Update (May 2021)

I’m still figuring out what I want this personal blog to be.  I’ve been focusing more on fitness and family issues, so I haven’t been writing enough—or at all—for both this blog and my own projects.  I’m struggling to write out a novel I’ve outlined, but it has difficult to sit down and write with everything going on.

I’m recently came out as trans to my family and friends.  I’m not sure if I want to include that part of my life on this blog—I’m not an expert on the topic by any means.  That said, I have been questioning whether I should use my voice to help the trans community, especially trans youth. Please vote No on any anti-trans bills and donate to charities that help trans youth and trans folks of color. 

Here are a few:

www.thetrevorproject.org

https://www.theokraproject.com/

Looking to the future, I want to focus on various topics, including but not limited to:

Travel

Pop culture

Writing—academic, nonfiction, and fiction

Overall, I want this blog to be fun and creative for myself and my readers.  I’ve noticed a ton of traffic to my academic writing, so if you find those projects useful be sure to cite your sources.  I list my sources below the piece for people to go to the original whenever possible.  Check out my Twitter feed, although I rarely post.  It’s the easiest way to get hold of me.

Please stay tuned and be safe.

FOMO Media

When it comes to media, I have a fear of missing out.  I started to notice it when the MCU became more of a “thing.”  If I missed a Marvel movie, I felt left out and unable to understand a meme or joke online.  (Insert Captain America’s I understand that reference meme.) 

This FOMO became more apparent during the pandemic. Marvel released WandaVision and everyone was talking about it.  I deeply enjoyed the multilayered show, so I was eager to watch and see it unfold.  But I’ve watched too many things just because I didn’t want to miss out on what everyone was talking about.  That didn’t mean this media was good; often it was the opposite.  For example, I watched Falcon and the Winter Soldier not because I liked it.  I knew everyone online would be talking about it and I didn’t want to be out of the loop.  I was slow to watch it, but I still did.

I think Marvel in particular plays on this FOMO.  You can’t miss one part of the story unfolding over years’ worth of media, or you’ll miss a quick reference or character in another piece of media.  I haven’t felt the same push from DC.  I didn’t watch Joker or either cut of Justice League.  I watched Wonder Woman 1984, mostly because it was the pandemic, and I was starved for entertainment.  I felt no pull to see Joker and I don’t feel I missed out.  After watching a few reviews, I gleaned enough to know I didn’t need to see it.  There was no way I was sitting down for Snyder’s Justice League when I haven’t even seen Batman v. Superman.  No thank you.

On the opposite side of this coin, I find myself watching shows and films that don’t get spotlighted enough.  Legends of Tomorrow continues to entertain and delight and I look forward to the upcoming season.  I like the Umbrella Academy and plan to continue with it.  There is simply too much media to consume.  In fact, media shouldn’t be consumed.  It should be savored.  I imagine I’ll revisit both Legends and Umbrella Academy, but I doubt I’ll revisit any of the Marvel shows.

With the oversaturation of comic book heroes, burnout is bound to happen.  Marvel will probably be pumping out movies—and now shows—until the sun explodes.  I’ll check out Loki and Thor 4.  But I feel tired. 

I want new stories with new characters.  I want new voices.  As much as I like Marvel, I see the flaws.  There is too much queer-baiting and no substantive representation.  There needs to be more voices at the table.  The studio continues to be average when it could push itself to be more.

In the end, I don’t want more media.  I want better media worth talking about.

Odd Vampire Out

NOTE: This is a writing exercise I did that I found way too funny, so I decided to share it. Enjoy.

Prompt: Think of an alternative vampire that survives on something other than blood. Write a story or scene based on this character.

Gustav was in heaven.  He had always been shunned by other vampires for being a glutton.  Unlike his kin, he did not survive off blood.  His lifeblood was butter.  A cruel curse from a traveling band of witches.  Standing in the entrance to the Iowa State Fair, he felt elation.

Famed across the world for its butter displays, Gustav considered the Fair his Mecca.  He’d dreamed of his pilgrimage from Europe to the distant land of Iowa for years since he’d been turned.  He’d been cursed for so long, left to live off discarded diary waste in his homeland.  In Iowa, butter was scared.

Traveling by night, the journey had been long and tedious, but he had finally arrived.  Covered head to toe in dark fabrics, he fought to avoid the August sun.  He came at first light, but the Fair didn’t open until 9.  He couldn’t enter without an invitation, although he believed a ticket counted.

He walked to the building housing his scared butter.  It was sealed and refrigerated to keep the product cool and firm in the summer heat.  Behind panes of glass, he beheld his life’s dream.

A life-size cow made of butter.  A bust of Mona Lisa made of butter.  A tiny village made of butter.  Butter as far as the eye could see.

An urge rushed through him and he used all this vampire strength to bust the glass, sending shards flying.  He jumped into the room, scaring the guests around him.

Ravenously, he grabbed handfuls of butter and stuffed them into his mouth, his fangs erect in excitement.  He slaughtered the butter cow and crushed the butter village.  He murdered butter Mona Lisa.  He was a wild beast, tearing through every display he could get his buttery hands on.

A shot rang out and Gustav fell to the ground.  From the crowd emerged a dark figured cloaked in unusual garments.

“My revenge is complete!” shouted the figure as he staked a piece of wood covered in butter through Gustav’s heart.  “For my beloved Bessie!”

Gustav burst into flames, melting the remaining butter around his corpse.  A cascade of melted liquid made the floors an oily mess.

Wilhelm von Glick III had finally slain the beast that had killed his beloved cow so many years ago.  His life’s mission complete, he collapsed on the spot and died from shear exhaustion.

Coming Out

I first needed the words.  I’d always known something was different for me.  I never fit in my own body.  I never wanted the role assigned to me.  I didn’t have the words to understand these feelings until grad school.  By then it felt too late.  I felt like I’d wasted my twenties being someone I wasn’t.  I danced around the topic and took a ridiculous amount of time to discover the ideas I was pursuing were about me.  Gender, embodiment, feminist, masculinity.  I read Judith Butler and Jack Halberstam and applied it to texts, but it took longer to apply it to myself.

Many argue that the humanities serve no function.  I deeply disagree.  Studying all these topics gave me words to describe myself and come to terms with my identity.  For instance, I knew trans women existed through media, but I didn’t know about trans men until I happened to attend a talk by a trans man at a gender conference at my university.  It changed my life.  I had all these words floating in my head, but until that moment, I didn’t embrace them.  Sitting, listening to him talk about bathroom bills and the murders of trans women of color, I couldn’t help but think, Am I trans?  His descriptions matched my experience.  I’d never considered it before.  I grew up around the LGBT movement, but I never felt I was a part of it.  I didn’t date.  I didn’t talk about my attractions.  I felt I couldn’t express myself in that way.  I bottled it up and locked that bottle away.

The idea took time to percolate.  I talked to a dear friend about it and tried to understand all my thoughts and emotions.  I talked to a close cousin who had always been out and proud when I was growing up.  I didn’t follow up for two more years.

It wasn’t until I started getting fit that I saw how my body could change.  I’d always felt trapped in it, weighed down by it.  I didn’t exercise after puberty and I ate very badly.  It took a toll.  When I moved after grad school, I set a goal to talk to a personal trainer and sign up.  I couldn’t go on in this body, in this way, and not hate myself.

I worked hard.  I started lifting weights and my diet became so much better.  I felt amazing in my smaller, fitter body.  Then it dawned on me.  I don’t have to consider this body a trap.  I can change it, through hard work, and through medical surgery.  I felt inspired to come out and come clean about my whole being.  I told everyone.  Sometimes it was very awkward, but I didn’t hide myself.  I announced it on social media and felt a weight lift.  I told my longtime therapist and she felt so happy for me that I was living as my true self.

Shortly after I posted, Elliot Page came out as trans.  My heart soared.  Here was a successful trans masculine person coming out at 35.  We had both lived our 20s not fully being ourselves and here was our chance to change things. 

To backtrack, I took me months to pluck up the courage to talk to my doctor about HRT.  Then it took longer to follow up on it.  I finally started testosterone on June 1, 2020.  At first, I couldn’t give myself the shots, but I eventually did it and it wasn’t too bad.  I started growing hair and experienced second puberty.  I’m still in the middle of it, discovering a whole new world.  Binders don’t really work for me, so I can’t wait for my top surgery.  I’m eager to be myself now.  I have been very lucky with coming out to my friends and family, who have all been so loving and adapted quickly.

I don’t plan to change my name, but I will go by a different name online, to avoid gender confusion.  I really love my name because it comes from a mix of a few family members.  To honor another family member, I’m going by Jack on the web.  I will use male pronouns, but I’ll be forgiving for a while.  I expect people to be confused or not know how to respond.  We can all learn and grow together.  I will not accept hate; you don’t need to stick around if that’s how you feel.  Hopefully soon you will see me out and about town, expressing my true self.