There are times when the sheer availability of modern media leaves me awestruck. Netflix means that, more than ever before, I can watch my favorites whenever I want. I’m having trouble emphasizing how big that difference is. I spent my youth encountering things I enjoyed and carefully watching for title sequences, “[show] will return after this,” and anything else that put a name on it I could use to recognize it in my friends or on toy-store shelves. I dreaded when shows would inevitably leave the airwaves, and watched reruns obsessively to fill in gaps from the previous viewing. Media was ephemeral, and there were never enough blank VHS tapes to capture it all.
I received an invitation from one of my partners to attend their Sunday service at Ecclesiax, a church in downtown Ottawa, and out of curiosity, I attended. It was an interesting visit, and I’m glad I added this unusual event to the series of religious presentations I have personally experienced. Like all the others, though, it’s not one I’ll be repeating if I can avoid it.
I got out.
I don’t know how long I can stay. Canada has refused to employ me despite (because of?) my advanced degree, and if anything goes awry in my immigration process, they might yet force me back.
But I got out.
My relationship with holiday decorations has always been tense.
The ring-shaped coral islands called atolls are a defining feature of the South Pacific, put on magnificent display in the recent Disney-Pixar film Moana. Atolls are known for being convenient harbors almost by default, rich habitats for marine life, and the source of the famous stark line between blue-water and green-water regions that surrounds Pacific islands. Atolls are also extraordinarily rare outside of the South Pacific, which is curious, because neither coral nor islands are similarly restricted. Other warm regions should have their own atolls, but they almost always don’t. So the question is…where are the Caribbean atolls?
It turns out this is a fairly involved question.
I received your letter a few days ago, and have spent the ensuing period formulating a response in my mind. That response is ready now.
If you’re building a marine aquarium and the thought of putting an octopus in it crosses your mind, consider not doing that. Consider not doing that so hard that you put this ill-conceived notion to permanent rest, no matter how much fun Finding Dory made it sound. An octopus makes for a difficult, finicky, and potentially even dangerous marine-aquarium inhabitant, best left to nature and specialists.
Images of people in my culture don’t look like me.
There’s a trivial sense in which that’s not true. My dark, angled eyes, curly hair, curvaceous figure, and diminutive stature all betray my origins. Our beauty queens and pop stars in particular look like me, conspicuously lighter in hue than even our own relatives. As distinctive as I always am in family photos, someone else who looked like me would not have seemed out of place.
But the image of us isn’t a scientist. She isn’t an atheist or a socialist. She isn’t dating outside her race. She isn’t deliberately far away from her parents. She isn’t autistic. She isn’t transgender. She isn’t gay.
There are many little bits and pieces of growing up transfeminine in a hostile world. Recognizing ourselves early as pressed into a gender we neither desire nor understand is not always a blessing, and often merely changes the character of our seeping hurt. Our youthful relationships with boys, our youthful relationships with girls, how we feel about clothing and sport and our parents, all get colored through these lenses, already complicated and made more so by inept striving toward a less horrid vision of the future.
In her novel For Today I Am a Boy, Kim Fu finds them all.