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Mezzo Forte

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    A Gentleman and a Scholar
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    PhD Ethnomusicology Student, Teaching Assistant

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  1. The funny part is I had fellow musicians call “marrying my craft” sad, even though they’re dedicating themselves to their music as well. But yeah, I definitely see where it’s an artist thing in general. In recent years, I’ve been a bit more understanding of folks who have careers they aren’t passionate in, since it allows them the financial security to pursue their passions in more of an amateur way. I love what I do as a scholar/educator, but the combination of paltry pay and your work following you home for every waking moment during most the year, it gets tiring. I see my family doing career stuff they’re meh about, but really enjoying themselves in their spare time, and I understand why that life works for so many folks. Now, when people get Judgy of an artist’s life, and claim things like “work isn’t something you’re supposed to like,” that is 100% a toxic attitude that I find sad. If nothing else, I can say that I love what I do, and that I find my work rewarding and fulfilling. Christ, I’m so sorry you’ve had to deal with that. That inappropriate of a question sounds like borderline sexual harassment to me, not to mention that it sounds like an asenine attempt at gender policing with hints of “men and women can’t be friends” sorts of heteronormative bullshit too. Funny thing for me is that before I transitioned, folks assumed I was a woman with male best friends. Apparently some folks used to read me as a lesbian before I came out as trans, so folks didn’t think much of it. Weirdly enough though, people tend to read me as a gay man now, so folks start to absolutely *insist* that I’m in love with one of my best friends. I think folks get insecure when they see strong platonic bonds that don’t have any romantic or sexual implications attached and I think people try to placate themselves by insisting that there is a romantic/sexual component where there is none.
  2. I’m starting to think that my tendency to hide in a music practice room for 80% of my undergrad basically insulated me from the BS. Your story of the Spanish class does remind of me an awkward experience in back Business School though, as a brainstorming activity in one of the classes involved attempting to reinvent speed dating with a group, and the two of us who were queer-identified in one way or another were not comfortable outing ourselves to some dudebro cishet business students, so the whole exchange was hella awkward. I also used to say that music was the love of my life, and that I’d love to marry my job, and people always reacted with pity, saying “that’s so sad!” I don’t get what’s sad about loving your craft, or what’s sad about not seeking a romantic partner, so those interactions were mostly just confusing.
  3. Gender can be such an abstract concept, and I think everyone's approaches to defining their gender varies a bit. I spent 4+ years very intensely questioning my gender before I came out to myself. I took a very prescriptive approach to defining my gender. I knew that transition would improve my quality of life, and what I wanted out of transition was ultimately very binary. My gender really ties to my relationship with my primary/secondary sex characteristics. My body was not designed to function with estrogen dominating its system, which made its impact on my emotions and on the shape of my body especially distressing. Before top surgery, my chest dysphoria was especially bad; it was actually what awakened me to the rest of my dysphoria that I navigated subconsciously up to that point. Turns out that I used to downright dissociate to cope with my estrogen-spurred crying fits in early puberty actually. I have experienced social dysphoria as well, but I think it tended to be secondary to the physical dysphoria. That said, I really don't ascribe to particularly masculine ideals of social function and actually quite value some of my more feminine-associated traits. If I were a brain in a jar, maybe I'd come off as non-binary, but that brain would still need testosterone as the dominant hormone for me to function, and that's the primary reason I would define my mind as male. This is just my approach to labeling myself though, and I would never impose this on others.
  4. We definitely sound like we're on the same page about all this stuff, and I just wanted to say congrats about your upcoming surgery! I'm looking to have SRS myself within the next 1~1.5 years, (basically before I turn 26 and get booted off my family's insurance,) though I'm still figuring out some of the logistical things. I hope everything goes smoothly!
  5. Can't really say I ever had much interest in shipping. I'm fine with canon romance so long as someone bothers to make the dynamic between the characters interesting rather than painfully generic. That said, I have peers who apparently ship platonic bonds, and one of them declared my friend and I her "BrOTP," which is actually something I find quite amusing. I'm aro/ace and my friend strictly straight, so I appreciate when others recognize that this dear friendship of mine is strictly platonic. Too many people ask me if I'm gay when I get sentimental about my male friendships >.>
  6. That's part of the joys of smaller forums; with a smaller userbase, there's only so many new pieces of content for the regulars to post in, so the regulars stop posting quite so much, with new regulars only coming in very rarely. I spent quite some time watching low-activity aromanticism forums over the years, and I especially remember keeping AroPlane basically on life support by personally responding to every single post as soon as I saw them. Being an admod meant that I watched AroPlane and the original Arocalypse (that belonged to a different domain owner) pretty closely when they were still alive. Nowadays, I just barely have anything to say in regards to aromanticism, so the forums only do so much for me. I occasionally post comments in a private aromantic Facebook group, but even then, it isn't much. I still like to lurk this site though.
  7. I'm a binary transman, so while my perspective is a bit different, I do relate to a lot of what you're saying, even if I treat my orientations and gender as fairly separate entities, in the sense that I think I would have been aro/ace regardless of my gender identity. My gender-questioning process couldn't properly start until I figured out my romantic/sexual orientation. Before university, My disinterest in sex come off as a form of female straightness, because so many of the men were sex-obsessed, and how could I be a man if I didn't want sex? I yearned for romantic love, and even mistook myself for a straight girl because of my appreciation for the masculine form, but never could successfully fall in love, no matter how much I cared platonically. I needed to learn that I wasn't straight by default to understand that I wasn't cis by default. Many of the years I spent in my extended gender-questioning process, I strongly suspected that I was nonbinary to some extent, and suspected I was androgyne for a bit, but that had more to do with my sense of being othered by extreme femininity and extreme masculinity. I was somewhat shielded from those extremes pretty much until university, and even then, musicians aren't always the most gender-conforming types. Doing a master's degree in business showed me the extremes of gender-conformity though, and I never felt so alienated in my life. That said, I identify as binary almost purely because of my relationship with my body. The medical transition I needed was/is very binary. What I ultimately wanted out of my gender expression was/is very binary. My reason for starting transition was because I couldn't take the physical dysphoria anymore and I desperately needed medical intervention. Even if my mind doesn't feel super masculine, everything else pointed to a binary trans experience. As I transitioned socially, being read as male only felt more and more right. Transition made me realize that I was even more binary than I first thought. Perhaps you could say that my mind isn't quite so binary. My upbringing was not explicitly gendered, but I do take some pride in certain feminine-coded traits of mine, and those traits are core parts of my personality. That said, my deepest friendships are with straight cismen, and all of them dissent from the extremes of masculinity in their own ways; ways that resonate with my own experiences. Strangely enough, my perception of my femininity does not seem to reflect how others perceive me, as I am apparently somewhat straight-passing as well as cis-passing. In the end, I guess I used a more prescriptive approach with labeling my gender, as I decided not to factor the abstract elements of my mind quite as heavily as the concrete dysphoria that was degrading my quality of life. In regards to orientations, I suppose I don't think about them in a gendered light nowadays. My aromanticism and asexuality transcend gende; my relationship with my body changed with transition, but my orientations remain constant. I'm already kind of eclectic anyways, so I connect with others over interests that aren't particularly gendered. I find the ways some men act around attractive women to be rather alienating, but I try to at least make small quips to establish that their tactics only make women uncomfortable. Thankfully, they're not the only straight men in my life, and seeing the difference stops me from labeling that shitty behavior as an inherently straight guy thing. ...aaannndd I started rambling. My bad.
  8. I'm a big fan of Naoki Urasawa's Monster. I only really read the manga, but it did a damn good job with its atmosphere, especially with the sense of suspense. It just seemed to encapsulate the "thriller" genre so masterfully. Definitely not a perfect series, but I have a soft spot for it I get nostalgic about series I discovered in my early teens, but among those, the ones that stand out are Fullmetal Alchemist and Ouran High School Host Club. (I will admit, it's trippy realizing that I first got into Bleach over 10 years ago. Guess I had to have liked the early stuff if I was willing to ride that sinking ship down to the bottom of the Marianas Trench. ) Funny thing about Fullmetal and Ouran is that my reactions to their lead characters were two very different signs of me being trans. I'm short and wore my blond hair long for most my life, and Ed was pretty much my justification for not seeing braids as particularly gendered. I did identify with Haruhi quite a bit, but that actually made me put off asking the questions I needed to regarding orientation/gender, go figure. (The way they wrote her made me think that I was just oblivious to the romantic attraction that I was totally experiencing. At first watch, I definitely read Haruhi as cis too, so that made me less apt to ask why I was so fascinated with the idea of AFAB people presenting as male.)
  9. Based on my past relationships with romantics, I would probably at least give a strong disclaimer about what to expect. I hesitate to advise against it without full context, but I would definitely encourage dialogue between the two people beforehand. It was really obvious that I didn't feel the same things that my partners were in relationships, and that was something that actively pained some of them. I felt so much guilt in the process too, as I didn't know I was aro and wanted so desperately to make my friends happy and fall in love with them. Now I know that it's better to turn down someone you're not interested in than to drag them through a relationship where they don't feel loved back.
  10. Funny to hear that so many years after I stopped playing clarinet. In some circles, I'm "that marimba guy," in some, I'm "that berimbau guy," and in others, I'm "that guy who uses way too big of multi-percussion setups," but I haven't been "that clarinet guy" since before people even recognized that I'm a guy. I guess it is kinda funny that the first album that I've ever been involved in has "clarinet" in the title though.
  11. ^ Back in my high school days, I was dubbed the "clarinet traitor" for quite some time for switching to percussion. I still love listening to the clarinet, but just don't like the sensation of playing it. (Heck, I find myself playing percussion for clarinet ensembles quite a bit. I even played percussion for a clarinet choir album last year.)
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