Older/Mature

TBB is on the move back to FLA. The CFO thought he was the only brains the operation needed, so he let her go, and the dream of trannyhelp turned into a dead end, as it so often does, so back.

What next?

“I would never let myself have a motorcycle when I was younger,” she told me.  I believed my father when he told me that it was too risky, that I would hurt myself.

“But I’m older now, and I have a motorcycle and I love it. I don’t have to listen to those parent tapes.  Now I think I am ready to do what scared me, including learning to fly.”

“I don’t think it’s because you are older,” I told her.

“I think it’s because you are more mature.

“Now that you have emerged, don’t have to maintain the façade, can let the inner you out to explore and grow, well, now, as the woman you are you are more centered, more potent, and more able to come from a deep and together place, rather than a shallow and split one. You can act from your gut, not just your jumpiness.

“After all,” I asked, “What scared you more than trusting and embodying your trans nature?  The only way to be a grown-up transperson is to be an emerged transperson, mainfesting yourself in the world.”

“That’s probably true. I am more mature,” she told me.

She’s going back with the kids in the car to close up stuff and move back home, and then she needs a job and some income to pay expenses and help raise the kids, help with their mother.

She wants to over-plan things — Alaskan bush pilot or talk show star? — but really all she can do is give it to God; work hard, do her best, and let our mother in the sky handle the outcome. That means being open to possibilities, because the best things that happen to us could never have been predicted before they happen. Life is a curvy road, and we can’t see beyond the bend; we have to go as far as we can see and then go farther.

I offer TBB all blessings, and am confident that the universe will work well in her open, beautiful and mature life.

Now, if I could only come from that same mature & centered place.

“all we want is to disappear”

Ms. Rachelle liked this quote from Jenny Bailey, the new Lord Mayor of Cambridge:

“People can take me as a role model if they want,” The Times newspaper quoted her as saying.

“But for transgender people, all we want is to disappear and become normal, so I don’t want to let it define me. When you go through transgender experience and come through the other side, you are just happy to get on with normal life, normal problems, so this is a wonderful opportunity.”

Ms. Rachelle offered:

I especially like that her partner is also ts. Not exactly the strategy for disappearing, is it? Dr. Randall would never have approved.

I replied:

Still, if she had have believed it was impossible to disappear, she probably wouldn’t have done the company and become deputy mayor. It was that belief in the possibility of assimilation that created the assimilation.

Ms Rachelle asked:

The question is, can someone become assimilated without disappearing? I don’t think there’s an easy answer to that.

My response:

I don’t think someone can become assimilated without the intention to disappear, the intention to be just one of the crowd. One may not actually disappear, even if assimilated, because assimilation is never total, but if you aren’t trying to blend in, to fit in, at least most of the time, you will resist assimilation like hell.

There was a transwoman who was confronted by a jerk on her return visit to an eyeglass store, and she wanted to know what to do.

Most people offered that she should raise a fuss, complain, confront him.

I suggested that she learn to treat jerks like other women treat jerks, with ironic comments and eyerolls. I suggested she had to deal with this not as a man who won’t take this crap, or a tranny, who wants to demand they be treated based on their claims, but as a woman who knows that some people (and by that, of course, I mean “some men”) are going to be jerks about something — boobs or weight or whatever, thinking they have the right to mock you because you aren’t __________ enough, where ________ is whatever they consider attractive. Or worse, they will find you attractive and will need to be jerks to keep distance.

This was not well heard in a board full of trannys who don’t really have a commitment to assimilation, to walking in the world as women, with all the concomitant challenges and benefits.

You have to want to disappear, even if you also want to keep unique power and individual self-worth, rather than just hanging on your group identity labels as so many people do.

Wanting to disappear won’t make you disappear, of course, and at some time, like this gal, you will have to be upfront and out, but at least it will help you with the assimilation bits.

Life is about being tame & assimilated enough to be part of the community, while also being wild & individual enough to have something unique to offer, to the world and to yourself. Wild/Tame is the primary duality.

It’s this balance that’s hard, hard enough that my thirteen year old niece looked at me like I was a freak when I tried to explain that starting to learn that balance was what high-school is all about.

For transpeople who feel pounded down, it’s often hard to assimilate, to surrender again, especially if we believe that no amount of assimilation will allow people to see beyond our biology & our history. Can you hear me over your own assumptions & fears?
Without assimilation we are always outsiders, and can’t serve. Without individuality, we are always lost to ourselves, and have nothing to nourish our spirit.

To have the scary bits disappear, and to be seen as someone with something to give, well, isn’t that what we all want?

Conversation Stopper

I have contributed to a few threads over at Susans.Org and I remember my most powerful skill.  I can stop conversations dead.

There are two parts to this talent.

The one is what Robert Oppenheimer was said to do at Los Alamos, sit in a meeting where people argued, then offer a summary that tied the threads together and make the next step obvious.   I used to do this a lot when I participated in the Trans-Theory list, recap posts that acknowledged positions, marked differences and highlighted commonalities, and tended to calm down debates.  Apparently Opje knew how to ask the good questions too, and while he wasn’t the kind of thinker who would go deep, his ability to make connections helped many deep thinkers move along their own work.

The second, though, is the kind of conversation stopping where you say something so beyond that people just are boggled.  Domina Blue, who was in the Army, noticed how guy tended to like conversations where no one knew anything about the topic under discussion, and in their shared ignorance, they could babble on forever.  Of course, that’s the premise on The View, too, where their lack of expert understanding allows everyone’s opinion to be equally valued.

Now, this doesn’t always stop conversations, though it often does, but it always requires me to be ignored so the babble can continue.

Some people are surprised that more people don’t value my work, more people don’t embrace my connections & summations, more people don’t share what I offer.

After all these decades, I’m not surprised at all.  I’m the grad course, and to value me you have to value moving beyond ignorance rather than staying fixed in it.  And ignorance, well, many people take it for bliss.   It was the apple of knowledge that got humans thrown out of the garden of eden, and the woman who violated innocence was cursed with pain after searching for wisdom.

My bliss isn’t in ignorance.  I was talking with my sister yesterday about the fact that change requires you to be a new person, but if the ties around you don’t let you change, that’s a very hard task, as they pull you back in.  Family dynamics.  That’s one reason that a diagnosis or treatment is so powerful, because it’s an authoritative statement that you have to change or else, a tool to use to force others to see you differently, to treat you differently.

Following my bliss means that others who engage me have to bite the apple, lose some of the walled off innocence/ignorance/comfort they have learned to crave.

And that bite, the requirement to see the connections that take us deeper, well, it always seems to be a conversation stopper.

Like me.

Facing Humilation

http://www.susans.org/forums/index.php/topic,13646.msg102390.html#msg102390

It’s very hard when we expose ourselves and then someone chooses to challenge or mock us.

The odds are that they aren’t acting from any corporate policy, but rather from their own sense of moral superiority or their own fear, or both.

In other words, their response tells more about them than it does about us.

The problem is that the worst way to explain to someone that you are a woman is to tell them.

The best way is always to show them.

What this means is that you have to have a tool kit of defenses ready. Everyone has that, learned in adolescence and honed over the years, but shifting gender means shifting those defenses to woman, just like it means shifting desire to woman. And the line between desire and abuse has always been close, from the kid who punches the girl he likes to the homophobe who needs to extend the defenses he uses to hold his internal desires in check to those who walk in the world letting their own desire show.

As a woman, I’ll guarantee you that the gal in the store has faced her share of jerks in the past. Roll your eyes at her, and she’ll smile, the two of you bonding over what kind of dicks men can be.

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t complain. It’s good for stores to have diversity policies. I certainly have complained in the past, and it has sensitized the venue.

But the challenge isn’t getting people to follow policy. It’s getting people to open their hearts. And that’s why it’s usually better to start with peers, to find support, to puncture the punctilious.

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent,” said Eleanor Roosevelt. Every bully in school knows that too; it’s no fun to pick on someone who doesn’t get upset by the jabs.

It’s hard to walk in the world as a phobogenic object, one many people think they have not only the right to fear, but also the right to humiliate and the right to destroy, according to the doctrine of their own church. I think of Tyra Hunter who bled to death while a Washington DC ambulance attendant stopped treating when he found that she had male genitalia.

But their choices are about them, not about you. And when others see you attacked, they often have compassion. It’s hard to smile and take power in your own self-knowledge when someone is hitting you in a sensitive place, but when you handle the hits with grace & wit, keeping your center, well, you stand the chance of finding allies and changing minds.

By all means, stand up for rights by complaining.

But also learn to stand up everyday, by finding ways you can not let the idiots get you down, by finding ways that you can connect with allies.

As women, our power is in our connection with others, including other women. And when you can connect with that in confidence , you can stand in the moment.

“Does he always enjoy mocking customers like this?” you can ask.

The answer will probably be yes. It’s about him, not you.  Admittedly, this may be cold comfort when you are the one who ends up with the bruises and scars, but it is true.

Show him you take it like a woman you age handles any other idiot boy.

And of course, being a woman who hasn’t been out as much as your age might suggest, well, that will probably take some consideration & practice.

out loud

an acquaintance on a mailing list is moving from this town to las vegas.  she wants to work, and this place is just too conservative.

my reply:

Halfmoon will seem a little dimmer without you

Being somewhere they sell false eyelashes in all the supermarkets, though, well, that’s somewhere you can feel safe to shine.

May you find the people who treasure you out loud.

thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to

One of those days.

I’m driving the cramped Subaru when I can get it, because the car I drive has been with my sister has for a week tomorrow, while hers is repaired.

I wrote about driving it in April 2005

It has been a very hard few days. Little sleep, always with parents, and lots of hard. I had to go to a party with normies for 4 hours, and then do three hours of city tour driving yesterday, all in a car set up for my father – can’t see the mirrors, head jammed into the roof, legs ramped, lips parched with the blood in my saliva, mother taking up all the centre console.

“I don’t know which way. You decide. . .. ”

Grrrrrr! I never lived here in Toronto!

Ms.Rachelle replied

The ride in the car seems incredibly symbolic of your whole life with your parents.

When I read of your pain in these scenes I remember so vividly how much pain I was in when I was just coming out, but had to look male for family events, etc. It’s still a mystery — in any sense of the word — what an overwhelming thing it is to be seen as female, how when you do it really is not that big a deal but if you’re not doing it it’s simply agony.

I feel for you and wish you joy and release.

I’m cramped in there and shopping for whims, using the budget alloted me to buy the specialties my mother desires — baba ganouj, tabouleh, crumpets and all — chopping it up.

I put my big mug down on the floor of the passenger side, and as I turn in the parking lot, the cup calls over and for the first time ever, the rotating cover pops off and pours a quart of that rejuvenating nectar on the rug. I strain to grab, but as cramped as I am, the seatbelt locks and tears into me as soda pours.

I can hear my father’s voice as I try to clean it up, about planning and taking your time and using your head and not being so stupid, and the only thing I can do is pray for death.

I get home and note that the soy milk carton is leaking into the bag, probably a victim of the cooler my sister & her friend broke when she took it to Maine, one that I haven’t found a replacement, and as it pours onto the kitchen floor, my mother is whimpering at me to see if there is any of the pate I found her in Montreal left.

I think about what happened before I got the now spilled soda, when I bought three bottles of Coke but they didn’t have three bottles of Coke, so I got shafted with a Sprite.

Life is loss, a thousand cuts, all those shocks.

And all that can possibly get us through is the wins we can find, the smiles, the joys, the successes and the delights. Awful can only be helped by the awesome, and grating only soothed by gratitude.

And when you have no wins, like those of us who feel marginalized & isolated feel, well, it’s all just, just, just tearing.

Always waiting, waiting for the whim of my mother or waiting for the third gotcha, well, it’s all the same.

To be or not to be–that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles
And, by opposing, end them. To die, to sleep–
No more–and by a sleep to say we end
The heartache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to–’tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wished.

To die, to sleep– To sleep, perchance to dream.
Ay, there’s the rub,
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come,
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause. There’s the respect
That makes calamity of so long life.

French Passing

The fellow at the gas station in Montreal where they fixed the tire, who looked like the middle age son of the owner, saw that the car was from New York, and wanted to talk about his snowmobile buddies in Alden & Binghampton, the ones he met in Saranac Lake.  It was nice, as if somehow, the fact I was from the states took me off the hook for rudeness.

As I left him, instead of “Thank you,” I said “Merci.”  When I am in Montreal, I feel badly I can’t speak French, but I do change my social words to ‘Excusez Moi” and “Merci.”

“Aha!” he smiled.  “You speak French!”

I think what he was telling me is that he was pleased I wasn’t one of those people who think everyone else has an obligation to speak their language.  It was the same as the AAA service guy, who just wanted to be able to communicate and not to be yelled at in English.

I tried, to say what I could, but I have to admit that saying these words in French felt like passing.

Even after six years of high school French (three years of French I and three years of French II), I have no real handle at all, even if I can pick up some words.  I make sure I am looking at the cash when the clerk rattles off the total, because while I know my numbers, at that speed in joual, well, I need to look at the display.

But I make my attempt, and I make the sound, and when someone understands, it seems baffling.

There was a woman who did all the trade show presentations for Sun Microsystems, in all the languages.  Her trick was simple; once she had a tape of the presentation, it played in her ear and she just repeated it phonetically.  I suppose this even helped in English, where the technical jargon may have been as uncomprehensible to her as the Spanish translation.

I can do this too, listen in the IFB and and repeat what I hear, as if I was thinking it.  I remember one meeting where I had to talk to someone about Unix internals and report back.  Before I started, I told the group “Don’t interrupt me and don’t ask questions; I’m just going to play back what I heard,” and then launched into the recitation.  There was laughter and applause when I finished, breathless.

Still, I was surprised at how much the attempts at French felt like passing, and surprised again at how much the people I used them on understood and appreciated my efforts.

I think that there is some kind of lesson about trusting the performance in there, but right now, waiting for my mother to decide what she wants to do today, well, it escapes me.

Subborn Non-Conformism & Deep Humility

In his biography of Einstein, Walter Issacson comes to the conclusion that powerful curiosity & intense discipline alloyed with stubborn non-conformism & deep humility were the the keys to Einstein’s work. These allowed him to break stride, seeking harmonies that others missed.

I get that, I really do. TBB thinks I have the disposition of an engineer like her, but I know that I really have the discipline of a theoretical physicist. After all, theoretical physicists are the theologians of science, looking for signs of God  (or at least signs of the creator) in the spaces between.  I remember when I proficiencied out of Physics 110 in college, and the physics department implored me to come and take classes with them, a tiny place at a teacher’s college.

You cannot be brilliant without also being naive, because to be brilliant is to see past the limits of what is, to see past what is called practical, and to see what is possible. Pragmatists are never brilliant, even if the brilliant are sometimes pragmatic.

My secret quest has been to compile a unified field theory of trans behaviour. This has required me to not just try to fit every tranny narrative into my own rationalizations, but rather to let every narrative shape my own understanding, to make sure that my ideas fit the narratives, not that the narratives fit my ideas.

It’s been a good quest, and one I think has been valuable, though I am always surprised when someone wonders why more people don’t engage my work. It’s not easy stuff to see yourself in the mirror naked, especially when all you want is for someone to agree and parrot your own justifications.

But this whole stubborn non-conformism & deep humility thing is a knife that cuts two ways. If you know you can’t be concerned with people liking you, but rather in following your own heart, it’s easy to accept that they don’t like you. And if you have the humility to live in the questions rather than the answers, then you approach everything with doubt & curiosity, wanting to learn rather than to teach.

It’s lonely, sure, but it’s not much different than the lives of many other theoretical physicists.

toothsome

I do need to acknowledge that the gracious & generous Miz Ruby has offered to help with dental work, both in financial & anxiety terms, helping me through the procedures.

While I have to wait here until we know about any schedule for my father’s hip replacement — and waiting here is what I do, as stressful as that is — her kind & compassionate offer is heartwarming.

Fukt

My sister’s car wasn’t fixed after all, after all my work on Sunday, after her guy friends vetted it.

She called tonight, two miles from home.

I asked what I could do.

She said that her friend was coming over, so there would be two to drive.

This is the friend that I have identified as an abuser and with whom I have severed relations. She diagnosed me with Passive-Aggressive Disorder and then with Borderline Personality disorder, and when I wouldn’t engage her, started trying to convince my family of my disease, to the point of creating lists of my violations. One was that I called threatening to kill her cat, which I was not a serious threat, as I made clear, even though I had not wanted to take the cat, it was against the lease, I had been keeping the cat for longer than promised, and the cat attacked me and drew blood for a second time after I spent a long Christmas day with a bum battery and cooking for the family. All the violations came down to that, her imposing and then feeling pushed, like when she wanted my castoffs for her garage sale, and then would not arrange taking them, when I needed to get the car clear as I was evicted and had a deadline.

Even my sister identified the triangulation, but not the essential problem that any complaint I made against this intrusive & abusive behaviour of hers was identified as a symptom of my sickness.

This whole pattern of people trying to explain why we must be sick, well, it’s a key abuse of transpeople. I spent a life trying to defend myself from diagnoses, and that’s just not on anymore.

I realized the only course was to cut her off, and not speak about her.

Over the years, I avoided her, for example cooking for my sister’s New Years party, and leaving before she arrived. My sister has pushed for me to speak with her and the husband, and I have just said no. This woman even kept me on her mail list, without the courtesy of BCC, and I got mail from her correspondents. I told her to remove me, and yet I got more mail.

Worse, I know that my sister and this person have talked about me. That makes me feel unsafe when talking with my sister.

Tonight, when I identified the problem, exposed the boundary, my sister got snippy. “That’s OK, Honey. I know it’s a dead issue to you.” She never calls me honey.

I mentioned it to my mother, who was sure I was making it up — she never heard the word “honey.” I must be overblowing it, old over sensitive me. My father heard it, though.

My father, though, tried to explain that the victim is the one who has to suck it up.

I explained that today on “Dr. Phil,” he said that the key to abuse is to isolate the victim and make them feel like they are the sick one, and “that all ends today.”

I will do the work. I will do what needs to be done.

But don’t expect me to do it gladly, to engage someone I have identified as an abuser, someone who has not apologized for their behavior, someone my sister has continued relations with, someone she has pushed me to accept after that abuse.

t’s my fault now, to her, that I don’t accept that. I’m so bad, I deserve getting snippy with about this, because after all, shouldn’t I be the bigger person?

It’s my fault now to my mother, who thinks I am hearing things that create problems, even after my father heard the same thing.

I set a boundary, have not made a big deal, even if I felt betrayed, felt that the demands made on me to swallow the abuse were obscene. If my concerns had been met with compassion, no problem, but her dismissal of my stand as just something to mock leaves me only to take on any task as a martyr, self-sacrificing some more. “To help me, you have to admit that you have been wrong,” instead of “I know this is an issue, and I respect it, but I need help. Do it under protest; that’s fine.” My sister’s continued relationship with this person is her choice, certainly, and one I need to accept and respect, but not one I need to affirm and engage.

“I’m only two miles from home. I’ll be fine,” she snipped when I offered to help, choosing not to tell me where she was and making herself the martyr for my unreasonable holding of this boundary.

I know that my sister feels uncomfortable being caught between, uncomfortable that I still hold this boundary. I know she just wants me to get over it, to make it easy for her, to create comfort without having to have this person make any kind of apology that acknowledges their abusive behaviours.

But now, the big mess just all swells back, being caught between taking care of my family and standing up for myself, the kind of demands that have destroyed me.

I am guilty and I am hurting, I am abused and I am strong, I am wrong and I am an asshole. If I can’t even get support from my sister, what the hell is the point?

And it feels like shit.

Deux

Two parents, two languages, two, two two.

My crackpot engineer father had his paper for Turbo Expo 2007 turned down, like his paper for Turbo Expo 2006 and others. He does not represent mainstream thinking in his field, instead choosing to look at exceptional events that conventional thinking can not explain. His fight with these idiots motivates and drives him, sending him back to peck at the keyboard time and time again.

But he still kinda wanted to see what’s going on, which is why I suggested going to Montreal this week. The plan was very soft — my mother couldn’t commit to anything, from if she wants to go out this afternoon to her own responsibility or happiness.

We left Monday morning, a few hours later than my father and I would have if she was not coming. Her displeasure with our suggested departure was not offered in words, but in grimaces we had to interpret and serve. That was the same technique she used to demand a half-hour breakfast at Panera before departure. Ah, passive-aggressive pushy-bottom narcissists, who make you figure out what they want are not fun.

I knew that my job would be taking care of my mother. Except for a few moments when I left the hotel room after she was settled at night, or before she was out in the morning, I was always with her, driving or pushing the wheelchair.

What this lead to in me was a kind of a smarmy TV show, where I narrated almost everything. It seemed important to entertain her, to engage her, and to keep her calm as I tried to figure out where the hell the things were in Montreal.

I know the city of Montreal because I spent a term at McGill as part of Canadian Studies from NY State University College @ Plattsburgh, just 60 miles south. I was a kid there, and as I walked in the night, I thought about how I wasted my time there, never claiming myself but sticking to being my parent’s child. Girls in black tights, and I should have been one of them.

I thought that right until I walked into the toilet in the room I had to share with my parents, where the stench of my mother’s used sanitary pants overwhelmed me.

I had come up with a plan that dropped my father at the Expo while I occupied my mother, and he would meet us back at the hotel. Problem is that she was upset that no one was taking care of my father.

I call this dilemma the three hands problem. In microcosm it happened when I had the peony support rings in one hand, my pocket knife in the other hand, and the tag I cut away fell to the ground. My father yelled at me for letting the paper drop. Now, I fully intended to pick up the tag after my knife was back in my pocket, but to him, I shouldn’t have let the tag drop, holding it, I guess, in my third hand.

When I do something by myself — like dig a hole for the new lilac bush — I don’t feel that stupid. But when their expectations get layered on, pulling me in all directions and demanding three or more hands, like to hold the basket and push the wheelchair simultaneously, well, it gets hard, just as it did when my father decided to tell me how to prepare the hole, not thinking about the physical limits of the job. In the past he has mocked me for using brute force, but when the tree had to come out of there, there was no time to borrow a chainsaw, I had to move the 12″ trunk by myself.

In Montreal, I had to take care of both of them, catering both to my mother’s incredible neediness and to her concerns over her husband, who, now he totters with a cane, she sees as frail.

I got my mother into the hotel — very anxiety thing for me — down into parking and then up, with the bags. It was many hands. The pressure was exacerbated by needing to urinate, and with this sugar intolerance thing, when I need to go, I need to go. I couldn’t find a facility, I did find my father who I tried to lead to my mother, but the elevator was on the wrong floor, I bimpled and bobbled, finally having to relieve myself in a corner of the parking garage. Oy.

My father, of course, hadn’t asked about the Metro, the subway that went right from the hotel to the Palais De Congress, so he walked the whole way.

After a few minutes upstairs — “Make me tea!” — we were off on our evening jaunt, to Ikea in Boucherville. I got us across the bridge — driving stress — and north on 20. My mother, though, didn’t like the fact I wasn’t sure where were going, and pushed me to get off to find an Information Tourisique.

Of course, that just lead us astray.

I drove and I drove, and she got more and more disturbed. Eventually, I found 30 east, which would cross 20 east. You see, because the St. Lawrence isn’t straight, around Montreal, there are no North/South roads, but East/West roads often cross each other. Oy.

Eventually I pulled into a Dollarama, and pushed her about, though having to run McDonald’s across the street to heed another call of nature. I tried to peruse the brochures I grabbed to find a map, but her needs were more pressing, needing me to pull the stickers of the peg so she could find what she wanted, and not wanting to wait for me to return them to their position.

It was at the cash I got to see my mother at her worst. This wasn’t tourist country, but she was sure the woman at the register should understand her demands for instructions to Ikea. I looked resigned and compassionate, saying “Merci” to her, just another woman understanding how hard it is to take care of the elderly.

I continued on 20 back towards Montreal — the same 20 we turned off at her behest to find directions — and when I saw the big blue and yellow building, my mother really didn’t want to believe it. She had already decided I had fucked up royally, and didn’t want to be surprised with success.

Then it was pushing and explaining and narrating some more, though dinner and looking at couches.

I got them back to the hotel and they were down, but the worst was yet to come. You know, I really wish I could shorthand this, not have to work so hard to retell the story, but the excruciating parts are in the details, the wearing, little crushing details that make every moment a new challenge in survival.

The next morning it was out for breakfast. My mother was not happy I hadn’t found her a room with a nice breakfast included, but was pleased I heard her injunction for savoury and brought back slabs of Quebecois pate to go with her olive roll. I packed them up and got them in the car, but as I was sliding into the driver’s seat, the door limited by a massive concrete pillar less than a foot from it, I saw the problem.

The driver’s front tire was flat.

Shit.

I unloaded the car to get the spare and jack, rolled the car forward a bit, but not too far, since the garage was tiny and overloaded, and started.

The scissor jack has a base of about 8″ by 4″ . Tiny. And the garage floor was sloped. The jack tilted and the car slipped off.

The general manager of the hotel, an glib, solicitous & urbane Eastern European fellow, explained I should have used the parking brake.

The next time, with the parking brake on, the same thing happened.

I went upstairs with the GM to call AAA. He told me that I should be proud of taking care of my parents so well. Then I went downstairs and got my mother back into the wheelchair and my parents into the lobby.

I failed again on the third try, though this one was much harder because the car had rolled back enough to have the pillar against the jack, so the handle had to be removed and replaced at every stroke.

When I told my father, he explained how I should have scavenged wood to chock the car. Apparently this is what he had been telling my mother, as she rolled her eyes.

I ran with my father to the Metro station, showing him the map, explaining the stops. helping him find the right direction. He still missed his stop — Place D’Armes sounded too French, so he rode on to Victoria Square — but made it.

Since I was reluctant to use the cells we have in Canada, and my father hates his anyway — it confuses him — I told him that starting at 2:30, he should be outside the hall every half hour on the half hour.

I found the AAA guy. He asked if I spoke any French.

I quickly figured out what he was asking. Was I like a Montrealer, who respected language, or was I like my mother, who demanded service the way she wanted it? I remember seeing a court session in Montreal, one person speaking English, the responder French, each having the grace to understand the other’s language even while speaking their own.

It was a bit of a mess — the parking garage demands payment, no place to put the jack, the donut having to be levered on — but when he finished and I said “Marvieullux!” (Marvelous) he laughed. I ran up stairs to get cash and a card — my mother had decided she would carry the money — and got going.

Problem is that I was in the heart of the city looking for a Goodyear dealer. My father had been explicit, that he wanted to replace the tire with the same kind. I just was hoping I could get something, and he wanted Goodyear. Yeah, add to the stress and pressure, go.

I loaded my mother and drove north on the island, desperately seeking help. I kept up the chatter, of course, patter to calm her down, and moved. Finally, after a pee stop for her at a McDonald’s, I decided to go to the south shore (the east shore?) where I had some comfort, crossing the big Champlain bridge.

I got off before Taschareaux, and wove down small streets, looking for tires. I was about to be routed onto Pont Victoria, the old railroad bridge I had joked always confused me. Built in 1859 for the railroad, it doesn’t easily fit into modern traffic. My mother, told me to turn off, which I would have done anyway, but better she was engaged.

There it was — a small service station with tires outside. My mother had been pushing me to stop at any service station, and it was impossible to tell her that auto body shops were not good places to get tires done.

I stopped and dropped off the tire. It was about 1:15, which means I had screwing with this thing for about 2.5 hours. He said to come back at 2. Luckily, the place would be easy to find — Pont Victoria is a big landmark, so big there are even signs leading you to it.

We drove towards Tacheraux, the big street. Instead of shopping, she encouraged me to stop at Harvey’s. She got the right condiments on her burger, but I got the wrong ones on mine, and between the fatigue and the language I just gave up.

We got back and the guy realized he had mounted the tire in the wrong direction, for the passenger side. It meant more time, but good he had that level of quality. They mounted the tire on the car — good, because by now it was raining — I paid and we were off.

We had missed the 2:30 pickup, so I stopped the car on Rue Bleury at 2.50. “What is the name of the street in English?” my mother asked after my French prounciation, reminding me of my Toronto grandmother, who when I read package instructions in French said “It must be on there in Canadian!”

I assumed that the stop would allow me to clean up the mess in the car, and be there for 3PM, but my mother nixed the idea, demanding that I drive on.

My father had misheard me, so he had been standing outside since 2. I waved and he indicated that I should make a kind of U-Turn on this one way street to get into a cab-rank.

My anxiety level rose from 9.5 to 12 at that, and I pulled, blocking the street and being blocked from turning more. The traffic moved and I did, and we got there, my father slowly getting in the back seat.

Problem is, a water bottle was on the seat, not well capped, needed for my sugar help, but thrown back there because as a passenger, managing objects was beyond my mother’s capacity.

The bottle opened as my father sat on it, and he got quite cross. Is there something higher than 12?

I drove and drove and got my mother to her other demand, the big supermarket. I unloaded her, standing in the rain waiting, and my father got out, and I didn’t close my door, leaving it for him, and got shit because I would have screwed up and my idiocy meter pegged, and when I got back, she felt I had left her in the chair blocking other people and cresendo, bang.

But there was shopping to be done, shopping where my mother didn’t look at the table close on the right, but looked across the aisle and got angry, shopping where she demanded going up the same aisle four times, shopping where my father followed so close with the cart he caught my heel with the bone spur three times, shopping where I had to run upstairs to the can, shopping from hell. As I write this now I stop to slap myself hard in the head from the frustration of it all.

After checking out and leaving my mother in the lobb, no the store, no over there, and my father baffled in the lobby, I went out and repacked the car, the rain having stopped. I got the groceries in — baked goods, baked goods, pickles and soup for her, jam & Red River for him. I loaded my mother & her chair, baffling my father who didn’t know where she was, and realized I was to drive.

I didn’t want to drive across the border. Anxiety.

I also didn’t want to drive without water, which was in the back seat, and which I couldn’t ask my father for, not after the performance of him trying to dry his wet bum in the store.

I chattered, though, found CBC Radio 1 on the radio, and go through the border. My mother said that my father should pick where to eat in Plattsburgh, at least until she decided he wanted to eat at Perkins.

I drove most of the rest of the way, with my father driving after it got dark. Scary.

Loads to bring in and my mother falling asleep in her recliner, not making it upstairs to bed.

And I thought about the window of the locked Mac Pro store on St. Laurent, people in a city where people live between languages, claiming some kind of life.

And then another damn day.

“They appreciate your help and they resent it,” Miz Ruby said last night.

And I feel like an idiot.

armored gloves

http://www.susans.org/forums/index.php/topic,13200.msg97578.html#msg97578

It’s amazing how much energy goes into staying defended, which takes from the quality we can offer, and amazing how much those defenses not only block what can come into us, but also what can come from us.

I know that if I was writing while wearing armored gloves, not only would my hand be less precise, but my energy and thoughts would be more about the gloves than the writing.

The fewer layers between us and our work, the more it becomes part of us and not just something we keep at a distance.

And I have the firm belief in this now,
not only in terms of my own experience
but in knowing about the experience of others,
that when
you follow your bliss,
doors will open
where you would not have thought
there were going to be doors
and where
there wouldn’t be a door
for anybody else.

Joseph Campbell

best kind of therapy

Vickie Davis offers:

 I find it is the best kind of therapy is talking
to someone who has been there, done that.
Dr. Laura Schlessinger
(God help me, I am quoting her, of
all people, but I love that quote.)

Vickie says that she likes this quote because it affirms support groups, like her own Tennessee Vals.

I have a problem with this quote, and not just because Exercise Therapist Schlessenger said it.

There is no doubt that the limits of someone’s fears, usually indicated by the limits of their experience, are a key indicator of their value in the therapeutic process. I have often found that when I talk about business and power, therapists blanch. I remember going to my sister’s acupuncturist, who fancied himself a therapist, who spent the introductory and hour and a half negating everything I said, then having the arrogance to say that his blank notepad was an achievement; the fewest notes he ever took, a blank slate to start on.

I found him intentionally blanking me.

The best kind of therapy, though, is the therapy that helps you hear and trust your own voice. It is the therapy of encouragement and possibility, not just the therapy of talking to someone, whoever that is.

The best kind of therapy is making art, whatever art means to you, potent symbols of your experience, understanding, belief and vision, that you can share with the world in a way that helps you shape it into a more potent expression. It’s not just talking, it is making manifest what is inside of you in a way that makes you visible to the world and to yourself. You can no more see your desires and your essence than you can see the back of your head, so it is only expressing them that makes them visible.

This is the challenge for so many transpeople. We decide that our desires must fit into some box, and we hold tight to that box to stay in the system of desire, and that attempt to hold on, to parrot the phrases we hope work, ends up blocking our own voices.

Problem is that while we are desperately trying to hold on, the one thing we don’t want to hear, don’t want to face, are people who have tried that gambit and had it fail for them. Crossdressers & gays who hold on to manhood, transsexuals who demand others respect the surgically created “womanhood” that healed them, well, they all don’t want to hear from those who have “been there, done that” and found it lacking.

The only thing that can change them is the need and the possibility of hearing their own voice, small & still behind the posturing of shoulda, woulda, coulda.

They need art, and people who can affirm that art.

Or at least, that’s the way I see it.

Boy Training

I’m covered in grease, lying in the dirt under my sister’s car this morning, first changing out her bottom radiator hose, then installing a new thermostat, neither of which fixed the overheating problem.

I look up at her and ask “Now, don’t you wish you were the one who got the boy training?”

She smiled and said “No, that was you.”

“Yeah,” I replied, thinking about how installing a new tourqueflite by myself was supposed to teach me to be a man. “And it hurt.”

Now it’s time clean up after my father in the yard, and then to cook Mother’s Day dinner.

– – – – – – – – –

Follow Up: The real boys came over to my sister’s house later, determined that the cooling system needed purging, and got her running again. They thought it was good I fixed the hose, but the thermostat was a fool’s errand.

Motherhood is Partnering

I watch CSI and love Marg Helgenberger’s character, Catherine Willows.

She’s a great woman because she is a great partner, always committed to helping the people around her look good and get better. She understands their habits and strengths, and she fills in the spaces around them in a gracious and graceful way.

The old feminist slogan went “Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did, but backwards and in high-heels.” There is no doubt that while Fred gave Ginger class, Ginger gave Fred sex.

But Fred did one thing Ginger never did. He went on to partner many other women, and even showed a great talent for dancing solo. It sure seems like Fred did more to make Ginger look good than Ginger did to make Fred look good. Maybe that’s just due to women having shorter careers, but I suspect it is more than that.

It seems to me, though, that the key to being a good mother is being a good partner, sensing what your partner needs and being there to help them achieve it. In the beginning, of course, this is everything from food to cleaning, but as children grow, they need different things, need us to take different positions, from cheerleader to rehearsal partner, to director, to cop, to soother, to stiffener.

Learning to be a partner, doing what is required to make someone else look good, feel good and get better, is learning to be a good mother.

Being seen as a good mother, though, well, that’s harder.

The Lost Children Of Transgender Mothers

Desire View

It strikes me that there are only four things in this world.

  1. What I Need
  2. What I Want
  3. What Everyone Else Wants
  4. All Rest Of The Stuff

As humans, you see, we see through their own eyes. That means first we see what we need, then what we want. After that we have to have some awareness of what others want, maybe out of communal connection, maybe out of figuring how to get what you need from them, or maybe out of caring for them.

Beyond what we want & need, and what others want, everything else is just filler. Now maybe we need to have our curiosity satisfied, so we need to know about other stuff, but beyond that, it’s just stuff.

I saw the PBS show on the Mormons. The fellow who was head of a plural marriage said that he wanted to become more like God, and that meant following the revelations of Joseph Smith, and plural marriage was one of those revelations.

Who can blame this fellow for just wanting to be more like God, and following the certified revelations of a prophet in his quest?  He wants what he wants, and is acting in a responsible way to get it, taking a tougher and more disciplined path with more conflict.

Of course, this leads to the big issue of exactly how much each of us are willing to sacrifice comfort and instant gratification to get something bigger that we want more, but that’s always the big question, isn’t it?   That question is about faith, in ourselves, in our world, in our God, and how it allows us to believe in a better future.

There are only four things in this world:

  1. What I Need
  2. What I Want
  3. What Everyone Else Wants
  4. All Rest Of The Stuff

Unless you can deliver what someone needs or wants, or maybe what someone else wants that can be traded for what they need or want — jewelery for a rapprochement, perhaps — then what you deliver just falls into all the rest of the stuff.

Desire is at the heart of all human actions, and unless we can keep that desire in context — a desire to be honorably connected to ancestors, previously and in the future, maybe — that desire becomes self centered and limiting.

Desire is the key, I suppose.

Door Crushing

I had dinner planned. My mother was drowsy — no going out for her today, I could tell. Of course, I couldn’t plan for that and take advantage of it, because she has no self monitoring, no commitment to plans.

It’s a beautiful day, though, and my father wanted to go out. He talked her into dinner at the drive in, about 3:45PM, around when I need to start cooking. I almost decided to cook anyway — I knew what was coming, but didn’t.

I’ve been hurting and groggy myself, not spending any time with myself/by myself. And I had just gone though an hour of trying to satisfy my mother with a hotel room in Montreal, tossing out choices and having her want something else, something different, something better, something cheaper, something, something, something that would finally make her happy.  This, of course, was a microcosm of like with her, a pushy bottom, never taking responsibility for her own happiness and waiting to someone to pull out out of her malaise.

It was 4:35 when my mother announced she wouldn’t go out. She was watching an Oprah where the one out of four women who is abused my men was telling her story, Oprah right and solicitous. These tales always heat me up, not just for the abuse, but for the ritualized sexist earnestness that goes on around them.

“I guess if someone tells you that you are stupid long enough, you begin to believe it,” Oprah said.

Damn fucking straight, I thought, though I knew that the kind of abuse I have gone though is not even visible to these people, too invisible to even be dismissed. I was called “stupid” until 8th grade, and for a year after that called “stupid ohtheshrinktoldusnottocallyouthat.” But I am male, and I am one of the abusers. Nice and comforting lines of abuse and pain.

And now, I have to work on short time to take care of someone while being battered again like this.

I started to slam dinner together. Needing to husk some corn, I opened the sliding door to the deck and stepped out, right into the screen door which was closed behind it. Bang, slam, dam, there goes the cheap contractor grade screen door, busted out.

I am upset and angry. It’s my fault, though, because it’s always my fault.

I went downstairs and told my father, hoping he would help me fix it. He didn’t have the energy or inclination to help right then.

So I remounted the door alone, chanting over and over again, “pleasekillmenow, pleasekillmenow, pleasekillmenow, pleasekillmenow.”

But I don’t get that either, so I set the table and wrote this down, knowing that there will be more to swallow, more to bear, more to make me sick.

Bang.

Simultaneously Compassionate And Angry

I had a therapist who often found me remarkable.

“Most people come in and tell me that their boss is an idiot, but when you tell me that, you then to proceed to explain all the reasons why they are doing what they are doing.”

That’s one of the problems with being a shaman. You tend to see through people, which fills you with a sense of their humanity. This makes it hard to be anything but compassionate.

The problem is that while they are doing the best they can in the moment, they are also being blind, ignorant & short sighted, acting out and offering rationalizations. They are human.

Those behaviours, though, can make you legitimately angry.

I have been getting more and more brittle over the past weeks.

I was furious over an MP3 player that took over double the promised time to ship, and then did not include the promised FM Radio & Voice Recorder.

I got angry at HRC’s crazy claim that 1 in 12 transpeople are murdered, and furious that when I questioned NTAC about the source of the claim, all I got was the snippy answer “And you are?” Yeah, when the question is too challenging, better to challenge the standing of the person asking it.

I get the premise behind this. They slipped up checking the product from the manufacturer, after five years of trans activism, challenges feel nasty. Human slipups, emotions, behaviours.

I know how to be compassionate & reasonable. But that doesn’t seem to stop me from being frustrated, angry and hurt.

Of course, much if not most of this is the outcome of my everyday tradeoffs. I can’t get out of the challenge of cleaning up after a couple of aging people with their own limits, can’t get out of the role of being small to keep them comfortable.

But my head pounds, my limbs are full of tension, my heel spur bothers me all the time, and I don’t seem to be able to get any relief.

The new drug my mother is taking is making her better, more alert and active. That means she demands more, more waiting for her to decide what she wants. My father is facing a hip replacement this summer — that’s lots of work for me.

My support systems, thin as they are, are pretty well collapsed.   Lezlie hasn’t answered in over a week — probably a busy time in her family.  Still, the expectation of the third gotcha hangs over me, assuming that things will just go to shit over third hand fear — “You can’t really trust someone like that, can you?”

I am frayed and rotted, but as they say, nobody wants to hear it.     I am angry & hurting, and I am understanding & compassionate, and everything throbs.

Judgement

In the car yesterday my mother wanted to talk about a case from one of her Judge shows.

In this case, a insurance payout was sent to a man who had died in the interim.  Since they had the same name, this man’s child cashed the cheque and kept the proceeds.  The brother said that the cheque should have gone to the estate and been disbursed in the same way as other estate assets, in this case, split three ways.  The judge agreed and ordered the money split.

Simple, right?  But, of course, that’s not what she wanted to talk about.  It turns out that the child with the same name as the father is a tranny of some sort, married to a woman, and coming to court dressed as a woman.

There was a long discussion about the circumstances of that dressing, how the brother and sister don’t understand but accept, and it’s the trans sibling who caused any split.  There was discussion of how the transperson isn’t gay, and would be a lesbian if they had surgery.

Now, what does all this have to do with the case?

Nothing.  Nothing at all.

Why was it even brought up?

“Because he came to court in a dress,” my mother said.

Yeah.  “He” was deviant, so he has to explain, defend and justify.

Of course, the transperson had few good explanations, since there is no language and no respect for transpeople in this culture.

But my mother saw it, and he was a guy in a dress, and that was it.

If all I can be is a guy in a dress, I’d rather die.

And I did, just a little, in the back of that car.