music to my years

as for the year’s politics, what can be said that hasn’t already? no, seriously, i’m not kidding. i’ve been spared many of the cruelest and most boringly depraved acts of the year at the hand of the trump administration in exchange for my whiteness and associated complicity in white supremacy, alongside considerable class power. ultimately though, the obsession with trump as a spectacle became too much, and with local politics around Rochester exploding after the Jaeger scandal, i committed myself to doing what i could, where i was, and with what resources i had.

i don’t fear trump. this is probably mostly due to the aforementioned considerable power i hold in our society, despite being a trans woman, but it’s also because i make an effort to channel fear into love and solidarity and i have more fear of people emboldened by him. those creepy men who stare at me if i go in the men’s bathroom, glare at me when i exit the women’s, and direct me which one to use no matter what i do. it’s always men.

i’d never protested before this year, and now i’m beginning to see their purpose and power. i wrote one of many scathing pieces against joel seligman and the UR administration, which was both satisfying and somewhat guilt-inducing, being so non-confrontational normally.

i listened to more music than ever, mostly thanks to my best friend who is a massive music geek and inspired me to seek out new stuff to listen to instead of just pumping “Is This It” on repeat. (though i did a lot of that too, likely more than is healthy) it’s too much to put here, so if you’re interested i suggest checking out my apple music profile @bklebe if you use apple music.

Goofy shit that doesn’t deserve a whole post

estradiol patch downsides: sticky, itchy, falls off in the shower

upsides: estrogen-powered iron(wo)man core

Open wounds and closed-off people

i spend every day
Fucking around
Waiting for the apocalypse
I will die
I live

I put down the window
Into her life
I peer into it too often
“Borrow a cup of sugar?”
—every hour
She always obliges

I say goodnight three times
Before making good on that promise

What cantankerous pantomime of destruction hath clothed me in my own nakedness?

there’s a thin line between gay and lesbian, for me

God is other people

twilight of the booksellers

before i came to rochester i went to barnes & noble about every month or so and had been for nearly fifteen years prior because my grandfather worked there. (to clarify: he’s still alive) his presence came to be associated with that place, strange though it may seem, being a large and largely impersonal chain of bookstores. when he wasn’t there, leaning on the second floor balcony, looking down at the entrance, waiting for me to arrive, i knew something was up. his wife and my grandmother died a few days later. he quit that job a few years back and i missed seeing him there for a while but last week when i returned to boston for some lab tests i visited the bookstore again and felt a much more conspicuous and possibly even more depressing absence: the books themselves.

the store is now about sixty percent full of things which are not books, mostly toys for adults (figurines from game of thrones and such). this is not a point of elitism; i have no problem with toys. but it is a painful reminder that the large bookstore of my childhood is slowly breathing its last as an institution and possibly as an idea. my knowledge of computers, my deep faith in the abilities of others, and my love for them were all ignited by books and experiences centered around stores like these. soon there will be no more hours spent memorizing computer magazines in the periodicals section so i wouldn’t have to buy them, no more churning through series after series in the kids section, even the once ponderously large YA section that was installed just as i aged out of the target audience has been compressed down to a few smaller shelves against the wall.

2017: The Year in Preview

(this was a first draft of the year’s-end post, but i realized i couldn’t actually center my experience of the whole year around it and say something useful because the first half of the year was so different)

I got up from the couch in our lounge and headed back to my room to retrieve a large bag of sour candy I had purchased earlier in anticipation of the night to come. On my way back out of the room, candy in hand, I glanced at the mirror to see if my hair was frizzy, as had become habit. HARK: A GIRL! Not different, but different enough. Just a few years older than me, though looking perhaps a bit younger. (HRT will do that to you) She had a tight-lipped seriousness expressing experience where I have a tired half-frown expressing exhaustion, and her hair was beautiful. I saw her face, unmistakably mine but more mature and stubbly no more. She had learned to take care of herself! I knew what she wanted for me: to see past the same-old, same-old depression and anxiety and nights spent up desperately wondering if the world was still young enough to sustain her newborn confidence.

2017 was the first time I wore a dress since I was three or four years old.


you don’t need to have dysphoria to be trans or transition, you can just do it and be a girl or a boy or both or neither or anything else. but for those of us who do have dysphoria, it can be hard to explain how that experience specifically can drive someone to transition. David Foster Wallace gives a very poignant description of feeling suicidal in Infinite Jest that also applies to what gender dysphoria can feel like at its worst. this is the “psychotically depressed person” passage (bottom of page 696 in mine):

The so-called ‘psychotically depressed’ person who tries to kill herself doesn’t do so out of quote ‘hopelessness’ or any abstract conviction that life’s assets and debits do not square. And surely not because death seems suddenly appealing. The person in whom Its invisible agony reaches a certain unendurable level will kill herself the same way a trapped person will eventually jump from the window of a burning high-rise. Make no mistake about people who leap from burning windows. Their terror of falling from a great height is still just as great as it would be for you or me standing speculatively at the same window just checking out the view; i.e. the fear of falling remains a constant. The variable here is the other terror, the fire’s flames: when the flames get close enough, falling to death becomes the slightly less terrible of two terrors. It’s not desiring the fall; it’s terror of the flames. And yet nobody down on the sidewalk, looking up and yelling ‘Don’t!’ and ‘Hang on!’, can understand the jump. Not really. You’d have to have personally been trapped and felt flames to really understand a terror way beyond falling.

the gist is that there are a lot of parts of transitioning that people do dread, and that it is in many ways “the fall.” nobody truly looks forward to having their genitals surgically rearranged in the abstract; at least not in those terms. you either do it or you don’t, it involves a tradeoff. it’s unfortunately an enormous hassle, involving a complex bureaucratic dance, physical pain, and frequently not-insignificant financial expenditure. and yet: the flames. weighing the two in your head, transitioning comes out on top. or it doesn’t.

how to speak of the unspeakable

I cannot bring to words the emotions I’ve felt and the things that have happened to me in 2017. This is the first time in a while I’ve been able to say that, and it pains me that I can’t say more in longform, so instead I’ll collect here a bunch of angsty short things I started writing (during the second half of the year, when life became a trial by fire thanks to estrogen) and didn’t finish, like last time, but this time verbatim. They’ll all be tagged 2017, but I’m not going to paste them together, because I think that’s rather inelegant. I realize I may have exhausted people’s patience for low-effort posts with the last one, but I honestly don’t know what else to do and I want to share this stuff.