Field Notes In/On Transition...
Tears Of The Buddha Redux
Aka: Persona Aux Gratin
Starting off with a story of how I got the nickname some few of you may know, use for me; “Buddha Rhubarb.” Those of you with a heavy 90’s bent to your musical tastes may recognize “Buddha Rhubarb Butter” as being the title of the “most 90’s” band of them all Soul Coughing But I was given that nickname at least a year before I had ever heard of Soul Coughing (still one of My favourite bands, I have all Mike Doughty’s solo stuff too) ... The legend goes as follows. There was one of those “Parties at Fish’s,” an East Van 90’s rite of passage, where I was for some reason allowed to play a guitar.
I was sitting cross-legged, in a wasted haze playing a kind of noisy slide on this old acoustic (that was plastered in silver stickers that read “Rhubarb”) to an also cross legged group of young hippy kids to whom I was no doubt blathering on to, whilst mangling music with the Guitar. They were actually all pretty entranced, I found out as my friend Kym wandered into the smokey hazy room and saw me sitting there, beaming like Buddha in his revels, she looked to me, to the guitar... and it came to her...
“Buddha... Buddha... Rhubarb... Buddha Rhubarb,” she almost knighted me, and then wandered off again. Chants of “Buddha Rhubarb” “Buddha Rhubarb” “Buddha Rhubarb” filled and echoed throughout the rest of that party and a few beyond it.
It’s the only thing I remember about that particular party. Oh the 90’s!
But the nickname had steam for a little while, Kym and a few other friends still call me “Buddha” sometimes. This I don’t mind at all. For me, Buddha Rhubarb morphed from occasional real life nickname into an email/online persona that I used on internet forums, email, and chat, and other social media (all the blogs I’ve had since way back before blog was even a term, it was “personal websites,” back then) sites, etc.
It’s always meant more to me than it should, maybe this nickname, Buddha Rhubarb; it was until recently as much a part of who I was trying to be as Joe Boyce Burgess was. Many of my videos on youtube (80, now) are credited to Buddha Rhubarb. I like the vague connection to Buddha, and who doesn’t love rhubarb?
Anyway, I’m pretty sure I had a point, oh right, this is a post about identity, and self awareness, self definition, and self acceptance.
I was a reasonably “happy go lucky” guy in many ways, living as a man, I tried if I tried at anything to make the best of what I had, but I could never contain the part that was unhappy, that had little or no outlet for self expression, the female side, the Josie side, I’m not sure as to what terms I’m down with anymore, so these are the terms I’m using.... I had all sorts of outlets, first was playing with other kids, invisible friends, then more artistic pursuits like Drawing, then Writing, eventually, Video, and Photography, even Music with my beloved Ipad.
Still though I couldn’t create the art I really wanted to make happen: the Female Me with or on any of those canvasses. The medium I need in this case is my body, which is something I have only a passing relationship with, and am now, just now 6 months into transition, starting to care for, and love at least sometimes.
Which brings me to some snippets of my week past that hopefully demonstrate that I am becoming who it is that I am, not so much by reinventing myself but am more evolving into who I am. I hate phrases like “who I was meant to be”... as if there were some magical way to right the ship that you missed, and are now time travelling back in time to get you a seat on that ocean liner. I am who I was, yesterday, last month, year, 20 years ago, and so on.
My Birthday party was on the 15th of September. I invited not quite so many folks as I usually do, as it’s mostly the same folks who do show up. It was a bit more diverse of a crowd maybe this year though, as I have lots of new Trans friends, as well as some friends from work, and even a few from those heady days of the 90’s... Though that contingent, (more my own age) has mostly vanished from my parties, moved away, had kids, become the never look at facebook types.
I spent the entire week before the party getting my apartment party ready, and am really happy with the results. I’m starting to acquire grown-up furniture now. It’s a good feeling, to be able to present myself, and my space as honestly as I can. My place still has Man-cave remnants, that slowly will give way to nerdy middle aged lady tastes.
The neat thing about having a party when you get a bit older, is that the cleanup seems to get easier. I did a bunch of dishes, ate some leftovers, vacuumed, and had a low key recovery day the next day. I had really great 1st Birthday (46th, in Man Years) weekend, spending time with a lot of my most supportive friends. What more can a girl ask. My esteem was pretty up, early in the week, making me (unreasonably so) paranoid for later in the week, but in fact, things have stayed up on this new plateau, of “Hey I’m doing pretty good,” all week.
On Wednesday I had an appointment with my “Gender Doctor,” which I went to wearing my favourite dress (the Brown one) and hat, jacket. I did a bit of makeup, that I wasn’t super happy with, (and vowed to get some decent make-up brushes,which I have done, and wow, what a difference) but nonetheless I took the bus over to the doctor’s office and waited and waited, late, and I was early, that’s a constant in my life... waiting. A medical student poked her head out, and shouted maybe “Joseph,” I barely heard it, never listening for that version of my name ever, but then I heard, a louder “Josie’, and realized she was there for me. Not my doctor, but she was coming later apparently.
This made me a bit edgy, nervous, until I’d chatted with the Resident for awhile, she seemed to know her “gender stuff,” and if anything was maybe a bit too pushy in her ideas. She was what we used to call “Genki, maybe too Genki.” back in Japan, substitute Genki, here not for healthy, but eager/enthusiastic in a youthful way. It was a phrase used by ESL teachers a lot, sometimes as praise, sometimes disparagingly. At any rate she consulted with my doctor for a bit who came in eventually and we chatted medication, of course.
My attitude, which I kind of bragged to the Doctors about) is that I am not a fanatic about what I am taking, or how much. I understand that there might be health risks with certain conditions (my hypertension being the big one) and certain drugs. But my doc, she had some possible “good news,” in that she’s sending me to a (Trans Specialist) Endocrinologist to see if indeed I might be able to squeeze in some of the Ambrosia of Trans Women: Estrogen. I am cautiously optimistic. I simply want to get as close to my goal as possible. If i can get a closer “female balance” to my hormones, it would make me feel successful. The actual dosages I’m taking, I care not, they are simply “my pills.”
Later that evening, all aglow within a nice Riesling, and the scent of a dreamy future hormone zen... for some reason, I answered the phone. An 800 number yet, I was ready to politely tell whoever was selling, that I wasn’t buying.
It was however, my bank, (imagine in a thought bubble above my head, Scooby Do going, “Rawt-Ro Shaggy!”) and they didn’t have bad news, in fact they were offering me a pre-approved line of credit, more than enough for transferring my Visa balance over, so I can pay off my summer of wardrobe from scratch at a waaay better interest rate.
This had been something I meant to do before I started transition, as a bit of security against any transphobia in later banking. I don’t feel any less encumbered by my Visa balance, but have reinforced my idea of slowly chipping away at the balance this winter.
I had bought those brushes I wanted, after seeing my Doctor, as well as almost enough skirt hangers for all my skirts. I went to work on doing my makeup well before my appointment at the bank, with a bank officer named “Josie”. I was up front on the phone with the agent, that I am trans and despite not having done the legal name change yet, was going by Josie, presenting as such. When I got to the bank, early, but less of a wait, as the officer, it turned out Josie was off sick. I had so wanted that ice-breaker, but found I didn’t need it, as the person I did see, a Chinese Canadian guy named awesomely: Clive.
He was very respectful, professional, and asked me up front about name, pronouns.
But back to the makeup, I so recommend some nice brushes. I bought these bamboo ones that are the grown up version of the toy brushes that came with the makeup I have. I did what I think was a nice subtle job, not too much blush, lips, and a nice tone, beard as well hidden as ever before.
My first banking as Josie was a big success, though the teller the next day (no foundation the next day) when I went in and transferred my balance over, he couldn’t make eye contact. Not everyone is good at new things. Also, Friday, I had decided was to be the “Casual Friday of my Stay-Cation. Thus, I went braless for the first time in at least 4 months. It’s kind of liberating to wear a cute camisole as an undershirt and let “the girls” (yes I said it!) get a little breathing room...
I definitely am beginning to grok the whole shed the bra as soon as you get home thing you see so much of these days, as well. It is a nothing thing that was something on Friday, a baby step, a stepping stone. Bras can be great “armour,” and help (especially a Trans person) in so many ways that you can forget how nice it is to see/feel the real shape/real thing under a nice camisole. To feel like those are my breasts, there, looking like breasts, not some lumps of man-fat. This is awesome, to me, that I’m beginning to appreciate the femaleness that my body is starting to form.
And, of course, to not feel so “strapped in” all the time. If I’m going to Mars with David Bowie, strap me in, but otherwise I’m only in it really for the look, shape, and confidence that the bras give me, or don’t... if they don’t fit like they kind of/should. Which is still more the case than not. I have some corsets too, but am way not ready for that yet. I’m still not waxing regular enough to be able to show the amount of skin required for such things (yes, just my taste there), so for now those are going with the summer clothes. Next year!
Something, that I’ve begun to notice is that, as I transition; despite my heavy drinking/munching lately, I have been living a healthier routine, and am paying more attention to my body, than I ever did before. Definitely, living as a man, I spent a great amount of time in denial about how unhealthy I was, and how poorly I treated my body.
For me, it always felt like a lost cause, the idea that I could eat healthy or get enough exercise. (Why not? I really have no idea, something to do with vague feelings of shame, but this habit/routine/comfort/becomes the “easy way” to avoid who or what it is you are avoiding) The “wall of fear” (which is often covered in chocolate, maybe caramel, too) still “bamfs/teleports” into place in front of me pretty regularly...
Keeping me from creating a routine of healthier eating, and more exercise. How can you not be “good enough” to live healthy? It’s maybe not how I rationalize/frame this self destructive behaviour in my mid, but that’s the feeling: Not deserving to be that person “you could be,” if you tried a bit harder. Even if you get there, you won’t deserve it, and everyone will see through that...and hate you, shun you, shame you, etc “ad nauseous,” to use Flintstones Latin.
This is where I have to stop myself, though and say to my self, that:
“I have in fact been eating far healthier, and exercising (a little bit) more, these past five years than I did the entire previous 41 years.”
“I have spent the last 6 months slowly changing how I present myself, am actually doing the one thing I’ve spent my entire life moaning was impossible.”
Give me some slack, self!
This is true, but I do need to make that leap to a real routine, food/exercise-wise, somehow. Maybe writing a blog entry will help me make that affirmation. I’m on my way there, I just have to tell/show myself the map sometimes to refresh the mind.