Boiled in Oil
Part One: The Promised Land
May 15, 1992
I've come up with a way of measuring whether something happened before or after surgery. Anything that happened as Dave is "Before Melanie" or B.M. (Appropriate, don't you think?) Or course that makes after surgery "After Melanie" or A.M. (And since that's who I AM, that's appropriate as well!)
A word about "Post-surgical hormone blues"... I had been told by many that there was something I could expect called, "Post Surgical Depression". It is supposed to hit two or three weeks after surgery. Well, I didn't know what it was exactly, but everyone who knew about it (including my doctor) was amazed that it didn't happen to me. But, it didn't, so, I blew it off and went about my business.
Well, just after the three month mark (around the middle of March) all of a sudden it seemed like everything was going wrong. All of a sudden, every aspect of my life was headed the wrong way, and everything I was working toward was falling apart.
For two weeks, I was really freaked out. I got severely depressed and cried four or five times a day, even at work. I couldn't understand what was going on. Then it hit me: this must be the "Post Surgical Depression", just delayed in my case.
Well, I used ol' Mental Relativity to try and figure it out. First thing was, I wasn't depressed about the surgery itself. That still made me very happy. It just seemed like everything ELSE was going to hell in a handbasket.
Next, I discovered my motivations had not changed. I still felt the same needs and lacks that I wanted to fill. BUT... my mode of MEAUREMENT HAD changed. In other words, I didn't see things the way I used to, so the same things didn't feel like they filled my needs and desires like they used to.
THAT was the key! THINGS had not changed, and my DESIRES had not changed, but the way I was MEASURING things had changed.
Why was this? Because hormones affect your perceptions. And when I lost testosterone in my system, there was a major shift in perception. So, this was not really a "depression" but a "confusion" that led to depression.
It took about two weeks for the smoke to clear. Then, with my feet firmly planted on new ground, I could re-order my life to suit my new view. And that's where I am now: goals changed and very happy!
You know, for the past month or so (once I came out of the post-surgical stupor) I have waken up every morning saying, "Yeah, this IS real! This really DID happen."
And you know what else? The most comforting thought of all is that I'm stuck this way for the rest of my life. Not that I AM this way, but that I am STUCK this way. There's something very special about that. It helps to mentally separate me from men. They have something down there I don't have. I am forgettting quickly what it even used to feel like. Even now, I can't quite remember... And that feels great!
The hormones have an enormous effect on my emotions. I get fickle, I get moody, I get unreasonable. And I love that too! ...Because I can't help it, I really can't. As my therapist once said... "You may go all the way through surgery, or you may change your mind, but you will NEVER be the same."
May 17, 1992
Putting self first is not a symptom of losing one's compassion, but a change in point of view about win/lose situations. Everyone is happiest with a win/win situation. But in the past, if that was not possible and someone had to lose, I would always accept - even grab for - the losing side. Not that has changed. But that does not make me insensitive. I would only be uncaring if I chose to win in a win/lose situation when a win/win situation was available. That would be as much of a justification as choosing to lose. But choosing to win in a win/lose situation is simple survival: the first duty of any organism.
So, if your kids are being attacked by a bear, do you just sit and watch them die, because it is win/lose? No, you look at how you feel, which is just as important as how you logic. And then you realize that if you save yourself, you lose big time. So, logic and emotion often go in different directions, and only you can decide which is more important in each situation. If you had kids for purely logical purposes, then logic and the bear would prevail. But if you had kids for emotional purposes, then decisions should be primarily based on emotion.
We may find ourselves in adequate relationships from a practical sense, but unfulfilling from an emotional one. Yet it seems so self-serving to hurt the ones who have supported us in striving for more. But, dammit, we HAVE to!!!
All the effort, pain, suffering, ridicule, self-doubt, inner strength, and physical risk we have gone through is meaningless unless we go for the brass ring. If we were not rational dreamers, we could not be where we are today. And if we stop now, we have one foot in the grave already. Destiny calls. Not the destiny of some unavoidable future, but the destiny cast by our invariable motivation: to reach for the stars and GET THEM, by God!
Next time you run, look over your shoulder - I'll be there!
June 1, 1992
Last weekend I went to Girl Scout camp with my daughter. How was it? It was wonderful! We did all the things I would have liked to do at Boy Scout camp, but of course those things are not "appropriate" for boys.... Like: we made tie dy T- shirts, colored pictures of the Girl Scout of the future, and spent half an hour wading in a warm shallow creek..
I volunteered to be camp cook, and shipped up some pretty inventive version of what was expected to be a gland menu. (Like adding the salsa that was for chips and the cheese that was for quesadillas to the scrambled eggs to make Spanish eggs.
I remember going camping at age 12 in the Boy Scouts and feeling so alone, so different from the other boys. And I remember going to sleep one night in my sleeping bag and fantasizing that I would wake up a girl. When I woke up at camp this weekend, that memory was in my mind. I reached down into the sleeping bag, still experiencing that flashback memory and I WAS a girl! It was like all the years in between had vanished and my dream had actually come true. In that brief moment of reverie, the lonely little boy got his wish.
I have been doing electrolysis for over two years now, and therefore still have had to shave to keep the few remaining hairs from showing. Well, this weekend I decided not to, and discovered I don't have to anymore. I can just be me, without makeup or anything.
And the acceptance of the little girls and the moms. One of the moms was my tent mate. WE struck up a real good friendship. The moms all knew about my past, but only a few of the girls did. There were also several teenage girls in the troop, and they did not know. I had no reason to fear. We were all just aq bunch of girls out for a fun weekend of camping in the outdoors.
Wow, this group female experience is such a deep and wonderful shared feeling. It filled in a lot of missing parts in me, and in a sense, re-wrote my childhood.
So, I am back now, feeling 100% the new me: no more nagging doubts of my worthiness or fears of difference. I find myself thinking now, "They're just like me," instead of "I'm just like them."
Dave was a creation of the ultimate justification: an entire personality based on the decision not to accept myself because others did not accept who I really was. When the last of those justifications were undone this weekend, all that was Dave was finally and truly gone. I have come back full circle to the "me" I had rejected so long ago. And with the completion of that closure, I am now and always will be Melanie only.
All that remains of Dave is the knowledge he gathered before he died, and I intend to use that legacy to further the cause of women everywhere. For 36 years I was a spy in their midst. Its our turn now, and the first step is to undo the justifications we all share by having been educated by a male society to think like men. Mental Relativity is the key to seeing the unseeable heart of our blindness, and I will spend the rest of my life working to share this with others.
It is a wonderful time. And not just for me. I notice the mood of the world at large. The age of aggressive individualism is suffering its death throes, and the age of cooperative individualism rises from the ashes. Look at the juxtaposition of these two world consciouses: the tearing down of the Berlin Wall and the Gulf War, the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the L.A. Riots. These things are not in conflict, but in transition. And my personal journey from one mentality to another mirrors the lurching transition of our social planet.
The rugged male manipulations that served so well against a harsh and unforgiving environment are made obsolete by their very success in that endeavor. In creating a buffer between the individual and survival, the old ways must GIVE way to a new order - not a kinder, gentler approach so much as an empathetic, compassionate approach. Assertiveness and tenacity need not be sacrificed, just shifted in purpose.
The time has come to turn our attention from the domesticated threats of nature to the untamed creature of our society. But we must be careful. Driven by an eternity of suffering at the hands of the external male infrastructure, women (as their age of dominance dawns) run the risk of vengefully turning the tables on their jailers and, in so doing, becoming no better than those they suffered under.
In the long run, perhaps thousands of years from now, the tide will turn again, and some larger chaos will give rebirth to an immediate survival society. It in retribution we oppress our previous oppressors, we will be crushed under the burden ourselves once more.
But that is not the woman's way. The whole concept of balancing the books is not a female entertainment. Rather, we must realize that male and female are not opposite but complementary. We see into each others' blind spots and together bring a triangulated view of the actuality of the inner and outer universes.
Only by working together as partners can we avoid a cycle of master and slave. Let us each look to our personal journey's of growth and discovery as a small vector of impression upon the collective Mind that is mother and father to us all. And let us make those journeys not only for ourselves, but for all our brothers and sisters now and in the ageless times to come.
June 2, 1992
Here is a brief reply I wrote to a friend who asked how Mental Relativity would answer the question: "Which is more important to attraction, magnet or the piece of iron?"
When considering a piece of iron and a magnet, subjective through would see two items. Mental Relativity would see three: There is a piece of iron, another piece of iron, and a force of attraction that has attached itself to one of the pieces.
Neither iron number one nor iron number two need be "aware" of the other nor of the force of attraction. But the force of attraction is actually acting upon both those pieces of iron and also on anything else it might attract. At the far end of the universe, the force is still felt, but is insignificant compared to many other closer forces.
So, the theoretical discussion of how iron and magnet relate to each other is mute in the Mental Relativity view. Rather, the question for YOU is: "What makes a force of attraction attach itself to a particular piece of iron rather than another?"
Today is our presentation of the story theory to all the department heads at USC Cinema. Interesting concept: teaching your teachers! Anyway, Steve has managed to wrangle all the department heads in one place at one time for five hours, just to be introduced to the story theory. He's really putting his somewhat notable reputation at USC on the line.
Also, I just found out that the feature film I edited for Larry will have its Los Angeles premiere at the new FILMEX festival. Pretty good month. Pretty good year!
June 14, 1992
It is SO hard to try to read what people REALLY mean. I prefer to imagine the best interpretation and proceed on that until PROVEN otherwise. This way, even if they are trying to dump me, they have to come out and say it or they won't get rid of me.
Although I never carry a grudge, I am disappointed in those who cannot accept me. I figure that if their intolerance causes me to lose the pleasure of their friendship, I will feel better about it if they at least have to face that intolerance by being rude to me to get rid of me, and then have to live with certain knowledge of their own prejudices.
Sometimes they go away, and sometimes they realize the unthinking unreasonable reaction they are having, and reconsider. Then, they grow, and by growing, help not just me but themselves as well. The greatest disservice I can do them is to simply go away without confronting the issue. But confrontation by aggression leads to war, whereas confrontation by friendship leads to soul searching.
But I digress. (But then again, don't I always?)
June 21, 1992
Everything we have been working for over the last two years reached a culmination last Saturday when we held a press conference at ShowBiz Expo to announce the Theory of Story. We had the international as well as local press, and were well received.
For me, it was a real Cinderalla's Ball evening. Here I was, going before my peers, not only as a filmmaker, but an academic, and a woman as well. If ever there was to be for me a "debut", this was it.
Naturally, there was a lot of nervousness putting EVERYTHING on the line like that, but we were prepared. All the way back to kindergarten I had feared the rejection of my peers, yet I went into this event with utter self-confidence. And that turned out to be most a appropriate. I was accepted on all fronts.
Interestingly, our press agent had several of her friends planted in the audience to ask questions in case the Q&A period needed a jump start, and she had been told about my previous incarnation. She later told me that a couple of her friends had asked her why I had not spoken, since they assumed the woman at the podium could not have previously been a man. What a giddy kick!
I spent the next three days at the company booth (a big 20x30 feet, and costing over $30,000) giving story software presentations in the 25 seat demo theater and speaking one on one with potential clients and members of the press.
As a reward, I have finally taken some time off. Yesterday, Mary, the kids, and I went to Disneyland with a post-op on-line friend of mine who I have been writing to for a year and a half and had never met. She came with her eight year old son and her boyfriend. Since Mindi is nine, that worked out very well!
Today is a holiday as well, and tomorrow is my first beach trip since surgery, and therefore my first bikini summer!
June 22, 1992
A reply to an on-line friend who wanted to know a little more about my career background, and how the story theory and software came to be:
For most of my career, I've worked in the motion picture biz, with over 200 credits in various capacities including writing, directing, and producing features. Nothing major, mind you: just non-union and low budget, but at least I have worked enough to stay in the business for fifteen years.
One feature I directed right out of USC, "The Strangeness", played on ABC affiliates three times last year (at three in the morning!) Of course, I got no money for that, and hardly anybody saw it, but at least it's nice to know that it is out there!
As for the software, I have a good friend and occasional writing partner, Chris, who I met while at USC (way back in '77!) I used to be his leader on various projects. Then, he was my closest confident and saw me through transition (by listening to things I couldn't even tell my S.O., Mary). Now he has become my big brother and keeps me under his wing: he looks out for me.
He and I had come up with a wholly different way of looking at story structure some twelve years ago. Two years ago, right smack dab in the middle of transition, he suggested we begin to work on our theory again.
Ten years ago, Chris had gone into business with another USC friend (Steve) creating and distributing productivity software for the motion picture industry. Since then, they have grown to have 23 people on the payroll and their name on the building!
After my "brother", Chris, and I had worked on the theory for several months, he suggested I go to work at his company to design it as a software tool for writers. While I'm working, I'm making more than I ever have before. I owe a lot to Chris!
Now, I have always been a theoretician, and even considered being a professional mathematician at one point in college. But I opted for the arts instead. Nevertheless, I have spent the last two years with Chris developing a wholly new and unique theory of story. This theory is kind of like the DNA of story structure. It is a math model, based on the problem solving processes of the human mind. It is revolutionary insofar as it separates "story" from "storytelling", looks at the remaining structural dynamics, and sees this pattern as an analogy to a SINGLE mind solving a problem. We call this the Story Mind.
The Story Mind is not the mind of the author nor the audience nor a character, but is a kind of Every Mind that "contains" all the characters and everything they do as being representative of that mind's problem solving process.
The theory gets rather elegant, but works essentially like a cross between a Rubik'c Cube of story, and a four dimensional Periodic Table of Story Elements. Essentially, with a limited number of parts, it can create an astronomical number of story structures. In fact, we are saying that ALL viable structures will be created by the model, and never any that are not viable.
This theory of relative relationships between processes has now been programmed into software by Chris' engineers. We are currently designing the user interfaces.
We have researched all the way back through Aristotle's "Poetics", and this is indeed a completely original new theory of story. Fortunately, an understanding of the theory is not necessary to using the software. Rather than asking an author to fill in blanks, the software provides multiple choices. Through each choice, the author not only picks what he wants, but is simultaneously limiting out what he can no longer choose. In this manner, when all the questions are answered, the author has a complete and viable story structure determining Character, Theme, Plot, Act order, Scene content, conflict patterns, etc.
Well, I've gone off on a tangent, haven't I? Typical for me, because I am not only a theorist, but a ditz! The best of BOTH.
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