Field Notes In/On Transition
A time of renewal and continued poverty
So, I have been working hard at getting the memoir going, living off of the money I was able to raise from my Indiegogo campaign. I had another day and a half doing some Background or extra work on a TV show. I really am not getting much work from that well, but I also black out a lot of days on my calendar for the other things going on in my life, like finishing this memoir, or at least finishing a draft that needs a real editor’s eyes, maybe. I can’t really afford that, as I didn’t raise enough money in my campaign. I am extremely grateful that people gave like they did, but I was only able to reach one or two people who don’t already know me. The internet is so vast. I raised $2100 CAD, and had to pay fees that lopped off $300 or so, so $1800 net out of the Ten thousand I hope to earn. In hindsight, that really was a case of dreaming big. Without some money in your pocket to start a campaign, it’s hard to afford to get the right help that can get you seen in the right internet circles.
I really haven’t done any other job searching, as I feel I owe it to the folks who have supported me, to complete the project and get it to them. There is a publisher who has asked me to submit when I am ready, and I want to be able to get it to them in a decent form, complete, if possible. I don’t think I mentioned that I have done some volunteering things as well during this time when I appear to be unemployable. I helped to organize the Vancouver Trans March, and I think a group of us who didn’t know each other really, did a pretty good job with only a couple of weeks to scrabble things together. Next year we will have more time to do the same thing, and it will be hopefully a bit less time consuming for some of the folks, who donated far more of their time than I did.
Another really out of left field kind of thing that happened, is that I ended up standing for election to the Board Of Directors of The REACH CHC, my community health clinic. I am a bit intimidated to be honest by this volunteer position. The Clinic is going to temporarily move from it’s decades long spot on commercial Drive in order to refit the building they are in, which needs an upgrade very badly. So they will be back in the same spot in hopefully about 15-18 months. I stood for election because I think that the area needs to have more Trans representation, and I have always liked going to a community clinic, and want to see it grow and become even more important to the neighbourhood, as the whole health care system morphs and changes, hopefully grows more patient centred, and community minded.
I have never been involved in this kind of project, or even wanted to, before now. But While I am using up the last of my credit, and money raised over the summer, I want to be making a contribution, to the neighbourhood, even if I can’t be compensated for it. I will be on the community engagement committee, and want to help all I can in ensuring more and better health care accessibility for the Trans community, and the neighbourhood at large. Hopefully I will be able to contribute in my own way.
I have a slow percolating plan to keep trying to bring money in with just the things I can do and create, as I really have given up on the idea that anyone will hire me to work for them. And to be honest, I don’t want to make other people wealthy anymore. I am only interested in my subsistence. To this end of turning myself and my artistic output into my job, my career, I am trying to be more a part of my community, even when I really just want to hide in my room a lot of the time. Fake it ’til you make it, as they say. I have been doing that my whole life. Kind of sick of it, but I am going to have to keep smiling and putting myself out there, hoping to catch someone’s attention long enough to sell a book, or a painting print, or some other things that I have in the works, that I would rather not talk about until I start making them work for me.
I am waffling about selling off all but a few of my books, comics and movies, maybe some clothes, to build up a bit of cash flow. You can’t really get much money from used art anymore though, so it will be pocket money at best. I like the idea of un-cluttering my possessions as much as I like being able to use them to pay my phone bill or something.
People are your best allies in achieving your dreams. No corporation is going to help you achieve anything other than profits for them. My friends have supported me in my campaign, and I will have everything ready for them as far as perks go, with the exception perhaps of the actual book before Christmas. Your calendars, yarn dolls, and poetry books are forthcoming. The only reason I might be late with the actual memoir, is this interest from a publisher that I have elicited. Self publishing can be awesome, and if they reject the manuscript, that is exactly what I am doing, no dangling it to other publishers and taking years to get to print, and rather than being at the forefront of Trans memoirs, be a late comer? Nope. I will keep everyone updated as to progress and timelines as soon as I get them straightened out.
Some community friends have helped me, by giving me a space to talk about my love of my community, and to read from my books, maybe sell a few. I was just the other day featured on my friend Teresa’s Blog “One Wet Foot” in a Periscope video, in a series she is doing on people in the neighbourhood, who love their hood, and are doing interesting things within it. You can find all the videos here. My video specifically is here. But they are all worth checking out. One thing I love about my neighbourhood, as I say in the video is that it is a community of communities, and there is room for everyone, and lots of crossover and co-operation.
At the end of the video I mention that I am doing a reading in support of my memoir: “All My Empty Dresses, Memoirs Of a Strawgirl.” I will tell/read a story from the memoir, and share some shorter anecdotes from the book, in betwixt some of my more ‘autobiographical poems. I will have some books for sale as well as some Strawgirl prints, and if I get my act together, a couple of interesting surprise items. My friend Andrew organized the event, which will be at Spartacus Books, one of the last Independent, and Socialist (gasp) bookstores in Vancouver. the facebook event can be found here:
My choir (The Femme City Choir) is also starting back up tonight! And, I am super happy, though as always a bit nervous to start singing again. Not that I didn’t do my share of cry-singing along to youtube videos over the summer, but it’s not the same as cry-singing with a huge group of Femmes in a small space. So, despite not ‘working’ very much, I am pretty darned busy. I feel productive, and mostly, unlike a year ago, at this time, I get a pretty decent sleep most nights. The longer I Transition the more ‘myself’ I feel like I am finally able to be. Acceptance is all I have ever wanted, and I have it from most places I spend my time, and people I interact with. Whether they see me as I see myself is less relevant than them accepting me as whatever that is.
I feel that my current obstacles are mostly things that I have placed in my own way, mostly as protective barriers from emotional pain. Things like my fear that my writing, my art will not be able to sustain my actually pretty humble way of life. My memoir has a had a very sobering and I hope in the long run healthy effect on my self perception. I have made a lot of stupid choices out of the most primal emotions of fear, and love. My old self was desperate all the time. That is not an exaggeration. Anything I achieved as joe was done out of stark fear that no one loved or gave a crap about me, the real me. Just this constructed man/boy that no one took seriously. Thus, despite making some efforts to be a writer, an artist, or even have a lover, I was never able to fully commit, because I wasn’t fully a person. I always let myself stop trying before any real ‘success’ could happen. These feelings still abound sometimes, especially when it comes to the idea of romance or love in my life. But for the most part, I do feel accepted as I am now, and loved at least by my friends. It no longer keeps me up half the night every night. I no longer have to get wasted to try and squash the self loathing (which as you know, really doesn’t work long for anyone).
So I am out in the world now, not just as a proud Trans woman, but as a writer, as an artist of some kind. This makes me even happier than any fantasies I have/had of greater success. Of course I want to be able to snowball this feeling, and this small measure of success, I want to snowball it so high that I can pay my rent, bills without going any further in the debt I now find myself in after using my entire life savings to live through the first 8 months of 2015. My grand ambition is to simply be able to pay my bills. Anything beyond that is gravy as far as I am concerned. Unless I can start selling more of the things I make or have made, I will be paying rent with Master Card in two months. But I have far less anxiety about it, than I had at this time last year when I still had EI and some savings in the bank. Whatever happens, happens. I can only keep trying to turn myself around.