Category Archives: Regular-type talk

Can You Feel My Heart Saying ‘Hi’?

When I first discovered I was nonbinary, I panicked. I panicked because I didn’t want other people to panic. I didn’t want to be questioned or judged or told it was a phase or not real or me just trying to be trendy. I didn’t want to make it a big deal. I’d just, you know, cut my hair, wear slightly different clothes. Phase out others. No one would need to know why. I’d only use my pronouns with *new* people, people who didn’t know me before. I think I even told people that I didn’t want to make a big deal about it. I wanted it to be a slow reveal, partly because I was still figuring myself out and partly because I didn’t want to be click bait. Look at me! Please like me! Please validate me.

But here’s the thing. The longer I am out, the more I see the cracks in the matrix. In the six months I’ve been out, I’ve been outed multiple times, I’ve been told I’m not trans enough by other trans people, I have been asked skeptical questions about my gender. The more I pretend that this isn’t a big deal, the more that I see that it IS a big deal. It’s a big deal to me.
I keep remembering the song that echoed in my heart in the early days, “Ring of Keys” from Fun Home. Listen to it. It’s about a little girl who sees a butch lesbian for the first time and finally sees a person she identifies with. Even though sexuality and gender are separate things, I still resonated with that moment of recognition. That moment when you see yourself represented in the world and something inside of you feels right. It clicks. “Can you hear my heart saying hi? I know you.”

I’ve decided I want to wear a ring of keys.

My name is Jasmine Joshua. At this time, I identify as a trans nonbinary or transmasculine person. I may always be in the process of figuring my gender out. I use they/them pronouns. I’m new to my community, but I’ve always been a part of it. I’m still learning the language and culture of a group that I didn’t know existed until a few years ago. I am the oldest nonbinary person that I know and sometimes that makes me feel behind or alone or stupid that I didn’t figure it out sooner.

I think it’s important that I am visible, even at personal cost. If this is upsetting/stupid/weird to you, feel free to unfollow me or ask me polite questions in PM. Know that it’s okay to walk away. All I ask is that you’re kind.

Everyone is looking for a kindred spirit and I want to be the person that a stranger of any age sees and says, “Wait. I can do that?”
Yes, you can. And you can do it whenever you want. There is no rush.
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Thoughts on “Cat Person”

I started reading “Cat Person” and I’m not even finished and I’m a little disturbed.

I admit that when it first started getting circulated around, I skipped over it because the close up of the two mouths kissing totally grossed me out. Ew, why do I need to be that close to someone else’s wet intimate moment? Yuck. Next.

But then everyone started reading it and what the hell, I’m suseptable to peer pressure so I figured I should read it so I could say that I read it and that I probably agree with whatever feminist #metoo consent is king soap boxing everyone else had already said and probably said it better than me.

I’m a little social media fatigued, is that obvious?

Fact is I was Margot for most of my life as a woman. I was a foolish, naive, obsessed with needing a boyfriend, easily flattered, and went along because what else was I doing? Because that’s what I thought being a woman was supposed to be and since I wasn’t naturally able to be a woman, this is what I came up with. I chased men. I wanted men to love me. I had sex with men to make them love me.

It was horrible. If god forbid I should ever lose M Fox, I will just be alone forever because I fucking hate dating. I hate the players, I hate the game, I hate it all.

Tom was a grad student when I was 19. I forget how I met him. Maybe it was during laundry ping pong. It was my second and final time getting out of an abusive relationship — a relationship with a man who said that he didn’t want to treat me nice because he didn’t want to spoil me. He didn’t want me to get “used to it.” He ignored me in public. He kicked the back of my knees and flat tired me from behind when we walked home. He pinched my nipples when he was angry in private. He had sex with me while I cried over my beloved childhood dog dying. I remember watching it dawn on his face while he humped me that maybe I wasn’t enjoying it. That maybe when I asked him to come over and comfort me that I didn’t mean with his dick. Oh well. Better finish up.

So I guess the only thing that I could offer these men was my body. My woman’s body with soft breasts and legs that opened pretty easily, if you could show me that you loved me. My bar was pretty fucking low.

Then came Tom. I told him about my last relationship, how I was treated, how I felt broken and violated. He was older than me, he was taller than me, he felt like a grown-up. He said he’d take care of me.

Just before Tom penetrated me, he said, “You know I’m with someone else, right?”

“Yeah,” I lied. But then we had sex.

After we were done: “I’m going to break your heart, aren’t I?”

And I loved him. I was in love with him. He healed me, he made me feel dainty and beautiful and wanted.

So when I read “Cat Person,” I see myself in Margot and it is so incredible painful to admit how real that is. Flaws and all. The sad truth? I would have been thrilled to have been chosen by the idiot Robert. I would have been THRILLED to receive a bunch of stupid emojis and a dolphin before I even got him. Even if I hated it.

Because to be alone would have been way way worse.

I wish I had some pithy analysis for this, but I don’t. This story is so realistic and so simple and really punched me in the gut. There are people who are upset because there’s some fat shaming in it, but, honestly, why do we require Margot to be perfect? She’s certainly not the product of a perfect society.

Bread Crumbs

I was 15. I wanted to buzz my hair like Sinead O’Connor. The woman at the salon said no. She gave me a pixie cut, which I loved. Jokingly called, “My other son.” I loved it.

~~

I was 14. Meant as an insult, “When you wear a skirt, you walk like a man in a kilt.” I loved it.

~~

Alanna the Lioness. I wanted to be her. I wanted to live as a man and learn to fight and be underestimated because of my sex and then defeat them.

~~

I was an alto.

~~

Just kidding, there’s more to it than that, haha. I was an alto 2. I wanted to be an alto 3. Powerful in depth of voice.

~~

When my hair started to grow out, I wanted to dress like a Beatle. I found a pair of Beatle boots and still whenever I find Beatle boots, I buy them.

~~

When I was 14, I found a pair of boy’s dress shoes that fit me at a thrift store. I bought them. I actually had a moment where I thought, “What if this is my style? What if I just wear boy’s clothes?” And then I remembered that I was a girl and it would be weird.

~~

I founded a theatre company based on nontraditional casting so that I could be John Adams in 1776. And Harold Hill. And Elyot Chase. So I could ask to play men’s roles and it would be in the name of art. Good cover.

~~

Sophomore in college. Our sardonic History of Musical Theatre teacher was absent for a class and so made us watch Desperate Living while he was gone because he “wanted to show us that John Waters isn’t just Hairspray.” The butch character who asked to have a penis and then showed their partner and their partner was horrified even though it was something that that character really really wanted and so they cut off their penis. Could. Not. Stop. Thinking. About. Them. I thought, wouldn’t it be great if you could put on a penis every once and awhile? And then take it off?

~~

When I first saw Hedwig. Oh my god, when I first saw Hedwig. Yes. Yes. The pain down in your soul was the same as the one down in mine. To feel like a fraud in pants and a fraud in a skirt and wondering why you can’t be both. The tragic humor of it.

~~
When I look at myself in the mirror after putting on make-up (not for stage):

 

~~

Kindergarten. My male friend Jesse was Skulltor. My female friend Vicky was Wonder Woman. I was “a bunny rabbit who could fly.” Genderless.

~~

I loved Care Bears. I wanted to be Tenderheart, Bright Heart Raccoon, or Nobleheart. Three androgynous/masculine/undetermined characters.

~~

I remember being told that my favorite color was magenta.

~~

I’m not disgusted by my female body. I just don’t really know what to do with her.

~~

I am uncomfortable with my assigned gender role.

 

~~

I’m five. I’m in ballet class. Teacher asks us all what we want to be. Lots of princesses, fairies, lambs, fairy princess lambs. I want to be Peter Pan. Why? I say Cathy Rigby play him on Broadway and the concept of a woman being a boy fascinated me. I had Peter Pan dreams for years.

~~

Back to Care Bears. I sorta had a thing for Dark Heart. Maybe I just have a thing for red headed cartoon boys?

~~

I, uh, sorta want to be Gaston.

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I think I loved Prince Philip because I wanted to be him. No carrots.

~~

“Grace Kelly” by MIKA comes out. I need to meet him. I do at a Virgin Records store in Hollywood and he signs my album. This song speaks to me almost as much as Hedwig speaks to me.

~~

Sephiroth and Griffith and Seshomaru and Beetlejuice (the cartoon) and Peter Pan (people I wanted to be/sorta attracted to)

~~~

I realize I’ve always had body dysmorphia, but didn’t know what it was called. And it’s not that I see my breasts and am upset by them, but I have always seen myself as a brawnier person. A larger person with burlier shoulders. I always feel that I physically take up more space than I do. I think I can’t fit in between a chair and a table when I can. I’m surprised when I see how much smaller my shoulders are. It dawned on me today that that is body dysmorphia. I always thought it was because I thought I was fat.

In Between

I am a native New Yorker from the West Coast.

I am patrilineally Jewish.

I am both a man and a woman and neither.

I am a Millennial born before cell phones.

I am a skinny plus size.

 

 

I Have a Blog No One Reads, Too — And I Know How to Use It

So. . . it’s been awhile. Turns out when you give birth to twins, your ability to sit still for lengthy periods of time seriously dwindles. I did pull off the all-female production of 1776, which was nominated for five local BroadwayWorld Awards and won for Best Costumes (YESSSS!). I was nominated as Best Actress in a Musical and as Person to Watch, which was very flattering and exciting, even if I didn’t win. I also performed in two other productions (Into the Woods and a world premiere play called My Dear Miss Chancellor, which was about a secret society of sword fighting lesbians set in Jane Austen era London and yes it was as bad ass as that sounds).

I’ve been busy. Happy. Exhausted. Busy. And not very full of writing, I am sorry to say!

So what, dear reader, has brought me out of hibernation?

Why, self-righteous rage, of course!

Continue reading

All-Female 1776

If you just read the title of this blog post and went, “OH MY FREAKING GOD NO FREAKING WAY THIS IS AMAZING” then I’ll just put this here: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/founding-mothers-all-female-1776/x/9600526

 

For the rest of you, I’ll catch you poor souls up. 1776 is a Tony Award-winning musical about the writing and signing of the Declaration of Independence.  It is famously known for having a fiercely intelligent and witty book and for being a great musical with very few songs in it — there are only 10, I believe.  I saw the movie in the 6th grade when we were learning about the Revolutionary War and I thought it was the coolest thing I’d ever seen. I was right.  The movie, while long, is pretty fantastic and, for those who care, it stars Mr. Feeney as John Adams.

As a young character actress, roles in musical theatre are few and far between and 1776 is chock-full of amazing characters — the founding fathers of 1776 are portrayed as wildly passionate about Independence, pro or anti, but also as lewd, drunken, bawdy, short-tempered, and all around bad ass.

There are two women in the show. Abigail Adams and Martha Jefferson. Martha has a scene and a half.  Abigail appears in beautiful duets between her and her husband through their letters (with most of the lyrics/dialogue taken from actual letters they wrote back and forth <3). While I appreciate the tip of the hat to Abigail, who was an amazing woman and for whom one of my daughters is named, 1776 isn’t really a show with a lot of good female parts in it.

UNTIL NOW!

I am co-producing an all-female version of this remarkable show and at the tail-end of our fundraising effort.  To read more about my project, check out our Indiegogo campaign and maybe consider throwin’ in a little somethin’somethin’:

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/founding-mothers-all-female-1776/x/9600526

 

 

COMMITMENT!

My Favorite

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Squeak

When my husband, then boyfriend, and I first moved in together, we wanted to get a pet because that’s what couples did to show they were committed. M Fox suggested that we foster, not adopt (how romantic). I thought, “Great! Let’s get a pregnant kitty and have five kittens to play with!” Well, apparently everyone else also had that idea so when we signed up with a local animal shelter, we were on a waiting list. For adult cats. Meh, I thought. Fine, whatever.

Weeks of visiting animal open houses at PetCos and feed stores went by and finally a shelter volunteer with big eyes turned to one of the older jaded workers and said, “What about Hershey?” They both smiled.

A week later I met the big-eyed girl in a PetCo parking lot and she handed me a bag with a cat in it. It was kind of how I imagined an artless drug deal to go down. I took the bag, said, “Thank you,” and then got in my car and drove home with our new charge.

I don’t remember when I found out about Hershey’s origin story. They told me he was a year old (which is pretty much what all shelters say about any non-kitten) and that he had a brother who was all white. They were bonded. Some old woman had wanted to replace her dead white cat, but didn’t want both Hershey and his brother. The shelter forced her to take both. A month later, she called the shelter and said that Hershey was attacking “her cat,” his bonded brother, and that she didn’t want him anymore. Get him out of her house. They found him, terrorized, under her bed. I don’t know who that old broad is, but I both hate her and am grateful she was such a raging bitch so that we could have him.

When I got Hershey home, I put him in our bedroom with his litter and his food and opened the bag. It was all black inside except for two large emerald eyes. I went into the living room to tell M Fox that I’d put the new cat in the bedroom. M Fox said, “That cat is just going to go under the bed.”

For two weeks, Hershey lived under our crappy, four-inches-off-the-floor IKEA bed. He would sneak out in the middle of the night to eat and use the bathroom, but if we ever stirred, he fled back underneath.  Friends didn’t believe us when we said we were fostering a cat — there was barely any evidence.

Here’s the thing, though. If you stuck your hand between the wall and the side of the bed, he would squiggle toward you, rub against you, and purr.  He wanted to love you.

Soon he would come out at night and sleep between us.  Then he would stay out as long as no one opened the door. Then the apartment belonged to him. M Fox found a cat post on the side of the road (like you do) and we began teaching him tricks.  He could nimbly jump to the top of the post and wait for treats.

Every time I came home from work, he would run out to greet me with his little meow. He was a regal cat, sleek and handsome. He had a little squeaky meow. That he used. A lot. My squeaky wheel. Squeak. He deserved a much more dignified name, but at least it was better than his shelter name. (Hershey? That doesn’t even make sense, he was black, not brown. Also, a brand name? Please.)

He became what was called a “failed foster.” We adopted him. He would sit at the window and wait for us to come home, in every apartment we lived. He knew the beep of our car locking in the parking lot. At one point, we had deck and if I went downstairs to hang out at the neighbors, he would sit on the deck and cry for me if he heard my voice. He went through three different companions: Stripe (who we ended up not adopting because HE KEPT PEEING ON ME. PEEING. ON. ME.), the baby, and the witch.

We’re shitty at naming animals, okay?

Well. . . the witch is pretty aptly named.

Well. . . the witch is pretty aptly named.

He loved them all, he took care of them, even Stripe, a territorial tom who didn’t like him very much.  When one of them was hungry, he came to me on their behalf, squeaking.  If the baby had knocked something over or locked himself in a drawer (sweet, but not bright, that one), Squeak would come and get me. If the litter was neglected, he squeaked, politely. Sometimes he just wanted me to sit down for ten minutes so he could sit next to me and purr. He never destroyed anything, he never hurt anyone, he was a gentleman.

He only peed and pooped outside the box once, and he felt really bad about it, even though it was entirely our fault.

We went away for the weekend and left the bedroom window open, which blew our door shut, trapping him in. But even then, he didn’t go on the carpet. He made a little poop nest in M Fox’s sleeping bag in the closet. It was kinda cute, actually. Very organized.

My special child. My perfect child. My favorite. My favoritism toward Squeak was a running joke, but it wasn’t a joke. I always said my children would never have to worry about vying for my favor because Squeak was my favorite and always would be.  My daughters would say to their teachers, “My mom says her favorite is the cat!”

He used to sleep in between my legs at night. I swear he could hear me putting a blanket on my legs from across the house and he’d trot over and want in on it. He loved blanket tents. He loved sitting on M Fox’s lap while he tried to tie his shoes or take them off. He loved watching birds outside. He loved hunting flies in the house. He killed spiders and bees for me. He was a midnight face-walker. He loved hair ties, he would shoot them from a fang and a claw and chase after them. He liked to sit on my laptop and on my shoes, especially my flip flops. He licked plastic. He was a big fan of the If It Fits Philosophy.

He didn’t like people food, so he never begged — he politely declined tuna from the can, chicken from the bone, and even some nigiri. He loved to knead certain blankets in slow motion with his eyes half-slit in ecstasy, so you felt sort of inappropriate watching. He sneezed a lot. My windows still have Squeak snot on them. He ran when a stranger walked in the door, but would eventually come out and want a lap. He had a special affinity for people who were allergic to him. Of the ten guests in the living room, he wanted the one whose esophagus would close upon contact.

He was perfect.

We grew up with him. M Fox and I became engaged. We married. We moved to Seattle. We lost Alvin Bean. We miscarried. We got pregnant again. We found out we were having twins. My pregnancy was awful, I was in bed or hovering over the toilet. Squeak followed me around and sat with me, kept me company in my misery. He didn’t even seem hurt that I wouldn’t let him sleep on my stomach. Every night he’d try to sleep on my swollen aching carcass, as if me pushing him off the previous three hundred times was just an honest misunderstanding. After I brought the girls home, I thought about how they’d grow up with Squeak. How I would have to comfort them when he died of old age.

I could tell he was losing weight.  I had heard of cats being stressed out when new babies were brought home and even though he loved hanging out in the nursery with everyone, he was still a sensitive cat.  So I took him into the vet.

There was a mass in his abdomen.  The options were expensive surgery that would maybe extend his life by anywhere between not at all to a year or. . .

Squeak, who feared the carrier and the outside, who ran at the sound of tin foil, who fled when I sneezed. Who I suspected never fully got over his origin story. Operating tables and doctor’s offices didn’t sound right. Not for something unfixable. M Fox and I were once again faced with the terrible privilege of choosing dignity.

The last week of Squeak’s life had me following him around the house with various plates of crappy cheap cat food to entice him. He was over the nice organic grain-free stuff that we’d been feeding him for years. I guess I can’t blame him. Eventually he stopped even wanting the “cookies” that he loved so much. Pie pans of water appeared around the house. My heart sank watching him sit near them, but not drink. I never begrudged him, even though I constantly stepped in it or kicked it over at 4am when I went to feed one of the girls. He was a gentleman until the end. He didn’t want to be a bother, he just wanted to be near. Until he was too tired to move. And then he just wanted a chair by the window to watch the birds in peace.

I didn’t believe that you could fall in love so thoroughly with an animal you didn’t raise from babyhood. My life is so enriched from having been proved wrong. I was his person. And he was my favorite.