I once passed a story about a woman admirer on to Jake Hale.   Jake, a brilliant FTM philosophy professor, was surprised.

“This is exactly the same story as my last relationship,” he told me.  Jake was surprised because we come from what might be seen as very different places, he being a tranny fag FTM and me being a transfemme. 

What was common in our stories, though, was the admirer.  They were both women who knew what they wanted, how to top from the bottom, and, as Carol Queen has noted, do one of the most common things in relationships: try to turn our partner into our own top, the top that doesn’t challenge us but does what we want to do.

I had a mistress who told me she asked her paying subs if they wanted an orgasm.  She knew that only the ones who said “whatever you wish” had any real understanding of submission.  The rest just wanted to push the responsibility for their own queer heat onto her.  Pushy Bottoms.

People rarely come with open eyes, minds and hearts to a relationship.  More often they project canned desires onto others, or sometimes just want to consume someone and move on.

I had become a new person;
and those who knew the old person laughed at me.
The only men who behaved sensibly was my tailor:
he took my measure anew every time he saw me,
whilst all the rest went in with their old measurements
and expected them to fit me.
    George Bernard Shaw, “Man and Superman” 

How do we believe we are desirable when desire is locked into a pattern? 

I know, I have experienced, that when people have to tell me how ugly I am, how really ugly I am, that they are not rejecting me, they are rejecting their desire for me. 

To flirt is to risk, and to know that all most people see is the surfaces they want to see, whatever that means, changes risk into danger.

Elegant, Eloquent and Sad

Ms. Rachelle has struck again:

Your blog was elegant, eloquent, and sad,
a true representation of the artist. 

I know, full well, that there are people who have it much, much, much worse than I do.  And I know that fact is what many people would use as a basis to tell me that life is hard, I am luck and I should damn well suck it up.  They would tell me not to be a whiner, to “just do it,”  to get on with it, to shut up and stop whining.

Of course, that was the path of my life, this whole “get over it and move on stuff.”   I looked around to see how others did it, and found that people use what the psychs call “latent inhibition,” the sloughing off of what is too much — inputs, thoughts, feelings, facts, memories, sensations, whatever.   The assaults of everyday life (and this fast & mechanized society has brought growth by extending the number & intensity of daily assaults we endure) are just gone, never getting through the armor or just being forgotten, left behind.

Some of us, though, well, we have a mind like hot gum on a symmer sidewalk: things just stick to it.  And when healers tell us that the new only comes when we let go of the old, we know that seeing patterns, which can only happen by connecting dots, and that means keeping the dots around, know that seeing patterns is the joy in the world.  The clutter isn’t clutter, it’s a storehouse for possibilities.

I recently met someone I worked with 20 years ago in 1985.  I started off into a story, and then stopped to assure her that this would be relevant to our conversation.

“Ah, with you there is always, always a connnection,” she said with a smile.

How can you make art unless the experience of your life is present and remains present? How do you see clearly what is there, rather than letting it slide away, and how do you see where the patterns are, the points where the universe, or at least the little universe you live in, connects?

I have long been told that in communication one has the obligation to make their own views clear and comprehensible to others.  This has been the quest of my last decades, to find language which expresses my worldview as clearly, as elegantly and as eloquently as I possibly can, so people will understand how I see, so people will understand me.

And it turns out that quest leads me to. . . sad.


My Best Present

My best present this holiday — well, besides the cool new MicroPlane Zester — is from someone who here goes under the cover of “Ms. Rachelle.”

If I think of what I want for you what comes to mind is a line from a prayer found in the Reconstructionist Jewish prayerbook.  The traditional poem is one of asking for God’s blessings for the world, and of course, God’s four letter name in Hebrew usually receives the euphemistic translation Lord.  In this book they come up with terms, such as Infinite, Eternal, Parent, that match the setting.  In the particular prayer the requests are for others, but then the person speaks to God on her own behalf.  So the line is addressed to God, but I’m addressing it to you:

And as for me, Gentle One, my prayer is for You, that it be for You a time of desire.

This is the magic I seek for you, that desire return to you, the desire for magic, the desire for life, the desire to be free.  The Romans celebrated Saturnalia at this time, which featured a leveling, a time in which the slaves are free.  In the Mithras mystery religion of Rome, the sun is reborn, triumphant, on Dec. 25, just after Saturnalia.  Sol Invictas! they cried, in joy and celebration.

And as for me, Gentle One, my prayer is for You, that it be for You a time of desire.

Bono Saturnalia,

“Ms Rachelle”

The best present I think I give to people is the gift of seeing and encouraging them.   To be understood and valued is what most people really want, and I am no exception.  One of the last lines in Kate Bornstein’s groundbreaking “Gender Outlaw” (Routledge, 1994) take from the fact that in the TV fiction she loves, trannys are discovered, and she goes on to express one of her most tender wishes, one of her her most plaintive pleas: “Discover me.”

And that is the gift I feel so often denied.  I know most people see me as too smart, too fast, too visionary, too weird (heck, even Kate has called me the queerest person she knows), and that means I’m too challenging.  “People read you and wonder how someone with a voice like yours could ever need emotional support and caring, ever use what I have to give?” an old friend said, echoing the standard response of my youth: “Well, if you are smart enough to see and describe the challenges, even your emotional needs, then you are smart enough to fix them.”

But Ms. Rachelle, well, she knows that I have done the work of moving past desire, which may have left me clear-headed but which also has left me clear-hearted.  There isn’t anything there to repair the damage, anything there to be tender and healing, anything there to nurture the flame. 

My mother got a brochure from Omega Insitute on a weekend conference they are running in Manhattan called “Becoming Fearless.” She wondered if my sister or I would like to go.  I laughed at this, because they don’t want me fearless, they want me normative, back on the grid and quiet. 

It’s not fear that holds me down, it’s pain.  I have been fearless for way too long, as evidenced by that fifth grade incidident where I challenged the teacher’s assertion even as the whole class voted against me, ignoring the fear of social stigma that controls most people.  But too many decades of that fight leaves you pretty well toothless (lit.) and the pain just keeps you from going out to get hit again.  The last time I was coerced into one of these newage helpshops I ended up telling Ms. Rachelle that I shouldn’t go because my resources were so thin that one more big hit would crippple me more, take me down, and that agrument she agreed with.  But I went and got hit and hurt again.  The price of having other people’s expectations placed on me, even expectations made with a good heart, just seems too much to bear without any tenderness for healing my battered heart.

I have never thought that I am unlovable.  I know my mother in the sky loves me very, very much, and that I have worked hard to become clear and loving in my own life. 

I just know that I am undesirable, one of those undesirables that society tries to sweep to the edges.  I bristle too much, illuminate too much, challenge too much.

And that’s why Ms Rachelle’s gift of the prayer that desire comes to me is so moving and potent.  The spirit may need only heart and mind, but the body needs desire, both coming and going, both to desire and, maybe more, to be desired.  I have never really been able to twist the power my mother in the sky gave me down into a package pretty enough it meets the limits of desire, and now I know that my own broken and crippled life isn’t something anyone healthy really wants to enter.  It’s not like I ever really had desire and lost it, it’s like I knew that wasn’t for me.

But Ms. Rachelle wants me to know that it is for me, and that moves me, in ways that I can barely speak.

But can I see any way that I can invoke the energy of desire in my life in a way that it will return to me as healing energy?   No, I think.  That just seems all too much.

But to you, dear reader, Happy Saturnalia to you.  May your desire for intimacy — desire for the heat of another,  desire for loving the world,  desire for clear vision & thought, and desire for a spiritual connection with the creator — be full and lead you to victory over darkness, lead you to a triumph of the light.

That is my desire for you.

No Grace For You.

I cooked and cleaned and shopped and listened and supported and made a Christmas Eve party for my brother’s family, a big Christmas for us.  Lots and lots of work.

At Christmas dinner, my mother started to tuck in without anyone saying grace.  I spoke up, and she began to mumble something about thankfulness.

I stopped her and said that while I thought gratiude was important — we should have that attitude every day — that Christmas was for miracles, for the magic that the Puritans feared when they banned it.  I started to talk about moving beyond expectation, about the light from within, and such.

My sister worked hard to listen.

My mother started cutting her meat.  She tuned out.

I saw this and started mumbling, trying to indicate to my sister that she should look at my mother. When my sister saw my mother ignoring the grace, I stopped.

My father, sweet & slightly confused, said “Amen,” even though I never got to that point.

Once I was quiet, my mother started telling a banal story about some orphans from Kahzikstan and their first Christmas here in their new church.   I just sat and ate without grace.

She later sincerely thanked me for everything I do, everything. Just not everything I am, everything inside of me, which doesn’t deserve grace.

No grace for you.  It’s Christmas.

Time to go take out the garbage.  The truck comes early, you know.

Magic Or Else (Christmas)

Magic Or Else
Callan Williams, © 2005

If there is no possibility of magic at the holiday time, what the hell is the point?

It doesn’t matter if it’s the magic of salvation coming in the birth of one divine child, the magic of light that stretches beyond expectation to keep us holy, the magic of community & shared values, the magic of wonder in the face of kids, or any other kind of magic.  Holidays without magic are not holy at all, are just another day.

The gift we need most is the gift of the possibility of magic.  It’s the possibility that religions offer, the gift of hokey Christmas movies, and the gift that retailers ads try to make us believe comes in the boxes that they are selling.  A hot creamy cup of perfect coffee in under a minute?  What magic!

Everyone knows how drawn they are to stories where magic happens – a lottery win, a dog who saves her family, a reunion, anyone falling in love.  These are the possibilities we dream about happening to us.

It’s when we become magic, though, that the best things happen.  And we become magic when we transcend the possibilities written on us by our family, our community, our biology, our history, our race, or whatever else imposes expectations on us and do the miraculous: become more than we and others thought we were.

Waiting for magic to fall from the sky, looking longingly at others who invoke magic, or expecting something to be the magical solution (you know, like that new shampoo), isn’t really a way to get magic into our lives.  We have to find and practice our own magic to really do good, the magic of healing, the magic of mastery, the magic of miracles where we keep choosing to grow & succeed rather than repeating the rote expectations.

The possibility of magic.  It’s the only thing that can possibly get us through the dark times of the holidays.  And it’s the only gift really worth giving at the holidays.  It’s not magic we can give, only the possibility of magic, because magic is always possibility, the  possibility of being more than we ever imagined we could be, doing more than we ever imagined we could do.

Magic certainly takes sweat, working towards mastery, but more than that it requires magic.  There is some spark, some flash at the center of our magic, and unless that always stays at the center of our expression, all we have is grunt work.  No magic ever came in a place where inspiration and intuition isn’t requires, be that on an assembly line or in a call center.  Our creativity isn’t just about how much we force and grunt and sacrifice and deny, it’s about how we bring out our own magic and work to make that spark into a flame that can make light, make warmth, make magic.

If the gift of the possibility of magic is the only gift worth giving this holiday season, how can you give it?  Your job is to open the space for things to happen that are beyond your expectations, and then to blow on every spark of magic you see in others this year.  When you affirm that magic can happen, when traditions are only the launching pad for the little miracles of opening hearts, when you say yes to the sparks, you start being able to give the magic of possibility. When you engage and affirm the possibility of magic in the people you love, that’s when magic happens.  When you ask them to deny their magic to fit your expectations, that’s when magic dies.

If there is no possibility of magic at the holiday time, what the hell is the point?  Killing magic might be an everyday pastime for many, keeping the status quo intact, but when the days are short, cold and dark (at least up here in the northern hemisphere) we need the possibility of magic to get us through.  After all, can anything but giving the possibility of magic really be called love?  The worst and best thing anyone can hold for us is the expectation of being amazing – a real challenge, but the only challenge that affirms all we can be, that affirms the possibilities our creator placed inside of us.

You holiday can be full of magical moments, but only if you are prepared to receive the magic that comes your way, ready to encourage possibilities rather than to damp them down.

When you see someone trying to make magic this holiday, to create something new and better, be there to encourage them.  Help them make space for the magic to take root and grow, for the new and exciting to shine in the world.  Without a positive audience willing to suspend judgment and cheer on the new, there is no possibility for magic to bloom.

If you make your own magic, breaking though, transforming and becoming new past expectations, you know how hard it is to keep that magic going without others who are willing to believe in what they cannot yet see, believe in the possibility of new birth.  You know that the gift of creating space for the possibility of magic is a gift of precious beauty because the giving gift of believing in someone is giving the gift of their own flowering, to them and to you.

As for me, I find it the hardest thing to be open to magic happening.  I have been taught for so long that the expectation of magic is an open door to the reality of suppression, the oppression of expectations that many hold to be the key to a comfortable holiday.  Rather than to be open to surprise, joy, transcendence, amazement, delight and love, many prefer to play out the old dramas, be crushed under the burden of old expectations, be lost in what has been rather than be open to the possibility of magic.  It is hard to be as a child, where everything seems new and possible, because that child has so many times been told that there is no magic, and behaving the way that others expect is the only option that might bring you anything at all good.

I know what people want from me.  They want to be affirmed in their choices, either the choice for comfort, supporting status quo (fear), or the choice for magic, moving beyond limits (love).  In both cases, they rarely want to support me in the possibility of magic, rather they want magic avoided or magic done for them.  Opening the space for magic is something you do for others, because their magic is for them, and not for you.  That’s why supporting the possibility of magic is a gift, offering the blessings of any gift, in returns you cannot imagine.

If there is no possibility of magic at the holiday time, what the hell is the point?  That is a question I often find myself asking when trying to finding meaning and energy for this bleakest time of the year.

New birth, enduring light, a community that can endure & transcend.  These are the themes of some of the stories we tell in the darkness, and they are the themes of magic, of being moving beyond expectation to something infused with the divine.

If there is no possibility of magic at the holiday time, what the hell is the point?

It’s Here

I know that Christmas is really here when I hear “Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer.”   It doesn’t count if I play it myself, it has to be found sound, out there somewhere.

Today is the day.  I was out early and the supermarket parking lot was still pretty empty, but there was a Salvation Army bell ringer there.  My great grandfather in England was active with the Sallies around the turn of the century, so I do notice, even if I tend to prefer more secular organizations.  I noticed the older woman with the walker who they placed inside the mall by the entrance to Sears, and the hip guys just trying to feel a little connection at this time of year.

This fellow, though, well, they put him here for the slow shift, and as he rang his bell, I saw him mumbling to himself.  When I passed, though, the mumbling took shape, and I realized that softly, to himself, he was singing “Grandma Was Run Over By A Reindeer. . .”  Not really a meaninful Christmas song, and with its original derevation of “Grandma Got Hung Over,”  not really an SA song, either.

But he was singing it to keep focused in the cold, and I heard it and it made me smile.  He wasn’t crafty, just singing his spirit, and I was moved.

You can say there’s no such thing as Santa, but as for the guy with the bell, well, he believes.

And that belief touched my heart.  Almost enough to get out a blue wig.


You Know

You know.

I know that you know, but you don’t want to know.

If you knew that you knew, you’d have to change your life.  As it is, you can barely squeeze all you want to know into to the life that you are living, so adding any more knowledge would just blow out the side of the bag and make a big mess.

But still, you know.  You’ve always known, but you hoped if you just focused on what you’d like to know all the other stuff you know would somehow go away, or at least get lost.

Problem is that once you know, you know, and nothing makes that go away.  It’s true and real and that’s why it stays. 

But you know that, even though you wish you didn’t.

You know.  And just knowing is tough enough, so if everyone doesn’t just shut up about it, well, you swear you will just scream.  Sure, sure, yeah right, okay, okay, you know, you know, enough already.

Why won’t they just keep it quiet, just leave you alone, just let you be comfortable, just shut up?  After all, they know, you know, we know, why should we talk about it, make a big deal out of it, waste time on it? Knowing is just knowing, and it doesn’t mean anything.

But you know.  And you know they know.  And trying to make it not knowing doesn’t make it dissapear.

You know.  You have always known.

Isn’t it important that knowing what you know means something?

It’s when our knowing is alligned with our life rather than being out of phase with it that our knowing empowers us rather than just pains us.

You know?