I’ve touched on this topic before in my post called “Losing a queer identity” where I talked about how being a queer woman was a huge part of my identity. Transitioning means I lost that part of my identity and it makes me sad.
But I think my feelings and thoughts on losing that queer girl identity goes deeper than losing my place in an area of queer culture that I know and love (ok it is a lot about that but there’s more lol *issues by julia micheals starts playing*).
I think my main issue and reason why I miss being a girl is because I don’t like men. I have deep-rooted and internalized issues regarding men. Who doesn’t amirite?!~
I don’t trust men.
I feel uncomfortable around men. A lot of men are sexist and misogynistic. Men rape women. Our culture raises men to be violent and intimidating. Men take up space that is not theirs.
Men scare me.
And now suddenly I am presenting and feeling like I lean towards being a binary guy (I’m not binary but I present and appear as a man to most people). How can I suddenly be a part of this group of people who I generally feel anxiety towards? How can I be a guy if I generally fear and don’t like men?
But that’s where I’m at. I’ve become, I am, something that scares me. I’ve basically become a part of a group that I generally don’t like and that I generally fear.
I didn’t have any close, male friends until college. And even then, I found that I always held myself back. It was never the same type of friendship and camaraderie that I have with women. Perhaps that’s because male friendships are often coded and structured differently because of the patriarchal society we live in. But a big part of that must be that I don’t trust men, even men that I am close to.
The idea that I am seen and interacted with as a man makes me genuinely sad. That’s likely for a few reasons. First of all, I don’t identify as a binary man. Being seen and gendered as a guy definitely makes me more comfortable than when I was gendered as a woman, but my non-binary identity is seemingly erased by my masculine presentation and my physical transition.
But my discomfort with being viewed as a man doesn’t end with my own identity. It branches out into my relationships and my social interactions. Women, both who I know and don’t know, will likely feel the same things about me that I’ve felt about other men.
I likely make women feel uncomfortable, even as I am hyper-aware of my proximity and interactions with women. I remember even being in the same room as a man I didn’t know put me slightly on edge, even if he was being entirely respectful and not even speaking to me.
I could be, and probably am, that source of distrust and discomfort for women around me. And the thing is, I still feel like women and non-binary individuals are my people. Seeing a group of men doesn’t make me eager to join them and become ~one of the guys~ it makes me want to run for the fucking hills.
I miss that friendship you would make with random other girls when you go out and talk in the bathroom. I miss being a queer girl bonding with other queer girls about Hayley Kiyoko and Amy Ordman. I miss being one of the girls. There’s something magical about two women in a relationship (saying that now as a transmasc guy it kinda sounds creepy like those men who shout “hot” at two girls kissing in public) and I’ll never really experience that again as I’m not a girl with another girl.
Being a queer girl made me feel special. I was a part of this great, exclusive club complete with inside jokes and instant friends. Now, I’m just some boring guy. And I know that’s not really true, but on some level, I believe it.
And as much as I want to keep myself in the queer girl culture that I’ve loved for so long, I also don’t want to be that guy who encroaches on their wonderful space. It’s not something I should be a part of anymore, and while that sucks for me, it’s the truth. I don’t want to insert myself into a group that is not for me anymore no matter how much I miss it and wish I was still in it.
How can I miss being a girl so much, how can I really not like men, and still (kind of) be a guy? Let me know lol. Gender is a shit show sometimes.
Even though I’m happier and more comfortable than I’ve ever been, I’ve also never felt more lost. “Who am I” sounds like a stupid, existential question, but it is one that has been plaguing my mind for months. Without my identity as a queer woman, it feels like I am no longer who I was.
And that’s ok in a way.
But currently, I feel like my whole self has been flushed down the fucking toilet and all I’m left with is an internalized distrust and hatred for men, and thus, for myself.
I think I’ve watched every “How I Knew I Was Trans” and “How to Know if You’re Trans” YouTube videos in existence.
A common theme throughout these videos is, “I feel like I’ve known for my whole life,” or, “I’ve always known something was different about me.” Of course, this isn’t always the case, but it seemed like almost every video I watched had some iteration of this.
Which kind of sucked, if I’m being honest. I mean, great for them. But not so great for a very confused and distraught me. Because I didn’t have that.
I didn’t know. I had no idea. No signs. No clues. No funny feeling. I just didn’t know. Until I did. And even when I knew, I wasn’t sure.
So, whether it was to validate myself, or to fit in, or to try and find a definitive “reason” of being trans, or a mixture of the three, I struggled to squeeze myself into that box of people who knew since they were kids or teenagers.
I came up with the brilliant idea of making a list. I would look into my past for the “common signs” of being trans as a kid; DUH! Of course I knew all along!! I forced myself to think as I struggled to come up with the clues from my childhood.
Making a methodical, finite list of traits and qualities, likes and dislikes, seemed easier to me than accepting that there is no list of finite traits and qualities, likes and dislikes, that could ever tell me my gender. Only I could tell myself. And that shit is fucking terrifying.
So, I made a list instead.
I never liked dresses. In order to convince me to wear one to a family event, my dad once told me that wearing a dress was the only way I would be comfortable during the car ride. I cried, but I did it. I told him I wanted to wear a tuxedo to my wedding. He said only boys could do that. I was upset, but not life-changing upset, you know?
I only wanted to play baseball, not softball. Baseball always seemed cooler to me because that’s what the Red Sox played. I was forced to join softball when I was 10. I loved it.
I cried one year on Christmas because my Nana gave me bras in front of everyone. I’mstill salty about this.
I insisted I only liked “boy” colors like green and blue in preschool. A boy told me I could only like pink and purple, which is why he stole my green marker. I told him he was being a butthead. I got put in time-out.
I had mostly guy friends (until someone made fun of me and my best friend for having “guy-girl sleepovers.” Then, I didn’t have any guy friends).
I was upset when I got my first period. Mostly because I thought that I was going to bleed out and die.
I didn’t like “girl” toys. I got given a Bratz doll for Christmas one year. My friend and I spent the next few weeks putting it in my driveway and laughing when it would get run over by my neighbor’s truck.
I triumphantly stared at my list (‘7 whole signs!!’ I thought to myself) for a good minute.
All of the things on this list did happen and are true. But this list doesn’t mean jack-shit about my transness.
So what if I didn’t like dresses? You know who else doesn’t like dresses? A fuckton of people of all genders.
So what if I cried when I got bras for Christmas in front of my family? What 9-year-old wouldn’t get super embarrassed opening underwear in front of their Uncle and his nice, but overbearing, girlfriend? Does that make every embarrassed pre-teen person who receives bras on Christmas trans by my list-logic?
So what if I was upset when I got my period? You know who else is upset they got their period? A fuckton of people of all genders. Perhaps especially every person who ever bled through their pants in middle school and had to watch people laugh and point at the stain in the hallway. Are they all trans by my list-logic?
So what if I had mostly guy friends? So what if I only liked blue as a 5-year-old? My cis girl friend Jessie’s favorite color was blue as well. Does that make her trans? And what about people who had those markers you blow on that sprayed out a mixed color? What gender does that make them, by my own list-logic??
I stared at my list for a little while longer as I methodically refuted each and every clue I had thought of. Each “sign” from my childhood crumbled away until I was simply grasping at straws. I think I might’ve cried in the library (not an uncommon occurrence during college, to be honest).
I crumpled up the list and recycled it. (I know it would’ve been cooler and more dramatic if I’d thrown the list into the garbage, but climate change is a real fucker, you know?).
I didn’t know I was trans. Until I did. Gender is something no single list, word or experience can fully articulate. On some level, I wish it were that easy. That way I could’ve saved myself a lot of angst and a lot of time spent watching “How to Know if You’re Trans” videos on YouTube (literally would give me days of my life back).
There’s no list to check off. There’s no experience you have to have. There aren’t any trans prerequisites. Even if you don’t know like other people know. Even if you don’t know when other people know.
There’s just what you know. Even if you don’t know quite yet. You will.
This is a ramble with little to no point or resolution. You’ve been warned.
I haven’t been feeling like myself lately.
What does that mean? I don’t even know. I just don’t.
It feels like everything that makes me “me” is a socially constructed façade. Would I really be funny or nice if being funny and nice weren’t good things to be in our society? Would I care about my looks or my fashion if I never saw another person?
Who would I be without the world around me?
I don’t feel like myself because I feel like I don’t have a self to call my own.
I feel like a fake person. I really can’t even elaborate on what the fuck that means.
I stand in the shower, staring at the wall, wondering why it is I’m in this body at this particular time with this personality and this general feeling of unease.
Can I blame this feeling on my depression? On my anxiety? On my transition? On being a 20-something year old? Who or what can I blame for feeling like a fake person besides myself? Does it matter if there’s something to blame?
I lay awake at night for hours, feeling like I’m watching myself from above. Who is that? I ask myself about myself. What do they want? Who do they want to be? Who am I if that’s me?
This feeling doesn’t go away with any amount of sleep or activity. It feels like I’m floating through life making no impact on anyone or anything. How could I when I can’t even make any impact on myself?
I feel like so much in my life has changed so rapidly that there’s no question that I’ve changed too. I know I’ve changed. But I don’t know what exactly has changed or if it’s a good or bad change.
The only thing that calms my mind is running until I can’t breathe. That way, my only focus is on the physical, the tangible. Physical exhaustion is the only thing that can combat mental exhaustion.
I have no identity that I can pinpoint. What does that mean? What even constitutes as an identity? Is it gender? Personality? Values? Favorite foods and books? Who you are when you’re completely alone? Surrounded by people?
Whatever it is for me, it’s changed so much that I don’t know where it’s gone or what it is. I don’t know who I am, and I don’t understand how to figure it out. How can you understand something that might not be understandable in the first place?
I promise I’m not high writing this lol. ~Or~AM~I~?? lol jk
The real question is if I can allow myself to have this “identity crisis” and experience it with curiosity instead of dull emptiness and sadness.
This is a ranty post that I didn’t really plan but has been on my mind lately.
This topic is familiar to every queer couple I’ve ever known, and it is fucking annoying as fuck. So often queer couples will be asked by random (mostly cis straight) people, “Are you two twins?? No?? Sisters at least, right?? Wow, you just look so similar!!!!!!”
First of all, fuck off. Even if we were twins, why do you feel the need to ask?? Twins exist… get over it. And people are so excited when they ask if a queer couple are siblings. WTF? Do you know how many siblings exist in the world? What’s the big fuckin deal and why does it matter so much to my middle-aged waitress?
Also, apparently having the same color hair and wearing glasses makes me and my girlfriend look identical to most people. Tight.
But that’s not even the point. How often do straight couples get asked if they are siblings even if they have the same color hair or both have short haircuts or are the same ethnicity or both wear glasses? Probably close to never. Do you think their parents, friends, and acquaintances feel the need to comment how similar they look like it’s some sort of cool, funny observance?
It also hurts my feelings when people say this. And not just in a regular “that was a shitty thing to hear” kind of way, but in a dysphoria inducing, wallowing, deep-depression type way. Being compared to my girlfriend looks-wise is somewhat of an honor because of how gorgeous she is, but besides everything else I said that makes this a shitty thing to be told: I AM A GUY. How do you think it makes me feel to constantly hear that I look exactly like my GIRLfriend who is a WOMAN when I am a TRANS GUY who is a MAN?!
It’s offensive and annoying to hear constantly from strangers, friends, relatives, and acquaintances friends that I look like my girlfriend so much so that we are twins.The worst part about this is that OTHER QUEER PEOPLE SAY THIS SHIT TOO. It’s bullshit to “mix up” our names when talking to us: that’s not funny or cool it is hurtful and fucking annoying. It’s bullshit to tell a queer couple to their face, or at all, that they look like siblings/twins. LITERALLY, WHY WOULD YOU SAY THAT?? WHO DOES IT HELP?? WHAT IS THE POINT OF SAYING THAT?? If you wouldn’t say the same thing to a straight couple who both have red hair or who both have similar cheekbones, then why the fuck would you say it to a queer couple?
All it does is belittle the relationship and encourage people to see queer couples as no more than “oh they must be siblings or gal pals or brothers or something.” It isn’t a funny comment, it isn’t an interesting comment, it isn’t a comment that ever needs to be fucking said so just shut the fuck up and let queer couples be happy no matter what they look like.
If you’re one of my close friends, you probably know that I think about death a lot. I have since I was pretty young as well. I have a tattoo that literally represents death and I think about it on the reg.
This sounds morbid, depressing, and potentially creepy. But I don’t see it that way.
Being aware of my own mortality and my impending death pushes me to live. I know that I am not going to be here forever. So while I am here, why not do everything that I want to do? Why not get the tattoos I’ve been wanting? Why not stay in if I don’t feel like going out? Why work at a job that I hate? Why not live out and proud? Why not take a crazy chance? Why not do a crazy dance? If you lose a moment, you can lose a lot. So why not. Why not!!
If I’m going to die one day, I might as well live the life I have exactly how I want. And being aware of death is ironically what pushes me to live.
I’m not sure what prompted my daily thoughts about death (holy shit that sounds so creepy and weird wtf!!!) but I’m glad for it. Besides pushing me to live how I want while I’m still living, it’s given me a new outlook on regret.
It sounds stereotypical, but I really do think that the “no regrets” thing has some clout.
But I would modify that a little bit. It’s not that people don’t have any regrets. We all have regrets, no matter how small they are. I regret one of my college majors. I regret not coming out sooner. Fuck, I regret saying “you too” to the people who sell tickets at the movie theater when they tell me to enjoy the movie.
But all of these decisions are things I can live with, and have made me who I am today. Who knows where I’d be, better or worse, if I hadn’t done those things. When trying to decide something, there’s nothing helpful about asking yourself “What if I regret it?” because that is always a possibility.
The real questions you should ask yourself are, “If I do it and I regret it, can I live with it?” And, “If I don’t do it and I regret it, can I live with it?”
Let’s look at some examples from my own life. I know that I’m a trans guy who wants to medically transition, but I wrestled with the idea of starting hormones for almost a year. The main thing holding me back was my nagging fear that I would regret my decision to start them, seeing as some changes are irreversible.
But the idea that I could die tomorrow without ever even trying hormones was more terrifying than the idea that I might regret a permanently lower voice. I would live with more regret having never gone on hormones that I would if I do go on them and regret it.
So I’m starting hormones this Tuesday and getting two new tattoos next Saturday. And if I regret either one, I can live with that.
We all have regrets. Which ones can you live with?
The title here is misleading because I am queer and will always be queer.
However, once I realized I was trans (transmasculine to be specific) I did experience a loss of part of my identity. While I gained happiness and confidence, I lost my “queer woman” identity, which has caused me to experience a wide range of confusing and upsetting emotions. (Let me know why that intro sounded like a shitty first draft to a persuasive essay you wrote in the 7th grade).
Throughout college, I was extremely unhappy. I had some amazing times, made amazing friends, and met the love of my life. But deep down, I constantly felt unattractive, unhappy, and unmotivated. Looking back now, I know it is because I am supposed to be a boy, but I was living as a girl.
But at the time, I had no clue. I began college as a straight girl, clinging to femininity thinking that it would make me happy to have men attracted to me as a feminine woman. While I know I was objectively good looking, and I know that men were attracted to me, I was still unhappy. I became almost self-destructive and made my whole self-worth based around my looks and whether men wanted me.
Obviously that is unhealthy and that thought process was likely because of my upbringing as a woman in a patriarchal world.
So when I figured out I was bisexual as a sophomore, it was as though a whole new world opened up to me. My thought process went something like this: Men never made me feel good or like I was worth anything, so perhaps focusing on my attraction to women will make me feel good about myself.
And while this logic is still flawed as it uses other people to value myself as a person, it was kind of right. Discovering I was attracted to women as a woman made me the happiest I had ever been.
I was suddenly more confident in myself. I loved being gay (I’m using gay as an umbrella term here, I am bi, but I like the word gay for myself as well, let me live). I embraced my queerness to the extreme.
I wore exclusively tumblr lesbian clothes. I watched the L word on repeat. I posted selfies on tumblr on the reg. Snapbacks were a lifestyle. Softball 4 dayz. I even watched all of Carmilla (my fellow queer people, you know when you watch Carmilla that you are DEEP in queer culture). I embraced my already pretty gay walk. Queer lady YouTubers were my people.
I got to be the classic gay feminist constantly having gender and social justice discussions with my friends. Halsey and Fifth Harmony hypnotized me with their hotness. I had a sexy picture of Emma Watson in my room (to be fair, I had this up before I realized I was queer. lol at my past self thinking I was straight).
I walked around like I was hot shit. I wanted people to look at me and think “queer.” I flirted with girls and was with girls in a way that I had never been with or connected with men. I was actually loving myself for the first time. I was so proud to be a queer woman.
So why was I still unhappy, even when embracing my queer identity? I didn’t figure it out until the end of my senior year: I wasn’t a queer woman. I’m a queer guy.
Realizing that was a turning point for me. I am the happiest I’ve ever been right now living as a boy. I’m starting hormones soon, I’ve changed my name, and I’m in a much better place.
But being a man means that I am losing my place in the wlw, queer woman community. Being a queer woman brought me so much confidence and happiness during a time in my life when not much else made me happy or even made me want to get out of bed.
Not only that, but I am afraid of not appearing queer at all anymore, not just not appearing like a queer woman. Im not super masc or anything, but I’m afraid as I start passing that I will be straight/cis passing as well. I am so proud of my queer identity; I don’t want to lose it. I don’t want people in Provincetown to think I’m just some straight tourist. I don’t want to go to pride and have people upset that a straight appearing cis-looking guy is there.
Realizing my trans identity has given and is giving me so much. I’m just afraid about what it might be taking away.
It sounds dramatic, but I feel grief over the loss of this identity. But I’m also confused. I know that I’m a guy, but when I see queer lady stuff like Hayley Kiyoko’s new gay as fuck music (WHICH I AM LIVING FOR BTW) and Lauren and Halsey’s queer duet song and girls holding hands in public and other wlw stuff, I feel a kinship with it. I feel like, hey that’s just like me!
But it isn’t anymore. I feel cut off from that world that brought me happiness and confidence during a time where I almost always felt like shit. And when I feel like I’m a part of that wlw community still, I start to question my trans identity. How can I be a guy and still wish that I was a part of a wlw community? How can I look at my favorite queer lady YouTubers and feel so connected with them as though I am one of them if I’m really a guy?
Being a gay girl gave me things I desperately needed as a depressed 20 year old: community, confidence, and hope for happiness. Losing that is really hard for me to deal with. But as a guy who is sad about not being a gay girl anymore, it is a confusing loss. I know I’m moving forward and being who I really am as a boy. But being a gay girl was fucking fun, and I do miss it.
Hopefully that made some sense and can resonate with someone out there. You can be trans and miss parts of being your old self. You can be a trans guy and miss your experience as a queer girl. Being trans doesn’t have a rulebook or any requirements.
I’ll just keep telling myself these things until I really believe them.
So I’m kind of bummed that this second installment of this series took forever for me to get to.
I was thinking I would do like 1 post of this series per week, but thinking back that is a little unrealistic for a couple of reasons.
First of all, I do have a job. People think that freelancing means a ton of free time, and sure it might mean some more free time than other types of work, but I still have to work.
Secondly, I am a fast reader, but I’m by no means one of those people who can scan a fucking page and then recite it back. I take my time while reading especially for things like this were I’m taking notes, trying to find meaning, staring at the same sentence for a few minutes for no reason, etc, etc. And not only do I have to read the whole book, I then have to actually write the post about it.
So one post of this series per week? Fuck no lol. I’ll aim for once every couple weeks, but we will see.
After that long ass intro, I still didn’t write what book I read for this post (even though it is in the title of the post). I read Wild by Cheryl Strayed. I’ve read this book a few times, and each time it was an emotional and amazing read.
Why I Bought the Book in the First Place
I’m going to try and follow a similar structure for each of these posts, but obviously it won’t be exactly the same.
So as I said, I have read this book before and I loved it. I’m always a slut for books about people dropping everything to go on a journey, especially ones that involve hiking.
But my journey with this book didn’t start with the book: it started with the movie. Usually I am that annoying person that smugly slips into conversation, “Oh, I read [insert book name here] way before it became a movie.”
However, that was not the case here. I saw the movie when I was a sophomore in college, which was around 3 years ago (fuck I feel old). The movie was great and it does a great job at adapting it to a film (except that Reese Witherspoon is deff not 26 in the movie like Strayed was on the trail). I actually saw it with my mom, which turned out to be good because a lot of the book/movie revolves around Cheryl’s mother, her mortality, and their relationship. Needless to say, I sobbed multiple times at the movie (I’m a soft kinda guy what can I say).
After we walked out of the theater, I immediately made my mom drive me to Barnes and Noble where I bought the book and read it in one sitting, through the night, until 3 am.
What I Would’ve Rated it Then
I would’ve given this book an 11/10 if that were an option. I was enthralled and read it multiple times in a row because of my love for it and its message.
Why was I so enthralled? This book tells the true story of a real person in a transition period of life, dealing with death, family, and her own identity. Sure, she was hiking the PCT and having adventures and misadventures alike. But the underlying message of personal growth and odyssey was so captivating to me.
This message of growth and transition was especially appealing to me at that time when I was going through this type of growth and change as well. I was just realizing my sexuality and queer identity, I was halfway through my college career, I was depressed and anxious, and I had no self-esteem. I was searching for meaning in my own life as I tried to understand myself.
Knowing that, it isn’t very surprising that I latched on so tightly to Cheryl’s story of independence and hardship. I felt so alone without any direction. Like Cheryl, I wanted to escape all of my problems and find a journey that would help me learn about myself. I wanted to walk and hurt and feel pain until I could no longer think about everything I was going through.
So I read. And I read this book. And it helped me more than anything or anyone else during that horrible time of my life. It wasn’t a super happy, uplifting book that made me feel better in that sense. It was raw and sad and painful and made me cry and laugh and feel scared and understand mortality. It is someone’s real life and it describes some of the hardest things we as humans have to go through elegantly with wit and raw emotion. It was a narrative that I could relate to.
Perhaps my own issues at the time didn’t really match up to Cheryl’s in Wild: I still had (and have) my mother in my life, I had many close friends, I wasn’t using drugs, my family was and is a constant support, and I wasn’t in a struggling romantic relationship.
But what was (and still is) so great about this book is that its truth extends past these particular struggles that Cheryl faced. Just because I hadn’t lost my mother like she had doesn’t mean I can’t read her words and feel a little bit of that pain. Just because I hadn’t lost my family doesn’t mean I can’t feel the fear of that loss, and the grief that I will have to endure. Our struggles were different, but the emotions are universal.
So, like I said: I would’ve given it an 11/10.
What I Rate It Now
With the previous description I just gave, it isn’t surprising that I’m still giving this book a high rating, but perhaps not quite an 11/10. I’ll give it a 9/10.
For all of the same reasons I listed earlier, I still love this book. I still felt the emotions, I still cried, and I still connected.
But it was harder for me to get into it on this reading. I feel like I thought too hard about which book I should read next for this series. It makes sense that I would read this book as I am yet again in a transition period: I am literally transitioning from female to male, but I am also just out of college trying to figure out my life. It makes sense to read this book about transitions.
But I think I overthought it. I didn’t re-read this book now because I felt like it or because the message truly spoke to me like it did when I first read it. I read it this time because it made sense for this blog post. I thought it would be a great parallel for my life, just like it was when I first read it.
And while it is a great parallel, I think that I am going through too much hardship in my own life currently to want to also read about someone else’s hardships. When I first read it, Cheryl’s struggles helped me feel less alone and helped to put words to my pain and my inner desires. But when I read it this time, it was as though I was feeling the burden and heartache of her life along with everything else that I’m going through. I still felt the raw emotions that make this book so special. But those raw emotions, instead of making me feel validated in my transition, made me feel worse.
I chalk this up to my worsening anxiety and depression and not because of a dislike for the actual book. My desire to have a romantic and poetic reading because of the ~parallels~ between my life and the book got in the way of me actually reading something that would touch me in that way.
Instead of reaching for something I truly wanted to read, something that called to me, something that had a message that resonated with me right now, I chose something that I thought should’ve done all of those things because it did in the past. And that is a mistake.
Why is that a mistake? I made a decision for my current self based on my past self. This might seem dramatic (It’s just a book Elliot jeeze) but it is the truth, and it’s something that I do a lot. I make decisions for myself based on how I felt in the past or how I think I will feel in the future. This will only lead to angst and struggle. My past self and my future self are not more important than my present self. I need to think about myself now and what I need to do to be happier now, not what I did to be happier 5 years ago or what I think might make me happy 5 years from now. I am important, right here, right now. I need to make decisions with that in mind.
So in the end, the actual re-reading of this book didn’t give me as much insight as the choice I made to re-read it did. Weird how introspection works sometimes.
Am I Keeping This Book?
If anyone remembers back to my first post, the reason I decided to do this “re-reading my bookshelf” series is because I am trying to focus on a minimalist lifestyle and only have things that really add value to my life. I wanted to clear out my huge stash of books because they take up so much space.
So am I keeping this book? Short answer: no.
But that doesn’t mean that this book didn’t add value to my life. It 100% did and has added value to my life. But just because it did add value doesn’t mean that I should keep it. It is a great book that I will always love and will always remember as something that got me through one of the hardest times of my life.
But this book isn’t something that I reach for to re-read regularly like some of my other books. Wild is something that I didn’t even really want to re-read right now, I just did because I thought I should and I thought it would help me. It has added value to my life in ways that I can’t even begin to try and put into words.
But the physical book itself didn’t add that value. It was the situation in which I read it the first time. It was me, crying about coming out and realizing I was queer, reaching for this book in a time where all I did was panic and hate myself, and reading it through the night. It was watching the movie with my mom, realizing how much I love her and how short life is. It was reading about the pain that Cheryl felt and thinking that my own pain was somehow being written down by someone else, and how that meant I wasn’t alone. It was me writing in my journal about how much I loved this book and how much it helped me start my own journey, just like Cheryl did. The value was how the story affected my life in a time when that was the exact story I needed to hear.
It was never the physical book. Until now, I hadn’t read it since I read it three years ago.
With that said, I can’t justify keeping the book. If the message and the story calls for me again in the future, I can buy it again or go to the library. But I need to make a decision for the present day me, not the future me. And I can’t see myself wanting to read this book again for a while.
That doesn’t mean its message and meaning have not given me something so valuable that I really, truly think I owe my current life to it.
We all heard about the trans military ban Donald Trump tweeted out yesterday.
I have a couple of thoughts. I’d like to posit some serious questions and then move into something that can maybe bring people some happiness (I’m talking about my horrid drawings).
The support I have seen on social media from both queer and cis allies has been immense, and for that I am grateful.
But where is all of this support in day to day life? Trans people face this type of discrimination REGULARLY. Trans people are attacked each and every day. Trans people are killed each and every day for just leaving their house in the morning.
Allies should look themselves in the mirror each day and ask how they can support trans people. Not just on days when there is a mainstream report of discrimination, but on normal days. What can you do if you see discrimination in action? Can you try to identify any internalized hate you have towards queer and trans people? What can you do each and every day to support people instead of only tweeting your support when it’s a hot topic issue?
This goes for all issues of discrimination. Black lives still matter even when you aren’t getting mainstream coverage of discrimination. Trans lives still matter even when you don’t hear about violence against trans people in the news. Women’s lives matter. POC lives matter. LGBTQ+ lives matter. What can you do every day to show your support for marginalized groups? Be better, analyze your words and your actions, and stand up for those whose voices are silenced. Recognize your privilege and use it to help others who don’t have the privilege you do.
With that small rant out of the way, let’s get into some drawings.
I found some of my favorite tweets from yesterday’s response to the trans military ban and I thought they could use some illustrations. So enjoy.
First we have this tweet:
This one just made me smile and think of trans people growing out of a garden, happily just living, surrounded by plants and the sun. So that’s what I tried to draw. But as I’m sure you know, my ideas for drawings and what I actually translate onto the paper are two very different things:
This drawing was supposed to be cute and make you feel good. Instead, it looks like donuts got stuck in an abnormally large piece of broccoli and a creepy, demonic Arthur the Aardvark has decided to lean against a tree to examine his triangle leg.
For wanting to create something that gives off a “flourishing” vibe, I didn’t really put in many plants. There’s literally only two plants.
At least this was created with a nice sentiment in mind, right?
The next tweet was more of a funny one that I actually lol-ed at (forgive me for using “Lol-ed” unironically):
It’s tweets like this that make me still fucking love twitter. That is some good shit.
While this is a pretty literal interpretation of the tweet, I think it’s dope. I’m gonna give myself a pat on that back for drawing 3 people who actually look like people instead of my usually drawings that make people look like evil creatures from The Ring.
I think the bottom-right panel is particularly good. Not only is that unmistakably Donnie (peep the double chin and weird circular mouth with two tiny teeth showing), but also notice the great detail I put into Donnie’s hands and weird mullet hair. Let’s give a round of applause to the cartoon about to chuck him into that volcano. You’re doing amazing sweetie.
This another tweet that I laughed at (ok laugh is a little bit exaggerated: I smiled at my phone, which counts as a laugh when it comes to twitter).
There’s a lot to absorb with this piece. I haven’t yet come up with a way to draw Trump the same way in multiple different situations, so enjoy the random changes in his face and structure.
I thought I was pretty clever with this one (ex. Trump in bed with the Earth saying its hot. get it cuz like global warming?!?! it’s a hot globe!?? I guess it was funnier in my head). Enjoy looking at his Cheeto chest hairs and his creepy frog smile.
And finally, we have this tweet:
I think that sums up my thoughts pretty well. Not much to elaborate on.
For those who are unaware, this post is a part of a new series that I am going to be doing on this blog that I explained here. It’s basically a “Julie and Julia” type exercise except instead of remaking recipes, I am re-reading and reviewing books from my bookshelf instead.
This is this official first post of this new series! Sure, the introductory post is one thing. But when you’re depressed, motivating yourself to fulfill goals and actually do the things you say you’re going to do is fucking hard. So honestly, I’m proud of myself for following through, even if this is the only one I do (but I don’t think it will be).
I hinted at the first book in my last post, but for those who were still confused: I started with Twilight by Stephenie Meyer.
I’m still not 100% sure how I am going to structure these posts, so hopefully this goes well.
Let’s get right into the post!
Why I started with Twilight
I’m not really sure why I wanted to start with this one, but ever since I came home from my last year of college, I have had a craving for Twilight like Edward has a craving for Bella (I just died at that simile. That’s the only time I’ll do that lol).
The explanation I have come up with relates to my nostalgia I mentioned in the first post of this series. I started reading these books right around the Twilight heyday of 2007-2008. I would read the entire series over and over and over without getting tired of it.
So reading it now brings back memories of middle school and high school. While those were far from my favorite years, I do have great memories from that time of my life.
I made my very best, lifelong friends. I was actually considered to be above-average intelligence wise. I was playing softball competitively. I could eat anything I wanted and not gain weight or feel like shit after.
My idea of a great Friday night was sitting in my friend’s house eating Gyoza and listening to TGIF.
My concerns were small and unimportant, like whether a boy liked me (he didn’t lol), if my outfit was cool (uggs and basketball shorts ftw), and whether I would dance with anyone at the all-school dance (does swaying awkwardly with my friends as we all tried to look like we were quirky and fun for dancing with each other count?).
When you think about it, coming back from college for the final time and craving my childhood memories or the innocence of simpler times is not all that out of the ordinary.
Perhaps other people would flip through a photo album or talk about old times with high school friends, but I opted for reading Twilight.
Why I Bought the Book In the First Place
Let’s get into the background of this book. We all are aware of the Twilight obsession that swept the nation. Being around 12-13 when this occurred, I was no exception in the craze.
To put my own obsession into perspective, I went to the midnight premiere of Twilight and I also got the DVD the day it came out to have a Twilight viewing party/sleepover at my house. I tried to find a picture from that night but I couldn’t, although I’m sure it was a rager.
Just to give you an idea of who we are talking about here, I’ve included a couple of pictures of me and my middle school friends (sorry to all of them for rehashing these lost images).
I basically followed the trend of the time and really enjoyed it. It was an easy read, I was ‘boy crazy’ (meaning I would constantly pick out random boys in my grade that I “like liked” and my friends and I would create nicknames like “Milky Way” and “Eggwhites” so we could talk about them in public), and it was a generally fine book.
What I Would’ve Rated It Then
Solid 8/10. Would, and did, re-read. As I said, at the time it was a generally OK book with romance and teen angst, both of which I craved. I was not informed on gender and feminist issues, and I had not really read any “good” books besides ones I had read in school.
I was mostly reading dystopian young adult novels where there’s some mysterious illness people named Kai get when they’re born before they go through “The Trials”.
This means that I was blissfully reading through an abusive relationship with a completely unrealistic storyline/love-timeline and taking it as fantastic literature that was normal and acceptable. More on this later.
What I Rate It Now
A reluctant 5/10. The reluctance is that I wish I could rate it lower knowing that it is a shitty message given to young people, but I can’t because of the memories and nostalgia attached to it.
Explaining My Rating
Abuse and Sexism
Let’s get into the reasons for the low rating.
Twilight takes us through an abused teen girl’s relationship with her abuser. Now, obviously it is not said that this is what it’s about on the inside cover, but Edward’s manipulation and verbally abusive statements make it hard to see their relationship in any other way besides an abusive one.
The constant descriptions of Edward as perfect seems to gloss over the fact that he controls Bella’s life in almost every way (“Don’t be difficult, Bella”, Edward says in response to Bella not wanting to do something he never even asked her if she wanted to do), that he is insecure, and that he is manipulative.
Emphasizing his perfection places the importance of a person on their looks, telling young people it’s ok if they’re being abused by their partner, as long as they are attractive.
There are many more well-written articles on this topic, so I won’t go into too much detail. But part of the rating reduction is because this book teaches teenagers to not only accept abuse, but to see it as romantic and how real relationships work. That is fucked up, Stephenie Meyer.
I also came across a GEM of a sexist comment right near the end of the book:
“A man and a woman have to be somewhat equal [in a relationship] […] they have to save each other equally” (473-474).
OK WHAT THE FUCK STEPHENIE. First of all, relationships aren’t about SAVING EACH OTHER THAT IS FUCKED UP AND PROMOTES ABUSIVE RELATIONSHIPS.
Secondly, what the fuck is this “somewhat equal” business? Like, they should just be equal??? Not somewhat equal???
Also, Bella at one point asks Jacob if he, “see[s] anything [he] likes” in reference to women. Women are not objects, Bella.
I understand that realism might not be what you get with a book about vampires. I understand science fiction and fantasy, and that is not what I’m referring to when I say this book is unrealistic.
Their relationship timeline is just complete bullshit. I’m totally unconvinced about their being in love. They basically talk twice before they declare their love and all they talk about is how he is a vampire and how she is a clumsy idiot. Their ‘love’ and relationship just escalate so quickly.
How did I ever think this timeline was normal? Perhaps it was because I was an impressionable teenager who was being taught that this manipulation and rapid infatuation was not only normal, but also desirable! Who knows!
God awful Writing
I’m obviously no George Eliot, but as a writer and a reader, I can spot bad writing when I see it. As I’ve gotten older, written more, and generally become more well-read, I have also come to realize that the writing in Twilight is just awful.
For example, Stephenie cannot seem to find other descriptive words besides “perfect” and “godlike” when it comes to Edward and his vampire squad. Yes, we get it, he’s hot. Move the fuck on Stephenie.
The dialogue is also unrealistic trash that can be summed up in the following interaction:
“”I love you,” [Bella] whispered.
“You are my life now,” [Edward] answered simply,” (314).
WHAT THE FUCK LOL. But seriously who would ever talk like that besides characters on Shonda Rhimes shows after they’ve made a large, unnecessary, metaphorical speech?
Why My Rating Isn’t Lower
Even though this book is awful for many reasons, I still love it. Besides the memories it holds, the ridiculous plot, horrible writing, and atrocious dialogue makes it fun to read. I’ve certainly read worse books and there’s still something great about reading a bad book.
To sum up my reading experience, here are most of the notes I took during this re-reading:
This is so cringe it’s awful
I’m still enjoying it???
Bella is an idiot with no personality besides ‘clumsy’
Bella thinks she is hot shit for knowing the fucking cell cycle and having already read “Hamlet” and “Wuthering Heights” she is the definition of a “I’m not like other girls” girl
Stephenie Meyer is fucked up
But I’m still enjoying it?? what the fuck??
Describe Alice as a “graceful gazelle” or Edward as a “lion” one more time Stephenie I dare you
Bella’s life revolves around Edward which is so appallingly unhealthy
Now I want to watch the movie lol #kstew
Bella’s decision-making skills are those of a five-year old
This book includes the trope of the villain discussing their whole evil plan ultimately resulting in their downfall because they took too long lol
I feel bad for laughing at the torture scene but all I can picture is the scene from the movie that was just not well done and involved weird dog noises coming from kstew
Why would they make Edward suck out the venom?? Like Carlisle could’ve done it??
Describe Edward as perfect one more time I swear to god
Am I Keeping This Book?
In the end, I still like this book. It is definitely a problematic fave of mine. Kind of like how I know the show Friends is homophobic, transphobic, and fatphobic, yet I still like it. I think we all have those books and shows that we both love to hate and hate to love.
Overall, I enjoyed reading this book. Despite the awful writing, the plot holes, and the sexism, I found myself happier when I was done reading. Perhaps I didn’t learn any life lessons or discover a new philosophy, but while I was reading it I laughed and smiled, which is a triumph considering I’m depressed and anxious almost all of the time.
This re-reading taught me that you’re allowed to have favorite things that aren’t what people consider “smart” or “intellectual.” You can have things you like that you don’t have to call your “guilty pleasure.” It’s just something that makes you happy instead of something that makes you happy and ashamed simultaneously. I actually think it is good to have those things in your life.
As someone who studied gender, sociology, and sexuality in college, it is easy to analyze everything to a point where most things are not enjoyable because of the rampant sexism and homophobia.
And obviously it’s important to call out things that are sexist/racist/awful and create new entertainment that doesn’t rely on these things for humor or plot lines.
But sometimes it’s ok to have a problematic fave. Whether it’s Twilight, or Family Guy, or The L Word, let yourself have a pleasure that isn’t a guilty pleasure. Something that you can laugh at and that brings back memories from a different time of your life.
So crucify me if you want for liking this stupid book. Sue me. But I’m sure you can all relate on some level to liking something that is just so bad it’s good (looking at everyone who still thinks Grey’s Anatomy is good after 13 fucking seasons).
All of this being said, I am going to keep this book (I probably won’t keep the rest of the series, but having Twilight lying around is something I’m not ready to give up quite yet). Even though it is problematic and ridiculous, it added (and adds) value to my life.
I know I can return to this book when I need a laugh or to escape from depression, even if it’s just for 20 minutes.
This book was important to me for a long time, and it brings back so many good memories when I read it. It’s a book I’ll likely re-read many times just like I did as a ~tween~.
All in all, I feel like this exercise is actually helping me the way I wanted it to. The reason why I started doing this series in the first place was because of my drive to live as a minimalist.
But living as a minimalist doesn’t mean having 2 shirts and no furniture. It means living with less and having items that add value to your life.
So even though I am keeping this book instead of giving it away, I’m keeping it for the legitimate reason that it adds value to my life (I just remembered that I’m talking about Twilight and died a little bit. Oh well.).
Since I was a kid, reading has been something I could always turn to for entertainment and solace. As an only child, books became a way for me to join many different families and learn about life through many different experiences.
Because of this love of reading, I have a full library that has filled my bookshelf, spilled over onto my floor, taken up my bedside table, and it has even made its way into the bathroom (book poops are the best poops). I’ve read almost every book that I own, but definitely not every single one.
But I have a confession.
I am an addict. A book buying addict with an obsession for purchasing new and used books even though I am currently reading 3 at one time and have 15 more on my shelf that I bought and have not read yet.
Nothing gets me as high as finding a new and exciting book with pages that have that used-book smell and dog-eared pages (I tried to make that sound the least pretentious as I possibly could).
I’m a book hoarder if you will.
As many book lovers know, having a bookshelf filled with books both loved and unread does not mean that you stop buying books.
I know that I have so many that I haven’t read yet, but whenever I pass a bookstore, especially a used bookstore, I know I’m going in and buying something.
As much as I love buying books, this habit is getting kind of annoying. I not only buy books all the time, but I also refuse to give away or donate any of the books I have that I have already read or will never read again.
So back to my overflowing library I mentioned: I have to do something about it. My room is small, and I’m getting overwhelmed by a number of books I have. I want more space. Not just space to live and put my other stuff, but more space to fill with newer books.
But I am a very nostalgic person. I keep memory boxes filled with movie tickets and birthday cards and photos from middle school. So how am I supposed to get rid of my beloved stories?
Some of these books I’ve owned since I was a kid. Some of these books I bought and never read. I don’t want to just give away my precious memories or waste my money that I spent on these books!
So I’ve devised a plan.
I am currently working as a freelance writer, which means I work from home and determine my own schedule. This also means that if I focus and do my work when I’m supposed to, I have a lot of free time.
During this free time, I am going to read books from my bookshelf. In fact, I have decided that I am going to read every single book on my bookshelf.
And until I have read all the books on my shelf, I am not going to buy another book.
I’ve devised this plan for a couple of reasons.
I’m tryna be a ~minimalist~ but I’m also always a slut for nostalgia.
How does this relate to my books? Well, I need to get rid of some shit. I’m a borderline hoarder because of my painful almost brooding nostalgia, which means I have accumulated a ton of crap. I need space for all that crap.
By reading all of my books again (or for the first time) I will get to enjoy my sweet, sweet memories, and, hopefully, finally be able to let go of these books. I won’t lose the memories by losing the books, but having one last go with these old friends will be a great way to say goodbye.
This might sound super dramatic and stupid to people who don’t like to read, or perhaps to everyone. But I really do mean that these books feel like my old friends.
The characters and the stories truly got me through the hardest parts of my life.
I’ve laughed and I’ve cried because of these books. I’ve learned so much from these books and these authors.
I have a tattoo based on my favorite book.
The stories and the characters truly shaped who I am today. I can’t just get rid of these things without one last hurrah.
Then I had a great idea! Why not review or write a short post about each book that I read? I could do a section on when I first read the book (if I did at all), why I bought it, if I liked it when I first read it, what the book meant to me then, what it means to me now, my rating of it, all that good stuff!
Even if no one reads this series, I feel like this will be a great way to keep my memories of my books even if I do donate them or give them away after I’m done reading them again. This book series will be like a journal recording my thoughts and feelings on the stories that brought me to this point.
Of course, there are a fair few that I will definitely be keeping for various reasons, which I will mention in the individual book posts.
Keep your eye out for this new series, non-existent readers!
The first book I’ve chosen to re-read is rather controversial, but it still holds a place in my heart.
Hint: “The lion fell in love with the lamb.” I just threw up a little bit at the severity of the cliché, but it’s still good. I hate myself lol