Saturday, November 7, 2015

Future Dreams

After I published my last post, I had some doubts. Is that something I want on the internet? Is that something I'm okay having people read? Part of my hesitation is that when I talk about what a freak I am, it's easy to get into a self-pitying mindset. Oh poor me. Look how oppressed I am.

Screw that. Talking about negative experiences and feelings is important, but I can't let myself get used to having that be the message I send out. Solidarity shouldn't mean that we all suffer together; it should mean that we all move forward together, so as to suffer less.

After the angsty start to the week, my mental state has improved. It's starting to sink in that I'm going to be in Berlin in the spring, and that makes me want to take a positive view of the future.


Ozean - Eisbrecher

Not particularly related to the theme but I've been listening to this song a lot recently.


But a question remaining from last time: how out am I going to be when I'm in the real world? At work? In ordinary life, I think I can get by reading as a masculine career-oriented woman. That's something that people will not challenge as much as they would challenge an ace nonbinary person.

I haven't decided this yet, and I lack information about my future bravery levels. To be reevaluated.


While in college it's easy to forget that there is life after college. All the problem sets and exams and meetings tend to inspire tunnel vision: with all these short term things demanding attention Right Now, how am I supposed to take the long view?

But I want to think about the future, because I want to be a better person in the future than I am now, and how am I going to get there if I don't know where I want to go?

This is a game of sorts: optimize future you.


Future me is working as a civil engineer somewhere in the world where infrastructure improvements are badly needed. They are young and ambitious and willing to listen and willing to learn. They are living in a city that is full of life and energy, but also has quiet places, parks and libraries and museums and public spaces, where one can walk and bike. They are working on projects that genuinely help people.

They are still moderately workaholic but are able to separate work time and relaxation time better than present me can. They read more, they write more. They talk to the people that are important to them, whether through phone or letters or emails or whatever, with greater regularity than I keep in touch with people now. They are not afraid to talk about issues of race, gender, other social issues; moreover, they are actually informed about issues that do not directly pertain to them.

They cook. (I'm hungry right now so I'm going to describe some specifics.) They always make sure to have supplies to make ramen or udon: the noodles, soy sauce, bok choy, nori, corn, an egg, chicken if I ever get brave enough to cook meat, green onions. Spaghetti: noodles again, a choice of pesto or tomato sauce, onions, broccoli, mozzarella, perhaps mushrooms. Fried rice: rice, eggs, green onions, various green vegetables, carrots, corn, soy sauce. Fake pizza: tortillas or some kind of flat bread-shaped thing, tomato sauce, cheese, onions, spinach. Caesar salad: lettuce, onions, Caesar dressing, perhaps chicken. Bok choy just by itself. Boy choy soup with egg. Scrambled eggs with either soy sauce or pepper. (I'm making myself even more hungry.) They will have an impressive tea collection.

They exercise regularly, and do it in such a way that it does not seem like a chore. Running in beautiful parts of the city. Working out while listening to aggressive music. I'm not sure, because I know what I like for food but I don't know what exercise I'd actually like. Biking everywhere sounds fun. Dancing lead at swing and contra.

They dress in a way that does not induce dysphoria. The clothes I have right now just about pass muster, but I need more masculine sweaters and I need more real person clothing.

They live in a small apartment that has everything they need, and they keep it clean and organized such that waste does not happen. Their place feels more home-like and permanent than the dorms, but still leaves open the possibility of moving at short notice to accommodate work.

They have a pet. Perhaps a dog, perhaps a cat. Rescued from a shelter, obviously, unless there are retired police dogs who need to spend their later years adored and doted upon. Why not both? The animals are well taken care of and shown all due love.

They are very likely single, and that's just how it is (empirical evidence says I'm not aromantic but I haven't ever been able to envision myself with a life partner). They will not have children, ever, but at some point they will become an aunt (? the language is really not built for people like me).

They write fantasy stories that span a wide range of settings and themes, and hopefully those stories help someone somewhere.

They read fiction, nonfiction, everything in between. History and social science, the kind of philosophy that is actually useful, ecology, physics, and so on. They have a favorite place in the library and they have a dedicated reading chair where they can curl up with aforementioned pets and relax.

They speak German, Mandarin, and Italian at a high level of fluency, and are able to communicate in Spanish and Arabic.

They get enough sleep. They remember their dreams.


A note on language: after I came out as nonbinary (and thus using "they/them") one of my friends noted that while he was happy to switch pronouns, in the first few weeks of doing so he found that "they/them" felt more distant and impersonal than "she/her." It is always a little startling when someone uses "they/them" (and I'm lucky enough to have friends who do that consistently) and not in an 100% positive way--on the one hand, "they/them" feels more right than "she/her," but on the other hand, I worry that I'm coming off as wanting to be special.

That's also an issue that crops up when I'm in a group that's doing introductions and includes preferred gender pronouns as part of the intro. In all but one case (when I was at a panel for LGBT+ students to share their stories) I've been the only nonbinary person. The nervousness and near-fear I feel when hearing that endless march of "he/him" "she/her" is not enough to make me dislike the practice--I think it's good and should be more widespread--but making the choice to come out to a large group of people who have all just been affirming that the binary works for them is uncomfortable. But that's okay. I can deal with that.

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