improperlyhuman: (Default)
I finally agreed to accompany my host on his evening walk. We went to a sort of historic/entertainment part of town after most of the stores and things had closed. Nearly EVERYONE there was walking around staring down at their smartphones (including my host). CREEPY AS HELL. It was that damned Pokémon Go.

There was a huge group of like thirty or forty people sitting around at the far end of the theme parkish place. Like, just hanging out in groups, staring at their phones, some talking about Pokémon. I only saw one person who appeared to be playing the game with a child.

It's like the Harry Potter craze all over again for me: I don't really get why so many adults are suddenly so interested in something that's for kids? It's not just for kids; as far as I can tell, the game is rather simple. Childish. I'm sure Harry Potter at least had some depth to it.

I'm never going on that walk again.

I want so badly to be out of here. I found someone subletting an apartment, but I don't think I'll be able to use my housing voucher to rent the place because the rules specify that I must rent from the owner and have some type of lease agreement. I am very frustrated with the Housing Authority because these vouchers are supposed to assist people who are low-income, but the rules do not seem to have been created with low-income people in mind.

Poor people have housing emergencies that don't always allow them the time to find traditional housing before they're out on the streets, and once out on the streets, all the bureaucracy necessary to secure housing, all the travel and paperwork and go-between, becomes harder and harder. Poor people need stop-gaps like sublets and rented rooms to help them get back on their feet. They may lack the resources to keep roofs over their heads during all the time it takes to process paperwork and inspect shit.

The procedures associated with this voucher are consistent with the housing search of someone who is in a secure financial situation.

A comment posted to Dirt's blog some time ago has stuck with me. The topic was something to do with females transitioning or not being happy to be female or something, and someone made a comment to the effect that a reason for transitioning was not being treated in a way that makes one comfortable.

I think that comment has stuck with me all these years because I never get treated in a way that makes me feel comfortable. In maybe the first couple of years after I'd read the comment, thinking about it only brought to mind the standard mistreatment that is misogyny; the common female experience of not being treated in a comfortable way.

In the last few months, however, I have begun to think about unsuitable social treatment in a more personal and specific light; particularly, not being treated in a comfortable way by other womyn. I do dislike fuzzy sex stereotypes, but I can't deny that I've noticed certain patterns in female behavior, and I've begun to wonder whether expectations that I fit those patterns is the cause of certain social issues I've had.

I was particularly motivated to post about this because of a brief conversation I had with my host last night. He asked me why I hadn't been trying to date, and I said that I didn't feel like I could be myself around people. He told me that I was "fine." I said that I was fine to him, but womyn are different, and he agreed.

It's all very fuzzy and hard to put my finger on at this point, but something that comes to mind at the moment is the sort of language I use and have used with guys. For example, my host and I cuss at each other, tell each other to shut up and go to hell, all without hurt feelings. Even when I'm alone, when I do something silly I call myself stupid and dumbass. It's only an acknowledgement that I've messed up; I don't actually think poorly of myself.

Anyways. I somehow know not to talk to womyn that way because most would get upset. One might say that this is a familiarity thing, but I don't think it is or would be with most womyn.

I have tried to tone it down when I talk to people I don't know, but I think words I used such as "hate" and saying that a town "sucked" or something were still too harsh because those womyn told me I was negative and didn't want to talk anymore.

Another pattern that seems to be emerging is a difference in the level of emotional babysitting that's expected. Not necessarily a male/female difference, but a me/other womyn difference.

When I was in Paris with astramance, for example, she became noticeably upset after we couldn't find a vegan place to eat because she was worried about me not having a good time (I think). And forever-surprised iconoclass was surprised that she was so concerned about me.

I dislike it when people are overly concerned about me; it makes me anxious. I don't consider myself to need that sort of solicitousness because I speak up when I don't like what's happening, and I expect other people to do the same when they aren't happy. And I think that has caused some problems at some point because those other people were expecting me to have a higher level of concern about them.

I asked her to hold some stuff for me before I went in to take the GRE. Later on, she told me that she was confused about my asking her that and hadn't wanted to hold it as she was going around the city. I was again surprised because she hadn't said anything about that when I'd asked her. I would have expected her to simply say "no" to my request. And I ask myself, why didn't she say "no"? Was I expected to think of her not wanting to hold my stuff and simply not ask her? I wonder about these things.

Another thing I have been thinking about is my facial expression (or lack thereof). Not a lot of times, but enough times to give me anxiety, people have told me that I "look angry" when I wasn't angry at all. I don't know what this angry look is, and when I became aware of my face on those occasions, I found that my features were situated in a neutral fashion.

The question that has recently popped up into my mind is this: what if my face only looked angry to them because they were expecting me to be bright and smiling? A bright and smiling expression that is not expected of men. A bus driver once told me to smile while I had a neutral facial expression, and the situation was so irritating because I had no reason to smile, yet I felt some sort of pressure to smile.

That was one of the occasions on which I had a particularly strong sense that I was being treated in a way that was totally inconsistent with who I really was (and am). Such occasions have a different flavor than run-of-the-mill misogyny because they are not accompanied by any clear threat or malice or even a clear goal; they're comments tossed off casually, cluelessly, and they give me a strong sense that I'm the only person who can feel their jarring inappropriateness.

But I guess that could have simply been a mild case of sex role coercion. I know I'm not the only female who's been told to smile in an inappropriate fashion.

Perhaps not related, but I've also been noticing that I've been endeavoring to make myself heard by speaking in higher and more varied tones. I have often been asked to speak up, and I've somehow got the idea that talking more loudly in my regular tone of voice sounds too angry or aggressive. Where did I get that idea from?

So I have anxiety about my voice, anxiety about the situation of my face and body, anxiety about saying the "wrong" things and hurting someone's feelings. I think I have the latter two more when I'm around womyn.

I don't know. It's all just reminding me of what a few people have said about being "misgendered." I guess it's just another narrative and maybe I don't need another one because a narrative is not truly a reason or explanation. I just get so tired of being taken by surprise, feeling like I'm on a completely different wavelength, and worrying that people expect things of me that I cannot live up to and don't even clearly understand.

I have an MBTI narrative, a neurodivergent narrative, a political minority narrative, and at least a couple of less extensively explanatory narratives, such as racism/ADOAS (I have also wondered whether my being perceived as angry had something to do with a racist stereotype). Maybe if I sew them all together, I'll have an über-narrative that explains everything.
improperlyhuman: (Default)
I went to what was supposed to be my six-month dental checkup today. The receptionist called my health insurance company and found out that bi-annual checkups are only covered for clients under the age of 21. Wut.

So the entire day was wasted for nothing. Every time I go out for the day, I hope that it'll be the one time I somehow manage to avoid the exhaustion that always comes at the end of days away from home. I'm always disappointed. Since I've arrived home, I've managed to do little besides play Mah Jong.

At the moment I'm listening to a Chopin (a piano concerto, I think), a CD I got as a teenager. Striking is the difference in the moods occasioned by the music then and now. As a teenager, I found it somewhat gloomy, partially because it seemed so long. I had only been into classical music for a few years, and I was still working out how to develop a taste for the longer works.

I remember finding the CD in Kmart and feeling nervous about asking my dad to buy it for me. I knew that he knew nothing about classical music and wouldn't understand, wouldn't even recognize the name Chopin, and I was accustomed to being scrutinized for interests that were too "white." His "girlfriend" at the time looked at the track list and laughed when she read the "Death March." Such memories I have.

Hearing the music now, after all these years, is much more pleasant. The variety of classical works I've listened to in my 23 years as a fan seems to have put the concerto's tone in a non-gloomy context. I no longer dread listening until the end. There's a bit of...I don't know what to call it, nostalgia, maybe. No, more like tenderness and understanding towards my teenaged self.

I have since devised a way to enjoy new musical works that are long: I put them on in the background several times over the course of days or weeks, allowing myself to merely hear, without committing myself to the burden of focused listening. After a while, I recognize enough of the song such that conscious listening isn't so taxing. Coping technique for undiagnosed auditory processing deficit, I'll bet.

I finished a Udemy course on anger management today. About three days ago, I chose the course as part of Udemy's early review program, then decided to complete it for my own benefit rather than simply scanning through the videos for the review.

It was very helpful! The course was made of up very short videos, totaling just one hour of content, and I was disappointed that it ended so soon. I made sure to work through all of the reflective assignments, and they were quite instructive. The instructor was engaging (of course, I mean my type of engaging, not feely/charismatic engaging) and made the course very comfortable despite the subject matter.

To put it simply: I don't feel angry anymore. It seems almost foolish to type that; to say that something that's been bedeviling me for...years? now is gone in a matter of days. I'm almost afraid that I'm wrong and it's still here with me, just masked by today's exhaustion. Then again, it doesn't seem quite so sudden considering that it had begun to fade before I'd started the course, back when I figured out that I was mainly angry with myself.

A lot of things came together for me as I finished the course this afternoon, and I think being overwhelmed by the mental work and the sudden clarity and release of...whatever I released, contributed to the exhaustion, which came on shortly after I'd finished watching the last videos.

The layer underneath the anger is made up of resentment, so that's what I have to deal with next. I think that'll be a lot harder to "fix." I wanted so badly for the anger management instructor to have provided a course on resentment as well. I looked for some books and other online courses, but I didn't find anything promising.

I noticed that a lot of the material on this topic revolves around forgiveness and close relationships. Neither of those applies to me. Forgiveness is just...it doesn't compute. It has no meaning to me and does not seem relevant to me. As stupid as it feels to type it now, most of my anger issues revolved around situations with strangers. I'm not dealing with betrayals by trusted loved ones or anything seriously intimate like that (which is probably part of the reason why forgiveness is irrelevant).

This post is long!

After more than one hundred and fifty pages, finally some lesbian action today in my current love interest, the novel Carol. The protagonist, Therese, was joyous, and I was happy with and for her. That made me think of something I'd read about schizoids: that they enjoy relationships in their heads more than relationships in the flesh. I know that I would feel terribly anxious in Therese's place, anxious to the point of avoidance. I think that I've not quite yet reached the point at which I'd rather read about it than live it, although I'm certainly close.

Week 5

Apr. 17th, 2012 12:26 pm
improperlyhuman: (trumpet)
We were ordered to pack up all of our things in our duffel bags. Two pairs of sweats, two pairs of PC (physical conditioning) gear, four pairs of BDUs (Battle Dress Uniform), boots, towels, all of it, and half of it just to make the trip more arduous, for we ended up not using much of it. We put the heavy load on our backs and hiked two-file, far down the main road running from the barracks, further than we had ever gone. We turned up a hill, passing over the green field where graduation ceremonies were held. The smallest of us, at less than five feet tall, struggled to carry the forty pound load. I no longer recognized the area. We walked for miles. Finally, we came to the edge of a wood and were allowed to rest. Week 5 would consist of a lot of outdoor activities. I marvelled that the base had its own forest.

We were soon shown into dark, gloomy tents furnished with thin cots. We had arrived during the afternoon of the first day, and there were few scheduled activities. We were left to settle in. The next morning, through the dark and over rocky terrain, we were marched off to a huge version of our new living quarters for chow. I was surprised to see that little of it was cooked, consisting mostly of cereal, cereal bars, fruit, milk, juice, and perhaps some boiled eggs. It made sense once I saw that cooking facilities out here in the woods were scarce. Breakfast was more leisurely than it had ever been, following the general direction of the entire program, in which we were gradually given more and more free time with less and less supervision. Sitting at one of the long picnic tables, with chilly pre-dawn air from the rear tent opening against my back, I surveyed the chow area. Women from my flight chatted with others from flights we had never been in contact with before. I wondered, as I did on other occasions that afforded me a glimpse of the extent of Lackland Air Force Base, just how many groups of youngsters our superiors had the space and capability to train at one time.

It was still dark outside when we dumped our packages and peels into the groups of garbage cans out back and walked through the glaring lights set up amidst humming generators. We were soon acquainted with the showering facilities. Each day, 200 young women, 8 showerheads, and about half an hour were the variables we juggled. I had grown accustomed to the clean white tiles of the barracks showers, and I disliked this large, echoey and rather tired looking structure of brick. It seemed pointless to endure the steamy, crowded facilities every day given the fact that, upon stepping outside into the wet summer heat of an August day in San Antonio, the sweating began immediately. Thus, many of us warmed to the idea of the Baby Wipe Shower. Having been forewarned by trainees ahead of us, we'd stocked up on baby wipes and, rather than manouvre a shower in the heat, only to emerge into a but recently exited level of filth, we wiped down and used the rest of the shower period to rest on our cots in the afternoon.

In the cloudy light of morning, we were marched off to an eerily spare structure for a shooting lecture. We sat at large tables in a place that I found to resemble a compound more than a classroom. The lecture dragged on for three hours while we struggled to stay awake, the lecturer just this side of angry and aggressive, seemingly constantly on the verge of yelling, just like all the T.I.'s (training instructor) we were accustomed to. Finally, we were ordered outside for the practical portion of the course. With the warm morning sun shining in our eyes, we approached booths set up at the edge of a grass field that stretched as far as the eye could see, with colorful circular targets in the distance. One trainee to a booth, we were given M-16s and directed to aim at the targets by a T.I. Who gave us a verbal signal to shoot all at once. The rifle was heavy, and my arm and shoulders were fatigued before it was over. Reloading it was a pain. Someone down the line was being yelled at for pointing the gun in an unsafe fashion. The sound of dozens of us shooting at once was sharp in the still morning. I'd hoped to earn the medal for marksmanship, but I kept missing the target in a fashion that caused me to suspect that the gun was poorly adjusted.

To teach us about watching one another's back, we were each assigned partners with whom we had to go everywhere. If one partner needed to use the restroom, both partners went. It was made clear that loosing one's partner would be a huge failure, as well as a security risk, and everyone was fanatical about security. I happened to be assigned to the most whinny, annoying person in our flight. She was kind, but seemed to have more trouble than the rest of us when it came to following orders. We had free time in the evenings, and, unluckily for me, she chose to join the informal choral group that met around sunset on the ceremonial pad. I had to follow her there in the late afternoon heat and spend my evenings waiting in the bleachers while they sang, bored out of my mind. One day, she wandered off without me. I felt naked without her, knowing I would be noticed with no one marching by my side as we filed out by twos. When she turned up later, we were called in front of an officer, captain or major or something, I can't remember. I was always nervous around officers, because one was supposed to salute them, but, even with my new BCGs (Birth Control Glasses), I could barely make out the various rank symbols on their hats and epaulets that marked them as officers, and it was tiring to keep watch for such things. I saluted and stood at attention for at least half an hour while the officer got to the bottom of the story and lectured my partner, who was in tears by the end of the ordeal. The rest of my flight congratulated me on staying out of trouble, but I still felt awful as my partner wiped tears from her face by my side.

We packed into more of the dark green tents for classes in the afternoons. We learned about the Uniform Code of Military Justice, rather clumsily refered to as the UCMJ. I was particularly interested in the treatment of captured enemy combatants, which, we were taught, it was illegal to torture. We were instructed to use tourniquets if the bleeding got really bad out in the field, even though our fellow airman would most likely loose the limb thus deprived of blood. We watched a video which informed us that Osama Bin Laden was the #1 enemy of the United States, with something like a 1 billion dollar price on his head. We were given field guides containing such details; they fit neatly into the spacious pockets of our BDUs.

Throughout the week, we dined on MREs (Meals Ready to Eat) for lunch and dinner. They came in bland, brownish packaging with no ornamentation beyond print indicating the contents and nutritional information, from which I learned that they were ludicrously, no doubt artificially, high in fat. We had selected 14, 2 per day of the fifth week, having been told to quickly grab whatever was nearest, but most still jockeyed, and later, traded, for the much-coveted Ravioli meal. Personally, I was unimpressed, preferring the teriyaki, and being more concerned with the dessert included. By some chemical wizardry, we were able to heat the meals with water and a curious little bag that came packaged with each one. I was about to tear into an MRE the first time I saw a fire ant. We sat on the ground, grimy and sweaty from a hike. I was leaning up against a tree, looking down in between my legs, and tiredly wondering why a queen (sugar) ant was out crawling about instead of in the nest or whatever. They were so big, I had decided that it was a queen, but then I noticed that there was a whole shitload of them I was sitting in, all larger than the ants back home, and all red.

We got to play wargames sometime near the end of the week. Many had bought war paint; the rest of us covered our faces in mud. We sat in the dirt on a cool evening while a T.I. Stood on a platform before us and taught hand signals. Somebody near the platform interrupted after spotting a scorpion. We craned our necks to get a look at one of the dangerous beasts we'd been waiting all week to see (unfortunately, none of the rattlesnakes we'd been told about ever showed up). The T.I. Crushed the creature with his boot and we sat back, disappointed. Fake rifles were handed out, all the lights were shut off, and we ran about gleefully in the dark, half-ignoring the rules of the game, which was paused multiple times to address our lack of strategy.

Afternoon of the last day, we lined up in the confused muddy paths we'd streaked around with our night games. We took a long hike through the forest. This was the first time I remember that the sun ever gave me a headache. I was slightly surprised, having come to consider myself hardier than that. I was put into one of the small medic trucks following the hikers for the duration. I didn't dare say anything, although I'd wished to finish the hike on my feet like the others. We returned to the barracks exhausted and relieved that we had but one week of boot camp to go.
improperlyhuman: (trumpet)
I just started listening to podcastfrançaisfacile again, and it takes me right back the forests around astramance's house, where I used to cavort while listening to french podcasts on my iPod Shuffle.
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