Field Notes In/On Transition
Pushing Forward, Not Against
I am trying to get more blogging done, and the easiest way for me to do so has been to set myself some movies to watch, and some reviews to write. So, all this week I have been watching quirky/obscure/not so obscure 1970’s Sci Fi films. You can read all the reviews from my ongoing solo blog film fest that I am calling “Everything Is Coming Up Zardoz!” But since I had choir last night, I wasn’t up to staying up late again and squeezing in a movie. I will come back to choir, which as you know is one of my anchors right now. I am so thankful I took that out of my comfort zone step of joining The Femme City Choir in the fall last year.
In my last few posts, I talked about my struggles looking for work, and the things that keep me from going off the deep end of depression: my friends & family, my supports, my community. I have been trying to not go out for dinner quite as often and cook more at home. Even though I am very underemployed and living on credit, I still need that social time of going out and communally dining. Most of the time even going alone is a very positive part of my day. As a writer, I’m eavesdropping on everyone in hearing distance, anyway. For me, the dining out is not as expensive as it might seem.
It depends on how much other stuff you blow money on, right? My non sustenance budget is pretty tiny. No books, dvds, no clothes except the odd thing every couple of months. For me, the dining out is a huge part of what keeps me going, boosts my day, especially if I meet up with friends. I feel like I am a frowny face until I see someone, anyone I know, then I am all smiles. Just seeing a friend pulls me out of my interior of mopeyness.
Last night even, walking home from choir, I saw a friend who I have lost contact with, I passed by her and her partner, I don’t know if they saw or recognized me, and at first I thought I might say hello, catch up, but I didn’t. This is a friend that I have a dramatic history with, and that part of the friendship is something that I want to avoid, and get past. I don’t know that I really am yet (and that seems quite okay, somehow).
However it did give me a flutter of happiness and made me smile a small smile to see that she looks healthy and is still around the hood sometimes. I hadn’t seen her in so long, I wasn’t sure she was still in the area. I feel like she doesn’t have positive feelings for who I have become, but seeing her last night, just in passing with no contact, I have happy feelings, simply in passing her by on the street. I do kind of wish she had noticed me, and smiled. I miss her smile. Ah well, maybe someday we can be in each others lives again, if not, what we had lives on in my heart.
Well, I had meant to write my last week or so in sort of a chronological order, but I am going to jump around a bit instead...
Rewind a few hours to my ritual pre-choir dining out at my favourite tavern. Usually, four or five of us from the choir will show up for a pub food dinner and yakkety yak before choir. I almost always have a beer or two, something I am trying to do a bit less of, as I am losing my thirst for getting drunk so often. It really just does after I cross that line of more than three drinks, become less fun, and I get more depressed. If I have a couple, I am happy, and don’t get hungover. There were five of us yesterday, one of whom walked in carrying a big blue ‘present bag.’ The contents of which are pictured here.
They let me know that it was for me, from the choir, showing me how much empathy and solidarity this wondrous group of folks has for me. I was pretty choked up, but didn’t quite get weepy, right then. The bar was dark, so I saved reading the card for after choir practice, which was itself, as usual; challenging (it’s a lot harder to get all the oohs and aahhs right than I could have imagined) fun, and so wonderful when songs start to click. Not a feeling I think I can put into words other than to say it’s the same feeling of timelessness and joy that I get when writing, painting, or enjoying a great film or book, it is touching the Divine. I often tear up, and/or cry when the music reaches that beauty.
When I got home, I immediately took these pictures and uploaded them to facebook, to say thank you and show my appreciation of the love and support I am getting right now in my community. There is a reason I live where I do. It is my home, these are my people, just as much as the people from where I am actually from, but there’s a difference. This is my home now, Josie’s home, a place I have never had until I was able to fully be myself. This is where I am now. Being myself, more than at any time in my life.
Old habits might be hard to break, but sometimes they simply morph into new habits, good or bad. For me lately, these habits have most been good ones. Aside from the odd too much beer ranting on facebook, and dips into real depression, I feel like I have always a lifeline, ways to pull myself up and out of the mire that everyone slides into sometimes. Before my transition, I am sure I had these lifelines too, but I was either blind to them, or too cynical and wallowing too deep to even reach for them.
So back to last weekend. I had a ticket to see a local band called “Queer As Funk.” They are exactly what is advertised, a group of queer musicians who play pretty awesome funk and soul tunes. The group has a huge following in the neighbourhood, and the community. I hadn’t seen them in at least a year, maybe 18 months. Wow, they are so much better, and I thought they were great then. Just tighter, more practiced, more comfortable as a band. Now that I am in a choir, I grok what that means, and feel blessed to be able to. Anyway, I got there early as my room mate couldn’t make it and gave me her ticket to give or sell to someone. It was a long sold out show, so I figured it would be easy.
It was a bit harder than that, no one in line while I was there needed a ticket, so I went on up to the show, very much a ballroom setting, seating was limited, and despite being there on time, missed my shot at a chair. The older (aka my age and up) Lesbian contingent had got to every table before I made it though the coat check.
I was going to get a beer, and heard someone behind me in line mention they were looking for a spare ticket for their friend. I vaguely recognized the person from my neighbourhood, so I offered mine in exchange for a beer. It was worth it, just for the smile they gave me at the cost. I found a pillar at the back of the dance floor, and sipped at my beer, being there early as usual, none of my friends were there yet, though the drummer from the band was making the rounds, and saw me, gave me a big hug, thanked me for coming. I do need to be seen, and I was.
It was over half an hour before the band went on, and this gal who again looked vaguely familiar, and I wish I could remember her name (Jenny?) that she told me right away. We chatted about the band, and a lot about gender. I shared a bit of my story with her, and eventually she came out to me as bi-gender, or ‘questioning,’ as they say these days. I told her that I feel like exploring is really all you can do, if gender and sexuality were less conflated in our culture, and both were given the room to be fluid, and people felt they could live and express how they wanted to, the world would be what it should. Big conversation was had about the oppression of the binary, and how we internalize so much shame about just wanting to be ourselves. It was a heavy, but very pleasant conversation. As the band started up, she blended into the crowd and the dancing. I leaned on my pillar, with I think an awesome view of the stage.
The band was killer, and whenever they did a song that had the word ‘Man’ in it, like “Soul Man,” I switched it in my warbling along to “Femme,” “souuul femme, you take me, you make me....”
Something that I really noticed going to a show like this: big dance floor, hot band, lots of couples, so many couples; was that my dysphoria that almost always flares up in these kind of situations has really disappeared, or at least morphed into something different. When I was young and still hadn’t shared any of my gender dysphoria with anyone, going to a bar was a horrible theme park of things that made me feel ashamed of myself. I felt guilty for the lust I had for women, and shame for the jealousy I had of them, being women. In an era when in my own mind sex and gender were really conflated, it made me feel doubly shamed to want to be a woman, and at the same time want to be with a woman. And I don’t really think that it was that I was ashamed to want to maybe be a lesbian, as I also had those urges, though less so, for some men as well. However I never wanted to be any of those guys. I never wanted to be any kind of guy, but I “had to” so I did my own version, sometimes pretty successfully.
On this past Saturday though in this group of folks, many of whom were my own age or older, but a very diverse crowd in fact. I didn’t feel the distance, the dissonance, none of the white noise of gender dysphoria, that has followed me into almost every nightclub I have ever been to. Of course not, right, I am myself now. I shouldn’t be so dysphoric anymore? Well, of course sometimes I still feel this creeping horror. As much as I feel accepted, and that I accept myself as the woman I am very aware that I am Trans all the time. Sometimes, history and my fevered worried mind crash my joy, still. I did feel some small jealousies at all the Public Displays of Affection.
There tends to be a lot of making out at Queer Dance Parties, which is pretty reasonable in a safe space. However, a friend of mine was assaulted ‘for being a Dyke,’ that same night, not so far away from the dance; which puts this liberating evening that happened very close by in a bit of real world context.
By the time the band finished their first set, a few of my friends from choir had come by and said hi to me. It was nice to see choir folks out somewhere outside of choir or specific femme events, and with their partners, many of them, or dates at least. So for me, yes I had some melancholy, and some jealousy over seeing people on dates, dancing together, or simply holding hands and having some relatively chaste intimacy; but I also felt a lot of joy at seeing others embodying love.
But over all the show was so great, the music, the really awesome vibes from the crowd, it was all pretty electric. It was nice to feel more liberated and less dysphoric at an event like this. I would really rather not go alone next time though. Even if it’s just out with some friends, doing a little dancing together. Someday it would be nice to actually be on a date though, it really would. I really felt like I was among my people.
a few days later, a weird other little thing related to where my very broken heart is right now, happened with one of those silly facebook quizzes that many of us spend far too much time on. A newer friend posted one, where the answer was what sort of alternative ‘relationship’ should you be in. I dove in, and answered the questions as honestly as possible, as I figured I would get something like some bdsm thing, or poly mom, or something I could giggle at, but I got that I should be someone who has a ‘gay best friend’ relationship. More platonic love in my live was not something that amused me much. I let this bother me way more than a silly quiz should. We all have hangups.
Despite my kind of desperate work/blowing through savings, building huge debt life I am living right now, what gets me the most depressed is that no one has asked me on a date in almost three years, or flirted with me in such a way that I actually noticed it. At my pre-choir feast everyone was talking about who is flirting with who, in choir, and the community at large. I always put in my two cents, but it’s the one part of my life where I have no current stories. I feel like I have to go back a decade to recall a time where there was any flirtations between me and anyone. I participate in these conversations about love with almost everyone I know. Obviously I have stories to tell, in many genres, romance however doesn’t seem to be one of them.
My current self help/love work is centred on getting past this and not letting it be the decades long/old millstone around my neck, that it seems to have become. In the past I used to blame my lack of romance (I had a bit here and there) on my closeted Transness, or my out Transness, whichever mode I was in.And I still do, much of the time. I could never find someone who was okay with it, who didn’t cut me out of their life as soon as it seemed like a real thing.
(Card pictured above, from my cousin Nat, out of the blue, to fix my blues, made my week, it really did)
I guess I am trying to become okay with it. And trying to become a person who has healed the ache and the desperation that I still very much have for someone, anyone to notice me in ‘that way.’ I have spent my life chasing others who obviously weren’t ‘the ones,’ and I would like to be chased, just a little bit, just once.
I have always had this image of myself as someone who never tried hard enough to find love, to be myself, to be the writer, the woman, the functional person that I actually am. I did actually pursue many of my crushes, and well, none of them worked out, but I have to learn to give myself the credit, to give Joe the credit of trying way harder than my fractured self image would let me believe. I was out there, I did put myself on the line.
The myth that I didn’t is self constructed. I don’t know what my future holds, but I do know that I have love of friends and family, and community, and that I get more from that than ever in my life. People have been so generous to me, in times of need, and in times of plenty. I hope that I can meet their generosity, and that I can learn to bear the loneliness that is still so huge in my life through understanding that the more I feel and become a part of my community, maybe eventually someone who can love me will finally see me, and tell me. I am done chasing love. If it can’t chase me just one frigging time, then I will have to cope some other way. Maybe I will take up knitting.
So I guess I am a bit melancholy despite all the generosity shown to me lately, but I feel loved, and I feel like I am loving back. Being part of the communities I belong to goes a long way to assuage the losses of the heart.