In particular: for all of the genes my family is blessed with (or, at least, good ones I inherited, like a practical impossibility to become overweight, along with the ability to be reasonably athletic even when out of shape), there's an equal (though not necessarily opposite) number of things that I am cursed with, too.
One of the most annoying, most frequently plaguing the mornings, is the daily sneeze. So named because we can't go a day without it. I'm not sure about my sisters, and I don't think my mother has it, but all the Male-At-Birth members of the family (which, unfortunately, includes me) have that very annoying trend. What is the daily sneeze? Exactly what it sounds like: a sneezing fit brought on randomly, with no discernible rhyme nor reason.
For all three of us, we cannot go a day without sneezing. So it's not like it's seasonal allergies. My brother doesn't live in the same house, and he testifies that he sneezes every day. Year-round, not seasonally, but year-round. I know my dad does every day, and so too do I. So could it be a time-of-day thing? Nope, it can strike day or night. Location? Again, anywhere. Home, Oregon, at the Y, a store, in the car, it always hits sometime but never in a predictable pattern.
How about food intake? That's honestly my best guess, because there DOES seem to be a weak correlation between food and sneeze fits, but the problem is: there's no ingredient I can single out as the culprit. Again, I'm not just working off the diet of a single person. I have three to cross-reference, and my brother frequently only has 1-2 meals a day, most of which are foods I don't eat. It's not dairy. It's not wheat. It's not a particular meat. It happens most strongly after eating, but at no predefined time after eating, anywhere from not-even-finished-eating to two-hours-after-eating.
It doesn't always strike after a meal, either. If it did, it wouldn't be a once a day thing; it'd be a two or three times a day thing. But in general (with a few occasional exceptions here and there), it literally is a once-a-day sneeze attack. So sometimes, it'll be after supper. Sometimes, after breakfast. Sometimes, after lunch. So long as it follows *a* meal. There's no pattern we can make of it. It's just something we have to live with because there's no way to treat something you don't understand like this.
Still...it's annoying. The sneezes distract me from whatever I was doing, leave me as a mess, mess up my nose/throat (depending on where the gunk goes), usually wets my eyes up and then as a consequence extremely dries them out, and other general unpleasantries.
...Of course, then there's also the reminder that I get when it happens to, as far as I know, only biologically-male members of the family. Understandably, as a transwoman, I think you can see why this might distress me. I mean...obviously, I can at least TALK about it, but let me tell you, even writing the above felt incredibly uncomfortable, because it was a huge, HUGE acknowledgment, basically, of, "I'm like the guys", when...I'm not. I abhor whenever I'm lumped in with the guys blindly, and yet in the above, I was in a way doing it to myself, which is where most of the discomfort comes from.
Sneezing is annoying, especially the effect it has on the body. Knowing that it only happens to half the family, though, makes it much worse, since I'm included in that when I very much would rather not be. Trans issues are...complicated. There's a lot of philosophy here that I'm dodging attacking head-on, because it would explode the length of this ramble exponentially. Things like, what really defines a girl versus a guy, and such. Subjects that might hold academic interest, but which I don't really feel like debating on, at least not right now.
To keep the long story short: I'm a girl. I identify as a girl. I don't care what the difference is between guys and girls, and what it should or shouldn't be. It's irrelevant to the point that I identify as being female, that I want to pursue transition, that I want to be biologically a girl, and all that. I also like what I like, and don't like what I don't like. My likes are mostly more "girl stuff", but not entirely. (This is one thing where I hold a lot of guilty pleasures. Many more "girly" things I have always liked more than I would ever admit to publicly. Also goes for "childish" things, too.)
You can debate what "girly" stuff is, but I don't care about the subject. Even if what I liked was mostly "guy" stuff, it still doesn't change the relevant factor that I am still a girl. (This is actually the thing that I had the most internal struggle with, in fact, until I realized that simple truth.)
So that's the short version for the issue. I'm a girl. I might like stuff defined as "guy" stuff, but I'm still a girl. Because I'm a girl, being lumped in with the guys, no matter on what subject, makes me feel uncomfortable, because no matter how many things I may have in common with the guys, no matter how much I may externally appear to be like them, that fundamental fact still does not change, that I am not a guy, that I am a girl.
And thus, sneezing being a "guy" problem makes me absolutely hate it. It's probably one of the more notable biological quirks of my family, though not the only thing I have. Many, many, MANY mannerisms in my family are common. For instance, my dad has the absolute WORST chewing habits. In just about every sense: he chews on his shirt. He smacks his lips when eating in a way that I literally cannot bear. (Thus, why I'm pretty sure I have misophonia.) It's absolutely abhorrent. My grandfather does or did several of the same things, too. My brother has shown early signs of having the same chewing problem, too, and...
...As much as I try not to, I get a minor trigger every time I hear myself doing it. Double-trigger, too. It triggers the misophonia because the sound bothers me. It triggers that sinking feeling of minor dysphoria because it's something I know is, again, a biologically-male habit of our family that as far as I know is absent from the girls. So I have to be careful when I eat. I sometimes think I've isolated the problem, to limited success, though I can only remember how after it's happened, quickly forgetting by the end of the meal what the problem was and how I managed to handle it.
Another terrifying one is the voice box problem. My grandfather is basically deaf, unable to hear things, and has talked like an old man ever since I can remember. (To be fair: he's 90 years old, meaning he's BEEN an old man for as long as I can remember. My memory goes back a little further than 15 years, which means he was a little younger than 75 when I first remember him.) My dad is now getting it, too. He very, very much talks like how my grandfather did when I first remember, and basically mumbles whenever he rambles on. (To be fair, though: he's 65, so he's not exactly young anymore. Butstill...)
...You might notice the use of that world, mumble, and also of rambling on. Yeah, well...guess what I'm known for in my family? Mumbling and rambling. I might not have to deal with the "old man" voice for another 40 years or so, but the thought that I have so much in common there terrifies me because that's very much someone I do NOT want to be.
After all...I basically made a New Years Resolution that boils down to the following:
*Start Red Hood Rider. (A goal I am VERY CLOSE TO. In spite of only having eight pages of 22 drawn.)
*Finish my novel, getting it on the road to publishing. (Not publishing immediately after finishing, though--I want some quality control, i.e., people critiquing it other than me.)
*Get a steady job, so that I can get enough money...
*To move out of this house, as to allow me...
*To come out of the closet and tell people that, yes, I AM in fact a girl.
Because, yeah. While I can make leaps and bounds (such as starting Red Hood Rider), the simple fact is: with me living a lie, my growth is stunted. I can grow some, use the resources home gives me to become a more solid, steady person, but they're ultimately holding me back because they don't know how much of my true life I am keeping from them. Integration of my selves is impossible as long as I cannot pursue being who I am.
And that should, ultimately, be my goal for life. Balancing my selves is great and all. Having a steady balance between a job, lifeguarding as a job, activities like TKD and dancing, writing, Red Hood Rider and other art, ComicFury, and mafia is nice and good and all...
...But wouldn't it be better to have them actually be integrated into one another? I certainly think so. I hate the secrecy and the shadows, hiding myself from what I am. (This is, incidentally, one reason why I like to use alts on the mafia site: because I fall into a pattern where I have a "persona", a "mask", that isn't me, not the true me, but is what's expected of me so it's what I do under that name. But as an alt, where I have the freedom of not being what people assume of me, I can express aspects of my personality that are truer to myself. At least, for a few games or so.)
If I could be the girl I'm supposed to be in real life as well as online, I would be much better off. If I could spend time on my art and writing with everyone knowing just how important those things are to me, then that would be even better. Writing's something I really do want to do professionally, and I think it's viable, so long as I keep it up. Art, well, I might not be the most skilled artist (for instance, I overuse square-shaped panels; other panel shapes I haven't begun to explore yet even when I had the opportunity to on page three), but as evident by my blog post yesterday, I think my passion there is evident. I'm GOOD at doing those creative things. Of all the things I am skilled at, it is things with that creative touch that I excel at the most.
Sure, things involving repetition and memorization, I am good at, too: dancing is memorizing moves, TKD is at its basis memorizing techniques and patterns. (Which is one reason I sort-of struggle in free one steps. I can improvise a few things, but because this is improvisation, my moves are inefficient and leave me open to counter-attack. My teacher is really hounding us all on making sure if we move past a point on the target, we hit it, and I don't always have the eye to mentally calculate that in my head before moving. But, in sparring, I see every possible opportunity, because it's literally in front of my playing out second-by-second. One-step sparring is something I have to plan the whole attack before anyone makes a move; in sparring, I get to see them moving and get a feel for what I need to do, which is why I don't have that problem there. Meaning that in the case of TKD, it's somehow an inversion of my norm: I do bad with envisioning things, but the physical stuff right in front of me is easy.)
Lifeguarding is hard, and I always, always, ALWAYS feel like I'm inadequate in some regard, which I will focus and improve on, until I then feel inadequate on some other thing, though some things I consistently feel inadequate on, such as, say, backboarding. (The rules behind backboarding change on a yearly, or even monthly, basis, and we're expected to keep up with them. It doesn't help that--while there's SUPPOSED to be a standard--it seems that there's huge differences between, say, Y certification and Red Cross certification backboarding...AND that different Ys advocate different practices when it comes to when to use the backboard and whether to do the full thing or just a speed-board. In spite of that, we're still expected to perform competently, and...I always miss something. ALWAYS. At least one thing I get wrong, if not more, because backboarding has like 20 steps in it and regardless of which rescuer role I am, I always miss at least one of them. Communication being a biggie there, too.)
...However, in spite of the inadequacies I feel when it comes to drills, at its basis, lifeguarding is about repetition and memorization. (The problem mostly arises when situations and scenarios come up that are outside my memory bank, so to speak. Lifeguards are, basically, supposed to be able to deal with literally any situation that could possibly come up in our pool. This is a near-infinite number of things. Our training handles a lot of situations, but there's no way to cover it all. There's still, basically, improvisation required, because situations are rarely "by-the-book". And I often feel like a failure when the knowledge that I'm supposed to have to bridge the gap between theory and practice isn't there properly, and the improvisations I do aren't what is expected of me. Think of it as, I suppose you could say, "lifeguard socialization": you know by now I'm on the autistic spectrum if you've read my blog, so you know I fail social cues. This is the same thing. I know the theory, but putting it to practice is nearly impossible for me to do.)
...But I digress. Probably shouldn't talk too much about work anyway. My point I was making (before the distraction anyway) is that, for the MOST part, those are the things I, as a person, am good at: repetition (which is MOST of my job, and TKD, and basically all of dancing) with memorization, then on the other hand, creative application of things. Thinking in unusual ways. Giving unusual takes. Having a sense of humor, giving depth to situations, a love of the craft, being decent at creating things, showing my vision, all things like that, I am good at because the words come to me naturally, the art flows onto the page with increasing ease.
It would be so much easier if I could have those things be in my life. It would be so much easier if I could have these 4-9 lives (depending on where you draw the boundary: CF and art could be one or two, for instance, writing is a life of its own, mafia a life of its own, real life could be considered anywhere from 1-5 depending on what divisions you make between life, dancing, TKD, lifeguarding, and job-searching) merge as much as possible, and be aware of the existence of the others.
Like...one instance is that, for the longest time, I kept my two internet screen names so separate that I'd virtually never mention the other one. (Technically, that still holds true for this blog. I'm there as the artist rangerbreenew, which makes reference to my CF username of ranger_brianna_new which me mentioning The Descended by name makes more explicit. To this day, I still haven't mentioned what the site I play mafia on is called by name, nor my username there, even though I have a link to this blog in my sig, there.)
But nowadays, I mostly try to break that boundary down. CF is my family. My mafia site is still important to me as friends, some pretty close at that. So I try to let them be together as much as I can. (This blog is actually a very strong medium that way: I have a nearly identical signature on ComicFury that links here, just as I do on the mafia site. Nobody really clicks on sig links on said mafia site, though, but I do make verbal mentions of my blog on occasion and I do know there are a few members that occasionally read it, but I have no clue to what extent they read it thanks to them not really commenting.)
I even had a link to my comic, The Descended, in the signature of my account on the mafia site for the longest time. It's since been removed, though, since I'm switching active gears to Red Hood Rider, but it was there all the same. (I may still update The Descended every rare once and a while if I get the chance. It's just not my active project.)
The two communities, after all, do share many similarities. The mafia site is much, much larger, and as I mentioned before, suffers from some severe hostility issues from time to time as a consequence. It's a given fact of life on there, in fact; the people who stay accept that they're going to suffer from attacks eventually, be it petty or severe. (Yes, reports happen, and produce results, but typically only for more severe stuff.) That bit's generally not on ComicFury.
But what the sites DO have in common is that, for the MOST part, when it comes to the area outside the site's given purpose (comic-making for CF, mafia-playing for the mafia site), they have a strong sense of community that is diverse with a world-wide population base. And in these communities, there's a lot of transgender and gender-nonconforming types, as well as non-heterosexual relationships/orientations. (CF had the term, bangcishet, as in, !cishet, as in, not cisgendered heterosexual, which I hold some fondness for.)
It should be no wonder why I stay on both. One small, one large. Different places entirely, of course, but in areas where it REALLY matters, being close enough to the same. They're both important to me, and whenever I've been away from one, I've been lesser as a result. (And, obviously, increased activity on the other to compensate. I've never had a time period where both were absent from my life ever since I've been on both.)
But I'm getting away from things a bit. Merging my various lives is what I was talking about. I can't merge them entirely, but bringing them together, that I can do. Through this blog, through Red Hood Rider, through being open about who I am, about them knowing I identify as Brianna Danielle Lewis, Bree for short, even though that's not yet my legal name because duh I'm still closeted, all of that is important. I want things to come together. I want things in my life to be connected. Different aspects of my life will be different. But I want them to not be entirely separate, isolated entities. I shouldn't need to fear disclosing my life. (Though I still hold some details back all the same as of right now.) I should be able to live the me, the entire me, in one part, in one combined self, and that level of connectivity is what I ultimately hope to achieve:
Being a girl, who still lifeguards on the side, while doing TKD, while dancing (but still dancing the guy's part since there's no real problem with a girl dancing the guy's part in dancing communities nowadays), while also writing perhaps for a living, while also doing comics, through which I hold an active connection to people on CF, while also having still maintained my mafia life.
It's...a way's off. I'm going to have to fight hard for it. I'm going to need to do things I would rather not in order to succeed. But that would be the thing making me truly happy. That life, which I strive for, would be my dream. It's not that unrealistic. I just need to balance my life, stay steady, slowly work my way there, strategically step forward, and step by step work my way into it. Smart decision-making.
...Though speaking of decision-making, the borderline-stupid one that flies in the face of balancing my life, that being, drawing Red Hood Rider, still applies. I've averaged a page every day I set down to work, which is 5/7 days a week. I want to push it to over a page a day rate, at the absolute minimum, which means at least two pages today. Since family night was last night (oh--should probably have mentioned that!), I'm in the clear for tonight. Once I look up my schedule for today, that is. (Still need to do that.)
And on the subject of family night: watched The Dirty Dozen. Felt good for most of the movie, but the end just felt excessive in every way possible. I get killing off characters that held very little screen time, they're cannon fodder. I get killing off characters that you have a build-up for, that being, mainly, the four(ish) prominently-featured characters that were killed off.
I also get the impact of having the two sort-of-vaguely-featured characters killed off-screen. I also get that you can combine all three. But combining all three to the point where only THREE survive of the 14 sent? Like I said...excessive. The violence was gratuitous, especially the bunker (though, they did a good job of showing how even the criminal dirty dozen hesitated at the idea of doing the deed). It didn't ruin the entire movie for me, but it made me think lesser of the film as a result.
Also, it was more or less like films based off of the Seven Samurai format. You get about 8 prominently-featured characters: six criminals got high amounts of screen time (German-speaking guy, Franco, the black guy, the racist guy, the simpleton guy who faked being a general, and the gentle giant guy), then you've got a leader (the seventh), and a prominently-featured character who is not a member of the band (one villager is always important in the Seven Samurai format, and in this case, it was the one MP guy who filled that role), and in the end, you get three survivors of the whole bunch.
(Though usually, seven samurai formats have it so that it's three plus the villager, rather than three including the villager.) That even applies to many of the death scenes. You get an early shock-value death (relatively speaking), you get some standard death, you get some popular character death, and then, on the verge of victory, you get a final, well-liked-character sudden death.
I wouldn't have minded that so much if I had gone in knowing it was that sort of film, since if I go in knowing I'm going to be seeing that sort of film, I can appreciate in its entirety every creative decision start to finish. But in this case, I didn't. There's no note about it even being Magnificent Seven Samurai-styled on TVTropes, though, even though the style of the film clearly takes from that sort of aesthetic.
(I don't know when The Magnificent Seven was made, so maybe it's purely by accident if Magnificent Seven came after. But if Magnificent Seven came BEFORE, I can't help but think this film took HEAVY inspiration: building up all the importance of this ragtag bunch of effective fighters, and then in the overly-long climactic battle, slowly killing them off one by one.) I mean, sure. If I rewatched the film, NOW I could go in.
Heck. Who knows. Maybe I'm the first person ever to make the association between these films. (The connection there is obvious to me, but then again, so too is the connection to me of Fighter/Mage/Thief for the Good the Bad and the Ugly.) It exists, be it intentional creative decision or purely accidental overlap, but it's there all the same. And I'd have liked to have known about it.
Yeah, they said it was a suicide mission. The people for the seven samurai films have that same build-up. So by the mid-way point in the film, I had GUESSED, more or less, that it was a seven samurai styled film where most of the characters we knew would die. But I would have liked to have known. And, also, because the group have basically four cannon fodder members (give or take), I would have liked for them to either be given more screen time or to have not all died. Wouldn't it have been AMAZING to have had a survivor of the group be a member who had no on-screen growth except in the background?
Soyeah. Bit of a gripe with the film in that regards. Still a good film, not quite as well-executed ending as I would have liked.
Anyway, I should PROBABLY be leaving to go to the Y, soon. I need to get a look at the current schedule, to see when I guard.