TDoR and Evolution

I’m sitting at an outside table at a corner coffee shop in Tucson with Bennett and his dog Honey. We passed Trans Day of Remembrance driving Hwy 62, 72, 10, 86, 8, and 10 again from the Mojave to the Sonoran desert. We got the van stuck in a sandy wash, and on our third attempt to dig it out with a plate and a frying pan, two guys in a minivan stopped to help pull us out with a rope. Honey thought it was the funnest game there ever was.

We talked about our journeys through transition. We talked about our experiences in the context of trans* experience through history. We talked about how, even in the light of our relative privilege, we still feel like we barely made it through the fire. Both of us could have easily made it onto that long list of names that were read and acknowledged by communities all around the world. I thought about my pen pals from Iran and Venezuela who persevere in environments totally unimaginable to me. I think about my new friend who courageously steps out of her home each day, finally as herself. When the list of names is read and I can count the names of male-identified folks on one hand, my bravery seems to pale in comparison.

Gender is something so fundamental to human culture and biology. As our environmental pressures change and our survival tactics must adapt, we find that oftentimes culture lags behind. At least it feels that way to those of us who bear witness to such unnecessary violence and loss. The faster our environment changes, the faster we must change, and the more friction there is at the edges. The history of physical and social sex transition is a good example of the quickening nature of change, and the greater whole of us’s struggle to keep up. But it happens, glacially as it may seem. When I read articles about gay men fleeing from Syria to Lebanon and the torture and extortion they experience; workers paid pennies a day to make western clothes dying in crumbling buildings, and there’s no clear consensus on whether buying the clothes does more harm than not buying them; my beloved western spaces fracked beyond repair in my life time, because lighting faucet water on fire still isn’t proof enough that it’s dangerous; hundreds of thousands of people killed in a war while the governments of the world stand by and weigh their financial interests; poor countries taking the brunt of climate change caused by the excesses of wealthy countries – I am overwhelmed at the enormity of suffering that exists on this planet. Hope seems elusive when lost in that emotional storm. What tethers me pack to the hopeful present is just the plain impersonal nature of impermanence. Change. Evolution. It happens in its time, its force a confluence of so many energies so complex, all I can do is accept it and trust its nature. And do what I can to add my breath to the great wind of growth, awareness, and love.

My heros this time around are Ben and Rachael Hudson of the Gender Heath Center. Together, with very little means, they set out and created the services they wanted to see provided in the world, and now serve and inspire a community that stretches over all social lines. They provide services for youth that they did not have access to. They provide services to families that their families did not have access to. Services that my family and my young self did not have access to in the same town we lived in. Seeing that change has been more rewarding than I could have imagined. From all of us who’s lives you have changed, many thanks.

Tucson is mellow and overcast, many friends I knew here have moved on, and I am such a different person than I have been at many times through this town. The trains still holler through the city, and it is still one of the loveliest places to be in the winter. Bennett and I will play for Transgender Week of Awareness here and do our part, I get to play with my super homie Courtney Robbins a few times, and take another long beautiful drive through the desert with my buddy. All the names on the list stay with me, as well as those who remain unknown. Also, all people who lose their lives due to our inability to evolve fast enough. They are all ours.

Love,

j

Desert to Dashboard

My partner took these last nine days off work over a year ago to go to Hawaii, and failing to find the funds, we decided I would take her to some of my favorite national parks. Then the government shut down, so we decided to go for a back country romp in the southwest. We packed up my tried and true minivan, and with her gas card and my food stamps, off we went. As we rolled along through NV, UT, and AZ, hot spring hopping, BLM camping, and exploring ghost towns, a few of the parks started to open. We went through southern Utah all the way to Monument Valley, through the Navajo Rez, dipped down to the north rim of the Grand Canyon, played on some pink sand dunes, walked under some natural rock bridges, cooked by flashlight, peed outside, and communed with the big spaces for a week and a half. It was a much needed head clearing.

Somewhere in the Eastern Sierras with my first bit of cell service in days, I was asked to join a conversation about trans representation in the media for a segment on HuffPost Live. I was able to get a comment recorded and sent over from a Mc Donald’s parking lot (yay free wifi) in Bishop CA, and am truly blown away by how far things have come in such a short time, and truly honored to be a part of the movement that is bringing a much deeper understanding of what it means to be human – not just queer and trans. It’s an honor to count many of the folks in the conversation as contemporaries and friends. At a time when I am struggling to redefine myself post-addiction, where the hell I am going, and what is meaningful to me, the little boosts go a long way.

Then, when I got home and rejoined the world online, I found out that my fundraising goal has already broken the half way point!! As I scrolled through the names of supporters, some folks I have known for years, others a few degrees of separation away, some I haven’t met yet, I could only conclude that my music must be important enough to other people, no matter what my inner critic says. And I felt that a momentum exists that might be stronger than the forces that drag me down into drinking, depression, and darkness. And that in fact, I have the ability to further empower it, if I so choose. I felt a deep sense of gratitude to everyone who is chipping in, monetarily or energetically. And then my computer overheated and the rainbow pinwheel spun on a static page until I had to force a shut down. Not a moment too soon 🙂

A big huge THANK YOU for the kindness of all the folks who have donated already!! The music is happening and I can’t wait to start getting it down on.. hard drive. If you’d still like to throw in a donation, you are more than welcome to do so here.

Love to you all! More thoughts and pictures from the road coming soon.

j

The Ghost of Aunt Flo

Although she kindly heeded my request to stop visiting, I still feel her presence like the clouds over the sun. My mood drops a subtle yet noticeable few degrees, suspiciously in the first week of every month, and unaccounted for by any other source after a fairly thorough survey. One learns to scan their constitution and environment for possible factors that would contribute to a shift in mood when they are liable to swing so wildly. Any possible variables should be eliminated – hunger, fatigue, (H.A.L.T!), a festering emotional hang-up, a change in meds or hormone cycle, a nic fit, whatever it might be. It could mean the difference between a good day and a really shitty week. I come to expect her passing through the neighborhood nowadays, even though she no longer invites herself in. I make her sound so polite.

In my adolescence, I would liken the experience more to a neighborhood bully who consistently beat me up once a month. As soon as I recovered from the last wallop and regained some confidence to carry on with my life, there he would be again, clocking me with a chubby fist swung out from behind a fence, sending stars orbiting around my head.. A few more low blows for good measure, and off he would go, smirking and whistling, leaving me to nurse another monthly shiner. Jerk. Or he would stick out an ankle and send you toppling over your lunch tray in the cafeteria for all to see and giggle at, lunch food visible on your clothes for the rest of the day. You can ignore him, but you have no power to make him move away or disappear. He lives down the street and you’re stuck with him until you grow up and can move away your damn self. That was my experience, anyway.

So on this broody morning, a ticker tape of to-do’s begins to scroll through my head. The ones that are being put off are starting to be repeated like that damn song on the radio. Bank tellers and interest rates and phone calls make me crazy. Can’t I just pay this debt in songs? No? Darn. Although actually, I’ll be able to with my new performer’s permit for Old Town Sacramento, back to my busking roots! We’ll see what kind of tips I bring in without my trusty attractive and talented redhead. I’m sure I’ll have some profound observations of gender differences to report. My sleep is all wacky – I can’t seem to do it at night, and I can’t seem to stop doing it in the morning. The sweats are abating, but despite my best efforts I’m still stinky.. I guess I’ll just let the body do its work, I have no one to impress.

Broody morning and all, I am happy with the baby steps I am making. I’m starting to be recognized in the local recovery scene and have the cool beginnings of a gaggle of sober friends. This is certainly not my first go-round, I was sent to my first treatment center at 15. I’m going to go to the Western Area Conference of Young People in Alcoholics Anonymous (WACYPAA) in Vegas, which means I get to drive around in the desert!!!! YESS. I start 12 step work on Saturday. We’ll see how it goes. Thoughts on anonymity later.

There is big shit going down in the world. Oxycontin is killing more people than car accidents, and Maryjane is still illegal. Figure that one. Some towns in rural areas have had an entire generation of young people wiped out, all who are left are old folks and children. That’s chilling. Hundreds of thousands of people are being incarcerated without any medical treatment for a disease that destroys lives and communities and costs billions upon billions in tax dollars. That, my friends, is a human rights violation and a public heath crisis. Education and prevention are proven to be more effective and cheaper than punishment and punitive retroactive efforts. It is an OUTRAGE that prisons and healthcare are for-profit industries. No one will ever convince me that the highly insulated humans at the top of the chain will ever act in the best interest of their fellows with that much power in their hands. Resources are ballooning for the top few while the rest of us can’t go to school, pay our debts, or even get our teeth fixed. It ain’t right, and I plan to rant about it. Check this out, if you’re interested. It makes a lot of sense, and it affects us all.

So while I clear the resin out of my scattered brain and the booze from my pores, I will busk, and read, and blog, and figure out what I can do to throw down for the many causes that are all so intertwined that they really are just one cause, and it belongs to us all. But first I will eat, and remember that the ghost of old Auntie Flo is lurking around my neighborhood and is liable to cast a shadow on my perception. I will wave and smile at her, grateful for the insight that she brought to my life, and that grateful that she has moved on 🙂

j