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Life du Coeur

Join me as I explore Depression as an invisible illness, on my journey into gender, and through life in general.

“I was not ladylike, nor was I manly. I was something else altogether. There were so many different ways to be beautiful.”— Michael Cunningham, A Home at the End of the World.

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Depression Posts

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Transgender Posts

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Life in General Posts

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31 days-13 Favorite Quote

Come sit with me.  Let’s share some poetry!

“Beauty is truth, truth beauty,–That is all/ ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.”

–John Keats, Ode on a Grecian Urn

This has been one of my favorite quotes since my very early college days. John Keats was one of the romantic poets around at the same time as Byron and Shelley. Keats died young from tuberculosis. You can almost feel the emotional urgency in most of his poetry. In my opinion, he really fit the saying that “the brightest fire burns quickest.”

This quote is taken from his poem, “Ode on a Grecian Urn.” The poem is written about a collection of Greek pottery that Keats had read about and obviously been struck by. In the poem, he talks about traditional images that one would see on Greek pottery and describes them as though they are real people who are frozen in time, forever frozen in their actions.

The quote I’ve chosen is the two lines that end the poem. I’ve always been a bit confused and curious by his choice. The words don’t immediately connect to the rest of the imagery in the poem and it’s difficult to tell who he’s addressing with his “ye.”  It could be the Urn he’s addressing.  This would make sense seeing as the urn isn’t going to know anything but what it is: beauty.  All the urn is is beauty and that is its truth.  That is “all ye need to know.”

Another interpretation is that he is using “ye” in a general sense, as in “ye” my audience or “ye” the reader. In this case, “Beauty is truth, truth beauty” takes on a more general sense as a declaration.  He’s equating beauty to truth in general. This would definitely be a very romanticist sentiment. I’ve also always liked to read his choice for a line break as intentional as well.  With the line break, the two lines gains a double meaning or a double reading at least. The first line “beauty is truth, truth beauty–that is all,” takes on a different meaning of its own. It becomes the one true truth. “That is all.” With the addition of the next section “that is all/ ye know on earth,” it’s secondary meaning or secondary layer of meaning is that everything on earth is truth/beauty, everything on earth is the one true truth.

However, he uses the words “all ye know” rather than “all on earth”. So, he definitely sees it as connected to the human experience. This was a big deal in Romanticism too. Keat’s romanticism, as exemplified by these last two lines, has an almost quantum insistence to it. The existence of entities in the world matters not, only the experience of them by a human being, i.e. human experience is paramount.

I think it’s a beautiful sentiment. I don’t necessarily agree with it 100% though. I draw from Buddhism for my philosophy, so I believe that everything, living or inanimate, has an intrinsic value. For Keats, the truth/beauty in an object was in experiencing it and in the subsequent emotions that arose from that interaction.  I believe that the truth/beauty comes without even having experienced an object.  I believe that everything is both all part of a greater continuous whole as well as individual entities with experiences all their own. For some reason, the universe sought to divide itself into artificially separate existences (the big bang), but each of those existences’ experiences all combine together in one universe.  So far as we know, there is nothing outside of that (barring religious speculation). Technically we’re all still one thing, one entity, experiencing itself from infinite points of view. So, with infinite experiences, I don’t necessarily put the major emphasis on the human experiences. There is also value in existence rather than just experience. In short, I think there is truth/beauty in both existence and experience.

Thank you for sitting with me and exploring this poem as well as my point of view. Some questions for you to comment on:

  1. What is beauty?
  2. What is truth?
  3. Does experience trump existence?

What is gender? Part 1-Sex and Gender are not Binary

Sex and Gender are not Binary

Come sit with me. Let’s share! In today’s post I’m going to start off a series on gender. The common argument used against transgender people is that there are only two sexes. This argument is fallacious for several reasons which I will outline below. Let’s start off with two important definitions.

Sex: either of the two major forms of individuals that occur in many species and that are distinguished respectively as female or male especially on the basis of their reproductive organs and structures.

-Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary

Gender:
a : sex– the feminine gender
b : the behavioral, cultural, or psychological traits typically associated with one sex

–Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary

As we see above, herein lies the problem with words: they mean more than one thing at a time. The simplest definition of gender, and one that is often used is that it means the same thing as sex. Arguments that gender is binary are typically connected to this definition. However, if we look a bit closer at the definition of sex itself, that argument begins to break down.

Sex is not binary.

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Minor forms

The first ding to the argument that sex is binary is the inclusion of “two major forms of individuals” in the definition. If there were only two sexes, then the word “major” would superfluous. However, since it is included, that means there are one or more minor forms of individuals. A binary relationship can only have two forms, since the definition itself admits of three or more forms, then sex is by definition not binary.

Reproductive organs and structures

The second ding to the argument that sex itself is binary is the inclusion of the following: “especially on the basis of their reproductive organs and structures.” Interestingly, the definition that google gives is similar but contains another damning phrase. It ends with “reproductive functions” rather than “organs and structures.” If we follow Merriam-Webster’s definition and sex can be broken into two categories based on the reproductive organs and structures” then that means that only two different types of organs and structures can exist. This is known by science not to be true in humans because there is a nearly infinite range of different cases of intersex individuals. Here is their definition of intersex:

intersexuality:

the condition[…]of either having both male and female gonadal tissue in one individual or of having the gonads of one sex and external genitalia that is of the other sex or is ambiguous.

After the definition they give a statistic that states that intersexuality occurs in about one of every 2000 births. Based on the current population of the U.S., this means that there are approximately 164,000 individuals currently living in the U.S. that are intersex. That any of these individuals exist is proof that the reproductive organs and structures come in more than two varieties and are, thus, non-binary. If we use google’s definition and assume that it is reproductive function, this is even more damning because this assumes that those who have lost reproductive function no longer have a sex.

So, given that sex is non-binary, we can conclude that gender, if equated to sex, is also non-binary. So if someone says that transgenderism cannot exist because there are only two sexes, now we know how they are incorrect. The male/female dichotomy doesn’t exist, even if we solely consider the definition of “sex”. However, similar arguments can be made for gender as well. This way, the argument that “there are only two genders” can also be proven as fallacious.

Gender is not binary

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By disproving the idea that sex is binary, we have already eliminated any arguments that gender is binary based on it’s equation to “sex”.

Behavioral, Cultural, or Psychological Traits

I would like to propose an exercise for this part of the definition. Let us have a room full of people representatively populated by race, “sex”, etc. you know, all the characteristics by which we define people that don’t actually exist. We will ask these people to make individual lists. On one list, each person will write the behavioral, cultural, and psychological traits that make a person “male”. On another list, they will write those traits that make a person “female”. If we have the room populated via different areas of the world, then we already know that the lists will not match based on the different cultural belief systems of individuals. If the lists do not match, then there are different definitions for “male” and “female” based on the different cultural systems. The same is likely to be said of behavioral and psychological systems.

Gender is a Social Construct!

Cultural beliefs and practices often have no base in the natural world. Sure, there are some cultural practices that have helped people survive in certain environments, but otherwise, they are socially constructed (i.e. imaginary) terms whose definitions may, in fact, vary between each individual said to inhabit a cultural group. Thus, we come to the necessary conclusion that “male” and “female” do not have given definitions as such, but rather are nebulous clouds of meaning based on the individual definer.

Gender is non-Binary

If the words are nebulous clouds of meaning, then at some points, those clouds will inevitably overlap in meaning. This is especially true in egalitarian-esque societies such as the United States. One need only look at the cultural connotations surrounding an item such as pants to see that male and female definitions overlap in this area. Is it male or female to wear pants? It is both or either. Since this one cultural idea/behavior set can be defined as both male and female, then we must admit that “male” and “female” are non-binary because their definitions can overlap, they can be one and the same. Therefore there are at least three genders: “male,” “female,” and “both.” It is often argued that gender is a continuum, but that will be a different article.

Thank you for sitting with me today! As always please like this post if you enjoyed reading or learned something and leave a comment if you wish to expand or detract from my arguments. Here are some questions to spur comments:

  1. After having read my argument, what are your thoughts on gender, on sex?
  2. Do you have any non-religious arguments that refute what I have argued, or did I leave anything out?

31 days- 12 if i won the lottery

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Come sit with me. Let’s share!

This post really has the potential to be exciting and off the wall, but I’m not really that exciting with my money. Instead i think I’ll give you guys a tip I learned over the years as an accountant and financial coach and walk through a real life example.

The Rule of Thirds

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I think this was from my financial coach training, but if you come upon an unexpected source of money, it’s best to split it into thirds. The first third you use to pay down debt. The second third you use for savings. The final third you spend on whatever you want.

Since we’re talking the lottery, we’ll assume this is the big bucks. It actually makes sense here to pay off all your debt because it provides the best return on your money. You’re getting negative return with debt so you might as well get rid of it. According to Erin El Issa with Nerdwallet and the 2017 American Household Credit Card Debt Study, the average household debt is “$133,568.”

Chances are you’ll have plenty left over for savings and spending.  Here’s a pretty good breakdown of some financial rules of thumb by Robert Berger in an article for U.S. News.  One of his tips says that you should aim for about 70-80% of your pre-retirement income in retirement.  So this means that if you’re making $50,000 pre-retirement, then you should aim for a yearly income of about $30k to $40k.  Using the magic of present value, this means that at 60 years old, ostensibly when you retire, you would need about $415,000 invested in order to meet this goal.  However, we’re receiving the money at 36 (my age) rather than at 60, so we have a bit more compound interest to count on. Therefore only $340,000 of our winnings really needs to go to our retirement.  This is all assuming a 10% return on investment.

So assuming a 10% return over time on our retirement savings and that we’re average Americans in terms of debt, if we won only a million dollars, this would leave us with  $526,432 ($1,000,000-$340,000-$133,568), or over half our winnings.  That’s not too shabby.  That’s enough to buy outright a pretty decent $200,000 or $300,000 house for cash and still have 200 grand left-over to fritter away on charity or something.

What’s the max retirement income we could make?

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So still assuming we’re the average American in terms of debt and we’ve won $1million, we can use the present value to calculate the perfect saver scenario where we put all our winnings toward debt and savings.  So after paying off our debt we would have $866,432.  Using excel magic this means that our yearly income after retirement would be nearly $102,000 per year. That would be a pretty snazzy life.

Thanks for sitting with me! As always, please leave a comment or like if you enjoyed this article!

31 days-11 Most proud moment

Getting an Advanced Degree

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Come sit with me.  Let’s share!

I suppose one thing that stands out as having been my proudest moment is getting my MBA from Clark University.  I hadn’t originally set out to get an advanced degree in 2000 when I graduated from high school though I thought I might be able to.  I mentioned back in my post about 3 personality traits that it took me quite awhile to get my first associate’s and bachelor’s degrees.  While it didn’t take me as long to get my second bachelor’s and my MBA, I feel like it was much more difficult.  By the time I finished my second bachelor’s degree at Fitchburg State University, I think my depression had really taken a hold on me.  The only way I really made it through the program was by blasting a Rush best of album on my walk between buildings and between classes.  Because of my depression, I think, I get extra frustrated when I get the feeling that I am out of control because of other people.  This is the same reason that I’ve had to leave my last three jobs.  When I run into micromanagement in my superiors or into ineptitude or cheating or hostility in my peers, I get all blown apart.  That’s why I’m especially proud that I was able to make it through 4 different degree programs at 4 different universities/colleges.  It also makes me really wonder if I just belong in academia because apparently I can’t make it in the business world.

Bonus Proud Moment!

Because I know my wife is reading this, but also because I’m actually proud of it, I’m also going to say that getting married to my wife is one of my proudest moments.  I actually managed to find someone that can put up with my irrational mood swings and my poor self-image.  I found someone that loves me tooth and nail and who is willing to stand up for me even when that means she has to stand up for me against myself or by doing extra work around the house because I’m simply too drained by my illness to move.  I love you dearest!

Thank you all for sharing with me, and as always please leave any of your thoughts in the comments!

31 days-10 1st celebrity crush

Come sit with me.  Let’s share! This one is fairly easy. I’ve been a fan of video games since the Atari age, and for a time there, I was able to convince my parents, with my brother’s help, to purchase almost every single generation of the big three systems up until the ps2. My story, however, starts very early with the original Nintendo generation.

I’m sure some of you are familiar with the original Super Mario Bros. game for the Nintendo. Well at this point in the eighties, Nintendo was pushing a hyper branding campaign by releasing cereals and whatnot branded by their hit games. This included their Super Mario Bros. and Zelda franchises. It even extended to a partially live action Super Mario Bros. tv show (which you can find on Netflix!).  This brings us to my first crush!

Princess Toadstool!

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Yes, that’s right.  My first celebrity crush was on a fictional character.  I was physically attracted to Princess Toadstool from the Mario Bros. franchise.  To be fair though, I was only like 6 years old when Super Mario Bros. came out. There was something about her blond hair and the pink dress.  She’s so femme that it makes you want to puke. Maybe it was the secret femme princess budding within me that was attracted to her.

The Dark Angel

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So for a real person, one of my first crushes was Jessica Alba, now famous for creating baby paraphernalia.  In 2000 she debuted as the lead in the show called Dark Angel (I realize this was not her first tv appearance), and she was pretty.  At this point I think it was her dark hair and skin that attracted me.  She also has really pretty eyes.

Celebrity crushes now

Attraction to women on television now is weird for me being trans and attracted to women.  It’s a weird mixture of physical attraction and body jealousy.  I always wonder if this is what cisgender femme lesbians experience when they see women they’re attracted to on tv.

Apologies for the brevity of today’s post.  I spent the little free time I had working on a short story for a class and eventual submission hopefully.  So, my brain is a bit fried.  I’ll have more content tomorrow!  Once again, thank you for sitting with me, and if you have anything to share, please do so in the comments!

31 days-9 Piercings and Tattoos?

Piercings

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Come sit with me.  Let’s share!

The early days

When I was younger, back in high school, I actually got my ears pierced a few times.  I just had regular ear lobe piercings, but there were two in one side and one in the other.  I had a couple golden studs which they gave me when they actually pierced my ears.  I did have one pretty cool skull stud that I sort of remember and I think a couple small silver loops.  I remember one of the times at least, I actually had them do it at Claire’s in the mall even though I was supposed to be hardcore and all.    Those piercings have long since grown back shut.

Flaming ladies and Nipple Rings

When I was in high school, i.e. before I was 18, I had this stupid idea for a tattoo and piercing combo.  I wanted to get both my nipples pierced and wear hoops in them.  Then I wanted to get a tattoo of a flaming naked woman hanging from the hoops like they were gymnastics rings.  I never did get that combo done.  Since I eventually let my ears grow back in, something tells me I probably would have regretted getting it.

Trans and piercings

It used to be a bigger deal to be male and have one’s ears pierced.  Now, not so much.  However, pierced ears and certain other piercings have always been wrapped up in femininity.  I’ve especially seen large hoop earrings as a fashion statement these days tied to the far end of femininity.  Piercings are a weird topic for me since I’ve finally realized that I am transgender.  I don’t really know if I want to pierce my ears again.  I don’t really have any reason to at this point since I’m still in boy mode.  Imagining ahead, I don’t really see myself as the kind of lady that would wear a lot of evening gowns.  I think that lip piercings are a bit cute though, especially the stud on the side of the mouth or the middle.  The small jewel stud in the nose is cute too.  I would consider something like that.  Of course, the reason I’d consider it is because these options are a bit more counter-culture.  Obviously, I’ll keep you all informed if and when I do end up getting anything done!

Tattoos

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Depression and Tattoos

I never did get any tattoos when I was younger.  I always wanted to, I still kind of want to, but I’m so paralyzed by the permanency of them that I could never decide what I wanted.  It’s always felt like nothing was ever really important enough to memorialize permanently on my skin.  I mentioned the flaming lady earlier, but again, that was just more of a cool idea at the time.

My mother and father came out to visit for my son’s first birthday a couple years ago.  This was around the time that the semi-colon tattoos were really becoming popular, and I really liked the idea of getting a semicolon tattoo.  my mom wanted one that was shaped like a butterfly, but I wanted to get one that was shaped like a person meditating.  His/her hands could be one balled in a fist on top and one open sideways, fingers pointing downward so that the shape made a semicolon.  This, to me, would have signified the importance that Buddhism and meditation has played in keeping me from doing anything rash during my worst flare-ups.  We ended up trying to go to a tattoo parlor that’s in downtown Gardner, but they didn’t take walk-ins, and they wouldn’t have been able to schedule us until my mom and dad had to leave.  So, my tattoo never ended up happening.  I don’t really know if it ever will.  However, I do feel like the semicolon movement is something worth the permanency.

Thank you for letting me share my history with piercings and tattoos.  If you guys have any thoughts, I would love to hear them in a comment!

-kris

31 days-8 old photo of me

Me at the tall ships

old krisCome sit with me.  Let’s share!  So to the left is an old photo of me.  It must have been in my high school or middle school days because of the length of my hair.  I’m almost inclined to say this was middle school or very early high school before my hair grew out even more and I dyed it jet black.  If that’s the case then this photo was taken mid-90’s.  I’m pretty sure this was taken when we were visiting some sort of tall ships exhibition at Traverse City (maybe?) in Michigan.  I don’t think that it is a regular thing, and it was one of the few times they were ever there.  As you can see I’m all angsty and angry, that was because I was entering the crescendoing portion of my depression at this point in time.  Also, it was because I was really into Metallica, Megadeth, and Soundgarden.  Apologies for the poor quality of the image.  The shoulder in front of me is my father, and I figured I should crop him and my grandfather out of the photo in case they didn’t want to be seen.

Thanks for letting me share my photo with you!

-kris