Posts Tagged ‘Biographical’

I have a history with camellias. They grew in glorious abundance around our family home, and I always loved their blossoming, for itself and as a sign of spring in general. But they also play a part in a memory I’ve never confided to anyone until now.

It was spring of my senior year of high school, and I was at a party with a lot of classmates. It was a small-ish high school with a great overlap between the academic geeks, the theatre crowd, the music crowd, and several other scenes, with what I gradually learned was a remarkably low level of clique-ishness at the high end. That’s probably a subject for a post of its own, but for now, back to the party.

The family hosting the party was quite a bit wealthier than most of ours’, and genuinely nice people, gracious and generous. They had a great backyard with a very fine pool, and our class had quite a few gatherings there. So there I was, one of the (as I thought) somewhat shy and awkward guys, listening to the conversation, not contributing a lot, dabbling my feet in the pool. A couple of the girls had been braiding backyard flowers into other girls’ hair. Suddenly one of them came up to me with this huge camellia and managed to find some way to make its stem hold even in my short hair. Then she was off again.

I felt like I’d been shocked by lightning.

I felt appropriate. That it was right for me to have this decoration, that it was something more than a passing joke or fancy. (I’m quite sure she didn’t mean anything mocking by it; she was and still is one of the good people in my world.) I felt like I was missing something I should have been having all along by not being one of the people who could expect to enjoy it.

But I was one of the boys, and that’s not a thing boys of my situation and era did. So I never got it again.

This blossom is now sitting on my desk, and I believe I’m going to google up advice on braiding it in.

From 2009 Random Moments

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I’ve been posting with my new identity to a few places I’ve been active at before, and find myself enmeshed in all the usual arguments about unrecognized privilege, discrimination’s existence without consciously bigoted intent, all the Awareness 101 stuff. At the same time, I’m reading and thinking about the discussions at trans places about moving past all that to other discussions, and also about the practical application of that desire to prejudice in women’s place online and off.

I’ve been here before!

This is just what it was like when I started taking part in disability exchanges. I could probably play Mad Libs with a lot of posts.

So I’ve realized the awful truth: we notional young ones, just out of the self-realization, we’re the massed levies that let the veterans consult about higher matters. I am a spear carrier at last!

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This week so far, four of my long-time friends have told me some flavor of, “Wow, you seem a lot less stressed this week.” So far I’ve replied with something along the lines of, “Yes, I made some big progress on old personal stuff. I’ll tell you more when I get a bit more sorted out.”

I’m just impressed and happy that it shows even to people who have no idea yet what it is that I’m up to. This lays some more good foundation for a more general coming out, I think.

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One of the really big turning points in my life came about a decade ago when a female friend whom I often chat with online demonstrated to me, kindly but firmly, with lots and lots of quotes, just how much I was hitting her with classic male dominance behaviors: cutting her off, not answering questions but replacing them with my own, treating declarations as invitations to advice, the whole nine yards. It was shocking to me, and I needed to be shocked into awareness of it.

I’m better about that these days. Not great, I don’t think, but improved and improving. I continue to appreciate the lesson, and others like it, because they get me outside my own head and its guesses and internal fables into the world of practical consequences. Some journeys the soul takes alone into pre-verbal numinous realms. Some the soul takes toward a dictionary, vocabulary list, and clue stick.

For most of my life I was one of those people who was driven to take charge of things. I was out there organizing, supervising, helping make group decisions, all that stuff. I started losing my enthusiasm for it a few years ago, in parallel with starting to think a lot more seriously about my gender identity. Leadership was for me a way to get around the barriers of self-loathing and shyness, dodging engagement with the signals my body was sending me about being out of whack.

Just as I needed – make that “continue to need – to learn how to listen better, I need to learn how to follow better. It’s all part of learning the general stillness that comes from being not so much at war with myself.

I’m making some progress here, too. Just in the last couple of weeks I succeeded in sitting on my hands and not volunteering for some oversight chores that wouldn’t have been very rewarding and would have been very time-consuming. I don’t really know if the groups will manage without someone else stepping up. But the tasks aren’t all that urgent anyway, and I really need more time that isn’t assigned, so that I can think, read, practice some early steps toward a feminine presentation. It feels good.

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All through recent months as I’ve tried to sort out my gender identity, I’ve listened to a lot of music from my teen years. Not exclusively, because I don’t ever do complete era/genre/whatever exclusivity, but songs from about 1976 to 1985 have dominated my playlists. There’s no surprise in it, either: music has always been powerful for me, long before I began to suspect that there was a spiritual dimension in that. It hooks deeply into my memories and emotions.

No wonder I was so lonely and miserable so often, and so terribly confused about what to do about anything romantic. I spent so many hours wishing for love and not even really knowing who I wanted to love or how, or what it might do to and for me if I did. (I’ve still got a lot to feel my way through on that front. I identified as a bisexual man for a long time, but it was never quite right even with men and women and I loved. It’s just that now I have a much clearer sense of what I still need to know about myself before a healthy, strengthening relationship is possible.)

At the risk of going all nostalgic and telling those kids to take their hula hoops and get off my lawn, I find many new wave, synth pop, progessive, and AOR albums speaking freshly to me all over again. Part of this is the fun of getting remastered albums to listen to on my recently acquired great noise-reducing headphones, and hearing elements of familiar songs I literally never heard before. It’s also true that I’ve never lost my fondness for the very high level of production and musicianship common in bands of that era, even the fluffy ones. I respect and often actively enjoy the power of rawer, less crafted sounds, but there’s something about the firm foundation of serious professionalism that helps me think and feel more clearly.

There was a particular note of joy in a lot of those dark tunes, that invisible sun. I was always scared to let it loose as I wished. But before this is done, I’ll be dancing to it the way I always wished to.

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A very good place to start, at least according to Rodgers and Hammerstein.

When I was young, our family bookshelves included a beautiful edition of Ozma of Oz. I don’t recall that we had any other Oz books, though we saw the movie often enough on television. Maybe we did and they just didn’t make so much impression on me. Ozma did because it was my very first encounter with sex changing: rambunctious boy hero Tip turns out to have been Princess Ozma in magical disguise. Evil witch Mombi had hidden her away, and then is made to release her. The idea that the boy could actually have really have been a girl all along stuck in my memory, with a power I couldn’t recognize at the time.

Now it’s almost forty years later, and this person who’s been a boy finds that maybe she should have been a girl all along. It gradually dawned on me that I’m some kind of transgendered person. How much? How far? In what ways? I don’t know. My choices are constrained in some ways, that I hope to blog about, but open in others. I have so much to learn and try.

So here I am, looking around for my own personal Mombi, or at least a good witch’s brew.

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