Stuff, more stuff, long post.
Field Notes In/On Transition
Untitled Long Ass Blog Entry #67
I’m having a really hard time sitting down and writing this blog entry. I’ve been trying to do so every day for over a week. What is holding me back? Fear. I’m afraid of everything it seems. After a life spent “knowing” that I could never succeed, that every dream I had, was just that: a dream, or at least that’s what those I shared those dreams with told me. And to be sure many of those dreams were of the pipe dream variety.
I was regularly labeled by family, teachers, etc as a “dreamer” which if you come from a working class background is akin to being called lazy or some kind of jerk. (turns out that a lot of my “starings into space” that got me in trouble in school were petit mal epilepsy seizures, and that my utter and complete ineptitude with math is from a dyslexia around any series of numbers) It’s not possible to be a comic book writer or artist (I have done so in my life in fact) or a poet, (check, 3 books to my name) or make movies, (check, almost 100 movies on my youtube channel) make a living doing anything that wasn’t some kind of capital “L” Labour.... all bad, all my ideas, all the time. I have in my life, done work that involves thinking, discussing, not so much heavy lifting. I haven’t yet lost any money on any of my artistic ventures.
My child life was spent hearing (or at least that’s what I retained) that while my pictures and stories were fun, appreciated, loved. YOU can not be/do these things. Give up now. This is what I recall from childhood. Having endless dreams, fantasies of what I could be, reinventing my dreams was how I coped. Of course I didn’t have the moxie or even really the understanding that I wasn’t going to magically turn female at some point. I don’t feel though that any of this stuff made for an unhappy childhood. I look back at those naive times as pretty special. I was a happy kid who was happy to get awesome GI Joes for Christmas or Birthdays. It’s as an adult that all this childhood stuff ran out of steam. I began to see how hard it really is to accomplish any of my youthful fantasies.
I still have naive fantasies all the time, these days. I dream of a time when despite the fact that I’m as femme as I can get, wearing pretty frocks, skirts, that many people will only ever see the dude I was born as. I could go the whole 9 yards and get bottom surgery, a nosejob, whatever else. I can almost guarantee I would still be getting Sirred all day at work. It really does many days feel like an impossible task, simply to get gendered properly.
There is a part of me that feels like all my dreams have died. At almost 47 I might have already given up on doing anything more creative in my life. I still have all kinds of “big ideas” like the (series of) novel(s) I’ve been slowly working on for the last 6 months, or doing some sort of memoir-y publishing of this blog in book form. Then there’s the photos that I take that in my mind are sale quality. I should be making prints, postcards, selling them, supporting myself as an artist. Thing is, I don’t feel like I can succeed. I don’t feel, most days, like anything I’ve ever done (including my transition thus far) has ever been more than half assed. I know this isn’t quite true, but that doesn’t stop the feelings of self loathing, recrimination and fears of failure from running my life.
I feel like every little thing I try lately goes awry. Just trying to do my name change stuff, which to my mind, you should have to fill out like one government form: and they SHARE all this info with the relevant parts of itself- taxes, birth cert, SIN, etc. And then you take your completed form to the banks and non gov places. Bam. Done. But no, that of course would be too easy.
You have to spend hours and hours on telephones, on hold, waiting in lines and forking over hundreds of dollars, I have spent over 400 dollars and lost a days wages just trying to change my name. IT’S MY FUCKING NAME. IT does not belong, (nor do I) to any government or country. I’m very happy to live where I do, and have all the opportunity that I have. But I come before a country that despises me to the point that they keep delaying and denying me any protections under the law. (see bill 289) That make me go through labyrinthine Kafka-esque nonsense just to be able to be myself.
But my own pride or lack thereof is irrelevant to the process. The fact that Transition is emotionally, financially and physically draining me of all my verve and hopes and dreams is apparently irrelevant. I’m still doing almost as much writing, art making as I ever have, but my dreams of success have shrunk and continue to shrink.
Right now I feel like every little thing that comes up is a giant problem. It’s like I have no sense of scope anymore. Little things at work, like the fact that almost no one who comes in to the store can put a movie case back on the shelf “properly,” to computer glitchiness. These things make me angrier than I knew I could get.
Things like the circular kind of shifting around you get when dealing with Health BC on the robot phone. They won’t give out their mailing address online, or in person to you on the phone! You have to call and get a recording where the guy says the address so fast you have to replay it half a dozen times just to get it right. The fucking horrible sense of grammar that my writing app has; occasionally makes me scream. These little annoyances stick in my craw seemingly for days.
I’ve always (and I’ve talked about it at length in this blog, already) been someone who sweats the small stuff. Mostly (I think) because the “Big Stuff” is forbidden to me anyway. My railing against the government on facebook (for example) is just as impotent a gesture as it sounds like. The thing that I’ve been slowly realizing this summer is that all my “defense mechanisms” or “ways of dealing” with things that bother me seem to have dried up in terms of being useful or desired by me to soothe my bad feelings, doubts. I no longer have very much interest for example in watching movies or TV. For almost my entire life this “activity” has been the one constant, helping to distract me, and sometimes even acting as a “oracle” for my problems.
A concrete example of this is The TV show “Northern Exposure.” Back in the 90’s when that show had made it to re-runs, it played several times a day, but I would watch it at midnight when my overnight shifts doing personal care were on. Almost every time I watched it, one of the characters would be going through some kind of issue that I was also dealing with, unrequited love, feelings of Otherness, were big on that show. Thus I often Grokked characters’ dilemmas when the characters maybe were nothing like me.
I do find ways to work my shit out. TV and movies kind of supplanted reading for this kind of escape and self work. As a kid it was all about comics and novels for those same things. It wasn’t til I went to University and discovered the study of cinema that I grokked you could get that same self work done by watching a movie. Every essay I wrote back then was actually a thinly veiled take on my own issues.
Partway through University, I also realized, by taking a Creative writing class on a lark, that the weird verses I was writing in my journal were poems. I always thought they might be songs, but they rarely rhymed, so poems they were. Soon, this and dissecting movies were my main obsessions/safe places to be. I always worked out my issues through these avenues.
Since starting my transition though many of these ways of dealing have changed. I mostly work out my “issues” here in this blog, by confronting them more directly than in the past. Usually though it takes me 1500 words of complaining to get to any kind of epiphany. :p
What I’m not doing is: watching movies or TV, much/or at all, though I am thinking and talking about movies at work. I hardly watch any TV, and when it’s on it’s more of a “white noise” maker... something in the background, while I read. The poetry impulse has dried up as I have written more and more prose in the last couple of years. my instincts lie there now it seems.
When I was a kid I was a voracious reader. Not just comic books, which I still read, but even my treasured comics are starting to fail me. Very few of the ones I do read still, actually give me much of that thrill they used to. It’s a hard habit to break though. I almost feel bad about the few hours I spend each week (Wednesday evenings, or Thursday mornings if I’m busy on Wednesday) reading comics. Almost.
I’ve been reading Spider-Man since I was 5, that’s 42 years of my life. I should just stop now? I did stop reading comics for several (at least monthlies) back in the mid to late 90’s... until I found they were online (Marvel’s Ultimate comics online were awesome for that brief period in the early Aughties.) and then I got back into them. And really enjoyed doing so. I was getting a lot of pleasure from these things of my youth.
Now they are failing me. Like movies, these days, my interest in being current seems to be waning. I just don’t even think about it. When I want some down time from work, facebook, writing: I pull out my ipad and pull up whatever novel I’m working on reading. Since New Year’s resolving to read more novels, I’ve read 36 novels, (and a few non fiction books) many of them, part of a series of novels, almost as many, classified of those of the sort of alt.historical variety.
In the last year, I feel like a big part (and maybe one of the best parts) of my transition has been this new freedom to read that I’ve developed. I don’t feel like I have to keep up with new movies and TV, but I’m excited to keep or try to get current with my reading. I had developed over the years since returning from Japan in 2005 a habit of reading only for 30 minutes or so before going to sleep at night.
I’m not sure how it is related to my transition, but the how seems unimportant. I feel very much like all the reading I have been doing, and continue to do is far more meaningful in terms of how much I am learning about writing by reading these books, series of books starring the same characters. I have learned more about character development, world building in the last 9 months than I did, I think my entire previous reading life.
I feel like every book I read is research for the books I will eventually be writing and finishing. I’ve got half a dozen half finished first drafts of novels filed away. Stuff I may never go back to. But this reading, this work, I’m doing; it seems, is not of “how to” write, variety, but of how to read, is for some reason the most important thing in my life right now.
Studying for me was always a chore. Back in School, I never felt as though I was retaining anything, no matter how many times I read the material... I learned from discussing the material, with fellow students, or Profs. Watching movies was different, though. I absorbed the movies, especially if I could find a tape of it and see it a few times. I learned about Cinematic storytelling, getting the finer points socratically in the film classes themselves. The only time I felt like I was learning something in school were in these film classes. Thank you Gene Walz, George Toles, Stephen Snyder.
Now I’m sort of doing it all myself. I’d join a book club, but I hate being told what to read (see there you go something else that pisses me off :p) and having deadlines. Not that it’d matter much given my current verve for reading morning, work, and night. I think my first step in that direction will be to start doing small critiques when I post that I finished whatever book, on my goodreads account, which I have begun to use as much as any site I go to other than facebook. It’s also a bit more writing, editing, every day, (something more than journaling) which is my challenge. My games are too sporadic to have someone of my, umm temperament (Yeah, that’s it “temperament”) keep up with the world building/fanfic on a regular basis. And my novel is definitely still in research and wild jotting of random scenes, and dialogue stage.
Since I’m reading so much, I might start there. I definitely haven’t been doing the movie reviews I used to enjoy so much. I need to read and write more, and I’ll be happier? I think I knew that. Also I need to figure out a way to get more physical activity in my life. I feel I’ve been making really good strides back to better eating habits in the last year. Gotta get my ass off the new bed a bit more often though. Maybe that will help my grumpiness? It makes me grumpy to think about, so maybe.
I’m still reinventing myself to alter my dreams to more achievable ones, after all these years, in some pretty obvious ways, and in some ways that take some thinking and digging to figure out. I was helped in this over the weekend when I went for my counselling session at the local Trans clinic (happens once a month) which, of course I was bummed about, because it was my 3rd different person in 3 visits that are supposed to be ongoing with the same person. More of the kind of thing that irritates me so much.
But, the counsellor turned out to be someone a. closer to my age, and b. someone that I clicked with right away. It was easily the best session I’ve had since starting (I went to a couple of other places before going to my local clinic, oh waiting lists) Counselling. We talked much more in depth about the things I’ve gone on and on (and I’m still going) about in this post, and it gave me a solid, "well finally I learned something," after about two weeks of feeling like every time I raised my head, I was getting a door in the face.
That, and my Mom sent me a great Birthday Card (Josie Boyce on the address!) with just the right kind of sentiment. It made me cry.
Her card is on the right "Starting Over"...
the other card is the card I bought for myself as my own "birthday card," the image gives me strength somehow, despite the fact you will never see me near one snake, let alone holding two of them. :p