Like Drugs

She sips a Diet Pepsi Jazz, and the city changes from cacaphony to music.  Another woman eats a Dove chocolate and the world is covered by luxe brown silk.

Anyone else notice that these consumer products are selling themselves like drugs — eat them and in your senses, the world is transformed into a tolerable place?

Gut Gone

One thing I learned very early in life was to never, ever trust my gut.

My gut, well, it was too weird.  It knew I was a girl, it knew when things were wrong, it just knew too damn much stuff that the world explained was wrong.  Trust me, I have a long list of things I have screwed up stored in my head.  A very long list.

I learned to filter everything though my head.  Manipulative and controlling, well, I learned to do that.  Of course the primary thing I needed to control wasn’t others, it was myself: my own strange desires, my own x-ray vision, my own connecting brain, my own shaman spirit, my own transgender heart.  Maybe that’s why I never used drugs — I was so scared of how I was straight, that the tought of me released was terrifying.

Over the last decades I have learned to let go and let God.  “What am I supposed to learn from this?” The nurse may have screwed up and knocked my father out of the clinical trial three months ago, but today we learn that his PSA is down by an order of magnitude, from 70 to 0.7, and he is no longer eligible — he is in remission.  Should I have been upset, trying to create my own visions, or just let it go to get this result?

I don’t know.  I do know that you do have to be active in your life, but that you have to be committed to process and not to outcomes.  The challenge is, though, and I have known this for years, is that it’s hard to hold hope without holding expectations, but holding expectations fights against trusting process.

It’s not just me trusting my gut, though.  It’s others affirming my good gut, because the block that stops me from trusting my own heart is that others will find it offputting, distasteful, weird, perverted, sick and abject.  I don’t really have the energy left to face everyone down, including friends who like me but who hold a bit of fear about my intensity, my intelligence, my social skills and my power.

I have spent my life doubting, remembering and making connections between ideas and affects, and I am good at that.  Trusting, believing and leaping in the wider world, well, that’s not so easy.  I can’t go back to manipulating, but forward to trusting, well, that demands trust.

I have been on two “trust walks” in my life. 

The first when I was in an encounter group in 1969 where businessmen and students came together, “Generation Bridge,” filmed for a local TV special in Boston.  I reminded my partner that I was a good 8 or 10 inches taller than she was, but sure enough as soon as I was blindfolded and she was leading me though the woods, I was smacked between the eyes with a big, honking branch that left a big bump.

The second was a few years ago when my sister insisted I take the secret initiation course at Kripalu, lead by a lesbian who tried to recreate Girl Scount camp, where, I presume she had her first sexual awakenings.    They knew I was trouble, and when she read “The Monster At The End Of This Book, starring Loveable Furry Old Grover,” I knew I was lost — I had that book almost 20 years before with my Grover puppet and knew it.

On this Trust Walk, I had a syndesmotic screw in my ankle, fusing it after a bad sprain, and was fitted with a Bledsoe splint boot and crutches.  I knew the people at Kripalu didn’t care — a leader had me walk up the stairs with my stuff rather than use the elevator.  But the poor Japanse woman who led me around took me onto a muddy slope and I was quickly on the ground, my orthotics full of mud.  She wanted to help clean, but there was only the mens room.

A helper say me and tried to be cute  “Mother Nature is a bitch!” she chirped.

“Really?” I replied.  “I thought it was trust that is a bitch.”

It’s very hard to trust people to manage what they don’t understand, to assist in what is out of their experience — height, handicap, transgender, vision, whatever.

So, if I don’t trust that they will be helpful unless I am controlling & manipulative and I refuse to be that, and if I don’t trust my own gut, in whom or what do I trust?

Is ther anything to trust other than sleep?


I am, she said, convinced that if I package myself well and give people what they want that I can get them to appreciate what I have to offer.

I am, however, not at all convinced that they will appreciate me and be able to offer the kind of caring and healing that I require.

TBB tells me that even when I simplify things that they aren’t simple enough, that I have to simplify the simplification.

I tell her that is probably just too much for me to accomplish.

I know that I can help people take a step.

I just don’t know that they have any idea how to help me.

So Much Work

“Hon, you are 1000 volts in a 110 volt world,” a friend once told me.

And having to always be not only myself but also a step down transformer, well, that’s just so much work.  And it’s work I have been doing since I first identified that “Jonathan Winters” energy in myself almost half a century ago.

I want to go somewhere where life for me isn’t so much work, work spent burning off energy to stay small and in sync.

But I have no idea where that is, where I don’t have to work so much to try and connect, where I don’t feel like I am always missing the voltage and burning myself.

I’m too old to keep burning the burn.

too old.

Old Knees

When I was a kid, my big flat feet and I learned to love boat shoes and Converse All-Stars, made in only a couple of towns over from me in Massachusetts.  I’d get new tennies at Marshalls — there were only two in those days — and then baptize them in the ocean.

I have stayed with those choices.  I have been wearing the shoes I bought years ago, using things up.

But my mother encouraged me to buy something, so I got a pair of Keen sandals on clearance for $7. 

The rubber post between my toes I don’t like so much, but they have athletic style cushoining hidden in the rubber sole.

My knees like that cushion.  I guess they are just too old to walk the world without a bit of help, doing all the shock absorbing on their own.

The Gift Of Insight

It’s my birthday on Sunday, and I am in the traditional mode here.  Those around me have no idea who I am or what I would like, so the obligation is for me to shop for myself and they feel good buying me something.

That’s tough in two ways.  First, the mode I am in, the mode I believe that I have to be in, is denial. I have walked away from desire, in an attempt to move beyond needs.  “If you have no needs,” Oprah’s psychologist Robin Smith says, “you have no self.” 

But more than that is the difficulty of being that insvisible, of knowing how much I have exposed myself in the last five decades and realizing that if they don’t know me by now, they don’t really want to know me.

On one of these tranny lists there is a partner who believes she is being pagan and holy, mystical and healing.  The way she approaches it, though, is to see the transpeople on the list as abject and broken.  She offers {{{{huggs}}}} and platitudes, then switches the subject to something that may well contradict what the transperson was saying, that often negates their sharing.

It’s my sense that she does this so she doesn’t have to actually lose control and open her heart to what we offer.  If she can’t placate us with strokes, how can she actually placate her partner?

I actually like to listen to people.  When they offer some deep part of themselves, they offer me the gift of insight, allowing me to glimpse humanity in a mirror and be reminded of what we share, of what lies within me.

But, as I have said before, the most painful part of being trans is to not be able to give gifts and have them accepted.  This partner, in her callow cuteness, just reminds me of my pain, and that makes her unsafe.

If the director doesn’t realize
what a courageous thing the actor is doing
by touching on some emotionally tender spot,
then the actor will be wary of doing that.
 Arthur Penn, Director

Wary?  Oh yes.

And all I have to do is have no needs.  No self.

Seeing Hearts

TBB was in Manhattan over the weekend.  While she is building community where she lives, it was a treat for her to be among smart people who actually understand and admire what and who she is, the kind of audience she needs to learn to relax and trust herself more.

She noted the takes of cab drivers, who thought she looked good, for a guy. “How are SF, NYC and Trinidad CO alike?” she asked. 

“You can’t pass in any of them,” was her reply.  “In most places, the thought of transsexual is dismissed, but not there.

She decided to help carry up a mattress and box spring for a friend who was moving.

A fellow who was helping said “Your friend is stronger than many guys I know!”

The ones who love us, well, they see our hearts first, not our bodies.  Others, well, the bodies first and the content, maybe

If we haven’t learned to trust our hearts, though, we have trouble trusting their attraction and affection for us.   And we can’t shine because we keep the defenses up, end up doing the work we learned to affact when we did for affirmation rather than be for affirmation.

As for me, I’m not even sure where my heart is anymore.

Beyond Knowing

Yesterday my father came downstairs and told me about the revelation he had in the night.   He was describing the waveform in the turbine disk.

He turned from me dismissively.  “Bah,” he said.  “You are not even watching!”

“Yes I am,” I replied, though I wondered how much I knew and how I could show it.

“It’s a kind of a sawtooth shape,” is what I heard come out of my mouth.

He looked a bit stunned. 

“Yes,” he said.  “A kind of a sawtooth.  It’s a sawtooth that is the base for all the dynamics, and the other harmonics aren’t important.”

I coould tell that he hadn’t though of “sawtooth” before this, and the term pleased him, was useful.

I just wondered how the hell I knew that from some vague hand motions caught out of the edge of my eye.

I know what it is to be a human doing rather than a human being, do and do because you believe that you are doo-doo.  It’s what I did last night at the buffet resturant as I cared for my mother. 

And when I do, that comes from some kind of concious response and creation, rather than from some deep place.  It is speaking miracles.

The limits of that concious response are the limits of my defenses.

The limits of my unconcious responses, the ones that surprise & delight me, that give insight, well, those limits are bigger than me.

And they are the only thing that gives me a glimmer of possibility.

So Vulnerable

“They always look so vulnerable,” says Warrick, holding a school photo of an abducted child.

“That’s because they are,” replies Grissom

My mind goes back to Glastonbury when I was about that old, and I think about how defended I had to be, even by then.  Adultified early, as they say, learning to defend yourself.

My father, well, you know that his prostate cancer is back and to the bone.  And I wish he would talk about his feelings.

Instead, we both take care of my mother, and know not to really open up.  She gets willful at night, tossing the refigerator to find her cheese, she gets upset when she realizes it’s her girth that causes the pin pricks on her hips, not understanding that the wheels rubbing on the sides are costing me pain too as I push her though the mall.

I’m not sleeping well, feeling the need to stay tight and defended.

I am so vulnerable, but my defenses bristle, and I don’t look it.

And that leaves me lost.