Field Notes In/On Transition
Obviously, my life, my body, my self, my soul, everything about me is changing, has changed in the last year or so. Some of the changes are obvious and expected (by me) in Transition, the body, the change in sex drive (from 80 to zero in 8 months or so), I am seemingly no longer inspired to watch 5-10 movies (and 6 or 7 tv shows + hockey when it’s on) a week. I still have a passion for movies I’ve seen, and maybe a few I want to see. But my compulsion to see as many movies/TV as possible has been dropping off (in retrospect) dramatically since starting transition.
I have the same amount of free time: evenings and weekends. I’ve never been one for morning movies, maybe some tv reruns, or cartoons, excepting on Saturday or Sunday. Back in the 90’s when I was writing for Terminal City, I would bike over to the 5th avenue cinemas 2 or 3 times a week and watch a new film coming out the next week. I saw The Matrix at 10 am drinking stale free coffee, and muffins, amidst 10 or so grumpy movie critics.... I gave the flick a middling review. I went to see it a few weeks later on a lark, because I knew it was at least entertaining. Seeing something like that in a big crowd really changes your experience of the movie.
The same thing could be said about undergoing HRT. Which, by the by, is so not just about the actual hormones; but also the change in the culture you inhabit. I’m now living in a female space. Though I might be on the fringes, and most men cannot see the female me despite the makeup and clothes, demeanour.... I have been slowly redecorating my apartment as I have become more and more Josie, and less and less Joe. My interests have not changed as much as the priorities given each has transformed as I have done same.
I’ve gone from being someone who watched 3 or 4 hours of TV/movies a day (averaged out) and reads maybe an hour at most to someone who reads 3 or 4 hours a day and watches tv kind of while doing so. I hardly ever have the gumption to sit through a movie anymore, or more than an hour or two of tv that isn’t being a multi-task of also cooking dinner, reading, being on the computer, cleaning up.
But back to the culture thing, the demographic thing... I may have always wanted to be a female consumer, but I never even tried while I was living as a man, to do so, for fear that someone find out I really was a woman. That really is the crux of why perhaps I seemed to embrace a somewhat (bookish nerdy version) the “boy’s life” growing up. I wasn’t femme at all, other than having boobs (boy boobs in an era when it was very uncommon to see, unlike today’s chubbier kids)... which was something I tried to hide. I never tried much in the way of “binding” but a little bit, in secret. It always felt “wrong.” But I dared not let myself enjoy that tiny bit of “girl” that I had. What I’m getting to is, that I escaped in fairly stereotypically (again nerdy, mostly) male fashion; comic books, sci-fi, action movies, hockey. I couldn’t skate, and have a lifelong phobia of trying things that take more than a few seconds to learn. Ludicrous? Yup.
But one of my biggest self diagnosed neuroses is my fear of learning skills like that most people just learn as a matter of course, growing up: Skating, Swimming, Driving, Playing an instrument, etc and so on. Unless I am kind of good at something the first few times I try, I tend to give up. And as a kid when I wasn’t good at something, I was always told not to do it anymore. Eventually I listened.
I may keep trying said thing because of social pressure. But I don’t really want to do any of those things that badly, that I’m willing to take the time to learn them. Things like Drawing, writing? My hands are so rusty... but I have started doodling a bit more recently. I have always written. Even when I’m not working on a poem or a story,or a blog, whatever... I’m writing everyday. Those things for me; like talking, having a conversation are kind of second nature and what I have thrived doing, if I have ever really thrived at anything.
Most days I don’t feel like I have any sort of calling other than becoming the person I want to be, rather than the person I was wandering aimlessly through life being. The person I want to be can communicate and try new things, maybe even learn new things. She’s not quite as contrary all the friggin’ time. It’s extremely difficult for me to not be contrary when people make suggestions to me, or tell me “how something is”. The negative self talk, self image here is the big obstacle. i can’t, i can’t, i won’t, shouldn’t, whatever. (I’m leaving those accidental poetic lower case “i’s” for emphasis) When you have spent a lifetime “knowing” that you can’t ever do that one thing you really want to do, it’s, I guess, an easy/typical way to respond to crises.
A very recent concrete example from my life can be had from this very morning. A friend of mine tagged me in a Facebook post about a supposed (see) community planning meeting that is happening around City planning for my neighbourhood in east Vancouver. There are these huge towers planned for various parts of the area. This is a very tolerant, diverse, and fairly Bohemian neighbourhood of less than 30,000 people. If actually filled (which is my issue there are thousands of homeless in the city, and thousands of empty condos) the population density of this activist filled small residential neighbourhood will dramatically increase.
Now my reaction was like most anyone I know in the hood: dismay. Why not some nice “fit in with the neighbourhood architecture and culture” small rental buildings, with affordable (ie not like any of the rent now) housing for people whose income is not that of an inside trader, or a movie star. Nope. They want to put 36 story towers at the busiest corner in the city. That’s Towers, multiple, glass and steel dominating a residential area of the city once again.
This meeting is to apparently let the residents have a voice in all this development, of which there has only been a shrinking of rental properties , it’s all about owning and becoming a serf to the banks in this town.
My contrariness comes from thinking that it’s fruitless to try and stop these hideous destroyers of neighbourhoods from coming into my part of town. My friends are all like: you have to fight, even if there is no chance. I see all the millions and millions of people protesting around the world, and it’s inspiring, but are they getting any of the change they want.
I feel horrible that I think our capitalist/fascist/aristocratic overlords have beaten our freedom out of us. But I do feel it’s what the world is. Until there is a sea change in leadership. Right now every country in the world is owned by money. We have this sense that we are the freest people have ever been, and there is something to that. We can communicate in ways that anyone in the past ever thought possible. We can share our pain with people half a world away, and vice versa. But Big Brother (and that Creepy Uncle, Multi-National Corporations) has the final say.
Despite my sense of Doom, I registered for the event (you know they have something to hide when there’s an arcane process involved in taking part in a simple town hall meeting.) And may or may not get a chance to share my complete exasperation for the lack of understanding of community that this city is showing it’s coolest (whether they know it or not) residents. I’m doing this not because I believe I can make a difference. I do not! I’m doing it to challenge myself to listen to others a bit more, and to fight the occasional lost cause, and give myself a sense of purpose within a community I am a part of, as Manager of the last video store in the universe, and someone who has lived here for over 20 years, no matter how little or much I am involved in community politics/events.
I am also hoping to find the courage to start going to more Trans related events, like the local “All Bodies Swim” and the odd cultural event, Pride is coming soon, and there will be some things happening that instinctually I usually find reasons to not go to, that this year I want to try and find reasons to go.
My super defensive survival techniques are becoming obsolete. I can’t waste my time in the same ways I have for most of my life, not that I don’t value a certain amount of “time wasting” which really is a self hating way to describe the things we do to distract ourselves from these things that seem so insurmountable, and impenetrable as making a living, creating our art, our home, our community.
My techniques as it were, mostly have manifested as “bad habits,” mostly through over consumption of whatever can be consumed, food, drink,and even more so, entertainment, music, games, movies, books, comics, the internet; which amalgamates all these pursuits of imagination and culture in a big melting pot.
I feel a real sense of loss of all these bad habits, maybe especially the ones I haven’t quite given up, which is the consumption of food and drink. I definitely have lessened my drinking, though that’s more of an age/hormone thing, tan me finding some resolve. I can’t drink that much anymore so I don’t. I can however still overeat/eat poorly. The big difference there being I have much more of a conscious self awareness that all those PB&J sandwiches are not helping me keep my weight down. But they do distract me ever briefly with a sense of taste that comforts me like nothing else in the world.
As I have come out as Trans I have lived in this Safety Bubble called Commercial Drive, or “The Drive,” as all the street signs locally have been amended to say. The wider world scares the bejeezus out of me. But all my methods of hiding from that scary world seem to be failing me, or disappeared. I am grasping for new tools to, deal, as it were. It’s really hard admitting to yourself that you are a person, when you haven’t felt enough like one to engage socially without feeling like some sort of con-artist. It always comes back to my since childhood fear of someone finding out I’m really a girl.
I might have no choice as my ‘hood changes, to step out of my comfort zone and participate in more communities than I have ever let myself contemplate in the past. I have always been of the bent that I am on my own in my opinions, always. I might listen to your different opinion, and even concede your points if you are a better arguer than I am, but that doesn’t mean you’ve changed my mind, not one iota. I want that to not be how I see myself, as implacable, unchanging, since obviously in almost every aspect of my life, apparently it is self evident that I can, have and am changing. I’m having a hard time keeping up with myself though.