Category Archives: adventures

Field Trip; But First: Phases of My Butt

A couple years back I noticed that my tuchas has developed an oddly triangular profile.

Recently, I noticed that it has once again returned to a triangular shape.

Today I realized that it’s a function of conditioning: as I progress from (relatively) out of shape to stage-fit, my butt progresses from “round” through “triangular” and finally to “square.”

Huh. You learn something new every day.

~

In other news, we left at the crack o’ dawn yesterday for Atlanta, checked into our hotel at 3 PM, established a CirqueLouis outpost, then proceeded to regroup with the crew before dinner and Cirque du Soleil’s Luzia. 

And speaking of Luzia—you guys, it knocked my socks off. 

Luzia is a beautiful show—funny and tender and full of love for a place and for the people k and cacti) who make that place shine, not to mention packed with the high-calibre circus performances that give Cirque du Soleil its stellar reputation.

B on the straps was, for me, the pinnacle—he’s beautiful and performs with ardor and pathos. I don’t really have language to describe his act. It was breathtaking.

We also got to roam around on the stage—which is fecking amazing, you guys; the technology!—and backstage, where the CduS cast trains and gets physical therapy and does everything else and where the giant amazing puppets live. 

After we chatted with the cast about circus stuff (and other stuff) over drinks, which was awesome. I tried to do a lot of listening. You learn a lot that way.

There’s much to be said for a life in which a business trip means watching a phenomenal performance and talking shop with phenomenal performers, then conducting a 5-hour long mobile meeting—part post-mortem on their show, part post-mortem on ours, and part spitball session for the next show—on the drive home the next day.

Little by little I feel like I’m starting to understand circus as an art form of its own, discrete from ballet and modern dance and so forth. I really owe that Jordan, our AD, who has been in love with circus all his life, who has built his life around circus, and who is teaching me (the company’s resident ballet boy) to really love circus in its own right.

~

Depression-wise, I’m making it back now, I think. The edges are still raw, and I need to respect that and not push myself off a ledge by diving back into too much at once. This is going to mean very consciously taking rest days, especially as I reset and shift back to a different rest-day schedule.

We’re halfway through November, somehow: I have roughly six weeks til it’s time to start hitting auditions. 

When I headed to Florida back in September, January seemed unimaginably far away. Now it’s right around the corner.

BG, Killer B, and BW are rebuilding me as a dancer. Jordan is refining me as a performer. I’m not yet back to the place in which I feel like, Yes, I should go audition for ballet things, but I’m at least in a place where auditioning for cirque things and ballet-adjacent things feels like it makes sense.

I want to say, “Let’s see where I am in six weeks,” but I kind of think that’s giving myself too much room to weasel out.

Anyway. That’s it for now. I’m exhausted and ready to turn my brain off for the night.

Advertisements

Trust

The piece I’m performing on the sling begins with a pike pullover to a needle (effectively, a handstand on the fabric), which in turn all depends on being able to crochet my wrists–that is, to swim them under, then over, the fabric, taking my grip on the outside–so I can work against tension.

In order for this to work, the bottom of the sling needs to fall anywhere from mid-chest height (too low for other parts of the piece) to just above where my wrists are when my arms are extended straight up if I’m standing flat-footed (I can make up the difference with shoulder mobility).

Last night, somehow, my sling was set too high: I had to stand on my very highest demi-pointe and hyperextend my shoulders to reach it at all, and even then I had to mount by gripping the bottom of the sling with my un-crocheted hands.

This in turn meant that I couldn’t do the pike pullover, but instead had to tuck as hard as I could and pray that I had enough strength to make it, since I couldn’t borrow momentum by springing through my feet or brushing or a leg and kicking up. If I could have crocheted my wrists, it still would have worked–but since I could only reach the very, very bottom of the sling, my hands were too close together for proper biomechanical leverage. My shoulders were hyperextended and closed, making it impossible to engage them back and down until I was already approaching vertical.

It meant that that the needle–which depends on core strength and physics and should be a straight vertical with the hands shoulder-width apart and the legs sealed against one-another, not touching the fabric at all–became more of a fork, ankles on the fabric, since my hands were squashed together in the very bottom of the sling and I’d had to engage my core in a different pattern coming up from the tuck than I would from the pike.

It meant that the move that follows the needle–a graceful fold back into a pike that lands my hips in the bottom of the sling–was awkward. My hands were in the way, and I had to shimmy them out to the sides, which left my body off its axis, which made the next transition awkward as well.

The most difficult part, though, was the moment at the very start, when I realized that my sling was too high and then briefly wondered if it was even locked off correctly. I had to make a judgment call: take a dangerous mount on a potentially-unstable apparatus over a hard stage, or hold up a show that people paid to see over what was probably nothing?

I chose to mount.

That decision came down entirely to a question of trust.

Did I trust the riggers? Yes, even though my sling was too high–scheduling conflicts meant we’d done only one tech run, and the window in which the sling height is acceptable for this piece is very, very small. I trade off halfway through with a girl whose part of the act involves a drop that is too dangerous to do if the sling falls lower than a certain point. She’s my height but longer in the torso. The difference between too low for her drop, just right for both of us, and too high for my mount is the difference in locking off the sling ahead of, right on, or behind a tape mark. Better to lock it off too high for my mount: yes, it makes my part of the piece less elegant by a significant margin, but it doesn’t endanger anyone.

Did I trust the rig? Not entirely. No aerialist can do their job if they don’t trust the equipment–but no aerialist worth their salt believes there’s a 0% chance of mechanical failure. For better or worse, I hadn’t had enough time on this rig to trust it as much as I trust mine or the rigging points at our rehearsal space or at Suspend.

But I trusted it enough, combined with one more factor: myself.

I would be, upon mounting the sling, about seven feet up, suspended head first over a hard, wooden floor. Did I trust myself–my brain and body, the reflexes that I began honing as a baby gymnast at 3 years old–to literally save my own neck if everything went tits up?

Yes, it turns out: I ran a mental calculation and accepted the sliver of risk. If something was wrong with the rigging, I had good evidence–a lifetime of experience–in favor of being able to successfully tuck and roll. It’s as automatic as pointing my feet.

A tuck-and-roll wouldn’t prevent all possible injuries–in fact, I knew that I was accepting the risk of bone breaks–but at the height in question it would keep me from breaking my neck or my back.

I made my decision and put it aside and went forward. I struggled to make things as smooth as they should be, but no one got hurt. My dismount, at least, worked beautifully: I drop into a single-knee hang, reach for the ground, and execute a back walkover out of the sling. I was able to just manage it by letting the leg in the sling slide into a heel-hang at the last possible second.

In the end, no one got hurt. Things were scary for a second, then difficult. I got through by making an active, informed decision to trust and then continuing to breathe and move forward.

It’s funny how apt a metaphor this becomes for relationships and for life.

We choose actively to trust: how deeply and how far depends on our experiences.

We choose actively to trust: but we do so knowing that it means accepting a sliver of risk.

We choose actively to trust–or not to trust–ourselves.

In the end, I’m glad I chose as I did. Every time we choose to be brave, we make ourselves stronger.

It’s true that my work in the sling came off less gracefully than it might have done–but it came off, nonetheless. That, as they say, is showbiz. You screw up, or things screw up, and you play it off like everything’s going to plan.

When your sling is set too high, you use your best demi-point and you pray.

You keep your face on. Roll forward.

You push through the hips.

Countdown

If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that nothing is ever final until the curtain rises on opening night–and even then, it’s still not final.

This is a comforting thought, since circumstances have conspired to make tomorrow’s tech run the first time that the tandem hammock trio gets to actually be a tandem hammock trio! We’ve worked separately and in various pairings up to this point, but not all together because–honestly, I’m not sure why.

This morning, I worked out the drop sequence I’m doing–a variation from the one the girls are doing, since they didn’t get a chance to teach it to me and we didn’t have video I could work from, but if I don’t completely hose it up, the audience is unlikely to notice 😛

Tonight’s a literal walk-through rehearsal: the apparatuses are in the theater, but we won’t be because life in the arts is, shall we say, a little chaotic sometimes. I’m honestly okay with that: we got up at 4 this morning for a 3.5-hour newscast gig, and even though I managed to reclaim most of my lost sleep this afternoon (and, in my dreams, revisit pets of yore and rehearse in a really bizarre space), I’m still a little tired and totallu okay with not dangling from dangerous objects tonight 😉

The news should always be this much fun!

^^That’s my kind of news crew 😀

Last night, instead of staying home and hiding from trick-or-treaters, I went to Handstands class and Acro 2. Both went remarkably well. I got to play on hand-balancing blocks, which I’ve been wanting to do forever, and a pair of those hand-balancing frames that look a little like pommel-horse grips sans pommel-horse. I’m finally regaining a really solid handstand, so that’s awesome. I definitely want to incorporate hand-balancing into my skill-set.

Anyway, tomorrow we’re finally in the theater for real (I got a preview as a function of doing the morning show!), and Friday we open. Saturday is just about sold out, which is awesome.

Oh, andI also know how to find my way out of the theater now, which is surprisingly complicated 😛

Cue Predictable Spasm Of Self-Doubt

Every time I’m forced to take a break of more than a couple of weeks from class, the re-entry period is an exercise in grinding self-doubt.

First, taking a break almost inevitably involves gaining a couple of pounds–generally a sum that the average person would barely notice, but which is all too visible when you return to the studio and are constantly surrounded once again by people with less than 10% body fat.

I may be all about body positivity, but I’m not very good at applying it to myself. I’m also entirely aware that I have somehow stumbled into working in a field in which the folks who decide who gets hired and who doesn’t tend to lean strongly towards lean bodies. Toss in the fact that, given my build, a little more size in the thighs interferes with my fifth position, and you’ve got a recipe for Dancer Meltdown in 3 … 2 … 1…

Worse, it always takes a few weeks to re-awaken and rebuild the muscles responsible for correct execution of classical technique–and even as people who don’t dance continue to harp on about my “natural” grace, I wind up feeling like a half-grown stirk in a dressage ring until things start working together again.

This week has been all about finding my core, not dancing like a swaybacked wildebeest, and remembering how the hell to do turns[1].

  1. Though, bizarrely, whilst I was not dancing, my chaînés improved dramatically–regarding which, WTactualF?

Predictably, the resultant emotional fallout has been a constant stream of thoughts like WHY DID I THINK I WAS GOOD ENOUGH TO AUDITION FOR THINGS?! and I’LL NEVER BE READY!

Me on Thursday, via Wikipedia, link to follow.

So that’s where I am right now. Off to my last week of sandbagging in Saturday beginner class, which I hope will leave me feeling like I can actually dance, and then Jack O’Lantern Spectacular,in which I’ll attempt not to dance like a swaybacked wildebeest before a captive audience of so freaking many.

Nine More Days

Yes, I’ve resorted to counting down the days until I’m cleared for all the things.

The problem is that I really want to do handstands for some reason. Like, right now.

Normally, when I want to do handstands, like, right now, I just do them. (Often, when this happens, it’s because I’m trying to think my way through a sticking point in my technique and my nonverbal mind thinks it’s on to something. Sometimes, though, it’s just for fun.)

I dream in grand allegro.

I may have done a few wee petit allegro jumps in my kitchen (which is far too small even for medium allegro) last night. It might have felt good.

I decided I was ready to get back to barre when I found myself doing turns in my kitchen. I don’t think I can justify doing allegro of any kind (excepting the occasional step in my kitchen) until I’m 100% cleared.

So, needless to say, I’m antsy.

But it’s only mine more days.

What I’m really antsy about, though, is being able to take a proper, fully-submerged bath. I haven’t taken any baths at all because I’m afraid I’ll just submerge everything without even thinking about it—but on the other hand I do find baths really helpful on cold mornings (and, as you may recall, we have already established that my standard for labeling a morning “cold” is fairly pathetic).

Maybe I’ll try taking a bath and mindfully not submerging myself. And, of course, if I get really antsy, I can always use one of those medical-grade wound-protector things that they make for exactly that purpose.

In other news, I’m really tempted to wear this thing:

Bondage onesie?

…to class tomorrow, just to make BW and TS giggle. I think if I do, I’ll be forced to shoot some video for posterity.

Today’s Preview

We worked in the sphere a bit more today, first at about knee height, then at a more respectable height of 1.25 meters or so.

My bit of the brief duo is essentially nailed down; my partner is adjusting hers since we’re using a span-set rigging that allows her to work atop the sphere.

Got a little video and some decent still shots from there. This is one of my favorites:

This Skin-the-Cat Walkout Dismount works much better a little higher up!

This is Humid-o-We’en

So I dutifully kept my heart rate pretty moderate during tonight’s performance, but it was still so humid I finished up looking like I’d gone for a swim o.o

Dripping in the Green Room

Also, I just realized that my scars add a dimension of realism to the Sparkle Zombie get-up XD

Dances Without Moobs: A Beginning

…Or, well, kinda dances, anyway.

As of Thursday, I began slowly settling back into class.

For all that it’s normally his job to beat me with a stick until I jump higher, BW is actually profoundly capable of imparting a really gentle barre when you need it—so Thursday we did no one-foot releve, no grand battement, no torturously-long adagio…

It was just the essence of working through the feet and the legs and the turnout, feeling placement and balance, figuring things out.

It’s funny how profoundly you feel your hips and your legs and your feet when you’re not allowed to do almost anything with your arms.

It’s also funny how freaking insanely hard it is to come up with barre combinations when your only cambré options are front (rolling up) and a tiny back, like a subtle high release (it was pretty, though). BW kept going, “Wait, that doesn’t work…” Eventually, though, he got into the groove and stopped having to pause and reset.

BW gave me the option of doing a little across-the floor, but we decided against and opted to stretch for a while instead: splits first (I was afraid I’d have lost my left split in three weeks of sitting on my butt, but I was actually able to drop right into it), then a bit of work for the turnouts.

BW had noticed (probably because he was no longer blinded by the need to octopus-wrestle my arms into shape) that he and I share a bad habit: we both have a ton of rotation in the hip, so we sometimes we get lazy about engaging all the things.

This led to the two of us lying on our backs on the floor doing a kind of clamshell-and-Theraband thing when the studio owner wandered in to grab something she’d left behind.

…Which was surprisingly awkward.

wrestling-or-pr0n

Then again, the world is an awkward place. (via Pinterest, via t3h G00gs.)

Sunday I wandered back to J’s class, where I discovered that everything feels okay with my arms en bas and first, second, second allongé, romantic fourth, and fifth. Cambré is fine to the front as long as my arms don’t drift behind my shoulders (in short: no swan dives for me, and definitely no Angry Bourne Swans); back I’ve got a little more than I had on Thursday; side is still tuggy and thus to be avoided.

img_20171009_193603-1476583910.jpg

Itty Bitty Cambre Committee (from today, rather than yesterday). Please ignore the fact that my ribs are hella splayed and that our bathroom is in chaos.

 

I stuck around for the tendu, which I did pretty well (though for some reason, my arms decided at one point to be effacé while my legs were croisé), and the adagio, which I did quite badly once because I was being tentative and then actually pretty well on the second run. Just like I haven’t lost my splits, I really haven’t lost my extension gainz either. I wasn’t trying that hard, as the goal was ultimately to keep my heart rate down, but had no problem reaching 90+ degrees even à la seconde.

I also met a really nice guy who was new to the class, but obviously not new to ballet. Have I mentioned this already? Anyway, I hope he keeps coming. There were three guys in class at the start! T had to leave right after barre, though, and I spirited myself away after the adage, leaving poor L to fend for himself. He seemed capable, though, so I’m sure he was fine.

Regardless, if the two new-dancer guys who have occasionally been to J’s class are still at it, then we have at least six guys in regular rotation in the program now. w00t!

Anyway, now begins the process of re-conditioning and easing back into my life as a dancer.

This Saturday, I’ll be performing for CirqueLouis at Jack O’Lantern Spectacular. Since I’m not cleared to get back on the silks yet, I’ll be doing some ribbon-dance stuff. Should be fun[1].

  1. This reminds me: I need to go borrow the ribbon from my bro-in-law again. I really need to get my own, but his is perfect—our basic costumes are black-and-white stripes, sometimes with red accents, and the ribbon in question is a black-and-white striped snake with a red head.

A bit ironically, I’ve never actually been to JOLS as a spectator, even though it’s supposed to be pretty cool and it’s only about a mile from my house, so I’m looking forward to finally seeing at least some of it (I don’t know yet if we get to stroll the grounds when we’re not performing, but I hope we do!).

So that’s it for now. I’m working on a long piece that I’m hoping to finish tomorrow, but between class and performing I’m not sure how much else I’ll be posting this week.

Edit:
PS: I have officially left off with the Post-Op Pasties®. I was going to wait a bit longer, but my skin was really pretty done with adhesive. There are still a few little suture-knots left over, but it turns out that they don’t snag on my shirts.

I’ll probably stick a couple of Post-Op Pasties® on during rehearsal, since rolling around in the sphere (which I’m now quite able to do) seems like a good way to snag them, though.

Further Edit:
Decided to go snap a couple of progress pix and discovered that all but the very last suture knot had fallen off. The last one was busy working itself loose, so I snipped it off with nail scissors. Et voilá—no more weird little knots.

 

One More Opinion on Surgery

For some reason, it didn’t occur to me before I had my surgery to contemplate why my surgeon suggests the particular protocol[1] that he does with healing nipples (which will now forever be immortalized as “Post-Op Pasties®”).

  1. Daily from the Great Unrapping through Post-Op Day 21: apply bacitracin, apply Xeroform, apply adhesive bandage (I’ve been using the store-brand version of the 3M Nexcare ones for the most part); after 21 days, you can discontinue the Xeroform if you like, but continue with bacitracin and band-aids for at least another 7 days.

Turns out that if you don’t do something along these lines, they tend to get all weird and scabby and freaky-looking, and wind up being a major source of (not entirely necessary) worry for guys who have this particular surgery.

Keeping them slathered in bacitracin and covered with some kind of dressing both keeps them from drying out and getting terrifyingly scabby and keeps you from having to look at them all the dang time whilst they’re busy going, “WAT EVEN HAPPEN,” which is totally how I imagine them feeling about the process of being essentially evicted from their prior residences and relocated to new ones.

ANCIENT-ALIENS

100% medically and scientifically accurate depiction of this process

Likewise, if you’re me, it keeps you from picking at the scabs, which I do compulsively.

So, in short, while the protocol is marginally time-consuming (if you consider “less than 5 minutes per day” time-consuming), I’m really glad that my doc suggests it. I had one little scabby spot on my right nipple, which has since sorted itself, and beyond that there’s just been a little occasional sloughing of dead skin when I removed my dressings.

Much better than having itchy scabs that I’d inevitably pick at, inviting infection.

So, good on Docteur Magnifique for that one, too (even though wrestling the Xeroform was a PITA because our bathroom lacks any kind of flat surface that isn’t the top of the toilet or the precarious edge of the wall-mounted sink).

Two Opinions On Surgery

At this point, I’ve written a fair bit about the surgery that I had to shed my moobs. I’m extremely happy with the results thus far, but that hasn’t stopped me from being extremely curious about the healing processes of basically everyone who has ever had any remotely similar surgery.

This has led to some interesting discoveries. First, there’s evidently a whole lot of controversy of the subject of drains: which is to say, a lot of people don’t want them, and seem miffed when surgeons require them. Second, quite a few of the people who wind up with the exact surgery that I had seem to want their incision lines to be perfectly straight.

I don’t mean to be a jerk about it, but neither of these positions seem terribly well-considered to me.

Here’s why.

Drains
In short, people don’t like drains because they’re uncomfortable. I’m not arguing, there: they are uncomfortable. The only reason I bothered taking any of the opioid painkillers prescribed by my surgery was so I could sleep with the poky-arsed drain lines annoying my intercostal tissues.

Given the minimal amount of drainage I produced, I legitimately could’ve gone without—but I’m glad they were there, just in case.

All too frequently, I run into an argument that goes, “Well, Bob didn’t have drains, and he was fine.”

The problem, there, is that it’s really quite difficult to predict who’s going to be like Bob, or like me, and who’s going to wind up with massive swelling that could’ve been prevented by installing a couple of drains for a week or so.

Surgeons can control their technique. What they can’t control is how our bodies react once all is said and done.

Some, like Imaginary Bob’s and like mine, just go, “Oh, no worries, I’m on this healing thing,” without any major drama.

Others go, “OMFG WHAT IS THIS WHAT HAVE YOU DONE AAUUUGHHHHHH!!!” and promptly kick up an inflammatory tornado, producing great gouts of fluid that can turn into seromas which are also quite uncomfortable, and which then require (you guessed it) drains anyway.

I’m a big believer in the idea that prevention is better than a cure.

I think the path my surgeon took in my particular case was just about ideal. D was hoping we could start for home on Monday evening or Tuesday instead of Wednesday evening or Thursday, so the doc suggested a compromise: if my drainage levels were good (read: minimal), we could have the drains out on Monday. Given that my surgery took place on a Thursday, this seemed like a really good compromise.

As it turned out, I experienced almost no inflammation and drained almost nothing from the word go, and the drains did indeed come out on Monday. Yes, they were annoying while they remained, but let’s be frank: roughly 4.5 days of moderate discomfort is preferable to the risk of epic swelling accompanied by potential weeks of discomfort. (To be fair, pain perception varies tremendously, and the drains might actually be a lot worse for some people than for others—but for most people, they’re basically just an annoyance, and a temporary one.)

Some surgeons (mine included) use drains for essentially everybody. Some decide on a case-by-case basis. Some don’t bother at all. Regardless, when it comes to this kind of thing, it’s worth considering that surgeons undertake a decade or more of specialized schooling to learn their skills—and, especially for cosmetic surgeons, it’s in their best interests to do whatever is going to get the best results.

In short, with a few exceptions, they generally have more insight into what they’re doing than their patients do, and it’s probably in our best interests to give due consideration to their surgical preferences.

Incision Lines
For some reason, a lot of guys seem convinced that curved incision lines scream “BREASTICLES!”

In fact, I don’t think they do, and here’s why: curved incision lines follow the anatomical shadow of the pectoralis major[1]. To the uninitiated, they’re not necessarily going to shout, “Yes, I had breast reduction surgery with removal of extra skin!”

  1. Exception: the rare cases in which an ill-advised surgeon makes them too curved—but, honestly, my jury’s really out as to whether that actually looks more unnatural than a perfectly straight incision does, since I’ve seen it so rarely even in my endless trawling of post-surgical pix.

Under ideal circumstances, they nestle in the literal shadow of one’s pecs, where they will eventually camouflage themselves as an extra measure of definition. And, of late, as surgical techniques have improved, ideal circumstances occur more frequently than one might imagine.

Perfectly straight incision lines, meanwhile, look unnatural. The human body is not a straight-lines kind of place. Straight incision lines depart rapidly from the anatomical shadow of the pectoralis and advertise themselves as exactly what they are—evidence of surgery.

The human eye is more likely to notice them simply because they contrast so sharply with the curvilinear nature of even the most masculine of human bodies (to wit: none of us are actually built like Minecraft sprites).

Even under ideal circumstances, perfectly-straight incision lines don’t camouflage themselves at all.

My incision lines aren’t straight. I wouldn’t want them to be straight. If anything, I wouldn’t have minded them being just a bit curvier towards their lateral ends—but, once again, my surgeon knows what he’s about. He’s been doing this for a long time.

img_20171004_161929-1568435770.jpg

My incisions: maybe not what you’d call curvy, but definitely curved. (With silicone scar strips, which are the best thing since … I would say “sliced bread,” but honestly I don’t think sliced bread is all that great.)

I’m sure there are plenty of folks who will disagree with me on both these points—and, ultimately, I’m not telling them they’re making the wrong choices. People get to make their decisions based on their own bodies and their own long-term goals.

I just hope that, in making these decisions, there’s more to the decision-making process than “drains are uncomfortable” and “male bodies are made up of straight lines.”

Regarding point the first, that’s true, but they’re also temporary, and if they’re too horrible you can have them out early.

Regarding point the second, that’s really not true. Even Arnold Schwarzenegger is made up of a series of curves with varying radii. Ask any artist, or any robot who wants to look more human.

~

A note on all this: I recognize that there’s a pretty strong dose of privilege involved in the fact that I feel comfortable writing this.

I can assume that, while they’re kind of visible now because they’re still pretty pinkish, my curvilinear scars will eventually hide in the anatomical shadow of my pecs because I’m a dancer and an aerialist and a semi-mesomorph who puts muscle on at the drop of a hat. Even after three weeks sitting on my butt(er), and thusly at the least-defined I’ve been since I got back from my illness-and-holidays binge-eating tour of central Kentucky, I still have more definition in my chest than a lot of people will ever have. I get that.

Likewise, my work both demands that I be extremely fit and begets extreme fitness, and at least part of my rapid and unproblematic healing comes down to that. Maybe I would have felt differently about drains if I’d had to cope with them for more than 4.5 days (though, honestly, if you’ve got a lot of drainage, it’s probably a good idea to have drains).

On a different axis, I grew up in an extremely privileged setting which afforded me the opportunity to purchase all the anatomy books and drawing materials my little heart desired, and I have a very visual mind. It’s easy for me to say “scars should be curvilinear because bodies are curvilinear” because I’ve spent my entire life poking around with images and models of what human bodies look like beneath their skin and a brain that happens to be very good at storing and regurgitating that information (but which can never freaking recall a person’s name when I really need it to >.<).

So there’s that, also.

Lastly, a lot of the guys who have this surgery are trans, and every single opinion I have is founded in the fact that, as an intersex person, I face a different set of challenges in life than transfolk—one that overlaps with trans experience in some ways and is fundamentally different in other ways. For one, I may occasionally get misgendered in public, but I don’t have to put up with people constantly questioning my right to identify as a male[2].

  1. Curiously, exactly twice in my life, someone has asked me, “Why would you choose to live your life as a gay man when you could just be a woman if you wanted to?” Both times, it was another femme-y gay man who asked … and, in both cases, one who had grown up in a part of the United States that is actively oppressive and deeply repressive towards gay men in general and especially towards effeminate gay men. The region in question also tends to do a lot of conflating sexual orientation with gender identity. Neither of these guys had ever seen me unclothed, nor did they possess a clear concept of the fact that being intersex didn’t mean that I had “both sets” until I explained: in my case, it primarily means that I’m an ideal dish for a gentleman who prefers dainty Vienna sausages, so to speak, which isn’t quite the same as being able to just up and declare one’s self to be female even if I wanted to. And now you know way more about my body than you ever wanted to. You’re welcome.

Since transguys comprise a significant proportion of the folks who have this particular surgery, I feel like it’s probably worth acknowledging that I’m operating from a different vantage point, and that it colors my decision-making process. I think the same probably goes for non-IS cisguys: the set of my general experiences with being a guy differs from theirs as well.

There’s an extent, of course, to which everyone’s experience with gender, and with walking around the world as a gendered being, is different. Before it was corrupted as an insult, the phrase “we’re all individual snowflakes” meant exactly that: every one of us is the same in some ways and different in others, just as snowflakes share some basic characteristics and differ wildly and beautifully in other ways.

What I’m talking about, here, are collective experiences that shape the way we see the world: just as my upbringing in a forward-thinking part of the country prevented me from asking myself, “Why wouldn’t I just want to be a girl instead of being gay?” Those options, for me, have always existed on two different spectra.

So, anyway. Those are my caveats. I’m sure things are even more nuanced than that, but I need to wander off and do some errands now, whilst the day is young.

%d bloggers like this: