We had an MTF transgendered person visit our GLBT group last night, which was interesting, as she was the first person I'd ever seen who'd had a sex change (at least the first person who I knew to have had one).
I admit that I used to be somewhat transphobic, viewing dissatisfaction with one's biological sex without physical evidence of gender variation to be abnormal. Finding out about Thai kathoey (also known as "ladymen") and "Two-Spirit" traditions in various Native American cultures, and the guest speaker we had gradually changed my attitudes in a big way, however.
Has anybody ever seen Ang Lee's film The Ice Storm, starring Elijah Wood, Kevin Klein, Sigourney Weaver, and Christina Ricci, among others? Well, we just had a storm like that here in the Hoosier State. In case you don't know, an ice storm is a rain storm in which freezing air temperatures cause all the rain to turn to ice when it hits the surface. As a result, everything is iced up. It was so severe that about 85% of Delaware County (including us) was without electricity for about two days. The governor declared a state of emergency, and 200 work crews from as far away as North Carolina and Virginia had to be brought in to help repair the 400 power lines that were knocked down, plus all the transformers that blew up. It was weird, because not only was it totally dark outside, but we were completely cut off from the world, with the exception of a small shortwave radio my step-dad has. While the storm was happening, all we could hear at night were sirens from the many police cars, fire trucks, and ambulances responding to emergencies throughout the city, and tree limbs falling down. Right now, the ice on the trees (which will kill many of them) makes it look as though they're made of glass. There are fallen tree branches all over the streets, as well as numerous live wires.
It's not that I don't like Christmas, it's just that I have kind of a love-hate relationship with it, and I can't help but play "Scrooge" just for fun. Here are the lyrics to one of my favorite Monty Python songs, "Ho Ho Fucking Ho," so that you can get your families and friends to sing it.
This was written by Eric Idle, and is sung to the tune of "Jingle Bells" (w/ British accent):
Tonight, I attended my second SPECTRUM meeting (that's our gay/lesbian/bi/trans student union). It's cool to be able to meet some new people, considering that when I got here I didn't know anyone outside my household except for some of my mom's colleagues. After the meeting, we headed to a cafe/hangout and socialized, but there was this guy there who had also attended the meeting who was a certified creep, whom I will call "Snazzlepants."
My parents and I repainted our living room today, and between the time when we finished priming the walls and actually painting them (a lovely pumpkin color), we decided to go and see a movie while the primer dried. Our choice was Oliver Stone's "Alexander." I'd recently read a statement by Gore Vidal about the movie, in which he gave it praise for its honest portrayal of Alexander the Great's bisexuality, so I was interested to see about this.
I've read a couple of articles on CommonDreams.org that indicate that he may well have done just that. One is an article by Greg Palast showing that the numbers indicate a Kerry victory, while the other is a piece by Thom Hartmann alleging that the computers used to count the votes may have been compromised.
Greg Palast's article: http://www.commondreams.org/views04/1104-36.htm
I thought things would turn out better. I thought people knew better, but I was wrong. Bush won a term. I mean, he WON a term, by a few million votes, beating Kerry even in the popular vote.
If somebody had told me they were voting for Bush in 2000, I would have tried to sway them, but I would at least sort of understand that maybe they were just swallowing his rhetoric. However, now we know what sort of person Bush is. He stole the election in 2000 (and even after an objection was lodged by the African-Americans in Congress, the Democrats in the Senate didn't do shit to help them). Richard Clarke told him repeatedly that a terrorist attack by Osama bin Laden was imminent, and he did nothing to try and stop it. He lied to the American people and sent us to war in Iraq, causing that country to plunge into a state of chaos and alienating most of the planet, thus squandering any amount of sympathy most other countries had for us after 9/11 (and again, the Dems mostly didn't do shit). One of the things that Conservatives are supposed to stand for, fiscal responsibility and careful spending, is obviously something he doesn't know too much about. So, that and many other things prove that just as he can't run an oil company, Bush doesn't know how to be a President. He's stupid, incompetent, ignorant, and beholden to the interests of various industries and the anti-democratic Religious Right.
I found a website, www.androphile.com, which concerns male homosexuality in ancient cultures, namely Greece, Rome, China, Japan, India, Iran, Turkey, and the Americas. It has lots of images of gay-related erotic art from those cultures, including a full version of the Chinese painting in my image gallery.
I didn't tell anyone about this, but I have officially left China to return to the US and further my studeies (as a journalism major). At the time of this writing, I'm at Incheon International Airport in Seoul, South Korea.
I have some pretty mixed feelings about all this. On the one hand, I get to see all my old friends again and my family, but I also have to be thousands of km away form my boyfriend for an extended period of time. Though I haven't written about him much, he and I have been together for about a year (not counting the period when I was in Xinjiang when we separated due to some issues), and he's the only person I've ever truly loved. When I was on the train from Lianyungang to Shanghai, I had to go into the bathroom and stand there sobbing continuously for about 20 minutes, and I still feel really bummed out.
A while back, I was having some problems with my teaching (my lessons weren't interesting enough for the students, but that's not all my fault, because the textbook we were made to use was complete shit - even the students and my colleagues thought so), and my boss called me on a Saturday morning before the beginning of May to tell me I had to work on it, and that there would be people observing me. Well, a month went by, and nobody came to observe my classes, and I received absolutely no feedback whatsoever, effectively keeping me completely in the dark about what was going on. Then, I called up my boss about something unrelated, and only then did she bother to lay it on me that she hadn't found any significant improvement (which I'm convinced was a lie, because she never even came to my classes). Well, I gave my side of the story, including the failure of the school to give me any feedback or do anything to help me out, even when I asked for help or made suggestions, but my boss just wouldn't hear it. Admittedly, I got kind of pissed off and lost my temper (which a lot of the other teachers have done with this woman, mind you), and she then threatened to fire me, even though that isn't grounds for dismissal.
Okay, my colleague let me use his computer to get my photos from Xiahe off my digicam, so I've posted a few in my gallery.
What happened is that, for some strange reason, it snowed. I'm not kidding - it was the first of May, and it snowed. I learned later on that this meteorological anomaly occurred throughout Gansu and Qinghai. Anyway, that's why the photos look like they were taken in
Well, the Chinese equivalent of Spring Break, the May Day holiday, has yet to begin, but the school agreed to let me go a day early in exchange for a pay cut.
I'm now sitting in an Internet cafe in Lanzhou, an industrial city in Gansu Province. Tomorrow, I'll be leaving for Xiahe which, while in the jurisdiction of Gansu, is culturally predominantly Tibetan and home to the Labrang Monastery, which is one of the most prominent monasteries and an important pilgrimage destination in Tibetan Buddhism. Suffice it to say, I'm eager as all hell to go. I might also swing over to another Tibetan town called Tongren, in Qinghai Province.
Okay, the reason I haven't written anything for the last couple of weeks is because my computer died. Basically, the installation of Windows XP, which is inherently a P-OS anyway, somehow managed to get fucked up. What resulted was the disappearance of everything on my machine: all of the photos I've taken in Xinjiang, including the ones from Turpan and the ones I took from the train as I was coming over here; all my MP3s; and the 15 pages of a sci-fi novel I was writing.