I am a non-binary, trans-masc writer. I work to dismantle internalized structures of oppression, such as the gender binary, class, and race. My writing is personal but anecdotally points to a larger political picture of systemic injustice.
My childhood was a performance, a parade of behaviors within the confines of a gender binary. I can easily say I played like a boy. I imagined myself as male in many of my fantasies. I never minded playing females so long as they were like Lara Croft or Alex Munday, but this may have stemmed as much from a sexual attraction to Angelina Jolie and Lucy Liu as it did a desire to be like them. For the most part, I imagined myself as some hybrid force, a superhuman possessing the qualities I found most appealing to the feminine and masculine. I stormed trees teeming with spies, besting them with my wits and their weapons, a cross between Croft and Chan.
Blue eyes determined my gender. I was a little boy until adults got a close look at my “baby blues and long lashes” and decided I was a girl. My gender switched so much when I was a child. Perhaps it’s why I refuse to pick one now. I never protested when people called me a boy. I never felt my gender was important enough to lay claim to a side like war, a battle waged for centuries that no one wins.
Jermaine Lamarr Cole released his fifth studio album, KOD, appositely, on April 20th, 2018. The title, having three distinct meanings, reveals the work's thrust, the problem that inspired his conversations. Kids on Drugs, King Overdosed, Kill Our Demons. We are dying, he says, before we have lived.
Bump? The young man apologizes, revealing his assumption that I’d accept any drug. He determined this, he says, by my relaxed sweats and Hawaiian button-up; lime-green GameBoy; Hokusai copy (not the great wave) hanging; Jose silver next to game leaves; and my confessed exploits with microdosing during this day’s regularly scheduled programming. I tell myself (hardly in earnest) that he is most likely correct and accept his offering. He says I am ‘the real,’ and I am left to decipher what this means from his earlier list of observations. I decide it must refer to people who are chronically depressed and filling pesky emotional voids with persistent substance abuse and tedious displays of appropriated interests. He rambles for some time before he tells me again that I’m as real as it gets, adding that this assessment includes people who don’t have social media profiles. I don’t tell him I don’t have social media profiles. He has lionized this misanthropic manic enough.
I moved to Ypsilanti, Michigan, at twenty-four years of age and thought I had lept before. I had lived in Kalamazoo for a year while attempting to attend Western and moved into a trailer on my own in Big Rapids. Yes, a two-hour drive to my parent's house down to a 10-minute bike ride, but independence was maintained, nonetheless. So I thought. I had paid only $250 a month for rent and had only juggled the cost of one or two utilities. I had never tried to manage a forty-hour work week to afford rising rent costs or the monopolized prices of energy and internet while managing a full course load in college. Up to that point, I had only done one or the other at any given time. I moved to Ypsi and learned I was slightly behind on the curve. With only a few hundred dollars in my bank account, it didn’t take long for the eviction notices to start piling up. The final call to court prompted the mass sale of my personal belongings. Clothing, games, pills and weed, services, and a keyboard my parents paid six hundred dollars for. That money should have gone towards their mortgage, but they believed in the off-chance that I would learn how to play.
to reclaim and to erase, respectively, the space and the impression, despite your initial displacement having passed, i removed pictures, ones where we’re holding and looking and claiming; wiped window notes so not to remind that you fuck neck deep and disappoint people; quit the weed; issued a cease and desist on the strange heptagon forming corners, extending from my friendships to your new lover; donated the brown recliner with the glossy pile; bought a chair with floral print, which doesn’t recline (that’s ok, i don’t relax); changed every bulb to a daylight bulb; switched the meds from seroquel to abilify; smoked the weed; curbed the couch and the bookshelf; built a new bookshelf, by which i mean i stacked cinder blocks and 2x8x10 lumber against the south facing wall of my apartment, then stacked books of history and philosophy and classic literature and novels and poetry and graphic novels and cacti and records and a player on that stack of whitewood and concrete; moved everything but that bookshelf twice; smoked the weed again; added a spider plant and blood leaf to the collection; brought my desk into the living room; decentralized then sold the television; purged the contents of my room and closet; found all the old shoes, tuning forks, irrelevant mail and bank documents, ill-fit clothes, and less than precious metals i hid from myself and donated these curiosities i never or no longer used; smoked the weed some more; moved the desk back to my room; bought two pairs of blue jeans to add to the few other shirts and sweaters i call my own, as well as the ones borrowed from my roommate who tends to borrow things herself, ensuring no one really knows what belongs to whom anymore; gave away the bed; made plans to move entirely, but the space and the present remain yours.