The Best Way to Spring Clean Is to Make Peace With Who You Are

Today I said goodbye to a shirt that has lived in my wardrobe for three years.

It was a good shirt, subtle and plain, white with short sleeves, a mandarin collar, and cream buttons. It had been sitting patiently in my closet awaiting its debut since the day I bought it, but the hanger is all it’s ever known. I have never worn it because, apparently, I failed to try it on before buying it. It has survived three years’ worth of closet sweeps, dodging both the Goodwill bag and the “maybe this time I will get more than $6.36 at Beacon’s Closet” bag. Every time I try it on again, after another year filled with losses and gains and shifts, it still doesn’t really fit, and I still hang it back up.

I Know I'm Dependent on Weed But I Don't Want to Quit

At my fifth grade graduation from the Drug Abuse Resistance Education program, I stepped to the podium sporting a blue button-up shirt, braces, and uneven bangs, and played the flute. I can’t remember exactly how D.A.R.E. had molded me into an eleven-year old who believed that doing drugs was a crime and a sin, but it had succeeded. Some weeks later, I caught my teenage sisters smoking weed behind our back porch during a dinner party. In a brainwashed fervor, I cried and screamed at them, “Well I hope you know you’re going to hell!”

At fourteen I took my first hit, lay back, and said, “This is heaven.”

Weed is complicated for me. It has been an escape, a ritual, and a medicine. And it has been a trap, a habit, and a source of pain. I’ve gone from glass bowls and bongs to grape Swisher Sweet blunts to spliffs in RAW papers. I smoke with friends and by myself, while I’m making music and while I’m watching TV. I smoke when I am sad and when I am overjoyed. I smoke a lot. I know I’m too dependent on weed, but I don’t want to quit.

I’m Scared to Come Out to My Mom...As a Meat Eater

I am afraid to come out to my mother, even though I have done it twice. In ninth grade, I told her with confidence, “I’m gay.” Two years ago, I told her with a heavy kind of joy, “I’m trans.” Now I have to tell my sweet mother, who raised me as a strict vegetarian, “I eat meat. Please forgive me.” And this time I’m scared.

Ordinary Things That Bring Me Extraordinary Joy

My roommate left multiple cabinet doors in the kitchen open this morning and it made my eye twitch. On my way to the gym, a man almost ran into me because he was texting while walking, which brought me very close to smacking his phone clean onto the sidewalk then stomping it with my boot. On my way home, some middle schoolers were having a “You’re gay!” screaming contest and I almost found myself fighting some 12-year-olds.

I don’t know if it’s just winter or a cold front inside of me, but lately, when I read the world, it seems like someone highlighted the worst sentences. In better times, all the annoying and petty and performative pieces of life just blended in with the rest of the page, but now they’re popping neon pink. And everything is… annoying.

I’ve Come Out As Transgender To Everyone... Except My Weed Dealer. Here’s Why.

I’ve always been polyamorous when it comes to my weed consumption because, as in any relationship, it’s hard for one person to provide all of the things we need. But I recently had to clean up my roster because things had gotten somewhat out of control.

Bud man #1 was, and still is, my main man. He has great product, great prices, is excellent at communicating with me, and I just dig his vibe. Bud man #3 would come to me wherever, whenever, but I was paying him Platinum Kush prices for aluminum foil kush. Bud man #5 was only there as an emergency backup since he made me wait two hours and then got an attitude with me and blamed it on his issues with the mother of his baby.

Bud man #1, who I am almost monogamous with these days, has been my guy for going on five years. Let’s call him “Red.” I like Red. He is confident, chill and kind. We often chat at the end of our quick transactions about work (we both tutor kids), about gentrification (we both know his home, Brooklyn, is being stolen before his very eyes), about travel (we both appreciate the balance between the push and the plush ― work hard, then live it up). I see him at least once a week, and sometimes more when I am not doing my best at taking care of my lungs and brain.

But here’s the rub: I’m a trans guy who began transitioning a year and a half ago, and Red knew me when I still presented as female. He doesn’t seem to have gotten the memo about my gender identity.

In Defense of the Neck Beard

The chemistry between me and dudes who work at the corner store is fascinating. They seem drawn to connect with me, even if they don’t know why. It’s like I am just a guy, but with a twist, a tortilla chip with a hint of lime. They call me ‘papi’ and ‘brother’ and ‘boss’. They joke with me. And I joke back; smiling to myself knowing things they do not.

The other day I went into a random corner store where I did not know the guy at the counter. I asked for a pack of Bambu and a lighter.

“Are you eighteen, sir?” he asked, showing me his skepticism by inching his (impressively) bushy eyebrows up towards his not so bushy hairline.

“I am actually thirty, believe it or not.” He chose not.

“No, no. Thirty? This cannot be true,” he said, shaking his head, looking kind of sad for me like no one had taught me to give an age that could be believed, to at least give my lie a chance to pass for a truth. I smiled and handed him my ID. Along with a teenage boy, I too would be uncomfortable with him closely examining my ID, but for fear that the "F" will stand out, not the year of my birth. The F never stands out, it sits quietly nestled amongst the other information about my personhood that the government has neatly organized on this plastic card.

As he reached for it I said to him, “Can’t you see all my gray hair?”

He responded, “Well your hair looks old, but your beard looks like a teenager.”