No Words To Convey

No matter how logical, well laid out and rational these posts sound, I am not essentially an intellectual person.

I am essentially an emotional person, who grew up knowing that they had to keep their emotions under check, and that if I wanted anyone to understand what I was feeling, I had to find nice words for it.

There are no words to convey what I feel. The best I can do is find words that evoke what I am feeling, and hope that other people will get that feeling from what I share.

In other words, I am not my symbols, or even the rationality that constructs those symbols. I am the shadow that my words cast, as Octavio Paz wrote.

The depth, breadth and richness of my emotions are incommunicable, at least in any simplified and flattened form.

The feelings swirl and flow, the longing, the slipping into that space where my own feelings trump the world around me.

I went to one of Kate & Barbara’s orgasm workshops, and we had to answer what it felt like, and my response was that it felt like all the holes lined up and I was open for a moment.  So many layers, so many holes to synchronize, and  while I can do it alone, I have never really been able to do it with another person — too many more layers and projections and assumptions to manage.

The emotions are always there for me, always rife and rampant, and handling them is what I do.   It may not look that way on the surface — I learned long ago to filter everything way too much before it gets to the surface — but it is very true.  I know that my surface doesn’t express emotion well; ergo the filters.

People have thought that I am prolific,  and it is true, I write quickly & clearly, concise & lucid.

But that writing isn’t me.  It’s just an attempt at shadow play to convey what I have always felt is isolated, the emotions that often overwhelm and confuse me.

And so far, I have found no words to convey that desperate loneliness and buried beauty.

Return To Normalcy

The visitor numbers are back down to normal on this blog — virtually nil — and that’s a good thing, I think.  After all, I write here to express my experience, not to satisfy others.

Writing about my experience, it seems, is more interesting to others if I actually have varied experiences in the world, rather than just having the same experience in this basement over and over again.

Sink Or Swim

“I didn’t help at all because you need to learn to take care of these things by yourself,” my father said.  “You need to learn.”

My sister didn’t have the same attitude.  She helped my making the call and then driving me to the court to pay the fine, me breathing hard with anxiety all the way.  I did learn something, that it was easier than I feared, that I could do it and not die, but damn it was hard for me.

The assumption that because I can do things that you would find hard, I must be able to do things you find easy, well, that assumption has been my bane all my life. 

My father has always assumed that when thrown into deep water, I will simply learn how to swim, or I will sink.  Problem with that plan is that the possibility of me sinking is very real.  When hope is absent, swimming seems pointless, so instead I learn how to float, in this case just doing without driving.   I did that well, shutting down more to conserve more energy, pulling back and just avoiding sinking by a bit.

What am I supposed to learn by being thrown into deep water by myself?  How to collapse more, how to be smaller and more afraid?  My sister’s teaching, showing me it is possible, well, I understand the benefits of that, but the other, which seems normal to me after these five decades, just asks me to sink or swim, and sinking, well, it’s my friend.

This isn’t depression, though it may be linked to brain chemistry.  It is a view of the world where I have learned to play small, to expect the worst, to be off the grid and away from my own power and my own energy.  The decision to stay connected to my family has cost me, and that cost seems crazy to most of them.  Should I have made my own family?  Would my life be much better if I separated? Could I have made better choices? 

Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda.  Too late now to change my life then; the only choice is to choose again.  But like any path, my choices now are shaped by my choices then, and my choices have left me where hope is absent, in deep water and without access to my own power of passion.

And now, it’s just about learning how to sink gracefully, it seems, here in the deep water.

Thanks to all who offer what they can, and thanks my sister for helping  — just in time for me to drive to her house to bail water and plumb in a new sump pump.

But yeah, swimming through the anxiety and sadness still seems almost impossible.

Wilt

The closing years of life are like
the end of a masquerade party,
when the masks are dropped.
 Arthur Schopenauer

I suppose that there is something I should mention about that contest of will. 

I’m losing.

When you are young and vigorous, denial is possible.   But when you are old and crumbling, well, that facade crumbles with you.  You just can’t keep up the front, just don’t have the energy for self denial, and you have much to deny.

The masks are dropped, as Schopenhauer says.

It’s this tipping point that we all come to, this tipping point that I passed.

I dreamed last night of being in a big city and trying to make business networks, at a pub, at the opera, running and knowing that you have to spend to create, spend yourself, spend treasure, spend energy.   At this point in my real life, though, I have to husband and not spend, conserve and not risk, hold and not release.  I don’t have much and that means I can’t afford to lose much of my center.

My sister made me go to a workshop at a new age center just after I blew out my ankle.  I was cflear as to why I thought I shouldn’t go; because if it was horrible, unsafe and painful, I didn’t think I would have the resources to bound back afterwards.  It was horrible, and it took a long time even to get stable again.

I know the argument, that actually spending myself to resolve problems will open up new possibilities, free me, be less wearing than holding onto them. 

It is better to be prepared for an opportunity and not have one
than to have an opportunity and not be prepared.
 Whitney Young, Jr. 

The problem is that as long as my life has to be a test of will, rather than a dance of life, then that will has to be valued over anything else.  “Empower and trust yourself, but only enough to solve the current problem, then put yourself back in the box.”  I don’t know how to do that.

The most dangerous thing in the world
is to try to leap a chasm in two jumps. 
 David Lloyd George  

Until I can leap, well, I have to play this game.  And I am failing at this game of denial, just like everyone does as they get older.

From will to wilt.  And the only way to claim life isn’t to deny more, it’s to live authentically, which in my case means facing stigma I don’t have the energy to face.

When you first come out as a transgendered person,
you spend your first year in absolute euphoria.
Then reality sets in, and you have to make a life and deal with the stigma.
     Joan Roughgarden, NY Times Magazine, 9 May 2004

If one doesn’t have the euphoria, the leap is much more wearing, often much too short.

I know.  My patterns are failing, and failing me.  Breakthroughs — breakdowns — are required to claim life.

But that doesn’t really feel like an option.

Li’l Bit

When your brain & your heart deal in connections, the kind of balance that many try to suggest, compartmentalization, just seems to be impossible.

To me, behaviours are always in context.   It’s certainly possible to do scut work or perform a role, but only if it fits into some larger context.

TBB understands this about me.  “You are a big picture kind of gal,” she tells me.  It’s my blessing and my bane, making big things comprehensible and small things overwhelming.

I know what people think I should do, and that’s take care of my own life, at least a li’l bit.

What is the big picture for me right now?  How do my needs fit in?

I am engaged in the same struggle I have been in all my life: a test of will.

A test of will requires two key components.  The first is an admirable goal, and in my cares that is taking care of my parents.   The second component, as G. Gordon Liddy will be happy to tell you, is punishment, denial and sacrifice, all endured with grace and discipline.  Hold your hand over that candle, and no Dr. Flameo, either.

I just took a two hour walk to buy strawberries and a paper, and deliberately didn’t put on my MP3 player to listen to Kurlansky’s book about Cod.  Will.

TBB gets this on some level, understanding that I have to have a focus, a context, even if that context requires too much denial.

How do I find the permission to love, to move past will?  I don’t know.  But I do know that it’s almost impossible doing it just a li’l bit

Permission To Love

If there is one thing society needs to control to keep people following shared goals, it is who and what we love.

TBB and I were chatting about love last night.   What we did for love, and what we did to deny love, and how people around us did the same thing.

The first thing both of us learned is that what we loved — the things other women loved — were things we had to learn to deny ourselves.   TBB has moved on with those desires, but me, well, they still have to be denied.

Beyond that, we learned that people who loved us first had to consider what they learned they were supposed to love, the socially approved loves trained into them.   We found that struggle hard with out partners, getting over their own expectations, and both agree that unless a partner has come to grips with their own bisexuality, they aren’t worth the effort.

I suspect that permission to love — to desire — is the same thing as permission to hope.  When you can want something enough to believe you might get it, you have hope of change.   One big challenge of learning to live without the expectations which block possibility and cause sorrow, is balancing openness and desire.   It’s one thing to live with detachment, but to want to make something come into being in this world, you have to be attached to that vision, have to want it enough to struggle for it.

After all, isn’t this what gay pride is all about, a defiant gesture that they have permission to love who they love, and don’t have to stay within the boundaries laid on them?  Of course, once they get into the gay or lesbian culture, they have other social boundaries laid on them, other expectations that need to be followed to be seen as attractive in the culture, but that is another discussion.

In my case, instead of loving what I love, I love what I can love, and that is my parents, who generously offer me sustinance in exchange for doing.   I am grateful for that perimission to love, even as the sense of denial of permission to be & to love, leaves me without hope.

Still, the years of suppressing my love, believing it will be seen as the love of someone tainted & pathological — as Michael Savage called an unknown tranny this week — and of believing that others will find it hard to love me because they don’t have permission to love someone who just is me, well, that’s hard.   It may not be true, but it certainly informs my experience, and shapes me into the human doing that I hate having to act, doing what others want to be in their story.

I want to love it, I want to love them, and I want to be loved.  But I believe that permission is denied, and that means hope is absent.

And that is that.

Backfill

I did some more backfill here, adding older stuff and listing it on the day it was written.   If you have an interest, you can find it though the Archive dates in the sidebar.   I started this blog on Thanksgiving 2005; anything before that is backfill.

When Hope Is Absent

I wish there was something I could say
to convince you to climb back on the grid
because it sounds like you’re not too happy being off.

I hope you don’t get too comfortable there as one tends to do,
even in the most inhospitable environments,
when hope is absent.

    Correspondent, 26 March 2004

If it sometimes seems to you that I am so explicit in this blog because I have few people to talk to in real life, well, you are probably right.

“When hope is absent.”  Great line.

From 2000, some thoughts on hope, in PDF:  The Callie Hope Letters  (formatted landscape for printing — hit ctrl/shift + in Acrobat to rotate view on-screen)

Thoughts on being off the grid and how hard it is to get back on when hope is absent? 

Well you can just read any entry for that.

Sweetie

So when my parents were away, I noticed that drops of urine on the bathroom floor turned sticky.  That worried me, because it suggested high levels of sugar in the urine.

My mouth gets dry after a large quanitity of Coke.  That often means high blood sugar levels.

And using my mother’s old meter and some test strips that expired in December, I got a blood sugar reading of 323 this morning.

That’s very high.

I seem to have an inability to process sugar. 

I think that’s called diabetes.

And Coca-Cola is the only real joy I have left.

So, Doctor

“So, Doctor, I’m trans and I have known that since before I was five, even if I had no words for it.

“I just want to know which of the three paths you can take to helping me. 

“Do you want to convince me I am deluded and sick, and that I can realize I am not really trans?

“Do you want to teach me to compartmentalize my transness, operating in the world as my assigned gender with hidden tendencies & behaviours?

“Do you want to acknowledge my trans nature, and help me walk in the world with pride and respect for who I know myself to be?

“Come on, now which is it?”

Laconic Schedules

Garrison Keillor suggests that the reason midwesterners are so laconic is because they spend time around large animals.   It’s not good to startle large animals, or even to take them off their own schedule.

I suggest that being around large aging people offers the same training. 

As my sister’s Airdale got older and older, he was clear about his needs: he needed when he needed when he needed it.   Rain was no reason to delay a walk, and walking was no reason to delay standing and sniffing for a while.   I took care of him then, and I took care of him at the end, when I used the breaker bar to soften the earth while her ex-husband dug his grave at the side of the pond.

My father has much the same idea now.  There is no reason to eat bad pie, or to not toss off another long letter to an expert, explaining where everyone has gone wrong by not paying attention to physical thinking in engine design.   He does what he does on his schedule, and while he will do for others, make it simple, easy and short.

My mother has never liked schedules.  Christine would always get cranky with me when I backtimed schedules, like the TV producer I am, but she knew it wasn’t really a bad thing.   My mother, on the other hand, sees anyone trying to rush her as a reason to resist and slow down.  I often need to listen to her talk for a half hour to forty-five minutes after the time she should have started getting ready to leave for an appointment just to get her centered enough.   She feels the drowse and she caves.

What this means, this resistance to set schedules, the resistance to keep them, and the push towards some inner desire, is that my schedule has to be soft and flexible, all the time.  When people want what they want when they want it, you have to be here to deliver.  And you have to be laconic about, it not just patient but also implacable.  It is amazing, for me, how much energy and concentration it takes to be mild.

I’m on their schedule, at their whim.   It’s hard.  It means that I have really no chance to build a head of steam, the pressure of motivation to get me going.   The requirement to not upset the residents in their stalls goes deep.  Your tooth crumbles at dinner?  Just be quiet about it. 

Chris Rock is out promoting his new movie about marriage.  “Only married people understand how you can love someone and hate them at the same time,” he says.  “You tell your freinds what’s going on, and they say ‘That’s awful!  Get out of there man!  Just leave her!” and you say ‘But I love her so much!'”

It’s my belief that he just wasn’t paying attention or wasn’t committed enough in other relationships if he thinks that just occurs in marriage.  All relaionships are the same, as ACIM reminds us.

My mother enjoyed going out yesterday.  She informed us that she might go out again today, maybe to retrieve the bag my father left at the checkstand. 

Or, she said, maybe not.

And my only responses can be slow patience & love.

Even if that helps me die too.

Spring

There is over a foot of snow on the ground, but today is the Vernal Equinox, spring.

My sister wants to get together to help me get on with the legal & financial issues that remain submurged. 

I had thought that I would wait until my brother got me the name of the lawyer he promised me when he drove me back three weeks ago, but today when I grabbed the 7:45 AM call made as he drove to work, his first question was about the lawyer, and he promised again to send me the name.

Spring. 

Get Real

It’s gonna be one of those “Get Real” days.

Hell, for me, it’s been one of those “Get Real” lives.  I tell people my experience, my understanding, my self knowledge, people tell me to “Get Real.”

Of course, what they mean by getting real is accepting the status quo, the way the world works, the normative trends, all that stuff.    Because they care, they feel the need to have me wake up and smell the coffee, to “get it.”

They mean I need to get it through my thick, stupid, skull that I have to go along to get along, that I have to play the game to get what I need.  “You hate your job?  There’s a support group for that.  It’s called ‘Everyone’ and they meet at the bar,” as they said on the Drew Carey show.

They mean I need to just toughen up and put on my big girl panties and take it like a man because there ain’t no freakin’ wizard.

They mean that I need to honor sickness, to get serious and stop playing around, to do what is required.

They mean that I need to be who people expect me to be, that I need to do what people expect me to do, even if just around them.  Of course, I can think whatever I want, even write whatever I want, just as long as it stays hidden around the people who need to categorize me by shibboleth.

They mean I need to be a grown-up, and that means letting go of romantic notions, separating myself from anything that impairs me.  It’s OK, ’cause it’s easy now; we have drugs for that.  Just keep taking them until you find the right cocktail and life changes.

They mean I need to get past old hurts, button them up and get with the program of normativity.  After all, even stupid people can be normative; how hard can it be for a smart person like me, unless I’m really stupid?  After all, it’s my corner I painted myself into, my job to get myself out.

The way is simple: we give compassion to people who show responsibility, but demand responsibility from people who ask for compassion.  Whiners need to get on the ball, show us that you can do what is expected, get it together, take charge of your life.

After all, people have to get real, so why not help others by demanding that they get real, do the work everyone in this society has the obligation to do?   Why shouldn’t society demand that people get damn real, for their own damn good?

Tell me, that my only choice is to get real or get gone.   That won’t be anything different than I have heard since I was in the second grade.   It will be a choice I am intimately familar with, one I have lived with everyday.

My time on earth is getting short, and that means many things.   I don’t have time for a normal career to insure my failing days.   I don’t have youthful health, youthful enthusiasm, youthful hope.  I do have people who eye me as not worth the investment.   In other words, I have to be committed to creating my own reality, even if that means I need to get what I need by being in the reality of others.

I know that people who try to get me to snap out of it and get real are doing it out of compassion & love, I do.

But I also know they just leave me more scarred, not more empowered.

Discover Me

In the erotica of my people we were always discovered.
Discover me.

The tall red-haired actress drops to her knees downstage center. 
She looks up at the audience,
her face framed in an amber spotlight. 
“Tell me what it’s like to know you’re a woman,” she says,
her voice barely raised above a whisper. 
“Tell me what it’s like to know you’re a man. 
Tell me please because
I never went to bed one night of my life
knowing I was a man. 
I never went to bed one night of my life
knowing I was a woman.

Kate Bornstein, Gender Outlaw: on men, women and the rest of us,
©1994, Routledge, P223-224 

Hard to believe I typed that in almost 14 years ago, in June 1996.

TBB said she thought I sounded like I was in a fight to see how far I can go without having someone discover me.

I laughed.  “Like how many times can I hit myself in the head with a hammer before someone notices?” I suggested.

TBB laughed.

“Problem is that I already know that.  A few years ago, March 21, 2005, I cut the tip of my right index finger almost completely off on the crumb tray of the toaster oven.  I asked my father for help, because there was no way I could bind the wound alone, with only my other hand.   I told him it was the worst cut I had ever had.

“He came up, saw me rinsing, and then went to check if I had damaged the toaster oven in any way.  He then proceded to tell me how I should have avoided the cut.   

“He waited for a bit, and then went to pick up my mother at the pool.   I sat on the porch, holding my finger, wrapped tightly in paper towels, to keep pressure on the wound.

“He came back, and it was not until my mother, who was less lethargic two years ago told him to go look at my wound.

“When he saw it, he wondered if I needed to go to the emergency room.  Emergency Room!  This is a man who never thinks you can’t do it yourself, be that car repair or court.  Myst have been bad for him to suggest that.  But I have big debts because of blowing out my ankle picking up their mail, and no way that would work.

“I told my parents that I had the worst cut I had ever seen, and it took them an hour and a half to take me seriously. 

“Now, everytime I look at my finger and the big bulge, I know that I can hit myself with a hammer many times and no one will notice.

My Finger

TBB laughed.  What else could she do?

 We had previously talked about her friend who hit a patch of sand while they rode their new motor cycles.  She slid out, bruised and scraped, but safe.  Her bike, though, has a scraped up tank.

“That’s good,” I said.  “Now it’s really her bike.”

TBB was dubious, but for me, once I need to repair something, or change something, I make it my own.  After all, the scars on my body and psyche are all mine, marking my history, the falling down and the getting up, why shouldn’t the scars on my objects mean the same thing?  My left hand still has the scar tissue between my two last fingers from the scrape where I hit the sand in sixth grade, and that is a history, just as much as the big stitch marks from my fourth grade glass slice at the base of my first finger on that hand.

In the erotica of my people we were always discovered.
Discover me.

We agree, TBB and I, that at least until I can find a space to walk in the world in my own expression, and maybe not even then, I will keep feeling the deep need to be discovered, and the deep sadness when I am not.

Being discovered is a romantic notion most people my age have long given up, some would remind me.   They have learned to settle for being one of the gang, taking the role into which they were cast and making it their own.

Maybe I just have too much scar tissue, too many challenge for anyone to map.

But isn’t that the cry of the moment; It’s never too late?

Will Love You

TBB is on her way to the funeral for the wife of a friend.  This isn’t unexpected, and TBB did go out of her way to see them both a few months ago, before she passed.

“It’s always a bit scary for a transsexual woman to go back and meet childhood and family friends who she hasn’t seen since transition,” she told me.

“I called my mother, who still hasn’t told the people in the condo her aerospace engineer son is now a woman — you remember, when I was there over Thanksgiving, I had to be in the shower if neighbors stopped by.

“I was worried she would lead with fear, with what might happen if this got back to her, how it might affect her life.

“She told me ‘Wear that black pantsuit you have — you look good in that — and people will love you.’

“It wasn’t what I expected, but it was great. 

“Only goes to prove that the only way to get past others fears for themselves and for you is to take the time and energy to get out and become yourself, to let people see you after you find your smile. 

“It is only then that they can believe that if you love yourself and the way you are in the world, if they love you and your happiness, then others will love you too.”

Difference Is Not Dissent

Just because someone’s point of view is different from your own, challenges your own, doesn’t mean they are fighting against you.

This is the hardest lesson to get through the minds of fundamentalists, who believe, for example, that if you hold views that don’t properly acknowledge the sole divinity of Christ you are anti-Christian or if you hold views that don’t properly acknowlege that transsexuality is a birth defect with a cure that you are anti-Transsexual.

Now, they know that they don’t want to have to properly acknowledge your beliefs, as that would be anethema to them.   But that doesn’t mean they don’t want you to properly acknowledge their beliefs, as their beliefs are true and perfect.  In other words, they violate the golden rule: Do not do unto others what would be hateful to you.

In a pluralistic society, the best we can ask is that people respect our beliefs and choices for ourselves, just as we respect their beliefs and choices for themselves.   If we don’t have to properly acknowledge their beliefs, they don’t have to properly acknowledge ours.

But for people who are too invested, every challenge can seem like a slap, and all too often that means they feel they have the right to pound back in ways they would find hateful if done to them.

Ah, The Golden Rule

Quenching The Fire

I am listening to a biography of Jay Gould, and the author relates how, in his late teens, he believed there was much to do and little time.

I remember the days when I was 17 and I believed the same thing, measuring out time and service with my hands, wondering what I wanted to say on my deathbed.

I had the fire in my belly, but with work, stigma and help from my family, I was able to quench it.

I guess that leaves me all wet.