Sunday, March 31, 2013

Do You Have a Double Life?

   Karl, a male relative, is thinking about transitioning.  Let's call his female identity Kay.  K. recently visited us in Toronto.  Anonymously, in the big city, he was free to be a she for a week.
   For our first meal out, I invited my close friend Cole to join us. Cole transitioned from Nicola several years ago.  Cole is a generation younger than Karl and less binary in his view of gender.  I call him post-gender.  He calls himself liminal - and his liminal state might be a permanent one.

   Cole defines liminal this way:
  • Betwixt and between; in both places, but in neither at the same time.
  • Occupying a position at, or on both sides of, a boundary or threshold.
   In other words, Cole lives as a boy.  He has facial hair, a deep voice, and receding hairline, but otherwise female parts.  On the other hand, Kay would prefer to be one or the other, not both.
   For Kay, the decision and the process have been difficult and often heartbreaking. She can have a great day in her female identity and feel truly and finally herself, until a waiter says, "Here's your cheque, sir."  She is afraid to reveal herself to neighbours, and appearing as a woman at work is not yet an option.  Some close family have been hostile and rejecting.
   Meanwhile, Kay will feel as though she has a double life until she makes a decision.  She seems to be moving towards living the rest of her life as a woman, but it is hard to say when she will take the next steps and what they will be.

   A passage from Ann Tyler's book, Earthly Possessions, sums up the dilemma as I see it.  The narrator is describing her child, Catherine:
When she was two, she invented a playmate named Selinda.  I knew that was normal, and didn't worry about it.  I apologized when I stepped on Selinda's toes, and set a place for her at every meal.  But after a while, Catherine moved to Selinda's place and left her own place empty.  She said she had a friend named Catherine that none of us could see.  Eventually she stopped talking about Catherine.  We seemed to be left with Selinda.  We have had Selinda with us ever since.
   This fictional child's truest, most expressive self could be found in Selinda.  It is difficult to sustain relationships with others in which we cannot be our most honest self. We create alternate identities, but sooner or later need to "move over" and live full-time as the person we truly feel ourselves to be.

Do you have a double life or a secret life?  Is it secret only from those you love the most?
 "It's said there are only 10 plots in all of fiction, but I believe there's only one: 'Who am I?'"
from The Amazing Spider-Man  (2012)

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Death By Packaging?

On Monday, I bought my daughter small USB-powered speakers for her computer.  She works transcribing audio tapes for academic researchers and sometimes the interviews are poorly recorded.  I phoned her today to see if the speakers were helpful.  She said that she couldn't get them out of the hard plastic packaging.  After struggling for some time, she tried to cut the plastic open with her Swiss army knife, but cut herself open instead.  She found a band-aid and wiped the blood off the plastic, but by then her hand hurt too much, so she gave up.

The spousal unit's dentist gave him a new toothpaste last week:  Colgate Sensitive Pro-Relief.  He couldn't figure out how to open it.  We took the lid off but found another lid inside.  It looked like this.

I Googled the name of the toothpaste, and "how to open tube" came up as the first suggestion.  Clearly I wasn't the only person struggling with this.  Google told me to read the instructions:
"To open this safety seal, use the top of the cap as shown in the enclosed..."
I checked the discarded box and found a set of instructions with a diagram explaining how to open the toothpaste.  The larger lid became like an Allen key and required small motor skills, patience, and finesse.  I was able to open it without injury, but why is toothpaste now tamper proof?

Are you having packaging frustrations or am I the only one?