Field Notes In/On Transition
Puzzling Out What Everyone Reads
I’m just finishing up a week off from my job. Back to work this morning, all the knots in my stomach are back, and I’ve spent the morning on the toilet. Blergh. That’s what you get for spending way too much money on eating out most of the week, while not working. My routine was very much upended, and I often slept in until 8am or so; which, for me, in the last 5 or 6 years, is an hour or more later than usual. I really did need a break and am actually a bit nervous about going back.
I did seek out and have one counselling session. But you can’t really get much out of one counselling session. I’ve done lots of those one off counselling sessions. You actually have to go for a while to get any real results. I find I don’t express myself exactly how I want to in these early sessions, because I find it annoying that mostly all the person does is repeat back to you the positives in what you are blabbering about. There needs to be some time and more than a single session, to do anything other than spur yourself on a bit. I’m not really sure what I need, yet. I am not planning any more counselling, other than one I have booked in July, that I think I can wrangle to become a semi regular session at a resource in my hood. (the Catherine Holman Wellness Centre)
You need the reinforcement from someone who’s not a confidant, to help understand that maybe you are on the right track. For me getting praise from customers at my store, especially non-regulars, people who are almost strangers — is the most rewarding. Someone you barely know tells you out of the blue that they have a lot of respect for what you are doing. I get a lot of this kind of ego reinforcement from older women, women of my own and older generations. Which you know is really the demographic that I am looking to be accepted into, so that particular niceness works a lot of magic for me.
So, I’ve had one day back now...and it was shaky for me, really. I felt stomach upset, and kind of off , all day. But as far as work went, it was busy enough, and a lot of the little things that get under my skin, didn’t. I do still feel though that I may have to take some kind of break from working, or do school/work part time each or something soon.
I need to shake myself out, figure out what the hell I’m doing. I only know one thing, and that is that I am Josie now. I still fear being told I have to go back to pretending to be a dude. Like some nameless authority is going to stop me in my tracks, and make me buy back all the men’s wear I donated (back to) value village last year, stop me getting electrolysis, hormones, and being able to look at myself in the mirror without being disgusted.
Not that I want the Gate keeping process of transition to go back to the 90’s, but at least back then, you had to talk to a shrink once in a while. That counselling was really my first of that sort and despite my (self perceived) “failure” to transition at the time, I doubt I could even have done the “part time” living that I did back then without it. But it’s not like Trans folk are the only ones who have lost the attention of the Medical establishment. The current Regime in BC has slashed medical in a way that even the previous NDP didn’t and continue to pretend they give a shit about the sick, people who need their empathy, and help.
Sometimes I want to move away from Vancouver because of what I perceive as a lack of empathy from all levels of government here. Green City, Great Destination? Sure, it’s a frigging rain forest, of course it’s green. And if you make a good living, more than a decent living, it’s awesome. But if you are down on your luck, well.... Sorry, our land developer buddies come first. But I doubt it’s any better elsewhere.
An acquaintance of mine on Welfare, recently told me what the rent stipend is; exactly what it was the last time I needed Welfare, in 1991. 22 years later, rents are just a wee bit higher than they were back in that plaid jacketed work boot wearing era. Just a wee bit. When you went on EI (or in the real old days when it was UI and something that actually was a benefit) you could be reasonably sure of finding some work well before your claim ran out.
Personally I believe the whole capitalist system has ruined working culture in a way that is maybe unrecoverable. Unions have become an endangered species, and soon enough minimum wage will disappear so CEOS, MPS and MLAs can keep their pensions, and people like me and you will never see our CPP and old age. I really believe this is what is coming to pass. I highly doubt I will live to see a dime in pensions, even if I live to be 100, maybe especially if I live that long...
It annoys me so much that our society is really against helping out those in need, and that the things that are supposedly there for citizens, like EI, are in fact tools to make us feel like criminals, or beggars, simply because we hit a bump in the road. (one our tax dollars paid for)
OK OK, I’ve trod out this horse before. I simply wish we could live up to the ideals we already have in place of being nice to each other, forgiving, caring and able to feel good about helping those who are less fortunate. If you feel like you have nothing, no money, no personal power, how can you help others? I really do grok the alienation that has brought our voter turnout in Canada to such a low ebb. If you are completely disenfranchised by those in charge, why care which person it is disenfranchising you.
Which to bring things back to my recent confusion/depression/fear that has been the last several weeks of my life. I’m definitely not as down as I was last month, in large part due to taking a “staycation” last week. I have two more weeks of time off coming to me this year, and likely (if I keep working where I am) I will take them one week at a time. Easier on the pocketbook, and I like the idea of a few small vacations a year as much as taking a nice long vacation. Travelling is not anything I feel comfortable doing, yet. I have no interest in having a passport with a mismatched gender ID and having to deal with Border Nonsense over something that is absolutely none of their business.
I’m back now as of writing this, 2 days in, about to go in for Wednesday, and feel very good about being able to deal with customers, and having a much more positive attitude in every dealing. Still though, it’s retail, and I don’t want to (unless I had my own store of some kind) be working retail the rest of my life. It is not who I am. I give a lot of my self to every single job I take on, and I’m finding now in middle age, and finally presenting myself as who I really am that I need to find some ways to not put so much of myself into my “Joe Job” (pun def. intended), and still be able to be good at it, and feel good about doing whatever that job is.
I really don’t want a “job” in that working for someone else’s profit, anymore. Not. at. all. I want to (though obviously, am not quite ready to) work for myself. Be my own boss. I really have no idea how to do this. I am very afraid I don’t have what it takes to do it. I never thought that I would be strong enough to transition, though either. Funny enough, just one and a quarter years into my transition, the idea of changing my career path again is far more daunting than the transition part.
Of course my fears are partially because of the transition. Job hunting (or self promotion of your freelance skills/self) is a daunting thing for someone transitioning, as is house hunting or any other thing that should have absolutely no effect on whether you get a job or a place to live. Again my gender or even perceived gender in fact, should be of no consequence as to whether I get a gig or not. Just as any kind of sexual discrimination in a more binary traditional sense is wrong, so it is wrong to hold my identity against me. Am I qualified, and a reasonable person? That’s all the info that should be on any table.
And for me, being able to “sell myself” and not sell myself short is the hardest thing in the world; much harder than changing wardrobes, taking hormones, and getting 8 bazillion hair removal appointments. That shit is easy, compared to trying to have some pride, and confidence in my skill set.
I have at the moment so many stories trying to make their way to being typed/written that I’ve kind of been clogged up, just writing small scenes, chunks of text, lines of prose, bits of poesy. It has become difficult, except in this blog to get as far as I want with each bit. The great thing though about this blog for me, is that I have a continuous stream of prose writing that I am engaged in and learning from each time I do it. My writing is as much my life as transitioning is, and I am finally starting to let myself write what I want to write, instead of what I think need to write.
As a younger writer I was not confident at all in any of my prose, the poetry, I found my voice early and hung on to it, changed it, learned from it and became one with it. I’m a good reader, okay performer of my poems. But reading my prose, I’m still given to a hurried, nervous reading. I’ve never really been confident enough with any of my unfinished novels (I have three that are “structural first draft complete”, and several that only got a chapter or two) to really work on rewriting, editing to a “readable” first draft.
Both my female self and my writer self have struggled to exist and coexist, both have made themselves appear occasionally over the years in proud but brief cameos. Now these two aspects of who I am are taking over and running things. I’m a Transwoman who happens to be a writer. I’m in need of some skill upgrades, maybe through some classes; and not just as a writer, but as a woman, or really as someone letting themselves be a person for the first time. I might take some classes that have nothing to do with anything I’ve done before.
I’m ready to start learning and collaborating a bit more. I’m not sure what this really means in my day to day life. But I am actually trying to figure it out.