I wonder who I will be able to talk to at Southern Comfort. there in the mass of those crossdressers out for a weekend and feminist FTMs rejecting manhood, and then I remember. FemmeDar.

“I can’t tell butches, but I can tell femmes a mile away,” said Nora, the ESPA organizer. “I could tell you were a femme just by the way you were sitting,” she told me.

The way I was sitting? What had I done? What choices did I make? Oh, yeah — the choice to be myself.

I, too, can tell femmes, and when I think about what I might talk about at SCC, I think of talking about femme as a gender. (I did workshops for a few years, and a keynote, and for years after I wrote an SCC speech that I knew I would never deliver, just to see what I wanted to say this year.)

After all, when gender isn’t defined by genitals, but rather by approach, well, butch/femme has been a useful designation in the gay & lesbian community for decades, maybe centuries, even in the days when it was seen as oppressive echoing of heterosexist convention.

Quentin Crisp’s advice on style, on being in the world, is to discover who you really are and be yourself like mad. Well, I know that I am a transshaman and a femme, and I know it because of how I see those factors in others, shining like a beacon of connection. My sisters.

And I suspect that all I have to do is walk through the lobby, and the femmes will be bright to me.

That is, if I can be bright to myself.

Heavy Work

If many hands make light work, then few hands make heavy work.

TBB agrees; one reason the pavers are going slow is that she is doing it alone, one reason  dance lessons are going well is because Dr. J keeps reminding TBB that in others eyes, she is just a woman.

But here, well, heavy.


I know that the possibility of spending time with TBB, of being out for a week at SCC is a gift.

And I know when the universe offers you a gift, you should take it.

I know this.

But I also know that in trying to plan, to get ready, I’m doing it alone.  I have told my sister, yes, but while she is encouraging, she has virtually no time for me.

Last night, I saw the episode of Sex And The City  where my Miranda, with her flaky ovary, and Steve, with his one ball, make a baby.  The women, in that idealized sorority, gathered around her, first to help her lose the baby, and when she finally comes to her senses and gets her priorities right, moving beyond her expectations, to be aunts.  SATC is about the most powerful forces in life, and the most powerful of all is a sense of family, of being seen & valued, of being supported & loved, of being connected to people we can support and love.

And while I watched, I opened dusty bins that haven’t seen light in six months, not since my parents got back in early March, and try to remember how to put myself together, simplifying myself  enough to fit in a suitcase.  There are no mirrors in this basement, so I try to catch a glimpse in the glass doors, and am jarred by the six months of beard that mark my separation from self.

I am trying to have a conversation, but there is no one here but me, and things get misty, murky & lost, unlike those women on TV, for whom conversation with each other makes things more clear, more sharp, more potent.  This is the process of stigma and denial, where as we become more hidden and isolated in the world, more selective and defended, we lose the momentum that can take us higher, stumbling into smallness.

Oddly enough, I value that long gray beard.  It marks so many things; the power of will to do the job at hand and take care of my parents, the cost of being separated from myself.  It is both a weight and a gray badge of courage, and as such, I need it to be valued too, even if, as with so many things, I am the only one doing the valuing.

I called TBB yesterday morning to discuss plans, but she hasn’t responded to my voice mail.  I’ll call again today.  My sister offered that I could use her house to sort, but that’s more a symbolic offer, the reality being that her house is crammed with her stuff, and I don’t yet have use of the wagon I was told I would have to carry anything, limping along in the purple car which requires me to pump up the driver’s rear tire to drive it, as putting money in it before abandoning it makes little sense.

Here, though, things have to stay submerged, only visible for a bit and then hidden again.  There is no inertia allowed to be seen, not enough deltaV to build up escape velocity.

My sister has a friend who is clinically depressed and was in a clinical trial last week.  She took a medication that was supposed to change everything, but it didn’t, at least not right away.  And when it did, she was filled with worry that things would snap back and be even worse.

I understood the feeling.

I told my sister that it seemed to me that the hardest part for her friend wasn’t taking the drug, or going under anasthesia, or lying to the doctors, or pulling the defenses back on, rather the hardest part was believing it worked, believing it would work, believing that there was hope.  This is the unfamiliar part to her, the part that is the hardest, because for people like us hope makes us vulnerable, and brings up all the times hopes were dashed in the past.   I know that I am doomed without hope, but I also know I am often broken up by it.

I feel better today, the head cold diminished, and I step towards the possibilities.  But I do it in conversation alone, and that means a conversation bounded by my defenses, limited by my own history of being dashed, of being too big, too weird, too hip, too smart for the room.

Those open-side wedge pumps with the ankle strap in black suede that I bought for $7.50?  I need to try them and not take them, to eliminate them because I don’t understand how to make them work, even if I would love to do that.  Yet do I understand how to make anything work, remember the patterns I had six months ago before I had to go to depth again?  No, not really.

It’s a conversation with myself, with my limits and my fears.  It’s reaching towards a gift some part of me belives will evaporate.

It’s trying to trust in mother moon and her amazing grace.

And it is hard.

to ron to

The nearly full moon was just at the horizon, so she looked huge behind the Dufferin Arch at the CNE, the gates that had so often marked the beginning of a new year in my young life. I have never heard Amazing Grace played on decorated German cowbells before, not even by two sweet girls. And when Mother Moon & Amazing Grace confronted me again, this time at 11:30 AM on the day we were leaving, a street musician and a luminous apparition in the morning sky over at the St. Lawrence Market, I saw her presence in my life.

But the rest of the trip, well, it was all work. My parents don’t know how to wait, I can’t take care of both of them at once, and cell phones can only be used by me.

People often want to tell us how easy it is to do this one thing, then how easy it is to do the other, but when you get a whole range of those things that alll have to be done at almost the same time, well, then it stops being easy. It’s not that we can’t do them individually, it’s that we can’t do them together, so the suggestion that any one thing is easy, tolerable, doable, possible becomes moot in the face of the daunting mass of contradictory expectations and requirements placed on us.

This was my experience of Toronto, where I only got to catch an hour or so for myself on some mornings. The rest of the time was being pushed & pulled, hurry up & waited, expected & silenced, demanded & required in all different directions at once. The story isn’t in the individual incidents; each one of those was manageable. The story is in the wearing accumulation of those incidents, piled on top of one another, astride one another, across one another, beyond one another until they make breaking. And the fact that my blood sugar was not in control, leading to the standard irritation, urgent calls to urinate and anxiety didn’t help matters. (I blame it on cane sugar Coke, not the HFCS junk down here, which tastes so good, the elixir of the Gods, the nectar of the universe. He was one magical cocaine addled concocter, that Joseph Pemberton.)

I can tell the stories, of having to manage both of them as they are apart, of my mother shouting “Whoa!” which putzed my father, of my father’s initial assertion that I didn’t have to go everywhere, of frustration and waiting for my mother to finally leave the urine scented chair so I could unfold the sofabed which wouldn’t hold sheets in place for anything, of the physicality of rolling her around town, and on and on and on, but it isn’t the individual stories that tell the tale, it is how they piled up and piled on.

Even just tolerating all this with the obligation to stay silent, understanding that disturbing the herd only makes things worse is another event, a facet of the stigma I have always carried to keep my own heart, desires & Eros unbidden and secret.

But there was my mother in the sky, and the song that makes me laugh with joy, and the pull of denial as well.


I heard McGruff, the Crime Dog, talking about cybersafety on the public address at the Wally.

Is the best expert to tell kids about sexual predators really culled from a species that likes to hump legs (or anything else) and lick its genitals in public?

Maybe we can learn about sexuality from dogs, yes.

I just think dogs would suggest that more fornication is better, not less.