Field Notes In/On Transition
Prologue: I realize that my interpretation of “Field Notes” is not terribly Canon. Most field notes focus on the concrete describable things around you. I tend to ramble off and on to the bits of physical experiences I’m having; and the field note part is more the rambling and theorizing, as that’s how my own personal mimesis works, how I learn. Stuff happens, I think about it, have self-conversations, trying to figure it out, usually I write and write, sometimes a poem or story is woven out, sometimes it’s a whiny/angry/self absorbed/hopeful diatribe of some sort. They are all part of the process for me.
This is most important, readers, please be aware that I’m not overwrought about any of these issues I write of apparently, more endlessly, every entry. The simple fact of putting these words out there helps me “deal” in a tremendously positive way.
I’m trying to, in this blog: refine the process a bit.
It does have me writing much more regularly.
I’ve made more posts on this blog this month, than last, that itself I think is a first, discipline has never been my thing. Maybe the testosterone was in the way? I think it’s more that I’m more comfortable with who I am now than I was just a few months ago. i still have far too much stress over things that I needn’t, but I’m not so spiritually and emotionally knotted up, and that in itself is a victory for me. Autobiography has always kind of been what I do, whether it’s more obscure and flowery, or imaginary, in my poems and the few stories I’ve ever finished writing.
Dreams Vs Ambitions
Very different things: dreams and ambitions. I’ve been told over and over, my whole life, that I’m a dreamer. People tend to be very well meaning in the way they deliver this news to me, always. Though as a kid, I wrote off this wisdom imparted, as people being killjoys. I actually have a firm grasp that my dreams and fantasies are just that. Always have. But I’ve always understood the idea of escape from reality, maybe from so much reading that I did as kid. I always have had lots of ways to escape the world, books, comics, RPG games, movies, as well as the discovery that i could participate in all these things, on my own, and with others. That’s the real escape: creating the places you go.
A good example of this is the oft told tale in my family of (and it’s something I remember, which is rarely the case, I have few early memories that can be put into words.) how My Grandfather, Oscar, thought he was outfoxing me, by mentioning that he saw my imaginary friend (he didn’t say “imaginary”) Johnny Reckles (pronounced WRECK-ULS) down at the store. I laughed and told him that he didn’t see him, couldn’t have seen him.
Grampy responded, “oh because he’s invisible?”.
“No”, I retorted, “because he’s imaginary.”
Probably, I was smirking. Funny story. True. And, a lot can be gleaned about me from that story.
Basically, I’m a bit of a smart-ass.
Something, I maintain, is a genetic trait of the Boyce family. We all like to take the piss out of each other, and you, whether you know it or not :p.
This is something I have to deal with from myself all the time, biting my acid tongue.
Like the people imparting the wisdom that I’ll never be a hockey player, a movie director, an author, or mostly as a kid, a comic book artist, I try to soften my take, but more often than not, I say too much. …I have actually been a comic book artist though, and an author, and a director, just on a much smaller scale than those dreams of my youth .
I co-created a comic called “Somewhere” in the mid 90’s, with my friend Arthur. I was only able to finish two issues though, before I overburdened myself with re-schooling, and my first sad stab at going trans.
The main character was Dirk Dobbs, a “Dilettante & Deconstructionist For Hire”… AKA 90’s “drive dweller” (my ‘hood) Lots of coffee, drugs and, philosophy in this comic, as those were the things we did/talked about in the heady days of 90’s cartooning.
(Comic Nerds will recognize that this is a swipe/homage of/to "Hey Hopey" a one pager from "Love & Rockets", that was swiped by so many indie comics back in tha' day)
Although, maybe my art (my lettering is atrocious) wasn’t really that great. I still have done it, and have no reason to think I might not do so again. My ambitions with the comic were hopeful, and dreamer like. Of course though I decided while doing a comic and having a full time job, to go back to school and learn computer graphics, those new fangled web pages (I had one of the first few thousand web pages ever made, oh the animated gifs, they were plenty, aplenty) and started transition, that first time, all this at once, the first thing to fail was the comic.
I just couldn’t find the time, with school, and spending all my time playing dress-up in my room. I felt really bad that I’d let my friend down as we had a whole 6 issue story arc planned out, involving shape changing lizard men, alien infestation, crop circles and others 90’s ephemera. However, in the end I was more than gratified with the meagre success we had with our two issues, and my brief foray into being a local cartoonist. I even accompanied a bunch of other Vancouver/and Island cartoonists to Seattle for an early “Spirits Of Independence” Comic Con. I mingled with so many awesome Indie cartoonists, like Colin Upton, Roberta Gregory, Mike Low…. Dave Sim was pretty drunk and pretty hilarious. It was in my memory, very much a rose coloured time.
Lately, I’m doing a lot of thinking back to all the other ambitions, dreams I’ve had over my life, and I have come to see that often this “gender stuff” interfered with me enough to moot a lot of my ambition.
If you are too self loathing, too obsessed with the perceived failure of self, it’s hard to keep that ambition going and not give in to the usual escapes: food, partying, etc, and I have usually succumbed to the weaker parts of the spirit; too much, in the end quitting transition, getting almost nothing out of my foray into vocational retraining. (It cost me 10 grand to be a relatively knowledgeable hardware/software person.) quitting cartooning, the poetry has gone on in a feast or famine kind of way.
Despite the fact that I’m completely unknown as a writer, save for a few ardent supporters, I’ve still managed to publish two books over the years, on my own. My minimalist approach to ambition can’t take the often years long wait for rejection letters, or publication. It’s not the rejection, it’s the waiting that has always hampered my “submission process”. However amiable and outgoing a demeanour I may possess these days, I’ve never been able to sustain “being part of a scene”.
Never have I felt like I was really being included, though I do feel my late 80’s - late 90’s was spent in the trenches of Can Lit. Long before the scene became dominated by Slam, I was part of most every open mic around Vancouver. I do not feel remembered, or thought well of, as part of the scene though, and by the time it all became All Slam All The Time, I really felt like it really wasn’t my scene at all anymore.
I think it’s nigh impossible when your identity is so submerged as mine was back then, to ever feel included, maybe especially when you were being included. All I saw was exclusion, often when on a bill, I was not mentioned, or invited to read on the bill, then demoted to open mic opener, because I never minded, and still don’t mind “going first”.
Likely this happened to everyone. The ambitious people can see through this and make their way. Me, I submerged further, and have never felt like I was genuinely interested enough, or tried hard enough to be part of whatever it was that scene was.
It’s hard putting yourself totally out there in your work (my books are called “Like Bukowski In Drag”, and “a Cure For Mirrors”) and yet being completely frozen about presenting that same sensitivity in your daily life. At least for me, it took until I’m 45 to be able to be able to start dressing as I really want to, most days.
Really, I’d rather just get my stuff out there in some way, for even a few people, than wait years to see something in print and likely still have the same few people who are interested. It really is the creating of the art; the journey, not the destination that is my thing.
That said, of course, I’d love to be able to write for a living, but I’ve not yet developed that kind of gumption. I have always been “waiting to be myself first”, as weird/whiny as that sounds.
I feel so completely grateful to be able to almost instantly get my voice out there for even a few people to read, or hear, by uploading one of my poetry videos, or some writing to a blog, or even a simple sharing of a Facebook update.
My ambition, really, is to be heard, maybe even talked to, or about, hopefully both. I am far more optimistic about where I am artistically, without actually doing that much other than blurting my thoughts into blog form, than I have been in a long time. So please don’t take my insecurities as harsh criticisms of anyone or anything other than myself, and even then, it’s all hindsight.
For example: I can see now that what I saw as indifference back in tha’ day, was just my own lack of confidence, and self awareness. Learned many lessons, have I. (to put it in Yoda terms) through this self flagellation.
Dirk Dobbs (Dilettante & Deconstructionist) may just be a thinly veiled me, or not.
xox Josie B.