Tag Archives: awkward

Why?

Warning: Some language and pessimism.

I’m so frustrated. Why can I have months and months of levelness and WHAM. Upsetness. I was so strong, and it feels like my mental strength has gone down the shitter. And the worst part is, anyone I’ve ever felt comfortable talking about feeling bad to is happy to see me doing so well so I can’t even talk to them about it. I feel like I can’t even talk to anyone. So I find myself reasoning around, trying to figure out how I started slipping and what I can do to stop it.

I think it started when my coach didn’t put me in the half-marathon. I know I could’ve gotten the qualifying standard and quite frankly I’m so jealous of everyone that got to go and qualified.  Apparently the course was relatively flat, wind to the back, overall downhill, the works. I’m not totally sure why my coach didn’t put me in and I’m not going to ask.

It probably continued when my roommate threw a birthday get-together for me (very nice of her) and only a few people came and then left to go to a party. It made me realize how shitty I am at interacting with people. It kills me that I have this disconnect. I want to interact, but I don’t get the rules. Reading people’s faces is lost on me. Hell, I can’t even remember what people’s faces look like or recognize them if I see them in a different place. If I see someone I won’t know their name of where I know them from unless they have a certain backpack they carry around or unique something. Hairstyle. Glasses. Anything. I just feel like everywhere I walk there’s strangers even though I should know them, so I’ll not know the name of someone I’ve known for months and months. And I don’t know how to read people’s faces. And I don’t know how to project emotions genuinely on my face when I’m talking so they think I have no empathy.

Then the real fork in the cake was tonight when I heard about hanging out with visiting recruits about 3 minutes before it’s happening. Everyone has my phone number. They have no problem using it when they need fucking homework help. It feels like it happens every time, so I start thinking my coach doesn’t want the recruits to meet me because I’m fucking queer and it’s so fucking conservative here that maybe them meeting me will dissuade them from joining the team. So maybe the reason that I found out 5 minutes ahead of time from someone who wasn’t even organizing it kind of suggests I wasn’t really invited to a team function. Maybe my coach told the not to tell me. And I know I’m being paranoid but it still sucks.

I just feel so alone. The worst part is I want to be alone so I shouldn’t even complain that I’ve isolated myself. I don’t have any interest in interacting with people because it’s so stressful. I feel like I have to be doing something like running or studying and people just want to hang out and I don’t get it. I want to be with someone too. I never have and I want to know what it’s like to have someone, but I don’t want anyone to touch me. I can’t stand physical contact, even from my own parents. I don’t know why something that feels good to other people makes me feel sick.

I’m done. I’m done thinking, because that’s what gets me in real trouble. I’ve worked too fucking hard to lose it now, so I’m going to fight against the part of me that’s trying to kill the rest of me. Here goes.

– Who care’s about the half-marathon? You’re training for the steeplechase and you’re going to do damn well at it.

– You beat 19:00 in 3, almost 4 of the races this season. In the 18:30’s? that’s so much better than last year. You’re set to have a good track season.

– People in your life respect you. You’re a youth mentor for group, and a leader of the trans group. Professors respect you, and that is worth more than you need.

-You’re one of the most intelligent, considerate people I know. You’re going to kill it academically these next couple weeks and enjoy working hard on applications and GRE studying over winter break. It will keep you occupied and focused.

-You are focused. You have goals and can achieve them. You don’t need to be the best at everything though. Just keep being yourself and everything will be okay.

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A body behind Barrs

I think in terms of science. I think I even feel in terms of science. Usually I have trouble making connections to humans, but connecting to an idea, theory, thought causes me to stop thinking and start feeling. I can’t say I’ve ever experienced love in the romantic sense; this is the closest I know, so sharing this profound experience is like sharing a deep, hidden part of a relationship. I’m gonna talk science, and 99% of you all are probably going to click away, thinking

Last year I had a class called cell biology. Basically, we studied cells – the tiniest reproducing units of life. Thousands and thousands of proteins, lipids (fats), DNA/RNA, organelles float around each one. More than thousands. There has to be at least millions, maybe billions. I’m not really sure. But the point is there are an unreal number of things in each one, but only a few we can see with a light microscope. Maybe you did the ol’ swab your cheek and see the miracle that is life when you were in high school. For some reason I never had.

Anyway, I took a good hearty scrape of the inside of my mouth with a small wooden stick and slapped it on a microscope slide. I added some dye and waited for the magic to happen.

I looked at my worksheet.

Question 4: Pair with a partner of the opposite sex. What structure is visible in female students’ epithelial cells that is not visible in males’?

Cell Male Female

A Barr body is a darker dot on a mostly translucent field of view. It’s the duplicate X chromosome, condensed to a tiny dark dot and silenced because we only need one to carry out functions.

I stared down the microscope at my own cells, each with their own tiny dark blue dot.

You know, I never really listened to the trolls in the comment section of every trans-related article ever, insisting that chromosomes never change, once an XX, always an XX.

Somehow I had convinced myself that, yeah, maybe my body looks like a female, underneath all the patterned shirts and binders and sweatshirts and just loose enough pants and short hair, but I’m really truly a guy. My body might look female, but it doesn’t feel female. I’m really a guy. I’m sure if I just sequenced my genes everyone would see that I’m a guy. XY, all the way. If I just had the money to do a sequence I could collect the paperwork from the doctor’s office and wave it in everyone’s face. See?? I told you. I’m really a guy. No need to call me “she” anymore! It was all just a bit of misunderstanding on my birth certificate. Yeah, I know, crazy, right? How could they mess something so basic up. And I didn’t even notice it was wrong for so long. But I can get it fixed now, see?

Only I don’t need money to get my genes sequenced. With a toothpick, a piece of glass and a drop of water I can see those second Xs. And if I look long enough I think I can even see them waving, saying “we only made you feel like you had bars on your body so you could be like us, forever stuck to the side of a nucleus.”

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Trans issues in the workplace… (Update!)

Last week I wrote about a conversation I overheard at work about trans healthcare and medicare.

The next day, one of the two coworkers that was sitting at the desk with the woman that defended trans people asked me about the note I left.

“Hey missy, what was that note about?”

I ignored the missy. Really? One look at me pretty much yells not-a-missy. “Oh, yesterday?” Laughing nervously, “I guess I was too vague.”

“Yeah, I asked he if she knew what it meant, and she didn’t know.”

“Oh, I guess I’ll have to explain more.”

I built up the courage for the next day and a half to leave a another note with a better explanation. I didn’t have time on any of my breaks, but I still wanted to say something.

Believe it or not, this transguy actually talked to her instead!

As I was on my way out, I went by her desk and made some small talk and then got into it.

“Er- sorry that my note was so vague.”

By the look on her face, she knew it was what I came to talk about. The funny thing was, she didn’t ask what I meant. She said “what did you hear?”

“I heard-” I quickly lowered my voice, “- you and James talking about.. medicare.”

She definitely knew what I was talking about then. “Yeah. He’s… weird.”

Satisfied that she knew I was grateful, I dorkily replied “Yeah. But it’s all good,” and high-tailed it out of there. Based on her expression and how she talked, I think she knew what my note meant the whole time. I think she just said she didn’t know so didn’t have to explain to my other co-workers, protecting me from any awkward questions. I guess I’ll never really know, but it feels good on know of one sane person in my ultra-conservative workplace.

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Apprehension. (Eeeek!)

Oh, that heart-thumping, nail-biting, leg-shaking, hair-pulling feeling. It seems to be a theme in my life lately.

Quizzes: I usually have a quiz every single day, in one of my classes. They’re meant to be low-stress and just test if you’ve actually done the reading, but I get this perfectionist complex, where I get crazy-pissed at myself if I miss even one question. I run it through my head over and over, wondering why I couldn’t have just selected the right answer. Looking back, the answer was so obvious. Why can’t I get a simple true/false question right?

Running: Yeah, I had one good race, but what if it was a fluke? What if I can’t hit the times in my workout, or fail the expectations of my coach?

Public Speaking: I know, I know, I’m normal on this one. Just the words “public speaking” can instill fear in any person. I have my first speech tomorrow. I think I was going to dress up a bit, maybe wear a button up and tie, but I don’t even know how to tie a tie! I still need to even practice my speech. I don’t even think it counts for a grade. It’s just 2-4 minutes, and it’s pretty much just to get us talking in front of the class. The topic is introductions – but the catch is that we’re introducing someone else, not ourselves. I’m nervous if the person talking about me is going to use the correct pronouns, and if I’m going to be uncomfortable even if she does.

Applications: I’m trying to get into a summer program for research, and each program is incredibly competitive and the applications are reminiscent of trying to get into college. And they’re more competitive than most grad schools. I’m nervous because some of them ask what diversity I can bring to the program, and this would be the place to talk about being trans. But at the same time I have no idea how to word it to be pertinent to research.

Oi vey. I will fight apprehension with positive thoughts and productivity. I’m looking forward to the Superbowl, hanging out with PFLAG peeps and my friends. I love my Thursday group, but I like PFLAG because the people in there are really mature, and one can have actual adult conversations! I’m looking forward to running my race because I know that I can get a PR. Productivity is happening: now. I’m going to prepare and practice my speech as well as finish two applications for summer stuff. Bam. Here we go.

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First indoor track meet!

Yesterday was the first time I ever zoomed around on a 200m track. As a distance runner, this merits a tad bit of respect. I did a 3k, which is 15 laps. In a couple weeks I’ll probably do a 5k, which is 25 laps.

Our coach dropped us off a block or so from a building. When I first got out of the bus, I thanked my lucky stars that we were running indoors. I think the only place more windy than Oklahoma is Kansas.

When we got inside, I was surprised. Not only was there a track actually inside the building, it was on the second floor! I think there was a swimming pool below us.

Side note: a pro about track/running is that it is 10 times easier to pass in a tracksuit. A con: going to the bathroom is awkward as heck. Every time. Without fail. I always made my teammates go in with me. When I’m with a group, nobody says anything, and I sure as heck am not going in the guys restroom yet. Even if I pretty much pass, I’d like to pee without fearing for my safety.

My race was late, so I chilled for a few hours. I had a few dried apricots and munched on a small piece of chocolate while sipping diluted gatorade. (For me it’s important to keep my blood sugar up before racing, especially when I have a late afternoon or night race.)

Two of my teammates and I went to check in. For those of you unfamiliar, we basically go up to a desk, say our race distance and our last name and get the sticky numbers for the race. My teammates checked in first. I stepped up. The nice lady giving us our numbers picked up the other packet (for the guys races) and started flipping through it. Awk-ward… 

“Er, same race as them.”

She looked confused for a second, and then mumbled sorry and started hastily trying to find my name. She was kind of flustered, so I repeated my name and number a few times so she could find it. 

I reveled in the fact that I passed and felt a tad guilty. Why does me passing always seem to involve making someone else feel uncomfortable?

As I was leaving the desk, I was another 3k runner with her mom. Her mom was asking if she was ready for the race. She said no, and that she didn’t want to race. 

That was me usually, but I’ve decided to cop on. I was ready to race.

After warmup and strides, they lined us up. I was seeded 10th of about 29, so I was lucky to get a front row spot. The electronic gun went off and we went.

I had a really good race, the best in years. Except for losing track of laps near the end, I was focused and felt in control. Not only did I PR, but I knocked 20 seconds off my old time for a finish of 10:56. I’m set on getting my 3k time down more and training for the steeplechase in the spring. I really want to go to nationals.

Watch out indoor track season! You’re going down!

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Airport escapade, part dos

Flying can be chaos, and being trans can make it just a bit more complicated.

I flew home for Thanksgiving, thank goodness. (Two days of driving within five is tiring.) I was on a late flight, and the hour and a half car ride to the airport turned out to be more like two and a half because the interstate was packed. By the time I got to the airport I was already jittery from cutting it close; I hastily said ‘goodbye’ to my parents and booked it inside.

I headed down the escalators and made a beeline for security, even though my bladder was threatening to burst. I’ve had a lot of practice holding my pee, and I didn’t want to chance missing my flight. I was in luck. Not only was I able to make my flight, it was delayed for an two hours instead of one. Security didn’t take too long. The line was long and lots of flights were delayed so the TSA peeps were trying to move everyone through there pretty quick.

I’ve flown enough in the past year that I’m pretty familiar with going through airport security as a transperson. At my usual airport they have the body scanners. I walked into it and held my arms up, like you’re supposed to. I wasn’t surprised when they stopped me. I think a binder sets off the detector pretty often. I stood where they told me to and a woman TSA agent (whom I had ironically briefly mistaken as male) was standing in facing me. She took one look at me and held her hands up, taking a step back, “I can’t give you a pat-down.”

I didn’t say anything. It’s better not to if I’m passing – it just makes everything go a lot quicker. A half-second later a male TSA agent stepped in front of me. He spoke as though he was talking to someone a few years younger than me, calmly but authoritatively. “Hold your arms out.”

I did so. He gave a quick pat down underneath my armpits. “You’re good to go.”

I took a breather and made a secondary beeline for the bathroom. I felt a wave of relief wash over me because there was a family bathroom. Hallelujah.

I made a third beeline for the food court and got a slice of pizza, a few meatballs and a pink lemonade. I awkwardly carried it all, including my suitcase and backpack to the terminal. I tried to sit down, but I had too many things in my hands to take my pack off. I set my lemonade on top of my suitcase.

Stupid. Dumb, dumb, dumb. It promptly fell on the ground and spilled e-v-e-r-y-w-h-e-r-e. I got up and went to the nearest bathroom. Obviously I wasn’t going to go in the women’s – I honestly pass pretty well until I start talking. Even in high school when I was still wearing skinny jeans people would sometimes run out of the bathroom if I was in there. (Good times, good times.. not.)  I think airport bathrooms are the easiest to pass in. Everyone’s busy and hurrying, and no one knows or talks to each other. Anyway, I took the plunge and went in the men’s, trying my best not to garner too much attention by pulling a plethora of paper towels from the dispenser.

Those brown, thin paper towels. It took me no less than 5 trips, I kid you not. The whole time I was going back and forth this couple sitting where I was and watching my stuff kept encouraging me. After I finally finished sopping up my drink and my tears (just kidding. I’m not really that dramatic.. usually) one of the two guys had left and was getting back. He handed me a water bottle and said “I really hate when that happens.”

It made my day. Alone, at an airport, but someone I didn’t even know was there for me. I know I was out to them, since I had been talking a bit. I’d like to think that since we were all LGBT, they sort of had my back. But even if that had nothing to do with it, I know I met some really solid people that day.

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…and then I had pink shoelaces.

Once upon a time I was a freshman in college. Okay, so last year I was a freshman. It was actually this time last year that I was walking to the administration building to pay the balance on my account for the semester.

Blahblahblah. Anyway, my nervous, stressed little self was high-tailing it across campus. I’m sure I only had a bit of time between classes or something and was a bit peeved that I was going to get a rather large sum of money slurped out of my bank account.

I was making a beeline down a section of sidewalk, and a woman was walking in the opposite direction. As I approached her, she collapsed to the ground, and stayed there.

Shit! It didn’t look good. I ran up to her and bent down. She could hardly talk and was kind of curled up, saying something about a stabbing pain. I was worried she might be having heart problems, so I asked if she was feeling pain in her chest.  She said no, that it felt like her back. Another lady ran up, and started talking to her too. Apparently she had put her back out of place when she tripped on the crack in the sidewalk. The other lady said for me to go, and that help was coming. After a quadruple chorus of “Are you sure?” “Yes, go on ahead.” I headed toward the admin building.

A person was leaning out the window yelling “Sir! Sir, young man!” Last year, I didn’t get correctly gendered very often, so it took a sec for me to notice she was talking to me. I looked up. “Is she okay!?” I called that yes, she does seem to be okay.

I went in the building and came up the stairs. The same person calling out the window was walking down the hallway. She looked flustered. “I’m so sorry! I thought you were a guy, but then I saw the pink shoelaces.”

Woah. Hold the bacon. Guys can’t wear pink stuff? The manliest dudes I know wear something pink on occasion. It’s what I was thinking to myself that morning when I was deciding what shoes to wear. In he defense the laces were not just pink, but hot pink. But I liked the shoes, thought they were cool and all. I also thought that morning that I was confident enough in my gender identity that I could sport a bit of pink every now and then.

She continued, “you are a girl, right? are you a girl or a boy?” I felt like sometimes people stress too much about gender. (Irony intended, haha; I’m fully aware I spend 99% of my waking and sleeping hours stressing about gender.) But honestly, in the grand scheme of things, was my interaction with her really going to be that much different if I had a vagina or a penis? Does that aspect of a person really have anything to do with a verbal conversation?

Back then, I wasn’t out. I stuttered, taken off guard. “Er, doesn’t really matter… I mean… whichever works.”

“But you are a girl, right?

“Yeah, um.. well… I have to go.” Kthxbai. Awkward.

Why couldn’t I have taken that moment to educate someone? I could’ve been the person that stole her ignorance, and made it easier for other transpeople she might come across. I can’t changed what happened, or how I reacted, but I can change how I act in the future. And I will handle things like that more confidently.

My coach told me yesterday that I’ve changed in the past year – that I’m more sure of myself. I know he’s right.

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