& i know i will carry it with me for a long, long time.

i’ve been passing as a guy now for 2-4 years now, depending on the situation (and people still think i’m a lady on the phone).  which i guess means that’s what i really am now.

i was thinking about that the other day and this huge feeling of responsibility came over me.  because now that i am who i want to be, i have to remember and take care of who i’ve been.  even though the world sees me as a straight, married man with a baby, i have been a girl, a woman, a lesbian, and a non-passing transguy.

and even if i had never been any of those people, now that i am in a place of much greater privilege, i really need to be a really good ally.  because as strong as we all are, we need each other to have our backs, because the world is not an easy place.

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on wednesday, my 5th graders “graduated” from elementary school.  in what was technically a promotion ceremony, my students and the general education fifth graders at my school, one of the five elementary schools closing in oakland this year, charmed the crowd with their sweet spirits, huge accomplishments, and tearjerking songs and speeches.  it was a tremendously touching ceremony and if there were any dry eyes after the kids sang “true colors,” the principal fixed that with her speech, reminding us how these children have raised us as much as we’ve raised them.

last saturday, i went to a different graduation.  on thursday, it suddenly dawned on me that if i hadn’t already missed it, i could probably go to the graduation of the high schoolers i’d worked with two years ago.  out of my caseload of 28, about 20 were 10th graders, which meant that this would be their graduation year.

when i graduated high school, i was very smug.  it wasn’t a big deal to me, just a rite of passage to get past to get onto my real life.  and it’s difficult to say this in a way that won’t come off as smug or condescending, but in the past few years, i’ve learned so much about how hard graduating high school can be.  reading disabilities, bureaucratic hoops, cops watching, friends and relatives getting shot, no money for food, low expectations, and huge household responsibilities were not anything that i had to deal with in high school.  there were suicides and attempted suicides and alcohol-related car accidents and a sense of depression and ennui, and getting through and past all that was a challenge in its own way and i think high school is a challenge for pretty much anyone.  but in the end, the assumption was “of course you graduate high school.  that is what you do.”  but when i went to the graduation last week, i was immediately struck by a sense of deep pride and joy.  “we survived and conquered.  we fucking did it.”  it was a holy space.

and what was so exciting was that sense of “we did it.”  not “i did it,” which is i think what i thought of my graduation, but instead, “we did this together.”  in one of the graduation speeches, the speaker talked about her classmates as her rivals who were also her backbone.  yes.

the camaraderie among the faculty at that high school was huge.  when i went back to teaching elementary school, i compared the relationships forged at the high school as being like those on a battlefield.  and despite race differences and gang rivalries and all of those things, there is a deep bond between the students at the high school as well.

it’s funny, right.  the way that god is found in those places that hurt so much.  the pain is inexcusable.  causing that pain is inexcusable.  causing that pain with our inequitable laws, prejudices, and greedy fears is absolutely inexcusable.  the world needs to be better than that.  and so it’s ironic that those deep pain moments are the places where i see god the most.

though it also makes sense.  these “comfortable” lives of ours with on-demand tv and microwave dinners, that are based on the sweat of workers we don’t even think about and that smooth over oppression and negative emotion, cannot be the kingdom of god (or the gateway to the kingdom of god if you believe that heaven comes later).  neither are the experiences that would make for that deep sense of celebration for even surviving high school.  that is not the kingdom of god either.  but being in that place of togetherness and joy, if we could just keep that instead of working for trinkets and pushing past each other for what we think is ours, then those inequities and fears could stop.

this post seems equal parts white guilt manifesto, hallmark card, and sermon.  i believe what i’m saying and i also think i cannot put it into words without simplifying people’s experiences and without simplifying god.  i was excited about posting this, but now my lack of appropriate words makes me wonder if it’s worth it, or if it will just go into the collection of words written by good-hearted white liberals that repeat each other and are based on unrealistic idealism.

so i’m going to change the subject to something related but different.  now i’m going to start writing about the morality of lgbtq rights.   because i rarely post and this is something else i’ve been wanting to post and i think i can actually make a good point at the end of all of this.  and at least i know if i idealize the lives of lgbtq people, i’m idealizing my own life.

i’ve been thinking about lgbtq rights as a moral issue in a totally new way recently.  i suddenly realized what a moral nonissue the right to love who you want to love is, and how the focus on that takes a lot of the heat off of everybody, queers, queer-hating folks, and queer allies, to actually fix real problems in the world.  i suddenly started thinking about all of the things lgbtq folks could be doing with their precious and dynamic time, energy, and hearts, if they weren’t stuck being so busy defending their rights to love who they want to love.  again, i am totally idealizing a whole lot of things, but just think what could be done if people weren’t fighting so hard over their ability to hate, or to not be hated.

bah.  it’s coming out all wrong still.  it seems so vitally important, but the words are not strong enough.

i am thinking a lot about that part in huckleberry finn where huck decides that if helping jim makes him a bad person, well then, he might as well just get used to being a bad person.  and we sadly chuckle because we the readers know that he is actually a good person, he just thinks he’s a bad person.  and in the same way, all this angst about the morality of queerness is just totally beside the point of what life and morality is really about.  not that we shouldn’t fight for queer rights.  that’s not what i mean at all.  but the whole hatred of queerness thing just suddenly seems like nothing more than a colossal waste of energy.  god does not want us using our time and energy on justifying our hatred or our self-hatred.  that cannot be what this world is about.  the question suddenly reframed itself from, “queerness: good or bad?” to “why would anyone spend any moment of their time trying to convince people to hate others, rather than just helping people who need help?  who came up with those priorities?”

my summer of prequels, sequels, and nonconsensual sorrow

Three very important books came out this year: Sweet Valley Confidential by Francine Pascal, The Carrie Diaries: Summer and the City by Candace Bushnell, and Sisterhood Everlasting by Ann Brashares. I’m a teacher and as the summer approached, I was thrilled as I anticipated ordering the three from my local independent bookstore. When I called in the order over the phone, my girlfriend put her hand over her face in embarrassment, but I was too excited to care.

Books about girl friendship are my thing. I’m not totally sure why. I read or heard somewhere that every good TV show has as its base a fantasy ideal and maybe as someone who was socialized female but was always unpopular and confused, the cadre of girls who have my back is my fantasy. And I also have a distinct childhood memory of daydreaming about the future of The Baby-Sitters Club. I was excited to have found a series about young girls because we both had our whole futures ahead of us and I could read about their futures as I lived out mine.

The Baby-Sitters Club was my big series as a kid, and I attempted to start a book group about them a couple of years ago but I wasn’t as much on the pulse of my generation as I hoped I was. Fans are putting out “Where Are They Now” articles about them and my friends email me links to those because they know I will be pleased. Last summer, along with the first Carrie Diaries, a Baby-Sitters Club prequel came out. It was fine but I didn’t find it more engaging than just picking up Claudia and Crazy Peaches or anything like that. I’m a big fan of the graphic novels that were published a couple of years ago and I wish there could have been more of them.

Even though I knew of no big Baby-Sitters Club related publishing events, I was still thrilled. I’ve known about Sweet Valley Confidential for about a year and anticipated a second Carrie Diaries book since the first one hardly even got her into New York. I didn’t discover Sisterhood Everlasting until right as the summer began, and that was the one that my girlfriend was genuinely excited about.

The summer started innocently enough. We were actually having beautiful weather and while my girlfriend was at work, I would take Sweet Valley Confidential out into the back yard and read it, stretched out on a towel, even though I do not have a girlish size 6 figure with blond hair, blue-green eyes, and a dimple in one cheek. It was completely devourable, in the exact same way as the original books were- overly dramatic, simply written, and with familiar stereotypical/archetypal characters. There was some surprise gayness, an ending that untangled a lot of the romantic drama, and a list of “where are they nows” for an epilogue.

We had a trip planned for a few weeks into the summer and my girlfriend was planning to save Sisterhood Everlasting for that trip. She would grin when she saw the book, anticipating the joys it would bring. I would grin in response, pleased to be the provider of excellent girly fiction. Eventually she just couldn’t stand it any longer. She decided to just read the book, even though we weren’t leaving for a week. “Bee lives in the Mission!” she told me, as we were cuddled up together in bed. I was trying to extend my girly fiction summer and was reading The Dud Avocado for the first time. I felt the bed shake with laughter. “She had to dig through the trash to find her phone!” So like our impulsive Bee!

And then the bed was shaking again. I looked over, and there was my girlfriend, tears streaming down her face. “This is a bad book,” she said. My vision of myself as Good Provider Boyfriend shattered and I felt like Puppy Killing Boyfriend. She kept reading anyway, and her hints about loss in our own lives and my periodic peeking over her shoulder led me to figure out the tragedy in advance. And I’m going to tell you one part of it, feeling guiltless because it happens very early in the book and because it seems so frustratingly unnecessary as you are reading it. That one part is that, yes, one of the sisterhood dies.

How can this happen? This girl is not Beth March, Walter Blythe, Hilary Whitney, all deaths that you see coming and that have some sort of noble martyrdom in them. This is one of those “What the fuck? Why is this author mean!?” deaths. My theory, looking over Trisha’s shoulder, was that it was for the rest of the characters to grow. But as I watched my strong beautiful girlfriend who has already mourned so deeply in her life already, my opinion was still that the author was unnecessarily mean, even as I tried to comfort us both with my theories that growth would be involved in all of this. I mean, I hadn’t let her read Commencement, and here I had handed her this razor blade apple of a book.

I finished The Dud Avocado and then a reread of Rainbow Valley and then dove into Carrie Diaries: Summer and the City. I have a love/hate relationship with the Sex in the City TV show and movies, baffled in some ways by where the love comes from, having a lot to say about the socioeconomic, race, gender stereotypes and messages. But I’ve seen it all and think of “the girls” as some old friends who I know well and who never change. I read Sex in the City as I was about halfway through watching the series a few years ago and I thought it wasn’t very interesting, except that Stanford Blatch had long hair (I have only since watched There’s Something About Mary). But I grabbed the first Carrie Diaries book as soon as I could and read it quickly. It reminded me of Ellen Conford’s books or some other poky, sort of boring and dorky, sort of scandalous, somewhat dated paperback I would get out of the spinner at the library in the mid-90’s. Like in the other book and the series, Carrie’s epiphanies are not that impressive, but she’s just charming, flawed, and likable enough to keep you going. The last chapters get interesting as she finally makes her way from the suburbs to New York and one of the other “girls” makes a surprise appearance.

Summer and the City is set almost entirely in New York City and reminded me of all the ways being eighteen and naive makes everything seem like an epic adventure. It makes me miss the epic adventures but not enough to be stupid enough to make them happen again. I’ve only been to New York City once and am planning another trip, so the romanticized glamor of New York, amidst fabulous Carrie fashion decisions, made the book a really fun read. Nobody died and more characters from the TV series show up, and I was pleased by this fluffy read as well.

Trisha was staying up late nights to finish Sisterhood Everlasting and in the end she declared it a good book. I stalled for awhile, reading High Fidelity before braving it. Finally, I did. I brought it to a coffeehouse one grey San Francisco morning, and as I read it my insides got chillier and chillier. I got angrier and angrier as I read, telling the author, in my head, that I and the characters had grown plenty before this book and this was totally unnecessary.

The real problem with the book was that Ann Brashares was writing about grief in all of its specific steps and stages from the point of view of three different characters, and it was all completely recognizable. It was a bad, cruel book because it dragged you unwillingly through the steps you already know too well. You see, it’s all about consent. I did not consent to be grieving in the middle of my summer vacation. And I didn’t want to grow. I just wanted pants magic.

And then, like always, it came. I’m a sucker. Each character grew and changed and lived on the page, and I was right there with them, like Bastian to Atreyu. We went through the mirror gates, we faced the Southern Oracle, and when we were done, we were able to wish and hope again. And even though I hadn’t consented to any of the sisterhood dying, it turned out it wasn’t a bad book, because it shook me up, cleared out cobwebs, and actually wound up being fun again, eventually.

Published in: on 4 August, 2011 at 6:45 am  Comments (1)  

the only promise i can make to you is that i will screw up.

if someone can be a mentor to you by just being in your life for a short moment and saying and doing a few things that effected you and your life a lot for the better, the title for this entry comes from a mentor of mine. her name is nanci lamusga and she did the anti-oppression training that a few of us on my americorps team in olympia organized. and for me, what i got most out of the training was her way of being– and that phrase at the top. which might not be the exact words, because memory is faulty.

when i was at new college, the topic of race came up as a big campuswide issue. it was in either my first or second year, and honestly, i think my response was to drink some alcohol, dance, and continue to live like it had absolutely nothing to do with me.

there was an anti-oppression workshop in my 3rd year that i went to, and that was when it actually started clicking that, um, i had a race, that i was part of these systems, and that my lack of accountability was harmful.

in my last two years of college, i started really getting into zines. somehow i had it in my head that i shouldn’t get zines from people of color who were writing about race because i would be spying on something personal, but i did start reading zines by queer people of color because of the queerness. and those personal stories really helped me understand more that this was all very important. shortly after college, i went to the zine symposium in portland and there was a workshop about zines and race. i finally let myself really listen (with my ears and not just reading about it) to people of color talk about racism and its effects, even in this bastion of radical anarchy.

that was when it became vitally important to me. except, when i say that, my taurean deliberation and codependent shyness kept me from doing a whole lot more than internal theorizing. especially, because i was at that moment dealing with my father’s death and my coming out as trans– and because i was white in seattle and it wasn’t in my face every day.

when i did my americorps term in olympia, i was excited because we were going to do an anti-oppression training. i wanted to learn more about oppression, race, & my place in oppressive structures, and i wanted my teammates to learn about trans and queer issues. except then our team leader changed jobs and we had a new team leader and she didn’t have anti-oppression explicitly on her agenda. we were going to have to make it happen ourselves. so a team of us formed and we invited nanci and we all learned a whole lot.

then i moved to san francisco, and the whole racial landscape was totally different. the whole queer landscape, the whole religious landscape. everything was just so different. i started going to quaker meeting, and i did poke at people about why there were so few people of color in meeting and things like that, but i was very aware that i had just moved here, and that in many ways i had no idea what i was talking about.

i can look at my life in two ways. i can say that i didn’t move fast enough. this is urgent. i can also say that i was preparing. this can’t be rushed. both are right. i think i have been able to talk and educate and learn before i actually started doing it, and i think that i have moved on the right path for me.

because suddenly i am in an incredible place. big things about race have been happening with people in my life, and i think i have learned how to hold the space for listening.

it has nothing to do with me. which i do have to keep reminding myself. “aren’t i a good ally?” “haven’t i done so much?” “other white people aren’t doing this.” these thoughts go through my head, but they are toxic. it is not me. it is all of the voices i have let into my heart, it is the work and writing and speaking done by so many amazing people, it is god opening up the space. when i congratulate myself and then fall down, i am bitter and ashamed. when i remind myself that i am just part of the exciting dynamic stream of life and change, and i fall down, i get up, i learn, i try to do better.

that’s only half of the way that phrase has been resonant for me today. the other half is about how i live in san francisco, but not everybody does. san francisco has a ton of flaws, but at least i can be weird here. at least i can be queer, peculiar, and weird, and i’m just one of the many queer, peculiar, weird people around.

i am currently going to school to be a special ed teacher, and i think i might actually be the only queer person in my program. that hasn’t happened to me in a really long time. not only that, but the people teaching us in our two week intensive right now aren’t from san francisco. they’re from neighboring areas where not everyone is weird.

i did a mock interview with them yesterday and was suddenly reminded that people care about things like normalcy and being referred to by their titles and boys not having any metal in their ears. and some of those people actually live in san francisco even though that’s easy to forget, but i’m also not just interviewing for jobs in san francisco.

i show my seams. i tell people about my learning process including the mistakes i’ve made. i forget to use people’s titles because i don’t think they matter. i try to be funny. i try to connect with every person i meet on a real, deep level.

and maybe in professional land, that’s a little tacky. maybe there will be people that won’t like it. that’s a little terrifying, but i just don’t know how i can work for someone who doesn’t hear the earnestness, honesty, and commitment to good work in that very phrase, “the only promise i can make to you is that i will screw up.” i don’t actually say that at interviews. but i let people know that i am a human being.

these things are related. i will make mistakes. i will keep trying. i will let you make mistakes. i will try and hear everyone’s voice. i will still like you even if you screw up.

these are my strengths. i feel grateful for all of them.

in about an hour, all over the country, there will be protests. protests about all the gay marriage bans that passed in this election. i won’t be there.

partly it’s just that it’s been a really stressful week and i’ve not got enough sleep for 3 nights in a row. and maybe that laziness is informing my sense of leading, but i don’t think so.

i just don’t feel led to go. i think it’s really sad that proposition 8 won, but i’m not convinced that my going to this protest will fix what needs to get fixed.

(i’ve been asking myself questions about marriage as a state thing anyway, and if i even like that at all. wondering if people who live together in any sort of committed household, even if romance is not involved, should get all the state marriage “perks” and if the faith and other communities should be in charge of “policing” the holy, marriage stuff…?)

i think it’s just that, even though this may be naive and not politically cogent, it’s all really about love. ALL. are all people who love each other allowed to live that love how they want to? AND… are we loving enough to accept our differences?

i personally think it’s a travesty of the christian faith to use it to justify hate of any kind. AND i think it’s depressing that the queer response is an equally vicious and dehumanizing hatred. i think, then, we are both wrong.

i’m thinking about this person quoted in kornfield’s a path with heart. “my parents hate me when i’m a buddhist, but they love me when i’m a buddha,” she says. i can’t go out and fight this with fighting words and anger and hatred. i’ve just got to love even harder. maybe queer folks have to love harder than straight folks. maybe that’s not fair. maybe that’s like african american folks having to be twice as smart and twice as hardworking to get the same breaks as white folks. but maybe it’s a gift.

if i went out today, i’d bring or make my own sign like the ones i like at the peace vigil outside the federal building. “let us then try what love will do” or “there is no fear in love. perfect love casts out fear.” even those seem a little too weapony in this situation.

i guess i just think if it’s a battle between the christians and the queers (which it isn’t, because there are christian queers and christian allies, and because it just isn’t), we’ve got to beat them at their own game. and remind them that it is their game, too. christianity boils down to love. and so does queerness. we should be on the same page.

we are living in a historic time. obama is the president-elect, and maybe that’s about love too. it’s definitely about some triumph over hate. and it was painful to get here and it’s still not perfect, but we’ve gotten somewhere. i don’t think we will get far like that by hating each other, blaming people, or doing anything other than reaching across lines.

allison sent me a link to a blog of particularly mormon folks apologizing about prop 8. being loving and trying to bridge gaps. we’ve all got to do that. or at least i do.

would i be bridging gaps at the protest? possibly. maybe that’s what i should be doing– going to the protest and talking about love to the protesters and everyone. but i’m not. in fact, i’ve had the sort of blog-writing experience that involved stopping and starting and having conversations and now it’s 3 hours later than it was when it started. i must keep this open though. way has opened for more love to come into the world. what am i going to do about it?

on wednesday, we had a weighty friend come and speak with the young adults. he came to talk about his spiritual journey, especially in relationship to conservative friends. he talked about the history of christianity, the way and the word and what those things mean, and his belief that the world needs to embrace it now. he was honest– about himself, and about things he doesn’t understand (what atonement really means, why christianity has gotten co-opted and can be used for ugly things), and about the trickiness of the idea of jesus being the way (he believes this is true but that other faiths are going toward the same thing as well, in just as valid and important ways. and that people use the idea of jesus as the way to divide)– and i always am struck by that. i tend to trust and believe most people, but i’m still amazed when i KNOW i can trust and believe them– and that happens a lot with quakers. (and in terms of honesty, staring back at these words, i think i’ve put a little of myself in them. that way that you can hear someone and they answer a question that you have, and suddenly your question plus what they actually said becomes what you remember that they said… even though your question was never put into words.)

i go back in forth about the whole christianity thing. it’s been so poisonous in so many ways, and part of me wonders if it should just be scrapped. it’s maybe just too loaded at this point. BUT it DOES have such potential and it seems like it can be transformative and amazing, and so maybe it’s important to snatch it back from people who abuse it.

during the last bit of the conversation and the worship that followed, i realized that i felt the way that i did a few years ago, when i was at the tranny roadshow. kelly & jamez, these kids who i’d met at the portland zine symposium while we were sharing a table (my partner and i had one half for our zine distro and button press, & they had their own zine distro and were also there on behalf of the denver zine library as well), put together this amazing travelling performance art extravaganza, and it came to olympia.

at some point in the evening, shawna virago played us some amazing rock music. and between a couple of the songs, she told us that we were making history. and it really felt true at the time. i felt like i was on the pulse of something very true and urgent. & that’s how it felt being part of a conversation about christianity not being poisonous.

the next morning, i got on the bus that comes right outside my house. it was pretty full, and in the middle was a man yelling. he was yelling to us “o childrens of israel” to “shun the buddha, shun the kuram” (i am obviously a better person than him because i know children doesn’t need an s at the end, and my anglicized version of the kuran has the standard “n” at the end. this knowledge makes me smarter and thus kinder. which is why i’m pointing out his mistake. to show that i am better than him.). he told us that he loves us. he told us that god would transform us. he told us that we needed to listen now, that marriage is between a man and a woman, that we are all terrible, that god would send the tsunami if we didn’t repent, and then it would be our fault “like in indonesia.”

this is the third time that i’ve heard someone yelling on the bus about how god will send a tsunami to san francisco because of all the gays (one person compared us to “solomon & galore” and i thought “what a great gay club name” and i still think so, and i can’t tell if that thought is cruel and condescending, or just my standard love of the way that language moves and changes and grows and expands and lives). they’ve all been different people. they’ve all been people of color. they all seem pretty crazy to me. they all seem hurt and scared. i want to have the words and strength to tell and show them that this fear is not it. this fear and anger is the opposite of it. this fear and anger is pushing people away from that transforming power– it’s telling people that god is not for them and it’s telling people who love god that they are not good enough for god, which is not true. god accepts and loves us for who we are, every bit of it, and when we learn that, then we can start growing and getting better. we just get smaller when our god is not big enough to hold everyone. and if god can be made that small, is god worth saving?

the saddest part to me was not his rant. it wasn’t my inability to counter his rant to him. he could be crazy about that or other things, and that’s definitely sad. but the saddest part to me was that after he got off the bus people applauded– mostly out of relief that it was quiet again– and then one woman who didn’t seem crazy said, “yeah, but there was nothing wrong with what he said. everything he said was true.” and a lot of people agreed.

i’ve started an essay a few times about this san francisco conundrum. this tsunami thing. this white queer privileged people vs poor people of color who are also people of faith thing. it’s a scary multi-layered divide. where does the healing start?

everybody’s got their something

i’m reading two books that are working as companions to each other:

if god is love: rediscovering grace in an ungracious world by philip gulley & james mulholland

&

wide awake by david levithan

i’ve never read anything by the authors of the former, but it’s in our meetinghouse library, and it’s been recommended by a few people (like robin m.). it’s a hopeful, helpful book about acceptance, love and compassion as part of what god is and what god wants.

david levithan is my favorite young adult writer alive today. i’ve read 2 other books by him, and each book he writes seems to fill an empty space in the universe. the books he writes the world needs, and he writes them lovingly and elegantly. this book is about a time in the not too distant future when a gay jewish president is elected! it’s set after “the reign of fear” and during “the jesus revolution” when people– especially young people– are embracing that whole love and compassion and acceptance part of christianity. it’s a delicious book.

***

the beyond diversity 101 training has been postponed until the fall. i’m sad, but it also makes things feel a bit more expansive. i don’t have to “get everything done” by the end of march. and i feel okay with exploring local options a bit more.

as usual, i got my head out from under the blankets by laying out exactly what they were with a few friends (of varying capitalizations) and experiencing their compassion with my confusion. golly, i love that there are people in my life who will let me be a brat for awhile and will actually scold me for calling myself a brat, rather than for the bratty things. because the only way to get through them is to just have them and accept them and to… get through them.

you cannot scold yourself away. you will always be there with your everything. and so will everyone. and accepting all of that is the challenge. and it can be a pain in the butt, but it can also be really fun.

lift up your hands.

today, while talking to krista about my recent wrestling with the ghosts of homophobic religion, i said something about how i don’t understand god… and i fumbled a bit around my attempts and then said something about how all i know is that i’m being as honest as i know how to be, in my living and in my searching, and that’s what i’ve got. and then i said, “god isn’t a romantic hero in a teen romance novel where you have to pretend you like cars.” and that right there was a moment of clarity. just that remembrance that you can’t fake it with god. and if you’re trying to impress god by faking it, you’re not going to make it.

today at meeting for worship, i was thinking about the way that we think of religions as possessions– graspable, definable, and separate– and then i had this very vivid image of a piece of wet watercolour paper, with red drops of watercolour on it, separate, near, blurring into each other, red like blood which is pain and which is also something that we all have and that we all live with.

the other thing that i sat with is that i feel like my biggest task right now is to just like and accept myself. which sounds so selfish and self-centered and there must be more to that. but, folks, as i’ve explored in the last incarnation of this journal, my father was a man who spent his life self-destructing and my mother is a woman who was searching for someone to love her and felt like she got that once she had me. so i was raised by people who felt pretty worthless. and who told me over and over again that i was the best treasure in the world. i started banging my head against walls when i was six, i started contemplating suicide when i was seven, and when i was eight, i thought i was jesus (not as in a symptom of schizophrenia, but as in a “these people are telling me i’m perfect, and that there was one perfect person… and i think i heard somewhere he was coming again… oh, and remember i’m 8.”). so “sinners in the hands of an angry god,” reverend dimsdale, self-flagellation, hairshirt land, it doesn’t work for me. i know for a fact that when you loathe yourself, you are not good for other people. and i know how easy it is to loathe yourself and to think that it’s a virtue. and i know how, for me, it’s much much much harder to accept that i am my own gift from god. i’m not “god’s gift” as they say, but i’m the cubbie i’ve been given to work with, and i need to be a good steward and be careful with me.

which brings me to the realization i came up with today as i walked home from work… which is that this year was the year i broke into a million pieces, and discovered that i’m whole.

Published in: on 30 December, 2007 at 11:20 pm  Comments (3)  

our goal should be to figure out our role within the context of the whole

my therapist said, “you were unpopular growing up, of course you like having such an accepting spiritual community.”

this was in february or something. it sticks with me in the paranoid moments. she didn’t exactly phrase it that way, like, “i know this fact about you that i’m going to bring up as you are telling me a joy,” which is what it looks like. we were just talking about this or that, and then she brought up that or this.

if god is love is community, and i want community because i was lonely once, where does that leave god?

but not always. because it’s not always that simple.

i finished the rob bell book, and in fact it did get all “marriage is between one man and one woman.” it never got “and so not two men or two women or 5 people of various genders and definitely no intersex people or trannies.” but it seemed strongly implied.

and sometimes his descriptions of love and holiness were so Good and right on and just right, and so i want to scream at his smug way of sliding past me and slamming the door.

because no matter who i become, what i look like, how much i pass, who i’m with, i’m still queer, and i think of that as a blessing. i like that part of me. in the same way that i like the weird ways my middle fingers bend away from each other and the color of my eyes and my musical taste. it’s how i fit here. and i’m not about who i sleep with or how i identify, but it’s still there.

dear rob bell, how is it that the way that i love less holy because i can’t make babies?

dear god, and why is it that i can’t make babies?

i saw juno on christmas night. i went to the swedenborgian church and st. gregory’s episcopalian on christmas eve night, and then i went to the quaker meeting and the potluck after that and then i went home and i sat down on my bed, and then i remembered i’d wanted to see juno at some point and so why not now. the secret is that as i was sitting at meeting, i was getting some mean menstrual cramps because i’ve been taking progesterone this week to get some stuff out of my system that’s been building up for the past year. so going to a movie about a pregnant teenager on christmas while i was bleeding was surreal on a whole lot of levels. i’ve got a bad case of baby fever, and the film didn’t help.

there was a point to this other than some sort of weird “this is what a tranny’s life is like sometimes” moment, but it’s true. sometimes, you feel weird and unnatural because you are putting the hormones that your body would naturally be producing in your body instead of the ones that feel much more right. and you ask yourself a lot of questions about that, especially if you’re me. but i’ve had this minor crazy feeling this past week. all unsettled and off and crazy. and it’s reaffirmed my trans identity, even though there’s a part of me that is viewing it as ridiculous. how is it that i only feel at home here (here=in my body) when it’s got this stuff in it that my body does not make (or makes in lower doses?). i don’t know. but that is the state of things right now.

charles gave me a photocopying task this week. he knew that i wasn’t working at the school and so he offered to pay me for photocopying this beautiful old book of edward burroughs’ works. it was published in 1660something (i think 1662) and has all those beautiful elements– multi-sized fonts, the long s that looks like an f, the slight indentations from the printing. and misnumbering like crazy. 346, 347, 843, 349…. 561, 572, 573, 564, 565… etc. but it always eventually sorted itself out and the numbering was correct again. is there a metaphor in this?

i did not do the photocopying in quaker silence. i broke out my ipod (someone abandoned a charger cord at my house just before i moved in and we’ve officially declared it unclaimed, so when i have access to a computer, i can charge mine!), and listened to some of my favorite things that i haven’t heard in ages. kimya dawson, the mountain goats, christina aguilera’s back to basics, the idlewild soundtrack, le tigre’s “keep on livin'”! and i danced! and i turned the pages, gently pressing them down against the glass as i bobbed my head and kicked my feet, and i thought about joy and life and love and how much i like liking myself. how much i like “keep on living” because it reminds you that you are worth something, even when you don’t need to be reminded. how much i like the mountain goats because they are always so sad and yet there is something hopeful there. how much i like kimya, because her music and her life are these giant inspirations because she’s been through shit and she’s still here and she wants to give people what she’s learned because it’s important. because the world is beautiful and we have to remember that.

and then i got home and i looked at my livejournal, and there was an entry from kimya about hitting 9 years of sobriety. and i thought about how hard it is to live, to not self-destruct sometimes, and how grateful i am to not be there right now. and if god is love is community and that is how we survive and how we thrive, what more is there? what more can there be but the things that make us remember why we are alive? except then it got so so so sad because someone she knew died and and and… that is part of life too. part of living and loving life and getting through it and pushing past the self-destruction is learning and relearning and relearning that there are people that will stay there and eventually they will leave and it’s not your fault and it hurts.

and where does self-help end and religion start? of course it is god, but when god is love is community BUT also those moments of deep deep aloneness that is not aloneness that is indescribable but is part of yourself… what is it? what is it what is it what is it?

this past week’s on faith question is about hr 847, the house resolution about christmas. i read starhawk’s response today and found it to be a very loving but challenging answer, going into what christmas is and what it means and how our current politics reflect that meaning… or don’t. the comments were also interesting, too.

that’s all. good night.

Published in: on 30 December, 2007 at 12:35 am  Comments (4)  

so this is what the volume knob’s for.

i’m reading sex god by rob bell right now. among other things. i read a lot of things at once. not at once exactly, but they’ve got bookmarks in them. i open them at least once a week.

rob bell is the guy who does the nooma videos, which robin m. introduced to our meeting about a year ago. they’re a mix of earnest and too clean, but they were definitely thought-provoking. it’s been exciting to read a book by him, even when i feel a bit like i’m being played. as someone who came to see a few of the nooma movies with us said, “this isn’t a movie; it’s a sermon.” and there are aspects of sermons that you learn from and there are parts where you just watch the person’s attempt to teach you and that distracts from your ability to hear it.

anyway, sex god is about sex and god. and in general, it’s smart and loving, two things i like in my sermons. but i was about midway through, and i was noticing a distinct lack of mention of homosexuality. and i got really curious, so i decided to go on the internet and google the words “rob” and “bell” and “homosexuality.”

and then i found myself in the magical land of homophobia! *sigh* not exactly the best way to end christmas night. i forget that people think this way sometimes. i forget that love is lost and forgotten, joy is completely out of the question, and bible-based self-righteous rage is all that is left.

and i am so permeable and malleable still. and that was the first i ever heard of homosexuality really. not from my family. my dad made some gay jokes, but i didn’t know that’s what they were. but when i was in high school and depressed anyway and then starting to come out and then suddenly BAM, i heard that the way i was feeling was a straight road to hell. and i’m having a mean ol’ case of baby fever these days, and the echoes of the way that traditional baby having is not possible in my case (and there is relief, of course. it’s a lot harder for queers to get accidentally pregnant than it is for straight people. but it also hurts.). and it was, you know, the middle of the night, and i just couldn’t stop reading, curling further into that high school angst and sadness.

but at some point fortunately, i remembered joy. i remembered it as something bigger than what was being talked about. i remembered that there might be words written that say that things that feel Right to me are Wrong, but that my gauge of Rightness vs. Wrongness is the joy in it. there is love where i live and it’s better for me than following rules that hurt. and that’s what i know.

in san francisco, there’s a group that’s called gay shame. they do a lot of anarchist action and graffiti and one day i saw a sign they’d made that said, “fags hate god.” and it was so obvious. if all you know is that god hates you, all you’re going to do is hate god. but… for me at least… there’s joy in god too. god is all truth and queerness is part of my understanding of truth. god is in my queerness. hating one is hating the other.

oh, right, back to rob bell. all i could find out from my reading is that no one knows what he thinks about homosexuality. that he keeps being vague about it. the people who sounded so angry were angry because it implied softness. i’m just nervous because not knowing is worse than knowing the worst. not that i need rob bell’s endorsement, but you know, when you’re reading a person’s books about how sex and god are linked, you kind of want to make sure you have the same definitions of sex.

Published in: on 27 December, 2007 at 2:12 am  Leave a Comment