I don’t want Feminism because…

Over the past few months I think nearly everyone that has a minuscule amount of decency has questioned their engagement in politics, world view, approach to interpersonal relationships and what it means to be an American.  I’m not saying I wholeheartedly disagree with all of Trump’s policies or completely endorse all of Clinton’s.  What I’m saying is that liking Trump, or disliking Trump, is based on a prioritization of concerns.  If sexual assault prevention and prosecution are of top concern to a person they, in hierarchical order, disavow Trump. Even if the several instances of seemingly callous admissions of sexual assault did not also include actual acts of sexual assault one could not, in any way, accept Trump if sexual assault was at the top of their concern.

In the same manner people where sexism did not particularly concern them could support Trump without issue.  If these same people saw illegal immigration as a top concern in no way could they support Clinton.

Perhaps this seems overly simplistic. Numerous articles have been written about the misogyny directed at Clinton beginning in the early 90’s as First Lady. In many cases I agree with their assessment that the vitriol aimed at exceeded anger on policy alone, but during this election something else was happening.  We could not support the actions of the other.  Which also isn’t surprising as politics in the United States has devolved into painting the opposition as unfit instead of explaining policy. (sidenote: I know Clinton’s policies were on their website, but speeches were dedicated to lambasting Trump’s personal behavior.

And this is where I have a problem.  Because not only do we characterize someone like Trump to be just the worst. We also then criticize everyone else in the same manner.  The day after the election some people in my city planned a meeting to start to take steps to prevent a Trump presidency.  They picked a hotel in a neighborhood that is struggling with gentrification, currently, and many expressed they would not attend because it was at a bourgeois, white, gentrifying hotel.  The problem being the hotel rehabbed a historic building that was not being used.  It isn’t the developer that knocked down 2oo units of low-income housing.  It isn’t the hundreds of still empty condos. It wasn’t Target or Whole Foods.  But more importantly, being in a place that might show support for one thing was a top concern over working together to prevent Trump from becoming President.

In another part of the country a few women were planning a demonstration during the Inauguration ceremonies.  They called it the Million Women March and almost instantly it was categorized as white women co-opting the title from the march of women of color in 1997.  It was then criticized that we shouldn’t still be following white women.  The name was changed and these women reached out to women from different backgrounds and were then criticized for the tokenization of minority women.  All the while no alternative solutions or actions were around to step up.  So with two weeks until Trump is to be sworn in a hobbled, divided, and now mostly useless demonstration is all that is left to stop it.  Feminism.

I’m not a feminist.  I was.  But I won’t ever be again. You can’t be against the “women are crazy” bullshit by being actually crazy.  Planned Parenthood is probably going to lose funding.  The ACA is going to be dismantled.  Religious Freedom bills are going to be more common and may even be written into the Constitution.  This is real and I’m looking real hard with my side eye at feminists right now that thought this hotel couldn’t possibly be included in the resistance.  Or white women couldn’t lead a demonstration.  Because all women are going to suffer now in the every day to day. And the first to suffer most are going to be the least advantaged.

I am not a feminist. 

Where is your hierarchy of concern? It’s like you read Audre Lorde and took steroids.  You made criticism of white feminism central to feminism with devastatingly rigid adherence to intersectionality. That the slightest misstep was grounds for dismissal complete of anyone.  “Attacking” the system, by attacking individuals.  Like a child who can’t run home because they are upset there are bugs outside seemingly unaware that by running home they would then get away from the bugs.

I started writing this as admission that I was searching for something new.  That I already saw serious flaws in what feminism had become that made me evaluate other parts of feminist theory.  The following was my original thesis:

Like the Ethics of Care that Feminism, particularly within 2nd wave feminist discourse criticized, a replacement for feminism should include community based rationality that also celebrates emotive responses of nurturing behaviors. A world of pure rationality can only produce a world that encourages robust classification of all things including race and gender. But these classifications are only ever abstractions of identity founded through objective logic. It would be better to tie emotionality to logic and refuse to prescribe classification to anything but our own self and rely on the community, and the act that benefits the community rather than the self, charity, to build and then live in a world that respects a person as an end rather than the means of their identity.

I’m mostly still on board with this.  Logic and rational thinking are driving, and have driven, feminism.  The reasoning behind not doing the, now, Women’s March on Washington was there is a duty not to empower the system of white power so one cannot participate in an event led by white women.  The reasoning behind not going to the hotel was to not support a system that marginalizes and displaces low-income neighborhoods, especially communities of color.  The problem with both these approaches is that in this pursuit of feminist purity something else, much worse, happened.

We need more and better solutions, but more importantly we need to work together.  Even if the work involves overthrowing our government and burning all religious buildings to the ground.  Do you think everyone protesting the president of South Korea agreed on every point?  Or the people of Iceland upset their president used tax havens all wanted the same replacement? (they don’t, they still don’t have a government) They agreed their presidents were awful.  That was it.  Why are we so insistent that we need pure heroes?  That all of our actions need academic responses.  Even in responses against ableism in academia the responses are academic!

I don’t know what I’m going towards.  A friend of mine has been looking into Womanism which has a lot of really good parts, but mostly I’m still thinking that logic based philosophies are steeped in patriarchal systems.  So, as of right now I am American.  I still have hope for my country.  Hope that we still can believe that being American is our first creed.  That our differences will always be second to our citizenship.  I can hope that the lie was in the practice and not the dream.

Why God isn’t compatible with Religion

I’m used to seeing and reading why this or that is incompatible with Christianity and it makes me laugh.  It makes me laugh a lot.Because God, or G-d if your superstition is even more ridiculous giving power over Yahweh to the ink upon paper, isn’t compatible with religion.

Where does your religion come from? It’s from three places: divine inspiration (to prophets), divine interpretation (from prophets), or theology (everyone else).  You are probably in the last bit.  God doesn’t care enough about you to so completely prove themselves to you through miracle or has not directly granted you tablets, bushes on fire or spoken to you in such a way that you should go up to Obama (since you think they’re the antichrist, like Ramses) and turn your American flag cane into an Asp to free god fearing men from all the oppression Obama isn’t doing to you.

But what do I mean? I mean that religion doesn’t need God.  It’s all theology.  Your church was built by you, it is paid for by you.  The sermon each week is written by your minister.  Your minister learned theology from a professor.  That professor learned from the religion’s text which has so many numerous translations across different sects there is no longer a mandate of authenticity in anyway.  Malachai speaks of the God that doesn’t change, but god changed a bunch.  Specifically on Pentecost when God literally takes the new form of the Holy Spirit.  It’s the completion of the Trinity.  Either God changed or God believes they don’t owe you all of themselves until it’s convenient for them to do so.  Which kinda flies in the face of coming to Earth as a person (another change) which also changes depending on which Gospel you want to believe: the Synoptics or John.

Judaism knows this and doesn’t acknowledge it head on. But they also don’t worry about the reality or falsity of God.  Faith isn’t dependent or reliant on fact.  That’s why it is faith.  Morality isn’t reliant on God either.  Because if you need God to tell you to be good you aren’t a good person, but a willing slave (something Jewish people have some history with of understanding).

Islam is a whole other thing which gets a strange makeover and solidifies the former kingdoms of Mesopotamia, Babylon, Assyria and across the Arabian peninsula against the rising power of Rome and Christianity.  Islam brings new theology and reinterpretation of many of the same verses from the old and new testaments.  Officially they consider Jesus a prophet.  You know how Jesus considered Elijah a prophet.  Because we’re actually that connected.  Great ideas play well with the regular crowds.  Which is you. But church is cheaper than a bar eh?

God needs you more than you need god.  And your religion needs you more than it needs God.  As Paul said in The Last Temptation of Christ

“It doesn’t matter what you say because they listen to me.”

Start listening to yourselves and you’ll wonder why you actual believe.

The point of art

This is going to be a shorter post taken from my interview of myself in the shower.  I usually interview myself to work out ideas.

I think it’s to illuminate something.  The catch is that something here is the same with variance.  Think about how commonly art has been political, or social, or critical of society.  The something to be illuminated is the something.  What’s there and what isn’t. Illuminating. It’s almost like a Pandora’s Box except in evil’s stead neutrality.  Art across all mediums has been before or at the forefront of so many cultural shifts it’s hard to suggest that art isn’t relevant to our progress as a species.

Art should focus on the abstractions of realism.

As for the point now I think it’s a bit of a mystery.  Like many things going on right now a large number of unknown variables exist.  But I think one in particular is worth making a stronger facet of art.  And that is abstract realism. And more specifically I mean operating in multiple and across spheres of influence and knowledge.  I don’t mean water coloring outside of the lines or superimposing buildings in photographs of trees.  Art should focus on the abstractions of realism.  To define realness in a world that, since the development of film, has needed reality less and less as time continues on.  To illuminate the abstract baggage of our realness.  The realness of our words, and pictures, and bodies. Our friends and relations, memories and dreams.

For example, our use of emojis and acronyms.  There is a constant requirement that grows more important to understand immediately not only what one knows, but also of what one must immediately learn.  Why was the blue heart used?  Does my sister want me to know they are washing eggplants? The ridiculous truth that LMK and LMS share two letters, but no words.  Our speech contains numerous meanings.  Even our jokes have gone past simple punchlines.  We have begun using puns as a near constant communication device while our more complex humor contains sardonic observations that use false equivalences to describe multiple areas of our lives.  Such as, I went to visit my mom’s house again today.  Being a good daughter is an area of success conflicting with my still living at home.

The way we operate now involves more than a superficial level.  Our words contain more than what they alone say.  Words and phrases have implicated additions.  Black Lives Matter is a good example of this.  One of the first analogies to explain Black Lives Matter was to imagine five at a table and four are served food.  The fifth says they also matter and should receive something to eat.  The implicit addition is too.  But, implicit meanings only come from the communicator.  To those that oppose Black Lives Matter they imply more to describe the movement.  With one side saying the other is greedy and unproductive crybabies and the other saying they are blind to the truth.

But no one is blind to the world around them.  Humans are inquisitive, curious, self-doubting.  We seek validation constantly.  The problem of today is that our search finds reality without realness.  We accept “truths” that fit only the individual that accepts them.  One hundred years ago when art moved from realistic to expressionism and surrealism we saw an opportunity to illuminate the world that the surface misses.  Art now needs to illuminate the realness of our abstractions.  To make sense of a reality that is shared where realness is not.  To make the abstract known.

 

 

 

 

i might not be trans….and that’s ok

I was terrified. After reading a text from yesterday morning I hadn’t received a response. It was a week from the one day of the year I dread: my adoption day. For my family it was a day to celebrate me and, serendipitously, my grandfather’s birthday as well. I’m reminded that before I could know or remember anything or defend myself, be autonomous; I was unwanted. It doesn’t matter if that is a false thought, or false dichotomy, or that there have been good things to come out of that. For as long as I can remember my adoption brings these thoughts. My ego and fear draw from that perception. And on this year I was in love with someone, that “wanted to talk,” so much so the idea of breaking up didn’t cross my mind. I even responded immediately because I was happy to hear what they would say. I never thought I would be ignored for over a day. Abandoned.

before I could know or remember anything…
…I was unwanted.

The next day we spoke and while at a party the night before I made them feel like they were owned by me. Which I never intended to do or even quite remember doing what caused them to feel this way. Despite that, I apologized. My insobriety does not excuse an action. I was disappointed in myself and angry at myself and wished that I hadn’t acted the way I did and as I couldn’t change that I could only say I don’t want this to happen again. I can think of my actions and how they might respond to them so they wouldn’t feel I owned them in the future. I also explained how harmful being abandoned felt. That it greatly increased by anxiety and impulsiveness and hurts the most fragile aspect of my personality. Overall, I thought it went well. Overall, I felt that I had just apologized in a way that wasn’t wishful or over-exaggerating; while, also, revealing something deeper about me and reasoning this can make our relationship stronger. Two weeks later I ended the relationship with a text after being ignored daily and blown off thrice. I said I hoped they found solace somewhere if they were hurting and that I couldn’t continue this because of the damage happening to myself. That I felt stupid for loving. For even thinking I should love someone. (sad fact, I didn’t want to make friends as a child b/c I thought people would leave me)

The above story might seem strange when writing personally about being transgender. But writing anything is connecting what can connect. To begin a clear evaluation should be made that human decisions are always with, or in, positive or negative relation to emotions. We have known and unknown justifications, but all decisions result from nearly, or wholly, similar processes.

Being born any way has never meant
the same to the self and the world.

I wasn’t born transgender. I hate when I hear other queer people say they are or anyone saying others, or themselves, are born this way.1 It’s an easy fruit, but totally worthless. The same can be said about skin color, or ethnicity. What does it matter? We treat everyone as they’re born in this world. We treat. Being born any way has never meant the same to the self and the world. Inheriting transness or learning it doesn’t adequately refute bigotry towards queer individuals. Moreover, human genetics is not an infinite study. A so called ‘gay gene’ might not exist and taken with other queer identities the probability of such a genetic predisposition existing becomes increasing improbable. I’m calling it. It doesn’t exist. I was not, you aren’t, no one is born this way.

But
IT DOESN’T MATTER.

I’m still not sure if I’m trans. Or a woman. Or if I like my hair black or the outfit I’m wearing (I change 2-3 times a day). But it’s where I am right now. It is what I am choosing now. It is my choice. And I use the same faculties of rationality that a person would employ to pursue the cure for any disease or attack their lover in the wake of their partner’s infidelities or which restaurant to eat at or to go out to eat or to eat at all.

Also at this moment I am considering, and essentially planning, top and bottom surgeries Which, wow, that might be a bad decision. I literally describe my dick as cute. I think it fits me well. But it makes my fashion difficult. Sex is more difficult with it after taking hormones. Plus being trans and a lesbian makes my aversion to being a top during penetrative sex more accepted which is fine because I never really liked it when I started being sexually active. I’ve yet to stand to pee in a woman’s restroom and don’t plan on it because it might be alarming (who knew seeing a person’s feet in relation to the stall could be gendered?!?!). Notice a pattern? They are all rational decisions. And I’m still searching for more to know myself better.

I literally describe my dick as cute.

An entirely different reason explores aesthetics. When I was younger and small framed I wanted to be manly so much and as I didn’t grow, visibly, any larger despite dead lifting over 400 (5 sets, 4 reps, 425 was my usual) I eventually stopped trying. During one particularly bad cycle of depression my appetite decreased and in losing weight I noticed how pretty my collar bones were. I liked the curve descending from my hip bone. I’m still surviving those thoughts and they are still terrifyingly destructive and attractive.

I almost can’t believe how much I love my body now though. Of how few things I want to change, or hate because how they look. Or even dislike. Actually, I don’t hate anything on my body. Part of the first parts of my transition (before I came out to myself and friends) included the struggle to like my legs that were always small and I began to love them. (albeit, more similar to tumblr body-self-appreciation posts when you’re already feeling down than actual love) And out of that, somewhat esoterically, I determined what my legs needed was cellulite (and yes, I did phrase it to myself that way at least once) Like, they told me so. Even on my most critical body days I look good now and it freaks me out and I don’t know how to deal with it. Or how to take compliments ever. But still, I love my body. I enjoy discovering new comforts living in my body and hormones helped that process. Which started because I identified as a transwoman.

I’ve also been told I am on the whole more joyous in life despite still struggling with depression (which is also more manageable than ever) and yeah, that’s true. I get sad over Mondays. Which maybe to you seems normal, but to me a day of a week didn’t matter. I would be depressed anyway and going back to work or school wasn’t dissimilar from going to anything else. I have a greater range of emotion. And not only feeling emotions or feeling controlled by their severity; but engaging with them in healthy ways and welcoming every type of emotion.

I don’t need a birthright to deserve respect and love, legal protection and equality.

I started by describing the end of my most recent relationship. I’m not angry at them. I’m not bitter (well, a little bit). But mostly disappointed. I thought it was heading one way and it headed another. I’m not blameless either. Two things happened; one from each side of the relationship that made it nearly impossible to continue. I learned something, or to pay attention to how I interact when I am in particular situations or states. Maybe discuss comfort levels more seriously. Maybe think more of my actions being perceived than how I view them. I view my transness in the same way. I’m here now. I’m going down this road until something stops me or death. Or until I stop myself. I know the risks and benefits. I understand what is possible to reverse, difficult to change and impossible to undo. I don’t need a birthright to deserve respect and love, legal protection and equality. I don’t require an inheritance or elite status either. I’m not old money and I don’t fucking want to be. I cringe when I hear the Rockefeller line from New Americana by Halsey. Any reason demanding rights to yourself is in insult to the rights prescribed to each and everyone of us by being a living, sentient being. Don’t engage in the arguments of those that do not believe in your autonomy. Don’t believe in equality, know it. Don’t say love is love because love is not what is being attacked, we are. We are here now. We are living now. I am living now exactly as I want to.

1Lady Gaga got at least some of it right though, some people are born oriental, especially if you were born while The British Empire was drugging China with opium and oriental wasn’t considered racist

The 1%

There have been several pieces trying to make sense of the election. Cracked published one detailing the lives led by people in rural America. Vanity Fair released another about the concerns of women stopping just shy of suggesting that women care about their immediate family more than anything else. And I’m writing one now. Asking who is the 1%? And answering that if you take everyone that voted for Clinton and Stein you probably have 99% of the 1%.  And, unlike the usage of Bernie Sanders and #occupywallstreet, I mean geographically.  The way that anthropologists distinguish ethnic groups.  They were probably more right switching to that than they knew, or maybe they did know and were genius, but essentially American cities could probably be considered an ethnicity.
countycartrb1024

This sweet looking bird is an election cartogram of 2012

The above map uses population to scale the counties and colors them to show if Romney or Obama won in 2012.See the blue spot around Virginia? That’s 7 counties.  About 150×100 miles around Washington, D.C.  Lake Michigan is the same size as Texas when population density is used because of Chicago. The bottom part of the top right wing is New York City.  The big blue spot on the west  with the islands off the coast is Los Angeles County. One County equals Florida. To put it another way, L.A. Co. is the 11th most populous state between Michigan and New Jersey.  New York City is the 12th. And Cook County, where Chicago resides, is the 23rd. Two counties and one city (which is 5 counties) are in the top 25 populations by State.  D.C. just misses the cut.

So as the election results came in I’m sure you looked at those maps and said that’s so much red.  The people around me said the same.  It looked overwhelming. And it is.  But to  people living outside of major cities it’s overwhelming that cities can decide everything.  This election proved that Pennsylvania has more rural area than cities.  And you might wonder what my point is (I geek out over maps, here’s my favorite)

My point is we just didn’t get this election.  We didn’t get what it was about.  We wanted to talk about racism, misogyny, sexism, transphobia, homophobia, xenophobia because of what Trump said.  When we could have focused back to the economy.  Notice how Bernie even stopped talking about the economy after Donald Trump?  What happened? We were so fired up about that.  Well, you know how we make fun of people in the country for losing their mind when we suggest gay rights or abortion?  I’m suggesting that during this election they weren’t losing their minds.  We were.  People in cities went into a panic over Donald Trump nearly everyday.  And instead of looking at ourselves we made fun of C.N.N. (which you should totally do, it’s awful) People who lived in cities and voted for Hillary were the crazed population.  And we didn’t know it because we live in this echo chamber. I don’t even cross a river unless I absolutely have to. And that’s only 1 mile from my apartment. We travel further than anyone did in their lifetimes a century ago in a day, to take a weekend in another city, but week-to-week, we probably travel less than the fields plowed 100 years ago.

We have different focus.  Most of our ideas are, and have been, good progress to be more inclusive, utilitarian, caring, and environmentally aware, but while Trump was talking about policy, no matter how minimal in detail, we talked about every bad thing Trump said.  And we should, possibly, consider that maybe we would have won if we stuck to policy.  Which is ironic because Clinton has a command of policy, both current and proposed, that eclipses nearly everyone else in domestic and foreign affairs.  But the news wasn’t focused on that, nor did broadcast do live stage plays of Clinton’s numerous policy proposals from her campaign web page. And so, just like me, living at the bottom of our society and wanting a higher minimum wage and better jobs, people in rural areas knew that it hasn’t gotten better under Obama economically, and before that it was a slow decline from the beginning of post-industrialization.  When Clinton didn’t speak specifically about policy and said Trump was unfit, it probably looked like someone who didn’t have a plan (because she was an insider) to someone who did have a plan to try and win.

That sounds so far fetched.  But, I thought about a conversation I had with an activist in the Black Lives Matter movement about racism comparison between the North and the South.  I grew up in Virginia and had family in North Carolina. Now I live in Pennsylvania.  Would you believe that I meet more obviously racist people here everyday than I did in the south?  Racism in the North scares me more.  It’s the racism that believes people of different races are fundamentally different and have to be fundamentally different. I constantly hear “You don’t act like a black person.” now and almost never did in the South.  Most people didn’t care as long as you tried to fit in (and hey, I’m trans, I also caused a problem). This person considered both types to be exactly the same.  There wasn’t a difference.  It was academic. It was intellectual. Racism is racism is racism. Even though I had confronted them with examples, lived examples, of a difference.  If you want to learn where violence erupted along racial divisions in America you’ll notice how during the 20th century they moved out of the South almost entirely.  I don’t think we’re viewing racism wrong, but I don’t think we’re being honest enough about who the actual racists who act in racism are in this country.  We are scapegoating people from outside the cities and turning a blind eye from ourselves.

I’m not saying the KKK doesn’t exist. It does. So do Nazis and other white supremacist groups.  But they don’t make up all of Trump’s supporters.

We get angry when white people don’t care about black people or care less than white people. We fume when we hear someone ask  a street harasser “would you say that to your mother” because it suggests women owned by a man are the only ones that matter. These are great, but that thinking works in a city. People aren’t concerned with things they don’t interact with on a daily basis. Learning feminism, queer history, black politics, whatever think pieces we discuss over mimosas at brunch would strengthen and enrich and make better everyone.  But it doesn’t help when there aren’t jobs in your hometown. And you don’t have money to move. And you can’t afford college. And your car breaks down so you can’t get to the one job you did have because there is no public transit.

Hillary Clinton wanted to address all of that. We knew she did, and we have so much privilege in the 1% that a lot of us voted for other candidates, or not at all.  We even have so many people in our high-rise, studio, updown, kitchenette-living-room-combo, or homeless shelter castles that it only mattered because of the Electoral College and still cast more votes for Hillary.

The problem is that in a city, living in a shelter is a privilege. Because cities have them.  Because we can. 

I’m not saying that we shouldn’t address the staggering amount of wealth that flows upwards. I’m not saying we shouldn’t push for student debt forgiveness and affordable college or a higher minimum wage. I’m saying that we look really silly speaking about those things to people about to lose their house. When they’re living with relatives because they lost their job. Our ideas are wonderful, but rural america needed them 20 years ago.  If they were bothered, and many probably were, by the horrible things Trump said they held their nose and voted because Trump at least had the chance to change something. And he wasn’t going to go slow in changing things. Or incremental steps as a progressive, but a progressive who likes to get things done as Clinton said. We are the 1%. Laughing at the hicks while applauding ourselves. And now we’re the 1% being aghast that they have a voice and champion that can hurt us.

Am I feeling right?

I’ve had a lot of thoughts during this election.  And many more confusions. Or of times being hesitant or impatient.  Questioning my self in actions and behaviors and even in thoughts. And, in a most improbable place, my weekend home, Hot Mass, a gay afterhours disco, I heard a statement that coalesced around all of my meditations:

 fear is a privilege

But that isn’t enough.  Even the remaining puzzle piece, once determined, must be rotated into place.  The same is of our ethics and logic even when pertaining directly to, and/or influenced by, the whimsy of emotion.  I needed to think about what that meant.  How to explain the culmination of, by this point, over a year of my being inundated with stimuli ranging from emotional pleas, to fact determination, or process of elimination and simply being told I’m wrong or right.  We have all had this. Rich and poor, queer and cisgender, whatever color, ethnicity or nation of origin.  We all experience life through one unique lens. Mine isn’t perfect, nor is yours. It doesn’t come from, or not come from, belong to or controlled by divinity, at least not directly.  It has been molded, even in the strictest ideologies of creationism, through generations upon generations, celebrations and catastrophes, stories of legend and anecdote to the neutral zenith of the present. So what kind of fear is a privilege?

I hated the movie Crash and my friend loved it.  They saw in it the cogs unable to swivel in systems not of their design.  I saw a ridiculous trivialization of racism being more complex. Our discussion wasn’t unlike a number of talks we had.  They were usually diametric (diatribe on my part) over wine I thought was too bitter or they thought was too sweet.  And as I’ve grown older my pride suffers greatly knowing how wrong I was.  Or, advocating for my pride, blame my intelligence for overlooking a truth they could identify in the world and within themselves.  I was just too smart. (i’m literally shaking my head at myself for writing that last sentence, it’s not just you)

But it was my intelligence. I was brash, rigid, history was fact, science was proof and unwavering in my commitment to my way of thinking.  To the way of many individuals way of thinking.  But my friend saw something I didn’t see, or saw and did not correlate or tolerate.  The chaos of expectations. It’s almost like The Butterfly Effect where the wisp of the powered wing thousands of miles away reverberates to the beginnings of a great storm.  In between the reality of ourselves and the reality that surrounds us a friction occurs. Stresses can produce fractures. Determination can limit perception. Opulence indulges ignorance. They identified racism as the villain where I saw the actors as being weak. My friend also spoke frequently about the fragility of everything. To them, weakness was not a handicap, but a condition required of our humanity.

They photographed me a decade before I came out and transitioned as transgender. And on one of the pictures they wrote me a poem.

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They knew more of me than I did.  They saw, constantly, what I could not. I’ve thought of them as I thought about fear because of another thought they had, but one in which I didn’t disagree or agree because only empathy and understanding mattered. And it’s a quote that isn’t rivaled by any collection of words I’ve heard before or since. “I hate hospitals. I can’t stand them. I’m afraid. It’s the smell like death. It’s where people go to die.”

They grew up in Zimbabwe. To them, their experience, their childhood was radically different than mine. To them, hospitals were where people died. Medicine in many countries around the world is focused on containment of disease. Quarantining the sick is cheaper than the prescriptions and vaccines taken for granted elsewhere. Local beliefs might also make vaccinations or other medical modernities suspect so corralling the sick to a single place keeps the most safe most effectively. I didn’t share their view of hospitals because I had an alternative, but my reaction was the same to nursing homes when I was a child visiting them on a school trip. I faked being sick once to not go. An irony entirely not lost on me now. And putting these two thoughts, not of my own, together I had a workable frame. What did I perceive as a child? What perceptions did I neglect for more palatable ideals and truths? How do I think again as such?

fear chosen is a privilege.

chosen fear is a privilege.

Adding choice as both a descriptor and modifier creates two unique privileges. Choosing to be fearful and also choosing what, specifically, should be feared. Another privilege is choosing how to fear, but that remains entirely outside my current focus (see how determination limits perception?). Free will, then, ought to grant us the ability to choose twice in any emotional response. Once in our ethos and once in our telos. I imagine that is what they saw in Crash.  They saw how the actors choose fear more than other emotions, and, perhaps, without choosing what fear. It wasn’t a logical decision by them. They all were victims. They all suffered. I only saw a shooting of an innocent person of color. My determination for history and science, fact and proof limited my perception that the intangible isn’t intangible. It’s there when we don’t perceive it, and when we ignore it. It doesn’t care if we think it isn’t or when we yell about it. It’s irritatingly complex while being deceptively simple. Like an illusion drawn on a sheet of paper seen from one direction holding three dimensions when in all other points of view clearly holding two.

On the eve of this election this is my thought process. At the start of the year I wanted to return to activism and to politics. After Bernie Sanders did not achieve the Democratic nomination and did not announce a third-party bid for the presidency I did not want to acquiesce to Hillary Clinton. In watching Donald Trump accepting the nomination for Republican candidate I was bewildered, while a part of me knew that this was also expected. Part of me knew Clinton being nominated was also expected.  And so much chaos between them.  When we expect we stress. When we stress we fracture. When we focus we lose sight of our periphery. And in our decadence, our hubris, we remain ignorant. The expected is chaotic. The unexpected serendipitous .

I don’t want to be an activist. Nor engaged in politics. I don’t want to fight or care about so many things.  It’s too much. And in them, not only am I focusing too much, but I am focusing and operating within fear.  Hindsight is 20/20. Envisioning the future is somewhere between blind and our most advanced lenses viewing deep into space. Astonishingly beautiful and yet lacking in full clarity.

we’re fragile alone. fragile together.

I wasn’t wrong to feel betrayed and angry after Obama campaigned on a message of hope. Likewise I am not wrong to feel wary of Clinton and choosing to vote them into office. My feelings are valid. I thought transparency of government, disengaging from conflicts and regime change, open internet, healthcare accessibility and advancements in the rights and protections afforded to women, queer and minority communities were the goals. And many of them were warped or not pursued beyond symbolic gesture.  But I was wrong in feeling betrayed and angry at hope. My cynicism blamed, and also refuted, an entire emotion because I singled out Obama and placed all my hope in that. Tomorrow my hope is not in Trump. Or Clinton. Or Johnson or Stein. Or the people voting for Bernie despite him clearly saying thank you, but can we not? It is where it should always have been. In me. Behind egg shell thin walls strong as a castle. I hope they’re in you as well. We’re fragile alone. Fragile together. Choose an emotion. Choose what to emote over. We’ve changed our culture through terror and rage. Made decisions, then, in grief. Condescended in laurels and payment upon our amazement to our created arts. Stressed in our vigilance. Loathing and admiring our peers in all stratifications of society. When did we ever choose ecstasy? Where is our elation? Where is our hope? It’s there. Waiting to be chosen.