16 May 2012

Dear Mother, This Is Just Survival

I've mentioned before the dynamic of change and how it occurs. It lies beneath the surface, constantly shifting and sliding. It's like a tectonic plate for the human condition. The eventual momentum of such plates cause mountains of change to sprout like weeds. This can be quite a long process. Every so often, change comes with the speed and precision of a bandit in the night. You are then left to assess things as they are. With nothing to do but move on, the finality of certain circumstances can either be somewhat motivational or somewhat suffocating. Realistically, it can be both. It is only when your back is against the wall that you'll start swinging.

In one fell swoop, certain dynamics in Robin and I's lives have shifted. Money has become extremely tight. Certain friends that at one time were close to us have become a constant source of frustration and anger. A certain favorite band has crossed the threshold into completely new territory, sparking even more love and pride while tearing down walls of familiarity. Rather than our sense of adventure taking us all across the city, our misanthropic nature allows us to be happier to sit at home behind locked doors and ignoring the outside world. We can wholeheartedly depend on each other, however. That kind of companionship should be the envy of most people unlucky enough to be missing out.

With the finality of the car accident set in stone and my nasal surgery behind me, I can begin to carry on under the weight of debt. With an almost maxed-out credit card, a monthly car payment and Moshboy's wedding less than two months away, scrimping and scrounging and saving has become an important driving force. I am conscious of every penny I spend. I am envious of those with the luxury to rack up a large bar tab. I miss the days of frivolously buying records. Rather than the incoming packages of Uline boxes, I've been crafting record mailers from cereal boxes as I sell off some of my collection. It's been a relatively fruitful endeavor. Last week I was able to pick up over ten hours of overtime. I'll take the extra money wherever I can get it.

I've almost made a game out of making dinner for the two of us. How cheap of a meal can I make?, I ask myself. It allows me to be creative with cooking while getting by with the minimum. The last few nights, I've been able to make very filling and somewhat healthy meals for under ten bucks. With no choice but to ignore fancy microbrews and the summer staple of Pacifico, I buy beer on the cheap. All I ask for at the end of the day is a decent meal and a couple of tallboys.

To combat the hordes of the evil money machine, I have began looking for a second job, something part-time to bring in some extra money. I am (hopefully) still in the running for a cook job at a local bar. I'd work a couple nights a week and, even if I was to making the minimum wage, I'd be pulling in about hundred bucks a week. That's a significant amount of money for our situation. At complete random the other night, I had an epiphany: start selling plasma. We are unwilling to part with any more of our records, so acquiring money quickly has to be done in other ways. We still need to buy plane tickets for the wedding and, from the looks of it, selling plasma can be bring in a couple hundred bucks a month if you're qualified. That is really the only motivation we need. Hell, we might start the donation process later today.

With the current state affairs in the country, the general population is being quickly divided. With the latest headlines declaring that the president supports gay marriage and North Carolina is against it, peoples' ethics and ideological standpoints are coming out of the woodwork. I am paying attention to politics more than I ever have before. I fully support gay marriage. It is absurd to think otherwise. The detractors of the gay marriage argument quote the bible and use the out-of-date text to support their side of the argument. Marriage should be between a man and a woman, they say. What ever happened to the separation of church and state? It is wrong and unjust for those in positions of power to deem the pure, unadulterated love between two men or two women as invalid. The fact that certain people I know are using religion as a crutch to stand by this fucked way of thinking is infuriating. I guess these kind of situations are your best way to find out what people really stand for. A small part of me laughs at their ignorance.

For several years now, Against Me!'s music has been the backbeat to my life. Their songs have always been companions around the campfire, additional friends in our small circle. Their discography spans the highs and lows of humanity. When you're bummed out or depressed, you can play "Turn Those Clapping Hands Into Angry Balled Fists". When you want to set the mood right for a night out drinking with friends, you can play "T.S.R.". After such a night, when you're drunk as hell with those closest to you, but not yet ready to sleep, you can play their acoustic EP and slurringly sing along. Tom Gabel's unique voice and one-of-a-kind lyrics have been a staple in my collection longer than most bands.

Tom Gabel announced about a week ago that he was coming out as transgendered. Robin and I couldn't believe the news. After doing a little bit of research, it felt like we were in suspended animation, a dreamstate of sorts. We simply couldn't believe the news. Not because it was hard to hear (it wasn't), but because, rather, it practically crumbled every institution and standard we have ever had for the band. It simply put an entirely different slant on the music. I do not mean this to be a bad thing. It was a shift that happened to come so fast and resolutely that processing it took some time.

He has suffered with gender dysphoria his whole life. In layman's terms, it is the all-encompassing feeling of being born in the wrong body. He has always felt that he should have been born female. Finally, armed with the courage and bravery that I still cannot fathom, he announced in a Rolling Stone article that he was going to begin the transformation into a female named Laura Jane Grace. This took us at such a surprise that we literally sat in front of our computers with jaws dropped for a good five minutes.

From my understanding of it, gender dysphoria is a soul-crushing condition to live with. Those not as brave or as strong as Laura have committed suicide, fallen off the deep end into drugs and self-destruction. Laura is staying completely sober for her transformation, which takes courage in and of itself. She wishes to be clear-headed for the entire process. Hell, I wouldn't want to stay sober for a month while I'm battling the workday blues. That's small potatoes compared to something like what she's going through.

Robin and I fully supported her from beginning. The only selfish reaction we had to the news was "What about her voice?". To those familiar with Against Me!'s music, you know that Tom Gabel has one of the most unique voices in Punk Rock. His signature howl and throat-shredding melody is the best part of the band. Without that, would the band's quality of output suffer? We didn't seem to want to live in a world where that voice wasn't a part of it any longer.

Turns out, the vocal cords are elongated during puberty because of a release of testosterone. When a male hits puberty, his voice deepens because of the hormones. When a female undergoes a sex change and hormone therapy, more testosterone is released into their system, stretching the vocal cords. The inverse is not true. Laura's transformation into a full woman, even with the hormone treatments, will not alter her voice. Vocal coaching can be given to change the overall tone, of course, but it is only with tracheal shaving that her voice would change. Based on the interview, it does not sound like a process she is willing to put herself through. Therefore, at the very core of the entire situation, Against Me! will simply be fronted by a woman. The transformation and changes that Laura Jane Grace will be going through is not going to change the fact that it's the same brilliant soul writing the songs and delivering the vocals. We couldn't be happier.

With the seemingly never-ending work schedules the two of us partake in, our general distaste for humanity has always been quite strong. Through the day to day, we deal with shitheads and rude people all time. Going out in public half the time is an exhausting endeavor simply for the fact that it seems every other person we interact with is a fucking idiot. We deal with those who don't understand the concept of driving, the people at diners whose meaningless conversations revolve around calling people "a-holes" because they don't like onion rings. Going to the grocery store and getting stuck behind someone in the express lane with a cart full of groceries, ignorant to the point of absurdity, can cause rage. Humanity in general needs to come with warning labels. At least that way you'll know what you're in for.

We practically thrive on holing ourselves up in our apartment, battling the legion of idiots with music, horror movies, food, beer and books. At the most basic level, we only need each other and that's exactly what we have. I wish that those closest to me all have that sort of clarity one day. With animalistic instincts, we have begun to fend off the suffocating summer heat with iced tea and scrabble at the diner across the street. Once our financial situation is a little bit better off, we will invest in an air conditioner. We do not want to succumb to eating at Shari's four or five nights a week like last summer. It's simply too expensive and most of the time the food isn't even worth it (unless you're drunk).

I am hoping that this long and overdue blog post will help to get some of my motivation back. Over the past couple of weeks, I haven't had the luxury of having my head in the clouds which, ironically, helps keep me grounded. I can only continue to carry on.


  1. I have an air conditioner for you. Its been out at my grandparents farm for like two years and I have absolutely no use for it. Its a bulky dented old window unit but it works great. Let me know if you want it and I will get it to you before the next heat wave of death.

  2. "Humanity in general needs to come with warning labels"


    I love you. Even if you are ugly.


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