Living in Uptown

August 4th, 2015 | Posted by Mush in Admissions | Life | Moving | Weather | Whining - (0 Comments)

In which I’m all about the neighborhood. Sort of.


After a full month, I think I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s not that I’m stupid and missing something, it’s that there really is nowhere to put our remaining stuff. It has to go away somehow, or get packed into the basement storage closet, because there’s just no way to organize it. And I’m sick of having bags and boxes in my living room.

For people who don’t have much shit, we have too much shit. Hell, we have an entire drawerful of single-function kitchen gadgets. I mean, I’m sure I really did feel like I needed a garlic press, tongs, corkscrew, can opener, and thermometer at one time or another, but all that crap in one drawer and it’s basically a bunch of shit that wants to gnaw your arm off at the wrist.

I’ve also got a bit of buyer’s remorse, on the level of the apartment’s issues. The window and air conditioner leak when it rains. None of the outlets will hold a plug, so everything’s always falling out, which is frustrating as hell — I can’t even count how many times we’ve had to reset the digital alarm clock on the nightstand, or how often the internet’s gone out because the router plug (which we have taped to the wall) has slipped again.

Laundry list of first world problems. I know. I know. There’s more, of course.

The A/C basically only half-works. It comes on, but even if you have it on full blast and 100% cool, it cycles off every few minutes and just blows recycled air. (Even if you run it for hours, it never gets cold in the apartment, and merely cooking a meal makes the place unbearable, even with the door freshly weather sealed and two fans circulating the air). Half the lights in the kitchen overheat after ten minutes and turn off, so cooking and dishes and cleaning is done mostly in a sort of dim gloom. And it’s smaller. And there’s no cross breeze. Plus it costs more than the other place!

But the location is great. I love the location. Bars, stores, tacos, falafel, liquor stores, parks, lakes, libraries, nail salons. Pretty much anything you could ever want is within walking distance.

Well, except for a job. I still don’t have one of those, but I’m not out of money yet so I’m trying not to freak out about it. I basically don’t let myself go out and spend money more than once a week, and usually that’s either a trip to The Egg & I for breakfast, or down to CC Club for a drink. Just to get out while it’s not blizzard season and enjoy the fact that I can. But basically I’m afraid to spend because part of me is convinced I’ll never get another job again. Too many online friends out of work for two or more years, all those ladies at Home Depot with two or three jobs, and getting turned down by that little CU for both of their P/T teller gigs…

Oh, and this: I applied at the wrong grocery store. My Saturday interview last weekend wasn’t over here at the neighborhood store, it was 4 miles and a half hour bus ride away, on the other side of what Scott described as “pretty sketchy areas.” Never occurred to me that the Cub on Lake street would actually be on Lagoon, and that the one on 26th is actually called the Lake Street Cub. Because how would anyone who doesn’t work there know that.

Anyway, we moved here so I could make friends and have a life without needing to buy a car. To make friends, you go out. Frequently. And people get used to seeing you and start talking to you, and the next thing you know you’ve been off on adventures and you have a back story and now you’re friends. The last time I went through that process in a new town I was spending the last of my money like a dumb kid (which obviously worked out okay or I wouldn’t be here, but still isn’t very responsible) or I was on unemployment. It takes a lot of money, actually, to just hang out in a bar or a bookstore or a coffee shop enough to belong there. Well, “a lot” if you have no income, I mean.

So I now live somewhere cool! Yay! And I’m not doing shit. Boo. Right now I have time and no money; by the time I’m working again I’ll have money and no time. I’m basically screwed either way.

The old place was closer to Scott’s work, had a park next door, no traffic, everything worked, was bigger, was cheaper. He didn’t want to move; I did. I just didn’t like the neighborhood. Now I like the neighborhood but I’m too old and too conservative to spend money without a job and I basically just look at it out the window and feel like an asshole because I know any second now there will be three feet of snow out there and it’ll be twenty below and it won’t matter that there’s a corner store because I’ll just wait ’til the weekend so I can get a ride in the car to the grocery, like I did at the old place, and we’ll have moved for nothing.

Because that’s how the Midwest works. You’re frantic in the spring and fall to Go Out and Do Things, and the lakeshores and streets are absolutely stuffed with humanity. During summer there’s still a lot of bodies (because these people don’t seem to understand that HUMIDITY IS AWFUL) but less than spring and fall, I think, and in the winter you hardly ever see anybody outside, besides in parking lots, at all, because the weather will legit kill you. They don’t even plow most of the sidewalks, because people aren’t walking.

Lots of traffic at our intersection. Really a strong quiet/loud comparison with the old place. Cars here 24 hours a day, foot traffic pretty much all the time. Lots of activity and vibrancy. It’d probably feel amazing if I knew anybody, but mostly I still feel like a tourist. Or a tourist’s mother.

How did I get this old?

I’ve wanted to live somewhere just like this all my life, but now that I do it’s kinda loud, kinda dingy, kinda too late. I’m glad for it, though, the opportunity to do something I’ve always wanted, but I’m not twenty anymore. I’m less stoked the bodega guy has five kinds of dal and more annoyed he doesn’t have turmeric, which convinces me that my brain and my attitudes are atrophying. (Because that’s clearly stupid. The corner store has fucking dal. And mango juice. And fava beans. It’s the coolest corner store on earth. He even carries tomatoes, onions, and cilantro, so you could finish out any meal. And I walked home from there a few days ago miffed that he didn’t have any fucking turmeric. I mean, the place is like thirty square feet, he can’t possibly carry everything!)

I’m getting old, and more likely to see what’s annoying than what’s awesome about a thing. I witness this happening, this calcification, this rigidity, and feel weird and embarrassed about my own mind. It’s still my nature to smile at people and talk to them in earnest, but at this city-level of immersion in humanity I tend to see most of them as extras rather than actual people — well, kids — with shit going on in their lives, because there are just too many of them. I think the girls’ accents are stupid and stilted, I hardly ever see anybody in truly cool and interesting clothes because I’ve pretty much already seen it all, and I don’t think the pedal pubs that come down our street after dark on Saturdays are the coolest shit ever, either, which I know I once would have: I think they’re loud and kinda dumb. Which doesn’t seem like me at all, but “me” has never been this close to 50 before.

So we bought some blackout curtains at Big Lots because the street lights on the corner are always shining into our bedroom window, and I have to tell you they’re freakin’ amazing. They cut so much brightness that the day we bought them and hung them up, we took a celebratory nap right in the middle of the day! And it was basically dark in the bedroom!

They also help with traffic sounds as well. Totally worth the investment.

See? I finally live in a cool apartment in a cool neighborhood in a major metropolitan area, and I turn out to be a person who talks about leaks and blackout curtains. Next it’ll be eye masks and cockroaches. My God.

On top of — or probably at the fundamental level of — my perceptions about the move is that it’s summer and I’ve become heat intolerant as fuck. Oh my God, it’s awful. No doubt it’s just a symptom of perimenopause, but the city is hot and this apartment has no awnings and no cross breeze and the A/C unit isn’t powerful enough to counteract an entire south-facing brick wall being beaten to death by the sun. And I am now a person who will get so hot that she’ll just lie there and cry, literally, and won’t even be able to realize that she needs to take a cool shower or something.

When I overheat I feel like I’m cogitating normally but I can’t think at all. I was overheating when we packed to go to Chicago last month, and I took really weird shit and omitted most of what I would normally bring to see Amma. And Sunday I got so hot I just started crying, burst into tears for no reason, but I didn’t realize I was overheated because I’d been lying in front of a fan with a spray bottle of water; I was doing stuff to cool down. I should have been fine. Heat’s never bothered me before. And yet I was miserable and helpless and stupid.

Scott finally took me for a drive with the GMC’s air vents all pointed at me on full blast. Eventually I could think again and we went home and by then the sun was no longer shining on the building and we rearranged the windows and fans and it was fine. But it’s weird to not really know your own body anymore, or your own head. I mean, I’m learning to accept the stiffness, the twinges, all the little changes that combine into the fact that I’m middle aged, but it’s frightening and weird to have a fucking crying jag just because it’s a hot day.

Today’s rather nice and much cooler, which I appreciate, but I’ve come down with whatever Scott had last week and I have a sore throat and a temperature and tons of body aches. I’ve managed to get some food down (even though swallowing hurt), and I hydrated dutifully, but I think it’s time to get off the internets and go back to bed for awhile.

Hopefully I’ll be up in time to feed my favorite person when he gets home from work, but the poor dear might have to fend for himself.

In which there’s some crap I more or less stumbled across online.

Today I came across a site that told me that some stupid product for women to wear under tight clothing — Camel No — IS THE WORST THING EVER AND SHAMES WOMEN AND IS ANTI-WOMAN AND ANTI-VAGINA.

Because obviously the woman who developed the product is a card-carrying misogynist, and not just trying to hide her labia in tight pants. Takeaway: modesty is anti-feminist, and everything that ever happens, ever, even if a woman does it, victimizes women.

The next post I read told me that calling Jenner ‘Bruce’ instead of ‘Kaitlin’ is A METHOD OF SILENCING AND SHAMING, because clearly not giving a fuck about Bruce Jenner is the same as being transphobic which is the same as being Hitler. “Not prioritizing trans experience” is now a heinous a social faux pas, even though taking the recent explosion in the number of so-called trans people they still make up less than a single percent of the population. Because “It’s not that Caitlyn was formerly anything. Judging from everything she’s said about her life, it’s more that she has always been Caitlyn even if she didn’t know it.”


Then I read an article in which a black woman calls a white woman giving her advice — true, stupid and unasked for advice, but still: just advice — RACISM. Instead of just plain ol’ stupidity, which is more likely what it was: one feminist saying stupid feminist “don’t let the man — literally — get you down” dogma to another.

Takeaway: even though we’re all women, any white woman talking to any black woman, ever, unless she’s not saying something stupid, is a racist.

If this site is legit and not just another so-called ‘satire’ site publishing ‘news’ it knows to be untrue, then it set off every YOU KIDS GET OFF MY LAWN cell in my body.

Stovetop macaroni and cheese recipe

July 16th, 2015 | Posted by Mush in Food - (0 Comments)

In which sometimes you just don’t want to turn on the damn oven.

I had intended to pop over to the grocery store this afternoon, but by the time I was ready it had started raining and has been raining ever since. So I had to make something with what I had, so macaroni and cheese for dinner it is!

It turned out quite well, actually.

Stovetop macaroni and cheese

8 ounces uncooked macaroni
1-1/2 cups whole milk
1 teaspoon prepared yellow mustard
1 teaspoon steak sauce (I used Heinz 57)
3/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
3 or more generous dashes of hot pepper sauce (I used Crystal)
1-1/2 tablespoons butter
1-3/4 cups grated cheddar cheese
1-3/4 cups grated American cheese
2-3 oz crumbled feta cheese
1/2 teaspoon paprika

1 – Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add macaroni and cook for 8 to 10 minutes.

2 – While macaroni is cooking, heat milk in the microwave. Whisk in the mustard, steak sauce, salt, and hot sauce.

3 – When al dente, drain the macaroni and return to the pot. Stir in the butter and the three cheeses. When incorporated, pour the hot milk mixture over the macaroni.

4 – Simmer briefly over medium heat, stirring often. Then cook on very low heat until thickened. (No need to stir after turning the heat down, though, because it’ll just break the macaroni.)

This recipe is adapted from cafeteria macaroni and cheese, which I was going to make but didn’t have the ingredients for and I seriously didn’t want to run the oven.

In which I don’t think I got the job.

Well, it’s Wednesday afternoon, and I haven’t heard back from the CU. Pretty sure they offered both of their lovely P/T teller positions to other applicants. I’m sad, because I really wanted to be able to live and work 600 feet apart, and have regular hours, and spend my work time in a quiet building.

I opened an account there anyway, because being 600 feet away it’ll be the only convenient place to buy quarters for laundry.

Oh, well. Guess I’ll call the other place back, even though I don’t really want to do full-time helpdesk, but maybe it’ll work out.1

I suppose I could apply at the Cub grocery store a few blocks from here, but that’s basically just like the last job, what with the industrial lighting and the standing up and, probably, the random scheduling.

So, the ideal little job I want being pretty much off the table, I responsibly paid my Chase rewards card off (like I do every month) and it took almost half of my remaining funds. As wonderful as it is to sleep in and cook Scott’s dinners and shop online for shoe racks, I guess I really need a job now.

Ugh. Job hunting. So hard. Especially considering that the comfortable, reasonable part-time job seems to be a thing of the past. Retail offers nothing but part-time so they don’t have to pay bennies but it’s really much closer to full-time hours because they’re always understaffed, and ‘real’ business offers nothing but full-time because apparently there’s no such thing as a qualified applicant who will accept part-time employment anymore.

After much consideration, I’ve determined that in order to finish unpacking the last few boxes, we need a little rolling rack for the bathroom, a shoe rack for the closet, and possibly a small shelving unit for the bedroom. I also continue to want-but-not-need an old fashioned coat rack to put by the door for umbrellas and jackets and bags and crap. Even with that many purchases, I still wouldn’t have any place for the officey/desk box of stuff that you’d normally store in your desk but Scott’s desk doesn’t have any drawers or storage or anything, so where the hell are the checks and staplers and mail-that-needs-to-be-saved-for-awhile supposed to go?

Anyway, after staring at stuff a lot, that’s where I’m at. Everything’s full but I still have more stuff to put away. Ergo, we need to obtain things to put said things away in.

I’m going to go throw the bedding in the wash, and then go get milk and eggs. Everything is humid (68%) and hot (81F) and I’m miserable because in my old age I no longer tolerate heat well, but at least it’s overcast so the temperature has stayed down. Sorta. But not really, because HUMID. Even with two fans going in a tiny apartment it still manages to feel stuffy in here; guess I better fire up the A/C.

1 It didn’t. I called the HR lady and she told me that the entire bank is moving to Plymouth in October, abandoning their downtown tower. WHO KNEW. Bus ride from Uptown to Plymouth? An hour and twenty-four minutes. Each way. And I happen to know from my adventures last week that cab fare is forty bucks. So no jobs in Plymouth, that’s for sure.


July 12th, 2015 | Posted by Mush in Food | Gadgets | Life | Photography | Reading - (0 Comments)

In which it’s a lazy Sunday.

It’s so shitty outside there’s a heat warning on! Stay inside, stay hydrated, check on your neighbors, that sort of thing! Temperature in the mid-90′s with a heat index of one hundred degrees! A big-ass line of storms tonight! Large hail possible!

So I’m staying inside with the A/C on. I’m so grateful to have access to air conditioning technology. And fans, too — we have two fans running, to circulate all that conditioned air (because otherwise it just pools by the door and does no one any good at all).

I stayed up super late last night devouring part three of Seveneves. Other than the agnostic science fiction writer’s silly dream that a catastrophe survived only by scientists would somehow end religion1, it’s a really fantastic read. Being the jaded reader I am I’m loving being so absorbed in a story, since it happens so infrequently to me now.

I’d like to go look for curtains and wood glue and a few other needed household items, but I’m pretty sure leaving the apartment is a bad idea. Scott’s asleep anyway, taking a lazy Sunday afternoon nap.

I slept until two-thirty, then got up and made fried potatoes, Hollandaise, eggs, spinach, and toast for brunch. Not as good as the AMAZING Eggs Florentine at The Egg and I, but still edible. I also had a brilliant iced cardamom mocha breve with the last of the Radiance Dairy cream in it.

The bit of sky I can see under the blinds looks nice and blue, with fluffy clouds and a strong breeze ruffling the leaves, but it’s probably as damp as sweaty crotch out there. I’ve always maintained that the Midwest looks lovely all summer but feels awful.

Yesterday I installed Flickr on my phone and it worked. (It’s never worked on this phone before, and getting images off the phone and onto Flickr has been a pain in the ass since I got the phone last year.) It worked so well, in fact, it uploaded all 200 images in the phone’s gallery and now I have to delete them!

The credit union didn’t get ahold of me at the end of the week, but neither did they do so last time. I just don’t think they’re in a hurry about anything. Hopefully they’ll offer me a position next week! *fingers crossed* If they don’t, I’ll have to start looking for something else in earnest. I mean, I’ve applied for three jobs this week so as not to have too many eggs in one basket, but I’ll really need to buckle down before I run out of money.

Friday, I got my nails done because they looked awful. That evening, Scott went to a ball game (and watched Detroit lose to the Twins in the final inning) and I had the evening to myself. I drank some wine, then rode my bike down to Nicollet and ate at a Mexican restaurant.

El Nuevo Mariachi Restaurant

Then I went home and took a nap, sprawled diagonally across the entire bed, with a fan blowing on me. It was a fucking glorious Friday night.

I just looked up to see that the blue sky is gone, and is now the gunmetal grey of a thick cloud deck. The last time I checked, storms weren’t due for five more hours. Maybe it’ll get interesting out there!

1 We all want to end the bullshittery of organized religion, of course, but evolution and bureaucracy are part and parcel of human nature. Wherever there are human beings, there will be religion, because there will always be a need for jargon to describe the internal and the numinous, and there will always be weird little rule-following bureaucratic assholes making people miserable. Basically, every time a writer kills “religion” in a book, it just tells you that s/he has no idea what religion actually is beyond what it looks like on the surface.

Embarassing stumble

July 9th, 2015 | Posted by Mush in Life - (0 Comments)


Yesterday, I stepped into wet concrete.

I’d walked to Las Geel (the Somalian bodega on the corner) and seen the cement truck and guys pouring the stuff right in front of the store. I went in, shopped, paid, and exited. I carefully skirted the fresh section of sidewalk and crossed the street.

Aaaaaand stepped into another fresh bit of sidewalk, with both feet, a bit that didn’t have a barrier around it and was only vaguely marked with an orange traffic cone!

I sank past my ankles and nearly lost a Birkenstock, which I fished out and used to smooth the horrible mess both my feet had made. Then I scurried home with my groceries to rinse my feet before I got chemical burns.

My shoes were so bad I considered throwing them out, but they’re Birkenstock clogs and not cheap and so I figured I’d try to save them even though they’re suede and COVERED IN CONCRETE.

Rinsed my legs and feet first. Then put my shoes on a big piece of plastic and wiped and scraped off as much concrete as I could before rinsing the shoes in the tub, too. Put them in the sun on the front porch.

Then, of course, I had to clean the tub.

The shoes survived, miraculously, and today the spot was covered by one of those bumpy panels that might be for traction but don’t seem to be, so my error is gone.

I made rice and dal for dinner, and fried up some cumin papadums. I did the dishes. I made the bed. I paid my cell phone bill and made my monthly hopeless student loan donation. I applied for a random tech job. I read some of Seveneves.

I did not do laundry or unpack any boxes.

Dear Diary

July 8th, 2015 | Posted by Mush in Life - (0 Comments)

In which there’s a diary entry.

Yesterday I was messing about on YouTube in order to watch videos of Amma bhajans; I found Breakfast Lunch and Dinner and ended up watching all three episodes because HOW COOL IS THAT SHIT. It led me to the diary of Samuel Pepys and awakened in me the desire to diary again. Or blog. Or whatever.

Did well with the remaining unpacking yesterday; emptied and collapsed quite a few boxes. Moved his desk out of the corner and to the center of the wall. Moved my bike. One can now walk through the living room! Found some things I’d thought had somehow been lost, including my peacock quilt and shams and saris. There are now only four boxes in the living room and one in the bathroom that remain to be unpacked. Our storage cage in the basement has two boxes of yarn stash in it as well as the Xmas box and tree, the Aerobed, and the wicker basket I’d bought for the now-sold Raleigh and which won’t fit on my current bike.

Dinner was thick slices of ripe tomato, buttered toast, mushroom gravy, a hamburger steak for him and a poached egg for me, and milk.


Tonight I think I’ll serve rice and dhal, or veggie kitcheree, with papadums.

Because I decided to drink an entire bottle of wine last night, I probably won’t get much accomplished today. Maybe unpacking that bathroom box, a trip to the corner store to see he has any veg I can put in the dhal, and a load of laundry.

I love being unemployed. He’s gone off to work two days in a row now with his lunch packed (today he’s got a BLT on Jesus bread, a Greek potato salad, two sticks of cheddar wrapped in hard salami, half a dill pickle, three green olives, a hard boiled egg, and a chocolate-covered caramel) and I’ve had dinner ready when he got home. I have time to meditate and do housework and mess around online. Yesterday I sent my resume off to our new ISP, US Internet, because why the hell not. I love having time to live a comfortable life. So, so grateful the warehouse-retail experience is over.

So far this day I’ve dressed, made the bed, had a latte, and chanted the 108 names. It’s 1:45. Currently listening to ragas and wondering where I’m going to find space for the contents of this box of office-y stuff: the one file box we do have is already stuffed full, and I’m not sure we really need four staplers…

Ugh. I should get off my butt and put the dishes away and walk to Las Geel (the corner store) for supplies.

Amma 2015

July 8th, 2015 | Posted by Mush in Spiritual | Travel - (0 Comments)

In which there was a long-ass road trip for both of us, some hotel lounging for him, and some much-needed spiritual renewal for me.

Tuesday we slept in and then packed and drove to St. Charles, IL. It took forever, or about six hours. Checked into our hotel and slept. I was so excited to be with Amma again for the next few days, and so grateful my partner had agreed to take me again.

Wednesday was an all-day program. I got dropped off and meditated and ate Indian snacks and socialized and got darshan from Mother, who smeared my head with sandalwood paste and hugged me like crazy. It was a great darshan. (I mean, they’re all ideal by definition, but some are more enjoyable than others. The ones where you know you’re Mother’s own are the best.) I hung out with Cat for awhile; she gave me some Radiance Dairy heavy cream! I haven’t had any for, like, eight years!

I bought a few things from the bookstore; a tee, a mini altar, a rudraksha necklace. I watched Mother give darshan.

Cat caught a ride with me when Scott came to pick me up and we all three stopped at Los Burritos Mexicanos #3 for dinner. I still can’t figure out what’s in that second green salsa of theirs; Cat thinks cilantro is a main ingredient. Whatever it is, it’s amazing.

Thursday I got up fairly early and went to the morning program, mostly to meditate and get something to eat. Didn’t get darshan. In the afternoon Scott picked me up and we saw a matinee of Disney-Pixar’s Inside Out and did some shopping (he got some shirts and I got a dress and a long-sleeved dark blue tee from Goodwill). In the evening, I told Scott he had to get darshan for his own good, whether he liked it or not, because the spiritual health of the family is the woman’s duty, so he had to park at the ashram and come in to the hall to get a token with me. Then I let him leave; bless his heart he came back at one in the morning for our hugs. (His darshan this year was nothing like the love fest She lavished on him last year, though.) Then we went back to the hotel and went to bed.

Friday we slept through the morning program on purpose, because I’d decided to stay up all night for Devi Bhava (since I haven’t done so in a few years and really needed to). We ate at Corfu, saw another matinee, and I was back at the ashram by seven, just in time for the meditation and the puja.


Here’s my schedule!

June 24th, 2015 | Posted by Mush in Domestic Goddess | Life | Moving - (0 Comments)

In which Scott came home for lunch and told me it’s now confirmed that we can actually move this weekend.

Today: pack.
Tomorrow: pack.
The day after: pack and clean.
Sunday: unpack.
Monday: unpack.
Tuesday: drive to Chicago for a 3-day Amma program.

I blew off my second week of notice — 4 shifts — at Home Depot because we thought this might happen, but now it actually is happening and OMG WHY AM I TYPING I NEED TO BE DOING LAUNDRY AND PACKING. MOAR. BOXES.

From Public

(Oh, that credit union interview was yesterday, and I think it went really well! Should hear back by the end of the week. It would be so great to work and live so close together. Especially if that work has a regular schedule and isn’t fucking retail. Did I even mention that the very instant I could request days off to see Amma I did so, and then last week, after over a month’s deliberation, they finally denied me July 4th off? Even without the move I would have quit over that. A year’s worth of shitty scheduling and overscheduling, and you can’t give me one holiday off?)

In which I’m very sorry, but you do not get to pick your race, your age, your orientation, or your sex. You barely even get to pick your tax bracket or style of education. We all struggle with things; your struggle is most likely an unfortunate mental disorder. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. I mean, I myself periodically live in terror that I’m about. to. die. any. second. now. and it’s just the configuration of my brain and not a literal medical emergency. This is the power of our oversized human brains… and their very convincing disorders.

Don’t Let Your Doctor Do This To Your Newborn is an hysterical, almost violently pro-transgender article about the crushing dangers of so-called “gender assignment.”

The author claims that calling an infant a “boy” or a “girl” collapses its infinite choices into a narrow, limited, single gender, and that while it’s safe for many it’s basically a death sentence to a few.

Peanuts are “safe for many, but basically a death sentence for a few,” too, I can’t help but point out. Fucking peanuts, okay? And you don’t get to have feelings about fatal peanut allergies; either you suffer from one or you don’t. You’re just born that way. And you stay that way until you die, because that allergy is just part of who you are, down to your genetic coding.

You were expressed that way. Just as you are expressed as male or female. (Don’t even start with the intersex topic; it affects fewer than those with fatal peanut allergies.)

Listen. If it’s wrong to acknowledge a person’s sex — which is an actual thing, coded into nearly every cell, and not a feeling — at birth, it’s also wrong to take high school kids on careers field trips, because you’re collapsing their potential by showing them how adults work at the factory or mine or lab or bank or retail store, cruelly exposing them to a future they should be aware of in advance, in order to help them make informed decisions about adulthood.

How terrible it is, to acknowledge your little girl is a girl, and let her observe other girls being girls, so that she will have some prior knowledge of the condition her chromosomes have expressed in her, as her life unfolds!

One of the doctors who pioneered gender reassignment therapies and surgeries now wholly rejects it based on the results: research indicates that most post-ops do not find their dysmorphia is assuaged enough after transitioning to keep them out of psychiatric wards, and many — something like 40% — suicide in spite of “becoming” their preferred sex/gender.

Such numbers are poor support indeed for the concept that transgenderism can be “fixed” with reassignment surgery, and strong support for the theory that it’s a disorder like anorexia or body integrity disorder.

If you think there are male and female brains, you also think there are males and females. Period. Because if there are male brains, those brains are the expressions of the conditions of being male: genetic, hormonal, environmental, and physical. And undergoing hormone and surgical treatments does not change your sex. If you were born male, nearly every cell in your body will attest to this throughout your entire life no matter how many breast implants you’ve had.

Just as dysmorphia is most certainly a disease in the anorexic (and one we treat with the therapy they need, and not the liposuction they want), I’m nearly certain it’s also a disease in the transgendered. I’m sure it’s just as painful as depression or schizophrenia or bipolar disorder or any other illness. And I bet it sucks mightily to suffer from it.

But I don’t think chemical, hormonal, and surgical therapies are appropriate treatment for the condition. Once you have your skull shaved to feminize your face, you can’t go back. Once you have your genitalia permanently mutilated altered, you can’t go back. Once you have your earlobes gauged or your cartilage punched or your skin scarified, you can’t go back. Many of the decisions of youth are permanent and can’t be undone. Which is exactly and precisely why your parents forbade you from doing such things when you were a kid, and possibly even made you beg just to get your ears pierced.

Want to live as a woman for a few years, or the rest of your life? Be my guest! I’ll absolutely support your right to buy bras and do your makeup like a hooker and wear nail polish and learn about the ins and outs of leg shaving and the hand-washing of delicate intimate garments. I’ll talk girltalk with you and include you in girls-only excursions; I’ll tell you anecdotes to inform you during your journey through my female world.

I’ll be your friend. I’ll totally be your friend, just like I would if you had a violent bipolar disorder and pruned all my fruit trees to death in a manic episode. I’ll still think you’re you and I’ll still see you, the exact person you are, warts and all. Crazy and all. Just as I hope you’ll see me through my own crazy.

But, while I’ll be vaguely flattered that you, a man, are so pathologically fascinated by my sex that you’re trying to join it, and I’ll probably be amazed by your inherent femininity and by how much you’re not like men, and I’ll probably even seek out and show you brain scans of men living as women and enthuse with you about how much they look like the brain scans of actual women and be amazed with you about the plasticity of the brain in general, I’ll still know you don’t menstruate. I’ll still know you were never a 12-year old girl growing her very own tits. I’ll still know you were and are a man, although one with issues I don’t really understand, and I’ll love you anyway, just like I love people with chronic pain I don’t have, or mental illnesses different from my own, or who have lost body parts I still have.

Same the other way. If you’re a female who wants to live as a man, I will absolutely treat you like a man. I’ll help you learn to flirt with women. I’ll ask you to carry the heavy things and fetch the drinks and kill the spiders and fix the car and pay the tab. But I’ll also know that you know what it’s like to have boobs, and menstruate, and network horizontally like a woman rather than vertically like a man, and I will not share with you the experience of not wanting to be what you are, because I’ve never once wanted to change sex, not even for an instant. Because sex doesn’t fucking matter. And gender is already plastic.