondly, I think you're reading too much into whatever I've said about my family. My sister is the one that runs everything, not me. I care, but not like that. o.O

Third, I'm not sure you can make straightforward assumptions about what roles and role models I was aimed at and aimed for. I never identified with the female ones and actively fought to stay out of them. There's also the fact that I'm not white, and the way I was raised is not very similar to the way you were raised. (Which unfortunately leads John the Scientist to make all sorts of assumptions that also aren't as straightforward as he seems to think. :p)

As far as expectations in interaction being met or not--isn't that also true the first time you (the general you) meet someone from a different culture?

To a degree, yes. I suspect part of the reason that the takeout people are friendly with me is because their expectations are lower. They don't expect me to behave fully in their cultural norms (and the fact I don't speak their native language is a good reminder there), and they don't understand 'Murican well enough to expect me to behave fully to those.

So there are some similarities. However, gender expectations don't get lowered. There are things I'm supposed to have known since birth, that I just don't (and furthermore have no interest in learning).

Going out for the broader outlook again... I'm kind of curious where these types of questions are coming from. Do people ask these things because they think that I'm wrong? or because they're trying to make me feel better (in the "you're really not so different after all" way of thinking)? Because neither case is working as expected, if so.

Random Michelle K said...

Sorry. I work with college students. Gender is the default term for sexual organs, otherwise one gets an obnoxious answer. (sigh)

Yes, there are cultural and geographical difference, but I think the time one grew up makes a huge difference as well. When my friend Susan grew up, female scientists were a rare exception--science was a male dominated profession. That was slowly changing when we were growing up.

Society expected her to be a wife and mother. She didn't follow that, but that was what society expected.

When I grew up, even though there weren't always role models, the message from society was that I could be anything I wanted. Sure we hadn't had a female president yet, or an American female astronaut until I was 13, but *still* the message from society was I could be anything I wanted.

Yet with this message, I still experienced sexism, even through college.

These are the experiences I mean: what we were led to believe we could do and be, and the push back that still existed against us. That--to me--is what growing up female in the 70s was. It was being told on one hand I could do anything I wanted, but on the other hand seeing that what I was told didn't match up with reality.

And I keep asking questions because I want to understand better. You normally are not very forthcoming (laugh) about yourself, so I'm going to keep asking questions and trying to find a common ground for understanding until you get tired of me. :)

MWT said...

Hmmm. I think I pretty much just ignored all of that. Sometimes I paid attention to the ratio of women to men in various fields, but it wasn't a personal interest. I didn't translate it to mean anything about what I could be doing.

I went for science because of Mr. Spock. ;)

Also, I forgot to mention in my previous comment ... my sister gets really pissed at me because I don't do what she expects the oldest sister to be doing, and she has to do it. My mother is pretty irritated about that too, but not quite to the same degree.

Random Michelle K said...

But was it the same in childhood?

I already told my brother that if my mom is unable to care for herself as she gets older, she is living with him because I'll be damned if she's living with me. :)

Back to the jobs... if there had been pressure on your NOT to have gone into a field, would you have done so? That is, I think, the biggest difference between my generation and my mom's generation.

I probably wouldn't have.

MWT said...

Was what the same in childhood?

Back to the jobs... if there had been pressure on your NOT to have gone into a field, would you have done so?

Hrm. Well, how would you go about separating pressure based on gender from pressure based on success in life? My father thought it would be a bad idea if I majored in English or History, for example. I ended up minoring in those instead - English because it turned out I wasn't that good at analyzing literature, and history because the only real job in it is teaching (and see #24).

Also, through my teen years there was enormous pressure for me to go into music. Enormous. As in, all the grownups had laid out the course of my life for me. As in, I took French in high school because that was the language I needed to do well at harp, not because I chose it (I wanted to do Latin or German). So from that sense you might say I was pressured to not go into anything else.

I did anyway, because if I hadn't I would've had to shoot myself.

Which probably doesn't answer your question, but I think you're asking the wrong question. The fact that there were gender differences between various professional fields, it's probably inaccurate to say I ignored it. It's more that it didn't register as having any relevance to me. Because I was looking at it from the point of view of a guy.

Which is the whole point.

Random Michelle K said...


So going back to your family pressure to be a musician...

Did you receive that same pressure from outside sources (i.e teachers and school)?

If I had received pressure from *all* sides not to take science and math courses, I wouldn't have done it. The abuse from my peers was pretty bad, but I received support for my academic path from a handful of teachers and my family. If all those forces had been arrayed against me, I wouldn't have been able to do it.

When I'm talking about family pressures I'm not talking about current, I'm talking about the past. When I was a child I was given specific responsibilities because I was the oldest *and* because I was a girl. If my brother had been the oldest, we would have had a babysitter--he wouldn't have been the default babysitter.

But because I was the oldest and because I was a girl, I was expected to be more responsible.

My friend Kim had the same thing happen. We were given responsibility that our younger siblings were not, and would probably not have given had we been boys instead of girls.

That's what I mean with family order and sex. Having such responsibility thrust upon you whether you want it or not shapes you and your view of the world and your place in the world.

To clarify, I'm not talking about one's internal way of seeing the world, I'm talking about the pressures placed upon you from the outside because of your outward biology.

For example, IIRC, harpists tend to be female (a trend that is slowly changing over time). Would you have been pushed into playing the harp if your outward biology had been male? In addition to not liking the harp, did you feel you were being pushed into it because you were a girl, and would have been given a different instrument if you were a outwardly a boy?

My brother's activities included soccer and baseball. I was signed up for dance classes (at the age of 2 1/2 when I didn't have a say in the matter).

Luckily for me, I got to choose my dance path, and got ten years of tap, with occasional, failed, forays into ballet and jazz.

I would have loved to have played baseball, or soccer, but it was never presented as a choice. (Actually, there was only ever one girl on any of my brother's little league teams).

This is what I mean by talking about how the world in the 70s and early 80s was different from earlier and later generations. Certain doors were simply never opened for me because I was a girl, and that was a disconnect with what I was being told about my place in the world.

MWT said...

If there was anything like that going on in my childhood, it didn't make enough of an impression for me to remember it. Asians are supposed to be good at math, therefore we were supposed to be good at math, therefore we were sure not told to avoid it. :p My father was a physicist and was all for all of us getting into the hard sciences (he sneered at biology too, in much the same way John the Scientist just did in his last blog post).

My family was not like yours. We were signed up to various activities but not pressed to do them if we showed no interest. I remember lots of art and photography classes. My sister stuck with ballet for a long time while I did not (and now that I'm thinking about it, I think my brother got offered ballet too, but he showed no interest). All three of us played violin at some point (another stereotype about Asians going on there). My sister and I both played piano and harp, but she was not pushed because she wasn't the one with the talent. I played flute for a year and dropped it no problem because I had no talent whatsoever for wind instruments (I chose flute because it was small and light).

None of us did any sports - and I can't imagine that we would've been discouraged from signing up for them in high school if we'd wanted to pursue them. My brother was probably the most enthusiastic for home ec projects, out of all of us (for a while he was sewing things out of paper towels because we had no cloth).

The difference with harp was because I had a lot of talent. I am not exaggerating when I say "world famous" - I'm being literal (and no, I'm not bragging either). But it was my choice to pick it up in the first place (my sister's friend's cousin played harp, my sister's friend was asked to play harp but would only do it if someone else signed up with her, and so for some reason that I can't remember anymore, I did). The fact that it was a female-dominated instrument was a coincidence. The reason I left was because it was a female-dominated instrument and I just utterly could not fathom an entire rest of my life in that kind of role. I loved playing the music and sometimes still miss it.

And yes, when I said "all the grownups" I mean everyone. My mother and the entire IU harp dept. at the time (or at least it seemed that way). :p My mother really wanted to be a proud mother of a world-famous star. Maybe she wanted to vicariously do the schmoozing thing, she probably would have enjoyed it.

In conclusion: if there was any kind of group-related pressure going on, it was that my mother bought into all the stereotypes about Asians.

MWT said...

Wait. Tennis. I knew I was forgetting a sport in there somewhere. Tennis was the big thing with one of my cousins, and for a while both my sister and brother were into it with her.

Also, golf. Everyone in my entire family apparently plays golf. My sister probably has some stories about discrimination on the course amongst her coworkers, but that's not family-related.

John the Scientist said...

"Later on it occurred to me that you're trying to suggest that I'm really female after all.'

No, I was trying to suggest that you gravitated to science because the center of mass, while not centered on you, was closer than in other disciplines.

MWT said...

I think my brain is fried from this conversation, because the only reply I can think of to that is:

I have no idea what you're talking about, so here's a picture of a bunny with a pancake on its head.

Jim Wright said...

I followed this conversation with some amusement - first because MWT managed to break a few sterotypes I had somehow acquired regarding him and second because despite that I find I just don't care. When MWT mentioned item 9 on his list, what caught my eye was the "Q" in LBGTQ. I could puzzle out the rest, but still don't know what the Q means, I'm guessing it has something to do with tentacles.

However, I do grok the gist of his statements. One of the things I like about online friendships is that to a certain extent this medium strips away a lot of the bullshit that humans take into a relationship and exposes the inner core. All of us invent ourselves to some extent, some more than others, some less. Some are driven by their physical attributes, some far less so. I feel great kinship with those who define themselves, rather than allow others to define who they are or allow themselves to be defined in the first place.

While I never struggled with gender identity, I did very much struggle with physical issues. I was a small, skinny, bucktoothed geek with no social skills, my childhood was a holy hell because of it. But, I always knew I was not that guy, the one everybody thought I was - and thirty years later I'm a highly respected veteran, an artist and a writer, married to an exquisitely wonderful women who I love with all my heart and living the life that I choose - and all those people who tried to pigeonhole me can go royally fuck themselves. I am who I say I am, and I've always been. Those folks who defined themselves by the misery of others are in large part miserable bastards themselves today - because they continue to allow others to define who they are.

Nothing profound in my observation, I suppose - shrinks call it being self-actualized or some such technobabble, I just find it amusing.

Also, I find the image of a bunny with a pancake on its head hysterical. I know, I'm easily amused

MWT said...

I'm actually not sure what that Q stands for - but Join The Impact adds it to the end of theirs, so I figure it must be important. It's probably for "queer" for anyone who doesn't fit well under any of the other letters.

And now I'm wondering which stereotypes I broke. ;)

Also, bunny with stuff on its head. The third one down is the one that got spread all over Teh Internetz in 2005. ;)

Anonymous said...

This was a really fascinating and educational discussion. Once again - I thank you for sharing so honestly about yourself and where you're at, and being patient with our fumbles.

If we're unintentionally rude or make erroneous assumptions, it's not for lack of caring, we just have more to learn.

In my case, I was raised by a mother with very masculine dress, bearing and social cues. I interact with geeks who run the gamut, from effeminate men to masculine women to blank affect Asperger's types.

After a while, with such chaotic input, I think I learned to disregard many social cues and search for actual meaning instead, performing sort of an ad hoc functional behavioral analysis.

The bottom line is, for me, it still doesn't matter - never has - whether you're male, female, Martian, etc, except... your experience, your point of view, adds depth and richness to our online community and your passionate advocacy on gender issues teaches compassion and perceptiveness we might otherwise overlook.

Thank you. :)

MWT said...

Thank you for reading. :)

I'm actually fairly open to questions, as long as they aren't of the "it's all just your imagination/have you considered all of these reasons that you're wrong" type. Feel free to ask.