‘Beards’ Book Review

‘Beards’ is one indie book that I actually knew about before the author approached me for this book review (or maybe I hounded them until they gave me a free copy? Who knows, really?). Back when I was hoping to buy books and was unable to afford them, I had looked at ‘Beards’ and wondered if I would like to buy it, were I to have the means to do so.

Now, as a book reviewer I’ve tricked authors into giving me their books! Unlimited books muahahahaha!

Alright, in all seriousness, what’s the good, bad, and short stick of this book? Uhm, well… it’s kind of not well written.

Now I don’t mean this to be mean. But it all felt too short. Under-described. Character conversations were stilted and felt fake. And YET -> it still managed to be a good read.

Yeah, the characters sometimes felt a little bit like charicature-like lessons (I’m looking at you, Early). And sometimes the situations felt overly dramatic and predictably so. And yeah, the back and forth between the past and the present wasn’t always that ‘smooth’.

But you know what? It somehow still manages to be a good read. The author wanted it to be a bit of an lgbt timeline about acceptance, and it accomplished that, to a degree. And really, it made for a pleasant and entertaining read, DESPITE all its flaws. Which somehow boggles me. How did this author make so many mistakes and still make a book that’s entertaining? Must be the characters. Or their interactions. Or the funny premise of the book.

But all in all, this review is going to be short because that’s it, really. I could write up a giant list of flaws, yet this book still was in no way a waste of time. This book was fun, light, and really gave insight into the history of the lgbt movement in a vivid way. I would recommend it for young readers, for people trying to grapple our history in a more intuitive or ‘lived experience’ kind of way, without being all about protests.

I would also recommend the book to polyamorous couples/polycules, as it delicately bridges the gap between family and different kind of relationships that make them.

And that’s it folks! I hope this was interesting/useful!

 

Free Books! (Ish)

Who wants free books? YAYYYY!

Who wants LEGAL free books? OOOOOO!

Who wants all that without having to leave your home? EEEEEE!

Well then, come one, come all, and Join ME! Come and bask in the glory of my fiction writing in my very own reading group.

Yassss, join it. For there, little minion of doom, I will be sharing my writing, my art, and many things more. Join it! And verily, verily, great shafts of light will descend upon you and illuminate your being!

Or maybe not. But hey, it’s free, right?adelaide horse edited

Book Review – Ethan& Juliet

Hey everyone. Seeing as I’m closing down my other blog and transmuting this one into a messy home blog for everything that goes through my brain – BEHOLD! A book review!

This book review was requested by the author, but unfortunately they didn’t pay me a zillion cash to say nice things, so I’ll just say the truth. For those of you who like videos, Here’s my video version of this review!

This book did NOT captivate me at first. Nope. Not at all. It was painfully heteronormative in all the ways that hetero people don’t realize they’re being SO hetero. This was reflected in both their couple dynamics (guy chases girl who pretends not to be interested) and in their characters (girl is a yogi, a nurse and soon to be midwife, vegetarian, guy does rowing, is a doctor, and eats meat). Uhhh, barf. I wanted to throw this book at the wall.

To be honest, the doctor vs nurse gender thing is so old and used. I’ve been treated by an almost equal number of female doctors and psychiatrists as I have male ones, so even if there is a statistical slant, I don’t think it’s worthy of making the character job choices about. Second, really? Why is it the woman with the lesser education, the more ‘holistic’ and ‘intuitive’ job? It just, again, made me want to throw the book at the wall.

Again. SO HETERO it ached.

Also, their flirting dynamics really just sounded like ick to me. It went like this ‘oh, me urk urk guy. me like you’. “Oh, me sassy sassy gal. oh me so hot in my pants but oh, me won’t talk’.

Now, this ‘cat and mouse’ thing where the girl keeps saying no and the guy keeps insisting is way too close to rape culture for me. Sure, everything in this novel was consensual, but what about people taking a ‘no’ for a ‘no’ and just leaving someone the fuck alone and moving on with life? I’ve done that, and look -> happily married!

Now all that is about the beginning of the book. I’d say about halfway through, the cat and mouse dynamics drop off as they become a couple and some actually healthy dynamics kind of start. That’s nice. I liked that a lot.

One thing I also liked was how the two protagonists reacted differently to unsaid things, in ways that made sense for their stereotypical gender conformity. Typical hetero women leave things unsaid to protect themselves from the macho men’s outbursts (seen this a lot IRL) and that’s kind of what happened in the book. Meanwhile, typical hetero men think silence is an a+ sign (really dumb) and that’s again what happened in the book. But I liked this, because it shows the flaws of not communicating, added tension, and was realistic towards the characters she’d created.

The ending was cheesy, sweet, and ended on a nice note. Nothing to be said there except again, typical hetero notion of a cheesy ending.

So what is there to be said about the book as a whole? Really, if you’re looking for a staple hetero cheesy novel, this is what you’re looking for. It avoided lots of what we would call ‘indie’ mistakes, such as bad dialogue and nonsensical story turns. It reads pretty much as well if not better than some published Harlequin novels I’ve read. And honestly, the sweet part of the novels really do redeem it. When the story is good, it’s good, but the crappy parts aren’t too bad if you’re not a gender-obsessed person like me. A hetero non-queer person might really like it.

Overall, a pretty good book! Here’s the goodreads page so you can grab a copy!

Taking Care and Rant about Discrimination

I think that somewhere, in my mess of a self, I’ve leveled up. Maybe my practice as a priest for a pagan group is paying off in spiritual spades. But I doubt it. I find that the rituals have been having their desired effect, and as such I have been feeling nebulously better. This better-ness was actually doing me NO GOOD at all until my wifey ordered me into at least one day of rest. One day.

Well, one day has now become three thanks to me being so good at it.Why? Because I feel great. I’m sleeping if I’m tired, eating when hungry – both novel things for me – I’ve cut out a TON of sugar from my diet and am doing yoga two to three times a day, as well as maintaining steady chores.

Wow. How did I get there? What magical incantation did I use?

Here it is: I forced myself to stop trying to make money to make our situation better.

Ouch. It hurts to admit that I, as a welfare recipient, am not even trying to make money in some way. But I just can’t. My mental health suffers too much in my frantic attempts at finding ‘something’ or ‘some way’ to support us. I’m not even envisioning getting to a state of health where I can work. I’m just resting.

It’s humiliating, but I think I’m finally going to just relax and let myself not earn money. And I’m cringing just writing it – which says something about our society as a whole.

Why is it so hard to not earn money, even when doctors agree we can’t? Why do we (and I use ‘we’ because I’m sure I’m not alone in this) feel so guilty for something that is part of our social agreement? For something that, in the case of illness, is hardly one’s fault? Something that is doctor prescribed?

Rant begins *

We live in a capitalist society, that we all know. But what does this mean to the poor, the sick, the disabled, or better yet, those who live with all three? Those who are dependent on others for their own welfare?

My mother always says that there is spirituality to be found in poverty, and I’m sure that is true. You see things, beautiful things, from the experience of needing help and receiving it. But you also feel the pressure of the system.

A system that devalues you for not being able to produce. A system that constantly urges you to ‘get a job’ and ‘not be a bum’.

There is something to be said about the fact that I’ve heard more jabs about welfare recipients than I almost have about colored people – and I live in a racist society. We are trained to believe that because we do not produce money, that we do not participate in society in any meaningful way. That if we do not produce money, we produce nothing at all.

Let’s just sit and stew on that for a minute. No money, no value. But what if we are taking a monastic path? What if we do volunteer work? What if we simply cannot do anything other than function?

We are all trained to be givers, producers of valuable things, but isn’t there value in being a recipient? I’m thinking here of a friend’s sister, who is mentally handicapped and cannot care for herself. What of her role in society, where she is wholly dependent upon others? Doesn’t she enrich us by offering her unique perspectives, her joys and challenges?

Isn’t there value in being a recipient, a leper, a priest, in being a caregiver, a support system, just something other than the producer?

I’m tempted to say that, obviously, the answer is that we are all valuable in this web of life. After all, animals do not produce. Yet they are all valuable within their fragile ecosystems. And yet, how do we manifest this precious value to members of society? How can we thank them, value them, and destroy this system that devalues them?

I don’t have a fast-and-hard answer. But I will say that this Christmas, due to my financial situation, I gave out handmade gifts and spent time with relatives, and that felt right. We need to appreciate what it is that everyone can give, no matter how ‘little’ or much.

 

 

Happy New Year, Fuckers

I’m in a good mood. A seriously good one. I’m listening to Heilung , I just did some yoga flows from the minimeditatingdragon (who’s a friend of mine – go check out her stuff!) and I even have a new idea for a blog post. So, inspired from all this good juju, what do I have to talk about today?

My life. Of course. But how has my life been, in this past year? And what, oh what, will I do in the coming year?

This year has sucked and been marvellous all at the same time. What blows? My writing sales. Dammit, I’m a self-published author. I wrote erotica with my wife for a while, and I made a few sales, and thought that was bad. Then, this year, I’ve tried out my beloved novels.

Now that was bad.

Hint: don’t self-publish right before Christmas.

I even copied other authors and made a reading group where I was hoping to share goodies like bookmarks I designed. I couldn’t even get a like on the posts within it, except from my friend.

Ugh.

And then what? I LOST A BOOK. I FREAKING DID. I’ve been working on a non-fiction book about mental illness, and LOST IT. Figuring the gods didn’t want it to ever see the light of day, I gave up on that project.

But aside from the sucks, what went well? Well, I moved to a lovely little hole in the ground with trees outside my apartment. I’ve built up an instagram following and started a youtube channel where I do book reviews in an attempt at gaining some traction for my novels (also, free books and free rants? My cup of tea).

Also, after being denied hormones, I finally got the OK for vitamin T – and now just have to wait for my appointment.

Despite my terrible publishing sales, my writing has streaked up to a better position. I’ve got literally dozens of novels I’m working on, and my mental clarity is pretty good so I think my writing is good as a result of that. I’m satisfied with the freaky result at least.

So now what? What’s coming in the following year? Well, I’ve got an idea to reboot that non-fiction book and hack at it – maybe with the help of a professor or something. I also am thinking of shifting this blog to be my main blog and just working from here as my base. Because no matter what, this feels like my honest home base, the place where I get all my freaky and weird out.

On that note- rant over. Tell me your thoughts, plans, and failures of this past year – and let me know how you want the coming one to go!

Blessings,

Michael

Does No One Care?!

Alright, so I woke up today thinking it was going to be a restful day. And behold, here I am, sitting in the coldest room of my apartment (which is pretty cold) and angrily bashing away at my keyboard instead of luxuriating in a restful day.

Maybe my early morning anxiety attack was a preview of something all my fellow trans were waking up to.

Today was supposed to be such a restful day. Instead now I want to cry, and cry, and cry.

Not just because TRUMP IS MAYBE GOING TO STRIP AWAY TRANSGENDER RIGHTS but because …. no one is talking about it.

My social media feeds are silent. Filled with happy Samhain preparation stuff and witchy doo-dads.Where is the outrage? Where is the care?

No one seems to care. Sure, maybe we’ll get a funny quip on Stephen Colbert’s show. But will there be protests? Will there be any general motion to support us? Will we just be another drop in the metaphorical shit-bucket and NO ONE CARES?!

I keep repeating it, because yeah, I’m lucky. I’m a Canadian. I live in frenchified Quebec, land where things change slower than cold molasses in mid winter. But on a federal level? What if the sheer stupidity of the Trump motion wears off into Canada, and we have another dumb-fucked Trump as our next Prime Minister? I’m fucked. Yeah, fucked, in danger, and NO ONE SEEMS TO CARE.

Like, seriously, people? Do we just not matter enough to you? Are we just ‘too small’ and ‘noisy’ a minority? So it’s fun and all to watch RuPaul and watch drag queens and kings, but to support trans people is too much?

Where are the people knitting hats? Why no transgender hats? Why not call the bureaus now and give gory details about your periods to get them to stay away from our rights? No? Not for us? Fucking thank you.

And yeah, it’s pretty close to me because I can’t just be ‘it’s those other people out there’. It’s people I know that are supporting Trump. Close relatives who hoot and cheer his every action. So go fuck you all. You either help us fight this or you are not an ally. That’s it.

And maybe the history books won’t take notice and you’ll think it’s all blown over when it’s said and done, but we’ll remember. We’ll remember that when they came for us,you DID NOTHING.

Want to make me less pissed off? Talk about it. Write to your politicians and get other people to do it. Cause a fuckin’ stink. We’re humans too, you know! We deserve our rights! We get murdered enough now, don’t you think? Imagine what it’ll be like without any laws defending us!

Oh, and P.S.? All you ‘wiccan’ and ‘pagan’ and ‘love and lighters’ just go fuck straight off if you’re going to tell me to calm down. You worship peace and harmony and won’t help the people who, in many cultures, are symbols of divine power and channels? Just fuck off. Especially if you borrow from Native cultures, where the berdache were sometimes revered. Don’t worship us if you’re going to abandon us. Because what else is the balance between god and goddess in Wicca but transgender? And now you abandon us? Thanks.

How I Feel, aka Fuck This Shit

It has been some time that people have been telling me that I lack confidence. That I lack the pazzazz and strength I once had. That’s unfortunate, because when was this mythical time that I was confident and secure in myself? Was it before my mental illness busted over me like a water balloon? Was it before some awful trauma happened to me?

No. It was before I realized I was transgender.

Mind you, I still had intense body issues then – I was just busy ignoring them. I was non-functional but I would readily argue everything and anything with all my breath. I was proud of who I was – and willing to defend myself.

And then I realized I wasn’t where I wanted to be. I wasn’t ‘who’ I wanted to be. I confronted my bodily issues, and instead of covering up and hiding what was there, I tried to ‘transition’ towards the body that I wanted. I tried, an esoteric person would say, to ‘manifest’ it.

Well bummer. I’ve never been more insecure as all the years since then. And people have noticed. Yes, I am more comfortable with my body. I feel truer to myself and like I am actually reaching for goals that are true to my soul. But… was it worth it?

Before, in my ignorance, in my bliss, I was confident and brave. Now, I am not. I actually consider giving up on my transition and just living the rest of my life in drag and just ‘being a woman’.

Why? What made such a dramatic shift in me?

I think the answer is inherent to the way that ‘transgender’ is viewed in the public, and of many things that are inherent to it.

See, in the public perception, we see transgender as being these super beautiful people that ‘pass’ super well. Super hot guys are held up as models of FTM success, and super beautiful women with makeup on perfectly as models of MTF success. So that, inherently, is how a transgender person feels they should be. But, incidentally, that’s exactly the opposite of how transgender people naturally look. Because let’s face it. A lot of us probably look like the sex we are born into (I look like a woman) and maybe we’re not hot, so we look like frumpy and dumpy versions of that sex. I, quite honestly, am fat. A fat woman with big breasts and big hips and yuck. I don’t like myself. I’ve been constantly gaining weight ever since discovering my trans identity and guess what? I’ve gained so much weight now it’s getting to be a health concern (in my opinion, not a medical one). I’m quite sure I am technically obese now.

The point is, were I a beautiful trans advertisement of what awesome trans-ness looks like -> I would be this awesome epically buff buff muscly guy with a shaved head and busting biceps. I’m not. I don’t pass no matter three years of intensely trying to pass. No matter my trendy man-styled hair and mens’ clothes and trying to lift weights -> I. Don’t. Pass.

Where does this leave me? It leaves me feeling like I am not trans ‘enough’. That I need to get in shape, that I need to become more and more masculine! That I can’t wear eyeliner.

And the problem is, when discovering a new identity, when unveiling something so private and close to yourself, you want to be the truest to it -> and everyone tells you how to do it. Because ‘this is what trans looks like’ apparently. Super successful ‘passing’ people.

And you know what else? There’s a majoy shift in something else when you are transgender. Suddenly your gender depends not on you, but on other people’s perceptions of it.

WHAT? What do I mean? Trans-ness is all about self-identifying!

Yes, but getting people to identify and respect it is all about their perceptions of you. And because this is something you really care about, you want to succeed. You want to nourish this new part of yourself. For me, I want people to call me ‘he’. So how do you do that?

Well, trans-ness is not visible. So who knows if you’re trans unless they just take your word for it? Who will suddenly start calling you by your proper pronouns? The people who can see the results in some way. Strangers to whom you ‘pass’.

And don’t just tell me that wearing the proper clothes will do it. I’ve been wearing men’s clothes since about ten years now in general and can count the number of time I’ve been gendered properly on one hand. I don’t know if this is a particularly FTM problem, but I bet it’s fucking difficult for MTF’s too.

So clothes doesn’t do it. And you know what? Telling people doesn’t do it either, half the time.

Because you’re not enough. Because, if you don’t fit their perception of masculinity, you bet they’re going to question it. I’ve had very accepting and loving people challenge me on it, because I’m too ‘feminine’ in my presentation. Most people believe that it has to do with how I present, therefore they’re waiting for me to magically (with hormones) appear masculine enough for them to address me as ‘he’.

But fuck!

It doesn’t work that way. I’m feminine. I like high heels. I feel like slaying when I wear eyeliner. Does any of this help me ‘pass’? No. So you know what I’ve tended to do? Throw out my eyeliners and heels. Heels have started giving me massive dysphoria simply because of people’s perceptions of them.

And you know what else? The concept that trans people are going to magically transition into a socially acceptable version of their gender is ableist. Because you know what? You have to be mentally stable in order to get on hormones. Which I am not. Which many people are not. Which really hurts, because I don’t see myself as ‘completed’ or ‘there yet’ or ‘truly myself’ until I get on them. But will I ever be stable enough to do that? Will I ever get there? Who knows?

What I do know is that I have a lot of self-work to do. I’ve been repressing myself, unknowingly, by trying so hard to be true to myself. Isn’t it weird? Ugh.

So how do I start fixing this? With eyeliner, apparently.

Bitch, I’m slaying.

 

 

“Well that was Predictable…”

Ladies and gentlemen! Beware, rant incoming! I know, I know, I try and keep this blog useful and on topic. Rants generally don’t have their place on my blog, or I try not to anyways. So if you don’t want to read a rant, look away. Otherwise enjoy the ride…

Because Holy Fuck people can be enraging.

Let me explain. I, inconspicuous and easily happy I, was thinking ‘oh hey, let’s go and meet some new people!’. Of course I meant online (who am I to meet people IRL, right? Ah ha ha, the thought of being actually sociable…).

And LO! Be-FUCKING-HOLD -> Idiots!

What did I do? How did I summon them? Did I do some Satanic sex magic ritual? Did I … I don’t know. I can’t think of doing something sufficiently stupid to summon this level of ignorance.

Because woe and woe upon me… I typed “gender neutral” into wordpress’ search bar.

W-O-E.

The first (FIRST, like what the HELL? No warning, no nothing!) FIRST article to pop up was *drumroll * infuriating. Forgive me, I read it. Me, all in a good mood, lackadaisying along and happily expecting some transgender inclusive happy morale-boosting self-affirming something pleasant to read.

“Well, that was predictable…” said one of my friends when I told them I’d fallen across a rampaging Christian religion-splaining about the woes of gender-neutral terms.

Allow me, grant me this pleasure, or dance with me, whatever you will… I’m going to rip this article apart. Because that’s what I do when I’m angry.

So! Behold! This is the article -> https://wordpress.com/read/blogs/72317554/posts/5463

And no, I am not asking anyone to spread hate upon this person. I just put the link there so anyone who is curious can read what I am talking about and judge for themselves.

This is my answer ->

One Angry Polytheist Wiccan’s response to “Introducing Gender-Neutral Pronouns. What Did We Expect?”

Well, straight off the bat, the article starts with a ‘y’all’, which I kind of like. I like ‘y’all’, and so I’m happily reading along as the author says that her local college tries to impliment gender-neutral pronouns. And then…

“They have basically invented these words as legitimate gender-neutral pronouns. 

These new “words” include “ne,” “ve,” “ey,” “ze,” and “hir.” ”

To which I say… uh, yeah. That’s how words happen. We invent them. You got a problem with that? Or just with invention in general?

Moving along…

“This pamphlet provides information for students on how to respectfully interact with their transgender classmates and it urges them to ask everyone which pronoun they would like to be referred by.

Oh my goodness, guys. I read that piece of information and the first thought I had was how badly that could backfire….

Just picture an acquaintance coming up to you and asking you this: 

“Hey, so do you want me to call you he, she, or you know like, ve, ne, or ey?”

That honestly seems like it would be a very awkward experience to me.”

No, actually, it’s not. It’s what we in the liberal community call ‘polite’. It’s basics. It’s respectful. Imagine being misgendered right off the bat by someone and having to correct them. Trust me, it’s embarrassing for everyone. Wouldn’t it be better if they simply were polite and did what they ought to do and simply ask?

Which, alright. At this point I can say “Ok, you just really aren’t used to being around gender-deviant people, are you?” and I can forgive someone not understanding the NEED (not want, NEED) for these sort of discussions in the public sphere. But then THIS had to be written.

“It really is sad. People believe this lie about who they are and where they find their identity, and something as concrete as the gender you are born with is no longer supposed to be concrete. People are being completely deceived, and this deception is being celebrated and normalized”

Uh… I had to reread this twice. I was like… wait a minute… and I reread it again… and then I was PISSED.

What the hell is sad about people affirming who they are based upon their brains’ innate needs? What is wrong about people being true to themselves, to what they know is their inner truth? And in case you never read a history book or looked at other cultures – gender has never been tied solely to what you were born as. Just look at some Native American cultures where gender was based upon a child’s choice of tools in a test. Just look at the vikings who had the ergi, castrated men who performed magic. Just… look at the world outside of your bubble and you’ll see it’s full of variety. Plus, you’re completely negating the existence of intersex people. They exist. They are mutilated and forced into fitting the gender binary at birth. How horrible is that?

But oh no! The real danger is worrying about an awkward conversation and brrr – new words (oh, what a horrid concept!). I remember that one hated figure who invented a whole wallop of words… what was his name… Hitler? No… Shakespeare! Hitler actually suppressed the LGBT community, by the way, as well as the mentally ill and epileptic  (but let’s not focus on the historic issues at hand here but rather on how un-com-for-tah-bul it is to have polite conversations!).

They continued by saying…

“No one is getting HELP. No one is being counseled. No one is being told the truth.”

Which I found really ironic, because the process of changing gender is commonly called ‘getting help’ and includes meeting with counselors and therapists, and facing your own inner truth. So when I read this I was really, really, confused. I seriously wondered if the author knew what she was talking about, or was trying to make double-entendre all over the place.

And then it got better (we hit the rotten core of this poop-fest!)

“Sin, right, wrong, and truth are taboo concepts in our culture. But as Christians we know they exist and we can’t go against what God’s Word says.”

Oh bugger. As someone who studied just a tad bit at university about the evolution of Christianity… I feel like asking ‘and what exactly do you think God’s word says’? Because, you know, it does seem to mean a whole lot of different things to a whole lot of different people. Do you believe that we ought to encourage the rape-marriages and slavery as is dictated in the Hebrew Bible? Or what? Because really, if we come to the facts of it all, it’s a text that was written and edited by people for political gain and power.

As a polytheist, I do believe that for the followers of this Yhwh-istic tradition meaning and inner truths can probably be found within a text held to be sacred for your deity. But to insist this text affect the lives of others? That’s just fucking rude. And the fact is that we live in a world of varied interpretations, varied UPG (unverifiable personal gnosis) and who know, maybe even aliens.

Of course, the author tried to end this all on a motivational note (HAH!)

“Speak the truth. Don’t jump on the bandwagon of accepting and embracing sin. We have to be emboldened by the Word of God and find our courage in His truth.

Even if the cost is far more than we want to give.”

Yeah. Because you, you cis-heteronormative person, you deal with harrassment on a daily basis just for being white and cis, don’t you? You literally get rocks and beer bottles thrown at you for the way you look. You have people debate whether you exist ‘according to god’s word’. You have almost an entire nation (I’m looking at you, US) rallying against transgender rights due to an angry orange-inado.

Because let’s focus on the real victims here. It’s not the people who were victims of the Holocaust for merely living according to their inner truths (transgenders, LGBT, Jews, etc), who have lived on the fringes of society for hundreds of years. It’s really, really, the mainstream Christians who are suffering because they’re being asked to be fucking polite.

Who knows? It might be the first time in their lives they’re being asked to do such a thing. Wow! How oppressive!

And you know what? If someone thinks I’m being rude about this article, I’m just going to quote the author and say “Introducing Gender-Neutral Pronouns. What Did We Expect?” Because what do you expect? Us to stand idly by as we are insulted, belittled, and told that we are against religious text? Oh, dear Lucifer, no!