Friday, February 26, 2010

Collecting: Body, Memory and Meaning

I saved my last bras--one black and one white sports bra. They were over a year old and were stretched to the point of barely being functional. Every time I thought about replacing them I couldn't bring myself to do it. I was waiting for top surgery. Buying a bra would be admitting defeat, putting surgery off even longer. I continued to wear them and wait for the day.

The other day I was cleaning my studio and found them stuffed in a Strawbridges bag deep in the bottom of a box. When I pulled them out to look at them I thought I'd feel something. Some memory, some pain, some tears pushing behind my eyes, but I didn't. So often the objects I expect to hold meaning simply don't while those things that seem completely mundane are impossible to let go. Instead of meaning, these bras just looked like tattered, smelly bits of fabric. I rolled them back up and put them back in the bag and box. I don't need to save them but I still can't throw them away. It has been so long. Maybe I just need to wait for the memory and meaning to hit me.

I have heard of a lot of guys ceremonially burning their last bras, but I never felt the need. I guess I preferred to just wait for them to disintegrate. Like my bras, the person I was before I had surgery didn't go up in flames, but slowly changed, morphed and eventually became the person I am today. The woman slowly degraded and the bras will as well.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


I've kept all my empty Testosterone bottles. I don't know why. Somehow they feel important. A bottle I waited 25 years for, a bottle full of a substance other men make naturally.

But maybe it's better this way. Better to wait 25 years for this substance, this bottle could never be taken for granted.

After almost six years the bottles no longer symbolize manhood, but they still hold all the weight of memory. The memory of change, of accomplishment, of hope. Every injection used to hold so many emotions, but not any longer. The emotion couldn't continue. Now it is just a fact, sometimes a nuisance. But five years, ago everything changed. I kept the bottle.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

When masculinity goes down the toilet.

It was the Philadelphia Eagles stadium--a shrine to masculinity. I was there to hang artwork for The Print Center. In addition to the on field pursuits, the owners of the Eagles also donate money to the arts and have local galleries and schools hang artwork in their club lounges. It was my first year on the job the first time the union workers had had a seemingly straight guy come in to hang art. Not only was I "straight," but I love football. I was excited to be there and the carpenters could tell. I got a tour of the field, got to walk through the visiting team's tunnel. I felt like one of the guys.

After a couple hours of "supervising" I had to pee. It was the off season so the stadium was pretty empty. One of the carpenters unlocked the men's room. I walked into a stall and sat down hoping no one else walks in. I still believe that men can hear that I am sitting down to pee. I quickly did my business and went to stand and pull my pants up when I hear a loud splash. I freeze, look down between my legs into the bowl and see my dick floating in the yellow water of the toilet.

My first thought was to sacrifice the dick. Just flush and run. Or just leave it? I spend what feels like forever just staring at the silicone soft pack bobbing just below the surface. I have to do something. I man up, fish my dripping penis out of the toilet and wrap it in cheap, single ply toilet paper. Then what? I knew I couldn't stuff a urine soaked soft pack in my pocket. I'd have to wash it off. I begin to panic. The stadium was empty except for the crew, but what would happen if someone walked in and saw me soaping up a soft pink penis, detached from my body, in the bathroom sink? I knew that if someone were to need the restroom, now would be the time.

I scurry to the sink. Rushing while trying to look like everything is normal. I run my dick under the painfully loud stream of water, picking off bits of toilet paper. Once I make it back to the stall I stuff it in my pants. After a few deep breaths I walk back out to the club lounge. So much for manhood.