Mind Purge

Typical Trans* Column Outline

  1. I went to the {bank, restaurant, work, store}.
  2. Where a person that I {know, d0 not know, am married to}.
  3. Called me {she, he, her, his, they, yo, dude, babe, sweety, sir, ma’am, man, honey, hey baby, hey lady, girl, bitch, brother, bro, cxxt, fxxxxt}.
  4. Which caused me to feel {happy, sad, elated, confused, angered, amused, delighted, accepted, defensive, angered, mad, defensive, acknowledged, recognized, invisible, thoughtful}.
  5. But now I am feeling much better.

My intent is to stick to transition related topics here. Recently, though, everything that I think of writing seems to follow the above formula. Being a naturally scattered person, this week I am going to write about a bunch of unrelated topics, so that next week I can return with the regularly scheduled programing:

1. Everyone is getting married. Hooray for Marriage Equality.
Two of our best friends were married in New Years Eve.  Last week, in the same day, I ran into a couple of gal friends who got married in November, and a couple of guy friends who are getting married next weekend.
2. I have been making art. I go through periods when my creativity is diverted to other things, but I always return to visual art.

Mr. Imagination Shrine

Shrine To Mr. Imagination

This is my shrine to my friend Mr. Imagination, who died almost three years ago.  We spent some valuable time together, over many years, and I still feel much sadness over his parting.  There is so much in my life to remind me of him.  We traded a lot of art, so I have his work in every room of my house.  Glancing at his art usually stirs off a string of memories.

It is hard  to see in the above photo, but the shrine has a throne room on the left, and a bedroom on the right.

Here is a close up of the bedroom:

Bedroom

Bedroom in Shrine

The whole shrine is made out of a horrendous built-in spice cabinet which I ripped down when I bought the house that I live in now.  There are ritual activities associated with the shrine.  You may have tea with his dolls, or you may flatten bottle caps, for instance (I still find bags of bottle caps that friends had saved for Mr. I).

If you want to see Mr. Imaginations art, the Intuit gallery in Chicago is having a retrospective of his work right now.

More scattered topics soon until we return to trans* related topics!

Sign Off

I have a friend with whom I share email correspondence.  Somehow, we have got in the habit of writing humorous closings for our emails.

This morning, I am in an exceptionally silly mood.  Partly because am excited about driving the neighbor down to Ikea in Conshohocken this afternoon.  I am the unofficial Ikea tour guide.  I don’t have any money myself, but I can go with a friend and help them to spend their money!

So, here is how I signed off my email this morning:

Giant, Car Dwarfing, House Swallowing, Earth Tremor Inducing, Stories on Great-Great-Grammas Knee Inspiring, Slumbering Bear Wakes-Up-Turns-Over-And-Goes-Back-To-Sleep, Even Public Charter School Employees Might Get a Haffa Day Off,  Aint No More Salt Left at the Store, I’d Better Put My Caramels In My Pocket to Keep Them Warm, Let’s Go Skiing, If I Was To Put Some Flavored Syrup On This It Sure Would Be Good In August, Sure Am Glad That We Have Marriage Equality Now So I Can Snuggle Up With My Wife, Igloo Igloo Igloo Igloo I Just Want To Say Igloo Igloo Igloo, I’ve Got a Bad Case of the Sillies Today, WooHoo For Marriage Equality Again, Better Run Out To The Store For Bread And Milk, It Sure Was Funny The Stray Cat Scruffy Who Lives At The Foot Of Our Lawn Didn’t Get Up Until Yesterday At 1:30 PM And Then He Just Stretched And Turned Around And Climbed Back Into His Little House, Kinda Like Everest to a Garden Gnome, Piles of Snow,

Jimothi

And, oh, this friend just got married to her partner of 15 years, on New Years eve.  We had the great honor of being witnesses.  Plus, I got to ring the Tibetan bowl during the ceremony!

I just had to share!

Buzz Cut

I looked first in the people department, but I purchased them from the pet department, because the pet version was sturdier, yet less expensive.

Alongside the clippers, the box contained a pamphlet, with instructions for grooming sheep and goats, horses and hogs.

They have given me, and the dog, many years of faithfull service.

I love my clippers.

horse parts cow partsbuzzcut

Hey, all.

I haven’t posted, or read any of your posts, since mid October.

To those of you whom I read and comment on regularly … Your words mean something to me.  I am going back to read and comment on some of what you have posted in the last few months.  Thank you for existing.  It is important to me to have people to communicate with who share some of my life experiences.

Peace to all of you.

I Love My Job

Marie Curie in laboratory

Marie Curie in laboratory.  Image public domain from Wikipedia.

I Get Up Early To Go To Work

I get up early to go to work

Here’s another item in my work poster series.  The original image is available from the library of congress.

Another Work Meme

While I am working each day, I think of motivational work slogans.  I have dozens of them in a notebook now.  Turing Lathe

There is this poster vision in my head, which I’ve been experimenting with.

The images are modified from WWII propaganda stuff downloaded from the library of congress.

I’m happy with the results.

I Must Be Doing Something Right

I am in my Woman Rivetingwork truck, at the bank, holding a check which bears a feminine name (my spouse’s) and an androgynous name (mine). Well, not my work truck, but my boss’s truck, and it is even way worse than my truck, except that some of the equipment in it works better, sometimes. Diesel and chemicals leak out through the holes through which I can see the macadam below. Soot blankets the inside of the cab, because the chimney in the back of the truck is clogged. Yes, there is a chimney in the back of my truck. I mean my boss’s truck.

I couldn’t be any less of a girl as I insert the payment stub and check into the pneumatic canister. My hair is cropped short. I smell like the diesel, bleach, and sulfuric acid which saturate my worn out Dickies work clothes and wet boots. Probably I have grease smudges on my face from crawling around inside the diesel engine in the back of my truck making repairs, before giving up and calling for a new truck. The “girls” are tucked safely into a tight sports bra. I have no feminine accoutrements to rely on.

As the can whizzes through the tube, I think, that is all right. I learned from my mother (I know that I was hard on her last week) that the measure of a woman is not in whether she has a “woman’s” job, follows orders from a man, has on heels or jewelry, wears make-up or feminine clothing, or goes to the hair dresser (my mother has always gone to the barber). These lessons have stuck with me. I am no less woman because I don’t submit to most of the “rules” of what women are supposed to be. As a transgender female, that makes it even tougher on me. Fortunately, I also inherited stubbornness from my mother.

But still, I am pleasantly surprised when the cashier looks at the names on the check, and calls me by the feminine name (my spouses). Some chatter ensues. She calls me “Ms. D.” She makes an attempt at selling me a new checking account. She calls me by my spouse’s name again, and I drive off with a big smile on my face.

Chalk up a big point for the cashier, and for the bank. And knock off one big chunk of insecurity that I sometimes feel about how people see me.

(the image is Rosie the Riveter, library of congress, 1943, significantly altered by me)

Pasteur is a Great Hero

This weeks scheduled post will appear on Friday.  But, I get way excited about putting up food.

This time of the year, I feel a call to prepare for winter.  To hunker down.  To stash food away.  I like the city, but I feel fortunate to live very close to agrarian areas.  When I get off the beaten track this time of the year and keep my eyes open I find produce bargains.  Produce for way cheaper than I could grow it myself, even.  For $9.00, I bought 100 pounds of tomatoes along the roadside (plus much more).  You can do this too.  People grow way more than they can eat or store.

For the next two days after work, I will be canning tomatoes.

100_3665

1.  Set up an assembly line for dipping the tomatoes in scalding water, dipping them in cold water, removing the skin, coring them, and slicing off bad spots.  (these tomatoes had no bad spots ).  100_3669

 

2.  Mush about a quarter of the tomatoes up in your 13 quart pan.  When they are boiling, throw the rest of the tomatoes in whole, halved, or quartered.

3.  Follow your FDA guide for canning them.

4.  I really believe in following this guide.  I have seen people just throw hot stuff in jars, without processing the jars.  Risky.  Maybe you would eat it yourself, but think of the liability of serving it to someone else.  Follow directions carefully.  Pasteur is a hero.

5.  My tomatoes should make at least 30 quarts.  For maybe 20 bucks total, including new lids, and lemon juice.

100_3670

Folks

Sorry, Mom

Sorry, Mom

My folks are coming down for a couple of days. That means depression era coffee (one scoop per pot), and a few stressful moments.

H. really loves my parents, and they really love her. They are the parents that she never had (that is her story to tell ). My father just turned 80, and I am fortunate to still have my parents on this Earth. We have lost 5 close friends this summer, and most of our friend’s parents are gone already.

I hate to be the ungrateful, self-centered, petulant, selfish child, but here goes.

You see, it has been decreed (by my mother) that my father is not to know the entire extent of my transition. In practice, that means that H. reverts to male pronouns for the weekend. She can’t stand the idea of hurting my parents.

My parents are very social, so we will probably do things with friends. So, when we meet friends, H. will blurt out a few big obvious “he’s” so that everyone gets the idea. My fear concerns the friends with whom I have worked very hard to establish that I am female. Some friends know how complicated that the whole situation is, and will play along with it for the day. I don’t worry about them. Other friends are newer to the fold, and have never really gotten a full explanation. Some of them, I like and respect as people. I worry that they will witness this, and never really accept me as a woman again. Still other friends are my stalwart supporters. They are the people who explain my situation to others, and defend me. I worry that if we ran into any of them, they would be surprised to hear anyone referring to me as male, and disappointed to see me putting up with it.

To further clarify how complicated the situation is I will tell you about the last time that my parents visited. We went out to eat twice when they were down. At one restaurant I was referred to as “Ma’am” and at the other “Missy”. This is all right with my parents, and completely within the realm of what they choose to ignore.

As the dirty secret of the family, nothing can be acknowledged.

My deep down point of view is that this is really my mother’s problem in accepting me that we are dealing with and not my father’s. She is reading her own negative feelings onto him. He is the one who puzzled out some understanding of this thing in me, years ago, and is more capable of handling it than she thinks he is.

For now, we will obey mother.

I Have No Idea

So I ran some errands with my wife on this rainy morning.

First, we had some paperwork to fill out at the bank. The interaction was all very pleasant and businesslike, yet there was not a single title, ma’am, sir, Mr., Ms, or Mrs. There were no pronouns used of any kind.

Second, we stopped at the supermarket next door to the bank. As I approached the checkout, the cashier loudly exclaimed “And how are you today, sir?”

Last, we visited our favorite Vietnamese restaurant. We lingered over lunch and looked out on the puddled parking. When the server picked the check up at the table, she confidently said “Thank you, ladies.”

Three different experiences in three hours. Add the experience of being aggressively stared at and sometimes stalked, and you get the story of my life.

A few days ago, Jamie asked, “Is there a universal difference in being in the middle depending on which end you started at. What are the similarities?”

To which, my answer is a confident, emphatic, “I have no idea.”

I have been thinking on this question all week. The more that I think about it, the more that I realize that all that I know is my own personal experience (which I know to be heavily distorted by my own unrealistic self-image), and my own philosophy (which probably has no basis in the empirical world).

My own experience is that I started somewhere in the middle, and 46 years later I am still somewhere in the middle. At home, I experienced an upbringing largely free of gendered expectations. My mother was thwarted by the limitations of growing up as a girl in the 1940’s and 50’s. She let us know it. (I am glad for those lessons in homespun feminism. ) The 1970’s were full of anticipations that things would be different now. Equality of the races and sexes was here at last. Helen Reddy sang “I am Woman.” Ziggy Stardust sat in a tin can. The Jeffersons were movin’ on up, and Archie Bunker was a soon to be extinct Jurassic species. The naivety was almost comic, with 40 years of hindsight.

In school, I was labeled “boy.” I resisted this label, as much as I could, and spent most of the next many years of my life fleeing all things male. By 4th or 5th grade, I was sure that I was actually “girl.” To others, I was “different”, “artistic”, or “gay guy”. “Gay Guy” became a comfort zone for me. All things considered, it is a fairly socially acceptable version of “middle” (perhaps the social equivalent of “butch lesbian”? ). It took a long time for me to realize that “gay guy” was holding me back. ( I am not primarily romantically attracted to males. But others saw me as a gay male, and I was comfortable with that. )

Now, I am more middle than ever. Because of my “butch” attributes, I think that people are as likely to think that I started as female, than that I started as male. But I really don’t know, and I really don’t know how others see me. But, that shouldn’t matter. None of us can ever really know how others see us, or even control how others see us. It is really just a matter of our own lived experience.

(My neighbor calls me “David Bowie” when he is drunk.)

Jamie’s question perplexed me, the more that I thought about it. Maybe we can hammer out some better answers in the comment section.

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