My 2 Cents On Pronouns

Musings/Rants

 


I generally don’t use YouTube as a focal point of think pieces, but the video I just watched is so eye-opening that I had to jot down my thoughts.

It’s a three minute Youtube video posted by Cut Vid, a channel reminiscent of an indie Buzzfeed – less revered, more refined. In the video, a group of transgender people talk about what pronouns mean to them. They start with one word–“identity,””choice,” “liberty,” then elaborate with some pretty amazing analyses. The group is as diverse as it gets, with Caucasians, AAs, Latinos, and Asians of all ages. The answers drown in a storm of emotions, some in pain and disillusionment, others defiance and pride.

The two responses that carved the deepest impressions on my mind are from two middle-aged, white transgender women. In a coarse, masculine voice, the first said she see pronouns as a vocal validation of her identity and, more importantly, a symbol of sovereignty.

“If anything I’d be more hung-up on the need some people feel to attach ‘preferred,'” she says. “My pronouns are not preferred. They just are. My gender is not a desire that I have or a wish or something. It’s who I am. It’s just part of me.”

That response raises an issue, a question, we unconsciously dismiss: why are pronouns, a part of speech exclusively associated with sexuality and identity, regarded as a preference rather than a force of nature when we talk to or about transgender people? Why is it that, as a society that has grown so much scientifically, politically, and socially, we still see transsexuality as the revolting exchange of sex organs rather than a displaced soul’s yearning for a body, a home, it can never have? Preference implies choice. And with regard to sexuality, either assigned by birth or brain, there isn’t one.

Another response that grabbed me was the closing one. “You better get them right,” is how she sees pronouns. Yet the importance of pronouns rests not in sight but in respect.

“What’s more important: how you see me, or respecting how I see me?”

To the cis population, pronouns only take an offensive turn when someone identifies us in a different way from the way society does. That’s confusing, isn’t it? Think of it this way: you look, talk, act like a dude, you’ve been referred to as a “he” and a “him” your whole life, then this asshole comes along and calls you a “stupid bitch” because, I don’t know, you refused to spilt coffee on his shirt or something. That’s offensive to you because, what the fuck, you look nothing like a “female dog,” right? Maybe that’s a bad example, but my point is that cis people like me never had to deal with two perceptions of one identity. Society and I use the same lens when when looking at me. You’d never ask a cis person, “Do you prefer to be a ‘she’ or a ‘he’ today?” Because you know there can only be one answer, right? But what happens when the body you’re born into and the body you want to be born into fight for dominance in the mapping of your identity? What if both voices are legitimate in the eyes of society? You need pronouns to settle that conflict.

The disparity in the significance of pronouns between the cis and trans communities underscores the, perhaps unconscious, linguistic privilege we have developed as the prevalent gender identity. We don’t realize, having been fortunate enough to be born in a body we belong to, just how liberating and validating a simple part of speech can be.

Pronouns radiate a sense of selfhood and certainty for a group of people that knows none. When identity and appearance clash and struggle, pronouns are the torch that melts them from antonyms into synonyms, reins into wings.

Freshly Pressed??

Writing

So I logged onto WordPress yesterday afternoon to check on my new post and almost got a heart attack. My stats exploded. My notification feed was bombarded by dozens of likes, comments, follows all directed at my Dream post.

I freaked out. My stats have been pretty consistent – a couple of follows every couple of days, a handful of comments on more interesting posts, a few pity likes on the boring ones. Spikes have happened numerous times before, but never this drastically. I thought a friend must have found out about my blog and shared it with everyone on Facebook. But that doesn’t make sense because all the traffic was directed at one post, and I don’t have that many virtual friends, and even fewer actual friends who would care enough to check out my blog. Besides, I’m still real paranoid about showing my blog to people I know. The social sphere and the blogosphere are two entities that I’d like to keep separate. Anyhow, I browsed the WordPress homepage and stumbled on the Freshly Pressed feed and right there, smack in the middle of the top row, is my post with its long ass title. Then it all clicked, and I was at a loss for words.

Being featured for a days and a half has already doubled my following. It’s brought me more traffic in 24 hours than I’ve gotten in the last 2, 3 months. And the support has been overwhelming. I haven’t had the time to reply to all the comments, but I’ve read every single one. It’s an honor to know that my writing has touched many of you in different ways. I connect with you guys precisely because we know nothing about each other in the real world. We’re strangers but we’re all passionate about human stories. I hope a snippet of my life has left an impression on you, just as your blog posts leave impressions on me all the time.

Thank you WordPress team for sharing a piece of heart, and thank you everyone for all the love. I’ll keep writing and keep believing, so stay tuned.

Up in the Air

My Awesome Life

I’m on the plane right now, leaving a place that I’ve come to regard as a home like no other. Funny thing is, I’ve probably had this same feeling about every place I’ve lived in so far. Places that hold a special place in your heart not only look spectacular but also produce the kind of memories that evoke neither bitterness nor ecstasy–just a dizzying fondness.

Home is running barefoot all year round, across scorching sand and frozen grass. Home is circling around the same blocks searching for cheap eats at 2am. Home is driving with mom at dusk, dozing off to shitty radio hits and craving cheeseburgers. Home is the bookstore with the greatest flat white in the entire world.

And home is where friends are–real friends who talk to you because they care about your opinions, not because they just want to brag about parties and sex. Home is where you can nap on a cliff and know that someone’s always there to catch you. It’s where a genuine conversation is not some shallow one-way traffic that leaves you feeling like you’ve just wasted hours of your life.

Home has nothing to do with time. You can fall in love with anywhere instantaneously or gradually. It’s never isolated. Maybe I can’t hate New Zealand because the memories there are so pure and the scenery is so beautiful. Maybe I can’t love California because I’m not going back to the same people I met and cared about 2 years ago, or the same family that I moved there with before high school started.

Maybe home is just a mirror of our consciousness. It’s supposed to change with time, with us. We can’t love something with the same intensity forever. I want to go back to New York. The place that I’m in love with at this moment.

Dream as if you’ll live forever, Live as if you’ll die today

My Awesome Life

We’re responsive creatures, always yearning for some kind of carnal or spiritual fulfillment. So many of our conversations are dedicated to that one question: What makes us feel alive? For me it’s neither people nor adventures. It’s the shapes and colors that make up a city I love.

When I took a semester off in Cali, all I could think about was how much I missed NYC and how exciting it would be to blog about college life there. But four months after I returned to NYU I’ve only written four posts on my adventures here in the Big Apple. Ostensibly it’s because I just haven’t had the time. In reality it’s because I’ve kind of lost confidence in my writing. I don’t think I’ll ever be as good a writer as I would like to be, and I certainly don’t think I’m good enough to capture the sense of wonder I feel every time I step out onto the streets.

I’ve experienced no shortage of epiphanies walking on the same blocks, seeing the same things in different ways. Paradoxes run riot: tattoo parlors next to corporate banks, museums sandwiched by takeouts, apartments stacked atop liquor stores, and chains of buildings in alternating colors – black, tan, maroon – adorned by staircases twisting like rusty vines. It’s homogeneous yet dynamic, indifferent yet inviting. None of it makes any sense yet it all feels so right.

It’s a convoluted maze with a constellation of neon lights and no exit. Horizontal and vertical lines converge to make intersections that look exactly the same whether you’re in FiDi or Dumbo. You’re lost every time you’re out, but you never feel more at home. Last night I was strolling through Washington Square Park in the nicest weather in a long, long time, and I see the arch–silver silhouette inked against the black sky–illuminating the fountain and everyone around it. It was just so liberating. In that moment I actually felt so blessed to be alive. And I just couldn’t help wondering: Why then? I’ve seen that sight countless times in the past year and a half, and I’ve walked through the park in every weather, every hour. But that moment last night was the only time I’ve felt that kind of relief, the only time that those random bursts of sadness and rage I experience everyday felt so far away.

Despite the incurable bleakness of life and the shittiness of human nature, the world itself is still as sublime a vision as you will ever imagine. That vision alone is worth the effort of waking up every morning with a smile. It’s far more beautiful than life is ugly. It’s far more sincere than people are fake. Loving a place is far more satisfying than hating everything else.

Live with hope and live with love, if only for your surroundings. Find somewhere you love. See as much as you can before it’s too late.

Profound Bitchings…Part 69.1

Musings/Rants

Someone in my Philosophy lecture just asked, “What is I?” That’s when I decided it’s time to check out. Oh Descartes, what are you doing to us? To be honest, philosophy is pretty interesting when you discard reality. Like, oooh the soul is the undivided machine that animates the body. The intellect is the only thing we have control over, so if we can keep external factors in check, there’s nothing we can’t conquer!! My professor just said, “the truth lives within us.” Did you know that??

But then you think back to the way you spent the last week, and you realize that you don’t actually give a rat’s ass if the soul is a principle or that the world mirrors our minds or where the fuck the truth lives. We’re just going through the motions most of the time. We wake up too late, run to class, sleep through class, meet whoever we think is our friend, and, and I don’t know eat or sleep or fuck or whatever goes next. Who actually ponders the paradoxes of human nature and man’s existential dilemma anytime during the day? Maybe we should, but we just don’t have the time. I’d rather ponder the pointlessness of optimism or the myth of true love because that’s actually kind of relevant in my life. But the truth…yeah, everything in my life is a lie so I don’t need some dead Greek dude to teach me about the truth. Descartes is Greek, right?

On a more relevant note, colleges really should start serving coffee and bagel during class if they want us to stop napping. Coffee. Bagel. Coffee and bagel. Coffee Meets Bagel. My God I need a boyfriend.

If Your Wife Wants to Kill You…

Relationships and Shit

You know, the longer I think of it the more convinced I am that I’m going to turn into Amy Dunne when I’m 35. Either that or I’m going to marry an Amy Dunne and get Amy Dunne’d. These are Gone Girl references to illustrate the bleakness of my future. If you’ve seen the movie or read the book, you’ll know that I’m likening myself to a slightly insane, marvelously brilliant, textbook psychopath who faked her own death just to frame her slimy husband because he cheated on her with a much hotter bimbo with big fucking tits (tbh I think Rosamund Pike is a lot more attractive than that other chick, but eh I don’t think with ma dick). If you haven’t read the book…well, get your act together, dude.

Anyway, I don’t think I’m intelligent or diabolical enough to actually pull off a fake murder and then pull off a real murder to get out of the fake murder. I can probably just burn the house down but I don’t really want to sleep in the park. I guess that’s why I worship her so much, because she actually has the talent and the craziness to pull off something many women in crumbling relationships probably dream of doing. And while I don’t have any homicidal tendencies yet, it is fascinating to think about all the different ways marriage can fuck two people up. Sometimes I’d like to be fucked up by marriage just to see how it will transform this demure little maiden into a vindictive, manipulative, psychotic goddess. We need more women in literature like Amy Dunne.

I’m not anti-marriage. I mean, sometimes I do see it as a part of my life…after 40 or 50. Alright, maybe 35, just as long as it stays the fuck away from the best years of my life. It just seems so bloody boring to me. It’s like, you’re both work from 9-6, then you get home for dinner and you talk about what happened at work. Then you probably watch TV for an hour or something. Then you go do your adult thing and then go to sleep and boom the day’s over. For the longest time, I thought that’s just what happens on TV. But then I saw my parents doing it. And then my mom with my stepdad. Of course that doesn’t apply to everyone, and I’m glad there are a lot of happily married chaps out there (whoop congrats), but eh I just don’t care for that shit. And that’s probably because I’m just gonna marry myself at 40.

Not About Valentines

Writing

Continuing my own tradition of not writing anything related to Valentines on Valentines, I’m just gonna recycle another article I recently wrote. I didn’t want to but this bloody holiday always puts me in a very bitter mood, and I don’t want to inflict that on anyone. So here is the first travel column I wrote for an internship I’m applying for…which I haven’t heard back in about three days now. Uh oh.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Milford Sound is the most exquisite site you’ll likely never visit. When people think of New Zealand (if they miraculously happen to know where the hell that is), they think of Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, and Queenstown for Lord of the Rings. They think of the whitest beaches, the greenest farms, and the most-wicked cup of latte. But there is no place that embodies the essence of New Zealand quite as poetically as a single fiord cutting through south west of the South Island.

Approaching Milford Sound is like entering a dream you know you cannot latch onto. In fact, it’s been so many years since I’ve been back that my memories of it have started to fade, despite the special place it’ll always hold in my heart. I’ve only been floated down the fiord once, but even a couple of minutes is enough for that image to tattoo itself onto the back of your mind.

Historically, Milford Sound was a playground for the local Maori with expertise in predicting tidal patterns and fish feeding. It wasn’t discovered by Europeans until 1812, when Welsh explorer John Grono set food in the country. Carved by glaciers, sharp ridges emerge vertically on the calm blue waters, their peaks topped with ice. On certain sides of the 15-km fiord, waterfalls cascade down the side of jagged verdant mountains like blades of silver lightning crashing down an emerald green carpet.

Luxurious boat cruises run hourly from day to night, costing between $45 and $119 depending on the service you choose to receive. Part of the package includes a full three-course meal and an audiotape explaining the history of the magical fiord. The most exotic and magnificent marine life – from seahorses and dolphins to sea lions and whales – are on display from any angle of the cruise. Head over to the cruise decks to capture on camera sights you will you see only once in a lifetime.

11,000km from China 18,700 km from England, and 12,500 km from America, New Zealand is not a place you’d visit often. Likely, the first time you fall into the dream of Milford Sound will also be the last. Dream that dream, and don’t let it slip away.

ValenFUCKINGDIEtines

Relationships and Shit

Hey, it’s Friday the 13th!! I don’t know, I always get so excited on Friday the 13th. It’s always Valentine’s Eve, which I’m less excited about. I don’t want to say anything more about that stupid fucking day because I just don’t. So in celebration of this dreadful holiday, I’ll repost something I wrote on it back in senior year of high school. It’s actually the first post and last post I wrote on my first blog. Ha. I’ve come a pretty long way.

Oh but before that I just wanna say that last night I fell off the stairs. Completely sober, btw. I was just really cold and really pissed off because I had to get my laundry in the basement, and my apartment had no elevator, so i had to walk down the freaking stairs and I kinda hate moving cuz I’m a lazy piece of shit. Anyway, so I was kinda walking weird and then boom, next thing I know I was spread-eagled at the bottom of the stairs. At least I didn’t have to walk. Too bad it’s not possible to fall back up the stairs. Idk what’s the point of sharing that.

K, here it is:

~~~~~~~~

Valentine’s Eve

So after years of brooding over the idea, almost two years after my former best friend Emma started her blog, and over four months after my girl Victoria encouraged me to start my own blog, I finally got down to it. Here it is: my first ever post. To be frank, this whole blogging business is a lot more complicated than I had expected; it had taken me an entire 20 minutes to figure out the difference between the “blog title” and the “post title.” As 1/2600th of the population of a competitive American high school, I normally would have sulked over all those wasted minutes used on something other than studying (not really), but then I remembered this one amazing fact: I’m now a second semester senior (SSS). Apart from goddamn AP Calc, I have no homework. I guess blogging without feeling guilty of wasting time is another of the many perks of being a SSS.

Anyhow, I suppose I should start with a short intro about my life, family, friends, favorites, fetishes etc., but right now I just want to bitch about how much I despise Valentine’s Day. As I sit crossed-legged typing on my hp desktop, I can already imagine all the balloons and roses and chocolates and pink and red and lips and wasted money that will surely bombard University High School tomorrow. Maybe I’m just spiteful because the last time I, sober and under the designation of “girlfriend,” held a boy’s hand was over two years ago. And that boy whom I so charmingly called “my boyfriend” haven’t talked to me once since I supposedly broke his heart a couple weeks after he summoned the courage to hold my hand. Now he’s at UCSD apparently hooking up with some Asian chick. How he managed to become the subject of female attraction is beyond me, but then again I was the giver of that attraction only a couple years ago. Anyway, enough about that asshole. As I was saying, I may be spiteful and slightly jealous, but even if I had a date I doubt I’d be head over heels in love with Valentine’s Day. It’s just so wasteful and fundamentally useless. If you love someone so much, everyday should be filled with romance and bliss; you don’t need to waste a million dollars to create a romantic paradise for ONE FREAKING DAY just to make all your single friends FEEL LIKE SHIT (In case you haven’t noticed, I employ a very hyperbolic writing style so please don’t take anything too seriously). Don’t get me wrong, I do believe in real but ephemeral love and I sure as hell think that we all deserve love. And as much as I hate to admit it, there have been moments in the last four years when I’ve caught myself wishing that some guy would buy me a bouquet of red roses and a gigantic teddy bear. But why does love have to be manifested into this absurd public display of man-made objects? Commercialization of anything makes it much less valuable. As Elissa quoted from this Spanish audiotape we listened to in class, “Valentine’s has become way too commercialized.” And girl, if you’re reading this, know that you’re one of the few people who have reaffirmed rather than undermined my belief in true love.
Well, that concludes my tirade on Valentine’s, but my brain is still reeling from the recent flood of almost-relationship dramas around me. School dances are usually a golden opportunity for the birth of young love, and Winter Formal was no different. Except this time, the guys turned out to be enigmatic little cowards who sorta hooked up with my friends but didn’t ask them out. So now I am currently shipping three couples and consoling some very distraught girls. And here’s a intriguing scenario: you’re getting ready to slow dance with a guy who has his hands on your waist; he looks at you very intently and then bites his lips, averts his eyes, looks back at you again, bites his lips, but DOES NOT KISS YOU. What does that mean? And what the hell is the girl supposed to think? If I were the girl, I’d do a lot more than just vent in silent frustration and cuss to my friends.
Alright, that’s all for now. I’ll write again soon because this is actually very fun and a whole lot less pointless than playing minesweeper.
~~~~~~~~~~~
That was pretty painful to reread. And that last sentence…Oh, the irony.

Profound Bitchings….Part 69

Musings/Rants

I swear, this has never bothered me once in the past nineteen years and 11 months. Not once. Until I started reading Plato and obviously my thoughts weren’t gonna stay on him and his messed up philosophies, so I started thinking about cats and dogs and what not, and all of a sudden I realized that everything about this world is so fucked up.

That one question we’ve all answered millions of times: Are you a dog person or a cat person? I’ve said dog a million times without registering the question. And I kinda have to remain loyal to my horny, obnoxious adolescent Golden. But now I think: What if I’m a fucking rat person? What if I’m neither feline or canine? What if I want to be pestiline? Like a filthy, despicable, immoral junkie/thief/bum. Why do we have narrow down the infinite and infinitely beautiful pool of wildlife into two of the least exotic and interesting species? I’m sorry if I’ve offended any dog/cat owners, but seriously you can’t deny that a tarantula is slightly more fascinating than a freaking chihuahua.

Maybe this is just the non-existent feminist in me rearing it’s ugly head again, but isn’t it a little unfair that all these…millions and millions of other inhabitants in the animal kingdom don’t get any representation in pop culture? No presence in crude jokes, corny pick-up lines, adorable memes? I mean, what on God’s black black earth is wrong with that?!? The next time I watch a cat video on Instagram or read another book preaching the godly faithfulness of dogs or, God forbid, get asked to pick between one of those damn animals again, I’m just gonna eat a seven-tier cake and hope I die of icing poisoning.

But I really do adore both dogs and cats.