rayvanfox

Hulking

In Uncategorized on December 12, 2013 at 11:51 am

so i was asked to give a short speech, a meditation if you will, to start out the evening at the Hulk 101 event that the wonderful homeroom put on last night at the hungry brain in chicago. the entire evening was fantastic and deeply interesting, a dialogue about gender that i enjoyed immensely. 

this is what i said:

Remember the Hulk TV show with Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno in the 70s and 80s? Maybe I’m dating myself to say this, but that’s the version I grew up with.

Image

Remember Dr Banner’s origin story in that one? His wife died in a car crash because he was unable to lift the flipped vehicle off the ground enough to free her from the flaming wreck. He was haunted by his weakness and started studying ways of enhancing human strength, especially in those high stress moments when your adrenaline spikes and gives you that extra push.

That’s where the gamma rays came in. He thought they could alter the mechanism for finding that superhuman strength that sometimes comes to a person when most needed, so he blasted himself with a ton of radiation in search of that hidden power. Guess what he found? Yep. Getting angry caused him to turn into a hulking green rage machine that smashed everything in view.

He was a menace – that big green guy – there was no good way to control or stop him. He was Dr. Banner’s anger made manifest, and it both frightened and shamed him. The hulk was a curse, but one he’d brought on himself. And finding a cure became his purpose in life.

This is the story I fell in love with.

Because as a tomboy who was fiercely adamant about being as good as, if not better than, all the boys on my block, I can’t tell you how many times I wept with rage at my weakness. Even my little brother, younger than me by almost two years, was stronger than I was. It hurt. And when I felt hurt, I got angry. I was a little white-hot rage machine of my own, especially when you tried to put me in a dress.

I know I have a hot temper and it’s something I still work on, but honestly that’s how boys are taught to function in our culture. They aren’t taught how to feel, they are taught how to rage. Hurt? Get angry. Annoyed? Get angry. Sad? Get angry. The Hulk seems to be society’s teacher of what a man is. Some folks chalk this problem up to the patriarchy, others to Testosterone—that gamma ray of puberty that can often be used to excuse the unleashing of the id.

But I am equally reluctant to deal with either one of these answers, or at least, not in large amounts.

Yes, I’m transmasculine, but I’m also genderqueer. I’m not trying to go from one end of the gender spectrum to the other as I only really feel comfortable in the middle. And because of this I have come to realise that ‘transition’ for me isn’t something you go through once and you’re done. For me, it’s a constant process. My concept of myself, as well as the way I am viewed by others, is always in flux. The former is my own doing, the latter, I have no control over. (starting to sound familiar?) Is it any wonder, given my problems with anger, why I’m reluctant to shoot myself full of the transman’s gamma ray every week?

I love the Hulk, I always have. And yet I love him, not in a I-want-to-be-you-when-I-grow-up sort of way, like many superheroes, but in a dying-inside-at-how-painfully-familiar-this-feels-to-me sort of way. And I think I knew that when I was six years old and watching the slight, mild-mannered Dr. Banner lose his temper and then lose his mind in the monstrously large body of the he-man-like hulk. I won’t say that I saw myself navigating the gender split back then, nor was I seeing the hulk as a cautionary tale, I can’t pretend to have been that savvy. But I can tell you that aside from the loss of control of his body and the shame that came with it, (which was a huge thing, don’t get me wrong) the other thing that struck me was how over and over again the raging Hulk was calmed by a woman. Any woman, really. Whatever damsel in distress he’d found that week. When the men were chasing after him with guns, calling him a monster, it was the woman who saw his humanity and brought him back to himself. We cannot live, we that call ourselves men, without some access to the feminine self. Even the Hulk knew that. We would do well to remember it.

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My Dream Boy

In Uncategorized on July 3, 2013 at 9:10 am

[written in early 2012]

One day the most perfect boy I’ve ever seen showed up right out of nowhere, and then just started being ‘around’ all the time. It took me a little while to realize it, but it was always the same boy, always just on the periphery. Once I noticed him, however, I couldn’t stop seeing him everywhere I looked, as if he suddenly liked all the same people and places and things I did. And it was disconcerting how utterly beautiful I found him. I mean, it’s a little unnerving when you are just minding your own business, going about your day, and then, bam! your exact ideal of what a boy should be is just standing there, looking gorgeous, being cool, smiling faintly—-not necessarily at you, just generally—-and you have to figure out how to catch your breath and remain calm. Act like nothing extraordinary is happening to you. It was hard to get used to.

But then I started expecting to see him. And over time I took note of the little things about him that his perfectness had all but blinded me to at the outset. Simple little things that you can observe from afar, like his stellar wardrobe and how well he wore it, the always pleasing variations in how his hair looked day to day, messy or done. How he held himself with such poise-—sitting, standing, at rest, in motion-—I took special note of his gait and ever after could recognize him coming from a mile away.

We circled round each other for a time, never getting close enough to meet exactly, but taking the measure of each other, assessing the possibility of…something. Or at least I was, of course I didn’t know what he thought, if anything. Also, this was all new to me, acknowledging this type of attraction, this inability to look away, this desire for a guy like this. I mean, he was exactly my type–to a T–but I wasn’t quite ready to deal with the consequences of what that meant. Because I hadn’t yet come to terms with the fact that I had a type–at least in this sense–until he showed up. But he was just magnificent. And it did things to me to witness this magnificence and not be able to come close to it somehow.

It was tantalizing, seeing him around almost every day, watching him stand, coat collar up, smoking a cigarette outside, noticing the way he ran his fingers through this hair, witnessing a half-smile break slowly over his face, imagining what it would be like to look in his eyes, to know what his handshake felt like. It bordered on unbearable at times to not know him, inside and out.

I finally gave up any pretense of indifference, which I had been feigning for some time, and decided to make his acquaintance. But I didn’t know how to do so. I agonized over it for a long time, trying to figure out the best way to go about it. How do you approach your ideal boy and introduce yourself? Saying something to the effect of, “I’ve been staring at you from across crowded rooms for what feels like my whole life, and I can’t stand being that far away from you anymore” would probably not do, even if it was the truth. (and yes, I was that far into this infatuation, fascination, obsession…whatever you call it, I was in deep.) I was hooked. Addicted might be too strong a word, but only just.

Because then he got a hold of my dreams. And he wouldn’t let go. Whether I remembered the dreams or not, every morning I’d wake up with his image behind my eyelids, as consistent as the sleep crud in the corners, as if I’d been staring at him all night and his figure had burned itself onto my retinas like a flashbulb. A lot of them I did remember, tho. Dreams of walking through houses or subways or dormitories or museums together, dreams of picnics and playgrounds and dance parties, of couches and cars and cabins in the woods, of food and drinks in restaurants and bars and kitchens and bedrooms. But always with him. Or it always ended up as him. Sometimes the person I was with would start as a friend or an old lover, but at some point it always morphed into him. I’d look away for a second and my ex-girlfriend, or my old roommate or my co-worker/crush would vanish and in their place would be him: my dream boy. I started calling him that in my head—-my ‘dream boy’—-once it became literally true. But then I feared I’d never be able to hold his gaze in waking life. How awkward my crush had become. (I will call it a crush, even if that feels inaccurate to some, because otherwise the word ‘worship’ would be considered)

I had almost resigned myself to worshiping him (there was nothing left) from afar forever, when one day I turned around and there we was, right behind me. He’d sneaked up and come close to me of his own accord. I was shocked and delighted, but understandably scared. We shyly introduced ourselves and began getting to know each other close up. And, wonder of wonders, he seemed normal and happy and perfectly fine with spending time with me. I was in heaven. Still somewhat nervous, of course, not really knowing what I could do with him, or what exactly I wanted with him, (I’d never really done this before) but enjoying his company to the utmost.

I made a habit of studying him. All the little details one can collect as being the personal traits of someone—-mannerisms, the ways of being that each being possesses that are unique unto her- or himself—-how each of his facial expressions was formed and what they indicated, the way he chewed his food or held his lips when putting on lip balm, how he checked his pockets for his keys/wallet/phone, the tone and timbre of his voice (he had an exquisite voice), the way he leaned on things-—walls, railings, streetlamps, door frames-—yes, i admired the way he leaned. how his hands moved when he lit a cigarette; how he used his hands generally. They were expressive but not fidgety, square but not thick, long but not spindly, and he used them to the utmost effect, bringing attention to their grace and surety without ostentation. I admit was a little bit in love with his hands.
I became a connoisseur of my dream boy, committing to memory every angle of his face, every line that he cut in his well-fitting clothes, every movement and attitude of his body. it was everything I could do to keep myself from resorting to the adult version of teenage fandom—-like tacking pictures of him all over my bedroom walls-—whatever that would be.
And slowly, surely, we got closer and closer. We spent time together everyday-—we were fast becoming inseparable. We spent hours at at time hanging out together, sharing everything with each other. I never got tired of his company, in fact, I increasingly required it as much as possible. He, bless him, was happy to comply. It was remarkably easy to be together because we were actually (surprisingly, to me) very similar. Soon, I thought I knew him well enough that I could look at the world through his eyes. I had been able to get inside his head—-had been allowed entrance—-and I felt comfortable there. It was a novel but not altogether foreign viewpoint. It felt really good to see him this way, to take on his frame of mind, it was intimate and safe, somehow. And I was welcome. I started to spend more and more time inside his head, getting a feel for it, coming to rely on his viewpoint to inform mine. And I was grateful for it.
One would think that knowing him so well might mean a falling off of my worshipful stance, but not in his case. The more I knew about him, the more highly I regarded him. Yes, it’s possible that this was a dangerous predicament to have put myself in, but I had not a thought for myself, for the safety of my being, I had abandoned all thought of going back at this point. There was nothing for it but to continue on. Toward what, I was still unsure.
I had by that time become closer to him than to any other person in my life, and still I wanted to know him better. It was ‘As if increase of appetite had grown /By what it fed on’. I wanted more than anything to get at, not the trappings of his being, but the thing itself. I had an insatiable desire to ‘pluck out the heart of [his] mystery’, to discover the pure essence of this perfect boy. This ideal specimen of the masculine gender. This meant I had gotten to an emotional place I had not expected to be: in the throes of the desire to plumb the depths of his heart, to penetrate into his inner core, to mine every inch of him, and make it fully known to me. The natural progression of this thing I can only call a relationship, was to bring him home with me. Since he had shared my head every night for months it seemed only fair to invite him to share my bed.
And then the real exploration, and epiphanies, began. It was appalling how turned on I could get by looking at his body, my gaze a caress he welcomed with apparent relish. Touching him was a whole other level of pleasure, and we took our time with each and every sensation. The first time I felt his body on mine, my head exploded—-ecstasy of the highest order yet. His hands on me sent a thrill through every nerve, his chest on mine made me want to weep, his hips, his ass, when they met my own, begot a joy unspeakable, a need unmanageable, a drive unstoppable. I’d thought I enjoyed being inside his mind, but the first time I was inside his body, desire bit into me so hard it hurt, and I almost couldn’t bring myself to come out again. How had I not known that this was what I had been needing? Everything made sense for the first time. I felt whole. Replete. Content. And, dare I say it, at home. I had lost myself completely in him.
At that moment I knew, finally and without a doubt, that I had to let go of my fears and love myself enough to take the final plunge. To let go of who I thought I was and embrace the new possibility this perfect boy had engendered.
And so I became committed to grappling joyfully with the image of my dream boy, striving with my whole self to learn how to be inside of him. I’m learning that he is a good fit, and he comes easily to me. There is just one last thing left to do.
I need to tell you. To make you understand. To ask you to not come looking for me as the girl you knew, because she is gone. All that’s left is this boy, the one whom I’ve brought from fantasy into the flesh. My flesh. The boy I’ve dreamed of being.

Mirror Me

In Uncategorized on July 2, 2013 at 4:39 pm

[what follows is a complete fabrication, from any way you look at it. but it was fun to write from both sides. written at the end of 2011.]

I was sitting in my favorite spot at the coffee shop, (you know, the one, right near my house) which is the seat at the table right in the window, which is perfect for people watching. You can watch everyone who comes in, you’ve got a good view of the kids behind the counter, and you can even peek out the window at the bus stop right in front. Anyway, I was sitting there, drinking coffee and reading a book—or more accurately, staring out into the rain with a book on the table in front of me—when I noticed this kid walk up to the bus stop. Well, not a child, a young adult. A cute boy, in fact, which is what made me notice him. He had on grey tennis shoes, blue jeans, a black shirt under a grey hoodie under a blue jacket, and a black messenger bag all of which seemed to be getting pretty well soaked. The hood was up but his dark bangs were still wet enough to drip onto his pale cheekbone. His hands were deep in his jacket pockets and, shoulders hunched, he looked pretty miserable out there in the wet day.

He joined the small group of people standing in different attitudes of waiting, looked with kind eyes and a tiny half-smile at the lady nearest him, then backed up when her man kinda got in his face, leaning in and putting his arm around her, not so much in a marking territory sort of way, but more as if protecting her from something distasteful. I found myself frowning at this treatment, now too invested in random strangers to go back to my book.

I watched him check his phone as if it were a pocket watch, wiping the raindrops from his eyebrows, his starry eyelashes shadowing the tops of his cheeks. I averted my eyes as he turned towards the door and came into the shop, presumably to keep dry and avail himself of the bus tracker display screen mounted on the wall above the coffee grinder (This bit of technological brilliance was something I was excited to use as the winter progressed). He stepped up to the counter about 15 feet away from me and ordered a coffee to go. His voice was a husky tenor though it sounded like he favored the low end of his range, maybe in order to seem older. He looked like a student, though was almost certainly of drinking age. Maybe a grad student. I wondered if he was a TA and had a hard time maintaining authority.

His features were fine (like a pen with a fine tip), not to the point of delicate, but bordering on pretty. He had a straggly mustache and a congregation of hairs on his chin that were not quite the beginnings of a beard, as young, not particularly hairy, men sometimes do. His face was devoid of baby fat, but still had that ‘fresh faced youth’ thing going for it. His hands were long but not broad, showing strength without muscle, and stayed active without appearing fidgety. When he pushed his hood back I was somewhat shocked to see his hair was already greying.

“what’s with the throwback jams? Every time I’m in here this week you are playing old-school stuff. Yesterday you played some Phish, today, it’s OK Computer. Reminds me of college…” he addressed the shrugging barista as he received his cup.

“you are so not that old!” It came out of my mouth before I had time to stop it shut.

He looked over at me, startled, with a broadening lopsided grin. “thirty-three last week.”

“shut the front door!” I probably looked as shocked as I felt cuz he chuckled as I shut my mouth. I opened it again to say, “I would have guessed about ten years younger.”

“yeah, standard. My theory is that will happen to me until I go truly grey, which will be in just a couple years. Then everyone will guess ten years older.” he shook his head in a resigned but amused way.

“but how do you do it?” I wondered aloud.

“do it? I don’t do anything. I just am. It’s what you see that does it.” while speaking that pretty boy’s entire face broke into the most radiant smile, white teeth showing, rosy cheek apples making crescent moons out of twinkling, laughing eyes. Her merriment was plainly beautiful and my flustered wonder was trumped by the contagiousness of it. I smiled back and laughed. Mostly at myself. We just looked at each other for a moment, then I received a subtle and, I must say, somewhat flirtatious wink as the damp hood was pulled back into place. And then a quick checking of the bus tracker one last time and a mumbled, “have a nice day” before the door opened to let out this random stranger and let in the cool damp outside air. As it hit my face I realized I was blushing.