14 February 2009

Not Catching Up

So, what am I doing on a Saturday night that happens to be Valentine's Day? Am I slinking through the town in my slinky red dress, holding hands with my favorite hottie?

He's not feeling well tonight, so we're not going out. Monday, perhaps: It's a holiday for both of us. So no lady in red painting the town red tonight.

Well, I am wearing red--underneath a fuzzy sweater. It's a scarlet thermal top. A nice casual top, actually, but not what one wears to a romantic dinner. And from my waist to just above my ankles, I'm sheathed in a pair of tights that's ripped in a couple of places. I guess there might still be some punk rock club those tights could get me into--assuming I would want to go to such a place.

Actually, if I wanted to go to a club or dance hall, I'd probably choose a punk venue. At least in a real punk club--not a watering hole for wannabes--people actually might actually live, if only for a moment, by a motto like "Fuck this Shit" rather than merely cop an attitude that mimics it.

Then again, I can't imagine myself in such a place after all, and not only because of my age. In living as Justine, I'm not rebelling against anything because I'm not at war with myself, at least not over my gender identity issue. It's like I said in an earlier post: As a transgender woman, I'm actually less queer now than I was when I lived as a straight male.

So what's with all this talk about being queer, you ask. Well, tonight I was trying to catch up on the reading for the class I'm taking. It's not working. All of that gender theory seems to be circular: You start off saying you have such-and-such an assumption, the assumption is hindering your understanding, you take apart the assumption and find out that the taking apart can only be done in terms of what you're trying to take apart. So you're back with your assumption, except that maybe you know a little bit more about what it is.

I guess that's not a bad place to end up. But it's not where I want to be, or go. Really, I'm coming to the conclusion that if you weren't into theorizing and abstractions when you were young, you aren't going to take to such things in middle age. I signed up for one philosophy course when I was at Rutgers and walked out of it during the third or fourth session. And now I'm trying to read things that make whatever I was supposed to read for that philosophy class seem like coffee-table books of interior decoration. I don't know how in the world I'm going to get through it, much less take other PhD level courses.

I feel that any time anybody flips a coin, I'd pick the wrong side. If I pick heads, tails will win, and vice versa. I was deciding between taking a PhD level course in English or an introductory course in Mandarin or Arabic, if one were available in the university system. Of course people in a college will tell you to take whatever has fewer practical applications: They want to keep you in school and paying for it. Goddess forbid that you should try to get a real education in any useful thing.

The only thing I've liked so far about the course is the prof and some of the students in it. That's the reverse of a lot of other courses I've taken. My favorite rhetorical question used to be, "If literature is so beautiful, why do literature courses suck?" The best answer I could come up with then was that the profs made it so. But now I actually like this prof and think she's making everything more interesting than it would otherwise be. Now that's scary. Just how dreadful would the class be otherwise?

I think on Tuesday, when the class meets again, I'm going to drop it and say goodbye to the Graduate Center. Maybe I'll tell the prof "No hard feelings" and that she's a lovely person and fine scholar. Reading theoretical texts just isn't for me. Now I really wish I were learning a new language. I suppose I could sign up for a class elsewhere, just not within the university: The semester is about three weeks old, so there's no way I'd get in. That means I'd have to pay for a course someplace else, in an non-academic setting.

So, no, I'm not in any danger of becoming a gender theorist. I knew that even before I took the class. So why did I take it? I guess I thought I should, and not just because of those people at the college who were egging me on. I suppose I thought that, as a transgender woman, I should learn something about gender theory and such.

Oh well. Maybe next Valentine's Day I'll be learning Mandarin characters. It'll be, if all goes according to plan, a little more than six months after my surgery.

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