May 4, 2020
EP. 214 — Quarantine Breakup
A trans man talks about what it’s like living with his gf post breakup and still sleeping in the same bed. He and Geth discuss masculinity.
214 — Quarantine Breakup
[00:00:05] CHRIS: [music transition] Hello to everybody who grew up playing Kill the Man with the Ball. It’s Beautiful Anonymous. One hour. One phone call. No names, no holds barred.
[00:00:18] THEME MUSIC: I’d rather go one-on-one. I think it will be more fun. And I’ll get to know you and you’ll get to know me.
[00:00:28] CHRIS: [music transition] I just got off the phone. This is a layered one. I tell you, the logline would just be this is someone who’s goin’ through a tough breakup, but I’m not going to spoil the ways in which it’s more layered than that. Early in the call, I go, “wait, hold on. I need to just make sure I understand all the dynamics of this relationship.” And I think you’ll have a lot of fun listening to me kind of have to slow down and sort that all out. It’s, I tell you what, I’ll tell you what as well. You’ll see what I mean as the call unfolds. But this caller…this caller and I have a lot in common. And then also, we grew up in very different ways. And you’ll understand what I mean as the episode unfolds. But one thing I keep thinking about since we recorded this one is we have a conversation that I’m actually really proud of where we talk about the way I grew up, the traditional way I was raised, that people treated me because of who I am and who I identify as were different than this caller’s. And there’s a really…a stretch that I found so eye-opening and illuminating where the caller offers up their opinions on that. I just felt really good about it. Felt really good. Very cool to get to know this caller. Think about who they are. Think about how they grew up. Think about where they’re at in life now. And the caller was so honest and open. And I’m really I got to say, I’m proud of this one. I hope you enjoy it.
[00:02:00] PHONE ROBOT: Thank you for calling Beautiful Anonymous. A beeping noise will indicate when you are on the show with the host. [Beep]
[00:02:07] CALLER: Hello?
[00:02:08] CHRIS: Hello?
[00:02:10] CALLER: Hi, how are you?
[00:02:13] CHRIS: Good. How are you?
[00:02:14] CALLER: Holding in there sort of, I guess.
[00:02:17] CHRIS: Well, that’s good. That’s, that’s a good and fair answer.
[00:02:21] CALLER: Yeah. Oh, man, I feel nervous. Didn’t expect to feel nervous. I mean, you’re just a guy. I’m just a guy.
[00:02:30] CHRIS: Yeah. I don’t think there’s any need to feel nervous. So what’s up?
[00:02:34] CALLER: Oh boy, oh boy Chris. Let me tell you what’s up. I just recently broke up with my girlfriend of about two years, and we’re living together still. And I am almost gonna be homeless kind of maybe, because we were supposed to move into a condo that we were buying together. And now I can’t live there because she’s the one who cosigned on it with her mother. And also, there’s like the added element that I’m a trans guy and I’m struggling with this breakup because my version of masculinity kind of came into it in a couple of ways. My girlfriend doesn’t like how soft…or my ex-girlfriend I should say, doesn’t like how gentle of a man that I can be sometimes. And that I’m a very sensitive, sometimes sad guy. So you know, that’s what’s going on. And yeah, I don’t really know what to say about it.
[00:03:43] CHRIS: Well, as a fellow sensitive and sad guy, I’m with you at least on that.
[00:03:49] CALLER: Yeah. I mean, how did you like…how do you deal with that? You know, especially like as a cis gender man, I feel like the idea of being sensitive or even like having…I don’t want to say femininity. I always call it like a paternal kind of masculine. Like there are guys out there that are really bro-y. There are guys who are like brooding. And then I think of like the paternal masculine is like a sensitive kind of guy who wants to nurture people in the same way that we talk about women being nurturing people. And maybe I was just socialized that way. But I kind of, I want to know what your take on it is.
[00:04:36] CHRIS: Well, this seems like it’s about to be a fascinating conversation. Thank you for having it. Want to go ahead and say right out of the gate that I’m smart enough to know that I could easily say something wrong. And if I do, please yell at me. I’m way into that.
[00:04:59] CALLER: I’m not gonna yell.
[00:05:00] CHRIS: Or let me know.
[00:05:01] CALLER: I won’t yell, but I’ll come at you.
[00:05:03] CHRIS: Please do. Hold my feet to the fire. Let’s put it that way.
[00:05:05] CALLER: I’m a women’s studies major.
[00:05:07] CHRIS: You are?
[00:05:08] CALLER: Yeah, totally. I’m a women’s studies major, so I definitely have a lot of knowledge about that kind of stuff. And I’ll just give it to you in a very kind way.
[00:05:20] CHRIS: Please do.
[00:05:21] CALLER: Make it educational.
[00:05:22] CHRIS: What I don’t want to do ever with this show is not ask questions that come into my head and sit there, because I feel like that sometimes causes a lot of just a lot of negativity. And therefore, people have to make assumptions because they’re not having a dialogue and people feel separated. So I’d rather ask questions knowing that I might screw up, knowing that you’re here to steer me away from it so I won’t screw up again rather than just not ask the questions. So I just as you mentioned, as a cis guy, got to put that caveat out there, because it’s a sensitive world and there’s a lot of ways to mess up and landmines to walk into. OK. So being a sensitive, sad man, I am publicly one. You are one as well. You feel like it was something that caused a rift in this two-year relationship. And we’re going to discuss. So I mean, I guess my first reaction is…I guess I have two reactions, I guess I have two reactions. One about sort of the way the world is. And one, I guess both about that. But another one about like you said, being socialized. I wonder, so right out of the gate, one has to wonder, and I don’t know your ex. I don’t know the timing of your transition. One has to wonder if seeing sensitivity and sadness in you is something that’s related to…you might say transphobia or you might say towards confusion surrounding the situation in a way that’s not…
[00:07:05] CALLER: Yeah.
[00:07:05] CHRIS: …in a way that’s I think like, you know…
[00:07:06] CALLER: Well I should throw this in there though.
[00:07:09] CHRIS: Yeah, go for it.
[00:07:11] CALLER: She’s a transgender woman. Which I feel like I’m really just kind of positioning myself right now for anybody who listens to this that knows me, to know immediately that it’s me. Cause it’s like, oh, trans guy dating a trans woman who is a women’s studies major and is in this weird housing situation. I feel like anybody who knows me is going to know. But I didn’t want to really put that on the table for her. You know what I mean?
[00:07:38] CHRIS: Of course.
[00:07:39] CALLER: She doesn’t listen to this show. She hates podcasts, but she loves you, actually. She’s really into your comedy. So am I.
[00:07:46] CHRIS: Oh nice, thanks.
[00:07:47] CALLER: Yeah. You’re great. And she also was like in the DIY scene. Again, I’m trying to…I’m triangulating even more. But yes, so she’s a trans woman. And I feel like I, in this context need to mention that. And I think actually a big part of me being a very sensitive kind of guy, even if I’m not totally…like I’m not super feminine. I mean, I’ve actively moved away from that out of insecurity more than anything else. Not like for any disdain of it but more so I’m trying to conform and what we trans people call “pass”, you know, like passing for a cis gender man, which I don’t. But I think that that sensitivity made her feel like I was treating her like a boy sometimes because she tends to be less emotional than I do. So I think that, like, it wasn’t the intention. And neither of us meant to treat each other that way. But it was more so our own internalized transphobias coming out and thinking like you know, we’re not the people that we are because of how we interact with others. If that makes sense?
[00:09:02] CHRIS: Yeah, yeah.
[00:09:05] CALLER: I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to cut you off.
[00:09:07] CHRIS: No, not at all. Please do. Please do. So, just…because I feel like I’m following the track of this very clearly. Just so everybody listening because I feel like, I feel like this is becoming like a little bit of like a chess match where the board is moving a lot and there’s so much info to keep in mind. So the nature of this relationship was, and please do correct me on any terminology or any language I should be more socially conscious on. So when you were born, people labeled you as female based on societal standards and what they were seeing.
[00:09:47] CALLER: Yes. That’s what we call ‘assigned female at birth’. AFAB for short.
[00:09:50] CHRIS: You were assigned female at birth and along the way you realized that this was not how you felt and you transitioned towards what society would say, male. So you went, you transitioned from assigned female to chosen male. And your girlfriend went through the exact process, but in the opposite direction so to speak. You guys kind of passed each other on the highway going in opposite lanes.
[00:10:22] CALLER: Exactly, I like that metaphor for it, yeah.
[00:10:25] CHRIS: Now, had you both transitioned before you got together or did you transition during your relationship?
[00:10:31] CALLER: So she had begun transition maybe…I want to say four years before we met. It might have been like five, but she had been like – Because really, transitioning is a lifelong process of undoing all of the things that we’ve learned about ourselves like undoing all of the socialization of gender, because gender really is just a socialized process. And when you realize that you feel differently, it’s a whole lifetime thing of undoing. But she began transitioning probably five years before I met her, and I had only begun transitioning when I first met her. And actually, this is like a…this is a whole other depth to it also that…I’m sorry if I’m overwhelming you with all of this. We were polyamorous. And the way that I met her is because I was dating our ex-girlfriend like, she had been dating this girl first. Then I started dating her as well. We didn’t meet each other. Then we met and we were a throuple for a while. And we were all trans, by the way, a fully trans throuple, which sounds very 2020 except it was 2018. And then we broke up with our girlfriend and continued our relationship together. I feel like I should be like girlfriend number one and girlfriend number two, but…so it was a weird circumstance because I’d only just started transitioning and I had been identifying as non-binary for a couple of years. But then I was like, oh, wait, no, there’s more to this. It’s not just like feeling in between. It’s pretty polar for me. Like feeling fully like I should be a man.
[00:12:28] CHRIS: That’s a hell of a couple of years y’all had together.
[00:12:32] CALLER: Yeah, it really was.
[00:12:34] CHRIS: That’s a hell of a couple of years. Now, you mentioned that your ex maybe felt like some of the ways your sensitivity was coming out was maybe hanging on to some vestiges that reminded her of her past. I wonder if there’s any element of when you…what would I say? When you participate in a process that’s as intense as what I imagine transitioning is, is there any element of maybe you can take strength in each other for a certain amount of time? But maybe she can’t help but see a little bit of herself or her past or her process in you in a way that’s always going to kind of be there. You know what I mean?
[00:13:19] CALLER: Oh, absolutely. Yeah. I mean, it is like a pretty incredible thing to be in a romantic relationship or really just a close relationship with another trans person like that. And it is – especially for me at first it was very validating because I didn’t even come close to passing for a while. Like, you know, you hear my voice. It’s not that deep. And it only really after being on testosterone for like maybe nine months, like a pretty long time. That’s when my voice finally started dropping. So, like, I looked very feminine except for how I dressed and how I cut my hair. And I sounded very feminine. And then you’re you know, I’m walking around in the world having people misgender me all the time. So having somebody who really understands what that was like and also who’d already gone through it and came out the other side, and is still going through it in some ways, but like is recognized for who she is. That was a confirmation for me that I can do that, too. And she always made me sure, made me feel sure that like, yes, this is who I am. I am a man. Until those moments of really expressing emotions differently than each other came out because she doesn’t express emotions the same way that I do. We learned how to do it in totally different ways. And I’m not about to change how I express myself for the worse, you know? Like I’m not about to adopt like a toxically masculine way of expressing my emotions. I’m very open and forward about them. And very you know, I’m more of a crier than a yeller, I guess. And yeah so I don’t know. I don’t know exactly what I’m trying to say. But yes, you’re right.
[00:15:27] CHRIS: This is a very layered one. A very layered one. I just want to, I want to say something –
[00:15:34] CALLER: Yeah, I’m throwing a lot of things at you.
[00:15:36] CHRIS: Yeah, for sure. I like it. I just want to say one thing. I want to say one thing because I feel like…what would I say? When I was in…I’m turning 40 in a month. And I’m kind of in the exact age they call us X-ennials I think, where we straddle Generation X and millennials and now there’s young people that are another step on the ladder beyond millennials, they’re starting to come up. And I want to put out there like when I was in high school…to my knowledge, there were not any kids out of the closet in any sense of queerness, and there were people who you know based on behavior or personality, affectations you might say, ‘I wonder, you know, if this person is keeping this quiet’ and whatnot. And that was how my generation kind of came up because people had so much fear of of isolation. And I feel like your generation are the first ones to kind of be living as openly as it’s happening right now, certainly I would say with the trans community. And I just want to say it’s the sort of thing where when you don’t grow up aware of something, your initial reaction might be, well, I don’t I don’t get it. And I just want to say to anyone else who’s like my age and above, one of the things I’ve learned again and again in my life and I’ve been so lucky to meet so many people from so many different walks of life is one of the great lessons I’ve learned. And I may have, I think I may have said this on the show from time to time. Whether or not you get something doesn’t really matter when it comes to accepting. You don’t have to…you don’t have to understand the experience another person is living to empathize with the fact that the experience is happening.
[00:17:40] CALLER: Yes.
[00:17:41] CHRIS: And I just want to put that out there as we discuss all these things, because it’s like you said, there is so much to deal with with this one. And the first thing I want to say is for anybody out there going, ‘I just don’t understand the experience that he’s speaking of’. Well, that doesn’t mean that you can’t respect the fact that people are people. People are living more openly, that’s always a good thing. And I just want to make sure that’s out there. Both for my comfort, making sure I say it and also for your sense of safety and sharing.
[00:18:16] CALLER: Yeah, I really appreciate that. And I’m glad that you said it. And I agree with you. And I mean, I’ve seen that a lot. You know, like having a family who’s relatively supportive – which is incredible and I feel so fortunate for that – who grew up in a generation where they didn’t know trans people or the people that were trans were in the closet. And having them say, like, ‘I don’t get it. But I still love you and I still accept you’. And I think that it’s the kind of thing that if you’ve never been exposed to it and you don’t get it now, if you allow yourself to open up to that exposure, you will get it in time. It’s just a matter of communicating and sharing. And that’s what I love about this podcast, because there are so many people from so many walks of life that I don’t know anything about. And I get to see it just a little bit of an insight into it and understand what it means to be a person overall, a lot better just through that. And I think that’s something so important, like our ideas of reality. Your reality, my reality. It is so individual like each person’s constructing the way they see the world and the way they understand the world by themselves. And it’s the overlap when your reality starts to bleed into somebody else’s, that’s where the tensions are created. But that’s also the point where we learn and we change. And I think that this is kind of like that. This podcast is a little bit of a like dimension hopping sort of thing where you get to just peer into another person’s reality.
[00:20:09] CHRIS: [music transition] This podcast is a little bit of a dimension hopping sort of thing where you get to peer into another person’s reality? That’s a cool thing to hear. Sounds like a comic book or The Twilight Zone or an episode of Beautiful Anonymous. We’ll be right back.
[00:20:30] CHRIS: [music transition] All right, everybody, break’s over. Buckle up. Back to the conversation.
[00:20:37] CALLER: Dimension hopping sort of thing where you get to just peer into another person’s reality. Said that word too many times.
[00:20:44] CHRIS: I’d like to think so. I like it. I think we’re on the same page. I think we’re on the same page. Now one of the questions that came up early was you had asked me the difference in you being a sensitive, sad guy and me being a sensitive, sad guy and how I reconcile my own sensitivity and sadness. And I said, well, maybe there’s layers of transphobia involved with your’s. Quickly, that was dissuaded as you’ve been in a throuple with trans people. Clearly, this is not rooted in that. We explored maybe some of the associations. I also wonder…I had to kind of embrace my sensitivity and sadness in my you know, mid to late 20s. It was the first time I felt comfortable letting my guard down. Growing up in northern New Jersey in the ’80s, it wasn’t…my world wasn’t looking for sensitive, sad guys. But I wonder if the fact that I still grew up, like you said, socialized behaviors. I was playing tackle football with my friends. We would sometimes just beat the shit out of each other. There was a game called King of the Hill where you’d go to a hill and one guy would stand at the top of the hill and everybody else would charge up the hill. And the guy at the top of the hill would just try to beat the shit out of people so they fall back down the hill and then they’d all try to toss him down the hill so they could kill him. There was Kill the Man with the Ball where you’d throw a ball on the ground and then everybody would try to get the ball. And whoever got the ball, you would literally pound them with your fists and stomp on them and then try to get them to drop the ball so you could get it. So I wonder if the fact that –
[00:22:18] CALLER: What the fuck?
[00:22:19] CHRIS: Oh, yeah, that’s –
[00:22:20] CALLER: That’s so insane! I can’t fathom that.
[00:22:23] CHRIS: Yeah. Yeah. See that’s the side of my – [laughing] Some people look at the trans community and go, ‘I just don’t get it’. And then you’re looking at me going, ‘you punched each other in the face for fun?’ And it’s like, yeah, yeah. That’s what we did as a bunch of of kind of rowdy Irish-Catholic kids in the ’80s in my neighborhood. So I wonder, just based on your reaction there, if like, ‘whoa.’ Like, I wonder if my sensitivity and my sadness has the luxury of still standing on a foundation rooted in growing up with all of those sort of traditions of growing up, a ‘boy’. And if that doesn’t in some way invite some comfort to people. Whereas people’s latent discomfort might arise when they sense your sensitivity because it feels inherently rooted in a different life experience. Does that make sense?
[00:23:37] CALLER: Yeah.
[00:23:37] CHRIS: I think I just said some stuff that made sense, but I never know.
[00:23:39] CALLER: It definitely did. [laughing] No, you did because that actually…that’s what I talked about a lot with my ex because really like when you’re socialized as a cis man and I guess to the most extreme, you are taught to not express emotion and that the only acceptable emotion to express is anger. And like that’s what beating your friends up is as a form of camaraderie. It’s like finding the joy in anger, almost? Like finding something positive to it when it’s like really – I think that’s really fucked up, to be honest. [Chris laughing] But I’m also coming at it from the perspective, like I was a really sad girl for most of my life –
[00:24:30] CHRIS: Right.
[00:24:30] CALLER: – and what I did with my friends was sit and talk and just like complain and tell each other everything that we were feeling and cry. Which sounds really…that sounds over the top and it sounds like such a caricature of what feminine friendships are like. Like, of course we you know, we fucked around sometimes and – sorry Sally – but we had fun, you know, and the difference is that like I think the way that playing with people, like joking around with people when you’re socialized as a girl versus a boy, it’s that when you’re socialized to be a boy, it’s more constant. It’s this kind of like barrage of always making fun of each other and always hurting each other to to be like, ‘you’re my friend’, you know? It’s like bullying your friends to express that you’re friends. And then girls bully each other to bully each other. And it doesn’t feel good. There’s no reward to it. So that was an issue I was having with my girlfriend because I was really I mean, I also, like have a history of emotional abuse as a child. So like that kind of comes out as a trauma for me. And when somebody is like being mean to me and you know, saying things that hurt my feelings even if it is a joke, I still have a pretty visceral reaction to that. So my girlfriend was like, you never learned how to roughhouse. You never learned how to play like that. And I was like, ‘yeah, no, I didn’t.’ And you can’t fault me for that. I never fucking – oh I keep cursing, I’m sorry.
[00:26:20] CHRIS: Who cares?
[00:26:20] CALLER: But I never learned how to do that.
[00:26:22] CHRIS: Don’t worry about cursing, it’s fine. I hear you, though. Like guys…when boys get to high school and college, we’ve all seen it like we will literally punch each other in the genitals as a joke, and that’s bonding. You will literally – every guy listening right now who grew up cis like me, I should be clear. Everybody who’s walked my life experience knows like, ‘oh, yeah. Around when you’re 15 or 16, sneak up on your buddy, punch him in the nuts.’ And it’s like that is a very different thing. Whereas like you said, when bullying would happen in the experience you grew up with, that actually represented the breakdown of camaraderie. What a layered thing to then wind up in a trans throuple where everyone has had to sort of sort out where they land within the context of gender while also reconciling that their past experiences as we’re discovering right now, might not have included a lot of things…right? Because the earlier someone transitions, the more of those things they’re going to, right? That’s just sense of time. I would think.
[00:27:40] CALLER: Yeah, totally. And that’s why I think it’s really difficult to be trans growing up when I did. And growing up, you know, the people who came before me who transitioned later in life because you see a lot of people who are in middle school who are transitioning now and that’s incredible. And I’m very happy for them. And they actually get to have the childhood. Like the childhood of being the gender that they are instead of like who they’re forced to be. And I feel like that is a part of being trans, that there is like when you transition a little bit later – I mean, I started transitioning when I was 21 and I’m 23 now – that you kind of are grasping for that childhood, that version of it that you didn’t necessarily have. And like I don’t necessarily want to be a part of the constant hazing ritual that is male friendship. But it also doesn’t have to be that. Like people learn later on that it doesn’t have to be that sort of thing.
[00:28:55] CHRIS: Yeah, I think you’re right. I think you’re right.
[00:28:58] CALLER: Yeah. But it takes so long and it is another process of undoing and learning how to be…how to express gentleness with your friends who are also men. It takes a lot of time. And I think it really is situational. You see people who don’t ever come back from that. Who that’s their whole lives.
[00:29:22] CHRIS: It’s such – this is, I have to tell you, a very, very interesting conversation for me. And I thank you for having. I really do. Because, you know, one thing that we’re sort of saying right here is like traditionally, at least in American society, for better or for worse, guys are taught: be tough, swallow your shit, know how to take a punch, know how to land a punch, like all that stuff. And people who, you know, born female, assigned female are taught it’s much more OK to be in touch with your emotions, it’s OK to like write in a diary and cry about stuff that you’re feeling and open up to your your parents more. And it’s just so wild to realize that for a guy like me, I can go on stage and go, ‘I grew up in North Jersey. I used to get fucked up in college. I used to go on these drunken rampages. This and that. And here’s the people I grew up with. And now I’m gonna share about how I actually was feeling so sad and how I’m nervous about telling you that now. But I feel like there’s some importance of being open about the fact that I am sensitive…’ People look at me and go, well, man, that’s so brave. Whereas you grew up in the situation where sensitivity was encouraged and expected. And now you’ve transitioned to being a man and people look at your sensitivity and go – And this is something. Fuck, I’m gonna say something that might sting. It’s something that’s and I’m saying it because it – Well I’m saying it because it’s shitty because you are bringing to the table a sensitivity that other men fight to get to when they grow up. And that I fought to get to. But with you, people will inherently go, ‘well does that mean there’s still some femininity in there that you’re not accepting of?’ And it’s a very…what a weird thing to realize. We wind up in the same place, but the life experience I had people tell me I’m brave for being sensitive. The life experience you’ve had people call into question the validity of how you see yourself. It’s really, really strange.
[00:31:42] CALLER: Yeah, my identity is – I feel like for myself and for a lot of trans people, I shouldn’t you know, I can’t speak for everybody because it is such an individualized experience. But I feel as though my identity is constantly on trial in a lot of ways that this judgment is being passed. And if you make the wrong step in any context, your validity as a person, your validity in your identity is just taken away and it’s chipped away at and it makes you question yourself. But I have to take comfort in who I am and like accept who I am and stop feeling alienated from myself in order to just survive. Like, in order to function, because if I don’t, I’ll be in a hole about it. But like I truly believe that strength is vulnerability. Like, if you’re going to have real strength, it is vulnerability. And that a lot of women, a lot of people who are socialized AFAB I should say. And you see, I do it, too. And I’m going to offend my own community. But it’s hard to undo that in a lot of ways. But they almost have a little bit of an advantage when it comes to being strong. It’s just how we deal with emotions that I think makes people feel weakness. And I think that maybe the inability to feel vulnerable, the inability to share in that way is probably what creates a lot of toxic masculinity and a lot of insecurity in men because they can’t express the feelings that they have and the insecurities that they have in a way that they can get over them. Instead, it turns into like, ‘suck it up, be a man you know, and grow a pair’, that kind of shit. And it doesn’t help anybody. So I think that you actually like bravery is…bravery is a loaded word in a lot of ways. I think that really, if you feel brave than you are and other people can’t assign that to you, you know, it’s like you have to accept whether or not you are brave and in a lot of ways, when somebody says that you’re brave, they are victimizing you I feel personally. Because it means that you had to overcome something when like maybe you didn’t feel that way. Maybe you just came to a realization on your own and you developed this yourself and it wasn’t something that victimized you. It’s something that you grew from. So I would say that like for lack of a better word, it is brave to be vulnerable like that, especially on stage and also not buffering it with comedy in full. Like I only was very recently turned on to your comedy and the work that you’ve done by my ex actually, and she was like, ‘I think you’ll really like him because he sounds a lot like you and he has a lot of ideas that you have and he also loves the Smiths. Like the sad boy you are’. [Chris and caller laughing] So I listened to Career Suicide and I was just like, damn this resonates with me so much because it’s a different version of what I feel that I’m doing right now. And I mean, you talk a lot about being in your 20’s in that time and like grappling with mental illness and grappling with like learning how to express your emotions in a healthy way and how to manage yourself in a healthy way during that time and making missteps. And I think that like right now is almost a culmination of that for me, but just different because the insecurity and the feelings of weakness are coming from a denial of my true self and a denial of like the kind of person I want to be versus the kind of person I think I have to be, because you know, social pressure or whatever. If that makes sense.
[00:36:24] CHRIS: Yeah. Well, and like you said, you constantly feel on trial like you have to prove it. And the thing that breaks my heart about that most of all is looping back around to the who gives a shit theory of life in the sense of…if someone sees your sensitivity and goes, ‘well, see, this is proof that you’re not this or that’ in that person’s mind…it’s like who cares? Who cares? Who cares? Like, what does it – as I get older, I am increasingly baffled by why other people feel it necessary to look at other people’s choices, lifestyle circumstances, and react emotionally as if it affects them in any way. Because it doesn’t, it doesn’t. Anybody sitting around being transphobic, it’s like – [Caller inaudible] What’s that?
[00:37:40] CALLER: I said it doesn’t at all. I agree.
[00:37:42] CHRIS: It’s like I have to imagine that like – and it’s in all areas. It’s not just in your area. Like when people go you know, whether it’s driven by religion, by race, by gender, all of it. And I don’t know, maybe I sound like a Hallmark card right now, but it’s like what does anyone else’s lifestyle or anyone else’s background actually affect you? When you get these people who sit behind closed doors and, you know, you hear about, people tell you, ‘I grew up in a family where man, people would say racist stuff all the time.’ And it’s like, well, what did that get anybody? What did it get? What did it get those people? I don’t understand what it gets people to make comments. I got a high school friend. And every time we get together, I just – I only see him every couple years. But I just feel like he’s been talking that way since we were 14. He hasn’t grown up. There’s words that used to come out of our mouths in high school, you’d see them in movies. The number of times the word ‘fag’ was said as a punch line in movies I grew up with, you watch them now and you’re like, oh my God, this didn’t even, we didn’t even hear it for what it was. We didn’t even hear that word after a certain point. And I got this one high school friend who still drops things like that about race and sexuality. And it’s like, dude evolve with the times. You clearly make a point of not being around anyone different than you. And the fact that you have these comments to make about people different from you just shows that you are – there is no world in which anybody’s lifestyle is affecting you. You make a point of shutting out other people’s lifestyles. And yet you have the most aggressive shit to say about other people’s lifestyles than anyone I’ve met. Anyone else I know. It’s maddening, it’s maddening. It’s like if you don’t want to be a citizen of a larger world, that is your choice but you probably just need to kind of shut the fuck up about people out there in the larger world because you’re making a point of not knowing them. So be okay with your own ignorance. And stop spreading it.
[00:40:07] CALLER: Yeah, I mean, I guess it’s like exposing one’s own ignorance in order to feel…correct in a way? Like if…I feel like your friend and I also have a lot of friends like that from high school and stuff that I don’t really talk to anymore, because I I moved away and I just kind of like have a habit of cutting ties without even knowing. But people who really did say a lot of messed up things and I’m not going to deny it like I did too when I was in middle school and stuff, like I used language that is really violent, to be honest. Like it is hate speech overall. And then I learned and I moved on and I learned how to be a better person for it because I accepted my ignorance and didn’t think that I was smarter than other people or that like, my truth is the only truth. I think that’s like…maybe not the core of the issue, but definitely a part of it. That like these people who have these ideas that are any kind of -ist, whether it be like racist, sexist, xenophobic, homophobic, when they have those ideas and they believe them to be true, when they’re confronted with another person’s truth, when they’re confronted with just a different version of it, they feel like stupid or something. They feel ashamed maybe. I don’t know if they feel shame. Maybe they’re too wrapped up in themselves to even feel that shame. But there’s still something there that’s causing them to be resistant.
[00:41:54] CHRIS: Yeah.
[00:41:55] CALLER: And that resistance is terrible. It’s dangerous.
[00:42:02] CHRIS: [music transition] We’re goin’ deep philosophical when we get back. We’re also going to hear about you know, some gossipy details on the breakup. We’ll be right back.
[00:42:21] CHRIS: [music transition] Alright, everybody. Thanks for sticking with us. Let’s finish this one off.
[00:42:27] CALLER: But there’s still something there that’s causing them to be resistant.
[00:42:32] CHRIS: Yeah.
[00:42:33] CALLER: And that resistance is terrible. It’s dangerous.
[00:42:39] CHRIS: Yeah, it’s hanging on to something that…it makes no difference in your life to let go of it. So why hang onto it? It festers. It’s I tell you something, too. I’ve seen people you know, I’ve seen feedback on my comedy where people go, ‘I used to like you, man, but you’ve turned into a real social justice warrior. You turned real snowflake’. And I’m like, no, here’s what actually happened. Here’s what actually happened in the course of my career, is when I was doing my public access show, you know, I started to meet more and more people because we were bringing in musicians, we were bringing people who weren’t from the comedy world. It was attracting a fan base that really, I think I always like felt like an underdog and wore that on my sleeve. And it attracted a lot of other underdogs and they weren’t like me. And there’s two things I’ll point out, two things I’ll point out that I think are very illustrative of exactly what we’re talking about now, which is one: the music bookers on our show. There were three of them. Two of them helped run this feminist collective that would put on punk shows, making a point that every band had you know, female front person or female identifying front person or female transition front person, however you want to phrase it. And it’s the type of thing that I’m like, ‘oh man, music is music just go to shows and enjoy them’. But then I take a step back and I go, wait they’re in the music world feeling like they need to create a thing so then they and people like them have more opportunities. And then I go, well, let me look at my experience in the comedy world. Because if I look at the theater where I came up, which I loved and have a lot of love for, I started there in 2000. Every single improv team there had eight people on it. And generally that meant one girl, maybe two. And I could…and then I think I go, okay. There were two different teams I can think of in my years there that were all male and I don’t know that that’s a problem, but the problem is that the idea that there would have been an all female team, which would have been viewed as ludicrous back then, would have been viewed as ludicrous. There weren’t enough females around. But why are they not around? Maybe because they’re seeing that there’s one girl on every team and it’s eight times more competitive for them to get stage time. So why bother? Similarly, one of the people who I got to know through the show when they became a member of the community surrounding it, not working on it. When they started coming to the show, I don’t want to put any words in their mouth, but I would guess at that point that they probably identified as a queer female. And at this point they identify as male and have been on hormones for years and really present as male. And I had to grow up and I had to get in touch with my integrity and my values, because again, once you meet people who are actually living a certain life, you immediately realize it’s not outlandish to feel the way you feel. It’s not…cartoonish or something to roll your eyes at. People are just living and struggling and trying to be who they are and you actually meet people, you go, oh, I think I got to change the way I talk. I think I’ve got to change the way I think because this is a nice, chill human being and I want to hang out with them and I want them to feel comfortable. So I better just start learning. I better shut up and learn because that’s just kind of the way to treat other people.
[00:46:22] CALLER: Yeah.
[00:46:23] CHRIS: So it’s not…I don’t think I turned into a snowflake. All these people are like, ‘he turned into a snowflake’. I’m like, well, fuck you. I just listen. I just try to listen to people. Shut up. Anyway, I went on a big rant. I’m over talking in this episode. I’m talking too much. Let’s talk about this break up.
[00:46:39] CALLER: Well it’s an exchange, we’re both talking!
[00:46:42] CHRIS: Yeah. I’m steamrolling.
[00:46:45] CALLER: I want to hear what you have to say.
[00:46:46] CHRIS: Listen though, these pandemic shows, I’m not talking to humans in my life in general so I’m steamrolling the episodes a little bit more. I know. Please don’t yell at me about it in the Facebook group. I’m working on it. I want to talk breakup. We got 15 minutes left.
[00:47:01] CALLER: OK.
[00:47:02] CHRIS: Is this a pandemic breakup?
[00:47:03] CALLER: Oh damn this went fast!
[00:47:04] CHRIS: I know because it’s been fascinating. Is this a quarantine break up?
[00:47:10] CALLER: Yeah, kind of. I think it was…it was a long time coming. Like we…it’s hard to say. I mean, I kind of at first felt that I was the victim in it. When after thinking about it more and like looking at, you know, who I’ve been, where I’ve been in this whole thing, like I realized that I played my part, too. But we were kind of on a downward spiral for several months. And my girlfriend was starting to distance herself from me more and more. And I just was confused by it. And then I kind of became like clingier in a way, because I just wanted attention. You know, I just wanted attention, love. And I wasn’t getting it. And by not like providing that space and being so needy sometimes, it created even more tension. So then when this all happened, I lost my job pretty quickly. My last day of work was like April 15th. And she was still working. So I was just like at home all the time feeling lost and scared and frightened and also very lonely because she wasn’t around and she was spending all her time with her friends. And it kind of grew to this boiling point one night where I just got really fed up. And she came home for a second and told me that she was doing an impromptu trip to somewhere that is like almost three hours away just because. And I lost it for a second. And I was like, ‘you have been avoiding me. You’ve been neglecting me. And I feel completely abandoned by you. And if you don’t talk to me and tell me what’s going on, we have to break up’. And then like the next day, she came back and she was like, ‘I think it’s a good idea to break up’. And I was convinced for a while that she knew that she wanted to break up with me for much longer and didn’t tell me. And I was really pissed off because we were gonna be living in this place together. And had she told me earlier, I would have been prepared and I wouldn’t be scrambling to get a house when like now my lease is up on May 1st and I have to find a new place to live. And I’ve been trying, but people aren’t showing houses right now. [laughing] We’re in a pandemic like they’re not going to do that.
[00:49:42] CHRIS: Yeah.
[00:49:44] CALLER: So yeah, but then, you know, I thought about it more and I was like, you know, the whole analogy about like you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink. Like you can ask somebody what their feelings are, but you can’t push them. And I was kind of doing that because I was just so desperate for communication and for an answer. And to understand what was going on, because I didn’t because she expresses her emotions so differently than me. And she told me that she didn’t want to bring it up for such a long time, really, until I brought it up, because I was so frustrated. And the reasoning was because she was afraid of how I was going to react because…I am more emotional than she is at times, and I do get upset more easily. But really that, I mean, she recognizes that that wasn’t the right move. And like, you know, you can’t just withhold information from a person for the sake of you being afraid of the consequences. I think it would have been healthier had we had more time. But we’re also like breaking up in therapy together. Like, I was like, ‘do you want to come and see my therapist together’ when we still thought we were gonna make it work out. But now we’ve just been doing therapy to like make it amicable and to understand like where it went wrong and why we both have relationship patterns that are not healthy for us and why we seek out people who we know can’t live up to the things that we want or even the things that we like. And it’s been a process and definitely was like pandemic boiling point kind of situation. But I’m really fortunate that we’re still on good terms, even if we do get into like fights about it. We’re able to bounce back and still be around each other and also give each other more space than we have in two years because we basically started living together immediately. She moved up to where I live and didn’t have a place to stay and we were barely even dating at the point. And I was like, ‘oh, you can stay with me’. And then it just kind of…it just kind of kept happening even after she found a place, she was staying at my house like all the time. And then both of us had to move. We had nobody to move in with. We had nowhere to live. So we were like, I guess we’re going to live together. And I think that’s what killed our relationship, to be honest. It just moved way too fast and we didn’t have enough time to really get to know the…I guess the way that we both work in relationships and the inner mechanisms of how we interact with other people in order to like better understand that in order to be better with each other. But we didn’t have that time and we expected it. We expected…what am I trying to say? Like each of us expected the other to just know what they need and know what they want. Because we were plunged in so fast that it felt like we were together for much longer than we were, but really I think that I’m only just learning what she needs and what she wants and she’s only just learning that about me. We both assumed but we didn’t actually know. I’m sorry. That was very, very rambly. But that’s the situation.
[00:53:24] CHRIS: No, it’s all good. I feel like the pandemic…don’t you feel like there’s a lot of relationships right now that, no matter how they were destined to end, it’s just everyone is going to accelerate and just skip to that end point because you’re holed up together. Like, ‘oh this relationship would have lasted another 13 months but I guess we just found out right now how that was going to go’. I feel like that has to be happening everywhere right now. And now you’re still living together for the time being?
[00:53:56] CALLER: Yeah, it’s constant. Yes. It’s stressing me out, to be honest. And like, I think the worst part is the memories that the space holds. Like our current apartment. The memories that are there. It’s like, I mean this might sound kind of like new age-y, but I really think that the energy that you bring to a place, it stays there. It’s like all of the bad moments, all the negative energy, like it’s in the walls. And it just kind of gets to you because you can’t run away from it. Especially right now, like I have nowhere else to be. And I think that it’s true. Like these relationships that people are in or are doomed to fail or people like are realizing way more quickly that they don’t actually like the person that they’re with because they don’t have any distractions from them. And that’s scary. But there’s also the flip side with like people who maybe just started dating before the pandemic and now they’re spending all of their time together and are kind of just like… essentially married all of a sudden. [laughing]
[00:55:13] CHRIS: It’s, when you said like the space itself holds all these memories. You just reminded me of one of the like, movie moments of my life. I just remembered it. You want to hear it?
[00:55:29] CALLER: Yeah, tell me about it.
[00:55:30] CHRIS: So I’d been in this relationship off and on, but for the bulk of eight years. So this is someone you think about marriage with, kids with. And then it was over. I just realized it needed to be over. And it was sad. And I was dating a girl after that, a woman after that, a very accomplished woman. Should not call her a girl. And she had just gotten out of a very long relationship as well. And we were together only a month or two. There was one night where she came over my house and she stayed with me. And then we broke up about I’d say like six or seven weeks after that. And in the conversation where we broke up, one of the very last things she said to me was, ‘get a new bed. You’ve got to get a new bed. That’s the bed you slept in with her. Go get a new bed. It’ll help you out’. And I was like, ‘whoaaaa!’ [laughing] You might as well have just taken a baseball bat and hit me in the head with it. She just goes, ‘get a new bed -‘.
[00:56:39] CALLER: Wow.
[00:56:40] CHRIS: – ‘That’s the bed you had with her. It’ll really help you if you have a new bed’. I was like ooohh that tells me everything about why –
[00:56:46] CALLER: I think she’s right.
[00:56:47] CHRIS: Yeah, big time right. And also, like, ooohh, that just exposed how dating me in this stretch was of like the lingering feelings. Oh, oh!
[00:57:00] CALLER: Oh, no. Wonder what she has to say about you now.
[00:57:03] CHRIS: Oh, we text sometimes. She’s great. We are both married. We’re both married with kids.
[00:57:06] CALLER: Oh, that’s good. I’m glad you’re still friends.
[00:57:09] CHRIS: Yeah, she’s super cool. She’s super cool. We went on our first date… she saw me in a show and asked me out. And then we went on our first date and we made out. And then I Googled her finally. And I was like, I’m not going to say what she did. But I was like, this is an extraordinarily accomplished person in her field. What the fuck is she doing dating me, let alone me in 2010? I did not have my shit together. I was sleeping in a room with no closet, my clothes all over the floor. I’m retroactively humiliated she ever saw how I lived. And then she lived in this amazing fuckin’ loft in Brooklyn. It was wild. Anyway…yet another tangent.
[00:57:48] CALLER: She saw your intrinsic value.
[00:57:50] CHRIS: Yeah. Maybe, maybe.
[00:57:51] CALLER: She saw like, you know, what was there. Don’t discredit yourself.
[00:57:55] CHRIS: Listen, I’m lucky I’m funny, okay? When it came to dating, long stretches where I just assumed I’d die alone. Long stretches of feeling very bad about my physical appearance. And then I realized, God bless the people I’ve dated. Turns out when you’re funny, it goes a long way. Thank God. And I’m not as funny as I used to be, so thank God I’m married.
[00:58:19] CALLER: I don’t know why you’d say that. I mean, maybe…like this podcast, I know you made it with the intention to be funny at first, but I think that there’s something to be said for what you’re doing still. And also that you can like, when you’re having these deep talks, make people laugh still. That’s great!
[00:58:38] CHRIS: Yeah, but look. I’m older. Can’t be as funny when you’re 40 as you were when you were 25. It’s just math. Anyway, what do you think is next? I know this is a period where you have a lot of uncertain feelings. Where do you hope things land when you’re on the other side of the current rockiness of being mid breakup, still living together? Where do you see this going? Also, are you still sleeping in the same bed? Since I brought up the bed story. Are you still sleeping in the same bed?
[00:59:09] CALLER: Yeah.
[00:59:09] CHRIS: Come on!
[00:59:11] CALLER: Yeah. It’s rough. I mean, my couch is so uncomfortable. [laughing] I don’t want to sleep on it. But it’s only rough at like a certain moment in the night, you know? I usually tend to go to bed…like we go to bed at different times. So it’s not like we’re both getting in there at the same time and then just like staring at our phones and lying awake. It’s usually like she’s already asleep and then I’m about to go to sleep. But it’s that kind of certain moment either if you wake up in the middle of the night or right when you first wake up in the morning, that you kind of forget that everything happened and you just want to reach out and touch them, but you can’t, because that’s not how it works anymore. That’s really the hardest part. But I’m excited to get a new bed. [laughing] That’s what I want after this. I want a new bed. I would love to live alone. Can’t really afford it, though. So I’m probably going to live with friends. But I think that what I’m looking for moving on from this is shutting the door on this whole chapter of my life that has been like me in college. I’m supposed to be graduating in May. I’m supposed to get my diploma rather, because graduation’s not actually happening. But I just want to get over this last part of college. I want to get a better job once I can and really be my own person for the first time in a really long time. I didn’t mention this before, but I haven’t been single since I was 16 years old. I was in a five year relationship that overlapped with me dating my first girlfriend when we became polyamorous. And then when that five year relationship ended, that’s like right after I started dating my latest ex. So really, I think that it’s time for me to spend time by myself and learn how to be compassionate to myself and how to accept that I have a body that I’m not just a consciousness away from, that I live in a body and I’m real and tangible. It’s a lot of stuff. It’s getting a little bit existential. But that’s my goal. Get a new bed and then the rest.
[01:01:46] CHRIS: Having a stretch where you’re single can be scary and lonely, but also kind of necessary. Take it from a crusty 40-year-old dude.
[01:02:00] CALLER: [laughing] I will take that advice in stride. I want to make it to being crusty and 40 and who knows? The end of the world is coming. But I would love to be where you are. It’s a goal.
[01:02:13] CHRIS: Hiding in the mountains from a disease? Hiding in the mountains from a disease. That’s where I am.
[01:02:21] CALLER: Are you going to expose what mountains?
[01:02:24] CHRIS: No, no, no. I’ll keep that quiet so as to keep the marauders away.
[01:02:30] CALLER: Like Jersey or New York? You can say that.
[01:02:32] CHRIS: Listen, listen. I’m biting my tongue. I’m biting my tongue. Hey, I’m sorry –
[01:02:36] CALLER: No, I’m not gonna…I won’t press.
[01:02:38] CHRIS: I’m sorry to tell you our time is up. But this was a wonderful conversation to have. Thank you for letting me bumble around the sensitive parts. Thank you for letting me know the reality of how you’re living. And I’m sorry about the breakup.
[01:02:56] CALLER: It’s OK. I’ll get over it. Thank you so much for talking to me. I really enjoyed this. I’m glad that I got to have this moment. Brightened up my shitty month a little bit more.
[01:03:09] CHRIS: Good. Get your own bed.
[01:03:12] CALLER: I will.
[01:03:18] CHRIS: [music transition] Caller, thank you for everything. Thanks for the philosophy. Thanks for the conversation. I felt like we started going back and forth in a way that is rare as far as thinking of all these different ethos questions and integrity questions. It was fun. Fun to talk to you. Sorry about the breakup. Get a new bed. Like I said, thank you for calling. Thanks everybody for listening. Thank you to Jared O’Connell. Happy birthday, by the way. I don’t know when this thing will come out but we’re recording it close to your birthday. Anita Flores, thank you. Shellshag, thank you. Rate, review, subscribe on Apple podcasts. If you want the whole back catalog, not just the most recent couple of months, Stitcher Premium is where you can find them. Stitcherpremium.com/stories. The whole Beautiful Anonymous back catalog. Thanks for listening, everybody.
[NEXT EPISODE PREVIEW]
[01:04:17] CHRIS: Next time on Beautiful Anonymous, a native Alaskan tells us about what it’s like to eat seal meat and so much more.
[01:04:28] CALLER: I always tell a story. I was walking along the beach on what’s called the old site because they moved some of the houses back to the new site, which is further away from the shore. And my grandpa was like, ‘look!’ And I looked out and there was a whale that was like breeching and just splashed on to the bay there. And it was incredibly beautiful. And you’re so close with nature. The ocean is right there. The problem with the ocean being right there, though, is that when the storms hit, the houses that were on that old site, the surf comes all the way up to those houses because that erosion, they’ve had to move a lot of the houses.
[01:05:10] CHRIS: That’s next time on Beautiful Anonymous.
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February 27, 2023
EP. 360 — School Bus Mafia (Live from Phoenix)
What could a bunch of 10-year-olds do to make a bus aide quit after 20 minutes on the job? A teacher describes what happened when he was running his family’s school bus company and an aide ditched the kids in Times Square.