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Mezzo Forte

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Everything posted by Mezzo Forte

  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. I'm required to be proficient in two foreign languages for my PhD, so because I mostly am interesting in doing research in Cuba and Brazil, I'm learning Spanish and Portuguese. For now, I'm doubling down on my Spanish, and then when I'm more comfortable with that, I'll start giving Portuguese some attention. Definitely nervous about getting it all done fast enough, but I at least have no shortage of Spanish speakers I can practice with.
  4. I think it's more of an anime romance trope, but I can't stand the trope of "these people are in love; they just haven't noticed yet or are otherwise oblivious to their own feelings." (Think Ouran High School Host Club.) That trope threw off my questioning for years, and I wouldn't be shocked if it was reinforcing my need to constantly reassess if my platonic bonds are, in fact, 100% platonic. (Doesn't help when the rest of the world makes assumptions about your closer friendships either.)
  5. Drawing from some of my current experiences: don't let others claim to know more about your feelings than you do. The strength of a bond does not dictate the type, and I found that my best platonic bonds have come from situations where both myself and my friend could 100% mutually trust that the bond wasn't romantic.
  6. I think I actually made peace with my orientations before I knew what they were. After I broke up with my final ex (who is now one of my dearest friends), I remember having to really look inward and contemplate why our relationship didn't work. Turns out that even when I care deeply for someone, there is nothing unique to a romantic relationship that I can't get out of a friendship (or as I'm now aware, a platonic partnership). I also thought about my habit of dating people simply to avoid 'friendzoning' them, as from what I've seen, a simple rejection is a far better alternative than having someone enter a relationship where they don't feel loved back in the way they're looking for. As far as not exaggerating it, I joke a lot about Schrodinger's Closet: I'm simultaneously in and out of the closet because while I don't outright state my orientation, I don't go out of my way to act like I'm anything other than aromantic/asexual. (Also, there's no real exaggerating an identity: it's part of you, and how you respond to learning more about yourself is also part of you.) Nobody ever really asked me about my orientation before I transitioned, and nowadays, people only seem to ask when they know I'm trans. I get a lot of "that will change" attitudes, but I just roll my eyes and let them think what they want to think. (Let's be real: I'm almost 25 and I've experienced 2 different puberties; if I were supposed to be anything other than aro/ace, I think something would have shifted by now.) My dearest friends get it and validate me, to the point that I actually can get tactile with a dear friend who's a cishet guy, and he's comfortable because he 100% recognizes me as aro/ace. I've found over the years that I've been meeting more and more aro, asexual, and people within either umbrella, not to mention people of all orientations that completely understand. Several have just been musicians who I had been colleagues with for quite some time before they mention their orientations, some were people I met in trans spaces. Heck, one or two were even childhood friends, go figure. More people have started coming out to me about orientation/gender now that I'm a bit more openly trans. I guess for advice on upholding the validity, I think it helps to find the support to give you more confidence in how you speak about your identities. I've spent a fair amount of time in aro and ace online communities where I've been able to articulate my thoughts, and I think that gives me more confidence to discuss my identity with those who aren't as familiar, because they'll either be receptive and *get* it, or if they're not, I can just roll my eyes, maybe gripe anonymously if I want, and still feel comfortable in my identity at the end of the day.
  7. 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.
  8. I think QPRs already occupy such a strange and unpredictable space that there's no real standard for what's expected within a QPR, and I can see where some things could just resemble romance too much for comfort. Honestly, I have zero interest in kissing, and I could see that creating romance repulsion for myself as well, so I imagine there's others who resonate with your words. I'm slowly discovering a growing desire for platonic touch, but I feel like I need lived experience to know what kinds of touch are still at risk of registering as romantic even if the intent is platonic. Once a certain type of touch gets associated with something you're repulsed to (be that sex, romance, or something else,) then it's not hard for that type of touch to become unpleasant.
  9. 1) What would be a suitable animal mascot for your romantic orientation? (Maybe look through emojis for ideas?) If you want a throwback, the old website AroPlane used an Aardvark as their mascot, so there's some precedence there https://web.archive.org/web/20141027025609/http://aroplane.org:80/ 2) Would you use 'heartbroken' to describe an aromantic going through relationship related grief? I would and have. The worst heartbreak I've experienced came from being forced to emotionally cut myself off from a dying friendship. 3) Would you describe a QTR more of a modified friendship or a modified romantic relationship? Or is it it's own thing? Is QTR a new form of QPR? I guess that depends on the how people in the relationship want to see it. I imagine that some aros aren't terribly comfortable having their bond assumed to be more of a form of romance than friendship though. Bonus tough question: Would the world be better if half the population was aromantic (or on the spectrum) and half was alloromantic? Why? I don't know if it'd be better so much as different. It'd certainly have the potential to make aromanticism quite a bit more normalized, but at the same time, a pretty significant portion of the world is made of women, and that doesn't stop the negative biases from pervading culture. I could see that having an impact on certain aspects of culture like art that are used to convey thought, but who knows what kind of butterfly effect such a difference could have.
  10. 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!
  11. 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 >.>
  12. 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.
  13. @shotinthehand, gonna be honest, your post sounds like something that should be a thread in its own right, not a copy/pasted comment on 15+ threads that are only tangentially related to your project. As someone doing a visibility project of sorts myself (specifically giving transgender musicians a voice using ethnomusicological approaches), I see the good in what you're aiming to do, and I want to see you find the participants you're looking for. I just think you risk putting a bad taste in people's mouths with this approach because it makes your message look like spam. I'm honestly not 100% certain about what demographics you're looking for, particularly when you say transgender. I originally took your call as basically "everyone who isn't a cis man or straight woman," but your sample questions and research prompt sound like you're looking for more feminine-aligned people. Honestly, included binding topics in your sample questions would have made your post more relevant to the thread you posted in, and could better clarify why you're advertising your research within this thread in particular. I know how tone can be easily misconstrued online, so please do not take my words as an act of aggression. I find your work commendable and would really like to see your project succeed. There's just better ways to show good will when you make a call for participants, and I don't want your project to suffer for it. Regardless, I wish you the best of luck in your endeavors!
  14. 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.
  15. I second that dance suggestion. My sister dances swing/blues/lindy/etc. and she sometimes shows me the basic techniques of those dances. Of the dances she shows me, blues is definitely the most physically intimate. From what my sister describes, dancers have a way of being pretty tactile, so that kind of scene could be good for finding people who would have similar touch needs. My family is quite tactile, and exchanging massages is quite normal, so while I make sure to disclaimer that massages are 100% platonic for me, I do sometimes gives friends massages if they complain of stuff like shoulder/back pain. I like receiving massages more than I like giving them, but they're easier to offer than to ask for, and giving massages is still a form of physical intimacy to me. It sucks seeing so many of us being touch starved. I'm in that same boat because I'm bad at initiating touch and don't live near my family. Transitioning only made the touch barrier stronger too, especially with my male friends. Of my dearest friends, the ones who are more tactile don't live nearby, and the one who lives with me isn't tactile at all. Being touch starved doesn't hit me that hard, as I tend to only notice it within very specific contexts and I have hard limits on how much touch I can handle at once as well, so I don't even know how much touch I would even want if I did have access to it.
  16. I kind of hesitate on threads like these because I've been active on AVEN for 5+ years. I feel like I've seen and participated in these exact critique threads on several sites that don't exist anymore, including AroPlane and the original Arocalype, often agreeing with the negative observations of the site. Yet here I am, where AVEN is the only forum where I've ever broken even 1000 posts, not to mention the only online community that has stuck in the long term with me. I see it as too big of a mass to paint in one stroke, and perception depends a lot on how the end user approaches the site. AVEN spearheaded the introspection I needed to figure out my orientations and gender. I was actually part of the push for an aromantic subforum on the site and quickly got involved with AroPlane for the aromantic discussion I was looking for. The romantic orientation subforum that we ultimately got just never appealed to me, and that board feels kind of alienating to the average aromantic, as it falls into all the usual trappings of the site (Ex. 'am I X' threads, obsession with defining attraction, among other repetitive thread types) while also giving far more voice to romantic aces than aromantic ones. That said, I've posted about asexuality/aromanticism enough over the years that I actually find posting on those topics a touch repetitive and tiring. I probably wouldn't be posting anymore if not for finding a community that I genuinely clicked with: AVEN's Gender Discussion forum. (~75% of my total AVEN content came from after I came out to myself as trans in February 2016. I've been a member since 2012.) I've made genuine friendships on there that I never expected, and I even have a pen pal now who I met on there. Honestly, since I tire so much of general ace/aro discussion in general, I stay out of most the boards that seem to cause the drama that make people rant about AVEN on other sites. AVEN's got a shit ton of people. The ace discussion often feels like a crowded train station, where some people may stick around, but most are transient and the conversations almost become white noise. Those kinds of crowds make you feel like you're talking to yourself rather than having a true conversation. As a slow, methodical poster, my voice often felt lost in that crowd. That made smaller aro communities work out much better for me, even if now, I feel like I have so little to say that I barely post anymore. That said, using the size of the site to engage smaller subcommunities ended up what kept me on the site. There's enough activity to find new conversation, but not so much that your voice doesn't get heard.
  17. I actually have hangups about being trapped in childhood, to the point that it actually informs some of my dysphoria. Heck, one reason why I chose to start taking testosterone was because I couldn't see myself as having an adult body without it. I was basically denying that estrogen-based puberty ever happened. I feel kind of weird being in the middle of the right puberty ~10 years late, but I don't mind since it's my transition into having the adult body I'm supposed to have. There's way more layers to these hangups than I'll get into, (my youthful appearance, power dynamics with my parents, my financial reliance on family, etc.) but my asexuality/aromanticism often end up becoming yet another few things that make me feel more childlike. Seeing my orientations that way actually feels kind of ironic because my attempts at dating were far more indicative of immaturity than finding the introspection to understand what's truly best for me. Nonetheless, having one less way to relate to adult peers does In spite of all that, I've had a reputation for being an old soul even early in childhood, go figure.
  18. I'm four months post-op right now and I'll gladly chat experiences. With that broad a topic though, it'd be hard to pin down what to say without creating countless tangents. I went with periareolar top surgery and am overall happy with my results. (Insurance covered it too, but I'm still waiting for my reimbursement.) My chest still feels like it's settling, but I doubt I'll need revisions. Can't say I had an easy recovery though. My left side wouldn't drain properly and I actually went to the ER the first night of recovery because of all the excess bleeding. The surgeon's nurse had to squeeze a lot of the swelling out by hand on more than one occasion. In fact, at my reveal, my left pec looked bigger than it was pre-op from all the swelling, so the nurse spent over an hour squeezing that gunk out of me. Because of all those swelling issues, I got prescribed a second strain of antibiotics out of precaution. A few days after I finished that antibiotic, I had a horrific delayed allergic reaction to the stuff. I was really close to developing Steven-Johnson's Syndrome and found myself going to the ER, spending two days in the hospital, and then returning to the ER mere hours after I was discharged because the damn doctor didn't give me a single prescription despite the fact that I was taking steroids while I was in the hospital. That allergic reaction stayed in my system for over two weeks, and recovering from that was hell. It's all water under the bridge at this point, but the recovery was definitely much harder than it should have been. That said, I would do all this again 10x over if that was what it took to have a flat chest. I notice that the dysphoria was gone the moment I awoke after surgery. I could physically feel that my chest was finally right. No longer having to bind has been so good on my back, and living in a particularly hot environment, no longer needing to wear that extra layer made the summer so much easier to tolerate. Fuck, I can actually enjoy swimming now, even if I'm still wearing swimshirts. I'm waiting until I'm 1 year post-op before I expose my scars to sunlight. Excessive sun can especially darken new scars and I want to minimize what little scarring I have. One thing I can recommend is figuring out if your insurance company requires a pre-clearance for surgery. My top surgery got delayed five days over that, and that was after several weeks of scrambling to get through all the red tape. I got mine explicitly covered as a treatment for gender dysphoria, so it'd look different for me than it will for you, but I hope everything goes without a hitch!
  19. 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.)
  20. I hope it all works out! It's also possible that having a Velcro binder could save you the cost of buying a medical compression vest if your surgeon recommends those kinds of things, so definitely bring that binder to your pre-op appointment! Best of luck, and I wish you a speedy recovery
  21. I'm just over 3 weeks post-op from my top surgery, so while I'm wearing compression right now, I'm technically done with binding forever. I was thankfully didn't have too big of moobs, (small enough that I got periareolar top surgery,) so I got away with more minor forms of compression. I used sports bras for a while, but eventually moved to gynecomastia shirts, and that combined with loose button-ups was enough to hide my chest and keep the dysphoria from disrupting my daily life. I own a genuine binder that got me super flat, but because of how busy I kept myself with my music, I couldn't manage the "don't bind for more than 8 hours" rule, so I never really used it. Even despite my chest not being as big as it could have been, my chest was my biggest source of dysphoria. Compression made me dysphoric sometimes too though, so binding was not always ideal, especially when you combine the warm climate with the extra sweat from taking testosterone. I'm currently wearing an ace bandage under doctor's orders until I'm one month post-op. I think it's supposed to help with the swelling and ensuring that the nipples heal properly, which I think it worth tolerating compression a little longer. I only have just over a week of this compression left anyways
  22. 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.
  23. I'm technically nearsighted and have astigmatism in both eyes, but I got LASEK about five years ago and haven't needed glasses since.
  24. 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.
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