I’m bad at remembering birthdays, even when it comes to half the members of my immediate family. Probably the only reason I remember my dad’s is because he made it the password for the garage door in the house I grew up in. It doesn’t matter so much that I can’t remember my Mom’s, since she’s been dead over a decade, though that meant I didn’t realize right away why I should have been upset at the date our dad’s second wife had initially chosen for their wedding. My sister’s birthday is shortly after Christmas (lucky her), so that’s easy to remember, and my youngest sibling’s birthday is right around another holiday, St. Patrick’s Day, which should also make it easy (our Mom used to always joke that if they’d been born on a different day, they could’ve been named Patrick), though I still had trouble remembering if it was before or after.
Anyway, I did remember correctly this time and managed to send them a short email the other night, wishing them a happy birthday. Knowing that my sibling is a Batman fan, I attached a photo of a Batman figure I'd coincidentally just acquired that I thought was kind of neat looking. That felt especially pathetic in hindsight, when, a few hours later, my sibling sent a response with a few photos of their own: a couple of my young niece and nephew and a third of my sibling looming over a birthday cake while holding an unfamiliar baby that looks no more than three weeks old.
Come to think of it, my dad did mention to me several months ago that my sister-in-law was expecting another baby at the end of February, but I hadn’t heard anything about it since then and have had other stuff on my mind.
My question is whether my sibling was, for whatever reason, deliberately trying to keep the pregnancy on the q.t., and this was their cute way of letting me know there was another baby in the family, or if they just didn’t realize I had no clue because they had neglected to inform me sooner. It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve been omitted from the loop. Just to give one example, there was the incident several years ago when both my siblings and their respective significant others got together at a restaurant for lunch and it was only after they were there that it was realized they forgot to invite me along. What made it worse was the fact that my sister had been visiting from out of town, but she was so busy, that turned out to be my first and only chance to see her while she was here. I held a grudge about that for a few days.
Maybe I should feel hurt that I wasn’t told anything about this baby, but I honestly don’t care that much. It's not like I have a relationship with their previous offspring, so what's one more? My niece and nephew seem like cute kids, but the last time I saw them, they were babies, so they don't know me from Adam, which is actually okay with me. I'm such a disaster of a human being, I don't really want them to know me unless I can get my shit together.
The reason I keep referring to my youngest sibling as my youngest sibling and not my brother is because, during a car ride a couple years ago, while they were in the process of moving from Madison to Oregon, they “came out” to me as gender neutral, which was a concept I’d never heard of before that moment, and I confess is still something strange to me that I don’t know much about.
I like to think of myself as pretty open minded and liberal, but I’ve also led a sheltered life. For instance, I didn’t even know gay people existed until I was in my teens. My first inkling came when I was fourteen or so and watching the movie Mannequin Two: On the Move. The only character from the first movie to return for the sequel was this flamboyantly gay walking cliché named Hollywood, but I didn’t know he was supposed to be a homosexual because I didn’t know there was such a thing. In elementary school, I knew that the word “homo” had negative connotations, but I didn’t know why. Nevertheless, that didn’t stop me from getting a kick out of tricking my friends on the playground into denying it when I asked if they were homo sapiens. Anyway, in this movie, there’s a point where the protagonist expresses incredulity upon learning that Hollywood was in the army, to which that character responds, “They were looking for a few good men… and so was I.” The innuendo was obvious to me, but even then, I still didn’t get it. What I thought was that I hadn’t realized this whole time that Hollywood was supposed to be a woman.
I could tell my sibling was very nervous breaking this news to me for some reason. They were the same way with our sister, as I found out later, despite her being “woke.” As for myself, not much phases me, so I took it in a very even-keeled – even blasé – fashion. I can’t say that I totally understood it, but it doesn’t have much of an effect on me, so I figured the least I could do was try to be supportive and treat it like no big deal, especially since I knew there was no way our asshole dad (who had already taken my sibling packing up their family and moving to the west coast as some kind of personal insult) would be on board with this. I don’t like to think what that discussion was like.
For a moment, I thought my sibling was building up to telling me they were trans. I suppose it’s just as well that they aren’t, since they wouldn’t make a great looking woman. But to be honest, it's something I would have had an easier time getting my head around. It may surprise nobody reading this that I’m a little ambivalent about my own gender. I don’t exactly match the masculine ideal and I don’t fit in with most other guys. Then again, I don’t fit in with anyone. But just because I don’t conform to some stereotype and might think a lot of guys are jerks, it doesn’t mean I don’t identify as male. I don’t get what’s so irksome to my sibling about being called “he” or “him” or “a good dad.”
The grammar nazi in me loathes saying “they” when referring to an individual. This is something I actively try to avoid doing when talking about someone online when I’m not sure of their gender and/or what gender they prefer to be identified by, such as certain authors who use female pseudonyms. “They” I find awkward and confusing. Case in point: after our paternal grandmother’s health took a turn for the worse in December of 2017, my sister flew to the Midwest for Christmas, and our younger sibling was set to visit shortly after New Year’s. When my sister told me that “they” would be flying in on a specific date, I spent over an hour under the misconception that our sibling’s entire family would be accompanying them.
Also, when you’ve known someone their entire life by one name (which, incidentally, is one I suggested when they were born), it’s hard to get used to it when they go and change it to something supposedly more gender neutral. The ironic part is that my sibling’s original name could be a girl’s name, too (though, admittedly, it’s not super common). I try not to bring up Star Trek in every conversation, out of a fear of fueling this perception that I’m some hopelessly obsessive Trekkie who thinks about nothing else, so it was a challenge not mentioning during that car trip that the then-recently announced lead female character of Star Trek: Discovery had the same first name that my sibling thought was too masculine.
I hope I’m not accidentally offending anyone by talking like this. The bottom line is, I may not fully understand how my sibling feels, but I don’t want to be a dick about it.
I dunno, maybe this gender neutrality idea bothers me a little because my bread and butter is doing art that’s dependent on there being a clear perceived distinction between the sexes, so if everyone felt like my youngest sibling, I’d be screwed, though that’s probably a pretty silly thing to worry about. I already went on at length in a previous journal entry about how I find something potentially retrograde about the whole feminization fantasy. In real life, I'm all for sexual equality, etc. I just can't help feeling like my sibling is making life somewhat needlessly complicated. But that's just me; it's entirely possible I don't know what the hell I'm talking about.
Moving on to the subject of art, I am painfully aware that I haven’t posted anything to this account in a long time. I’ve even had a few comments recently from people inquiring if I’m still active on deviantART. It’s nice to know that anyone still cares. I'm uncertain if I should even be mentioning it, but most of my creative energies lately have been spent on a particular commission that’s been taking me forever to finish. That’s not much of an excuse, though, since if I were more dedicated to my craft, I could have finished this thing ages ago and/or found time for other artwork in my spare moments, of which I have plenty.
I was also supposed to be doing at least close to thirty illustrations for a book last year – or possibly even twice that many, depending on how things worked out (though, as I soon learned, even thirty was perhaps biting off more than I could chew). It was something I was initially excited about, but then quickly ran out of steam after learning the story wasn’t quite what I expected it to be. However, to be fair, even if the story had been right up my alley, I’m not sure that my chronic laziness wouldn’t have had me working at a snail’s pace regardless. In this case, my procrastination may have turned out to be a good thing, since unforeseen medical expenses meant that the author couldn’t pay me to finish. I liked that author and I feel badly that those circumstances were what caused a premature halt to the project, so I also feel rather guilty admitting that, at the same time, it was something of a relief not to have that project hanging over my head anymore. It had been seriously stressing me out, and my guilt over my lack of progress was making it even harder to get anything done.
All that has kind of got me once again questioning my ability to hack it as an artist, which sucks, since, as I’m certain I've stated before, drawing is the only thing I’m even halfway good at.
Well, hopefully you’ll see some more fetishistic art from me in the relatively near future, though I can't say exactly when or even what it will be, 'cause I don't know myself.