I'm not afraid of spiders.

I'm not afraid of the dark. I'm not afraid of dying. I'm not afraid of fire, or flying, or small places, or heights, or of being hit by a car on the way to school, or being robbed, or being struck by lightning or being devoured by a swarm of ravenous ants.

I'm afraid of doing a bad job at work and having somebody complain to my boss. Not because I'll get into trouble, but because it would mean I did something wrong enough to warrant complaint. I'm afraid of doing badly on essays and asking stupid questions- or worse, volunteering the wrong answers when a question is asked- in school. I'm afraid I might not get into the classes I need this coming semester, meaning I'll be wasting precious time. I'm afraid I might live with my family until I am 24 or 25. I'm afraid I won't be able to get my Bachelors degree AND teaching credentials before the financial aid times out. I am afraid that my clothes smell like cat pee and I can't tell. I'm afraid I will never have a real job.

I am terrified of being a failure.

I had one of those moments. The one where you look up from the thing you are doing up-close in the real world and see the future ahead of you. And the future looks like one big flat plane. No, it looks like a gaping chasm. Not the good kind of "anything is possible!" chasm, but the kind where you trip and fall and then continue to fall for what feels like forever until there is a loud crack and a sudden stop.

I am afraid.

China's OK.

Please see the drama at yesterday's daylog for the backstory.

I'm glad I left the stable yesterday when I did (11 AM), because things got worse before they got better. The horse threw up all the water she had sipped, plus a bunch more stuff. Finally the vet arrived, and it was ascertained that while the lump of food that was stuck in her throat had moved down, it had not gotten past the sphincter muscle at her stomach.

A human being would have died during the previous night. If we get a big lump of food stuck in our throats, it also closes our windpipe, and we die very shortly thereafter. Luckily for China, horses are differently enough constructed that she was still able to breathe throughout this ordeal.

So the truck was full of diesel and backed up to the barn. The horse trailer was hooked to the truck, and the gate was open. Everything was ready to go to Davis, but the vet thought a tube down the throat and some water still had the chance to work. After working with it for a bit, the bolus of food broke up, the horse vomited everything out, and her throat was clear, so the trip to Davis didn't have to happen. Good thing too, I don't know how the two-hour trailer ride would have impacted this poor animal.

So there was China in her stall today, looking tired but not much worse for wear. Reasonably alert. (The human trainers both looked a lot worse, frankly.) Animals don't feel sorry for themselves. Now comes a careful and watchful month. Certainly some water got into her lungs, so she's on antibiotics, and everyone is watching for pneumonia. Also, a horse who has once choked is at an increased likelihood to do it again (scar tissue forms), so everyone is watching for that too.

Cautious optimism, then, and the sense of having survived a near-disaster.

I am sometimes annoyed by how much teachers harp on race relations in the elementary school. From about third grade on, our school will generally have 2-3 units a year per grade explaining to the kids how horrible life was back when we had... genocide, slavery, segregation, and so forth. Which is important to know, but I can't help but feel that telling 8-year-olds that people used to hate people like you is not necessarily a good educational choice, no matter how positive you paint our social progress since.

And now for something else.

So, this morning I had taken a student to her regularly scheduled speech class, and we were waiting for a new student who was supposed to join us as soon as his bus got in. The two had not met yet, and all that Jane knew was that the new kids was 1) a boy and 2) in first grade, which was a little worrying, because Jane is still in Kindergarten (but the new boy's articulation is REALLY BAD, so he needed to be with kids who didn't speak so good). She had two questions: "Is he big?" (He's seven, but he's not really a big kid), and "is he black? 'Cus my mommy says I'm not supposed to be around black people."

Which was a bit of a surprise.

If you work in the school system, one of the most useful phrases is "we don't do that at school", in all of its various forms. We don't say that at school. We don't argue about that at school. We don't play fighting games at school. It's a good solid rule that you can stand behind, and it doesn't say anything negative about the person who taught the kids to do/say that thing.

So before I fully processed that implications of her statement, I went with the template: "That's not true... at school."

Which worked pretty well. She immediately replied "no...", but didn't really know where to go from there. Being a wiley adult-type person, I pushed the advantage. You have some friends in your class who are black. "Yes, Janet is black, and she's my friend" (very serious voice here; she would have been upset if I had doubted her). And you know Johnny in speech class, and he's your friend. "Yes, he's my friend".

And we changed the subject, and that was that.

This is not exactly a unique event. I have twice had hispanic children tell me that they don't play and/or like black kids. One situation went exactly the same way as the one above, and the other one, which involved a young boy on the autism spectrum, defaulted back to "we treat everybody the same... and you have been treating everyone well, so thank you". He has since admitted that a number of children who happen to be black are his friends, although I have certainly never reminded him that this had ever been an issue before.

All three kids were in kindergarten at the time that they explained their views on black kids. By the time kids reach higher grades, they have learned what is acceptable to say out loud, and moreover, have gotten used to playing with kids of all colors.

And that was today.

Room #5 of the University of Washington Medical Center’s Emergency Department is definitively a step up from the unfortunate squalor that was Carroll County General’s, the setting of my last ER visit. Quite a lovely room, really, with Snow White and the Huntsman playing (say what you will, it’s fucking great for hospital TV). A nice room to contemplate the reason I’m here.

There’s a fine line between ‘standing up for yourself’ and ‘clearly being an idiot.’ I haven’t considered that line much lately. I relied on my ability to intimidate people who wanted to mistreat or abuse me. Being unapologetically transgender leads to some interesting encounters to say the least. Most involve the word “faggot”. When the third person inside of two hours wants to ask me that ever important question “Is you a male or a female?” well...something happens. You either run or you stand tall. Sometimes that ends in violence.

Normally, I would have rolled my eyes. Even if I had gone through that ridiculous fight anyway, I would have rolled my eyes. I’m largely unmoved by random men trying to abuse me, and there have been so very many. The problem is that fight didn’t have to happen. I could have even talked shit back like I did and walked away. I didn’t let it go. Stupid.

My partner was there. When said idiot and his wonderfully darling pregnant girlfriend (who, might I add, also struck me) started to beat on me, I laughed. He broke my nose, he shattered my jaw, and I laughed. I fell to the ground laughing. When he struck my girlfriend for trying to intervene, I stopped. The fight was over by the time I stood, and she fortunately made it out largely unscathed, but my fucking pride got her hurt. I will never apologize for being true to myself, but I wanted to watch that idiot snap. My insolence caused her harm, even indirectly.

Standing up for yourself doesn’t mean shit when you can’t protect those you love who may suffer. Pride is a useless emotion without the conviction to truly fight back and the skill to do it.

So as I sit here contemplating the paint spatter on the toes of my Docs and hug the fuzzy sensation of vicodin I’m forced to examine my priorities. I have a good life, with good people, and pissing that away because I have a chip on my shoulder and a bad attitude is sacrilege. I won’t ever apologize for being myself, but that used to include the ability to defend those I loved.

At least they caught both the fools and I will take great pleasure in twisting whatever legal knife I have as well. When he’s in that jail cell, I hope he thinks long and hard about attacking someone for being queer.

And when I take full advantage of Washington’s hate crime statutes for transgender people, I hope he hears the sound of my laughter when some other man refuses to see him as a human being and takes what he wants. I should be a better person than this, but I’m not.

Now, I’m going to enjoy this vicodin fog a bit more, and contemplate the food I won’t be able to eat for two months.

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